Whether it's Ebola, the IRS, ISIS, Benghazi! or the recent Secret Service scandal, Republicans are dedicated to convincing voters they live in a dark, horrible world. Be afraid, little people, be afraid.
The corollary to that is, of course, that the good soldier Republicans will save you if you'll only vote for them so they can roll back time to some time in history (God knows when!) when everything was wonderful.
It's a tactic. Fear as motivation to reject progress is time-honored and Republicans have turned it into a sort of art form -- dark arts, that is. After all, one of the reasons we live in a somewhat scary world is because of what Republicans did; specifically, Republicans George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This Hardball segment with Michael Steele and Joan Walsh is so emblematic of the fear tactic. Here we have Steele making claims that when he ran for the Senate, ads were run against him claiming churches would burn if he were elected to the Senate; therefore, both sides campaign on fear. I cannot find any substantiation for his claim, but I did find this nice long read where he campaigned on a whole lot of nothing besides good looks and an affable personality. Those same qualities keep him on the air at MSNBC. A safe Republican. A guy who can say "both sides" and mean it.
For Michael Steele, the politics of a dark, cruel world is "politics as usual." He says so. He straight up says this is the tactic that Republicans use because fear works to mobilize their base.
Fear and anger. Fear and bigotry. Fear and selfishness. Classic conservative tactics and monsters of conservative invention for the purely cynical purpose of gaining and consolidating power.
For example, the Ebola virus. President Obama has wisely decided that deploying our military expertise to build medical facilities and help put some infrastructure in Africa to combat the disease is a good thing. But David Vitter objects, claiming it focuses too much on Africa. No funding for efforts to contain the virus and save lives in Africa, Vitter whines, while clutching his pearls and crying about "illegals" crossing the southern border with unnamed but intentional linkage to the Ebola virus. Be afraid!
Fear, baby. It sells. Give them some fear, forget that you refuse to deal with the situation causing the fear.
ISIS/ISIL is yet another shining example. One year ago, the conservative mantra was that there should be no airstrikes in Syria (although bombing the hell out of Iran was totally all right), that the President was leading from behind, blah blah blah. Sort of the same thing you're hearing out of Panetta's mouth these days.
Today, they're all bent out of shape because we aren't putting boots on the ground. Never mind that there are no appropriations for what we're doing now, much less more. Never mind all of that, because Obama.
I will exempt Lindsey Graham and John McCain from the previous two paragraphs, however, because they always want to rain hell on someone and fought vigorously for us to strafe innocent Syrians in 2013 while Assad was still holding onto his chemical weapons. Also Iran and Russia. Because they really, really like bombs and apparently also death.
With the Syria question, they got it both ways. On the one hand, it's a scary world because the President chose diplomatic pressures over bombs. On the other, it's a scary world because the President didn't blow up the entire Middle East in 2013 and poison all those innocents in the process.
Obamacare. Yet another parade of fear. From death panels to ZOMG, they're cancelling your non-compliant policy, it's a never-ending fearfest, tailor-made for the grannies and the haters. After all, why should the riff-raff get health insurance? You know those illegals will get it, and taxpayers will have to pick up the tab. Dirty rotten brown people.
But hey, no health care means they can tell us all about how diseased they are, and how that, too, is all Obama's fault.
Fear. It sells like nothing else and yes, it's a tactic but it's one that reaches into the dark places in voters' hearts and seizes them until they wake up and realize the monster in the closet is a straw man.
Why is it that no one holds conservatives accountable for their nonsense? Why is it that Michael Steele gets away with the insidious "both sides" bull over something that didn't even happen while conservatives get to be as bizarre as they want with no consequence?
Why is it that this midterm election isn't a referendum on what they haven't done? They haven't done a damned thing! Not one. Every fricking Democrat ought to be out there shaming them for shutting down the government, for refusing to vote on even the most mild minimum wage increase, for refusing to fund the Secret Service adequately and denying funding to stop Ebola in its tracks where it originates instead of crying about it coming over here?
Every damn Democrat ought to be laughing in their faces at every debate where they claim they can do it better. By now we all know that conservatives intentionally break the government in order to support their claim that it doesn't work. They don't govern. They go on Fox News and pontificate instead.
Speaking of Fox News, the media owns this as much as everyone else. In their zeal to have a "real horserace" they amplify bullshit. Our politics are as bizarre as they've ever been in my lifetime, but Villagers behave as if everything is perfectly normal and to be expected just like Michael Steele did. Where is the accountability? Where is it that someone stands up and says "The emperor has no clothes!"
Paul Krugman wrote a stellar piece for Rolling Stone about all the change Obama and Democrats managed to make in the six years he's been in office. Here's a list. Every single one of those legislative accomplishments was done in the two years that Democrats had control of the House. Since then, not one damn thing has been done in the legislature. It's all been by executive action. This is not rocket science. It's fact, and it's fact that it would be good for media to actually, you know, report.
- Peak unemployment, October 2009: 10 percent
- Unemployment rate now: 5.9 percent
- Consecutive private sector job growth: 55 months
- Private sector jobs created: 10.3 million
- Federal deficit, 2009: 9.8 percent of GDP
- Deficit in 2014: 2.8 percent of GDP
- Average under Ronald Reagan: 4.2 percent of GDP
- Average tax rate for highest earners 2008: 28.1 percent
- Average tax rate for highest earners 2013: 33.6 percent
- Banks regulated as too big to fail, 2009: 0
- Banks regulated as "systemically important financial institutions" — a.k.a. too big to fail — 2014:29
- Billions returned to consumers by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau enforcement: $4.6 billion
- Americans compensated for being swindled by banks, lenders and credit card companies: 15 million
- Dow Jones close, inauguration day 2009: 7,949
- Dow Jones yesterday: 16,719
- Required MPG (miles per gallon) for cars when Obama took office: 27.5
- Required MPG for light trucks/SUVs when Obama took office: 23
- MPG requirement by 2016 for cars, light trucks/SUVs: 35.5
- MPG required by 2025: 54.5
- Gigawatts of wind power installed when Obama took office: 25
- Gigawatts of wind power installed through end of 2013: 61
- Peak summertime solar power generation June 2008: 128 gigawatt hours
- Peak summertime solar power generation June 2014: 2,061 gigawatt hours
- Coal burned in electrical generation 2008: 1 billion short tons
- Coal burned in electrical generation 2013: 858 million short tons
- Reduction: 14.2 percent
- EPA-proposed CO2 reductions for power sector by 2030: 30 percent
- Pell grant funding 2008-2009: $18 billion
- Pell grant funding 2013-2014: $33 billion
- Adults gaining insurance under first year of Obamacare: 10.3 million
- As a percentage of the uninsured: 26
- Annual cost for birth control prior to Obamacare: Up to $600
- Annual cost for birth control under Obamacare-compliant policies: $0
- Prescriptions now required to obtain emergency contraception: 0
- 2009 projection for Medicare going broke: 2017
- 2014 projection for Medicare going broke: 2030
- Troops in Iraq, inauguration day 2009: 144,000
- Troops in Iraq today: 1,600
- Osama bin Ladens alive 2009: 1
- Osama bin Ladens alive 2014: 0
- Troops in Afghanistan, day, 2009: 34,400
- Troops pledged in Afghanistan by end of 2014: 9,800
- Guantánamo detainees inauguration day 2009: 242
- Gitmo detainees today: 149
- Crack vs. Powder cocaine-crime sentencing disparity when Obama took office: 100:1
- Crack vs. Powder disparity today: 18:1
- Drug offenders eligible to seek early release under new sentencing guidelines: 46,000
- States with medical marijuana, 2009: 13
- Jurisdictions with medical marijuana today: 23 states, plus Washington, D.C.
- States with legal recreational pot 2009: 0
- States with legal recreational pot today: 2
- Jurisdictions with marijuana legalization on the ballot in 2014: Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C.
- States where gay marriage was legal inauguration day 2009: Massachusetts, Connecticut
- States where gay marriage is legal: 24, plus Washington, D.C. (soon to be 30 plus D.C., followingSupreme Court refusal to intervene)
- Immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children now shielded from deportation: 800,000
Let those conservative negative Nellies have their fear. I'll choose progress, and I'd like to see a little more of it from Congress. More accountability, more action, and less wingnuttery.
Can we do that? Yes we can.