The GOP’s Happy Imaginary World

A long, long time ago I decided that the biggest difference between the two major parties was their style of addressing problems. Democrats have long tended to identify a problem and then think up policies to address it. The policies may or may not work. They may fall way short of what’s needed. They may cost a lot of money. But as a rule Democrats will admit to a problem when it arises and think up something to do about it.

Republicans, on the other hand, most of the time refuse to admit there is a problem, especially if it’s one that can’t be solved with tax cuts and privatization. The classic example of this involves health care. By the late 1980s a lot of Democrats were admitting we needed health care reform. Mike Dukakis made health care reform a big part of his presidential campaign in 1988. But the response to this from Republicans was “we have the best health care in the world” and there was absolutely no reason to lift a finger to reform it.

After all these years the Republicans still don’t want to face the realities of the corrupted, tangled mess that is the U.S. overexpensive and inefficient healthcare system, although most will admit that maybe something needs to be done to bring costs down. But all the “reforms” they can think of basically amount to meaningless tweaks. And like Donald Trump’s famous health care plan that is perpetually two weeks’ away from being ready to unveil, Republicans for at least the past decade or so have claimed to have comprehensive plans for health care in the works that never materialize. Or, if they do materialize, they are very, very stupid and don’t survive being exposed to daylight. See, for example, The Conservative Plan: Don’t Get Sick from September 2009.

The exception to the “What problem?” rule happens when a problem, whether real or imaginary, can be politicized to bash Democrats. Thus the Wall Street Journal even today is giving a lot of space to a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

In GOP world, vaccine mandates that don’t exist are a crisis, but not the pandemic itself. But if the pandemic is a problem, then the most important thing is not to slow its spread but to find out who can be blamed for it. There is nothing about the pandemic itself that provides an obvious argument for tax cuts or for privatizing government services, so Republicans on the whole don’t see it as an issue worth addressing.

But since Joe Biden became president and Congress gained a slim Democratic majority, Republicans have put great effort into demonizing everything Democrats are trying to do to save lives. Government overreach! they scream, even as the Delta variant spreads. As I wrote recently, many GOP governors have put more effort into “protecting” their citizens from having to wear masks or get vaccinated than in protectiong their citizens from the bleeping virus. So here is a map showing where covid cases are increasing at the moment:


If you’re wondering, Vermont has a 66 percent full vaccination rate, and Massachusetts has a 62.5 percent full vaccination rate. If only we could get to that rate everywhere … It’s just over 50 percent in the US Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), but maybe its isolation has protected it. Sounds like a nice place to visit, though.

This week rightie world went ballistic about government overreach! after President Biden said something about people going door to door to encourage vaccination. Here is that remark, in context.

Because here’s the deal: We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites that did so much in the spring to rapidly vaccinate those eager to get their first shot — and their second shot, for that matter, if they needed a second.

Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.

Look, equity, equality — it remains at the heart of our responsibility of ensuring that communities that are the hardest hit by the virus have the information and the access to get vaccinated.

So, as we shift from these centralized mass — mass vaccination sites, where we were doing thousands of people a day, we’re going to put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently at a location you’re already familiar with.

Right on cue, Marjorie Taylor Greene compared this effort to the Nazis.

“Biden pushing a vaccine that is NOT FDA approved shows covid is a political tool used to control people,” Greene tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations. You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment….”

To Greene, “fascism” is defined as “anything a Democrat does.” See also David Graham, “The Rise of Anti-History,” at The Atlantic.

For Greene and others in the Trumpist wing of the Republican Party, anti-history has become a shibboleth. They drop historical references and facts into political debates, but without regard to context, logic, or proportionality. Their villains include Adolf Hitler, but also Mao Zedong and Joseph McCarthy; the Holocaust was bad, but also, Jewish people control the weather. The pose is more than the simple historical illiteracy that’s endemic among American politicians. In this GOP faction, members are willfully ignorant of history, which they view in purely instrumental terms, as a bludgeon to wield even as they do not bother to understand it.

(It might be best to understand Greene as a kind of walking Rorschach test. What she bleats out of her mouth isn’t important and doesn’t make sense, anyway. But whatever you make of what she says reveals something about you.)

But it gets better. At CPAC (yes, they’re holding CPAC again. I think they’re making it a monthly event) Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) warned his fellow wingnuts that Biden’s door-to-door effort is designed to take away their Bibles. And maybe their guns, too. The la-la is strong with this guy.

If it weren’t for the fact that a big, unvaccinated population increases the likelihood of a new variant developing that can’t be stopped with vaccines, I’d say let ’em be crazy. By this time next year, there will be fewer of them. But people who are not-wingnuts will be endangered, also. Maybe the way to reach the wackjobs is to declare that vaccines are available only to registered Democrats. Then they’ll want them.

See also: Delta variant spills out of an incubator that is also a Midwest tourist hotspot by Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg.

19 thoughts on “The GOP’s Happy Imaginary World

  1. If CPAC's meetings aren't monthly, then they should be.

    And they can hold them anywhere; both nationally, and internationally.

    Because we do, after all, once a month have a full-moon all over the damn globe (Note to flat-Earthers:  Yes, G-L-O-B-E, "MORANS!". If you can't grok that, then go do the anatomically impossible to yourselves!).

    • Yes, hold CPACs with every full moon. That’s brilliant. In time they’ll give up on speeches and just dance naked around bonfires.

  2. …the biggest difference between the two major parties was their style of addressing problems. Democrats have long tended to identify a problem and then think up policies to address it….

    …Republicans, on the other hand, most of the time refuse to admit there is a problem, especially if it’s one that can’t be solved with tax cuts and privatization.

    For the Republican, there really are only two problems:

    1) Government. Period.
    2) Staying in power, whatever it takes.

  3.  I'm in Rhett Butler territory re the Delta variant. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" Here's the stat for the jury. 99.5% of Covid hospitalized patients did not obtain both Covid shots. For the moment, if you got the vax, you won't get Covid. Period. Some of the non-vaxed patients have the antibodies in their system for the regular Covid strain. In other words, if they got it, and got over it, the natural antibodies are not protecting from the Delta variant.

    Yes, the idiots are walking, talking Petri-dishes for new variants, one of which may kill me. I can't do anything about that. For now, I could go to the theater and watch Black Widow without apprehension. They can fill out the death certificates now for Covid victims that they died of stupidity. 

    Joe Biden is a better man than I am, trying to talk people into recognizing the facts.

    Regarding the morality of Fox news and the MTG nots trying to rally people against the vax, it has integrity of dropping napalm on a village and pretending you have no responsibility for the civilian casualties. What's incomprehensible is that the casualties will be from the GOP tribe – almost entirely! 

    I'm not rooting for Covid to kill Republicans, but you can't save people from themselves. Keep the vax available everywhere but if they won't accept help, I do not see that we can or should shield idiots from the results of stupid decisions. 


  4. OT – I read that Rudy shut down a Go–Fund-Me after raising 10K of a 2Mil goal for his legal defense. Trump has divorced Rudy, presumably for the miserable failure that Rudy's representation was. 

    Am I the only one who wonders when/if the feds will cash in on Rudy being hung out by Trump? In terms of strategy and politics, Rudy nows WAY too much for Trump to abandon him, but he has. 

    • Yes and no. Rudy has the reputation of a drunken sot (arranging a press conference at the Four Season Landscaping Co is exactly the kind of mistake an alcoholic would make), and so IMO the Feds would have to be pretty desperate to take anything he says seriously. Besides, how do you separate fact from fiction?

      • Way back on this blog, I kind of defended Rudy a prehensive way.

        prehensive (spellchecker mistake? or   When you are [coming in] with a  prehensive plan, including a budget that clearly lays out priorities and expectations of performance, then say you have to deal with what is there, [that]is a very responsible position, " Mr. Sessions said.)

        It was a forward looking statement.  Expectation would not have upset the spellchecker so much.

        Yet the absurdity of the Republican position is Rudy, and his mental deterioration and dysfunction is obvious and progressive.  So goes Rudy and Trump so goes the party.  

        It makes you feel and think that you are dealing with a  suddenly mentally defective relative that is loosing all basic functions and abilities.  I have dealt with way too many of them lately, and sent to many of them to rest.  

        It is sad when we are unable to get them out of the public eye when they are only able to make public fools of themselves.  

        Rudy has, as I prehended served us well.  He sold his youth and his glory days, and he delivered us an education and a statement of how age deteriorates us all, some faster than others.

        So far he has served liberals well.  Not that we were able to push him quickly into an unembarrassing retirement, but that we were able to read the markers that saw what he could not see.  Unfortunately for Rudy he had some that continued to press him, use his reputation, or exploit him into his present embarrassment.

        We will let the future historians work this one over, but Republicans need to take better care of their elderly statesman, not exploit them. That includes Bob Dole.  Nancy Reagan took her husband out of the public eye when he was becoming disabled.  She set a great example that the party somehow does not respect.  Not every politician can age like Jimmy Carter. 

        • With some of these aging and demented politicians — including Trump — their continued public life shows us how damaged their families are. In a functional family, the spouse or adult children would see to it that their deteriorating pater (or mater) familias is hauled out of public view. The Trumps and Giulianis are too dysfunctional to do that, or probably even to realize it ought to be done.

        • Bernie… Rudy's deterioration isn't solely a result of the aging process. We all tend to slip as we age but, Rudy's deterioration is more of a moral issue. His need for relevance, ego, money, and whatever lusts consume him has reduced him to utter buffoonery. Even in his glory days it remains a question as to whether he is the product of slick marketing. It was the FBI who took down John Gotti through diligent hard work, and Rudy positioned himself as a prosecutor to suck up the glory for somebody else's work. Rudy has been a fraud since the day he left the womb!

          America's mayor, my ass! Oh, and don't forget the Bernie Kerik episode. Yeah, the meteoric rise from a no talent thug chauffer to Police Commissioner of NYC all because Rudy needed a consigliere to do his dirty work.

          • You know, not many people have the distinction of being incarcerated in a correctional facility that bears their name.

            I guess it would kind of take the edge off of not feeling welcomed as you are going through the booking process. Not to mention giving one the ability to name drop in hopes of getting better accommodations. Can I get a room with a view?

            Come to think of it, we've been through so much bullshit with Trump it's getting extremely difficult to separate imaginings from factual reality but, wasn't Bernie Kerik included in Trump's list of pardon grantees?

  5. Doug,

    And you know what'll happen when our Reichties finally realize that a whole hell of a lot more of them died from the tRUMP Plague than liberals?

    No, NOT their own anti-vax stances!

    Or their FOX/NewsPutz/ONAN TV hosts.  Or politicians.  And certainly NOT their Fearful Leerer:  Schmuck a l'Orange

    They'll blame us liberals.

    Just don't ask me how or why.

    Because while I like to think I'm fairly knowledge and clever, the one thing I know in this case is that I don't have the kind of grievance-driven imagination that the dimmest bulb in the Reich-o-sphere has.

    Maybe they'll blame Obama, CRT, the "Black Panther" movie, and, oh, I don't know… Well, since tRUMP thinks he's still alive, let's make it Frederick Douglass!

  6. You have confused two different things.  For once, the confusion may not matter.

    One of the distinguishing features of modern politics is that problems are not things to solve, but things to tend and nurture (i.e., exacerbate), to be used to cast blame and raise money.  All of the people who actually want problems to be solved have self-sorted into the Democratic Party, but there are not enough of them to make a difference.

    Another, different feature of modern politics is the retreat into storytelling, performance, and make-believe.  There are two things that are important to bear in mind here.  One is the difference between stories and lies.  The other is the fact that the supply of stories always follows the demand, not the other way round.

    The commonality is the fact that, again, everyone who prefers rational discourse to storytelling and performance has self-sorted into the Democratic Party, but, again, there are not enough of them to make a difference.


    • “You have confused two different things. For once, the confusion may not matter.” Since your comment entirely consists of restating what I wrote in the post, I don’t understand what two different things I confused.

      • It is churlish to pick, but to clarify: your headline is about make-believe and your first graf is about problem-solving.  Since you write your own headlines and do not disclaim a pivot, the appearance is that you conflate the two.

        I do not find most of my other points in your post.  They may, from one perspective, be too obvious to state explicitly; but their reception in other fora implies that they are not universally obvious.  But this space is yours and I must not waste it.

        • “It is churlish to pick, but to clarify: your headline is about make-believe and your first graf is about problem-solving.”

          And then the next paragraph takes us back to make-believe, a theme pretty much continued through the post. There is no rule that says a blog headline has to be about the first paragraph. Seriously, you didn’t express a thing in your comment that differed from what I wrote. You were looking at the issue from a slightly different perspective but coming to the same conclusions. The only real difference is that you are attributing phenomena to all politicians that I attribute mostly just to the Right.

          For example, you wrote, “One of the distinguishing features of modern politics is that problems are not things to solve, but things to tend and nurture (i.e., exacerbate), to be used to cast blame and raise money.” I don’t specifically say that, but most of the post amounts of examples of Republicans using problems to cast blame and raise money. I guess I thought it was too obvious a point to have to spell out. We all know that’s what they do.

          “Another, different feature of modern politics is the retreat into storytelling, performance, and make-believe.” I have written about this so much over the years I don’t feel I need to re-explain it every time I write a post. A lot of the post is in fact about storytelling, performance, and make-believe on the part of Republicans, which is the point of the headline that you didn’t like because it didn’t fit the first paragraph, never mind the rest of the post. I like to think you readers can connect some dots by yourselves.

  7. The GOP has been set on its present course ever since the Blessed Saint Reagan of Conservative Memory intoned "government IS the problem."  And that is true as it is a problem for the republican party.  The GOP realized way back then, that when government is allowed to do what government in part exists for, to address issues that affect the public, and is successful in that, the resulting legislation ends up being very popular and democrats typically get the credit for it, since it is the democratic party that typically advocates for such policies.  See Social Security, Medicare, ACA, to name a prominent few.  Often times such policies have the added benefit of thwarting the greedy machinations of the wealthy, the republican's primary constituency, while giving the workaday majorities some tools to resist them.   So yes, government is the problem, for the republicans.  

    This means the republicans have to create imaginary problems that cannot be solved by government, because they are imaginary: voter suppression, "critical race theory," immigration.  Focus these imaginary problems as an expression of the grievances of their base and, viola! not only is it a problem, its also a solution for the republicans anti-democratic power conundrum as well, since it serves the basis for the red meat (fat, not lean) that gets the base ginned up, essentially over nothing.  But it serves them well.

    The antidote to the anti government, anti-democratic republicans is more government, more democracy.  Republicans know this too, which is why they are fighting so hard to prevent democrats from getting anything done, and to use every lever available to suppress the vote.  They know the party's epitaph was written some time ago, and if government and democracy were allowed to work as intended, they'd be buried by now.  This reality needs to be the starting point for every democrat, and if it is, the realization that the strategy of bipartisanship is not the way forward is all too obvious.

  8. For Greene and others in the Trumpist wing of the Republican Party, anti-history has become a shibboleth. They drop historical references and facts into political debates, but without regard to context, logic, or proportionality. 

    You mean like MTG saying that the Jews were forced to wear a "golden star"? When it comes to littering up a political debate with obscure historical references to throw opponents off balance and confound them, the pro among them has to be Newt Gingrich. I guess he wants to polish his image as the professor and portray himself as above mere mortals when it comes to understanding history.

  9. Pro-covid politics work on the rule that a high price for cult membership improves the loyalty of the cult's marks. It's less painful to double down on error than to admit it. 3% mortality is an acceptable loss rate, if the 97% who survive get to call their survival a triumph of the will over the facts.

    A 10% long-covid rate might dampen enthusiasm in the pro-virus faction. They're a death cult, not a disability cult. Death solves all of life's problems; disability adds to those problems. However, long covid will take some time to reveal its miseries; by then the death cult will find other ways to self-harm.

    Do not rely on covid to reduce pro-covid numbers enough to affect electoral politics, except maybe in close elections.

  10. … (yes, they’re holding CPAC again. I think they’re making it a monthly event) …


    Snowflakes need their safe spaces. It's getting more and more difficult for them to show their faces in actual America.

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