In all honesty…
(VANCOUVER ISLAND) I have argued elsewhere that we ought to pay attention to the scientific studies that have demonstrated that those professing to be liberals are, on the whole, more intelligent than those who self-identify as conservatives. Although for obvious reasons that observation isn’t repeated very often by those on the right side of the political spectrum, and is usually politely glossed over by most of my fellow occupiers of the left, it’s fair to say that it’s pretty much self-evident. That the right is aware of its own intellectual disadvantage is clearly expressed in the anti-intellectualism that they embrace. But one other characteristic that the right can assert as having in greater abundance than the rest of us, is their inherent dishonesty. Although, in politics, the truth is an endangered species by any measure, the hypocrisy of the conservative movement outpaces any that the left could claim.
Politically, the right is known for repetition of long since debunked memes; statements of fact that run entirely counter to reality and yet are routinely trotted out as self-evident and widely known facts. One of their favourites, by way of example, is their reliance on the people to accept the myth that Republicans (or, in Canada, Conservatives) are fiscally responsible while Democrats (Liberals and NDP) are the tax and spend parties. Looking at modern US history very easily shows anyone willing to face reality that exactly the reverse is true. In actual fact, history shows us a pattern of Democratic presidencies leaving surpluses or balanced budgets for incoming Republican presidents who then promptly squander the peoples’ money and through deficit spending, run up enormous debts while at the same time eschewing revenue by reducing taxes on the wealthiest. Look at how Bush the Younger managed to piss away the Clinton legacy of a balanced budget and cash surplus. Desperate to be seen as
a swaggering, macho, wartime president, he squandered over a trillion dollars of his people’s money on hypocritically justified wars as a monument to himself. He built a debt that is serviced by continued deficit spending and, not incidentally, cost the US thousands of lives and orders of magnitude more foreign lives. That shows how tough he was.
Tax and spend, especially for wars, is obviously, even self-evidently, a Republican “conservative” principle. And since we’re looking at the hypocrisy that typifies the conservative movement, let’s just note for a moment the so-called justification for Bush’s aggression. Weapons of mass destruction, anyone? Perhaps aluminum tubes that could only be for the production of nukes?
Another particularly egregious example of the hypocrisy of the conservative Republicans and their pretence of fiscal responsibility is their views on the social safety net and its forms of government support for those in desperate need. The prevailing view from the moral high ground on the right is that poverty is generally a result of laziness; if denied food stamps and welfare, those parasites would get up off their indolent asses and work for their daily bread. They argue that the US is the land of opportunity and, with hard work, anyone can become not just successful, but vastly wealthy; government handouts erode that ambitious spirit. With that as a cornerstone of conservative philosophy, they proudly vote down any initiatives that could ease the burden of the desperately poor in their country. Nevertheless, they take billions of dollars out of the budget to give as subsidies to the most profitable corporations in the history of the world – oil companies, like Exxon and Shell, great friends of the Bush family – every year. Moreover, among non-oil corporations, corporate tax paying is only for suckers; those companies that actually pay corporate income tax do so at laughably low rates. Apparently that doesn’t mean corporations are among the “takers” that Romney and Ryan railed against during the last general election cycle. And after all, remember Mitt Romney’s statement from those days? “Corporations are people too, my friend!”. Even better than people, apparently. Corporations deserve our financial support where actual human beings can starve as an object lesson in conservative values. The poor, it seems, should contribute far more than they do to the election campaigns of conservative candidates for Congress. A Congressman doesn’t come cheap any more, and Senators are really pricey these days.
These big picture hypocrisies are evident to anyone who actually looks at the situation; they are so commonplace and familiar that they are part of the political landscape and barely register any more. Most people just shrug and say, “Whatcha gonna do?” But the smaller, quotidian assaults on truth and reality are out there too.
For a long time, the Republican initiatives to suppress the vote among constituencies that are likely to vote Democrat were justified by a spurious need for curtailing voter fraud at the polls. Despite the fact that the kind of fraud that the picture ID requirement is supposed to address simply doesn’t occur, Republicans routinely enact more and more restrictive legislation. Recently, however, it has become perhaps unfair to accuse them of hypocrisy here. These days they are stating explicitly that the aim is to make voting more difficult, that having many polls, early voting polls, and having them open for long hours just makes it too easy for “those people”.
Part of the rock bottom, immutable conservative political philosophy is that the smaller the government is, the better; a realpolitik expression of the idea that “less is more”. Republicans, and particularly their Tea Party faction, all repeat the mantra of wanting to eliminate governmental intrusion into people’s lives. Grover Norquist famously expressed that view in his crusade to “starve the beast” and his desire to shrink government to a size where he could drown it in a bathtub.
Nevertheless, it is conservative and almost exclusively Republican politicians who routinely introduce legislation that would control women’s bodies; anti-abortion laws requiring the most invasive intrusion imaginable into people’s lives, and the increase in governmental oversight to enforce the law are apparently okay here. They also don’t mind using government resources to ensure that some of their desperately crackpot initiatives would be enforced; they presumably would be happy to have government monitor the sex at birth of those wishing to use public toilets.
As far as hypocrisy goes, here’s one of their greatest hits. Amid all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over their idiotic laws intended to keep our children safe from cross dressing sexual predators in public facilities, they neglect to confront the fact that more Republican politicians have been charged with sexual offenses in public washrooms than have transgendered people. If children’s protection rather than simple discrimination were their true aims, they’d keep “family values” Republicans out of public restrooms.
This list could be expanded to fill a book. Everywhere we turn, we see hypocrisy and specifically conservative mendacity; so common is it that they don’t even try very hard to hide or excuse it. Republicans will vote themselves a pay raise and at the same time blithely refuse to support an increase in the minimum wage. They will take an oath of office to put their country ahead of their party or personal interest and assure each other that their primary mission as representatives of the people is to undermine their own president and his office – regardless of the consequences to the country.
And of course, the Mount Everest of hypocritical conservative bullshit is their choice of Donald Trump as their party’s candidate for the highest office in the land. From a “Never Trump!” position to “I’ll pinch my nose and vote for the party’s candidate,” to “I’m starting to be persuaded that Trump is the best candidate”, the Republicans have betrayed their constituents and their country time and again.
So given all the lies, all the hypocritical posturing and all the reversals of pledges, promises, and guarantees, one has to ask why anyone would continue to vote Republican. And the question almost answers itself. Look at the very first sentence in this column; they just aren’t all that smart.