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DailyTidings.com
  • COMMENTARY

    Republicans and the politics of cognitive dissonance

  • If you are following the trailers now being previewed regarding the 2014 mid-term elections, you might be experiencing some cognitive dissonance (CD), meaning you are often confronted with policy proposals and statements by the Republicans that can seem jarring, defy reason and are in conflict with your existing view of how the world should work.
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  • If you are following the trailers now being previewed regarding the 2014 mid-term elections, you might be experiencing some cognitive dissonance (CD), meaning you are often confronted with policy proposals and statements by the Republicans that can seem jarring, defy reason and are in conflict with your existing view of how the world should work.
    A hint that you suffer from CD is if you hear yourself saying frequently, in response to the political landscape and pundit predictions regarding the mid-term election outcomes, "Seriously?"
    Case in point: In a recent New York Times column by Charles M. Blow, he opines that the Republicans have a real chance of taking control of the Senate. "Republicans," he writes, "need to pick up just six seats to gain control of the chamber." Thirty-six seats are open, of which two-thirds are currently held by Democrats. Seven of those seats are in states where President Obama lost in 2012.
    According to the political and sports statistician Nate Silver, at FiveThirtyEight.com, "It's almost certain that Republicans are going to gain seats. The question is whether they'll net the six pick-ups necessary to win control of the Senate." Silver goes on to say that were he asked to place a bet at even odds, "we'd take a Republican Senate." Know that Silver is the consummate political and sports wonk and a scarily accurate prognosticator.
    It gets worse. Columnist Blow references Lauren Windsor, who reported in The Nation last month that the Koch brothers, far right captains of industry, with a bevy of rich, like-minded friends, are committed to spending $500 million on taking back the Senate in the 2014 midterm, and raising an additional $500 million "to make sure Hilary Clinton is never president."
    The Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, paved this yellow brick road for unlimited campaign spending wherein a decidedly small number of deep pockets can now have a far greater impact on any given election than their numbers warrant.
    Nate Cohn of the New York Times' "Upshot," a political wonk extraordinaire, recently wrote that the mid-term elections "could break toward the Republicans over the next few months. The Republicans will have a good chance of picking up the Senate even without an anti-Democratic wave."
    All of the above raises the question: will the nation's electorate actually reward the Republicans for what has been a disgraceful, do-nothing performance?
    This is where cognitive dissonance comes into play. Common sense argues that conservatives should lose their majority in the House and that the Democratic numbers should increase in the Senate. And yet, inexplicably, opinion polls are indeed trending Republican. Look no further than Obama's declining poll numbers that continue to linger in the 40s.
    Is it simply partisan hyperbole to insist that the Republican record over the last six years has been mean-spirited and appalling? Is it not self-evident that their mission has been not to do all that was and is possible to restore America after the Great Recession, but to deny President Obama a modicum of success at every turn, thus turning obstructionism into an art form?
    Today, millions of Americans still continue to struggle in their quest for jobs. People want to work. Many families are desperate. Almost a fourth of all our children live in poverty. In other words, the need is great, our infrastructure begs for a massive effort in the style of the Work Projects Administration (almost every community across America has a park, road or bridge built or repaired by the Depression-era WPA).
    Instead, the Republicans in Congress have decided that instead of creating jobs they will sue the president over Obamacare and his decision to give businesses until 2015 to implement the Affordable Care Act employer mandate. At the same time, the House has voted 54 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act that they are suing President Obama for not enacting more quickly.
    Of course, this specious suit is just prologue. Pure Kabuki theater. What the conservatives in Congress and their base want to do is impeach the president, a fantasy they nurture and one they hope to implement after they take control of the Senate in 2014.
    Has the electorate forgotten that it was conservative legislators that attempted to extort from the administration a repeal of the Affordable Care Act by shutting down the government at a cost of billions? Is it not self-evident (to women especially) that conservative state legislators are using all means possible to repeal Roe v. Wade? Ditto the Voting Rights Act. Meanwhile, ideologically driven Republican governors in more than 20 states have rejected an expanded Medicaid (said expansion paid for by the federal government), while ignoring those hundreds of thousands who will be unable to avail themselves of much-needed medical attention. And so on.
    Chris Honoré lives in Ashland.
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