Republican Political Theology Turns Reality On its Head

Aug 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

It seems incredible that the Republicans can claim that our budget deficit crisis is the fault of Barack Obama. If you go back and look at the historical record, you will see that the administrations of Democratic presidents increased the debt less than Republican presidents. It is always the Republicans who are the spenders. This is indisputable fact based on the numbers themselves.

It is also indisputable that the economy performs better (including GDP growth and employment) under Democratic administration. From 1948-2007, per capital GDP grew 2.8 percent under Democrats; it grew only 1.6% under Republicans.

It was Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush who swelled the size of government, not Democratic presidents – Bill Clinton shrank the size of government.

The debt ceiling has nothing to do with increased spending, only with the government being able to pay money it already owes.

These are all facts, facts the Republicans don’t want Americans to know.

Yet all we hear is how Democrats are reckless spenders and proponents of big government. The facts demonstrate just the opposite: it is the Republicans who are the big spenders and the fans of big government.

Remember this when you hear the Republican spin being spewed on FOX News and elsewhere – it is completely contrary to fact.

Why do these lies gain so much traction? Well, it helps that the media is center–right and that the Republicans have their own news network. It helps that the Republicans are rich, ruthless and preach these lies 24/7/365 and that their lies are glossy with high production values. They publish books, DVDs, radio shows, TV shows – it’s an across-the-board indoctrination program that would turn Joseph Göbbels green with envy. As a result, their propagandistic spin comes across almost unquestioned: the mainstream media barely questions any of it. Even MSNBC, reviled by Republicans as the “liberal FOX”, often gives the conservative the last word and provides platforms for such bigots as Pat Buchanan.

Republican ideology is inflexible. It insists that Republicans are fiscal conservatives and accordingly, it must be Democrats who are the big spenders. Republican ideology insists that Democrats are for big government and therefore they must be guilty of imposing big government. No other interpretation is allowed and as a result, none is entertained. As John McCain and Sarah Palin showed during the 2008 election cycle, if challenged with the facts, you simply ignore them and continue pushing your talking points. Never debate the facts. And they won’t – either on radio, or television, or on your internet community.

This ideology is asserted again and again regardless of the facts proving these claims to be lies. The idea that something is true because it must be true is wishful thinking as well as dishonest. Not that the powers that be don’t realize it’s all a lie – they do – but many of their followers accept the lie unquestioningly. It’s what they’ve been trained to hear; it’s what they want to hear. It fits their preconceived ideas about the world and how it operates. Why fact-check it? It’s no mystery why fact-check sites are considered to be “leftist” by Republicans. It’s no wonder they want to strip MediaMatters of their tax-exempt status. Anything that questions the spin is the enemy and must be destroyed or silenced.

Reality as “it should be” has no place in the public debate about the deficit but Republicans are no longer strictly politically ideological. Thanks to their marriage with the religious right, their ideology is now a political theology and their ideological positions now as inerrant as the Bible itself is believed to be. To question one is to question the other and to question at all is to question God.

The rest of us know that all that really matters is history as it is, and history as it is shows the Republicans to be the people who have, since 1945, gotten America deeper into debt and grown government. But how to get that across?

Part of the problem we face is that President Bush has been taken out of the equation by Republicans: he cannot be held to blame. Removed from the equation, all Bush’s reckless policies fall on the head of President Obama, including his wars and his deficits. This may suit the needs of Republican hagiography where Bush is concerned, but it’s a gross injustice to the historical record and to President Obama.

Take a look at the historical record since Bill Clinton’s administration:

President Increase Debt/GDP (in percentage points) Increase debt ($T)
Bill Clinton 1993-97 -0.7% 1.02
Bill Clinton 1997-01 -9.0% 0.40
George W. Bush 2001-05 +7.1% 2.14
George W. Bush 2005-08 +20.7% 3.97
Barack Obama +9.0% (2010) 1.65 (2010)

(Source: CBO Historical Budget Page and Whitehouse FY 2012 Budget – Table 7.1 Federal Debt at the End of Year PDF, Excel, Senate.gov)

It’s pretty obvious where our debt came from, isn’t it?

This insistence on following the dictates of political theology over the facts has led to some bizarre assertions from Republicans, including Obama being responsible for 9/11, for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq being “Obama’s wars” and of course, Obama being responsible for the deficit, even though it was Bush who fought two unpaid for wars while cutting taxes and deregulating, and even though Obama’s initial budgets were directed at repairing the economic crisis brought about through Bush’s reckless economic policies. Not to mention two wars that Obama has to support that he didn’t start. No president operates in a vacuum. But whereas Bush took over with a balanced budget care of Democratic President Bill Clinton, Obama took over a country with an economy already in ruins.

And it’s somehow all Obama’s fault.

So why are we still talking about this when the facts are so plain and obvious? Because where ideology is concerned, facts are irrelevant. They simply don’t matter. They won’t be talked about, they won’t be admitted to. It’s as though one entire political party has entirely opted out of reality, and for all intents and purposes, they have. We’re being told the world is “this” way and that’s final. Everything must conform to that mythical picture.

And look, we won’t convince them, we won’t reach them in their little bubble. We know that. They’ll just keep repeating their mantra knowing that they don’t even have to convince the world, they only have to cast doubt. Doubt is enough. And so far, they’ve been doing a pretty good job of it, which means the rest of us, the reality-based community, have to do a better job of countering their mantra. Perhaps we need billboards along every interstate showing the data above.

But the threat comes not only from propaganda but the disenfranchisement of voters and redistricting. We are under attack on so many fronts and they have so much money and are so well organized that they can literally turn up into down and down into up. It is the liberals and progressives who are well-funded and organized and it is liberalism that is a “theology” or secularism itself and the Republicans are the hapless, beleaguered victims of a liberal conspiracy that reaches to the depths of the White House itself under a “Manchurian Candidate” president who is not only not an American but a Muslim of all things!

We have our work cut out for us, and we don’t have much time. We need to put things to right by Election Day 2012 so that people can go to the polls and vote on reality as it is, not as Republicans wish it was. What you don’t know can hurt you, and it’s our job, as citizens of this modern liberal and secular democracy, to make sure that happens.

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