You use just 10% of your brain.
Chameleons change color to match their surroundings.
The Great Wall of China is the only human-made object visible from space.
These are all well-established, commonly known “facts” that are, alas, completely wrong.
To this list of misconceptions, untruths, and erroneous assertions, we must add another whooper:
Republicans are good for the economy.
This statement is not even remotely true. However, millions of Americans—including many liberals—inexplicably believe it to be accurate.
Of course, Republicans want you to think that they are economic wizards. What else are they going to run on? Sedition and bigotry?
And it makes intuitive sense that Republicans would be better at running the economy. After all, they are obsessed with money and are willing to kill old people to keep the stock market humming. With priorities like that, financial success should follow.
To be fair, Republican policies are indeed great for the mega-wealthy, but for the rest of us, not so much. When looking at the country’s performance as a whole, Democratic presidents have vastly superior economic records than GOP presidents do.
So is that true over the last 20 years? Or the last 40 years? Well, a recent study analyzed the previous century—a.k.a. 100 fucking years—and concluded that during that time, “the economy has fared far better under Democrats.” In fact, the gap is “startlingly large.”
Basically, for the entire lifetime of almost every living American, it has never been true that “Republicans are good for the economy,” and the discrepancy has gotten only more pronounced with each passing year.
For example, in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), the two worst economic performances of the last century are W. Bush and Trump (the two most recent Republican presidents). In contrast, the top four economic performances are all Democratic presidents. And averaging everything out shows that GDP has grown almost twice as much under Democrats as Republicans.
But wait. Perhaps we’re being unfair by focusing only on gross domestic product. As important as that statistic is, there are other crucial economic indicators, like job growth, productivity, income growth, and stock prices, right?
Yes, of course. And every one of those indicators show the same gap. As in all of them.
Hell, Democrats have almost triple the job growth rate as Republicans do.
Just about every objective measurement of the economy reveals that the GOP sucks at managing the financial health of this country. As the researchers put it, “virtually any reasonable look at the data shows a big Democratic advantage,” and sheer coincidence is “highly unlikely to account for the entire gap, given its size, breadth, and duration.”
Just think about the last GOP president. He wasn’t just offering racism, misogyny, corruption, ignorance, and bubbling rage (although those were his key selling points). He was a businessman who was synonymous with financial success.
And that worked out great… except for the part where the businessman turned out to be a fraud who lied about his wealth and wrecked the economy. Yes, this master of the deal “became the first post–World War II president to see employment fall during his presidency” and ended his term with the worst economy since the Great Depression.
Wow, imagine how bad it would have been if Republicans weren’t economic geniuses.
So why is the GOP so horrific for the economy? Well, the researchers have three explanations.
First, Republican presidents have historically “been slow to respond to recessions and other crises.” One thing that Trump, both Bushes, and Hoover all have in common is that they refused to believe the car was headed for a cliff, even as the passengers were screaming for their lives.
A second, related reason is that “Democratic presidents have been more pragmatic, willing to listen to the evidence about when the economy would benefit from deficit reduction and when it needs government support.”
Personally, I think the root cause of both of these explanations is the conservative mindset, which lends itself to delusion and denial. Whether we’re talking about economic malaise, gun violence, climate change, WMDs in Iraq, or a lethal pandemic, the GOP response is usually, “Fuck your facts. I believe what I want.”
The third explanation that the researchers identify is the fact that Republican presidents “have pursued one economic policy above all others—tax cuts, skewed heavily toward the affluent—and there is little evidence that they do much for economic growth.” There is, in fact, lots of evidence that this approach doesn’t work at all. But once again, the GOP doesn’t want to hear about data and statistics and proof. If it was good enough for Reagan, it’s good enough for them.
So when will the nation catch on that Republicans are shockingly bad for the economy? Well, for many Americans, the answer is a succinct “never.”
It’s not just that conservatives, as we’ve mentioned, are wretched at analyzing objective truths. It’s also that once you tear away the mythical economic argument, you are left with a very short list of what the GOP is actually good at.
Instilling hatred, waving the flag, oppressing gay people, screaming about abortion… that’s about it. If the average Republican has to face the reality that their party is nothing but noise and bigotry in a fake patriotic veneer, well, that’s more than a little disturbing to the psyche.
So they will continue to insist that cutting taxes for billionaires will trickle down, and that Democrats are out to destroy the economy, and that the GOP will lead the country into unparalleled prosperity.
They will believe it as strongly as people believe that they need to drink eight glasses of water every day.
That’s a myth of course. But you knew that already.