Herbert writes, "there are two things I find remarkable about the G.O.P., and especially its more conservative wing, which is now about all there is. The first is how wrong conservative Republicans have been on so many profoundly important matters for so many years. The second is how the G.O.P. has nevertheless been able to persuade so many voters of modest means that its wrongheaded, favor-the-rich, country-be-damned approach was not only good for working Americans, but was the patriotic way to go. " Some of the things Herbert lists that Republicans have been wrong about include:
- voodoo economics - Martin Feldstein on the reasons for the growth of the deficit under Reagan: the president’s tax cuts, the increased defense spending and the interest on the expanding national debt.
- Social Security, Medicare - Reagan saw Medicare as the first wave of socialism
- global warming/ozone depletion - remember Tom DeLay:
The Nobel Prize of Appeasement ???
- civil rights and voting rights - Reagan opposed both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; Willam F. Buckley for a time felt that whites "being superior" were entitled to discriminate against blacks
The G.O.P. has done a great job masking the terrible consequences of much that it has stood for over the decades. Now the mask has slipped. As we survey the wreckage of the American economy and the real-life suffering associated with the financial crackup of 2008, it would be well for voters to draw upon the lessons of history and think more seriously about the consequences of the ballots they may cast in the future.
But the real punchline of the essay, I think is this:
Americans, including the Joe Sixpacks, soccer moms and hockey moms, were repeatedly told that the benefits lavished on the highfliers would trickle down to them. Someday.
Unbelievably, judging from the crowds at Sarah Palin's rallies, they are still falling for this line even today, when we're in a hole so deep not even the best economic minds of the country know how to get us out.