Uninformed, But Headstrong: Obama Derangement Syndrome Revisited

“Some people are more certain of everything than I am of anything.” – Robert E. Rubin, former Treasury Secretary

I like that quote, because it’s the way I feel about many things. I’m rarely certain of anything, and I’m humbled by the complexity of our world. Because of this, I do not think I have all the answers. When I write about issues I think are important, I believe I do so without strong ideologically bound convictions, and I eschew party identity, because I have no such affiliation. If I have core beliefs, they are rooted in a desire for truth and social justice. And when I look for solutions to problems, the pragmatic approach is typically the best approach, even if it conflicts with the desired approach. As I said, I don’t have all the answers, I can be wrong, and I always question myself and re-examine my assumptions. — Do I have a good bead on things? Is there more to this issue that requires a better understanding on my part?

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not patting myself on the back, pretending I’ve mastered human objectivity, it’s just that when it comes to finding answers to problems, I don’t believe in following a path of righteousness.

So that brings us to the reactionary politics of the conservative Right. Many self-described conservatives have at least a few core convictions in common. Conservatives believe in small government and laissez-faire economics, and they typically follow an authoritarian model on issues of diplomacy and immigration. And conservatives are more likely to be against a woman’s right to choose, and against same-sex marriage. But once you move on from issues that are intimately woven within these core beliefs, well, things get dicey. And nowhere is this more true than issues directly involving their number one political enemy, President Barack Obama.

When I say I’m rarely certain of anything, it’s because I wish to do the right thing, and to find the right answer. Caring about getting things right instead of winning a game tends to make one more tentative in one’s beliefs. I do not have a desire to defeat someone simply because they could be described as a political foe. And I can’t understand people who seemingly abandon previously held beliefs in what can only be described as a game. Because if you aren’t in this to try to make things better, what’s the point? And to what end? I simply cannot fathom the idea of adopting a new belief, or a new position on an issue, on the grounds that it is diametrically opposed to that of a perceived enemy.

When people toss aside reasoning and good judgment in favor of conformity, they willfully abandon their agency to the pleasure of in-group affiliation (e.g., political party or ideology). And I think that is exactly what many conservatives are doing with their headstrong but otherwise uninformed opposition to President Obama. They could do some research with an open mind and reach a conclusion on a given topic, but instead they choose to toe the line, repeating the alluringly simply phraseology otherwise known as right-wing talking points. They have a predisposition to oppose Obama, followed up with a new-found motivation to rationalize said opposition. This is what we call Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS). The Urban Dictionary defines ODS as, “The acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the statements — nay — the very existence of Barack Obama.” When ODS strikes, it’s no longer about solving problems, or getting to the truth, it’s about defeating Obama, or anything affiliated with Obama’s presidency, and of course that includes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

And so this week we learned from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that the Affordable Care Act is going to start moving us in the direction of decoupling health care from employment. That’s because in a CBO report, they estimate the equivalent of 2.5 million fewer full-time workers over the next 10 years. This is not because people will lose their jobs, as right-wing media has falsely reported. This is not because employers will be forced to let go of people because of increased health care costs. No, the reason the CBO estimates the “equivalent” of 2.5 million fewer full-time jobs is because under Obamacare, people won’t have to work as many hours to get the same level of health care coverage. In some cases, people worked two jobs just to make enough to pay for health care. And the net effect of this is actually a better job market, not a worse one, as Republican and conservative leaders would like you to believe with their misleading headlines and flat-out lies. Just look at House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who tweeted, “The CBO’s latest report confirms what Republicans have been saying for years now.” Adding in a second tweet, “Under Obamacare, millions of hardworking Americans will lose their jobs and those who keep them will see their hours and wages reduced.” And these claims have been thoroughly debunked.

But this is exactly what right-wing “leaders” do. They take something that has “some” truth to it, then they distort it, add a bit of seasoning, bake it at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, and then shovel it down the throats of the loyal, stopping only to check if the herd mentality has kicked in. And they do so with tightly packaged phraseology, in this case, “Obamacare kills jobs.” It seems for conservatives, if it can’t fit on a bumper sticker, it can’t be trusted.

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