Let’s just admit it — Ronald Reagan was a colossal fuckwit. The guy believed trees and plants caused more pollution than automobiles; he claimed “There is no word for ‘freedom’ in the Russian language”; he apparently thought nuclear missiles, once fired, could be recalled; on two different public occasions he stated he’d personally assisted in liberating some of the Nazi death camps during WWII.
None of those things are true. None of them. Trees don’t create pollution, there is a Russian word for ‘freedom’ (svoboda), nuclear missiles can’t be recalled for fuck’s sake, and Reagan spent the war in Hollywood making training films for the U.S. Army.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not angry or upset that Reagan was a colossal fuckwit. He was also a genial and amusing fuckwit, and he handled getting shot with astonishing grace, humor and courage. But I am angry and upset that he shaped the modern Cone of Crazy that constitutes the Tea Party by convincing them that the following is true:
Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.
It’s this belief — even more than his complete disregard for science and his total abandonment of rationality — that’s put the U.S. in the position it’s in (and the position we’re in is the oh-lawdy-we-are-so-fucked position).
Government isn’t a solution to ALL of our problems, true. But without county, state, and federal governments we’d be even fuckeder. That’s a fact.
You may hate your morning commute, but it’s made easier and quicker because of the Interstate Highway system. Most of the food you eat, most of the shoes you buy, most of the iPods you listen to, most of the computers you’re reading this on — all delivered to you on a highway. Who built that highway? The Federal Fucking Government, that’s who. Who paid for it? You did, through taxes on gasoline, taxes on cars and trucks, taxes on tires. Whose idea was it? President Dwight Eisenhower — another Republican who wouldn’t stand a chance in the modern GOP.
See that pothole? Who’s going to fix it? You? No fucking way. The Tea Party? Yeah, when yellow bats fly out my ass. No, you see a pothole and you’re on the phone calling the local government, demanding they come repair the damned thing. And they will. Maybe not immediately — but you know why it’ll take so long? Because of asshats who think their taxes are too high and the government is the problem, that’s why.
See that commercial airliner? You know why it’s not plummeting straight into the ground like a giant fucking lawn dart? Because of the government, that’s why. The Federal Aviation Administration requires commercial aircraft to be safe, requires pilots to be trained and licensed, requires pilots to abide by air-traffic rules, requires inspections of aircraft, and basically regulates the hell out of the commercial aircraft industry.
You want to fly under Tea Party conditions? Try Iran Air or Pakistan Airlines, both of which has Texas-style safety regulations — and whose air safety records are 312% and 373% worse than the most unsafe U.S. airline.
See that sign on the restaurant door? Know why you’re seeing it? Because the damned government is inspecting kitchens to make sure they’re safe. Know why you don’t see these signs very often? Because the damned government is doing the inspections. Know why we’ve had more outbreaks of food poisoning recently? Because of Tea Party fuckwits who hate government and champion unregulated commerce.
Ronald Reagan said:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.
You know why FEMA fucked up the disaster relief during Hurricane Katrina? Because President George W. Bush believed Reagan. Because Bush believed government service was a joke. Because Bush put a guy in charge of FEMA whose work experience consisted of running the International Arabian Horse Association. George Bush made Reagan’s words come true.
This is the legacy of Ronald Reagan — a political party that hates government, that wants political power without having to engage in actual governance, that actively seeks to make government dysfunctional, and then complains that government doesn’t work.
Ronald Reagan was a moderately bad president. George W. Bush was significantly worse. And who are the most influential people in the modern GOP? Who are the heirs of the Reagan legacy? These two.