The other day, my father was watching television and he heard about the new Republican healthcare bill. He was outraged, and he said, “There’s no way they will be able to get that passed.”
Now there are a few things about this. First is that conservatives, not to mention, Republicans themselves are very much against this bill. Second is that my father is very naive. But mostly, the comment reflected to me that this was typical of how Republicans like my father manage to live with themselves while voting for a political party that is so consistently vile.
Republicans Are Consistent — Really!
It’s all very simple for my father and Republicans like him. The idea here is that, sure, the Republicans are kind of mean, but they (and by extension those who vote for them) aren’t heartless. My father, who is, at rock bottom, something of an ol’ softy, can vote for a party that is cruel, hateful, and vile. And so my father can continue on voting for the GOP, and pretend that sentencing to death hundreds of thousands of people whose only crime is to be poor as a mere aberration instead of its core philosophical nature.
This is not to absolve my father. He should know better. Now at 84, I suppose he can be forgiven, because his mental functioning has really gone down in recent years. But he was the same way twenty years ago. Regardless, I’m not just talking about him.
I’ve long been fascinated that Republicans vote for this. Forget Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter With Kansas. In that book, he was talking about something else: people allowing social issues to trump the economic issues they traditionally care more about.
What I’m talking about here is Republicans voting for a party that consistently votes against what they believe in. And I think this is the mechanism. They’ll convinced themselves that the Republican Party really does vote as they would like. It’s just that now and then they vote in an odd way.
It’s like going to the same mechanic that you father went to when you were a kid. The GOP may claim that they actually believe with their base of voters. But that isn’t the case. The Republican Party really has changed.
Republicans Really Will Destroy Obamacare
Despite what my father thinks, the Senate will vote for its vicious healthcare bill and tens of millions of people will lose coverage. It isn’t an aberration. It’s what they actually believe. And by extension, it is what my father believes it because he votes them into office.
He can pretend that what the Republicans actually vote for isn’t what they believe, but it is what they believe in. I’d love to give my father an out — an excuse for voting for an authoritarian who wants to see children and the old folk and weak die. But there is none.
Republican Is Republican — Trump Is Nothing Special
And let’s not forget: from a policy standpoint, things are no different now than they would have been in 2013 had Obama won. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up. Call it corporatist money management or nationalistic bigotry. It all ends the same: poor people die and rich people get tax cuts.
This is the Republican Party. This has been the Republican Party for at least four decades. They don’t just hate people like immigrants and black-skinned people; they hate people like my father. The only question is whether people like my father will figure it out before it’s too lake.
Don’t count on it.