Monday, April 18, 2011

The Truth Will Set You ... ?

Tell people the Republicans have a plan to cut trillions from the federal budget while managing to cut taxes, and people like what they hear. Tell them what the cuts are and who gets the tax breaks, and things change dramatically.

The Republican deficit reduction plan does not even win majority support, but when voters learn almost anything about it, they turn sharply and intensely against it. They have particularly grave concerns about the plan to end Medicare and slash Medicaid spending, pushing seniors into the private insurance market and costing them thousands of dollars more in out-of-pocket expenses. [emphasis added]

From the above, I draw the obvious conclusion:

We're screwed.

If we've learned nothing else from the teabaggers, we know it's not about content; it's about message and messaging. Read through comments here, and you understand that no amount of information can penetrate the fog of bumper-sticker thinking. To them, the ACA is still -- still! -- about the fact that not everyone read every word in it, and that it included a skate park somewhere. That it covers millions, lowers the deficit, prevents exclusion by virtue of preexisting conditions, eliminates life-time limits, lets kids stay on parents' plans until age twenty-six, makes serious attempts to control costs, allows states to come up with their own ideas and test them... not only does that stuff not matter, it doesn't even seem to be known. Not to teabaggers.

The differences between the R budget and Obama's are not subtle; they couldn't be more dramatic and consequential. They are a fork in the road, a stark choice between continuing (or, perhaps more accurately, trying to get back) to being a nation of progress, of caring for one another, of innovating, of thinking ahead, of education, of having and building for a future; or becoming a non-nation, a discohesive collection of individuals vying with one another to get the most they can for as long as they can in their own lifetimes, at the expense of everyone else, of the environment, of the future, with no concern for anyone or anything but the most narrow confines of their immediate self-interest. Especially as regards the already wealthy.

I do not exaggerate.

Now, it's clear that to many people the latter vision is just fine. It's not as if we are anymore -- if we ever were -- a nation of altruists and futurists. I want mine. Screw you. It worked well for Wall Street, it works well for the people financing and deceiving the teabaggers, it resonates with a lot of people (ironically and mystifyingly, they tend to think of themselves as Christians.) (And, yes, I know not all Christians think that way. It's just that, in this country, the people that do also happen to be Christians. You know: the ones who want schools to teach the Bible, who like to deprive people who love each other of the right to marry... Those guys...) So it's not as if, even if made fully to understand the implications, all people would choose the road that veers left. But -- so I'd like to believe, and, based on polls, I'm probably right -- enough would that we'd actually have a future.

Which is why we're screwed.

Democrats couldn't sell slickers in a sleetstorm. Hell, they couldn't give them away. Republicans would hand out bumper stickers that said "Slickers aren't slick." They'd say the sun is shining, and people would take off their shirts. They'd say shit was Shinola, and teabaggers would rub it on their shoes.

And then they'd drop by here, teeth chattering and stink rising from below their ankles, to tell us that only communists wear rain gear.

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