I am more bothered by the notion of conservative legislators that we as a nation do not need to make progress than by any specific successes or failures in actually progressing. The conservative plan for the end of readily available oil is either to ignore it or demand we drill the remaining stuff out faster: there is no plan B. The conservative plan for creating jobs is not "tax cuts", because we now have all lived through an unimpeachable real-world demonstration that those tax cuts didn't create any damn jobs, but to tell us all that we need to suck it up and expect nothing better. The plan for health care is to have less health care. The plan for our infrastructure is to not have a plan, because that costs money. There is no vision of a future America that does anything any better than we do right now: instead, there is an active hunger to do each thing slightly worse.
It seems that the gated communities think the food trucks will brave what's left of future America to keep their grocery store shelves full, the way fuel trucks wind through Pakistan and Afghanistan today. It seems the gated communities think people will continue to put up with the kind of Randian fantasy world the "conservatives" have planned: hatred, violence, and austerity for all but the gated community dwellers.
Are any of us surprised? No, not really. The 1980's gave us a nice big helping of the same, under the label greed is good. Now we're just doubling down, saying no – greed is literally good. And as corollary, poverty is immoral. And as further corollary, helping people who are in poverty is Wrong. All of this is fine and good and espoused by people who declare themselves to be the bestest kind of Christians, and wear prominent crosses, and argue that the black fellow in the White House does not really love Jesus.This long brewing conservative contempt for the poor is now boiling over, with poor people who hate abortion or black people or hippies lining up to get in on the punch fest, oblivious to the fact that they, too, are being punched. And when they finally stagger back to their corner and demand to be cut so they can see, they will not see past their hatred, not even to save themselves from the corporate masters and beltway elites whose rush into the global economy means that America matters even less, despite hollow claims of exceptionalism from the likes of Sarah Palin, et al.
That is, until the gated community dwellers (with their private schools, police, and fire departments) realize that they have to live somewhere that has roads and bridges leading to them, if only to get food to their grocery stores. Oh, and farms, they'll need those. And plenty of poor people to cut their hair, clean their toilets, mow their yards, teach their kids creationism and Exxon/Mobile approved science... And those poor people will need some bare minimum to survive on, you know, because the Bible says you should be good to your slaves. Or something.
And, in this recession, it accelerates. And the laws get changed so that the rich have more power, and the poor have less. And the very serious financial gurus declare that the rich need their losses to be financed by the rest of us, but the rest of us will be getting no such help from the rich. Tax cuts for them; belt-tightening for everyone else.
And a large part of the population laps this up, and dresses up in revolutionary war garb, and waves flags, and celebrates every damn bit of it. Then they take buses provided by the lobbyists arguing for the rich to go to conferences sponsored by lobbyists for the rich, where they all vow to take their country back, learn how to edit videotape, and feel patriotic as all get out.
As long as there are enough people willing to be herded into supporting the rich, this will continue. Frightening proportions of Americans believe all kinds of right wing lies: that the earth is not warming, that the universe is 6000 years old, that homosexuality is a choice, that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9-11, and that forcing women to give birth is sound medical policy. How much harder can it be to convince them that tax cuts for the rich increase revenue and create jobs? How hard can it be to convince them that some country is a threat, so we need start a war?
"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."—HG Wells
It all comes down to ignorance, which is why Republicans want to gut Public Education. People who are aware of things like history, science, and facts are the most dangerous to a plutocracy.