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Republican Political Correctness

January 28, 2017

The War on Christmas, with Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian

Trump supporters just loved his campaign pledge to end “political correctness” because, you know, freedom is the right to freely offend people who have less power than you.

The phrase “politically correct” gained limited currency in American leftist circles in the 1970s, where it was used much as the term “woke” is now–to describe someone who is aware of and trying to resist political, legal, and cultural constraints that keep certain groups of people from being able to participate fully in American society. The left’s version of political correctness at times became ridiculous, but at least its intent was benign and it addressed pervasive biases in American cultural attitudes that impacted adversely on many people’s lives.

Then starting in the late 80s, neo-conservatives like Allan Bloom and Dinesh D’Souza seized on the term, flipped it, and weaponized it against the ascendancy of liberal thinking in politics and American universities, turning it into a term of derision and ridicule.

But the original meaning of “political correctness” to describe dogmatic adherence to a set of orthodox Stalinist political beliefs applies far more to the disciplined, ideology-driven Republican party of today than to the fractious Democrats or to the disorganized left in general. We see this over and over again in the ritualistic incantation of certain phrases and articles of Republican political belief from which no deviation is permissible. These are accepted on faith with a religious fervor that is impervious to actual evidence or logic.

Here are just ten examples, followed by a reality check:

  • Climate change is a hoax, or a variation: Scientists are not sure if global warming is caused by human activity.  Not true.  Climate scientists are in virtually unanimous agreement that burning of fossil fuels and the increase of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the principal cause of the spike in global temperatures that is causing polar ice caps and glaciers all over the world to melt. The only disagreement is about how quickly it is happening.  Yet there is not a single Republican leader willing to state publicly that climate change is a clear and imminent threat that requires action by the US government.
  • Illegal immigration across the Mexican border is out of control. In fact, the numbers are way down since they last peaked in the late 90s and continue to decline. According to Homeland Security, apprehensions of Mexican nationals in FY 2016 decreased by 17% since 2014, and other nationals by 13%. In recent years, there have been more undocumented migrants returning to Mexico than arriving.
  • Crime is rampant in American cities. Violent crime peaked in 1991 and 1992 but has declined steadily since then, and the violent crime rate is now roughly half of what it was at its peak, even with slight upticks during the last two years particularly in certain cities like Chicago. In most major cities the downward trend has continued.
  • ObamaCare is killing jobs. If so, it hasn’t shown up in the unemployment rate, which has continued to decline since the ACA took effect in 2014. Unemployment is now below 5 percent, which is where it was before the Great Recession.
  • ObamaCare is a government takeover or socialized medicine. Unfortunately, it’s not. It was crafted with extensive input from insurance companies, hospitals, medical associations, etc. and its passage was only possible because their interests were accommodated. Both insurers and health care providers are private sector. The closest thing we have to socialized medicine is what the military has, and even that is partly a hybrid.
  • Republicans are better for business. It’s debatable whether they’re better for business profits, but historically the reverse is true for the US economy as a whole. Since WWII, real GDP (adjusted for inflation) has grown 1.6 times faster under Democratic administrations than under Republican ones.
  • The deficit is out of control. The federal budget deficit peaked in FY 2009 (passed, by the way, when Bush was still in office) because of the economic stimulus package deployed to mitigate the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  The annual deficit then dropped each year until FY 2016, when there was a slight increase, but it is projected to be down again for 2017.  As a percentage of GDP, the FY 2016 deficit is lower than it was in 9 out of 12 years of the Reagan and Bush I administrations.
  • Social security is running out of money and therefore must be privatized. Social security is fully funded until 2033 even if no changes are made in revenue or benefits, and even then revenues are projected to be enough to pay more than 3/4 of current benefits.  Keeping it fully funded could be done with fairly minor changes such as increasing or eliminating the income cap on FICA taxes (currently at $127,200) so that wealthier people would be paying on more or all of their actual income.
  • The US military is woefully underfunded and needs more money to keep it going. The US defense budget is greater that the combined spending of the seven next largest military powers (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan). So how much is enough? The Pentagon will never stop asking for more, and Republican deficit hawks can never say no to the military.
  • Voter fraud is a serious problem requiring stricter voter i.d. laws. This belief has been debunked over and over again, but Trump and the Republican party continue to repeat the same nonsense. Their failure to produce any significant instances of fraud makes no difference, and they will certainly use this claim as justification for further voter suppression laws targeted principally at African-Americans and others likely to support Democratic candidates, as they have done since key provisions of the Voting Rights Act were gutted by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

In essence, the Republicans’ entire program is based on assertions that are either false or at best misleading and which they repeat like mantras in speeches, interviews, and sound bites.

Or we could stop being p.c., and just call them lies.

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