"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Republican Are Just the Nicest People

This, from Digby, pretty much nails it:

Republicans have been trying to destroy the American safety net for decades. They’ve been hostile to Medicare and Medicaid since the day they were passed. They’ve been running against Social Security for 82 years. (They just tried to privatize it in 2005!) They will never stop attacking the ACA either.

This isn’t just about profits or ” free markets.” Consider that this Senate bill was opposed by all the so-called stakeholders: the insurance companies, the hospitals, doctors and even big business. It still has 48 out of 52 votes in the Senate. Conservatives simply do not believe that people have a right to health care. They see it as a commodity like any other, something which you should not have if you cannot pay for it.

By way of crude illustration, recall when libertarian godhead Rep. Ron Paul ran for president in 2008. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked him during a debate what an uninsured man who became catastrophically ill and needed intensive care for six months should do. Paul replied, “What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk. This whole idea that you have to take care of everybody …” The audience then erupted into cheers, cutting off Paul’s sentence. Blitzer followed up by asking “Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?” Members of the audience clapped and shouted “Yeah!”

This sort of throws into sharp relief something that's been at the back of my arguments on the "Christian" idea of morality, and the lack of humanity in the Republicans' ideology, which has only gotten more extreme in the Age of Trump (although, if you look at it, he's a symptom more than anything else -- this extremism long predates him). As an illustration of what we're dealing with, this is instructive:

I'm a physician. If someone has a right, that means you take my skills and the fruits of my labor.

And this man's a doctor.

I've said it enough, but I'm going to repeat it: the right has no real concept of morality, other than following arbitrary rules cherry-picked from the 4,000 year old tribal taboos of a bunch of Middle Eastern nomads, because otherwise Daddy will spank you: morality based on fear. I suppose this is the more-or-less inevitable result of a group of religions based on servility and obedience.

In the real world, the more I study animal and human behavior, the more I'm convinced that our morality is pretty much hard-wired, and as social animals, there's one basic precept: we take care of each other, because there's a kind of synergy between the benefit of the individual and the benefit of the group: they seem to mutually reinforce each other.

Which leads me back to the contemporary Republican party, tainted as it is by libertarianism (and yes, I consider that a taint: I've long held that libertarianism is a morally bankrupt ideology). They've become the party of the aberrant. All the racism, anti-immigrant rhetoric, the "me first" attitude (disguised as patriotism, which is bullshit) -- all that simply represents a trend that draws the boundaries of "us" in ever narrower terms, which has been exploited by the demagogues on the right, who themselves have only one guiding principle: power, for power's sake.

America was predicated, if only subliminally, on the expansion of the idea of "us": the point was, we were no longer to consider ourselves as English, or Irish, or French, or German, but as Americans. The right has fractured that idea back into its component parts, playing to that minority that, sadly, has always been with us and that is incapable of taking that conceptual step.

(And, to pile irony on top of atrocity, note that so many of them profess a religion that was to be inclusive, that welcomed all: they've perverted that idea into just another little fragment of what should be an overriding "us".)

Add in the worship of unrestrained capitalism, and you have an oligarchical nightmare in the making.

And they call it "Taking back America" -- from other Americans.

I've started wondering again whether New Zealand is far enough away.

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