Pissing Off Liberals


Paul Waldman notes that only a few years ago most of today’s crop of Republican presidential wannabes were willing to admit that global warming was a serious problem. But then:

Over the last couple of years, climate change went from something Republicans acknowledged was happening and were willing to do something about, to something they acknowledged was happening but weren’t really willing to do anything about, to something that they refuse to acknowledge is happening. That has now become the orthodox Republican position.

The line in the story about Al Gore shows why this has happened. Hating liberals was always important to conservatives, but of late, it has become the central organizing principle of American conservatism. If Al Gore thinks climate change is a threat, you can’t be a real Republican unless you deny it. If liberals like NPR, it must be destroyed. If liberals favor net neutrality, it must be a communist plot.

I’ve never bought this. Conservatives have opposed public broadcasting pretty much forever, right? As for climate change denialism and opposition to net neutrality, they basically belong in the category of “let corporations do anything they want.” This has been a Republican totem for a long time too.

Modern conservatives have a few simple guiding principles. Keep taxes on rich people low. Let corporations do whatever they want. Toe the Christian right line on social issues and the NRA line on gun issues. Support military action overseas if a Republican president proposes it. Oppose spending on poor people.

This explains about 90% of what you need to know. Pissing off liberals is a nice side benefit, but you really don’t need it to explain Republican positions.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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