Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else

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Why Republicans Cannot Replace the ACA, Or Accomplish Anything Else

Post by Lurker on Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:16 pm

Edgar Welch walked courageously into a DC pizza parlor on a mission to rescue abused children. Armed with an AR-15, he had driven from North Carolina to the restaurant, Comet Ping Pong,  to break up a pedophile kidnapping ring. After a few confusing minutes in the restaurant and a couple of shots fired, Welch was baffled. There was no secret room in which Hillary Clinton and her aides tormented kidnapped children. It was just a pizza joint.

Welch surrendered to police and received a four-year prison sentence. Apparently, data he obtained online about the restaurant was inaccurate. As he explained to an interviewer, “the intel on this wasn’t 100 percent.”

Republican Congressman, Lamar Smith, leads the House committee responsible for much of our nation’s science funding. He is convinced that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by scientists with the help of a corrupt news media. Smith was convinced at one point in 2009 that he’d found a “smoking gun” to support his fantasy narrative in a collection of stolen emails. His discovery quickly fell apart in the light of day, inspiring a rant against journalists and researchers, “We now know that prominent scientists were so determined to advance the idea of human-made global warming that they worked together to hide contradictory temperature data.” Despite Smith’s best intentions, the intel on this wasn’t 100%.

Only one difference between Edgar Welch and Lamar Smith really matters – Smith’s delusions are going to kill people.

Forget about the Republican elephant. Welch is the new mascot for the Republican Party. Rifle slung over his shoulder, mind clouded by fantasies and fears, he rides like an American Don Quixote to vanquish imaginary foes. Republicans now control every branch of government. They have an opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a new system on the strength of just 50 votes in the Senate. This week they failed. Again. Despite being handed overwhelming power, none of their signature policy priorities have been passed. A body that voted more than 50 times over the past seven years to repeal the ACA is now suddenly unable to act on almost anything. Why?

It is easy to use delusions to obstruct and destroy. Building something is hard. Building something valuable means thinking about consequences and confronting weaknesses in an ideological framework. Building something invites consequences. Republicans cannot govern because Republicans lack any respect for facts. Tilting at windmills is much easier than constructing them.

This is not a new problem. Ever since the GOP began to absorb waves of southern conservatives fleeing the Democrats’ embrace of civil rights, the party’s hold on reality has been weakening. A white, religious base violently opposed to the faster, freer world of global capitalism has transformed the Republican Party into a bulwark against reality. They are determined to ensure that no government action of any kind will challenge the brittle, manufactured worldview on which their mental security depends.

In an interview with Ron Suskind in 2002, Karl Rove mocked the impotence of the “reality-based community, describing the basis of this new governing ethic:

   Rove derided those who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

When ideology rules all, acknowledging dissonant facts is treason. Reality, in that way of thinking, is a mere construct owned by history’s winners. This brand of cult reasoning explains why Republicans despise journalism, deride universities, and disregard the advice of scientists. Within the walls of the GOP cult, those who concern themselves with accuracy, who allow themselves to be constrained by empirical measures, are seen as history’s losers. They are destined to be forgotten, obscured in the shadow of The Great Men.

Republicans may keep winning elections, but they will never be able to govern until they can grapple with these four realities. Each item on this list is measurable, provable and broadly regarded as obvious. Failure to acknowledge these four truths means being as categorically, empirically wrong as it’s possible to be in the otherwise mushy, gray realm of politics:

1) Climate change is real and it is caused primarily by human activity.

2) Human beings evolved from simpler life forms, and the same evolutionary process shapes all living systems.

3) Abortion is a complex issue because it involves two legitimate liberty interests in conflict with one another.

4) Race still skews economic outcomes in the United States.

With great care and a willingness to avoid exposure to facts, one can live successfully in denial of these four realities. However, anyone incapable of recognizing these obvious truths should not hold public trust. Like a poorly aimed weapon, any legislation or executive action crafted in defiance of these four truths will, at best, yield unnecessary collateral damage. In many cases, it will reap calamity.

The mental and institutional disciplines necessary to acknowledge those four simple realities are the same ones necessary for forging sound policy. Master them, and other skills will follow. Continue to deny them, and nothing good can come from Republican legislation. In no corner of America can a Republican survive a primary while openly acknowledging these four truths. Until that changes, Republicans cannot be trusted to build sound public policy. Efforts by the GOP to craft complex legislation, like an ACA replacement, will usually collapse under the weight of their own delusions. On the unfortunate occasion when Republicans do enact sophisticated laws, they will wreak havoc.

We are the last (semi) stable democracy on the planet without a universal health care system. Elsewhere in the world, health care is a utility taken for granted, like safe tap water or electricity. They pay for it, just like we pay for garbage service or highways, and it costs far less than our broken system. That is not an opinion. That is a reality easily revealed with a bit of travel. Like embattled cult members, we deny ourselves better policy outcomes to protect our deluded beliefs about the nature of markets and preserve our odd pathologies around race. That’s a choice we make, like picking up a rifle and marching off to destroy a pedophile ring.

Facts can be ignored or denied, but they will always have their revenge.

"Chris Ladd, former GOP Precinct Committeeman, author of The Politics of Crazy and creator of PoliticalOrphans"

https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2017/07/23/sorry-folks-agroecological-farming-is-less-productive-than-conventional/#509d5e98638b

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