Pundits Killing Time Before Next Liberal Threat

Jonathan ChaitJonathan Chait brought my attention to something interesting, Why Are Republicans Suddenly Fixated With Urban Failure? His take on it is that Republicans are fleeing from the “Obama is destroying America!” meme, and have gone back to their tried and true meme, “Democrats have created scary urban areas!” I think this is actually not true. What’s happening is that Republicans know that Obama is at the end of his term. In the past their argument was, “Just you wait!” It’s like the Paul Bibeau satire, What If They NEVER Come For Our Guns? So the Republicans are just marking time until they can explain that it is really Hillary Clinton who is destroying America.

But Chait does note the most important issue: where “big government” is a problem is not at the federal level; it is at the state and local level. That’s where we have problems with onerous business regulations and zoning that causes rent to be exceptionally high. It is also, it seems reasonable to note, where county clerks refuse to marry people because of their hatred of gays and where minority groups have had the most problems with the law. So it is ironic that Republicans would claim that cities are dysfunctional as a justification for stopping the federal government from repairing bridges.

What Chait completely leaves out is the Ultimate Republican Idea™ — that everything is better at the local level. So we need no national education standards, for example. But most of all, there is Block Grant mania! By this logic, the federal government doesn’t need to tell states what to do; it just needs to give them block grants and the states will innovate in ways that we just can’t imagine! So there’s no need for Medicaid: just give money to the states and figure they will sort it out.

But if that’s the case, how does highlighting dysfunction at the local level help? Well, that’s the great Republican trick. They don’t actually believe that local control is better. Block grants are all about destroying these programs that they don’t like. Making Medicaid a block grant is a way to defund it. They know that they can’t just eliminate it. They’ve tried and there is too much support for it. But making it a block grant, allows them to slowly kill it, since Congress won’t be keen on properly fund it when it isn’t really their program. So year by year, Medicaid would have less and less purchasing power to the point where it was effectively repealed.

But as for the likes of George Will, this is just a period where they relax and complain about little things. They will be back. They just don’t yet know who will be the next Liberal Destroyer of All That Is Good™. Once that person arrives, it will be back to usual. In fact, George Will can just go back and use his columns from the 1990s. It will be especially great if Hillary Clinton is the next president — he will be able to recycle some articles without even a search and replace. “President Clinton is destroying America…”

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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.

15 thoughts on “Pundits Killing Time Before Next Liberal Threat

  1. It is the old Republican idea of government only matters when it is them running it. Otherwise why would you get legislation at the state level to prohibit a city from doing something like banning plastic bags?

  2. I don’t know much about local-level government failures. I did read a buttload about Detroit, and the problems there have nothing to do with the political party in charge. First, corruption; it’s been epic for over 100 years. Second, the auto companies didn’t diversify after WWII. They could have; they could have kept making military hardware like during the war. But there were millions of consumers eager after rationing ended to buy cars. So cars it is. And then everybody who wanted a car, had a car. How do you get them to buy new cars? Tailfins? Stripes? It’s a bit like the iPhone today. If some of those companies had kept making military vehicles, the story of Detroit would be very different today.

    And then of course, white flight, aided & abetted by national-level policy and local banks/realtors. You know about it. If anyone reads this, and doesn’t know about it, Coates’s “The Case For Reparations” tells that story in detail. It’s disgusting — but a great example of the market working perfectly.

    When conservatives say, “look at Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit” they’re not saying “Democrats take bribes.” Which politicians in those cities definitely do. What conservatives are saying is “look at what happens when you let Blacks vote.” They’re trying to confuse effects (inner cities with a majority Black population getting screwed) with causes (systematic racism.)

    I have a hard enough time getting out of bed every day, knowing I’m looked down on by polite society for my job, my zip code, my lifestyle choices, you name it. It’s not easy. I can’t imagine how constantly maligned minorities manage. But they do.

    • That’s a pretty good summary. But what you fail to realize is that if the rich are short sighted and stupid, it isn’t their fault. If the poor — especially the black — don’t succeed against enormous obstacles, it’s their own fault. And you personally wouldn’t have any problems if you would just Think and Grow Rich!

      • I thought about growing rich and all I got was a headache.
        I think there is a flaw in that claim of Napoleon Hill. Ow.

        • I rally should read that book one day. I use it as kind of a joke. The title is so stupid. It strikes me as typical “cult of positive thinking” nonsense. But it would probably tell me a lot about human nature. I think it is a Great Depression book.

                • No promises. I tried to read Sarah Palin’s Christmas book for a blog post, and I couldn’t get off the first page.

                  • She’s such an a-hole. I remember she was here for a book signing, and would only sign books bought at the store that day — you had to buy her daughter’s damn book, too. Which is why I didn’t go. She’s said she became a Republican after being appalled by Gore Vidal’s “Burr” — and I just so happen to have a signed copy of “Burr.” So I thought it’d be fun to see if Palin would sign it. Nope!

                    What kind of jackass only signs new copies? Pratchett used to say how charmed he was when readers brought beat-up old copies — it mean they’d re-read the book and loaned it to friends.

                    As it worked out, I’m kinda glad she didn’t soil my copy of “Burr.” But I was curious to see what her reaction would be!

                    • She would have winked at you and said something about Freedom.

                      Palin missed her true calling: actress.

                    • That shocks me. It’s such an amazingly shortsighted thing. The bookstore might want an author to only sign newly purchased books, but authors want to create good will. In her case, I suspect it was just that there were too many people who wanted to get her autograph, so this was a good way to limit the flood. She’s a truly vile person.

  3. Palin reply thread — There’s a way to limit the time authors spend signing books. You limit the time and make it a hard cutoff. And the particular bookstore doesn’t usually have the “new book” policy, even for more popular authors. I think it was just Palin’s massive ego.

    As to her being an actress, I could see that. Not anyone good, but good enough for B movies and soap operas. She would have fit right in as a love her/hate her soap star in the 80’s, one of those villains people liked because they were assertive characters. Some of those stars were popular for ages!

    • Not an inconsequential amount of being a politician these days is acting. Thanks to modern media naturally. I agreed with David Pietrusza’s conclusion at the end of his book on the 1948 Truman/Dewey race when he said that thanks to the media presidential and on down the ticket candidates became slickly produced.

      So she was brilliant at the slickly scripted Republican events where she had a set of answers she memorized but you get her out of her script and it is the gotcha question of “what do you read?” Maybe she should have gone to Hollywood after they fired her from Fox.

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