Future historians of American politics in the early twenty-first century who are hunting for the causes of the utter collapse of the Republican Party need look no farther, I think, than that party's colossal (and growing) disconnect from reality, as evidenced by the California assemblyman I heard on NPR yesterday morning. I was getting ready for work at the time, so I was unable to hear all of his remarks clearly, but the gist of them was that since businesses throughout the private sector were having to lay off thousands and thousands of workers, how dare the state of California not offer to lay off even one in the face of a $42 billion budget deficit?
Excuse me? Perhaps I was wrong, but I was under the impression that we wanted people to keep their jobs. The point isn't just to spread the misery around so it affects everyone more or less equally; the point is to keep as many people working as possible, and to put as many of them who are now out of work back into jobs, so that they will then be able to spend some of their wages to support the rest of the economy, thereby putting even more people back to work and enabling more people to keep their jobs. A rising tide floats all boats, whereas an ebbing tide leaves all boats stranded in the muck at the bottom of the harbor, going nowhere. I may not be clairvoyant, but I think I can safely state that I'm on firm ground in believing that most normal and rational people think the latter example is something to be avoided, not hoped for.
But you'd never be able to tell that from the present-day Republican Party. What's important to them, it seems, isn't jobs--unless it's their own, that is. What's important is that the Republican Party hews to its ideological line firmly, come hell or high water, and never mind the consequences. In fairness to them, I will say that I think they've been very effective at that particular strategy--though I can't say that I believe it's done them all that much good or that it will enable them to perform any better in next year's elections than it did in those we had last year. But then again, silly me, I actually thought the point of having an election was to be the party that won the most seats in it. Apparently the Republicans are working from a different playbook, given that they've lost positions in both of the last two election cycles--and that those losses are largely attributable to their dogged unwillingness (or inability) to interact constructively with reality.