© Josh Sager – February 2014
The Schrodinger’s cat paradox describes a quantum thought experiment, where a cat is left in a box with a bottle of poison that will either open or remain closed based upon a random event. Until the box is opened and the cat’s health is observed, the cat exists in a state of paradox, where it is simultaneously considered dead and alive—however, once the box is opened and the cat is observed, the possibilities within the situation condense from two possible results to one certain result and the paradox ends.
Schrodinger’s thought experiment may sound bizarre, but it perfectly describes most of the modern GOP’s policy platform: The GOP adopts ideas and policies that it portrays as the alternative to the Democrat’s proposals, yet they will turn on a dime and decry their own ideas as soon as the Democrats agree to them—in this, the GOP simultaneously agrees and disagrees with its own policies, depending upon whether the Democrats decide to compromise (their policy positions exist in a state of superposition).
This political paradox exists in order to perpetuate the illusion that the GOP is still a party with a coherent policy platform, designed to solve society’s problems, which they are actually trying to sign into law.
The GOP’s Lack of a Policy Platform
As a progressive, I disagree with right wing ideologies based upon their policy ideas and am willing to debate such policy disagreements ad nauseam—unfortunately, this has become impossible with the current Republican Party, as they have completely abandoned trying to pass substantive policy proposals.
You know that something is wrong when Howard Dean is fondly reminiscing about Next Gingrich.
In previous decades, the GOP supported consistent policy proposals that created a coherent policy agenda; they actually supported affirmative policies that were designed to fix an identifiable problem in society.
For example, during the Bush years, the GOP passed Medicare part D and the No Child Left Behind school reform in order to insert market competition into the policy areas of Medicare and public education. Additionally, Bush attempted to pass immigration reform but was blocked by the extremists within his own party. While all of these initiatives failed (either due to policy flaws or politics), they represent attempts by the GOP to actually achieve changes in a constructive manner.
Ever since they lost control of the federal government at the end of the Bush era, the GOP has shifted from a party with policy ideas, to one that exists simply to perpetuate itself. Instead of addressing policy issues, the current GOP spends all of its time pandering to its donor base in order to gain enough money to trick its low-information voting base into sending them back to Washington. Along the way, the GOP is obstructing every piece of legislation, on every issue that does not involve them being able to hand more money/tax breaks/regulatory cuts back to those who fund their campaigns.
Why the Paradox?
The GOP has abandoned pushing realistic policy ideas, but it must keep up appearances in order to sustain the illusion that they are a legitimate political party. This is necessary to trick their voting base into electing them, thus ensuring their own employment and ability to look after their donors (who will later give them lucrative lobbying jobs in compensation).
By creating the illusion of a “living” policy platform to superimpose over its truly “dead” policy ideas, the GOP can have the best of both worlds—they can argue against Democratic policies by suggesting that they have better ideas, while never having to give a detailed account of those policies. Finally, even if the GOP is forced to detail its policies on an issue, they will immediately try to kill that policy if it appears likely to pass
- The GOP created the concept of an “individual mandate” for healthcare and pushed it for over a decade. Once Obama adopted the mandate as his own, the GOP immediately tried to kill its own creation and has spent the last several years trying to defund or repeal the law that implemented it nearly 50 times.
- The GOP supported a pathway to citizenship until the Democrats started to agree to a concrete policy proposal that incorporated many of the GOP’s ideas—after this proposal was made into legislation, the GOP (including Senator Rubio who helped write and sponsor the legislation) immediately disowned the entire idea.
When translated into the Schrodinger experiment’s terms: The GOP wants us to believe that the cat is alive, while really knowing that it was killed by the poison. They will stretch the illusion out as long as possible until the Democrats starts to agree that the living cat is the greater possibility. Once this admission is made, the GOP cheerfully opens the crate, shows that the cat is dead, and then starts berating the Democrats for ever thinking that the cat was still alive.
It may seem counterintuitive for the GOP to keep winning the Democrats over then scuttling their own policy ideas, but that is assuming that they actually want to pass legislation. In reality, the GOP doesn’t want to actually pass most of policies that it claims to support—those policies exist purely to be used to argue against the Democrats’ policy ideas.
For example: the GOP suggested an individual mandate for health insurance in order to combat the left wing policy proposal of single-payer. During these “policy” debates, the concept of an individual mandate existed purely as a tool to stave off single-payer and never as a stand-alone solution to the healthcare availability shortage in the USA. The true health policy solution of the GOP is simply to let poor people scrounge in the healthcare markets and either die or go bankrupt depending upon whether or not they choose to get care—unfortunately for them, this doesn’t poll well, so they needed to use the mandate plan as their figurehead.
Once everybody agreed that single-payer wasn’t going to be passed, the individual mandate lost its value to the GOP—after all, they never really wanted to implement it as a policy—and they started to demonize it in the public eye.
For the last few years, the GOP has existed less as a political party and more as a partisan cult that perpetuates itself purely through name recognition, moneyed corruption, and pandering to religious zealots. The American people must recognize this simple fact and start voting for other political entities.
Nothing would make me happier than to see two rational parties—one center-left and one center-right—debating substantive policy on the public stage. This would give everybody a chance to have their ideology voted upon.
Unfortunately, for as long as the GOP exists as the party of no ideas, this debate is virtually impossible. By masquerading as supporters of right wing policy, while only pushing policies that benefit corporatists and plutocrats, the GOP is co-opting the right wing’s ideology and forcing everybody who cares about sane policy into the Democratic Party. This sorting between the Democrats and Republicans creates a situation where the Republican Part is filled with insane, stupid and extreme people, while the Democratic Party is pulled far over to the right (by the influx of sane right wingers fleeing the corrupt GOP) and the left wing is diluted to the point of non-existence.
Ideally, the left wing would break off of the Democratic Party, taking many moderates with them, and create a truly leftist party. This would leave the sane right wingers in control of the already center-right Democratic brand, and would result in the GOP collapsing under its own weight. After the GOP collapses and goes the way of the Whig Party, the two-party divide would be re-normed with a center-left progressive party and a center-right Democratic Party. After this re-norming occurs, policy could be discussed between two sane and realistic ideologies and the American moderates could actually have political choices.
Unfortunately, reality is not idea, and it is likely that this situation will only resolve once money is removed from politics, causing the GOP to implode under the mass of its own ignorance and lack of coherent policy agenda.