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Questions for Republican Voters

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This piece is appearing in newspapers in my very red congressional District, VA-06

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I don’t know anyone who spends as much time trying to understand Republican/Trump supporters as I do. But I’m still puzzled.

The main puzzle is this: Do they not see what I’d expect them to see? Or do they not care about what I’d expect them to care about?

Here are some specific areas on which I’d like to ask such questions of my fellow-citizens who are voting Republican and/or approving of Trump:

Can you think of any good reason why it has been right for the United States to be the only advanced nation whose citizens are not assured of adequate health care? Can you make a case for why it’s the other couple dozen free and prosperous nations that chose wrongly on this issue, while the one outlier (the U.S.) got it right?

If you cannot, is it OK with you that the Republican Party has consistently worked to block or sabotage any policy that would give Americans that kind of security? Do you care if the Party you support seeks to prevent the United States from investing in the health of its citizens as every other major nation has done for many years?

For supporters of the Republican Party, which has long promoted itself as the Party of Patriotism, here are some questions regarding a another matter.

Are you aware that Trump’s representatives made two attempts to set up a back channel to be able to communicate with Putin’s Russian regime, out of sight of American intelligence? (One effort was made by Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn, meeting with the Russian ambassador, seeking to use Russian diplomatic facilities (!); and the other was made on Trump’s behalf by Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, meeting with a Russian oligarch in the Seychelles Islands.)

What do you imagine Trump and his people wanted to communicate to Putin that they wouldn’t want the CIA and the FBI to know about? Can you think of any explanation that an American patriot would approve?

Would you care if Mr. Trump and his group were sacrificing the interests of the United States to serve Russian interests instead?

The polls have indicated that the majority of Republicans approve of the recent tax bill passed by the Republicans in Congress. I wonder: are these Republicans aware that this tax bill – touted by congressional Republicans as a “middle class tax cut” – benefits mostly the very richest Americans and the corporate system? And do they know that the Republicans in Congress designed the bill so that the relatively small middle class tax cut expires in a few years, while those for the richest and the big corporations continue indefinitely?

Do you care that the Party you support was determined to increase the inequalities of wealth and income that are already wider than they’ve been in living memory?

The biggest political drama of this moment is doubtless the battle between Robert Mueller and his investigators on the one hand, with the President, his Republican allies, and Fox News on the other. The latter have been telling their followers that the investigation is a partisan “witch hunt”—and apparently with some success, with polls showing that Republicans (unlike the rest of America) have an unfavorable view of Robert Mueller and a distrust of the FBI.

I would like to ask the Republican voters and Fox News watchers: Are you aware that the major players involved in the investigation – Robert Mueller, Rod Rosenstein, Jim Comey, and Andrew McCabe – are all life-long Republicans? And does knowing that these men are Republicans make the Trump charge of this being a partisan plot against him less credible to you?

Would you care if the whole “witch hunt” rhetoric was part of an effort of the President to place himself above the law?

A list of such “do you know” and “would you care” questions could be expanded at length.

Between people not knowing, and their not caring, I would rather it be that people don’t know. The lack of knowledge seems more remediable, less deeply entrenched in the soul than an indifference to important values being trampled.

However, the not-knowing can also sometimes be the fruit of a deeper problem.

Take for example the poll data showing that most Republicans believe Donald Trump more than Robert Mueller. What leads those people to give greater credence to Trump, whose record of speaking falsely is unprecedented (and has been counted as roughly five false statements per day since his presidency began), than to Robert Mueller, who has been given major law-enforcement roles by American presidents of both parties because of his unblemished record of unwavering integrity?

Some interpreters speak of a “cult of personality” to explain this credulity (as well as the “I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any voters” unwavering loyalty). In other words, some of the not-knowing the truth might be understood not so much as a matter of ignorance as of a willingness to follow another human being no matter where he leads.

The historical record of such “cults of personality” is a very dark one. The people who get this kind of credence and devotion – one thinks of Mao in China, Stalin in the Soviet Union, and Hitler in Germany as the most prominent examples from the last century – tend not to be exemplars of human virtue, but rather embodiments of the more monstrous forms that egotistical human beings in positions of power can take.

So a distinction should be made, it seems, between the kind of not-knowing that is the result of having been fed false information, and the kind of not-knowing that is the result of surrendering an important part of oneself to another — not necessarily admirable — person.

The first does not much touch the soul. The second has more troubling implications.

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Andy Schmookler — the Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District in 2012 — is the author of a series titled “A Better Human Story.”

  • Glen Bayless

    I often wonder about these and other questions I would like 45’s supporters to address. If you ever get any answers, please post them.Thanks

    • Andy Schmookler

      I won’t get any answers. The Republicans in this era send out only trolls to engage “the enemy.” And any conservative reader on whom such a message as this has any impact will almost certainly keep it to themselves, because that political subculture has no tolerance for deviation from the orthodoxy.

      As a result: 1) my messages will predictably yield the same public lack of response whether they are falling on deaf ears or they are succeeding in getting under people’s skin and maybe even moving them in the ways I’m seeking; and 2) the communication is inevitably a one-way matter.

      Dialogue with conservatives was possible in the 90s, and I had lots of good exchanges with them on the radio back then. But since Karl Rove’s toxic influence took hold (say, in the election campaign of 2004), no real dialogue has been possible on matters having to do with the politics of these times.

      • Exactly: so let’s focus on informing, engaging, motivating, registering and getting Democrats and anti-Trump independents out to the polls. No sense wasting our time on trying to persuade the Fox-addled #MAGA crowd.

        • Andy Schmookler

          I agree: the immediate urgent priority is not persuading these people (what I’m calling “the Trump 37%,” but defeating the political force with which they are now aligned.

          At the same time, it should be noted, the Blue Wave that’s building has been about the “enthusiasm gap” between the Rs and the Ds. Everything that increases that gap helps build the wave: which means that demoralizing the Rs so they stay home is equally valuable for the Blue Wave as activating the Ds.)

          Any reclamation of the Rs will doubtless mostly have to be a long-term process. So the immediate task is predominantly as you say. But the long-term prospects for American political health will require that greater sanity obtain among the 37% than the craziness that has taken hold now.

          • “the long-term prospects for American political health will require that greater sanity obtain among the 37% than the craziness that has taken hold now.”

            Agreed, just not sure there’s anything us “libtards” (as they call us) can do about it; if anything, our efforts would probably backfire.

          • Andy Schmookler

            For now, I’ll let yours be the last word on this round (of the n rounds you and I have gone on these matters).

            But there will be more from me on this, as my argument on this is made neither lightly nor on the basis of thinking about these matters superficially. (Nor is there any disagreement between us on any of the matters that you stress as important.)

            Coming soon: A series titled “Press the Battle: Fighting for the Soul of America(ns)”

          • RobertColgan

            Andy, I think yours a noble effort, though it strikes me a tad quixotic………..
            if you take into consideration that brainwashing is actually a form of hypnosis (ongoing hypnotic suggestive state) and have any experience with people who are hypnotized, you realize that they are ONLY hearing what they are allowed to hear that FITS within the parameters of the hypnotic suggestion.

            “All the news print to fit” applies here.
            So they might hear someone saying saying something like “Trump is a pathological liar” but their state of suggestibility doesn’t recognize it as true, or fitting…….that in actuality, they don’t really “hear” it, CAN’T hear (“absorb/ gestate/ruminate it mentally”) it because it is OUTSIDE the parameters of their suggestion.

            So, you might wish to have a genuine tete-a-tete with them, but it is as if they are in Scott Pruitt’s isolation booth and only see your mouth moving.

      • old_redneck

        How true, Andy, how true.

        HOWEVER — keep it up.

        Illegitimi non carborundum. (Don’t let the bastards grind you down.)

  • Republican here! The Democrats attempt (Obamacare) at fixing healthcare in USA doubled premiums and tripled deductibles to the point that the average American can’t afford the operation. That’s progress!

    Nationalized Health? Most people die before the 6 months waiting period for non-emergency procedures in Britain’s NHS. That is if your hospital in England hasn’t closed down or you’re too afraid of entering without a hazmat suit on in case you catch something worse. Could go to Canada but I would get knocked over at the board with over 60,000 of them coming to the USA just to get basic MRIs done.

    Get Government out of the way and let the free market work. Free market works with all other products. It can, again, with healthcare.

    Trump? Come on. He is a saint compared to the Clintons. He only became your nemesis when he won the GOP nomination.

    McCabe a Republican? Looks like McAullife backed the wrong horse in the State Senate race.

    Look forward to Lowkell posting the letter a sent him. Stay civil.

    • Trevor

      Can you please back up your statements with citations and facts? The “premiums doubled” is true…sort of. When you ignore the increased supplement that the government pays to help cover insurance costs it is true. For most people, it’s not. The other thing that you’re ignoring is that when you consider the oft-cited time period (2013-2017), you’re not comparing apples to apples. You’re comparing the nearly useless pre-ACA plans to the ACA plans that actually provide real coverage.

      60,000 Canadians come to the US for treatment…wow, that’s huge. Oh…wait, compared to the 1.4 million Americans who leave the US every year for medical treatment, it’s nothing. (http://www.businessinsider.com/more-than-a-million-americans-will-leave-us-for-medical-care-this-year-2016-8)

      So yeah, there’s that.

      For instance, you said, “Most people die before the 6 months waiting period for non-emergency procedures in Britain’s NHS.” Where did you find this, and what was the research methodology for said study? If you’re referring to the shortages that are causing delays, yes, when the conservatives in the UK took over, they started to drastically cut back the spending on the NHS, leading to Dr. shortages…and now things are getting bad. So yes, when conservatives get in charge and start to gut things, they get worse.

      Free markets don’t work with “all other products”, that’s a historically naive statement to make. Additionally, health care doesn’t work like car shopping. When my daughter had an attack of pancreatitis almost 2 years ago, I couldn’t “shop around” for the cheapest ER to bring her to. Nor do I have the knowledge to know just “how many” CT scans, or MRI’s, or x-rays are “really needed” to ensure she’s healthy. She is now, thankfully, but you don’t have time to comparison shop when it comes to health care issues like that. The free market will solve health care is just one of the great GOP lies.

      How is Trump “a saint compared to the Clinton’s.” That would be an example of an opinion, and not one backed up by facts. The facts are that Trump is a racist (See: Central Park 5 ad he took out calling for the death penalty for innocent black teens, or the housing discrimination, or the racist statements about Hispanics), sexist (Hollywood Access tapes, 16+ women accuse him of sexual harassment…) bully (Twitter) who has no business being President.

      • old_redneck

        There you got, Trevor. Confusing a Republican with facts.

        Don’t you know, when Republicans are confronted by facts, they retreat into the corner, snarl, spit, and lash out like cornered rats?

        • Just for fun, here’s what the 10th CD GOP Chair, Andrew Nicholson, sent me earlier. Not even sure where to start with this, other than that almost every word is either false/fact-challenged or highly distorted/misleading…

          Why do Democrats continue to call themselves ‘Democrats’?

          I am proud to be a Republican. Proud of the history of our party from its founding to end slavery to the support we gave women suffrage, from being the majority party in the civil rights legislation acts of the 1950’s and 60’s to the champions of the civil rights issue of the 21st century – the unalienable ‘Right to Life’.

          Are we perfect? Absolutely not, every organization has individuals who do not represent the whole. The fact is the overwhelming majority of Republicans, including President Trump, are not racist, misogynistic or homophobic. We do not hate immigrants. We just want legal ones! Google ‘Creed of the Republican Party of Virginia’ for the most articulate definition of ‘What it means to be a Republican’.

          But enough about the Grand Old Party, I have one question. Why do Democrats continue to call themselves ‘Democrats’?

          For the last 100 years the Democrat Party has named their annual fundraising dinner the ‘Jefferson Jackson Gala’ after two great, but flawed, Presidents. This year the Democrat Party of Virginia has joined many other committees across America and changed the name of this signature event. The Chairman of the DPVa stated, “The Blue Commonwealth Gala will be a celebration of our party’s dedication to expanding opportunity for all Virginians”.

          The truth is many Democrats are ashamed Thomas Jefferson (the founder of the Democrat Party) and Andrew Jackson (the hero of the War of 1812 and a Democrat US President) owned slaves. As a result today’s Democrats want to erase their prominence, even existence, from the Democrat party. How Orwellian.

          But if Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson are so seriously flawed then isn’t the ‘Democrat’ name far worse?

          After all it was the ‘Democrat’ Party that voted against the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Amendments that freed the slaves, made them citizens and gave them the right to vote!

          It was the ‘Democrat’ Party that formed the KKK and Jim Crow laws to deny African Americans their rights as equal citizens for an additional 100 years!

          It was the ‘Democrat’ Party who elevated Robert Byrd, a former Exalted Cyclops of the KKK, to the esteemed level of Democrat Party Leader of the Senate!

          It was the ‘Democrat’ Party, through the actions of Franklin D Roosevelt, who put thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War Two, but not U.S. citizens of German descent!

          As the legacies of Jefferson and Jackson are disparaged, statues removed and Republicans falsely accused as the party of racists and bigots I ask ‘Democrats’ to look into the mirror and ask one simple but monumental question.

          Why do Democrats continue to call themselves ‘Democrats’?

          Andrew Nicholson
          10th Congressional District Chairman
          Republican Party of Virginia

          • RobertColgan

            There’s just so much here to ponder. . . . . . (pondering)
            still pondering. . . . . .okay. I’m done.

            it’s pretty much like gnawing on an old shoe:
            you try and try to get some substance from it, but to no avail and you end up with sore masseter muscles and a bad taste in your mouth.

            There’s truth—-(accurate re-statement of happenings) —-
            and then there’s opinion POSING as truth:
            Fox News, spinmeisters, advertisers, marketeers, corporate lobbyists, con men, carpetbaggers, shysters, etc (what they WANT to believe is true, what they want YOU to believe is true, what they know ISN’T truthful but pretend is true to gain something).

            The crap about the healthcare systems in other nations being worse than the mucked up system we have in America has long been one of the more trying lies for me to hear:
            years ago a film crew spent time in different American cities asking people if they liked/were satisfied with their healthcare, and did the same thing in Canadian cities, then posted the results side by side in video format at high speed:
            Americans largely said “No,” one after another.
            Canadians —-with only one exception——said “Yes!”

            Yet we continue to hear that universal healthcare for all citizens is somehow either undoable, or an insult to basic American values by people like Mr.Nicholson (who under MedicareForAll would be paying ~3600/year for very good healthcare coverage).

            For Nicholson & such folks—–whatever is seen as increasing profits is deemed “the moral good” and whatever is seen as decreasing profit or removing profit is construed as “morally bad.”
            With this in mind, I am surprised he is not actually pleased his insurance company is making out oh-so-well at his expense, though he is probably just angry he doesn’t own their stock.

            Oh, and Andrew, let us know how that hip replacement from Amazon works out . . . . .heh. I bet Bezos himself will do it.

          • woodrowfan

            If you go to Bull Elephant and read his comments you’ll see he’s beyond hope. He has no self-awareness, no actual knowledge of history, no understanding of science. He’s pretty much everything you’d expect of a modern republican leader except for the open racism. (and I’m sure he expresses that in private).

            TL:DR don’t bother, he’s not worth anything..

          • RobertColgan

            Thanks, woodrowfan.
            I must take small exception to what you say, however….even if very small exception…..
            my sense is that every human being, even the most brainwashed and thoughtless, every lifeform as well.
            True, some lifeforms by their very nature represent threats to our well-being or existence such as flesh-eating bacteria, or meningococci, or anthrax, or cold-hearted serial killers. . . so I have to temper what I am attempting to defend here.
            There’s a good reason why Noam Chomsky has declared the Republican Party to be the most dangerous group of individuals on the planet: he thinks they are so consumed by greed and adherence to tribal tenets that they are fast-tracking the Sixth Extinction by their advocacy for fossil fuel and kleptomanic corporatism.
            Can’t say I disagree with him.

        • I have a job. That is why I was delay in responding

          • woodrowfan

            and there you go, proving his point.

      • My healthcare premiums have doubled, and deductibles trebled. Time magazine agrees: http://time.com/money/4970511/why-your-health-care-costs-are-out-of-control-in-one-graph/

        Glad your daughter was taken care of. That is exactly what hospitals are for and a catastrophic healthcare policy would take care of those types of worst case situations.

        Instead Middle America (not subsidized America) is forced to pay at least $1,500.00+ a month for a government regulated healthcare policy that demands coverage of procedures I have never thought possible and some morally repugnant.

        Most healthcare is not an emergency. Your average Joe should be able to walk into a Wal-Mart, be seen by a nurse practitioner and get a prescription for Tamiflu at a reasonable price.

        Just think what would happen to the price of hip replacements if you could buy them from Amazon.

        Instead we are forced to visit an insurance company / government approved doctor to be charged 2 or 3 times the rate a local SuperCenter could do it for.

        Maybe there is hope! I recently learned I can get the same prescription filled from the same pharmacy at 1/3rd the price! Instead of the government mandated insurance company policy use the GoodRx App. It doesn’t apply to my deductible but at least I can afford to buy food this week. Insane!

        So I am very sorry if you are offended Middle America does not want government dictated single-payer (ie taxpayer) healthcare. Obamacare is bad enough!

        As for harassment rumors against Trump do the names Anita Brodrick, Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Jennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, etc, etc. mean anything? Remember, Hillary enabled all that.

        • Trevor

          “Middle America”, heh, what exactly do you mean by that? Also, $1,500+ per month for you, out of pocket? If you have employer covered health care, you’re being ripped off, most people I know pay less than half that a month for employer covered, and if you go to the ACA website, you can get covered for significantly less as well. For kicks, I put in my income, and covering a family of 4, and got a monthly premium of $950/month, before government subsidy. I suggest your number is wildly inflated to try and make a point.

          Oh, I see, you’re placing your morality over the coverage of others then, check.

          Actually, more of America does think that the government should ensure health care, about 60% of the country in fact (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/06/23/public-support-for-single-payer-health-coverage-grows-driven-by-democrats/), this includes 33% who want single payer. So no, your “Middle America” stuff doesn’t fly here.

          Glad you’re taking the libertarian extreme for health care…it doesn’t work in the real world, but at least you’re consistent. Also, why did you decide to drop your line about medical tourism? Is it because I again showed how you’re trying to use a statistic to make a wildly misleading claim?

          No, catastrophic health care policies as they stand now would still bankrupt the average person, as their out of pocket max is so high as to be useless.

          I’m not offended by your claims, I’m offended that you’re claiming to speak for “Middle America”, without defining what you mean by that, and not backing it up.

          Oh, I see, Bill Clinton’s issues are actually Hillary’s fault? Please, again, you’re not backing up your claims. You’re also dodging everything else, the racism, the anti-Muslim drum beating, the idiotic boasting and sabre rattling…my god, the list goes on forever.

          I think we’re done here, you’re claiming, without offering proof, that you speak for a vast amount of Americans…which is strange. Then you ignore everything else that doesn’t fit, and you blame one person for what their spouse did. Wonderful.

          • Actually average 2017 premiums are $18,674.00

            http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/health-insurance-premiums.aspx

            Enable a : to provide with the means or opportunity training that enables people to earn a living
            b : to make possible, practical, or easy a deal that would enable passage of a new law
            c: Hillary protecting Bill

            Morality? Making someone pay for services they object to is forcing your morality on them, not the other way round.

            England. Born there. Relatives there. The standing joke is it takes so long to get an elective scheduled in England there is a better chance you will die before the operation. The NHS even has a dedicated website for it!

            https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/appointment-booking/Pages/nhs-waiting-times.aspx

          • woodrowfan

            Morality? Making someone pay for services they object to is forcing your morality on them, not the other way round.

        • notjohnsmosby

          Your premiums might have doubled, but you’re an old white who who probably needs a Cadillac plan.

          Then again, I’m sure you think the Black Panthers are going to team up with MS-13 to steal your lunch money, so I’ll just assume your premiums haven’t doubled and you’re just full of shit.

    • old_redneck

      The Affordable Care Act was purposely crippled then destroyed by Republicans. The health care industry tried to make it work. In fact, they are still trying . . . and succeeding in many states.

      Please provide proof of your bogus claim about the British NHS. I realize this is anecdotal, however — a law school classmate of my daughter is a partner in a London law firm. She has lived in the UK for 12 years, has two children. She and her husband are perfectly happy with NHS. In fact, my daughter — partner in a DC firm — may move to London just for the NHS care.

      You are, as are all Republicans, stricken with a serious case of historic amnesia. What has made America great is NOT God, guns, and guts. Instead, our greatness is based on the 20th century creation of government-private partnership, recognizing that neither an unfettered free market nor unfettered government control is the way to go.

      Trump is a liar, an ignoramus, a crook, and a fraud. Perhaps you could tell me — other than a politically-motivated sexual harassment case — exactly what the Clintons have been convicted of?

      Yes, Dr. McCabe lost her Senate race. So what?

    • frankoanderson

      “Most people die before the 6-month waiting period?” If the NHS was so bad, then why did London do a long showcase event dedicated to the NHS in front of the whole world at the Olympics?

      But I’m not advocating for eliminating private health insurance. How about two options, private and public insurance? A robust public option for those who can’t afford healthcare (not just Medicare and Medicaid).

      The free market is not free — it is only open to those who can afford to participate. An unregulated free market is what leads to health insurers being able to drop anyone they please, deny services and charge as much as they want. A public pool for insurance, which you buy into if you can afford, and which you can still be a part of if you can’t afford, is what I would propose we should have alongside the private market.

      However, if you believe that the poor are responsible for their plight, and therefore must be punished instead of helped, then you’re okay with the Republican goals of eliminating the entire social safety net.

      • That horrible, incompetent NHS, which just..oh wait, they just did an AMAZING JOB saving the lives of the two Russian poisoning victims. Hmmmm…there goes THAT right-wing narrative down the tubes.