Are we at a turning point in history?

None of us has the ability to perfectly predict what current event will be meaningful one hundred years from now. Some things are easy (the attacks on 9/11 for instance), but others are much harder to predict. It’s starting to feel possible, maybe not yet likely though, that we’re witnessing a real split in the republican party. In a simplified version of reality, the party has two groups. It has the classic republicans who feel strongly about free-markets, deregulation, private solutions over government involvement, individual responsibility, low taxes, and those kinds of things. These are the fiscal conservatives who are more likely to be socially liberal, or at least agnostic on social issues. The party also has the social conservatives. This group is where the white nationalists thrive. This is the group that is anti-immigration, feels the “fabric of America” is slipping away (which I can’t explain other than America becoming a more diverse pool of ethnicities), they have, or at least had, strong opinions about morality and decency, and this helps fuel their dislike of “gay culture” that they see as flamboyant, gratuitous, and indecent. At the same time, they balked at the way the government made them be fair to minorities. They way the government had anything to say about the way of life (that was great for them, even if less so for others). People who felt that we were once the base of the democratic party, but found themselves without a satisfying political home when the democrats became the party of civil rights, and stopped being the party of the KKK. That’s when the adoption of the southern strategy and the inclusion of the Reagan Democrats paid off, and brought a big win for Reagan. His characterization of government as something to be feared hit home, and his attacks on the welfare queen driving a Cadillac fit well with their feeling that they were being pushed out of the society they once dominated. And the party has balanced these two groups ever since, and somehow managed them well. The fiscal conservatives seemed to become more socially conservative and the social conservatives became more fiscally conservative. They had a comfortable balance. Trump is disrupting that.

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Repeal, and replace with what?

Folks on the right often complain about government handouts, and accuse liberals of wanting something for nothing. It often, however, seems to be exactly the opposite, especially when it comes to discussions about Obamacare. And so much of the hatred about Obamacare concerns things that were just as bad, if not worse, before it.
Drew Altman, in a Times Op-Ed looks at sentiment in Trump voters about Obamacare repeal.
“If these Trump voters could write a health plan, it would, many said, focus on keeping their out-of-pocket costs low, control drug prices and improve access to cheaper drugs. It would also address consumer issues many had complained about loudly, including eliminating surprise medical bills for out-of-network care, assuring the adequacy of provider networks and making their insurance much more understandable.”
So, basically, they want it to do MORE than it does, not less? Isn’t that what democrats were pushing for, but scaled back as an attempt to compromise with republicans? Isn’t the republican philosophy to let the free market take care of it, not to mandate lower prices, regulate out-of-network care?
I’m continually baffled by how people make their decisions, and how comfortable people seem to be with their strong opinions, when there’s a clear lack of understanding serving as a basis of those opinions.
An old friend who I’ve kept in touch with almost entirely through FaceBook voted for Trump (or at least supported him in discussions on FaceBook before the election). In the run-up to the election, he said that all he wanted was lower taxes and affordable health care. This pained me. I don’t know his annual income, but I know his job and what he does, and I suspect that he doesn’t have income in any of the tax brackets that are targeted for reduction in any of the tax plans put forward by Trump or any of the republicans. But, more to the point here, what does he expect from a repeal of Obamacare? Maybe he expects to be able to buy a cheap plan again, without any requirements for minimum standards of coverage, like those that came with the ACA. Maybe he’s OK with a plan that won’t actually cover him if he gets sick, but makes him feel covered because it has low co-pays for routine stuff, and low premiums. Maybe he wants that, but of course that leaves the rest of us covering his bill if he gets sick and needs help that his insurance won’t provide, or leaves him broke and sick.
Of course there are things wrong with the ACA, and of course I’d like to see them fixed, but much like what I wrote earlier about government failures, the answer doesn’t seem to do less, it seems like the fix involves doing more. That means not repealing, but strengthening. Of course, that’s not what any of the GOP plans look like, but we’ll have to wait and see what we get.
The GOP needs to be very careful here, or they might end up shooting themselves in the foot, without a good insurance plan to cover the treatment.

Demonizing Hillary

My wife has enormous influence on me. I listen to whatever she says, and am often convinced to change my view, at least slightly, because of something she said. On the twentieth anniversary of our marriage (today, August 3rd, 2016), it is, therefore, appropriate to write a brief note about a recent change in my thinking about the 2016 elections.

This change is a good one; good in the sense that it lets me live my life feeling less disgust for other people. That makes me happy, because feeling disgust for anything is not pleasant in any way. So what changed? My view of Trump voters.

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The GOP Platform

A lot is said about republicans and what they do and do not believe. We can consider how many republicans do and do not agree with certain things, but in the end, the party has a platform, and the platform is on record now. I think it’s worth taking a look…and doing a little fisking (actually pseudofisking, there’s no way I’m covering every single phrase in the damn thing, it’s just too long and a lot of it doesn’t warrant comment anyway). Here goes!

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We didn’t start the fire…or did we?

Jeb Bush has dropped out of the GOP primary, leaving behind Ohio Governor John Kasich as the last of the more “establishment” choices in the GOP primary. Some might say that Rubio is “establishment,” but he’s not your typical GOP presidential candidate — maybe more like the typical candidate than Trump or Cruz is, but a young Senator like Rubio doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of the GOP standard bearer like Bush, Dole, McCain, or Romney. It’s a different year indeed. George Will wrote a piece not too long ago accusing Trump of damaging the GOP. I can see Will’s point, and I sympathize with him, but I don’t think that Trump’s message would resonate if the support for it didn’t already exist. I think Trump is revealing something that already exists in the party, but I don’t think he deserves credit for actually causing the damage. I think that rests on the heads of the party itself, particularly in the way they’ve acted over the past seven years. Let’s go deeper.

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