Andy Schmookler: The GOP’s troubled connection with reality
Last week provided an interesting glimpse into the political right’s pathological dishonesty (and Rachel Maddow did an excellent job of calling attention to it). It turns out that the liars are prone to lying to themselves.
Hence the striking footage of Karl Rove, on Fox News, doubting the statisticians’ determination that President Obama had won Ohio. Hence the apparent surprise of the Romneyites that the election went the way the polls said it would, rather than conforming to what they had convinced themselves was the truth of the matter.
This phenomenon connects deeply with the theme of my recent campaign for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District (the most Republican District in the state): “Truth. For a change.”
To function properly, democracy depends on truth prevailing. And half the American body politic has diverged from any healthy connection with truth.
Wednesday evening, Rachel Maddow gave an outstanding little speech about the problem for America of having our right half living in an alternate reality.
She called our brothers and sisters on the right back to awareness with a litany of things that are true, and should be accepted as such.
“Ohio really did go to President Obama and he really did win.
And he really was born in Hawaii and he really is the legitimate president of the United States, again.
And the bureau of labor statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month.
And the congressional research service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.
And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections to make conservatives feel bad. He was doing math.
And climate change is real
And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.
And evolution is real.
And the Benghazi was an attack on us, not a scandal by us.
And nobody is taking away people’s guns.
And taxes have not gone up and the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.
And FEMA is not building concentration camps
And moderate reforms of the regulations of the insurance industry and financial services industry are not the same thing as communism.”
Maddow went on to say in clear and vibrant terms how good it would be for America to regain an honest political force on the conservative side of our divide. That part of her speech can be heard at: http://upwithchris.tumblr.com/post/35283830686/the-danimal-rachel-maddow-explains-the-2012.
This was a beautifully stated version of something I said many times across Virginia’s Sixth District. We need a good conservative party. We need to have a constructive and honest — and genuinely patriotic — political party that is right of center. And we want the Republican Party to move toward being that way.
We want this, and it is entirely appropriate for Rachel Maddow to call out for this, to explain its importance, to summon the deluded to extricate themselves from the cult that the Republican Party has become and to free themselves from the sick and broken spirit that drives that cult and that uses that cult to degrade and destroy as much as it can of all that makes America good and great.
But wanting is one thing; expecting is another. This election was certainly a powerful blow at the right. But so was the Bushite failure in the Iraq war. So was the Bush presidency helping to drive our economy over a precipice. So was the election of 2008.
These blows are important, and the more frequent and harder we make those blows, the sooner we can drive that dark spirit out of the Republican Party and away from the helm of our American civilization.
But this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. It may be the end of the beginning. (Hats off to Churchill, master of the rhetoric of conflict.) We need to encourage President Obama, and the Democrats in the Congress, to press the battle and not squander their opportunities as they have in the past.
The fate of the nation depends on it. With the “It’s a Wonderful Life” test, whereby we can compare the the starkly contrasting possible scenarios, the question is will we be Bedford Falls or will we degrade into Pottersville?
With stakes so high, whether we like it or not, this is a battle that must be fought.