From this Saturday's Up With Chris Hayes, Chris takes a look at the message we saw coming out of this year's Republican National Convention and as he concluded "It's an ugly message, but in a time of anxiety and diminished expectations, not a stupid one." It may not be stupid but it's extremely cynical.
This week the Republican party gathered in Tampa to tell a terrible and tragic tale of American decline. They couldn't quite say that, explicitly, of course. This is the party of Reagan and sunny optimism, or so they'd like to present themselves, but you couldn't help notice that the three days of speeches on the convention floor were an orgy of imagined persecution, grievance and doleful recollections of halcyon days gone by.
But the packaging for this message was insistent invocation of American greatness. As Rachel Maddow's team documented in a montage for MSNBC's convention coverage, almost every single speaker told a story of upward mobility, usually taken from their own family's past: tracing the arc of the American dream that had brought them to the podium.
Part of this is just standard political treacle, a way for, say, an extremely wealthy prep school graduate like Ann Romney, to seem relatable. But the larger reason this was such a dominant theme at the RNC is that the Republican Party's platform and tribal identity are zealously committed to the notion of American exceptionalism, and when people talk about American exceptionalism, this is usually what they mean. [...]
Somewhat oddly almost every single one of the stories of "we-built-it," plucky American success didn't revolve around the speakers own experience of social mobility but rather that of their hardworking relatives and ancestors. It struck me, listening to these invocations of the labors of previous generations as a slightly odd note, a backward looking tour of nostalgia for an America that we are losing. But of course, that's precisely the message of the Republican party this year and its a potent one because it's based on a core reality.
But of course, Joe Scarborough thinks he does. After going on about how neither of our presidential candidates really understands the "American dream," Scarborough proceeded to explain to the viewers his ideas for what it's going to take to make America great again, which of course included such ridiculous platitudes as "getting government out of the way" while simultaneously calling for free Wi-fi for everyone, rebuilding infrastructure and R&D.
I'm not sure who Scarborough thought was going to pay for those things if not the government, but never mind that. U.S.A.!!! U.S.A.!!! We're number one! We're number one! Our schools are the best! We're the greatest country on the face of the earth! And then Mika burst his bubble with some of that elitist, leftist, America-hating smarty-pants talk about Americans being overweight. Why do you hate America Mika? Joe Scarborough wants to know.
After Dick Cheney famously told us that "deficits don't matter" and the Bush administration broke the bank with their tax cuts for the rich and military occupations, Marco Rubio in this week's Republican Weekly Address tells us that the "American dream" is threatened by deficit spending and for heaven's sake, don't get rid of those Bush tax cuts that helped break the bank in the first place.
But in the mean time... USA!... USA!... we're the greatest country on the face of the earth. And more tax cuts for the rich. Good grief. Their idea of the "American" dream is for all of us to be living in squalor.
Hi, I’m Marco Rubio.
It’s an honor to talk to you today about the direction of our country.
About the decisions being made in Washington that will determine what kind of nation we leave to our children.
America is the greatest country in the history of the world. But that didn’t happen by accident and it won’t continue automatically.
Today the American Dream is threatened by out of control politicians in Washington, who think that more government deficit spending is what it takes to grow our economy. That has never worked anywhere it’s been tried and it won’t work now.
More good news from our government. Friday the White House said deficits would climb to $9 trillion over the next ten years bringing the total national debt to $20 trillion a decade from now.
The government also announced Social Security recipients will get no cost of living adjustments during the next two years. That hasn’t happened since automatic increases were put into place in 1975. We can find hundreds of billions of dollars for AIG and Wall Street, but we can’t give our senior citizens a small cost of living increase in their social security. When does the revolution start?
We’re in the midst of a recession not seen since the great depression. Millions of Americans are out of work, unemployment has soared to 9.4 percent. Millions of good paying jobs have been have been shipped overseas never to return. And the manufacturing base that was once the engine of our economy is on life support. We simply don’t make “things” anymore.
We are in debt up to our eyeballs to China and other foreign countries as we increasingly look to them to finance out deficit spending. And through it all have you noticed? There’s no talk in Washington of cutting expenses or reducing the size of government.
There are unfunded liabilities in the tens of trillions of dollars for Medicare and Social Security; and no plan for how to pay for health care reform. Add in the drain of millions of illegal aliens and the fact that many states are bankrupt. We’re in serious trouble here.
Here’s my question to you: How is the American dream changing?