I’d really love to add a bunch of commentary here, but it’s pretty much perfect as it stands.
PUSA’s additions are also phenomenal.
The problem is that conservatives have spent decades demonizing, “big government.” Many Americans have been taught that expressing a belief in government spending is a bad thing, so they give all the correct answers to the pollsters and hide their true beliefs. However when pollsters get specific, Americans start to show their true colors. A recent National Journal survey found that twice as many Americas were worried about deep cuts to entitlements (39%) than were concerned about the government spending too much money (19%).
Republicans have successfully permeated the national consciousness with the false equivalency that small government equals freedom, and nobody hates freedom. Right? What Americans actually want from their government isn’t more “freedom” as defined by the right. The vast majority of Americans want their socialism. They love their socialism, and a popular uprising ensues anytime anyone mentions changing their beloved entitlements.
That false equivalency is a biggie, and it stems back to Reagan’s famous declaration that the worst thing to hear is “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” It’s another case of the surface being different from the underlying reality, largely thanks to the right-wing’s vice grip on the national narrative. Small government is supposedly bad, but god damn we just love our social programs. If you’ll all recall, that was even a line against the health care reform. That it would cut Medicare. The small-government Republicans were fighting against cutting Medicare.
It’s a case of about 20+ years of hounding and harping that the more the government does, the more restrictive and stifling it is, and so the real role of government is do the bare minimum possible so we’re all free to live up to our potentials and make millions without the evil Washington bigwigs taking our shit. Yet, time and again, we discover that people love social programs. But that’s only when prodded and pushed at. The phrase “social liberal, but economic conservative” became en vogue during the Bush years, with people claiming the best of both worlds, wanting social freedoms and teeny government so plucky businessowners and regular Joes can control their lives without big bag guv’mint interfering.
Like they say, it’s bullshit. I challenge a single politician to suggest true government paring down. To scrap social security, Medicare, huge subsidies, and turn the police/fire/medical industries to private enterprises. They’ll never do it, and that’s why the Boner Bill and “Cut, Cap, and Trade” didn’t actually outline anything specific, nor did Obama’s: because everyone wants to say “I’m fighting to stop wasteful spending!” and then they avert their gaze when asked exactly what programs are going to get the hatchet. It sounds great to say you’ll cut your spending in half this month, but when you suddenly find yourself deciding if you’ll neglect buying food other than bulk oatmeal and discount milk or get rid of HBO, suddenly that fiscal responsibility goes out the window.
Americans want to sound responsible while enjoying the fruits of taxation, while the specter of “big government spending” looms around as though there were a big nebulous war chest of trillions that we could save that aren’t actually going anywhere we like. Undoubtedly there is a lot of fat to be trimmed (such as, say, defense), but no one will say what fat has to go, or even how much that will help. Instead, everyone throws around nice vague terms like “nondiscretionary spending” because that creates the appearance of doing something when nothing is done.
Go ahead, ask your Congressman or Senator, or even your local Teabagging blowhard, which programs we should slash. You’ll never see Eric Cantor up on the podium saying “in 2012 we’re going to cut public education by 25%!” because he knows damn well what the result would be: political exile. It’s all “politics” and not actually solving problems. Fighting straw men and manipulating gut feelings to rally support behind a smokescreen of a “platform” to carry through as many election cycles as possible. It worked in 2010 and it might work in 2012, and it’ll keep fucking working until people wake the hell up and realize that what they claim to support isn’t what they actually support, and the people leading them around by the nose are playing them for saps just to get votes.
…huh, I guess I did have stuff to add.