Back in the middle ages they believed that madness was a disease and that you could catch it if you hung around people who were crazy. You do have to wonder these days whether they had a point. One has to question if conservatism is a mental health condition caused by exposure to right wing media lies, combined with the memory span of a goldfish and an inability to understand the concepts of irony or hypocrisy.
For example, I was updating some notes this week on the history of environmental protection. One thing that stands out is how many Republican presidents keep cropping up, not as opponents of environmentalism, but as supporters of it. Teddy Roosevelt (Republican) is known as the father of American environmental conservation, founding 6 national parks in his presidency. Nixon founded the EPA, tightened the clean air act and signed the endangered species act. In 1987 the IPCC was established by the UN with funds from America during the Reagan presidency, as was the Montreal Protocol (to prevent CFC’s damaging the ozone layer). His successor G. H. W. Bush wasn’t quite so great, but he did attended the Rio earth summit, tightened the clean air act and introduced the oil pollution act (although only after the Exxon Valdez disaster).
This is not to say that democrats didn’t do their bit for the environment. The clean air act was originally introduced by LBJ, Carter funded renewables research (which is now a $250 billion a year industry), Clinton signed the Kyoto protocol and Obama signed up to the Paris climate accords. But the fact is that up until about the 1990’s environmental protection was a non partisan issue, something that modern conservatives seemed to have forgotten. Indeed if anyone took a strong line against environmental protection, it tended to be the soviet block countries (or their allies on the hard left in the west), who saw it as an impediment to progress.
But if we are to believe the propaganda from Fox news, that environmentalist are all left wingers with some sort of sinister “agenda”, or that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy. Then the main perpetrators of this plot include several pass Republican presidents…oh and the US military! If we were to take the current US republican party at its word, then Nixon, the guy who made his name by sitting on the HUAC during the red scare, is a communist. Well he kept that quiet!
And as I was working we had news closer to home in London. In the wake of the Grenfell tower tragedy, Corbyn suggests the government should requisition empty flats in the area to house the homeless. Oh you can’t do that we were told. Typical Trotskyist ranting the Daily Mail told us…only that’s what the government’s now done. They’re putting up a number of those made homeless in a posh pad down the road, where the residents have paid about £1.5 million for a flat (who are thus none too happy about a load of plebs moving in).
And Theresa “the walking dead” May was doing this while taking a break from hyperventilating over the recent electoral disaster. She told us we need to back her in the election, because if you back Corbyn you’ll end up with a coalition of chaos. The day before the election the Daily Mail had a 13 page spread on Corbyn’s supposed links to terrorism. Basically Corbyn and McDonnell being the naive leftie liberals that they are, met with Sinn Fein seeing them as just another hard left party and potential allies, when it is widely known in Ireland that they are linked to all sorts of criminal activity. It does raise questions about Corbyn’s judgement (as in he’s a bit naïve and has lived far too long in a London bubble), but that’s about it….
….48 hrs later, Mrs strong and stable weak and wobbly has lost her big gamble and she’s preparing to go into a coalition with her “friends and allies” the DUP aka the old testament with fortnightly bin collections, a party well known for its links to terrorism. Is the Daily Mail now going to do a 13 page spread on Theresa May’s links to terrorism? And an alliance with the DUP sounds like a recipe for chaos. If she actually wanted a “strong and stable” government why not arrange a government of national unity for the duration of the brexit negotiations?
Furthermore I recall at the previous election how the Tories spent the entire campaign going on about how Ed Miliband would be in the pocket of those sneaky Scots, who would demanding all sorts of special favours….and now the Tories, having put the country through multiple layers of austerity because apparently there’s no magic money tree, has found a billion or so to bribe the DUP with down the back of the sofa. Consider that each DUP MP is now costing more than it would cost to sign Ronaldo. Ya, that’s public money well spent!
And if the DUP actually had any principles there’s no way they’d have allowed free abortions on the NHS to pass. Now I’m not saying this is a bad idea, but I’m pointing out the glaring hypocrisy of what the DUP and their creationist religion are saying on the pulpit on Sundays, and what the party is doing. Well I suppose Judas was bought for twenty pieces of silver, so they at least held out for a bit more cash. The fact is even the religious right will sell out if you put enough money on the table.
And then we have the queen’s speech…which was a bit on the short side, you wonder why she even bothered to show up (worth seeing Jonathan Pie’s take on it). In fact I’m surprised she didn’t show up still wearing her night dress and proceeded to give the speech while flossing her teeth. But the big headline was May’s “great repeal bill” the most inaccurately named bill in UK legislative history. Because its not going to repeal anything, its going to transfer a whole bunch of EU legislation from EU law into UK law. And it will do so in a very undemocratic way. Ministers and civil servants will decide what to keep and what not, parliament will be given a simple take it or leave it vote (and no doubt face foaming at the mouth editorials from the tabloids branding them “enemies of the people” if they vote no).
Yes we were told in the referendum we needed to “take back control”, bring back sovereignty to parliament. Yet now we are trading laws scrutinised and approved by democratically elected MEP’s, for laws enacted without any parliamentary scrutiny by Tory party insiders (and their financial donors in smoke filled rooms), faceless civil servants (i.e. the good old boy’s network) and the DUP (basically the Westboro baptist church). Ya that’s sounds so much better!
And who came up with this “European Union” anyway? A united states of Europe, who needs that! Open borders, who came up with that idea? And the European convention of human rights, what sort of a Tortskyist, snail eating surrender monkey dreamth this one up….I think you’ll find that all three cases were the idea of a guy called “Churchill”. That’s the former Tory leader (I think he was in charge during a war, Brexiters might want to google him) not the dog from the TV ad. For, as with the environment, up until the 1990’s the EU and European co-operation was not a partisan issue. If either side did take a strongly anti-EU position, it was the far left. During the previous EU referendum back in the 70’s it was darling of the left Tony Benn who led the no vote and Margaret Thatcher who campaigned in favour of the EU. Yes, if we believe the Daily Mail, Churchill and Thatcher are “enemies of the people” who “hated Britain”.
Returning to America, one of the main reasons why Trump won was because the Christian conservatives came out in large numbers to vote for him. So these so-called “values voters”, who thought that some boorist behaviour from Bill Clinton was grounds for impeachment (yet G. W. Bush lying to congress over the Iraq war, or his father and Reagan committing high treason over Iran/Contra isn’t worthy of impeachment), went and voted for Trump, a known sexual predator who is as much a Christian as Ted Bundy. If Trump has a religion its his own ego. Yet all of these so-called “values voters” went to a ballot box, passed over Hilary’s name (she’s very firmly a Christian…presumably she mostly prays for the strength not to strangle her husband some night!) and voted for Mr pussy grabber instead.
Also libertarian support for Johnson collapsed at the last minute. So libertarians voted for a president who was promising all sorts of protectionist measures, the very opposite of what they wanted.
And why was FBI chief Comey fired? Well officially because of how he handled the investigation of Hilary’s e-mails, the very thing Trump had been praising him just a few months ago.
And Obama, what was one of his biggest crimes? Oh he wanted to bring in gun control. I mean where did this idea get started, hasn’t he ever heard of the 2nd amendment? Well the thing is that for most of US history gun controls were a lot stricter. The infamous gun fight at the Ok corral was an attempt by the Earp’s to enforce local guns laws. And as I discussed recently both Reagan and the senior Bush passed gun laws during their tenure. Indeed, they did far more to restrict firearms than Obama, who had been graded an F by the anti-gun Brady foundation.
Then there was also Obama’s awful health care bill. I mean where did he get the idea for Obamacare from?….Mitt Romney! You know, the presidential candidate, who introduced a healthcare bill in his own state, which Obama’s staff basically plagiarised and congress watered down. Then blink and a couple of years later Romney is saying that a watered down version of his own healthcare bill is a bridge too far and socialism.
Back in the UK we have the continuing slow motion train wreck of Hinkley C and yet another report coming out questioning why is this project going ahead. As I’ve discussed before the Tory position on nuclear amounts to flip flops on flip flops. Firstly we need this reactor because renewables are too expensive, why Hinkley can be built without any subsidy. With ballooning costs and falling renewable prices now Hinkley need a huge whack of a subsidy, far exceeding anything ever given to renewables. We were told renewables can’t be built fast enough. Well in the time its taken the UK to hum and haw about Hinkley, far more renewable electricity has been added to the grid than Hinkley will generate. One is forced to the conclusion that the Tories are only in favour of nuclear because so many on the left are against it.
I’m surprised right wingers don’t break their own necks with all these rapid U-turns! The mental gymnastics they must go through would leave Simone Biles feeling dizzy.
So what’s going on here, how did the political right lose its way? Multiple reasons. Firstly, the media, both the tabloids and outlets like Fox news, realised that if you hold an audience the best way to do that is scare the bejasus out of them with ridiculous scare stories levelled at some easily identified scapegoat (environmentalists, dark skinned foreigners, liberals, etc.), combined with comforting lies and celebrity soft porn. Why waste a pile of money on good fact checked journalism which takes weeks to put together, when you can pay some gutter press meth head to roll out of the sewer every morning and slap together some piece about how the BBC is ruining house prices (the first thing my Daily Mail headline generator came up with!). Fake news, is not a new thing, its been going on for decades, if not longer.
Also there’s a big difference between our current politicians and those of the past. One would be forgiven for thinking that Thatcher and Nixon must have been much less right wing than May and Trump. Actually the opposite is true. Its just that politicians of the past were pragmatist. They understood that good politics is about good compromise. Its about listening to people. So if a bunch of scientists show up and say we’ve got a problem with the ozone layer, you’d be a fool to ignore them. A load of business leaders tell you that being in the EU is central to long term growth, then you need to put aside your own prejudices and listen. And if you want to get your legislation passed, you need to toss the other side of the aisle the odd bone every now and then. As Lincoln (Republican) said, A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Our current crop of politicians are very different. They are mostly from fairly privileged backgrounds, privately educated, career politicians with little experience of the real world, who have scarcely had any contact with anyone outside of tight bubble of like minded people from a similar privileged background. Even the likes of Churchill (from a very privileged background) had more real world experience than most of our current politicians. They have no clue how to listen. Many on the right don’t even seem to be aware of the idea.
Also they have learned to play from the same hymn sheet as the media. You want to get lots of votes in a hurry? Well rather than coming up with some sort of coherent policy, which takes a lot of time and needs input from a lot of people (political scientists, economists, focus groups, pollsters, etc.). Instead just take some snappy tabloid friendly headlines, run them up the flag pole and see who salutes.
In fact I would argue, the problem with the political right these days is that many on the right don’t believe in their own ideology anymore. Often the most fanatical defenders of any ideology are those who understand it the least. True Christians will understand for example that the bible is not literally word for word true, because its the bible not an insurance policy. If the bible were literally true then we’d celebrate mass in a lawyer’s office not in a church. Its only the nutcases who are blowing up abortion clinics (how can people who are pro-life be in favour of the death penalty?) who hold this position, largely because they simply don’t get the message the bible is trying to get across but are too pigheaded to admit as much, even to themselves. Similarly the ISIS guys running around blowing up mosques and killing innocents (more often than not Muslims) are no more Muslim than Alex Jones.
And similarly if those on the right truly understood the ideology that they claim to support they would know better than to make such a fuss about issues such as environmental protection or the odd EU regulation intended to stop houses burning down in a fire. This explains how their leaders can engage in the most comical of flip flopping and U-turns and nobody on the right calls them out. We can have right wing bloggers telling us how terrible EU regulations are, then practically wet themselves in anticipation of a law that will transfer a mass of EU law into UK law forever without any democratic scrutiny. In essence the political right has no ideology, they are a tribe who wants power for no reason other than to stop anyone else having it. And then, like the dog who caught the bus, once they have it, they’ve no clue what to do with it…other than do a few favours for the corporate allies who sponsored their campaign.
….Or alternatively we need to start classifying conservatism as a mental health condition. A contagious disease of the mind that is spread via right wing websites and media.
Do you feel anxious, angry and distressed? Do you have in irrational fear of foreigners? Are you paranoid about vaccines or science in general? You might have conservatism, a highly contagious and dangerous condition, but one that is fortunately easily treatable.
First of all, avoid all social media and right wing tabloids. Next, take to careful fact checking of everything you hear and careful consideration of all the facts before reaching any opinion, which you should be willing to question again, should those facts change. Should you have memory problems you should consider getting a notepad and writing stuff down. Bed rest can help, as can reading of certain proscribed websites (e.g the guardian or rationalwiki) to contract the BS you’ve previously been exposed too. In serious cases you might want to talk to your doctor for a prescription for drugs like Islamophobin. While infected with conservatism you should avoid operating any complex machinery (such as ballot boxes) or signing any legal documents.