Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Could It Be?

Might the weight of the evidence finally be enough that even the ideological hidebound and reflexively selfish are beginning to notice? Is wealth inequality finally so dramatically dangerous that even Republicans are concerned? Have teabaggRs taken the war on the poor to dysfunctional extremes that threaten our national health? Bruce Bartlett, to whom I've referred here several times, former economic adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush the First, staffer for Jack Kemp and Ron Paul, has written that he thinks maybe so

... [billionaire manager of Pimco] Mr. Gross now thinks that labor has suffered too much from excessive gains by the wealthy. ... 
He thinks the wealthy ought to support higher taxes on themselves. ... 
Another growing concern of the wealthy and business groups is the recognition that they lack any control over the Tea Party. ...
The business community is especially upset by having the Tea Party repeatedly throw away winnable races and is trying to inject more political realism into the nominating process. Some business groups are even reaching out to Democrats. The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce in Virginia, for example, endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor this year for the first time since 2001. 
... Some Republicans and conservative intellectuals are now saying that cuts to the welfare state have gone too far as well.
On Oct. 28, the Republican governor of Ohio, John R. Kasich, blasted his party for its “war on the poor.” ...
On Oct. 31, Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent think tank in Washington, said the conservative war against the social safety net was “just insane.” He urged his fellow conservatives to “declare peace on the safety net.”
It is ironic that that A.E.I. should be leading the charge toward a more sympathetic approach to the poor; another of its scholars, Nicholas Eberstadt, wrote a book last year, “A Nation of Takers,” which blasted growth of the welfare population and was widely credited with inspiring Mitt Romney’s attack on the 47 percent of the population who are “dependent on government.”
I have long believed that the Tea Party is a populist movement with no staying power. ... A pushback has clearly begun.
Republican hopes in 2016 may depend on how well it succeeds.
Teabaggers will teabag. Theirs is not a philosophy (a word that gives far too much credit) that is subject to change. Born, by definition, of the need to reject reality to justify selfishness, and fueled by fears of otherness so deep-seated as to be like sinew and bone, teabaggerism reflects the worst of us, yet, sadly, is a dark part of what it is to be human. So it's not a question of changing the minds of the hardened. It's a matter of whether there are enough people, voters, still capable of thinking beyond a zone about three feet in diameter: the one in which what they conceive as their immediate concerns are the only ones.

It doesn't take the rejection of self-interest; it only requires the realization that, in the long run, self-interest and national interest are inseparable. Especially if personal self interest includes concerns for family, for kids, and kids of one's kids.

Being the frightened and needy creatures that they are, humans are easily swayed (a believer ought to hope to hell they aren't actually made in god's image); convinced, willingly and unreflectively, to act against their own interests by manipulations of those fears by unscrupulous others. The plutocrats behind Fox "news," the ones funding and pulling the strings of the credulous, the powerful and many-moneyed who've polluted our electoral process thanks to right-wing judicial activism. President Obama has tried to appeal to their better instincts, his words falling on ears deafened by the likes of those at Fox, and those hateful (and insanely rich) people of the right wing airwaves. To whom might they listen, when they refuse to see the obvious destructive impacts of their party's efforts? One hopes they'll pick up their copies of The New York Times and read Bruce Bartlett, one of their own.

Yeah. Right. Good one.

[Image source]

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