My partner and I were talking over lunch about how the latest round of high-profile policy maneuvering just flat-out doesn't make any sense, regardless of your ideology. Who benefits from dismantling Social Security? Who benefits from slashing NWS and NOAA services, and not being ready for disasters when they inevitably occur? Who benefits from making the US default, possibly starting off a chain reaction of global economic crises?
Being rich doesn't make you immune to disaster--you can't pay a hurricane to go strike somewhere else instead. And when a nuclear plant fails, or the air is poisoned, or our food is unregulated and rife with incurable diseases, you can't get away from that. It's systemic, and as long as you live on this planet, your quality of life will be directly affected.
The only reasonable explanation we could come up with is that conservatives have become so caught up with what they're doing in the moment, and whom they're fighting, that they've lost track of what they actually want and what they're trying to accomplish. The last thirty years have seen Republicans and conservative groups engaged in a relentless push to the right, shifting their policy a bit, then redefining the conversation to adjust the perceived "center" right so the next shift won't seem like a big deal. Shift, adjust. Shift, adjust. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But now--really, to a large degree, ten years ago--you would think they had accomplished everything they really wanted. Under Bush, we had a fire sale of many of our public assets. We have continued fueling the flames of international conflict, building up powerful private contractors that receive countless billions from the government, and we have become so inextricably entangled in (needless) conflict that those contract dollars will continue to be a sure thing for years to come. Regulations of all kinds, and the agencies that enforce them, have been systematically declawed and gutted, leaving private industry more or less free to play in its cherished 19th Century-style sandbox... often with not only tax loopholes they can drive a truck through, but federal subsidies as well. They have an institutionalized system where THE REST OF US PAY THEM TO MAKE MONEY AT OUR EXPENSE.
So why isn't it enough?
It seems that they've reached well beyond the point of diminishing returns, and have actually gotten to where pushing any further will start to seriously impact their own well-being as well as everyone else's. With the populace in poverty, there will be no significant consumer base. Unmitigated large-scale disasters, as mentioned earlier, don't play favorites. And the crumbling of economies and infrastructure will lower both the personal freedom of action and the quality of life for even the wealthiest individuals.
A big deal has been made on many liberal blogs this past week over Rep. Peter King's misguided hearing on "Islamic self-radicalization." Ironically, the Republican party--and the conservative movement as a whole--is perhaps the biggest and most visible example of "self-radicalization" in recent history. They seem to have gotten so used to the shift-and-adjust scuttle to the right that they've crab-walked right off the edge of the precipice. They cannot step back from the brink, because they've long since fallen in. And just like a crab, the only thing they can think to do is try to pull everyone else down along with them.
It's not about accomplishing any sort of discernable goals any more. It's not about feeling their way is best; they don't seem to have a consistent idea of what "their way" is, except that they'll be damned if they'll let anyone else tell them how to do things. It's not even about making sense. In the long pattern of continuously dragging the country right, Republicans have chased their ideology so far up their own assholes that they can't seem to find their way back out.