The GOP is all about individualism right now: if you are poor it is your fault; there is no War on Women, it is all about individual choices women make (bad ones typically); if you are doing poorly in this economy you need to borrow from your parents and start a business; and so on. All freedoms are defined as individual freedoms and collective action is bad, bad, bad. Unions are bad. Bleeding heart social programs are bad. The social safety net is bad, and so on.
The other day, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas screwed members of his own caucus by filibustering the debt limit bill. Consequently members of his party trying to get re-elected had to vote “yea” on a bill unpopular with their conservative bases. Why did Cruz do this to his own Party? His reasons are due to his personal (individual) ambition.
What is driving all of these displays of support for individualism.?
Just maybe it is part and parcel with the 40-year campaign to reshape this country to one more to the liking of the very rich. There are very few very rich people investing in politics. To counter their prestige, power, and influence would take a great many ordinary citizens working together to have any effect at all. So is “working together” now the target? It seems so.
College students used to demonstrate in the streets for issues of social justice. Four decades into the Conservative Class War and students have huge financial debts hung around their necks, debts that make them beholden to the system and less likely to oppose the plutocrats plans. Unions, especially teachers’ unions, used to support progressive agendas and candidates with both the cash and their bodies. Four decades into the Conservative Class War and teachers have had their social positions eroded substantially (all education woes are due to bad teachers, if we could just get rid of the bad teachers, et. al.) and their unions are under duress in state houses in red states.
The success of these efforts have lead to the battle plan of taking the idea of the “Me Generation” and embracing it in the form of more and more focus on “you” as an individual. Narcissism is promoted (Take another picture of yourself and post it on Facebook; it is all about you!). Collectivism is pooh-poohed. We aren’t all in this together. You have to think about yourself. You have all of that debt to pay off. Keep your nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel. There is nothing to see here, just move along.