I confess that I’ve long been confused about the intense (and, I believe irrational) hatred of President Obama, when it appears to me that he has been guilty of nothing more than trying to correct the problems created by the previous administration.
Upon reflection, I believe it stems from the Right’s unfailing belief in the so-called “free” market.
When the economy, led by the housing market and a lack of common-sense regulations, careened off a cliff in late 2008, the Bush administration recommended a bill to Congress that called for the US to spend billions in order to prop up the failing banks. Lacking the support of Republican leaders in Congress, the measure initially failed. But when the stock markets crashed as a result, enough Congressmen were persuaded to change their votes and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) went into effect.
The program ultimately stabilized the markets and the economy enough to prevent the Great Recession from turning into a second Great Depresssion. Yet many Republicans were furious. They believed TARP to be a government intrusion into the infallibility of free market principles. When President Obama subsequently offered government-backed loans to General Motors and Chrysler in order to stave off the collapse of the American automobile industry, the free market Republicans and Libertarians went ballistic.
Capitalizing on an idea by a Republican strategist, groups such as the Koch-funded American FreedomWorks spent millions to rally free market believers to protest. They labeled the movement a modern day Tea Party. It turned out to be the perfect way to inspire the Republican base which was dispirited following the 2008 elections.
Teapublicans deluded themselves into believing that the Great Recession was not the fault of the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act or the Bush administrations lax oversight of the financial industry.
They focused, instead, on President Obamas attempts to fend off an economic Armegeddon. In addition, they convinced themselves that the national debt, which had doubled under President Bush, was now the fault of President Obama. They believed the auto bail-outs and economic stimulus were evidence that the administration was moving toward socialism. The Presidents eventual signing of a bill to reform the out-of-control healthcare system added even more fuel to the torches being carried by the Tea Party.
When viewed in context, the Teapublican fears seem irrational. But when viewed through a partisan lens and slavish devotion to free market principles, regardless of their consequences, the fears are understandable, if not logical.
Moreover, this helps to explain why so many lower and middle class Americans vote against their self-interest by supporting Republican candidates determined to transfer wealth upward through tax breaks for the wealthy.
Over many years of listening to Fox News pundits and Rush-to-the-table Limbaugh, these people have become convinced that all of their problems will be solved if only we rid ourselves of government intrusion and allow Teapublican leaders to work their free market magic. Indeed, these voters are likely convinced that the only thing standing between them and unimagined riches are evil Democrats, who in their Teapublican minds, are trying to replace capitalism with socialism, or worse yet, communism or fascism.
Never mind that many of these people dont have a clue of what any of these isms actually mean. Hence the Tea Party signs that read Keep your government hands off my Medicare.”