A nation of hypocrites

NSA surveillance

The USA's 2-party domination, caused by its diseased plurality voting system, has distorted its politics to the point where, for a large fraction of the country, it doesn't matter how good or bad some policy objectively is – the only thing that matters is which side proposed it.

Want proof? Consider this complete reversal of opinions about NSA surveillance programs. When President G.W.Bush (R) was in charge, Republicans loved his secret unconstitutional NSA surveillance programs while Democrats hated them. Wait 7 years. Now Obama (D) is president and (leaks revealed) considerably expanded Bush's spying operations, completely contrary to his campaign promises. Obama's NSA tracked far more secretly-acquired information about every citizen than secret-police like East Germany's Stasi ever dreamed of... and voila: suddenly Republican support for these programs has greatly declined to nearly 50-50, while the Democratic pollees developed a great love for our Brave New World.

Amazing, isn't it?

Public's views of NSA surveillance programs under Bush & Obama
[Pew Research Center / ABC News / Washington Post polls]
  Jan 2006: NSA has been investigating people suspected of terrorist involvement by secretly listening in on phone calls and reading emails without court approval... June 2013: NSA has been getting secret court orders to track calls of millions of Amerians to investigate terrorism...
  Acceptable Unacceptable Acceptable Unacceptable
Total 51% 47 56 41
Republicans 75 23 52 47
Democrats 37 61 64 34
Independents 44 55 53 44

Another example: Government health care plan

In February 1971 and again in Feb. 1974 President Richard Nixon (R) proposed a health insurance reform plan. It was based around private insurance companies, and entailed an employer mandate to provide private health insurance, plus federalization of Medicaid for the poor with dependent minor children. The 1974 revision suggested state-run health insurance plans available to all with income-based premiums and cost sharing. Nixon's plan did not include an "individual mandate," i.e. did not require all Americans to purchase health insurance.

Result: Hearings on national health insurance were held by the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee in 1971, but committee chairmen Representative Wilbur Mills (D-AR) and Sen. Russell Long (D-LA) blocked the bill from reaching the floor. In 1974, the bill acquired some Democratic sponsors, but the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers lobbied successfully to kill the plan.

Now skip forward 35 years to 2009-2010. Lo and behold, Pres. Obama (D) spearheaded a drive for a very similar health plan (but now including an individual mandate, and dropping the state-run plans, contrary to Obama's campaign promises). And golly gee. Now the AFL-CIO and UAW and Democrats supported the plan, while it was the Republicans who opposed and almost killed it.

The only difference that mattered: the names Obama and Nixon.

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