March 5, 2017

The Pro of Con

Certainty used to be the c-word of the Republicans. You know, we need certainty about health care and taxes and the environment and all that. The kind of certainty that couldn't be found in the laws and regulations related to those topics; it could only be found in the repeal of those laws and regulations, we were told.

For a while, since last year's Republican National Convention, we were all about carnage. You remember that, right?
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leave our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge; and the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. 
This American carnage stops right here and right now. 
 So, on Inauguration Day, it was all about carnage, and public education depriving our children of every last bit of knowledge they had when they walked into the system. Dark stuff, just lie what I wrote about last year, right after his convention.

Less than a full month later, we're all about confidence.
When we fulfill this vision, when we celebrate out 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began. The time for small thinking is over  The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts, the bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls, and the confidence to turn those hopes and those dreams into action.
Ah, confidence. Our friends at Merriam-Webster define it this way:

What does that mean for us?

Businesses now have brash confidence that the anti-regulation billionaires in the president's Cabinet will strip the Federal Register of all those foolish regulations that simply job killers, that offer no redeeming features. For example, clean air, clean water --  those are thing we will promote, but not anything we actually have to secure.

And they can have perfect confidence in their success; after all, this president and this Congress are going to reduce the tax rates so much that they'll probably be close to what the businesses are actually paying today, since I think the only business paying the highest tax rate on the books is one without an accountant. Several pay no income taxes, similar to their fearless leader who admitted as much during the campaign.

And they can have faith in their leader, a man who has already started his massive remodeling of our government, via executive orders, rallies, and tweets.

We can see their confidence, as the stock market soars to ever greater heights, almost daily. One can only hope, I guess, that it does as well over the course of Trump's administration as it did during the Obama years, when everyone was suffering from all of that uncertainty. We'll know whether it has, when we see the Dow reach 50,000.

That's right, from around 20,000 to about 50,000 would be the same 2.5 factor we saw under Obama.

And we'll know if they start investing some of their almost two trillion dollars in cash held in the US, regardless, of whether or not we determine how to repatriate an even larger amount of cash held overseas by American companies.

Here's another great use of confidence by our feckless leaders, those in the Republican majority in Washington, and the president, and the Republicans in control of two thirds or more of our statehouses. Republicans have been chipping away at voting rights laws, for years, with court approval in some cases, telling us we need to do this so we can have confidence that our processes are safe and legitimate. They plant the seed that it's not safe. and they water the seeds by changing the rules, and then people say we need to have the rules changes, and the Rs claim validation for instilling confidence in the process.

It's incredibly brilliant circular logic, and people fall for it, repeatedly, feeling ever more confident each time they see another bill pass that their vote is safe, that it can't be stolen by dead people, or by Massachusetts people, or illegals, or people voting illegally.

A similar example is the battle to restrict abortion, based on needing to provide safety to women, even through the rules they put in place solve problems that simply don't exist. Why, for instance, does the hallway in a clinic need to meet the same standards as that of an ambulatory surgery center, having to be wide enough to fit two hospital beds side by side, when clinics don't use and don't need to use hospital beds? What does this have to do with a woman's safety? You guessed it - absolutely nothing.

These examples and others like them also illustrate another c-word; the definition is again from Merriam-Webster

See, the thing about voter fraud -- the kind the president has talked about, the kind where crazy liberals are bused in from Massachusetts, that bastion of blue, to mess up things in New Hampshire, or the millions of illegals who voted (or maybe it was just people voting illegally, which is different) -- the thing about this kind of voter fraud is that it doesn't happen. Well, there was that woman from Iowa who voted twice for Trump, but anyway, with a rate of between 0.0003 and 0.0025, it's less than negligible. So the efforts that the Rs are going through are contrary to the reality, which doesn't need correcting.

And people being registered to vote in more than one jurisdiction? Sure, that's an issue; after all, there were a number of folks affiliated with the Trump administration among them Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Sean Spicer, and Steve Mnuchin, as well as fourth child Tiffany Trump -  who fell victim to multiple registrations themselves. Now, of course they would never be chastised for that, nor would they attempt to cast more than one ballot for president, right?

We are to believe that these white Republicans would never consider doing the wrong thing, contrary to how we must perceive the other people on the list who make up the 3 million who voted illegally and cost Trump the popular vote.

In my least optimistic moments, I can be swayed to believe that politics is all a con, and that many of the people who get involved are in it for themselves, or that they've completely lost touch with why they got involved in the first place: to serve, not to be served. To lead, not to be led. To collaborate and find common ground, rather than to completely disavow the other side's positions.

There are days I can be persuaded into thinking that many of our elected officials is nothing more than a con man, one who promises much and but then delivers what they're told to, whether by a lobbyist or a more senior statesman or by a billionaire with lots of money to spread around, or by a corporation who helps write legislation.

These are traits that are not exclusive to the Rs vs. the Ds, even though it might seem that way to some people. In fact, I think it looks like that because of the success that the Rs, and their confidence game, and their contrary circular logic, have had across the country.

And I think it's particularly visible, now that we have elected Donald Trump, the Pro of Con, as president.