*So, this is the day after the day after Republicans have taken control of the House and the Senate.
Their success just proves to me something I have been saying for years, Americans are dumb.
And it’s not just me who says it, talk show host Bill Maher says it and so does author and journalist Chris Hedges, who articulated this in his depressing book, “Empire of Illusion.” In the book, he suggests that most Americans are so ill informed and poorly educated, they can’t tell the difference between reality and fiction. And this might explain why the Republicans won on Tuesday night.
The Republicans convinced Americans to vote against President Barack Obama, even though Osama Bin Laden is dead, the stock market is up, unemployment is down, gas prices are falling and more Americans have health care because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)
And this is where cognitive dissonance comes in. Take the Affordable Care Act, which is nicknamed Obamacare, for example. In street interviews on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, some Americans said they didn’t like Obamacare, but they were in favor of the ACA, not realizing it was the same, damn thing. A New York Times article said Democrats did badly in states which benefited from expanded health care coverage caused by Obamacare. So Obamacare got more Americans health care coverage, yet they were still mad at Obama and the Democrats. Republicans managed to convince some Democrats that Obama was so toxic, candidates like Alison Lundergran Grimes actually avoided campaigning with him. In an interview, she refused to admit she voted for the president.
The fact that Americans are this ill informed is helped along by right-wing propaganda outlets like FOX News, which actually works as in reverse as a journalism organization. Journalism is supposed to inform people, but FOX News and other right-wing media, actually makes people less educated. They spout outright lies and the gullible American public laps it up. A university study showed most FOX News viewers believed that Saddam Hussein was behind 911, and so did former presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
This lack of awareness must be the reason why Americans voted to put the GOP back in power. This is a party that doesn’t believe in evolution, climate change, or even a minimum wage. Steve Adams, a California tea bagger who lost to incumbent Mark Takano in a House race, said he wanted to invade Mexico to free a U.S. Marine who was jailed for illegally crossing the border, while possessing firearms. Fortunately, California voters were smart enough not to send Adams to Washington. But, around the nation, voters reelected awful GOP governors like Floridian Rick Scott, who wasted millions on drug testing welfare recipients while using a company his wife owned, Sam Brownback, whose tea party policies tanked the Kansas economy, and Scott Walker, who waged war on public employees in Wisconsin.
Some of the candidates elected to congress were even worse. Iowa voters elected Joni Ernst, who has accused Obama of being a dictator and says she is armed in case the government rises up against her. When columnist Charlie Pierce confronted her with the fact only one person died of Ebola in the United States, she said that was “his opinion.” Georgia voters elected Jody Hice, a minister and talk show host (that should be your first warning.) Hice compares abortion to nazism, doesn’t think Muslims should be protected under the First Amendment and thinks gay people prey on children. Colorado voters elected Gordon Klingenschmitt to the state senate. Klingenschmmitt believes gays and Obama are possessed by demons. And these people are going to be setting policy.
The Republicans won for several reasons. Americans are still upset at Washington over the sluggish economy. I think voters fail to remember how bad the economy was under George W. Bush. The problem with the American political system is it only offers two choices, if you are mad at one party, you vote for the other one, even if they are not going to make things any better.
The GOP doesn’t have the answer to stagnant wages, rising college costs, healthcare and other problems plaguing working-class Americans. And they know this, that is why they run on wedge issues like gay marriage, prayer in school and abortion, which get voters riled up but have absolutely nothing to do with the economy. Republican policies, such as tax cuts for the rich and deregulation, do nothing for working class people, so the only way they can convince the average American to vote against their interest is by engaging in political bait and switch. This election they focused on anger towards President Obama, and scare tactics such as ebola and ISIS. And although Americans love social programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, they just voted for a party who wants to slash or privatize them.
Republicans also relied on voter suppression tactics and voter ID laws that worked to turn old, poor, black and brown voters away from the polls. In Georgia about 40,000 new registrations from mainly black counties vanished and the Secretary of State’s website crashed on Election Day. In addition, only about 40 percent of voters showed up and many Latino voters also sat out the election. Republicans were also helped by campaign laws which allow billionaires like the Koch brothers to pour million in TV ads. Democrats had to resort to cyberbegging through endless emails pleading for micro payments.
Many Americans simply do not understand how their political system works. Democrats tend to come out in droves for presidential elections, but fail to show up for the midterms. They fail to realize other elected officials, school board members, city council members, state officials, and federal representatives and senators, also play an important part in writing laws that actually affect their lives. The president doesn’t make laws. He can only sign laws presented to him by Congress and those laws depend on if he has liberal or conservative legislators to work with. And the Republicans in Congress have determined to block any legislation Democrats suggested.
So, if you think reelecting the party who believes tax cuts are a silver bullet to all of the country’s problems is going to improve your life, you are in for a rude awakening. Two terms of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush proved that trickle-down economics don’t work. If they did, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in now. Giving back power to the party of supply side economics is doomed to fail.