Ari Melber on Republican Nihilism

Ari MelberLast night, while in bed, I watched The Last Word (it was that or more Rocky & Bullwinkle that I’ve already seen). And as I was falling asleep, Ari Melber said something that shook me. In general, I don’t follow Melber, but I have to admit, he’s a pretty smart guy. You can take that to mean that he is literally “a pretty smart guy” or you can be more cynical and just assume, “He must agree with Frank about something.” I like to think it is both.

Lawrence O’Donnell was talking about the Sequester and how the two sides couldn’t agree on anything. Melber noted that the Republicans are in a bit of a spot, because they aren’t really for what they claim to be. This is well put:

If you talk to Democrats and you say, “Hey that idea about getting more people including poor kids into school? Let’s do it!” The Democrats go, “Great! Let’s do it, because we want the kids to go to school! That’s actually, literally what we want!”

When you talk to Republicans and say, “We want to cut these programs down and cut the military down!” they can’t deal with it. Not only because it’s not a good way to run the government and they know that, but because they know that their own districts—you go South, these districts don’t want to see this many military bases closed. That’s why we have the whole BRAC program because neither party’s ever wanted to do those kinds of cuts and that’s the real problem that goes to the substance of it. They may want to shrink government a little bit here and there but they can’t really get behind a full cut like the Sequester offers.

That’s exactly it. Democrats want to spend money on programs because they actually believe in those programs. But what do the Republicans believe in? Mostly nothing. And that begs an important question: why are they in politics. I think a lot of it is just that Republicans get into politics for reasons that Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm exemplifies: they are angry about a lot of things that just aren’t so. But once they get to the point of being in office, they understand that all their anger was misplaced. What to do? Well, they are members of the Republican Party, so do whatever it is for. And that’s how we get the power for power’s sake Republicans. We sure aren’t getting them as a result of their love for Edmund Burke.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

4 thoughts on “Ari Melber on Republican Nihilism

  1. I’ve often said that Dems tell the lie of omission while Repubs use the lie of commission. If a Dem says "I will support green energy and increase spending for education," they may have no hope of accomplishing either, but they’d like to. So telling voters you’re going to do more than you realistically know you’ll be able to do is a lie, but a lie of omission; if a miracle happened and you could do those things, you would. (The more idealistic the proposals, the bigger the lie; see Obama, B.)

    Whereas the GOP tells more blatant lies, like their endlessly hilarious claim to support small businesses. When in fact if any legislation which supported small business ever came down the pike, they’d scramble to kill it.

    I think your description of the GOP mindset fits quite a few of them, but there are others who know it’s all a pure snow job and are simply in it for cold, hard cash. The more backs they scratch, the bigger the payday when they’re done with politics. And they have families, and probably believe that plutocracy is inherently beloved by God, so they’re not necessarily mercenaries. Just assholes.

    Of course most Dems are bought and paid for as well. But if someone put together a list of the least cynical politicians, the ones least likely to become lobbyists or board members, the vast majority would be Dems (and Sanders.)

  2. @JMF – I don’t think I agree with that distinction. The general problem with the Democratic Party is that it is too pragmatic. This has allowed the Republicans to pull the political center of gravity far to the right. As a result, the Democratic "pie in the sky" ideas are generally to the right of what the Republicans used to be. I’m probably going to write an article this morning on how Reagan’s immigration plan was more liberal than Obama’s "nonstarter."

    But let’s not throw Sanders in with the Democrats. He actually stands for something! (How’d he ever get in the senate?!)

    Of course, the biggest problem is that both parties are owned by the rich. Have you read Roger Hodge’s [i]The Mendacity of Hope[/i]. I highly recommend it.

  3. Yes, I just did — he’s a good writer. As with all such "this is what went wrong" books, the last chapter ("and here’s how we fix it") depressed the living hell out of me, as no such sensible proposals have any chance of being enacted within the next 25 years.

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