Over the past year or so I have tagged many of my posts "Reaganism Is A Series Of False Claims About The World". It's not a question of opinion. We're right and they are wrong.
It hasn't always been this way. Political disagreements could mirror one from my marriage: "We should clean the bathroom once a week." True or false? The word "should" gives it away. How clean "should" the bathroom be? It's a question of values and priorities.
But in American political life today, almost all of the disagreements involve questions with a right answer. Republicans are not saying, "We need to focus on cleaning the kitchen, first." Instead, they are making the claim, "The bathroom is not dirty."
The press, thanks to "objectivity", can't even see that a claim has been made that is either true or false. Instead, the press simply reports that the statement has been made, balanced with the statement, "Many Democrats, however, say the bathroom is dirty."
Thus, reporters, amazingly, fail to notice that they are standing knee deep in shit. The bathroom, is, as a matter of fact, dirty.
Along the way I have cited Jonathan Chait as a writer who has come to the same conclusion. His latest post points out that there are matters of fact involved in the GOP's claim that financial success in America is a matter of merit: Studies Show Paul Ryan Is Wrong and Obama Is Right: You Didn’t Build That.
The degree to which one presumes people deserve to keep their market income is a question of values. But it is also connected to questions of fact. Conservatives and liberals build their differing beliefs about the sanctity of market income in part on empirical observations about the importance of hard work and skill versus luck. And a large and growing body of literature shows that this question can be resolved in liberals’ favor.
Chait's conclusion is softer than my own, preserving a legitimate place for the market meritocracy "philosophy" espoused by Republicans. I would say they are simply wrong. Instead, Chait concludes:
None of this is to say that inherent ability or hard-work have no bearing — they data suggest they do. Nor is this to say that we should stop advising people to try their hardest and do everything within their power to advance themselves — of course we should (and Obama does so regularly). But the conservative belief that our income mostly reflects merit is not only a philosophy to which they’re entitled to subscribe, it is also the simple denial of reality.