Decoding Michael Reagan’s TS Editorial

Michael Reagan’s editorial today took the opinion page position usually reserved for Times Standard editorials or an important local “My Word”. It’s obviously someone in the T-S building thinks is, or should be, mainstream thinking.

And the article itself starts out as feigning bi-partisanship.  However, it’s message is the beating heart of the conservative message.  Government and it’s process is akin to sausage making.  It’s the way it is, so deal with it.

The piece starts with this:

“Sausage is being made in Washington.

But you don’t want to watch. Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, watching Washington’s sausage being made will make you lose your appetite for democracy.

The whole dirty legislative process is too gross for anyone with high morals or political principles to watch, but in the end it turns out a piece of sausage that everyone in the country has to eat whether they like it or not.”

From the reader’s point of view, at least for those who cannot see or understand the important role government (past, present and future) plays in their life, is to continue to live life without a government that serves their interests.  No problem, right?  Think about the audience Michael Reagan is hoping to reach with that intro.  Most of these readers have no stake in effective governance.

The thing is, this description of government as a sausage factory isn’t an observation, but a policy goal.  Outside of national defense, the private sector should control all but a diminishingly small percentage of our economy.

What is so harmful about this policy goal and message is that it doesn’t matter how we get to a diminished role for government, but that we get there.  Creative destruction, in other words, is a good thing.  Gumming up the system so that it can be sold as a “sausage factory” is a good thing.  Policies and principles so outrageous and untenable except to an increasingly desperate and alienated minority voting block is a valid starting point for governing in part because it helps stop in it’s tracks any reasonable governing principles.

The premise that we can all agree that the governing process now on display can be universally despised isn’t just anti-government, it’s anti-public.

Where this insular political philosophy leads is a political party whose goal it is to demolish an insurance market that has proved, under almost total political opposition, to increase the roles of the insured by 23 million.  They will argue that their goal isn’t to leave people uninsured in order to protect the wealth of their major political donors, but to increase personal responsibility and to give an incentive for choice.

As far as Republicans such as Representative Paul Ryan are concerned (at least when speaking in public), those individuals making the right decisions will be noticeably better off than those making the bad decisions which in turn and over time will lead to a “life-cycle”, if you will, of better decision-making based on individual action, not governmental mandates.  There is no mention of what we do as a society for those who happen to make a wrong decision, or those that have not been given the luxury to live in a family who might have had the resources to allow for a wrong decision or two.

Finally Mr. Reagan ends with this…

“They also have to stay off Fox News and CBS and do their complaining in private. Let the Democrats, the pundits and the liberal media do the public criticizing…..The only time we should hear a public statement from a Republican Congressman who doesn’t like the House’s Repeal & Replace legislation is after it has passed.”

This is the result of the current far-right conservative movement.  To modern conservatives and Republicans the public process itself, which importantly MUST include and informed and educated electorate, is a bug, not a feature.  The fact that our President, and many within the conservative movement, considers the press an enemy isn’t a reflection of the nature or bias of the press, but of the nature of the ongoing and destructive Reagan Revolution that cannot afford an open and honest dialogue if it wishes it’s agenda to survive the light of day.

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