Thursday, November 6, 2008

Five Reasons the Public Bitch-Slapped the Republicans

[Reason, Rational Self–Interest]

OK, I said I wasn’t going to comment on the election, but it came up elsewhere and I wrote a reply. So here’s an analysis of this year’s EPIC FAIL by the Republicans:

It’s been said that the Republicans lost this election cycle because they did not distinguish themselves from the Democrats, that they appear to be a me–too party or leftism lite, therefore people rejected them because they don’t want yet more of what the Democrats offer. It’s also been said that voters rejected the Republicans on religious grounds, that they voted against theocracy.

I disagree on both counts. The Democrats won the White House and larger majorities in Congress, so the electorate clearly doesn’t reject their platform. Also, other than what became a sideshow over what Sarah Palin’s beliefs might be, religion was at most peeping out from the shadows in this campaign.

I think the Republicans’ problem is that the vast majority of the public erroneously thinks there’s an enormous difference between Republicans and Democrats. Here’s what I've observed as the perceived difference on five key issues:

  1. Economics:
    Republicans equal Capitalists, and they help the greedy rich and big business against the little guy, which means that capitalism is Evil. Democrats have no economic label (good job by them avoiding being called socialists), but they’re Not Capitalists and they defend the little guy against the greedy rich and big business, which means that Democrats are Good, like Robin Hood. Plus the Dems will give all the little guys a piece of those greedy rich folks’ money, which they believe lies around in piles in big vaults in rich peoples’ homes, like The Prevailing View of Rich PeopleScrooge McDuck. Goods have intrinsic, correct prices, which ought to be identified and fixed by law, but the greedy rich and big business always force them to pay more than that. When they think about it at all, they think that economic systems are arbitrarily chosen by the government, like picking a color for painting a room, as if the Founding Fathers said, OK then, the president will serve four years, not five. Now, how are we gonna do economics?, and picked capitalism, which can just be replaced by some other system just as the way we elect vice presidents was changed. They are unaware of any connection between economics and morality, let alone recognizing the link to the nature of man and reality.
  2. Environmentalism:
    Republicans equal Capitalists, and they slash and burn trees and Save me from the Republicans!cute little bunnies just for fun, which means that Republicans are Evil and will destroy the earth. Democrats protect trees and cute little bunnies against the evil Republicans just like they protect the little guy against the evil rich and big business, so Democrats are Good and will save the earth. They make no connection between saving the earth and their own lives, thinking it means nothing more than cleaning up the rivers, reducing smog, and having more pretty trees around. When the EPA reaches into their homes with their new dictatorial CO2 controls and turns off the furnace, and into the stores and removes all the incandescent lights, they won’t even know it happened, and will have no idea why they’re freezing in the winter and can’t afford light bulbs. Most likely they’ll blame it on the oil companies.
  3. Property Rights:
    Not even on the radar, unless someone literally approaches them individually and tries to take something like their wallet or car. Mine goes no further than that for them (money, in particular, is not even considered property in the way, say, clothes or cars are—it holds some indefinable status between immediate, in–hand, tangible goods, and air). If they consider eminent domain at all, they think of it as nothing more than making way for roads and the likeYou can sleep in the dumpster behind the new mall (and that anyone but the government can—let alone should—provide roads or other such public services is inconceivable to them). When they encounter cases like Kelo (which to them seem very rare and inconsequential thanks to under–reporting by the media), they seem so remote and so unlikely to happen to them that they don’t bother to think about it. They have no conception that the government gun even exists, they think that because people can vote they’re implicitly consenting to whatever the majority decrees, that taking part (or even just being a citizen) equals agreeing to whatever results (vs. complying with something one is given no choice about). So they don’t think of taking from some and giving to others as any kind of violation. In fact, they think it’s moral and right if the one taken from has more than the one given to—they call it being fair.
  4. Most can't imagine this
    Combine Economics and Environmentalism above with the tumble of gas prices in recent weeks, and they either don’t care any more (consider the low position energy held as an election issue in all the polls) or they want to protect cute little bunnies and docile, gentle polar bears from the evil Republican Capitalists, which the Democrats will do for them.
  5. The War:
    Republicans/Capitalists are militaristic war–mongers who automatically attack others, especially brown people,1 out of hate, empire building, or capitalistic imperialism (grabbing loot and expanding markets).Look! That Republican wants to kill everybody! Democrats are caring and loving, and will bring permanent peace via flowers, hugs, and unilateral disarmament, or at least by simply not engaging in war. Like prayer, peace and love are active forces that can be exerted to effect desirable ends, so if we just care enough and refrain from warring all those people in the rest of the world who hate us because Republicans/Capitalists make us evil will magically love us instead, and there will be brotherhood forever. Except that white males need to be exterminated. And we ought to call it sisterhood, because brotherhood is sexist.

These are all things I have heard stated in various ways, either reported in the media or by people I know. I would estimate that 80 to 90 percent hold these kinds of views on at least half these issues. At no time is the public aware of any concepts or principles that would allow them to identify the themes and thinking common to both Republicans and Democrats.

Could they identify the similarities? Sure, they have the capacity to understand. But they’ll have to overcome everything they have been or are currently being taught. Not gonna happen any time soon.

1I have heard that phrase used in this context many times, especially by those who refer to themselves as brown people. The general belief is that only whites, especially white males, can be racist, and that racism practiced by any other group is not really racism, especially when it’s against white males. In the schools where I teach, race utterly, completely, and absolutely dominates every tiny little aspect of the thinking of non–white kids (I don’t know about the white kids, because they’re too busy keeping their heads down to have said much of anything about it).

They even invent races. For example, each separate Spanish–speaking country is a different race in their minds. I had a 7th grade kid ask me, Are there different kinds of blood? Thinking she was referring to blood types, I replied, Sure. Different people have different blood types, like A–positive or O–negative. Mine’s A–negative. Completely missing the second part of my reply, she eagerly jumped in with, So there’s Puerto Rican blood, and Dominican blood, and black blood, and... I cut her off and tried to explain, but it was lost on her. As far as she was concerned, I had just confirmed that her racism was scientific fact.

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