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I have been perplexed at the
vicious intensity of Republican and ‘conservative’ attacks on health care
reform, even in its rather minimal form.
They have lied about “death panels,” lied about their interest in “bipartisanship,” lied about its impact on abortion, lied about fraudulent memos (see video) and lied about imaginary studies in medical journals. They have even attacked children whose
reform. Such bestial acts have
become defining features of the battle against health care
reform. Political and media
leaders have been at the forefront of this campaign of deception and intimidation.
Many of the Republican Party’s and ‘conservatism’s’ leading lights have removed themselves
from all contact with civil discussion and reasoned argument over this issue.
(As the lies keep coming, check at Factcheck.org to find the truth.) In politics everyone exaggerates, but this is unique.
At first take these constant lies
and depraved attacks on the weak and needy are really rather weird. We are talking health care. We are
talking health care when the American system by every objective criteria is
doing an inferior job at greater expense than the systems in many other countries
in the world. We are talking
health care reform that guarantees insurance companies lots of new clients (which I do
not like, but is certainly a price worth paying to get some real aid to so many
millions). We are describing a bill that addresses horrendous abuses any normal person would condemn. This is hardly an attack on business.
I think the reason for this
otherwise inexplicably atrocious behavior boils down to fear. Not so much fear on their part (the
political leaders already have very good government-provided health care). The leaders of reform’s right-wing opponents in
politics, the media, and elsewhere know they are telling lies and acting well
beyond the boundaries of civilized behavior. Their fear is about something other than worry about bad policy.
I think for them much more is at
stake than health care reform.
These people have long attempted to make fear the dominant theme
in American culture, and with some success. Right-wingers have a basic political problem, and that
is that the majority of Americans have never been on their side except when
they are frightened. Fearful
people instinctively look for ‘strong leaders’ to lead them into safety.
Along with promoting a state of
constant fear, ‘conservatives’ and Republican leaders consistently represent
their opponents as weak men and mannish women. Simultaneously they themselves
prance and preen in a caricature of manliness, whether the faux manliness of
media figures like Bill Kristol, so eager to send other
people to war while drawing enormous paychecks for their bravery, the academic
cheerleaders claiming to be experts on ‘Manliness,” like Harvey Mansfield, or
those trying to associate themselves with false images of heroism by men who avoided service while better men did not – like John Wayne. The ‘conservative’ paean to manhood is
fraudulent to the core. All of it. In fact the evidence suggests that liberal leaders have a better record of serving their country in uniform than do right wing ones. But so long as they appear strong to people, and make their opponents seem weak, frightened voters will gravitate to their camp.
I believe the same is true for
the right-wing versions of ‘traditional’ religion.
Their god is a god of threat and punishment for any who do not knuckle
under. And those who do knuckle
under are threatened with eternal suffering if they ever deviate or doubt. Even the saved live fearful lives
constantly aware of their fate should they fall away. I gave my book Pagans and Christians to some conservative religious people and they
were afraid to read it. Again, we see the centrality of a state
of constant nagging fear, fear that is actively promoted.
The pay off for the promoters of fear is
When a person is on the edge of
total vulnerability she is likely to vote for the promised protection of
‘manly’ conservative Republicans and cling to their ‘manly’ bully-deity. Just to be safe.
Health care is perhaps the biggest
source of generalized uneasiness and fear for many Americans. Even people with good insurance policies
are often tied to their jobs, vulnerable
to disaster should any unemployment be prolonged. Many people hold to jobs they hate only because of this
benefit. Many of these people have a family to protect. They are
painfully aware of just how insecure their position in life, and also those who depend on them, really is. It’s scary.
Health care reform, even in the
modest version that may soon pass, removes one of the biggest sources of
nagging fear and constant insecurity in many Americans’ personal lives. With its departure those who fatten
themselves through others’ fear and insecurity will have lost a major
psychological resource in their work.
The less threatening our environment, the more we can look reasonably at
the threats that really exist. The
more we feel safe, and so can look carefully at reports of threats, the harder we
are to manipulate. The more
threatening our environment the more we will be tempted by the “Daddy Party.”
I suspect that a number of
privately financed psychological studies by the intellectual whores who rent
their minds and creativity out to the highest bidders without regard to ethical
considerations have shown the centrality of fear and personal insecurity in
winning support for right-wing causes.
Anything that lowers people’s level of fear and insecurity strikes at
the center of their appeal, and so, of their power. And so health care reform is an enormous threat to the
right-wing agenda, as well as their ideological supporters who falsely imagine
themselves defending free markets. (I suspect this is also why they want student loans for college to put graduates deeply in debt. But that’s another story.)
Consequently right-wingers and
Republican leaders lie, lie and lie again.
The less we are motivated by fear, the less Americans will find them
appealing so, to preserve their chances to wield power, these people have become the
real enemies of the American people. That they lie to us so constantly is the
best evidence this is true, for we will reject them totally if they ever tell the truth.