Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of “Crooks and Liars.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Nothing says leadership more than bravely standing up against a concern that's not actually a problem.
We've had a one-sided battle with Sharia Law in the U.S. No one is fighting for replacing U.S. law with an Islamic moral code, but nonetheless Republicans are heroically fighting against it. Same with aborted fetuses in commercial food stuffs: Not something that's ever happened but earlier this year Republican freshman Oklahoma state senator Ralph Shortey had the temerity to introduce a bill to outlaw it.
Republicans love what they call "simple solutions" but it's really just the easiest possible answer to a trumped-up crisis. In short: busy work. America needs to streamline for the challenges of the future so we can remain competitive (blah blah blah). Yet Republican offers are akin to organizing all the paperclips in the office by color and size.
Republicans and bureaucracy are, after all, frenemies. Sure they tell the media they despise bureaucracy, but secretly they love it when it makes them appear to be doing something. Even better if it keeps them from doing anything difficult.
For example: We're in the middle of an obesity epidemic. It's the number two leading cause of preventable death in this country. The Center for Disease Control estimates 112,000 American deaths a year due to obesity, which is down from their previous estimate of 365,000 deaths from poor nutrition and physical inactivity. The CDC reports in 2008 Americans forked over $147 billion in medical costs on obesity. We're dying and going broke from being too fat.
But what are Republicans trying to warn us against? Terrorism. China. Russia. Obamacare. ACORN. The New Black Panthers. The Fed. All of which cumulatively killed no Americans last year.
It's (ironically) lazy to try to and scare Americans about some elusive menace in order to avoid the reality that we've become the proverbial elephants in our own living rooms.
Illegal immigration? Republicans say to secure the border, build a fence and arrest anyone who even looks illegal. Mitt Romney said Arizona's infamous SB 1070 should be a model for the nation, which would be something if Mexicans were still coming into the U.S. They're not. Immigration from Mexico is now net zero. That is actually a way bigger problem than undocumented workers (whom we love in boom times for a way to circumvent the minimum wage and exploit a non-litigious underclass). It's the fact we are no longer an attractive enough country to motivate Mexicans to come here.
But as we saw last week with the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's law, governor Jan Brewer's just doubled down on a non-problem, "We cannot forget that we are here today because the federal government has failed the American people regarding immigration policy, has failed to protect its citizens, has failed to preserve the rule of law and has failed to secure our borders."
For a party that likes to peddle free market and common sense, they sure get a lot of traction ginning up irrational fears.
Our energy plan is stuck firmly in the last century, but that's not the point the presumptive Republican nominee decided to make. In March, Mitt Romney told Fox News that President Obama "has done everything in his power to make it harder for us to get oil and natural gas in this country, driving up the price of those commodities in the case of gasoline." Gas prices were the thing Republicans were going to fix by paying attention to them!
With little fanfare, gas prices are down now, by the way. Production has increased overall under the Obama administration. Republicans managed to sound the alarm and assign blame for a symptom while steadfastly avoiding the cause entirely.
Think I'm way off here? Remember this is the party that in the wake of September 11th — an attack by citizens of Saudi Arabia, organized in Afghanistan by a leader hanging out in Lebanon — decided to invade (wait for it) Iraq.
Because things indirectly involved with real problems hate us for our freedoms.