Maybe I’m just getting older. Maybe the conservative movement was always devoid of serious intellectual thinkers. But up until the late 1990s, the conservative wing of our political world included intelligent people like William F. Buckley and editorial writers like William Safire. There were always the Birchers, but there were intelligent men and women associated with the GOP who could make a cogent argument. Not today. In 2015, the intellectual giants have long abandoned the Republican party and conservative politics.
I can recall listening to conservatives make their case and thinking, “I totally disagree with what they’re saying, but I get where they’re coming from on this issue.”
There was a certain intellectual integrity to conservatives 20 years ago, but now the conservative arguments range from one argumentation fallacy after another. Just look at the conservative Supreme Court justices’ arguments opposing marriage equality. There is clearly no rational basis to deny gay couples the same protection under the law as straight people, so all that’s left are intellectually dishonest arguments that really make no sense whatsoever.
In his dissenting opinion on marriage equality, Justice Clarence Thomas somehow tried to equate allowing gay people the right to marry as tantamount to opposing inter-racial marriages. Of course, the opposite is true. Denying gay people the right to marry is exactly like denying people of different races the opportunity marry the one they love. While inter-racial marriages were criminal offenses, and with gay marriages we’re dealing with civil law, however the same equal protection under the law argument clearly applies to both situations.
And look at the conservative response to yet another blow in the “effort” to destroy the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court, once again, has ruled in support of the Affordable Care Act.
And because of that decision, conservatives are confusingly accusing Supreme Court judges of activism. In conservative circles if the court doesn’t strike down a law passed by Congress, it’s being an activist court. Which of course is exactly the opposite of what’s happening, so that’s yet another dumb idea.
The reason for this insane disconnect between current conservative ideas and logic is that the party has been exposed. For the last 50 or 60 years, the GOP has been the party of the rich, for the rich. They’ve pushed massive tax cuts, slashing the top tax bracket by more than 50 percent. They’ve pushed hard for deregulation of the banking industry, which has resulted in a boom and bust economy. That started with the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, the hedge fund collapse and the most recent Great Recession. Thrown into the mix is the Enron and other similar corrupt corporations gaming the system and rigging markets.
So while they work to suppress worker wages, dismantle unions and gut as much federal and state regulations as possible, the working men and women are living on less money, with bigger bills, more debt and an unpredictable future.
And that’s the problem with the Republican party. They can’t talk about this stuff publicly, or they won’t even win House seats in Texas. So they have to lie. When Ted Cruz says that if he’s elected president he’ll repeal the Affordable Care Act on day 1 in office, he knows that’s bullshit. Cruz must know that the president can’t unilaterally just throw out laws passed by Congress. The president can lobby Congress to change the law or repeal the law, but Cruz knows that the president doesn’t have the authority he is claiming he will have if elected president. Cruz is banking on the fact that those people who are showing up to listen to him speak 18 months before general election, don’t care.
But that’s the only trick the GOP can do. They can throw red meat to their ignorant base that shows up to vote in primaries. While this looniness makes for funny news stories and hilarious Saturday Night Live skits, it’s not particularly useful in terms of honest political discourse. The frightening aspect of all of this nonsense is that some freak thing could happen during the general campaign and one of these stunningly inept GOP candidates could be president. Can anyone seriously imagine what a Chris Christie presidency would look like?