"I don't like paying higher gas taxes either but it's incredible that people will buy GOP outrage on gas that's $5 instead of $3.50--but then excuse GOP for keeping minimum wage at $7.25 instead of $15, insulin at $1200 instead of $35, & paid leave at 0 weeks instead of 12 weeks." ~ Qasim Rashid
First, some surveys of differences between the two parties.
• Democrat vs. Republican (Diffen)This comparison examines the differences between the policies and political positions of the Democratic and Republican parties on major issues such as taxes, the role of government, entitlements (Social Security, Medicare), gun control, immigration, healthcare, abortion, environmental policy and regulation.
• Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ over other sources of meaning in life (Laura Silver and Patrick van Kessel, Pew Research Center, 11-22-21)
• U.S. Political Party Preferences Shifted Greatly During 2021 (Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup Poll, 1-17-22) Shifting party preferences in 2021 are likely tied to changes in popularity of the two men who served as president during the year....The GOP advantage may be starting to ease, however, as Gallup's latest monthly estimate, from December, showed the two parties about even -- 46% Republican/Republican leaning and 44% Democratic/Democratic leaning.
• Qasim Rashid, Esq. @QasimRashid tweeted(4-29-22):
Just so we're clear
• Living wage
• Universal healthcare
• 4-year public college
• Police demilitarization
• Big Lie
• Pro Putin
• Billionaire tax cuts
• Speak at Nazi/white nationalist events
• Ban all immigration, books on racism, & LGBT
• How ‘Stop the Steal’ Captured the American Right (Charles Homans, NY Times, 7-19-22) The movement to reinstate President Trump has gone far beyond him — and now threatens the future of American elections. An excellent overview of party trends in the 21st century. The Tea Party idea "that a substantial part of the American public were not legitimate actors in American politics" reached its purest expression in the conspiracy theories about Obama, whose presidency was so unsquarable with what the Tea Partyers believed to be the true nature of America that to some it seemed, ipso facto, to represent a crime. The nation was imperiled by "the cult of multiculturalism, aided by leftist liberals all over, who don't have the same ideas about America as we do," Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado and a star of the new movement, declared at the first Tea Party convention in Nashville in early 2010.
"Trump's 2016 campaign marked the moment that the Tea Party's intimations of illegitimacy were converted into a leading presidential candidate's political strategy. Trump rode into politics during the Obama years on the birth-certificate conspiracy theory and the uproar over the Islamic cultural center in Manhattan..."
• Why Republicans are obsessed with pedophilia, gender identity, gay people, and abortion (Robert Reich, 5-7-22) "Voters, don't be deflected by “culture war” messages intended to deflect the public’s attention from how badly big corporations and the super wealthy are shafting them. Americans won’t understand how these economic abuses all relate to record amounts of income and wealth at the top, and what must be done to reverse this imbalance (break up monopolies, enact a windfall profits tax, raise taxes on large corporations and the super wealthy, strengthen labor unions, reform campaign finance, stop corporate welfare, and so on).
"Oh, and by focusing on pedophilia, gender identity, gay people, and abortion, Republicans don’t have to talk about Trump and January 6."
• Political and Religious Identities and Views on Abortion (Diana Orcés, PRRI,* 4-8-22) PRRI (the Public Religion Research Institute) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. I discovered it when researching how Republican and Democratic opinions vary. It turned up as conducting interesting polls.
"In 2021, PRRI asked a series of questions related to how important personal identities are to Americans. About one-third of Americans (35%) said that their religious identity is the most important thing or a very important thing in their lives, compared to about one in five who mentioned their political identity (19%).
"About six in ten Americans who identify strongly with their political identity (61%) agree that “Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, was the right decision and should be upheld,” compared to 43% of Americans who identify strongly with their religious identity. Democrats who identify strongly with their political identity are substantially more likely than Republicans to agree with this statement (80% vs. 36%). By contrast, the majority who identify with their religious identity (55%) disagree that “Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, was the right decision and should be upheld.” This percentage is particularly high among white evangelical Protestants (78% disagree vs. 20% agree) and white Catholics (60% disagree vs. 38% agree), but white mainline Protestants tend to agree more than disagree on this question (44% disagree vs. 55% agree)."
• 50-State Survey: More Americans Than Ever (Eight in Ten) Support LGBTQ Discrimination Protection Laws, Even as Legislative Efforts Opposing Them Proliferate (PPRI press release, 3-17-22) Eight in Ten Support Nondiscrimination Laws to Protect LGBTQ People More Than Two-Thirds Support Marriage Equality Two-Thirds Oppose Religiously Based Refusals to Serve Gay and Lesbian People See the full report, Americans’ Support for Key LGBTQ Rights Continues to Tick Upward (3-17-22)
• Right-Wing Think Tank Family Research Council Is Now a Church in Eyes of the IRS (Andrea Suozzo, ProPublica, 7-11-22) The Family Research Council, a staunch opponent of abortion and LGBTQ rights, joins a growing list of activist groups seeking church status, which allows organizations to shield themselves from financial scrutiny. The FRC has pushed for legislation banning gender-affirming surgery; filed amicus briefs supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade; and advocated for religious exemptions to civil rights laws. Its longtime head, a former state lawmaker and ordained minister named Tony Perkins, claims credit for pushing the Republican platform rightward over the past two decades. Warren Cole Smith, president of the Christian transparency watchdog MinistryWatch, said he believes groups like these are seeking church status with the IRS for the protections it confers. “I don’t believe that a lot of the organizations that have filed for the church exemption are in fact churches,” he said. “And I don’t think that they think that they are in fact churches.”The IRS uses a list of 14 characteristics to determine if an organization is a church or an association of churches, though it notes that organizations need not meet all the specifications.
• Party Division in the U.S. Senate Over Time (U.S. Senate)
• It’s time for Biden to strongly attack the White-grievance industry (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo, 5-30-22) 'It’s not the plague of “polarization” or “distrust,” some sort of floating miasma, that has darkened our society. Bluntly put, we are in deep trouble because a major party rationalizes both intense selfishness — the refusal to undertake even minor inconveniences such as mask-wearing or gun background checks for others’ protection — and deprivation of others’ rights (to vote, to make intimate decisions about reproduction, to be treated with respect).
'The White-grievance industry (right-wing media, politicians, pundits, think tanks) keeps its voters in a constant state of rage over the loss of a society in which far fewer women competed with men in the workplace, White power was largely unchallenged, and diversity was less pronounced. And it has persuaded millions of White Americans that they are victims of “elites” or the media or globalism or attacks on masculinity or … something.' [Do read the whole article, including the paragraph about MAGA voters' complaints.]
Some differences on hot topics:
• White Christian Nationalism Found Fertile Soil in Post-9/11 America (Robert P. Jones, Interfaith America, 9-23-21) "Since the Bush era, the attitudes of Republicans, including white evangelicals who comprise its base, have increasingly aligned with a worldview rooted in centuries of white supremacist theology that conjures visions of light-skinned Christians engaged in a holy war against brown-skinned Muslims both at home and abroad. They have succumbed to the temptation Bush named: the conflation of acts of terrorism by a few with a faith followed by about 2 billion people worldwide.
"According to Pew, just one year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, less than half of both Republicans and Democrats reported that they believe significant numbers of U.S. Muslims were anti-American. By 2016, attitudes among Democrats were unchanged. By contrast, the percentage of Republicans and white evangelicals who held this view jumped to nearly two-thirds (63% and 64% respectively).
"Similarly, PRRI finds negative attitudes toward Muslims have continued to increase across the last decade among Republicans and white evangelical Protestants. In 2011, 63% of Republicans agreed "the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life," and that proportion crept up to 67% by 2020. By contrast, the percentage of Democrats who agreed with this statement dropped 14 percentage points, from 40% to 26%. In other words, over the last decade, the partisan gap on this question nearly doubled, from 23 points to 41 points.
"Republicans are more than three times less likely to say they would prefer the U.S. to be a religiously pluralistic nation than a Christian nation (13% vs. 43%). By contrast, Democrats are more than three times as likely to prefer a religiously pluralistic nation (53% vs. 16%)."
• The Right-Wing Mothers Fuelling the School-Board Wars (Paige Williams, New Yorker, 11-7-22) Moms for Liberty claims that teachers are indoctrinating students with dangerous ideologies. But is the group’s aim protecting kids—or scaring parents? Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist, argued that liberal educators, under the bland banner of “diversity,” were manipulating students into thinking of America not as a vibrant champion of democracy but as a shameful embodiment of white supremacy. (As he framed things, there were no in-between positions.) Rufo later called [Critical Race Theory] “the perfect villain”—a term that “connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American views.”
On gun control:
In a somber address to the nation hours after an 18-year-old took the lives of nineteen children in a Texas elementary school, President Joe Biden pleaded for new gun restrictions: “As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” he asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” "But the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican resistance in Congress." ~ AP, Washington Post, 5-25-22)
On improving state facilities for the mentally ill:
"The advent of psychopharmacology in the 1950s facilitated, but did not cause, the emptying of state psychiatric hospitals. The deinstitutionalization of people with major mental illness resulted from an unusual convergence of left-wing and right-wing political critiques, as Mr. Scull emphasizes. Critics on the left were appalled by the decrepit, overcrowded and understaffed hospitals. Critics on the right objected to taxpayers picking up the tab for the enormous expense incurred by maintaining these institutions. Some states were spending as much as one-third of their annual budget housing psychiatric patients. State hospitals once housed 500,000 patients; today the total population is less than 55,000, even though the American population increased by 33% since the 1950s."
~ From a review of Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry's Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness by Andrew Scull: 'Desperate Remedies' Review: Mental Health, From Asylums to Zoloft (Richard J. McNally, Wall Street Journal, 5-13-22) Psychiatry's goal was to transform the treatment of mental illness via science—but the results have been anything but conclusive. H/T Lynne Lamberg.
• Megan Phelps-Roper's story of losing faith in the Westboro Baptist Church (Tom Stafford, Reasonable People blog #28, 4-4-22 ) "Westboro Baptist Church is a small faith-based community from Topeka, Kansas. Their white church building is surrounded by the homes of families who are part of the Church. They are a SPLC designated hate group, who you may know from their inflammatorily named website - godhatesfags.com - or from their devoted picketing of the funerals of US soldiers killed abroad....
"Megan-Phelps Roper is the granddaughter of the founder of the church, and spent 26 years with the church. She was, as she self-describes, "all in": picketing, proselytising, giving interviews and leading the charge of the Church's flamboyant social media presence.
"In November 2012 she left the church, her family, and the absolute certainty of their doctrine.
Stafford: 'Thought-provoking account of Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Extremism, Megan Phelps-Roper's memoir of growing up in her family's fanatically conservative Westboro Baptist Church. "They were so confident in their rightness that they didn’t see any need to ban Hollywood movies or pop music. Elton John’s Candle In The Wind was rewritten as Harlot Full Of Sin so they could celebrate the death of Princess Diana."'
• Trump is wrong about war. Russia’s failure in Ukraine shows why. (Max Boot, Washington Post, 4-11-22) "Right-wingers have long claimed that the U.S. military should not be hobbled by humanitarian considerations or even the laws of war. During the Vietnam War, when U.S. aircraft dropped more bombs than during World War II, many conservatives fumed that we were fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. “Bomb them back into the Stone Age,” Gen. Curtis LeMay demanded.
Most of the public supported 2nd Lt. William L. Calley, the only perpetrator of the infamous My Lai massacre (when U.S. troops killed more than 500 civilians) to be convicted by a court-martial. He served only three years of house arrest. More recently, former president Donald Trump has been an enthusiastic advocate for war crimes: He endorsed torture, vowed to “bomb the s--- out” of terrorists, suggested killing terrorists’ families and said that the United States should steal Iraq’s oil. Trump did not order the U.S. military to carry out war crimes — the military would never have done so — but he did pardon members of the military accused of war crimes. Since Trump left office, Republicans have been loudly complaining that the U.S. military has become so “woke” that it can’t win wars.
• Climate Science as Culture War (Andrew J. Hoffman, Stanford Social Innovation Review, SSIR, Fall 2012) The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology. 'Climate change has become enmeshed in the so-called culture wars. Acceptance of the scientific consensus is now seen as an alignment with liberal views consistent with other “cultural” issues that divide the country (abortion, gun control, health care, and evolution). This partisan divide on climate change was not the case in the 1990s. It is a recent phenomenon, following in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty that threatened the material interests of powerful economic and political interests, particularly members of the fossil fuel industry.'
'Everything that gets labeled "far-left" in the US is common sense policy in the rest of the industrialized world.
"Guaranteed health care. Paid family leave. Government drug price negotiation. Gun control.
"It isn't radical. We're talking about the basics of a functioning society."
~ Public Citizen @Public_Citizen
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• White House shifts pandemic money to vaccines, cutting other programs (Tony Romm, WaPo, 6-8-22) Republicans on Capitol Hill have repeatedly blocked the sort of robust aid package that the Biden administration has sought for months. The Biden administration is shifting dwindling federal coronavirus funds toward securing another round of vaccines and treatments — rationing money and cutting back on other critical public health programs as Congress remains at odds over whether to spend more to battle the pandemic.
• Division within the Republican party (Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, 10-11-21) Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it....Boot writes, “It is mind-boggling that a defeated president won’t accept the election outcome…. What is even more alarming is that more than 60 percent of Republicans agree with his preposterous assertion that the election was stolen and want him to remain as the party’s leader.”
• Conservatives Are Defending a Sanitized Version of ‘The Great Replacement’ (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 5-19-22) 'Large sections of the manifesto attributed to the Buffalo shooter were plagiarized from the writings of the perpetrator of another racist massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. Both share the premise that violence against nonwhite people is justified to prevent “white genocide” or the “replacement” of white Americans by nonwhite immigrants.
'In recent years, Fox News has consciously amplified the same line of argument, with popular hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham echoing its logic. Carlson, for example, has said that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” while Ingraham has maintained that Democrats “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.” Having promoted the conspiracy theory for years, Carlson told his audience recently that “we’re still not sure what it is,” before reaffirming its veracity.'
'There are two versions of the “replacement” conspiracy theory, but both of them share the same basic premise. The first version is the idea that a secret cabal (typically one that is composed of Jews) is fostering demographic change in the United States through immigration in order to replace its white population—the motive of mass murderers in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and now Buffalo. The second is that liberals are fostering demographic change in the United States through immigration in order to replace its white population. Both conceive of America as fundamentally white and Christian, and in so doing posit not only a racial conception of citizenship but a racial hierarchy, one that must be maintained if America’s true nature is to endure.
• Defamation Suit About Election Falsehoods Puts Fox on Its Heels (Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 8-13-11) 'In the weeks after President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election, the Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed to have “tremendous evidence” that voter fraud was to blame. That evidence never emerged but a new culprit in a supposed scheme to rig the election did: Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election technology whose algorithms, Mr. Dobbs said, “were designed to be inaccurate.” The suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems could be one of the most consequential First Amendment cases in a generation.
'Those unfounded accusations are now among the dozens cited in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against the Fox Corporation, which alleges that Fox repeatedly aired false, far-fetched and exaggerated allegations about Dominion and its purported role in a plot to steal votes from Mr. Trump....Defamation claims typically involve a single disputed statement. But Dominion's complaint is replete with example after example of false statements, many of them made after the facts were widely known.'