how we got where we are (October 28, 2013 at 9:26am)

In order to avoid the work I ought to be doing, I spent the last half hour or so deleting drafts of old blog posts that were begun but not finished. This one is dated October 28, 2013 at 9:26am. There’s a beginning and an ending, but the middle never managed to get written. The middle is always the hardest part.

The situation has deteriorated radically since 2013.


Well, the Republicans are right about one thing: it all began with Ronald Reagan. The modern GOP is the direct legacy of the Reagan Worldview. Not his politics — lawdy no, Reagan was much too liberal to fit into the current Cone of Crazy that constitutes the Tea Party. But his approach to the world is deeply imprinted on Republican DNA.

We see it in a couple of ways. First, the total abandonment of science and rationality for anecdote and ideology. Reagan had no use for facts that didn’t fit well with what he already believed. He was fond of quoting Sam Adams, saying “Facts are stupid things” (what John Adams actually said was “Facts are stubborn things”). Just a couple of examples: Reagan repeatedly claimed “There is no word for ‘freedom’ in the Russian language” (there is: svoboda). He believed nuclear missiles, once fired, could be ‘recalled’ (they can’t). He claimed the Environmental Protection Agency had suppressed a report demonstrating that “eighty percent of air pollution comes not from chimneys and auto exhaust pipes, but from plants and trees” (they didn’t, and it doesn’t). And on two different occasions Reagan publicly stated he’d personally assisted in liberating some of the Nazi death camps during WWII (he hadn’t; he spent the war in Hollywood making training films for the U.S. Army).

Major source of air pollution

Major source of air pollution

This is now standard Republican drill. Make shit up to support your belief, repeat it often, repeat it with passion, repeat it even after you’ve been told it’s wrong, claim the people who disagree with the shit you made up are trying to suppress the truth, present yourself as a victim of liberal elites, repeat it all again.

The Republican casual disregard for reality is troubling

Second, the notion that government has no value.

Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.

Here’s a classic example of the Reagan Approach. He’d twice flown over the Mount St. Helens volcano, and he’d come to the following conclusion:

“I have a suspicion that one little mountain has probably released more sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere of the world than has been released in the last ten years of automobile driving or things of that kind that people are so concerned about.”

And there you have it. In reality, the volcano emitted about 2,000 tons of sulphur dioxide per day at its peak output; cars in 1980 produced approximately 81,000 tons per day. But Reagan didn’t need or want stupid facts; it was enough to have belief. And why listen to anybody who might challenge that belief?

And right there, you have the modern Republican party. The political party whose elected representatives actually believe women are biologically prevented from getting pregnant through rape, who believe wind is “a finite resource” that will be “slowed down” by windmills, who believe vaccines are dangerous and that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by scientists in order to…something,

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