In the NYT, Krugman's column explores one of my favorite topics: why are Republicans wrong so much?
His focus is on health care policy, specifically health care policy "wonks" on the right who don't seem to know anything about the subject for which they claim an expertise. The Wonk Gap (ala the missile gap) refers to how one side--the GOP--has a dangerous lead in being wrong as right-wing health care experts keep saying that premiums are going up under Obamacare. These experts are knowingly cooking the numbers in ways that George Will should complain about as trademark infringement. But when it comes to the politicians who repeat this nonsense, Krugman, at least for the sake of argument, simply assumes that they aren't lying; rather, they simply made the mistake of believing their own "experts."
I agree with this move and it's why I call the GOP, The Stupid Crazy Party. The futility of the opposite course was demonstrated in the last cycle by the disputes among otherwise pragmatic people over what Romney "actually believed." Much of this centered around the dissonance between the man's financial success and his financial pronouncements. Did he "actually believe" that Bernanke was killing the economy? Did he not understand that 11 million "self-deportations" would cause a second Great Depression? Then came the second order hypothesizing: assuming he knows that GDP growth requires immigration, will he act on what he said--making life so miserable for our undocumented workers that they simply leave, or will he act on what he believes--taking steps that help businesses but piss off the Tea Party?
But once you're down in that coal pit, you've clearly taken a wrong turn. Who the fuck cares what Romney "actually believes"? Without debating the profoundly unknowable, we can say--with certainty--that when comparing two presidential candidates the one who says a bunch of crazy shit on the campaign trail is much more likely to enact a bunch of crazy shit as an elected official than the one who doesn't.
As Krugman says: "Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did." Given a choice between two different sets of values or two different approaches to politics the public will sometimes go one way, sometimes the other.
But that is no longer the choice American voters face. Increasingly, "conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts." It may take us a little time, but Americans are starting to figure out that on a national level we can vote for Democrats who generally understand how the world works and Republicans who don't. Americans go back and forth between "left" and "right", but once we see that the choice is "right" versus "wrong", we'll choose "right" and keep choosing it until the party of wrong finally dies. Let the historians debate what they "actually believed" once the GOP is safely underground and we once again have two reality based parties.