I’ve been meaning to get to this post by Steve M. at No More Mr. Nice Blog (boldface mine):
One of the lessons Republicans — and the plutocrats they serve — have learned over the past few decades is that when something terrible happens in America, there are no consequences for them. Maybe some Republicans are voted out of office (at which point they become lobbyists for their wealthy patrons). But they don’t go hungry. Their quality of life doesn’t suffer. And certainly their plutocrat masters never experience a decline in their quality of life.
Do you blame rich Republican donors for thinking they can always escape the consequences when bad things happen in America? The Great Recession didn’t really hurt them. The coronavirus recession isn’t hurting them. They can dodge the coronavirus itself by living full-time at their massive weekend houses. They’re white, so they’re never going to suffer the fate of George Floyd or Breonna Taylor. Urban unrest generally bypasses their mansions.
The last two Republican presidents have been rich scions who were failures for much of their lives and never really suffered as a result. Donald Trump has run many businesses into the ground, and was once nearly a billion dollars in debt — and yet he’s always lived like a prince. George W. Bush never accomplished a thing in the first forty years of his life — but he never missed a meal. This is moral hazard of the worst kind. This is what leads a person to say, Sure, let’s invade Iraq — what’s the worst that can happen? or Yes, there’s a deadly virus in America that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans, but it interferes with my reelection strategy, so I’ll just play it down. If even the worst mistakes you’ve made in your life have never really hurt you, you’ll believe that nothing you do to anyone is particularly consequential.
Not every Republican politician is rich — but they identify with the rich. And the rich don’t care about the possible consequences of bad choices because, in the past forty years or so, they haven’t had to.
And then they had the Night of the Long COVID. This picture, from Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination fête, doesn’t speak a thousand words, just two–willful ignorance:
Even now, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows refuses to wear a mask, but he’s always been a batshitloonitarian ideologue. The rest, no longer seeing the good times rolling, are reacting somewhat differently. Rich donors are panicked. Conservatives, having being cruel and callous in both deed and word, are now demanding empathy and sympathy.
They are all operational narcissists because they, as Steve M. notes, have had no reason to be otherwise, and for many of them, cruelty is an ideology. This is the only way these arrogant, unaccountable people might begin to take the pandemic seriously. As I’ve written in a very different context, those who purport to lead us have to experience roughly the same conditions we do in order to do an effective job.
And there’s no reason to grant them their demands for sympathy: their response to the pandemic, which compared to other countries has cost many tens-of-thousands of lives (so far), is best described as a crime against humanity.
Related: August Pollak has related thoughts.