Steve Benen wonders whether Republicans are deliberately attempting to sabotage the economy to enhance their electoral prospects.Â Jonathan Chait defends the GOP’s motives :
I think you have to be careful about making assumptions about motive like this. Establishing motive is always very hard to prove. What’s more, the notion of deliberate sabotage presumes a conscious awareness that doesn’t square with human psychology as I understand it. People are extraordinarily deft at making their principles — not just their stated principles, but their actual principles — comport with their interests. The old Upton Sinclair quote — “It is difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it” — has a lot of wisdom to it…
I’m not excusing their behavior. You can resist that kind of mental trap — it just takes a lot of intellectual discipline and integrity. I don’t think you’re going to find a great deal of that sort of intellectual discipline and integrity among high-level politicians.
Well, then let me defend their behavior, sort of.
If you’re a right-wing Republican nutcase — which is to say, you are a Republican — then you think that Democratic policies areÂ very, very bad for the country.Â If that is so, then what you fear is that the economy will improve, salvaging Democratic hopes for this November’s midterms.Â And that will lead to more Democratic policies than otherwise, whichÂ — in your view — will be very,Â very bad for the country.
So of course you want to “sabotage” any economic recovery over the next few months, because you believe that any temporary improvement will pale in comparison to theÂ medium- and long-term damage that Democratic policies will cause.Â That’s a hard calculus, but it’s a pretty straightforward one, and perfectly reasonable if you accept Republican assumptions.
In 2006, I was frightened that the economy would somehow improve and save Republican control of Congress.Â Fortunately it didn’t, and Democrats took over, to the lasting benefit of the nation.Â I don’t think that I, or any Democrat, should apologize for that attitude.Â And neither should Republicans now.Â They should apologize for their world-view, their ideology, and their refusal to face facts.Â But not this.