Infantile Analysis: Some Thoughts on Simplistic Right-Wing Thinking

An article in the Nov. 20 New York Times detailed the genesis of Grover Norquist’s  creation, Americans for Tax Reform. Grover claims to have invented the idea when he was 12 years old, and that explains a lot about him and his ideas. Norquist’s post-election comment about Romney’s “poopy-head” behavior offers further insight into a quintessential conservative mind or, rather, its equivalent of “mind,” And even more to a text-book case of arrested development. What we have is a 56-year-old body containing a 12 year old mind.

No matter the complexity of any problem, the right-wing responses from Ronald Regan to Grover Norquist to the Tea Party glide over the surface without ever touching down on planet Reality. In fact this wishful state of mind resonates with fairy tales and visions of life in La-La-Land where poverty and sickness do not happen to “good” people but only to the lazy and dissolute. Reality for these delusionistas is Welfare Queens tooling about in Caddies and the chronically unemployed looking for gifts and hand-outs from the hard-working members of society, which category, by the way, does not included themselves. And it is amazingly easy to convince some middle-class people who are themselves living not far from the edge that those who have fallen off have done so through their own fault—because this is what they want and need to believe.

It isn’t easy for some middle-class and Tea-Party people to acknowledge that fate can deal a cruel hand to hard-working people like them. The precariousness of their own situation and the capricious nature of fate frightens them; they live in denial.  The antics and peccadilloes of the wealthy are taken in stride while behavior of the lower-classes is taken as the cause of their dire circumstances and illustrative of their poor character. Politicians, show-business celebrities, billionaires, and even generals engage in rent-seeking and licentious behavior with near impunity, but woe unto the welfare mother who needs food stamps. There is no, “There but by the grace of circumstance go I.” The personal perceptual moat is guarded by the three horsemen of denial, delusion, and dreaded fear of their mountain of debt.

Fear, like the guardians of the circles of Hell, censors rational thought and distorts perception. It is the power of this fear that is constantly exploited by those who manipulate the economy, as for instance in the buying and selling of the questionable mortgages that led to the great economic crash we have just endured. Greed drives the economy at the highest levels and does not limit itself to economics but politics and notoriety as well. Just think for a moment about the antics of Donald Trump and you’ll get the idea. Greed is, in fact, the engine of a great deal of what goes on in the society at large.

Greed takes many forms, from material goods to power, and operates in every realm of human activity. Consider the following example of political greed: “We need an ambassador who has the trust of the president and the Secretary of State,” John McCain said on the Senate floor in defense of John Bolton. (Remember him?) Then McCain went on to say, “… elections have consequences, and one consequence of President Bush’s re-election is that he has the right to appoint officials of his choice.”  “The president”, McCain said, “has a right to put into place the team that he believes will serve him best.”

Contrast this with McCain’s position vis-à-vis President Obama’s probable choice for Secretary of State to replace Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice. Since McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, a gift that keeps on giving, as his running mate in the 2008 elections and his behavior from that time forward, I wonder about McCain’s ethical foundations. In this instance of greed for power, nowhere is to be found a clearer example of blatant use of double standards and a fundamental belief that the American public is composed entirely of idiots with 15-minute attention spans. McCain and Norquist share a dismissive view of the public, of the society at large and a lust to control the social narrative at everyone else’s expense.

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