It’s the Economy Stupid

Basically much of America is brain-dead. No, they are not like zombies, but definitely mesmerized by conservative propaganda. One writer gave us this yesterday about their favorite source of news:

Fox News continues to market itself as a legitimate news operation, but legitimate news operations don’t spew conspiracy theories, attack African American athletes, mimic President Trump’s fake facts and malicious attacks, ignore actual news when it is not favorable to Trump or fan the flames of xenophobia. It is increasingly difficult to understand why advertisers want their products associated with an outlet that does more to polarize Americans and wage war on objective reality than Fox.

But it makes no difference to point out all this, their eyes glaze over and we get the disruption defense. “President DFF is a different kind of leader and he leads with disruption. Change, ain’t it great?” But as I have opined here before, conservative ideas are failed ideas and once it hits them in their pocketbook, there will be a wake up call. Sadly with a brain-dead Middle America (See Roseanne for the classic example), all that talks, and maybe all that has ever talked is money. Well the money is about to talk.

In an op-ed by Robert Leonard about what is happening in Iowa, he pointed out how pocketbooks in Middle America are starting to feel the pinch from the Disruptor in Chief.

Donald Trump won over 60 percent of the 2016 vote in rural Iowa, where I live, and I haven’t heard much concern from Republicans over the president’s alleged infidelities with a porn actress, his ties to Russia or Jared Kushner’s real estate shenanigans.

Or, for that matter, much concern about the administration scandals about wife beaters, Saudi princes, Ben Carson’s table or Scott Pruitt’s soundproof room. Many people don’t even know these scandals exist — they generally don’t lead in Sean Hannity’s or Tucker Carlson’s world.

Sure, there is a little rumbling about the increased deficit, but not much. Besides, it’s the fault of Congress, in particular the Democrats.

But then it gets interesting:

But people here — Republicans and Democrats alike — are paying great attention to what President Trump is doing economically, especially since he started in on tariffs. We have a strong manufacturing base in our county; when tariffs on aluminum and steel were announced, local manufacturing leaders tried to be diplomatic, praising the Trump tax cuts but saying the steel and aluminum tariffs would hurt their businesses by driving costs up.

One smaller manufacturer — a Trump voter — told me that his costs to produce his product nearly doubled overnight, and that his business has already been hurt by the tariffs. Prices didn’t rise only after the tariffs were announced; they started rising when Mr. Trump floated the idea.

But it’s the farm economy that rural Iowans are paying particular attention to. When the president first proposed a 20 percent import tax on Mexico to pay for his wall, Iowans objected: Mexico is our second-largest export partner after Canada.

Mr. Trump has waffled on the renewable fuel standard before — ethanol is big around here — and Iowa’s entire congressional delegation and the governor’s office pressured him to renew it. We know he will waffle again, and potentially end it.

Most recently, when Mr. Trump imposed $60 billion in tariffs and sanctions against China, the Iowa Soybean Association said his action “poses an immediate and grave threat to their industry and Iowa agriculture.”

And guess what, the Chinese are now raising tariffs on pigs! Iowa is the largest pig raising state in the nation. They are so screwed. The author goes on to opine that this could just be the impetus to turn some Republican heads toward impeachment. I think there is a much larger lesson here.

First and foremost, how do you ignore all that was President DFF when he was a candidate and he said he was going to do exactly what he is doing? My answer here is that the devil is in the details and most Middle America conservatives don’t want to look in the details for fear of what they will find, hence the need for Fox News to either change the subject, or create whole new “facts” so reality can be ignored (in the short-term).

Second is to understand how empathy, or lack thereof, plays a major role in how Republicans are Republicans. They easily shut out the rest of the world, and even their fellow citizens if they are doing fine. Then they define the rest as part of the problem so they do not have to examine those pesky details. I find it interesting, as Mr. Leonard pointed out, they still blame Democrats when they hold everything in government. It is classic denial.

I think empathy or the lack thereof is innate. We are born that way. I think if you really want to understand the real politics behind Republicans and Democrats, it is about empathy. Democrats say, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Republicans say, “I deserved what I have, and look at all those lazy slugs around me that want something for free.” There was an interesting piece the other day about the fact that maybe gratitude may be a virtue highly underrated. Well, in Republican land, grateful hell! I earned it! Or God chose me. If you are suffering either you deserve it or God did not anoint you. Explains a lot about Evangelical support of Trump and rejection of real Christian virtues

Maybe that explains the fearfulness studies that show that conservatives tend to be more fearful. There is them and there is us. Lack of empathy is critical to the them part, and a belief that you are in a state of grace and have earned everything you have, allows you to see everyone us as them. I have been struggling to understand my conservative friends fo years and this is what I have witnessed. The most interesting part of all this is that they can have empathy if they experience some of the injustice they deny first hand. But it is very selective and focused on their experience.

So are we lost because they are all born this way*, helped along by Fox and all the right wing noise that  fills their 24/7? Nope. Back to the start of this blog. It is about the money. And President DFF is on his way to wrecking the economy. And changing him out with Mike Pence won’t change much. So sooner or later they are going to vote their pocketbooks. Democrats have to give them a reason to select the other team. That means directly addressing some of Middle America’s economic woes with something better than zones of entrepreneurship. It means Democrats have to throw off the clothes they were robed in by Right Wing noise. We have to make them understand that we understand that if we are going to prosper, they have to prosper to.

No, we are not probably ever going to cure their lack of empathy for their fellowman. Some people are just selfish to the core. But if we can make them start to realize that we are all in this together, and cutting out winners and losers results in losers for all of us, then it really will be a new day. Hope on a Monday.

*There have been some studies that show that if we were a more integrated society and had more first hand experience with “others”, some of our prejudices evaporate. See conservatives who have gay children. It is that personal experience I described above. Liberals don’t seem to need this as much as conservatives do. In many ways we got this experience when we lived in a more egalitarian society rubbing elbows with “others”, and read widely (getting the experiences of a world we could only imagine). But our trends today are away from reading, and growing economic inequality, segregating and isolating us as a society. Then the inmate tendencies run wild.

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