The tax bill that was passed late Friday evening was not a surprise but still hit me like a strike in a solar plexus. It’s that I could not see how it passed, it is just more that I kept hoping it would not. That I was hoping at the last minute someone would, to paraphrase the AMERICAN PRESIDENT, “vote their fucking consciences, the chickenshits.” But alas, it was not to be.
In retrospect, of course it was not. Because, barring 1-2 behaviors, it was all upside for Republicans. It took me a bit to realize that, so I just thought I’d share here the number of levels it is a win for the GOP.
1.) The Donor Class- You make them happy, your coffers fill with donations. And this legislation has probably made the largest number of donors happier than they have been since…I don’t know win. Reagan?
2.) The Horse Race Oriented Media- Look at the New York Times and NPR—those hideous “lamestream” media outlets—immediately after the vote. The headlines credited the bill’s passage as massive victories for the GOP and Trump respectively. No hint of the content of the bill, no speaking to the controversies regarding it. Just “massive victory,” which leads us to #3
3.) The Politics as Sports People- When it comes to politics, we all tend to take sides, to find our teams. However, there are those that say, “I’m a Democrat but I can’t support so-and-so’s reduction in military spending,” or “I’m a Republican but taking health care out of the hands of for-profit businesses makes sense to me,” or whatever. These people have a foundational set of beliefs that align them to party but are also evaluate situations to how they reflect their values, not just what their party says.
For others, however, it is like watching sports. Right or wrong, I’ll never cheer for the Cowboys. NEVER. Same for this class. They don’t care or don’t care to know about the content of legislation, they just care that their team wins. And when paired with media responses mentioned above, they are only encouraged to more fully embrace this way of looking at politics.
4.) The “Taxes Are Stealing” crowd- Nevermind that they will likely get their taxes upped by this legislation. They heard tax cut and they hate taxes. They are onboard.
5.) The “I Only Trust Non-‘Mainstream”’ News”- These types gravitate towards Fox—which is the most mainstream of news, judging by ratings and how it parrots the current establishment talking points—Breitbart or the President himself’s take on the news and all of them have been saying this is a good thing for people.
6.) The “Punish the Lazy” people- These individuals love when politicians like Senator Orrin Hatch imply that those who need CHIP—health care for children of low-income families—are lazy bums and would just do better if they worked harder. Nevermind that many in this group are actually in the income bracket being called lazy. They know they work hard so they know they can’t be the ones Hatch is talking about and those ones that Hatch is talking about is why they work so hard but still have such a hard time getting ahead. They are trapped by cognitive dissonance and rather than blame the politicians for forever duping on them, they turn against those who are nearly at their financial level but just slightly below.
7.) Racists- It has to be said. Despite a majority of the social services in the US being utilized by white people, the typical image of someone needing government support is a person of color, which is racist on its face. Add to that people who are disinclined to care about—or actively hate—people with a different skin tone and viola! a bill that screws those of a lower socioeconomic class is a victory.
8.) The “government always just makes things worse” people- This has long been the Republicans’ secret weapon. They run on the idea that whatever level of government—Federal, State, etc—is broken and really the problems should be handled by the level below them. This is why Federal officials are always shouting for state control and State officials are always pushing for more local/town/county control. And, they usually add, what would be even better is if private industry took over. Then they win and get into office and either do little or screw the people who voted for them. So they should get tossed, right?
No, because this is what they ran on. While leftists argue government can be good and useful, the GOP repeatedly says it won’t. So even when they are in power and they fail or, as in this case, they pass truly horrible legislation, they still win. Because it confirms the thesis that government is bad, wasteful, ineffective, etc. You don’t vote for the people insisting government can work if you think you are seeing it doesn’t, you vote for those straight talkers who are honest enough to say, “Nah, government sucks. See?”
It’s way Governor Walker in Wisconsin was wildly unpopular but the state refused to recall him. He was bad but he sure was right about government.
It is why Governor Brownback’s choices for Kansas were almost immediately known to be bad but it took years to turn the ship around. Government is bad, is doing bad, and Brownback is in charge, but he has always told us government is bad so he’s right, right?
And if this bill is a crippling mess? Well, what do you expect? Congress, opposite of progress, etc etc. As long as they like their guy--and they nearly always do--why would they change their vote when the government just does what the government always does and mess up their lives?
So with these 8 ways to win in front of them, the GOP has decided to roll the dice. Because the only ways to lose are unlikely—Democrats out fundraising them in safe districts and states, voters not fitting into the categories about and showing up on election day, the Dems getting a message machine as slick and powerful as the GOP’s long chugging machine that has relabeled global warming “climate change,” hatred “family values,” and impoverished as “lazy.” Might as well take the bet and laugh all the way to a new Gilded Age, right?
I don't want you to think I'm hopeless though. I'm not. I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm frustrated. But I think victory can be snatched from defeat here. It's just that, if I was a Republican Senator, these are the calculations I would've done and if I was soulless or an ideologue or fell for my colleagues' lies about protecting what I asked them to, or cashed it all in for a bit of pork for my state, I probably would've voted yes too.