Stubbornly right

Though wrong in every sense. I’m talking about the new version of the Republican Party, which adheres to a strict orthodoxy unimpeded by reason and facts. Will such steadfast wackiness backfire among the electorate? It did so in the last two presidential races. But conservative ideology writ large already costs Americans big time.

In his column today, Thomas Edsall writes:

Not only are gun rights sacrosanct, there are conservative prohibitions against the acknowledgment of climate change; opposition to abortion is mandatory; immigration reform is rejected; and top priority goes to tax cuts.

In a successful effort to secure compliance, the right has institutionalized enforcement through such groups as Americans for Tax ReformFreedom Works, the Club for Growth and the network of national and local Tea Party organizations. These watchdog groups ensure that Republicans toe the line, ready to foster — and finance — primary challenges against those who deviate from the party line.

Edsall then lists several adverse consequences of rigid orthodoxy. Among these:

Republican opposition to raising taxes, in turn, resulted in a decade-long delay before the enactment last year of long-term Highway Trust Fund legislation. During the delay, the nation’s infrastructure continued to decay, with one out of nine bridges considered structurally deficient; the Federal Aviation Administration estimated that airport overcrowding and delays cost the nation $22 billion annually; and 42 percent of major urban highways were congested.

Edsall mentions the squeezing of the IRS budget. That has resulted in significant tax-revenue declines, even as Republicans decry the federal debt.

Republican opposition to even the science of climate change has prevented a much needed tax on carbon, which the New York Times‘ editors argue works where such taxes have been enacted (e.g., British Columbia). Meanwhile, 2015 was by far and away the warmest year on record. Pity those coastal states like Florida most at risk to rising sea levels, yet which are under the sway of conservative orthodoxy.

We Americans don’t much care for our Republican legislators:

By 2015, the Polling Report, which tracks all public surveys, found that in five polls taken between August and the end of the year, the favorability rating of congressional Republicans had fallen to 14 percent, and the unfavorable ratings had risen to 79.4.

Indeed, they pose a significant health risk to all of us.