Was Ronald Reagan the original Washington wizard? Esquire’s Charles Pierce seems to think so. Pierce argued on Wednesday that in the 1980s, an ideological “spell…was cast” by the Gipper and his allies, and that as a result of various right-wing policies enacted since then, Harvey-related damage to the Houston area will be a lot worse than it should have been.
Pierce gibed, “It is now apparent that the city of Houston has managed itself in a way that was not dissimilar to the Monty Python sketch about the apartment building constructed through hypnosis,” and went on (bolding added):
The spell…was cast 30 years ago, when conservative movement politics pitched deregulation as a panacea. It was cast 30 years ago when the fiction of a "business-friendly" environment overcame Republican governors, and more than a few Democrats as well. It was cast 30 years ago when conservative movement politics declared that important decisions on things like the environment and public health were better left to the states, despite the fact that many states, like Texas, were unable or unwilling to pay to do these jobs properly. It was cast 30 years ago when conservative movement politics consciously moved away from empirical research and science, beginning the long march that has ended with a Republican party committed root and branch to all of these fanciful propositions, and to climate denial. It has filtered down through all the levels of politics, from the White House and the Congress, to the state houses and the local zoning boards.
Once, long ago, the conservative activist Grover Norquist famously said that he wanted to shrink "government" to a size at which it could be drowned in the bathtub. Well, people actually are drowning in Houston now, and so is the political philosophy that reached its height when Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural that government wasn't the solution, but the problem itself. We all moved onto a political flood plain then, and we're being swept away.