Where we are today is not an aberration. It is the logical outcome of Reaganism.
When Reagan said that "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem," he summarized a right-wing agenda intent on abolishing public responsibility in favor of a pre-New Deal vision of unfettered capital. The Reaganites endowed the market with the magical power of making everything work towards the good.
In this vision, selfishness is the only real good. The profit motive is the only legitimate motive. In the years since Reagan, we have seen privatization create havoc in our health care system. Healing is founded on the idea of service, of working together for the good of individuals and communities. The profit motive has proved to be only a degrading force in this regard, but those who made money from exploiting the system continued to force health into the Reagan mold.
The inability to recognize the public good as a value is a prime characteristic of Reaganism. For this reason, it’s impossible for the right wing to make any progress in the country’s educational system. In fact, the system continues to get worse.
The rise of Reagan constituted a quite deliberate and overt repudiation of empathy and compassion as social values. His fairy tales about welfare queens were all about blaming the poor. If people were poor, it was all their own fault. In addition, racism was no longer a problem. Black people who criticized institutional racism were guilty of a victim mentality. It was black culture that was at fault. This is a vein that the Republicans have continued to mine up to the present. Reagan was actually George Wallace, but with a nice smile.
If I had to pick a slogan for the Reagan movement it would be, “We don’t care.” We don’t care about anything except standing guard while the rich make their money. To accomplish this, we will pour the tax revenues into the Pentagon, from which no ordinary citizens will experience any benefit. When your taxes go for nothing, then of course you’ll demand lower taxes. Lower taxes, more money for the rich, the poor stay poor, and the defense contractors stay fat.
After Reagan, every little hate-filled cockroach came crawling up from the under the rocks. They got AM radio talk shows, newspaper columns, and TV shows, along with high government positions. People who were rightly considered wackos in the 1970s were suddenly treated as if they were respectable. Reagan’s appointment of the nutcase James Watt to head of Interior was symbolic of everything that’s happened since. When your position is that government is the problem, and you run the government, then government becomes a topsy-turvy circus, a grotesque theater of hostility. Reagan’s
Reagan secretly sold arms to
So don’t look around and act surprised that we have a vicious mobster in the White House, bleeding our future dry with dirty wars and secret plotting. Reagan won two elections, the second by a landslide. A lot of people voted for this shit. This is exactly what happens when you say “We don’t care. All I want is mine. To hell with justice, fairness, kindness. To hell with children, the aged, the poor.” This is exactly what you get.