Commonplace Book #195

As the U.S. growth rate started to slow in the 1970s–as incomes then stagnated and good jobs declined for those without a college degree, as parents started worrying about their kids doing at least as well as they had done–the scope of people’s concerns narrowed. We became more sensitive to the possibility that someone else was getting something we weren’t and more receptive to the notion that the government couldn’t be trusted to be fair.

Promoting that story–a story that fed not trust but resentment–had come to define the modern Republican Party. With varying degrees of subtlety and varying degrees of success, GOP candidates adopted it as their central theme, whether they were running for president or trying to get elected to the local school board. It became the template for Fox News and conservative radio, the foundational text for every think tank and PAC the Koch Brothers financed: The government was taking money, jobs, college slots, and status away from hardworking, deserving people like us and handing it all to people like them–those who didn’t share our values, who didn’t work hard as we did, the kind of people whose problems were of their own making.

Barack Obama, A Promised Land, 276.