I've been arguing for some time now that the current crop of radicalized Republicans don't just want to "reform" social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security -- they want to get rid of them entirely.
Well, a new extensive Pew study on partisan polarization validates this view.
Since 2007, Republican support for the safety net has declined significantly even as Democrats continue to support government assistance to the poor and needy as they have over the last 25 years. As a result, although the safety net has long been one of the areas where the opinions of Republicans and Democrats most diverge, the current party gap is now larger than ever.
Majorities of Republicans now say they disagree that the government should guarantee every citizen enough to eat and a place to sleep (36 percent agree, 63 percent disagree) and take care of people who can’t take care of themselves (40 percent agree, 54 percent disagree). As recently as 2009, Republican opinions on these questions were more evenly divided.
So, healthy majorities of Republicans want to let the poor fend for themselves and think the government should let people starve to death.
Let's repeat that point again, just so it sinks in.
Republicans don't think the government should feed hungry children or old people.
Now, if you hear anyone lazily wondering why "the parties can't get together" -- just refer them to these numbers. We're not talking about people who want to "reform" Social Security or who are "worried about the debt." We're talking about people who don't think providing food for hungry children is a legitimate function of government.
These are people who not only think the Great Society and New Deal were a mistake -- they've convinced themselves that the country went off the rails during the Progressive Era, and would be perfectly happy if children could go back to working in factories and old people were left to die hungry and in squalor.
The party of Eisenhower, Nixon and even Reagan is dead. This is truly the party of Ayn Rand.