We're in an era of Peter Pan politics. If you just believe hard enough, it will be true. Facts may prove otherwise. History may contradict you. Even logic may work against you. But if you just believe hard enough, it will be true.
This allows political players to make the most stunning assertions with the strong voice and clear eye of rectitude because they totally believe what they say is true, even when it's not.
Peter Pan politics lead to tales of illegal immigrants flooding across the Mexican border, forcing states to take action to protect their citizens from the barbarian hordes since the federal government won't, even though the number of federal border security personnel is at an all-time high and the number of illegal immigrants being apprehended is at its lowest since the 1972.
Peter Pan politics tells us that streets in U.S. cities on the border are running red with blood from the Mexican drug wars. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has described human skulls rolling through her state's deserts. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) says violence on the U.S. side of the border is "out of control." His colleague Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) told a congressional hearing, "It is not secure and it has never been more violent or dangerous than it is today. Anyone who lives down there will tell you that."
The fact is that none of this is true. Detailed crime data from more than 1,600 local law enforcement agencies in the four border states and the FBI's crime statistics show Laredo and El Paso, Texas and cities along the Arizona-Mexico border are actually some of the safest urban areas in the country. Yet a recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 999 adults found that 83% of Americans believe the rate of violence along the southwestern border is higher than national rates.
Peter Pan politics means we continue to hear the Republican orthodoxy that tax cuts create jobs even though job creation has been in the tank for the last decade, following the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. And, we're told that raising taxes on "job creators" will stifle job creation, even though these "job creators," the primary beneficiaries of the aforementioned Bush tax cuts, have not been creating jobs and are obviously doing something else with all that money.
Peter Pan politics are why we see eleven states enacting changes in voting laws to require specified photo identification, which by the way, many younger, older and minority citizens do not possess, and why some of these states have reduced periods for early voting. A number of governors claim such steps are necessary to combat rampant voting fraud, although fewer than 300 cases have actually been prosecuted in the last ten years out of millions and millions of votes cast, and the vast majority of those were mistakes in registration. Someone has clearly invented a cure for which there's no disease.
Peter Pan politics aren't new. In 2005, President Bush tried to "reform" Social Security by doing away with it and pushing everybody into private investments. He said Social Security was bankrupt, even though that was not true. Younger generations are still told every day that there will be no retirement benefits in their future, even though analysts and Social Security actuaries find that, even if Congress does nothing to strengthen the system and the Trust Fund was completely empty, retirees would still receive 74% of full benefits from continued payroll tax revenue alone.
What is changing about Peter Pan politics -- and it really ought to worry us -- is that they're becoming the norm; they're acceptable; it's okay to stand up in public and say something you know is not true. In fact, if you're a Republican and you don't do it, your loyalty to your party is suspect.
We've seen their candidates for president cave to demands to accept and then begin preaching a gospel that isn't true because their hardcore voters really really want to believe it.
True believers have turned President Obama into a socialist, fascist, anti-American foreign-born Muslim agent because they really really believe it. They've turned the financial bailout and stimulus that kept the U.S. economy out of another great depression into a total and complete failure because they really really believed it. They turned the Affordable Healthcare Act into Obamacare even though Congress, not the White House, designed it. And they turned it into socialized medicine even though it pushes millions more people toward private insurance.
These are some of the advantages of living in Never Never Land. All you have to do is believe hard enough and it will be true,