Hypocrisy, Mendacity & Cynicism: A Trifecta of American Politics
The picture of AOC (Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez) and Matt Gaetz chatting, seemingly amicably, during the nearly violent chaos of the Kevin McCarthy confirmation hearings seemed strange to many. What, after all, were these two exemplars of the edges of their respective parties doing and why were they models of reason when the more mainstream politicians were at loggerheads—or at least looking for logs with which to hit each other in the head?
The easy answer is that you can’t really take either politicians or their spokes-folks at face value. The amount of mendacity and hypocrisy is stunning. We say we want comity but often get comedy, tragedy, and farce.
AOC and Gaetz can talk nicely (sometimes) because they are not institutionalists and party faithful. Gaetz has no real political platform, nor does he want one. He craves a media platform instead. Gaetz is happy to attack and diminish the party regulars, the so-called establishment. So too is AOC. She backed Democratic insurgents in primaries to overthrow not simply the party’s pick but actual Democratic incumbents. However, unlike Gaetz, AOC actually has core beliefs and principles.
Gaetz was part of a wing that isn’t truly conservative but essentially bomb throwing anarchists, and AOC and her Squad agree with many of the rule proposals that Gaetz and his ilk humiliatingly forced on McCarthy. Both Left and Right, want more accountability, more debate, and the ability to propose and vote on amendments on the floor. They want weakened centralized leadership. Are they motivated by idealism, political ambition or craving for yet higher office? Most likely some or all of the above. Should we be shocked that left and right meet on the extremes? Not at all. The political spectrum is not linear but curved like a horseshoe.
The joint hypocrisies arise again concerning the serious heart-breaking and chaotic issues of border security and immigration. Former President Trump instituted (already existing) Article 42 to stop immigrants at the border based on public health concerns—specifically Covid 19. President Biden campaigned against 42 and maintained that it was not only unfair but now is inappropriate since the Covid crisis has passed.
As a side bar, I’m not at all sure that the Covid crisis has truly passed but our ability to stop it at the border is not viable. Biden maintained that he wanted 42 rescinded. But when it was rescinded, he and many fellow Democrats quietly lobbied that full rescission be slow walked. In other words, “We want it gone but not now and not too fast.”
Now, with Biden finally visiting the southern border, he proposes a policy, though not rationalized by article 42, for all practical purposes continues it. He wants to expand the legal quotas for citizens escaping problematic regimes and create an App to let them apply online. Those are the carrots. The stick and sticking point for many liberals is that this increase would come in exchange for sending back all who apply after illegally crossing our border. These policies have infuriated both the left and the right. Hallelujah, Biden has brought us together!
Hypocrisy on immigration is not the sole province of politicians. We the People send very mixed messages. Conservatives who oppose mass immigration often fight for cheap labor—meaning immigrants legal and not. Our agricultural economy would crash at paying living wages and health benefits to the people who harvest our crops and work in our slaughterhouses. Nor do liberals want to pay for lettuce, citrus or grapes picked by unionized workers not living in fear of being cheated by labor brokers and deported by ICE.
Many liberals used to be, in principle, against huge defense spending. We do, after all, spend more on defense than the next 5 nations combined! Conservatives were always in favor of more defense spending. Now liberals want to maintain or increase defense spending, while former Hawks want to audit spending and cut it. Those are the public positions, but they are not what they seem. They are, for the moment, distorted by controversy over aid to Ukraine.
The Military Industrial Complex has been very smart and intentional about subcontracting parts all around the country. A plane “built” in Los Angeles or Seattle has parts from every state and nearly every congressional district. Thus, to kill a project affects the economy, jobs, and ancillary services everywhere in the country. This is why a Dovish liberal will lobby, behind the scenes, to keep a military project going—even one the military may say they don’t want or need. Likewise, conservatives, while publicly focused on “waste, fraud and abuse,” will support building two jet engines from two different companies for one jet fighter in order to spread the wealth. Both parties want to cut waste, fraud, and abuse unless those cuts cause economic blood loss in their districts or states.
To further illustrate the hypocrisies in both politics and media, take the government documents, both harmless and Top Secret Compartmented, found at Mar-a-Lago and at Biden’s former office. Conservatives and their media hold that these are the same, and everyone retains certain papers. So, either Trump is guiltless, or Biden should have his home and the White House raided. Democrats and their media say, “Oh no. These are completely different. Nothing to see here. Biden didn’t know and when the papers were found did not resist, hide, or litigate. He turned them over immediately. Nothing to see here.
Well, objectively they are not the same. Intent and resistance count against Trump. However, the mishandling of classified documents, particularly if compartmented, is not nothing. At the very least it is sloppy, potentially dangerous and a serious matter. Democrats cannot hold that there is nothing and Republicans can’t hold that they are the same. But both will do exactly this.
It is little wonder that much of the public is disheartened, if not disgusted, by the less than truthful spin and tribal loyalties of the often classless political class.
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