You, the voter, are stupid. You are easily manipulated. You are mathematically illiterate. Your overwhelming controlling emotion is selfishness, and you have the memory of a goldfish. This is the proposition of the Republican Party.
Here is a very short summary of what America’s Republican Party has been up to lately: after speaking out in unison against the grotesque, vulgar, racist spectacle of Donald Trump’s candidacy, the party’s leaders immediately fell in line with Donald Trump the nominee. They did this because the Republican Party exists for the primary purpose of increasing the economic and political power of the rich, and all other issues are subordinate to that, and you cannot hold a leadership position in the Republican Party if you are not perfectly willing to throw every last non-white American in jail if that is what it takes to pass tax cuts for the rich.
And, indeed, the Republicans succeeded in only one major initiative since Donald Trump has been president: tax cuts for the rich. We got em. And every credible expert will tell you that these tax cuts, which will flow overwhelmingly to the rich, will cost the government well over one trillion dollars. This funneling of public revenue back to the Republican donor class is the financial equivalent of spending $1.3 trillion on public health care, or affordable housing, or some other trifling matter like that. It is, in other words, a policy choice. The Republican policy choice is that—in a time of immense economic inequality—there is no better way to spend a trillion dollars than to give it to the richest people in America.
These are simple facts. This has already happened. Everyone will see, over the next decade, exactly who gets that tax cut money. (Spoiler: the rich will get most of it, and everyone else will get very little.) The next step in the dream Republican playbook is to pull their pockets inside-out and exclaim, “We’re broke! We must cut entitlements!” By “entitlements” they mean your health and retirement and roads and schools and libraries and everything else that the government spends tax revenue on, because they just gave a lot of that tax revenue back to the rich. Again, this move is widely expected and will be thoroughly unsurprising. Over the course of several decades, the Republican Party put in place the regulatory and legal structure that allowed the rich to amass obscene levels of wealth; then cut taxes on those obscenely wealthy people; then claimed that the government cannot afford to continue providing the same level of services to the poor and middle class. Help the rich get all the wealth, and then help them keep it all, and then claim to be unable to help anyone else. It’s quite a scam. And how much gall would it take, in the midst of all this, to try to push through yet another tax cut, right on the heels of the one that will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer?
The exact level of gall that the current Republican Party possesses. Politico reports that Republicans want to “punish Democrats in 2018" by pushing yet another round of tax cuts, the entire theory of which is summed up well in this quote: “Can you imagine Democrats voting that down? I mean, how do you explain that one?” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas). “I just think they’d be in an impossible position. They’d have to support it.”
I can imagine Cornyn gasping, “haw haw!” at the end of this, convinced he has crafted the most foolproof political strategy since Freedom Fries. For a top Congressional Republican like John Cornyn, it is utterly inconceivable that Democrats could be rewarded with anything but public scorn for voting against a package of tax cuts that is coming right after a previous package of tax cuts, and which would take more revenue from the government at a time when lack of government revenue is being used as a justification by Republicans for cutting back on government programs that provide necessary financial support to tens of millions of Americans. The reason that John Cornyn is so self-satisfied in his transparent little piece of political posturing is that the Republican philosophy of governing is accompanied by a set of unspoken assumptions. The most powerful of those assumptions is that you, the voter, are an easily tricked fool.
And maybe he is right. These are some of the oldest tricks in the political book, after all. But it is well worth speaking aloud the fact that the leadership of the Republican Party takes it as a given that they can pass a bill that redirects a trillion dollars to the wealthiest people in the country and then immediately say that our critical financial situation means we must cut support for the oldest, poorest people in the country, and that voters will then ask for more of the same. It is their conventional wisdom that the average voter will reward them for robbing the average voter. The entire operating philosophy of the Republican Party is offensive on a moral level, but even on a tactical, political level, we must marvel at the level of contempt that this political party has for the very people whose votes they must attract. Even as statewide teacher strikes sweep the country—a direct result of years of tax cuts starving the public of basic needs—Republicans consider it a matter of common sense that everyone is too stupid to see that “tax cuts” are a shiny bauble being waved in our faces as our pockets are picked. The sheer, simple idiocy of the public is taken for granted.
There’s an election this year. I guess we all get the government we deserve in the end.