Today someone asked me, “Why are republicans so mean?”
The questioner was 6 years old.
When confronted with a child asking me this question I wasn’t sure if I should cheer because he’s been paying attention to his government… or cry because the nastiness of republican obstruction and policy pushing has seeped into the nightmares of our children.
In this case the question was referencing cutting funding for the SNAP program. From a child’s perspective it’s an easy judgement: anyone who takes food away from a child is a mean person; republican policy takes food away from children, therefore, republicans are mean. The larger “mean republicans” problem, however, goes beyond the Republican Party‘s apparent war on poor or “different from them”. The policies that make republicans mean are primarily motivated by the republican need to appear strong to their voter base. In their minds, to be strong one must demonstrate they can be cruel. It’s terrible logic, but such is the case in Republicanland. If you’re a republican politician, being mean is the only way to win a primary election.
At its most base: Mean = Strong…
…middle school rules, basically.
Welcome to republican politics in the post-Obama era: a dark period in human history when small children ask bewildered adults, “Why are republicans so mean?”
I will try to put aside my wondering what a nightmare of a 6-year old featuring Paul Ryan and countless gray-haired men parading on television talking about rape and abortion might be like (… would there be giant rabbits coated in crude oil carrying swords shaped like vaginal probes? … or maybe talking trains that eat coal and force women to ride in the caboose behind the cattle cars?…) – I’ll put dream imagery aside, because it’s become a duty to answer this question for the curious youth of America.
Does the Republican Party enjoy being mean?
Yes and no. First, it should be made very clear that we’re addressing the Republican Party, and the manner in which its more extreme factions behave. Unfortunately, the most aggressively cruel within the political ranks make the headlines more so than moderates who are more rational. So, good children, we need to acknowledge that we’re talking about what’s defined as the extreme right-wing, the hard-right, or the sadly branded, “Tea Party“. Both political parties have fringes basking in their own anger making news. Both parties also have perfectly reasonable public servants. But what’s seems unique with the modern day Republican Party is the that it allows its paranoid, “Somebody’s Watching Me” fringe to steer the car as it careens down the freeway (pray it doesn’t have to go over any crumbling American bridges).
The extreme right enjoys feeling. It’s a party driven by emotion, and wants to feel as though they are strong; proud. Campaigning for purity, Everything In Its Right Place, and the Tea Party’s very convoluted definition of “Freedom!!” makes them feel that sort of strength in pride. The problem is, they’re a bit confused about what “strong” actually means in the context of governing. (Extreme believers have never been very keen on context, right Mr. Issa?)
Deep down very few animals enjoy being cruel to other animals. When forced to be cruel, they don’t see what they’re doing as metaphysical strength – they see it as a matter of survival. In the case of the extreme right wing (especially in presidential election cycles) it’s more a matter of the strength of their bank accounts and positioning themselves for post-term lobbying jobs. It certainly has nothing to do with Christian values, empathy, or good policy.
It’s quite difficult to see how some reptilian republicans in Congress can interpret… for example…. a 20 billion dollar cut of the SNAP program as being anything to do with survival of the species… but I’m sure they have some excuse. “Fiscal responsibility” is often their answer for everything. This week, we have literally witnessed an entire political party taking food from poor children, and turning around to give it as government issued checks to businesses who are doing just fine.
Yeah… a government that does that sort of thing creates a Nightmare On My Street, too. Don’t blame you, kids.
What are republicans so mean? It demonstrates to the GOP base they can make, “the tough choice”.
For republicans, it’s not about being mean. It’s actually simple: they believe that “the difficult choice” directly translates as “the harsh choice.” Proving they are strong means “making the hard choice,” … and “making the hard choice” is – in their minds – the choice that will somehow hurt people. It’s how they think. Simply.
The modern extreme right that is driving the Republican Party clown car are people who belong in the cheering crowds on chariot racing day – not in halls of the Capitol Building. The GOP is literally being controlled by the angry mob.
In the GOP brain, hard choice IS cruel choice. And so they seek often symbolic votes that do harm to the weakest in society because doing so is the most cruel choice available. Stick it to those who can’t fight back in the name of freedom, faith, and fiscal responsibility.
This behavior is commonly found in business with most first-time managers: being strong means saying “no” a lot. The thought is that a strong manager is one who is very, very strict and holds staff accountable with a heavy fist. “Be strong and in charge!” As managers learn and get better at their jobs, however, they discover that generosity and empathy always get better results out of a team. All these new republicans in Congress don’t understand that. They need management training (and a massive injection of empathy… throw some human DNA in there just to make sure we know what we’re dealing with).
Republicans in Congress don’t understand that sometimes the most difficult choices are the ones that help the most people, not hurt them. The hardest choice is often making the right choice – even if it means you might lose your job. That’s strength.
This new batch of extreme right-wing ideologues who rolled into Congress on the 2010 Tea Party Express (the scenic Redistricting Extravaganza Route) are just the sort of insecure middle managers who believe that to be strong, one must be harsh. They don’t enjoy being mean – they’re just too wrapped up in their egos, simplicity, and inexperience to know any better.
Somehow I don’t think the 6-year old will like that answer: “Republicans are mean because they lack diverse experience and therefore don’t know any better.” Maybe if we try to explain it like that grumpy guy in Despicable Me…
What unsettles those of us who are allowed to stay up past 9pm, however, is that there are a few of the more extreme members of Congress who do seem to enjoy being cruel and looking over the edge of the witch hunt cliff. We’ve seen this behavior countless times in history during which a holier than thou group gains political strength and therefore feels entitled to force their own hyper-conservative beliefs on the country. Those who want their relgio-social beliefs to control Every Breath You Take, while cutting all government programs except the military… deep-seeded religion and a tilt for war… never a good combination. Those are the congressional players who cameo in the nightmares of adults (no trains, only trials and endless investigations). With them, one gets the feeling that even the best mentor would be unable to teach them that cruel does not make you strong. It just makes you mean.Tags: playlists, republicans, Tea Party | June 21, 2013 in: Right Wing Politics | 06-21-2013 17:10:45