Leave it to quick thinking children who can take advantage of a chaotic situation--when adults caring for them aren't paying attention--to achieve aims not in the interest of the whole family. The fallacious quality of Republican political discourse over the last several years invites a comparison to such juveniles. The hazard of such behavior is that truth and accountability endure such erosion so as to undermine a citizen's trust in elected officials, as well as the institutions they are selected to manage.
Take the case of Gov. Mitt Romney's 2012 run for president. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi provides a summary of Romney's political campaign career to date. Capturing the kaleidoscopic quality of his campaign's talking points, or rather, allegations, Taibbi dispenses with the niceties offered by most journalists covering (for) the Romney-Ryan campaign.
[I]ndependent voters are not reading those dense commentaries [about Romney's tax plan and jobs proposal], and instead are responding more to the general vibe surrounding Romney's campaign, which is clearly benefiting from the fact that he's being so aggressive that the whole world is left scrambling to react to his bullshit.
If anyone else is as mystified about the quality and direction Republican political discourse has taken, look no further than to master political operator Karl Rove as the source of a novel messenging paradigm. As an unnamed Bush administration official Ron Suskind's New York Times Magazine piece published in the fall of 2004, Rove sets the journalist straight about the new prevailing political reality. In Suskind's own words:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality...." "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
"Creating our own reality" works well for children's play. However, in the world of adult responsibility with life-or-death consequences, this way of thinking dispenses with the burden of accountability—a crucial element to any functioning democracy.
In the case of the Romney campaign, nothing says, "We create our own reality" like switching your campaign platform or simply telling lies about your opponent—and doing either one with a chronic frequency. It illustrates to voters and everyone else concerned that you have little interest in accountability. You play by a separate set of rules than the ones everyone else must obey.
There wouldn't be much else to say about the moral hazard that "making it up as you go along" poses to our republic—except how troubling it is to watch a solid 25 per cent or more of voters willing to overlook the prominent role "creat[ing] our own reality" has taken in Republican political discourse.