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What makes people vote Republican?
September 10, 2008 5:57 PM   Subscribe

What makes people vote Republican? Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies? We psychologists have been examining the origins of ideology ever since Hitler sent us Germany's best psychologists, and we long ago reported that strict parenting and a variety of personal insecurities work together to turn people against liberalism, diversity, and progress.
posted by bjork24 (266 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite

 
I forgot to append the rest of the lead-in:

"But now that we can map the brains, genes, and unconscious attitudes of conservatives, we have refined our diagnosis: conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death. People vote Republican because Republicans offer "moral clarity"—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world."
posted by bjork24 at 5:59 PM on September 10, 2008 [12 favorites]



- Anti-intellectualism.
posted by notreally at 6:09 PM on September 10, 2008


I'm afraid this post won't last, but if you really want a good understanding of this phenomenon I highly recommend the book What's the Matter With Kansas? by Thomas Frank.

Real political insight that easy and entertaining to read.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:12 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


So ... liberal statism is superior to conservative statism?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:13 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


We can map unconscious attitudes now?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:14 PM on September 10, 2008


Do we have to do this?

"False consciousness" theories are never helpful. We are all delusional about something. It's not Republican. It's human. We want to belong to a tribe, and a clan within that tribe.

See, those of us who are "tolerant" of "diversity" -- or claim to be -- and thus "progressive" and "enlightened" thanks to our good parenting and worldly experience are also capable of hating the other.

The working-class other. The poor, unenlightened, votes-against-his-own-best-interests other. The ignorant other.

I'm not immune to the appeal, far from it. But the hypocrisy is pretty blatant.

Hate begets hate. And that's why I'm voting for the guy who at least tries to talk about moving past this tribal crap while we still have a chance to pull out of this collective nosedive, simply said.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:14 PM on September 10, 2008 [32 favorites]


Jonathan Haidt is awesome. I'd say wicked awesome, but I'd hate to make a moral judgment like that.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 6:16 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Clive Crook:
Democrats regard their policies as self-evidently in the interests of the US working and middle classes. Yet those wide segments of US society keep helping to elect Republican presidents. How is one to account for this? Are those people idiots? Frankly, yes – or so many liberals are driven to conclude. Either that or bigots, clinging to guns, God and white supremacy; or else pathetic dupes, ever at the disposal of Republican strategists. If they only had the brains to vote in their interests, Democrats think, the party would never be out of power. But again and again, the Republicans tell their lies, and those stupid damned voters buy it.

It is an attitude that a good part of the US media share. The country has conservative media (Fox News, talk radio) as well as liberal media (most of the rest). Curiously, whereas the conservative media know they are conservative, much of the liberal media believe themselves to be neutral.

Their constant support for Democratic views has nothing to do with bias, in their minds, but reflects the fact that Democrats just happen to be right about everything. The result is the same: for much of the media, the fact that Republicans keep winning can only be due to the backwardness of much of the country. ...

If only the Democrats could contain their sense of entitlement to govern in a rational world, and their consequent distaste for wide swathes of the US electorate, they might gain the unshakeable grip on power they feel they deserve. Winning elections would certainly be easier – and Republicans would have to address themselves more seriously to economic insecurity. But the fathomless cultural complacency of the metropolitan liberal rules this out. ...

It will be hard. They will have to develop some regard for the values that the middle of the country expresses when it votes Republican. Religion. Unembarrassed flag-waving patriotism. Freedom to succeed or fail through one’s own efforts. Refusal to be pitied, bossed around or talked down to. And all those other laughable redneck notions that made the United States what it is.
posted by Class Goat at 6:17 PM on September 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


It is actually an interesting article, and doesn't especially bash the Republicans at all. If anything, it takes the Democratic party to task for not really understand a significant section of the electorate.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:17 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


I blame misfolded proteins.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:19 PM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


From the link: "(You can test yourself at www.YourMorals.org.)" Interesting tests.

Also, I found this link a few days ago (I didn't post it here because I figured it would be deleted), and it lead me to Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians, a very readable book by an academic on the psychology of Right Wing Authoritarianism.
posted by orthogonality at 6:22 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


[A few comments removed. Less FIRST/LAST POST!!! doomsaying in threads will, in theory, lead to fewer doomed threads, so please flag it and move on.]
posted by cortex at 6:26 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I found myself agreeing with this piece. The emphasis on higher values is indeed something that is missing from most "progressive" politics -- and, as the article points out, that does not necessarily mean "God", or "country", or even any currently existing social values. The key for the Democrats is to establish our own group values, and then to stick by them, rather than defining the party's platform in an oppositional and/or coldly-logical way. It shouldn't be about what we are against, as much as what we are for, together, and that means creating a moral worldview which can compete with the one that Republicans have built over the last twenty years. There's a surprising amount of opportunity here: there are plenty of Republicans (especially libertarian types) who feel left out by the neo-con worldview, and might be easy to pick up if the Democrats were willing to re-focus the party a bit.

At any rate, this is a very insightful article. Too bad nobody seems to have bothered to read it!
posted by vorfeed at 6:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


I blame misfolded proteins.

Malfolded, you heathen.
posted by rokusan at 6:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


One of my friends described to me his theory on how the GOP was a giant multi-level marketing scheme the other day when i posed the same question.
posted by jbelshaw at 6:31 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't necessarily see it as pathology that people would vote against their economic interests, if other interests were more important to them personally. People do this all the time - weighing pros and cons - in the way they vote. Or they'd better, anyway, in a two-party system especially, as both sides fight over the center. I wasn't too thrilled with Clinton's not-so-classy reversal on his position of homosexuals in the military, and Waco was a tremendous clusterfuck, but what I liked about him far outweighed these things, so I voted for him again in 96.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:33 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


What makes people vote Republican?

Maybe they just don't want their kindergartners to learn about sex before they can read.
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's something specific to chew on for anybody who assumed the article was going to be "REPUBLICANS SUCK":
I have found that people who call themselves strongly liberal endorse statements related to the harm/care and fairness/reciprocity foundations, and they largely reject statements related to ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity. People who call themselves strongly conservative, in contrast, endorse statements related to all five foundations more or less equally. (You can test yourself at www.YourMorals.org). We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans.
This is not what I would have expected. For a long time I've thought the dichotomy might be one between moral concepts I'd call "holiness" and "charity" for shorthand, with the modern left having trouble with the former and the conservative right having trouble with the later. He's suggesting a less binomial set of categories, which would be interesting in itself, but also suggesting the conservative right isn't tone deaf on what I would have called charity.
posted by weston at 6:38 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


'Diebold'?
posted by pompomtom at 6:39 PM on September 10, 2008 [24 favorites]


What makes people vote Republican?

Fear.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [11 favorites]


"How are we to square all these circles? How is it that the Kansas conservative rebels profess to hate elites but somehow excuse from their fury the corporate world, even when it has so manifestly screwed them? How do they find recruits for an uprising of the common people that only makes the upper crust even crustier than ever? How do they decide that one man is a snob for being rich but that the riches of another show him to be a regular fellow?"
posted by plexi at 6:43 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


It shouldn't be about what we are against, as much as what we are for, together, and that means creating a moral worldview which can compete with the one that Republicans have built over the last twenty years.

I don't think the Republicans have a monopoly on "values", or something greater than economics. I think both conservatives and liberals share common values with different plans for achieving/maintaining them. The neo-cons you mention, and the fundies as well, tend to swing for the moral visceral, fear-inducing heart of things. For every progressive value, you can find a fear-inducing right wing equivalent: tolerance vs. "our endangered way of life", social equality vs. "the commies are coming", balanced justice vs. "coddling criminals" and so on. When you talk to people about "tolerance", some sort of nebulous fog appears - run some Last Days-referencing dog whistle TV spot, and people jump.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:44 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


What a great link! And a great online magazine. I miss these thoughtful discussions from brilliant people.

From me: What makes people vote Republican?

#322: Ignorance of facts.
posted by 4midori at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. This thread is a good example of the persistent belief, in the face of the evidence, that working-class Americans vote Republican and the economic elites Democratic. In fact, the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican, no matter what other variables you control for. Much more on this at Andrew Gelman's Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. "Voters in Kansas Behave Pretty Much As You'd Expect" wouldn't have made a punchy title, I guess.

2. The linked article starts with the passage quoted by the OP but ends up somewhere very different, and more interesting. So RTA, despite the post.
posted by escabeche at 6:45 PM on September 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


So in a multiparty system could we have five parties, one for harm/care, one for fairness/reciprocity, one for ingroup/outgroup, one for authority/respect, and one for purity/sanctity? Maybe they could all join together to summon Captain Planet at some point.
posted by sandking at 6:46 PM on September 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


From the article: The Democrats, in the process, have become the party of the profane—of secular life and material interests. Democrats often seem to think of voters as consumers; they rely on polls to choose a set of policy positions that will convince 51% of the electorate to buy. Most Democrats don't understand that politics is more like religion than it is like shopping.

Ummm I thought it was the Republicans that did this. The whole idea of the last couple of elections was to win just enough electoral votes to win. It's the Democrats with the "50 state strategy." Perhaps I'm being obtuse. I do agree that the Republicans are probably more idealistic and appeal to emotion more while the Democrats are probably more pragmatic. Perhaps that's what he's trying to say, but just doesn't do a very good job of it.

I'm an independent, and I don't follow any party's ideology. I work with a lot of staunch conservatives. Some of them are religious, and I can understand why they vote the way they do. Others aren't particularly religious, and when we discuss the current election there's a huge disconnect from what they think, to what is proposed. The first thing out of every Republican's mouth is "Obama wants to raise my taxes." But, these are people that make less than 250,000 per year, and when confronted with the actual proposal that Obama would not only want to keep their taxes the same, or cut them, but he also wants to cut their payroll tax as well, then they sputter about how he's just lying. The issues like this go on from the war in Iraq (the WAR ON TERROR!!!) to health care (we already have socialized medicine, anyone who needs care can go to the emergency room for free). To me that's the whole difference between an emotional and pragmatic approach, and what the author is missing.
posted by Eekacat at 6:50 PM on September 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


Google Books has What's the Matter with Kansas."

One of my favorite lines is "
Like a French Revolution in reverse-one in which the sansculottes pour down the streets demanding more power for the aristocracy-the backlash pushes the spectrum of the acceptable to the right, to the right, farther to the right. It may never bring prayer back to the schools, but it has rescued all manner of rightwing economic nostrums from history's dustbin. Having rolled back the landmark economic reforms of the sixties (the war on poverty) and those of the thirties (labor law, agricultural price supports, banking regulation), its leaders now turn their guns on the accomplishments of the earliest years of progressivism (Woodrow Wilson's estate tax; Theodore Roosevelt's antitrust measures). With a little more effort, the backlash may well repeal the entire twentieth century."
posted by plexi at 6:54 PM on September 10, 2008 [16 favorites]


Oh, and I should add that I'm a blue collar worker in a large factory. Without taking an actual poll, I'd say that most of the folks at my level are staunch republicans.
posted by Eekacat at 6:55 PM on September 10, 2008


Huh. I was gonna guess "Satan".
posted by uosuaq at 6:58 PM on September 10, 2008


Why are we ignoring race? the Dems do not win election if they rely only on the white vote; the GOP manages to keep blacks from voting--and black and other minorities often do not get around to voting. I suspect that many white vote GOP because they dislike minorities.
posted by Postroad at 6:59 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this.
posted by Nattie at 7:00 PM on September 10, 2008


I blame high fructose corn syrup.
posted by ninjew at 7:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ummm I thought it was the Republicans that did this.

I think the difference is that Democrats are trying to get 51% of folks who pretty much agree with a complete set of statements. The Republicans, on the other hand, are happy to cobble their 51% together from a bunch of single-issue voters that probably don't overlap as much: the anti-choice/religious-right, the gay-haters, the gun nuts, the anti-taxers, the anti-regulation folks, the property rights extremists, and the irrationally fearful.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Interesting (and sometimes surprising to me) facts from the website for Red state, blue state, rich state, poor state
Myth: The rich vote based on economics, the poor vote "God, guns, and gays."
Fact: Church attendance predicts Republican voting much more among rich than poor.

Myth: A political divide exists between working-class "red America" and rich "blue America."
Fact: Within any state, more rich people vote Republican. The real divide is between higher-income voters in red and blue states.

Myth: Rich people vote for the Democrats.
Fact: George W. Bush won more than 60 percent of high-income voters.

Myth: Kansas votes Republican because its low-income voters can't stand the Democrats' 1960s-style values.
Fact: Kansas has been a Republican state for over 50 years, and rich Kansans vote much more Republican than middle-income and poor voters in the state.

Myth: Class divisions in voting are less in America than in European countries, which are sharply divided between left and right.
Fact: Rich and poor differ more strongly in their voting pattern in the United States than in most European countries.

Myth: Religion is particularly divisive in American politics.
Fact: Religious and secular voters differ no more in America than in France, Germany, Sweden, and many other European countries.
posted by jb at 7:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


"So ... liberal statism is superior to conservative statism?"

Yes, as more than a generation's worth of objective evidence makes incontrovertible. Liberal statism produces a nation with a robust economic foundation, a strong middle class and a government that responds to input from the people to accomplish national goals and support the common good.

Conservative statism produces a hollowed out nation run by a predatory government whose only real function is to extract wealth from the great majority of the population to the benefit of a tiny minority, devastates the middle class, and polarizes the people to produce the political stagnation needed to accomplish the plundering. In the process it creates a weak nation, unable to defend itself from outside enemies, or even to engage with serious threats to its very survival in any meaningful fashion, and produces a demoralized, controlled people without dignity. A people who take their shoes off in airports.

The question we're exploring is why people who aren't part of the tiny robber baron class that conservative statism is designed for would choose to support it, even to the obvious devastation of their own livelihoods, their children's futures and the health of their nation. With me so far?
posted by Naberius at 7:15 PM on September 10, 2008 [67 favorites]


Just as the mad scratch
To relieve the area
Where one day they might itch
The poor vote Republican
To protect their wealth
On the day when they are rich.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:16 PM on September 10, 2008 [17 favorites]


Red states are relatively poor to blue states, which suggests that prosperity tends to favor liberalism. The church-going retort to this is that rich people vote Republican.
posted by Brian B. at 7:17 PM on September 10, 2008


What makes people vote Republican?

Hazard a guess: The idea that Democrats think people need some sort of neurological problem to disagree with them?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:19 PM on September 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


Hazard a guess: The idea that Democrats think people need some sort of neurological problem to disagree with them?

So you're saying people vote against their own self-interests just because they are annoyed that someone else finds it crazy to do so?

And that's not crazy ... how?
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:20 PM on September 10, 2008 [26 favorites]


1. This thread is a good example of the persistent belief, in the face of the evidence, that working-class Americans vote Republican and the economic elites Democratic. In fact, the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican, no matter what other variables you control for. Much more on this at Andrew Gelman's Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State. "Voters in Kansas Behave Pretty Much As You'd Expect" wouldn't have made a punchy title, I guess.

Right, lets be clear. Working class voters mostly vote for democrats, not republicans. Although obviously some working class voters for republican, and it could be helpful to understand why. It's voters who are well off who tend to vote based on 'culture war' B.S.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2008


Hazard a guess: The idea that Democrats think people need some sort of neurological problem to disagree with them?

You ought to try reading the article.
posted by delmoi at 7:25 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: was Goedel a Republican?
posted by qvantamon at 7:27 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


So you're saying people vote against their own self-interests just because they are annoyed that someone else finds it crazy to do so?

What makes you think they are "voting against their own self-interests"? Maybe they have a different concept of what their self-interests are than you do.

Or, maybe, they don't think that "voting in their own self-interest" is something they should be doing. Maybe they see something larger, something else they care about more than their own narrow self-interest.
posted by Class Goat at 7:29 PM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


The Morality Quiz is pretty interesting. The results surprised me at first, but on relfection were pretty accurate.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:33 PM on September 10, 2008


Or, maybe, they don't think that "voting in their own self-interest" is something they should be doing. Maybe they see something larger, something else they care about more than their own narrow self-interest.

Well, that's the question of the article, isn't it? What is that thing, if it's not culture war rhetoric.

But, economically, they are, in fact, voting against their self-interests. They are voting for a party that is anti-labor, anti-union, favors tax cuts for the rich and regressive taxes, and looks to cut the social safety net that poor and lower middle-class people rely on and rich don't. It's a aprty that votes with the interests of corporations, rather than the employees of the corporations. It's simply disingenuous to behave as though the poor and lower-class are somehow NOT voting against the self-interests in this area, and to behave as though questions of why are simply liberls sneering at the poor and their weird decision making.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:33 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Well, I drove through Greensburg, Kansas on the way to Colorado. That's Kansas. Town turns an F-5 Katrina into a booming economy. Or they could have eh, waited for help. Can you picture a Kansan on a wind blighted prarie, stripped of grass and trees; having their home destroyed and holding a "Help Us" sign?

The signs I saw were "Thank you" signs. And I don't think any of the local populace took shots at the folks that came to help either. Or stole from their neighbors. Of course; in conservative places like Greensburg (I really don't know. Maybe it is a "Democrat" town. I just can't think of many "Democrat" areas that recover so well); most folk behave in a semi-normal manner; normal being normal in Europe, Asia, and most parts of the world. Work. Reap reward. And help others. What true radicalism these people have.

Some of these small income places vote the way they do because they aren't sweating at work so that some fool that was too ignorant to take advantage of a free public education, join the Peace Corp or military, or stop having multiples of children from differing absent fathers is in continual or even generational need of societal support. Cold and cruel? Gosh, if many folk miss work or fail to produce, they get fired. That's cold and cruel. If the weather is bad, people working in the elements get weathered. My golly, the horrors of it all! Makes many just want to lounge, and let their social worker take good care of them. Ah, the comforts of it all.

I hope the very liberal NOLA recovers quick. Despite the continuing failure of the elected (and re-elected) folks that failed them the first time, It is FULL of opportunity. Watch as it becomes Neuve Oleanas in a decade. My gosh, these people! They have came here and done work! How dare they! I mean, c'mon; even the weather seems to be keeping the Democrats down. That and the 'party' continues to self-implode every election cycle. Democrats appear to be juveniles delinquents with educations.

I read the article. Several times. Thick with references, scholasticism, and not really weaving into much sense. MY conclusion about it all? Print it on soft, double-ply paper.
posted by buzzman at 7:34 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks, buzzman. It helps to be reminded again what it looks like when people hate the poor and blame them for their own poverty.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2008 [40 favorites]


This thread is a good example of the persistent belief, in the face of the evidence, that working-class Americans vote Republican and the economic elites Democratic. In fact, the richer you are, the more likely you are to vote Republican,

The poorer you are, the less likely you are to vote.
posted by Brian B. at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I, personally, believe that the reason people vote against their demonstrable interest by voting Republican is the same reason people play the lottery.

You see, if the center-left party of the US got into power of all 3 branches, there would be a slow, gradual move toward socialism. At least the types of socialism found in much of western Europe.

Now with socialism, you have much higher tax rates for the rich.

And all the people who can't do the math on their own likelihood of being Rich One Day think that somehow, like the lottery, it just Might Happen To Them.

And then they'd have to give up most of what they earn via taxes. And nobody likes taxes.

Poor people vote Republican because it tickles the little fantasy neuron in their brain:

Maybe they'll put an end to abortion -- ooh! I can feel the tiny endorphin rush. Maybe they'll pack up all those deadbeats and put them into prison -- ooh! there it is again.

Maybe one day I'll be rich and won't have to give my money over to some corrupt bureaucracy -- ooh! I can imagine now the Gulfstream V with the champagne fountain and gold. plated. EVERYTHING., but if those Democrats get into office my taxes will be higher the richer I get, so fuck that.
posted by chimaera at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


No matter what the reasons. Always remember this:
Conservatives are filled with rage and anger.
Liberals are filled with guilt.
posted by Postroad at 7:38 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Poor people vote Republican because it tickles the little fantasy neuron in their brain:

Exactly. By voting for the wealthy someone can believe they are in league with them. Among the poor and religious, easy money comes from God, so voting for money is a form of worship, although a form of idolatry.
posted by Brian B. at 7:44 PM on September 10, 2008


So a simple black and white ideology is what's wrong with Them, huh? Good thing that doesn't affect Us!
posted by roystgnr at 7:44 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


> Liberal statism produces a nation with a robust economic foundation, a strong middle
> class and a government that responds to input from the people to accomplish national
> goals and support the common good.

Tick me off a few places where liberal statism has done this. Or we talking Utopia here?
posted by jfuller at 7:47 PM on September 10, 2008


Democrats need to adopt some variation on the following position on abortion: "We hate abortion. We think it's awful. We are going to do everything we can to prevent people from having abortions. However, we are not going to make it illegal to have an abortion."

If they can convince people that they are very anti-abortion, then they can go after the Christian vote in a very hard way. Christian values (help the poor, love your neighbor, love your enemy, blessed are the peacemakers, etc) will then completely belong to the Democrats. They will be able to call out the Republican party for being anti-Christian.

But they can't do that now and it is for one reason: abortion. Though Christ never mentioned abortion, Christians feel pretty confident that he would have been against it. And that is the Republican's religious trump card. Take that away from the Republicans, and I think the Democratic party could start reeling in people who vote based on their Christian values.
posted by flarbuse at 7:48 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Liberal statism produces a nation with a robust economic foundation, a strong middle class and a government that responds to input from the people to accomplish national goals and support the common good."

Tick me off a few places where liberal statism has done this. Or we talking Utopia here?


I think Scandinavia fits the bill, off the top of my head.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:50 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Red states are relatively poor to blue states, which suggests that prosperity tends to favor liberalism.

Wrong.
posted by Crotalus at 7:51 PM on September 10, 2008


Well, that's the question of the article, isn't it? What is that thing, if it's not culture war rhetoric.

It's the country. It's America. There was a time when the Democratic Party understood this.

These are people who ask what they can do for their country, not what their country can do for them.

For example, these are people who honor and respect young men who volunteer for military service, and don't automatically assume that such men volunteer because they're insane, evil, hopelessly violent, or desperate.

And they often vote in what they see as the interests of the country rather than in their own selfish and narrow self-interest.
posted by Class Goat at 7:54 PM on September 10, 2008


when rescue comes to people in distress, the liberal says "thank god, we're saved".
the conservative says "thank god, i'm saved and if i play it right, there's a good profit to be made, too".
posted by kitchenrat at 7:56 PM on September 10, 2008


Crotalus, I was citing a fact, not a reason. Learn what a fallacy is first.

For those who wonder if they are voting against their interests for voting democrat.
posted by Brian B. at 7:59 PM on September 10, 2008


Argue all you want about the liberal/conservative dichotomy, the facts are these:

The Constitution of the United States is a liberal document. Determined liberals have been responsible for much most of the progress that made us an economic superpower and the envy of the rest of the civilized world. That progress includes: Voting rights, civil rights, women's rights, labor laws, 5-day workweeks, paid vacations, Federal Deposit insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, usury laws, antitrust laws, corporate disclosure laws...

Conservatives fought every one of them, and still are hard at work dismantling every one they can. Conservatives are, at the core, selfish and self-centered; they promulgate a "I got mine, you get yours" philosophy that flies in the face of the whole notion of nation.

We fly a flag to indicate that we are a family. If we don't want to act a like a family and try to take care of all the family members, then why don't we just break it up and all go our separate ways?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2008 [38 favorites]


And all the people who can't do the math on their own likelihood of being Rich One Day think that somehow, like the lottery, it just Might Happen To Them.

This is more commonly known as The American Dream.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2008


I, and I suspect most of the MetaFilter "liberal elite" do not see the two American parties as "black and white", rather as "black and gray". It's just another one of the bogus canards (nice word for lies) brought up by the "conservatives" which lead me to the conclusion that they are all either taken in by the pretty lies or actively promoting the lies to support their own narrow, greedy interests without having to admit it. Bring on the standard denials.
posted by wendell at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


*sigh*

McCain's going to win, isn't he?

*trudges away slowly, with his head down*
posted by Stonewall Jackson at 8:01 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


This thread's a good opportunity for me, since I've been thinking about composing an AskMe about this.

Living in the middle of God Country, it brings me to a kind of despair. I have a good friend who doesn't have TV, cable or internet. But what he does have is his car radio, and it's always tuned into the Obnoxious Talk Radio station. Limbaugh and Michael Savage feature prominently. You can probably guess what his politics are.

He's a smart guy, but if your sole source of news is talk radio, then your raw intelligence doesn't even matter. If you get to wrap your context around anything, then you can make that thing mean anything at all, even something contrary the original message. That's exactly how the essentially pacifistic, humanist religion of Christianity has become warped into "Fundamentalism," whose values are most cases diametrically opposite those of Jesus while simultaneously claiming literal representation of da Bibble.

For my part, I've tried to open his horizons a bit by showing him recorded Daily Show and Colbert Report. But I think the contexting from all that talk radio, and a childhood of strict new-flavor Christianity, has made him a lost cause. I don't like to believe that about anyone, and especially not someone as generally cool as him, but still.

I was pretty much in the same place 15 years ago so I can't look down on him. College helped me quite a bit, but really it was the internet that cracked my nut open. Hearing voices that hadn't been pre-selected for my consumption. He's thinking about getting internet for playing World of Warcraft. I'm hoping it'll be a good step for him, but really, if you view the whole world according to a prior context, then unless you decide for yourself to stop trusting that context, then ultimately nothing can change your mind. And the way Christianity is being taught, in which belief itself is the road to salvation, seems engineered to take advantage of this. The ability to change your mind becomes a weakness under this system, instead of a fundamental component of a rational mind.

What the Republicans have done is hitch their wagon to this nightmare system, and I have yet to come up with a good way to counter it.
posted by JHarris at 8:02 PM on September 10, 2008 [23 favorites]


For example, these are people who honor and respect young men who volunteer for military service, and don't automatically assume that such men volunteer because they're insane, evil, hopelessly violent, or desperate.

Holy crap who assumes "insane, evil, hopelessly violent"? Where does that come from? Is there some confusion there between the criticism of the leadership and the criticism of the servicemen? If anything, my heart goes out to them for being duty bound to the exercise in futility they're now engaged in, thanks to the man who put them in harm's way for no defensible reason. Especially those who had to enlist to feed their families, thanks again to that same man.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:02 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't think the Republicans have a monopoly on "values", or something greater than economics. I think both conservatives and liberals share common values with different plans for achieving/maintaining them.

Again, the point of the article isn't that Democrats don't have values. Of course they do! It's that their values are not moral in quite the same way that Republican values are -- they tend not to be based on higher authority, such as group morals or a sense of sanctity. Democrats are often concerned with "what's fair" and "what's best"; Republicans are often concerned with "what's right". Neither of these value systems is necessarily better than the other, but they definitely have different appeals to different people. IMHO, the Democrats really need to go one more step, and build fairness and the greater social good into a group morality, one which makes strong and unequivocal claims about what American society should look like. There's more than one opinion on what's "right" in this country, but the Democrats hardly ever seem to go there. If they really want to get people excited about their platform, this is something that needs to change. As flarbuse points out, today's Democrats have a unique chance to lock-in both "fair" and "right", if only they can concentrate on their core message.

Obama, IMHO, really gets this. His acceptance speech is an excellent example of a call to Democratic morality, not just Democratic values. Obama talks about greatness, not just fairness; he talks about what Americans should be, as well as what we are. And, of course, he talks about America, in the positive sense, which is absolutely astonishing for the Democrats as of late. I've personally seen a very positive response to this from many Republicans, especially old-school, non-neocon Republicans -- many of these people feel deeply betrayed by BushCo and are looking for an alternative, but up until now, nobody else has been speaking their language. I'm not sure if the Democratic platform can back up Obama's words, as it seems more than a little meh, but it's a start.

If the Dems can build a platform as powerful as that speech, preferably one which minimizes the impact of divisive hot-button issues and appeals to the strong sense of social morality that still exists in America, they will win, and win, and keep on winning. If they keep putting their feet in their mouth over gun control, abortion, and other relatively unimportant and divisive red-herring issues, they will keep losing. It's as simple as that.
posted by vorfeed at 8:03 PM on September 10, 2008


Buzzman: Can you picture a Kansan on a wind blighted prarie, stripped of grass and trees; having their home destroyed and holding a "Help Us" sign? [...] Some of these small income places vote the way they do because they aren't sweating at work so that some fool... [be given] continual or even generational need of societal support.

...and this would make halfway sense, were the Republican party ever to make real its myth of minimal statism, fiscal conservatism, and individual self-reliance. Instead, its legacy is a paper trail of crushing debts, unprecedented military spending, and giveaways to a cohort of subsidized industries. We aren't 10^13 dollars in arrears because of public education and food stamps, okay?
posted by kid ichorous at 8:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [30 favorites]


Annual rates of employment growth per administration.

This doesn't persuade someone who is threatened with a higher tax to vote liberal of course, it merely allows the wage slave to quit believing they will be better off under someone who doesn't care.
posted by Brian B. at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Curiously, whereas the conservative media know they are conservative, much of the liberal media believe themselves to be neutral. Their constant support for Democratic views has nothing to do with bias, in their minds, but reflects the fact that Democrats just happen to be right about everything.

Or it could be that "liberal" in the USA is actually pretty conservative, and "conservative" in the USA is extreme conservatism.

The USA does not have any mainstream liberal media, not from the point of view of many other countries where the center is much closer to center. There is conservative media, like CBS and Time; and there is batshitinsane conservative media, like Fox. There is no mainstream liberal media.

In other words, the USA is off-balance, and becoming progressively more so. It's a right and more-right structure, with bugger all in the way of leftist representation.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:09 PM on September 10, 2008 [13 favorites]


IME, I think if you're INTP you're liberal and INTJ you're conservative.
posted by troy at 8:10 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I read the article. Several times. Thick with references, scholasticism, and not really weaving into much sense. MY conclusion about it all? Print it on soft, double-ply paper.

buzzman, the article really didn't have anything particularly bad to say about the values of the people of Greensburg or others you're apparently lauding in your post -- in fact, it was full of cautionary words to Democrats who might be getting a little full of themselves. And it made plenty of sense to this particular red-state raised Westerner.

So if you're hostile to it, I can't really come to any other conclusions other than that you didn't actually read it, or that you genuinely are hostile to scholasticism itself, which'd be a pity, because the author of the article had convinced me there was a lot more to this.
posted by weston at 8:10 PM on September 10, 2008


Thanks, vorfeed, I appreciate that.

MetaFilter thinks every other way of thinking is the result of a mental disorder????

I personally wouldn't say conservatism is a mental disorder, and I don't think the article contends that, either. I think it's pretty safe to say people put different weight on different interests.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:12 PM on September 10, 2008


Town turns an F-5 Katrina into a booming economy.

Wait, they have hurricanes in Kansas? Global warming is really getting out of hand.
posted by lukemeister at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2008


What makes people diagnose their intellectual opponents?

Douchebaggery.
posted by prefpara at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2008


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.WB Yeats
The center has been lost, it no longer holds.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]



"Liberal statism produces a nation with a robust economic foundation, a strong middle class and a government that responds to input from the people to accomplish national goals and support the common good."

Tick me off a few places where liberal statism has done this. Or we talking Utopia here?

I think Scandinavia fits the bill, off the top of my head.


Well, yes, but I was speaking solely of the United States continuously since around the time of the Coolidge administration. (I'm not sure it makes sense to push the idea back into the days of Southern reconstruction or so on when the basic American situation was fundamentally different.)

But in 20th and 21st century America, When you have leadership with liberal values (and to be clear, I do NOT mean democrats in particular or people who support abortion rights) you have a stronger economy, a stronger middle class, a stronger nation. When you have leaders who support "conservative values," they immediately reveal those values to be essentially about unfettered capitalism and the rampaging of the rich. This promptly begins to dismantle the mechanisms that have ensured the continued strong economy, strong people and strong nation, and everything starts to go to hell.

Since the Reagan revolution in particular, I'd think this trend would be unmistakable. Even with the partial backsliding toward prosperity of the Clinton years - and that was really nothing more than an effort to hold back the conservative tide. It's not like the Clinton administration could actually put anything back the way it was. Things just decayed more slowly for a few years. And look what happened during those years.
posted by Naberius at 8:16 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's my condensation of the linked article:
- Haidt attempts to write a better definition of morality; to me it seems that his new definition -
morality is any system of interlocking values, practices, institutions, and psychological mechanisms that work together to suppress or regulate selfishness and make social life possible.
- is mainly a psychologist's definition based on observation, like saying that love is a strong attraction/affection for another. Both definitions do not give enough weight to their subjects (morality, love) as ideals, as more than a collection of impressions.

Based on that definition, when he suggests that the GOP has done better than the Dems at
meeting "the full spectrum of American moral concerns" he's really saying that the GOP is better at eliciting and resonating with those feelings from the electorate.

That's how the GOP administrations can fling money around and increase deficits while proclaiming that they are the party of small government, and that Democrats are tax-and-spend heathens. And so on. Ah, cognitive dissonance...

Anyways...

A rigidly two-party system just cannot properly represent the complexity of a large and diverse population! With just two tents to speak as much as possible of the opinions and desires of the electorate, of course many groups feel unheard or marginalized.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but at one time weren't the Democrats the party of the status quo, the small c conservative? I recall reading something about how, through the middle of the 20th century the GOP engineered some kind of pivot in their demographics that was completed in the Reagan years.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:17 PM on September 10, 2008


These are people who ask what they can do for their country, not what their country can do for them.

For example, these are people who honor and respect young men who volunteer for military service, and don't automatically assume that such men volunteer because they're insane, evil, hopelessly violent, or desperate.

And they often vote in what they see as the interests of the country rather than in their own selfish and narrow self-interest.


Aside from your mastery of the lazy cliche, I can't see what you're contributing to the discussion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:18 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Excellent post, bjork24. Made me think about my political assumptions, for sure.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:19 PM on September 10, 2008


What makes people vote Republican?

Old. Rich. White. Male.

That, or they think all foreign and domestic policy involves stopping ladies from having abortions and hating on the gays. So their dumbaclots.
posted by chunking express at 8:20 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Constitution of the United States is a liberal document. Determined liberals have been responsible for much most of the progress that made us an economic superpower and the envy of the rest of the civilized world.

There's a source of confusion here, because the word "liberal" has several meanings, some of which contradict. The US Constitution is a liberal document in the sense sometimes referred to as "classical liberalism", which in modern terms would be considered small-l "libertarianism". (As opposed to big-L "Libertarianism", who IMHO are a bunch of loons.)

That meaning of "liberal" stands in sharp contrast to how the word is used politically in the US now, to refer to a position which also known as "Progressive", and which has a strong flavor of socialism. Socialism is anathema to classical liberalism.

Getting back to the alien thinking of the Republicans who are the subject of this discussion, they believe more in classic liberalism than in modern big-L Liberalism (alias Progressivism); believe in the former and really quite despise the latter, and don't see them as being connected.
posted by Class Goat at 8:21 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]



These are people who ask what they can do for their country, not what their country can do for them.

they often vote in what they see as the interests of the country rather than in their own selfish and narrow self-interest.

these are people who honor and respect young men who volunteer for military service


This would be fine if the conservatives actually practiced what they promise. They don't care about the working class or their values, they do the bidding of the wealthy and the ruling class. Our soldiers aren't defending democracy, they're trying to expand the empire and spreading terror.

These people really are stupid, naive and they are dupes. They want to believe we're the "good guys".

That's why this article is such a colossal fail.
posted by Zambrano at 8:22 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I personally wouldn't say conservatism is a mental disorder, and I don't think the article contends that, either.

What part of the following from the article did you miss?

"...conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:23 PM on September 10, 2008


One Answer.

(From Tim Kreider's comic The Pain. )
Previously.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:23 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Aside from your mastery of the lazy cliche, I can't see what you're contributing to the discussion.

That kind of supercilious contempt is why the Democrats keep losing. The people I'm talking about don't think those things are cliche, or trite, or jingoistic. And until you come to understand why they value those things, you'll never convince them to vote for you.
posted by Class Goat at 8:24 PM on September 10, 2008


This article came up in the Palin thread and it is quite interesting in its own right. I think he very well described how manipulable conservative voters are, and potentially how the same applies to liberals, especially the less educated variety of both sides. If you want to know how to use emotion and moral value systems to get out the liberal message you need only watch Bill Clinton get the message out at the DNC this year.
posted by caddis at 8:25 PM on September 10, 2008


I don't vote at all, because I'm lazy.

If I did vote, I would vote Republican, because I'm all mentally retarded and stupid.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:25 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Great post. This is something I'd been trying to think about for quite some time and didn't know how to approach the complexity of it. Awesome. It's just so great and a relief to read something so intelligent about morality, psychology and political mindsets.

Oh boy, I just loved this article in so many ways. Thanks bjork24.
posted by nickyskye at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2008


fff: Turning and turning in the widening gyre [...]

You may be interested to know: Yeats was quite the apologist for aristocracy in the Hellenic sense - rule by the Good, the wellborn, the Aristes - and his Second Coming owed as much to the populist Left as the Right. Still, he wasn't an outright Fascist like Pound.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2008


conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death.

No part of that statement sounds like a mental disorder to me, to be honest. It's a judgement, to be sure, and its validity is debatable, but I don't think the author is contending conservatives have a mental disorder for placing higher value on one worldview instead of others.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2008


Oh and. I don't see how this is different from:

Me: (opinion)

Dbag: interestingly, people with leaky vaginas frequently profess this very opinion! Your opinion is the result of your leaky vagina. People with dry vaginas have ideas like this. People with leaky vaginas have ideas like that.

Me: !!!
posted by prefpara at 8:28 PM on September 10, 2008


What part of the following from the article did you miss?

"...conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death."


It wasn't so much that he missed that, as that he read the other 90% of the article, the point of which is that the above is a useless and wrong way to think about conservatism.
posted by escabeche at 8:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't care what most of you think leads people to vote "against their self interest." You don't know them or know what they see as their self interest. Just because they do not value material goods over morals doesn’t make them stupid. I'm a liberal, atheist, graduate student that lives in the middle of Kansas. We don't always see the world the same, but as a public speaking teacher and introduction to human communications TA, I can attest to the students in Kansas. They are not dumb, and they are not as morally absolute as you would assume. We discussed that in class today actually. They are good people on the whole. My neighbors may prefer to live in a small town, and may vote Republican, but those guys will be the first to be there for me in a time of need.

Perhaps some Republicans don't support homosexuality, but to be fair they don't know many gay people. The examples they see are in the media and often harmful representations. They lack diversity in their everyday life. They have been taught that talking about politics and social issues just results in unhappy feelings. In the hopes of maintaining group harmony, they avoid the issues. Ideas are not always shared.

I spend a great deal of time in my class covering rhetorical sensitivity and empathy. I am proud I get to teach these topics, and provide these students with an environment to learn empathy without feeling as if their views are under attack. They are allowed to give speeches that are conservative, maybe banning the teaching of evolution, but we work with them to phrase and construct their arguments in ways that are heartfelt and sensitive. I would venture to say that many liberal students, even if they think they are empathetic to the oppressed, couldn't be as sensitive and understanding as my students.

If we liberals expect these Kansans to care about diversity, then we too need to respect diversity ourselves. Most of these liberals couldn't begin to understand these Kansans' perspectives, and should stop acting like morally absolute dicks who know it all. It is just one more way for people to feel better about themselves at the expense of those they'll likely never meet.

Perhaps these red states wouldn't be so read if all the blue voters didn't move out to the coasts? It is a different vibe in places like Oregon: People are here because they moved here, but in Kansas, they're here because they're FROM here. There is a huge problem with our society creating too homogeneous of communities willingly, which includes liberals congregating in the same major cities.

I have a deep respect for Midwesterners, and I am proud of my working class background. Even though I am now in academia, I still appreciate my culture.

Oh, and Kansas' governor is a female Democrat.
posted by metricfan at 8:31 PM on September 10, 2008 [19 favorites]


Holy crap who assumes "insane, evil, hopelessly violent"? Where does that come from?

I have personally argued with super-liberals on metafilter who claimed that American troops were one, the other, and/or all three, sometimes in threads which weren't even about atrocity or the like. I'm not really interested in turning this into some kind of belated callout, but search for "Iraq" and read through the comments, especially on FPPs about wounded and/or dead soldiers, and you will quickly get the drift. If not, me-mail me and I'll link you to some examples.
posted by vorfeed at 8:32 PM on September 10, 2008


I have to wonder if full-page advertisements in USA Today and NYT and other popular newspapers, showing in simple graphical form what has really happened under various administrations, might clue people in.

'cause one look at, say, the deficit graph, and it becomes dead obvious to even the thickest dullard that Republican administrations inevitably ramp up the debt while Democrat administrations restore balance.

I'm sure the same would be indicated in a graph of employment. Or the size of government.

Heck, are there any indicators of national health that show improvement under a Republican administration?

Pretty pictures, that's the way to communicate these “really difficult” concepts to the public.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:32 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


It wasn't so much that he missed that, as that he read the other 90% of the article, the point of which is that the above is a useless and wrong way to think about conservatism.

Actually, I think the point of the article was "Democrats shouldn't bother to point out this fact, even though it's true, because it gets them nowhere."

This is high-minded glurge. What's the Matter with Kansas offered the same points, only better, and with more research.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2008


Class Goat writes "Getting back to the alien thinking of the Republicans who are the subject of this discussion, they believe more in classic liberalism than in modern big-L Liberalism (alias Progressivism);"

I had no idea that unprecedented expansion of the federal budget, consolidation of power federal power, blanket surveillance, holding citizens indefinitely without court review, attacks on non-threatening states, and erosion of the barrier between church and state were classic liberalism. You learn something new every day.
posted by mullingitover at 8:37 PM on September 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'll trot out my pet theory:
Democrats are neurotic, Republicans are character-disordered.
Neurotics blame themselves for their problems. Thus Democrats campaign on "issues" and tend to support policies that empower the government to solve people's problems (externalizing their own inner "issues" and struggle to improve themselves).
Character disordered people blame others for their problems.. This explains Republicans' tendency to lie outright during political campaigns (they do not see it as lying, but as a true depiction of the "others" who are to blame), and to ignore evidence of their own failures while governing.
posted by haricotvert at 8:37 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


That kind of supercilious contempt is why the Democrats keep losing. The people I'm talking about don't think those things are cliche, or trite, or jingoistic. And until you come to understand why they value those things, you'll never convince them to vote for you.

I think what Astro Zombie was calling cliche wasn't the sentiment that our soldiers are noble men and women who are taking on terrible risks voluntarily in order to serve their country -- that's just a fact, and pretty much every American knows it. The cliche was your suggestion that Democrats generally think our soldiers volunteer "because they're insane, evil, hopelessly violent, or desperate." That statement has the weird property of simultaneously cliche and totally wrong.
posted by escabeche at 8:38 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: Aside from your mastery of the lazy cliche, I can't see what you're contributing to the discussion.

Could be worse. He could have mastered Livejournal lyricism.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:39 PM on September 10, 2008


I have personally argued with super-liberals on metafilter who claimed that American troops were one, the other, and/or all three, sometimes in threads which weren't even about atrocity or the like.

Well, that's insane. I just get baffled by hearing this "troop-hating" accusation spring up over and over, coming from the same people who voted for the guy who's been far friendlier to contractors than the enlisted.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:40 PM on September 10, 2008


That kind of supercilious contempt is why the Democrats keep losing. The people I'm talking about don't think those things are cliche, or trite, or jingoistic. And until you come to understand why they value those things, you'll never convince them to vote for you.

Bullshit. The only supercilious contempt I see is that the Republican party has managed to convince themselves that they are the sole possessors of things like honor, service, and patriotism. You somehow managed to overlook that the first quote in your list of supposedly conservative values -- ask not what your country can do, ask what you can do for your country -- was uttered by a Democrat.

I'm sick of these charges that Democrats lose because they somehow don't understand the core of all that is good and decent in the world, and have nothing but contempt for conservatives. Hey, that's a two-way street, buddy, and the amount of contempt poured on liberals is anything but slight. When we lose an election, suddenly this self-serving cheer goes up: They lost because they don't get it.

You know, liberals routed conservatives in the last election for the House and Senate, but I don't see those same fingers pointing back at the Republican Party, saying, oh, crap, by our logic, we must not get it either? What can we do different?

No. Just more chest thumping about how grand and pure and great the real America is, and how if liberals don't drop their lattes and leave their big cities and learn how the other half lives, they are never going to get it, but we do, because sometimes we drive through rural cities that were oncet hit by a tornado, and, god damn it, look at their mastery of bootlace-tugging.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2008 [16 favorites]


Isn't this serendipitous? I just finished watching a video where George Lakoff opines on the same subject. Why Republicans get elected from the "How Candidates Get Elected" portion of this talk:

Someone from Reagan's campaign did research, focus groups and surveys, to find out why people wanted to vote for Reagan. He found out that people cared mostly about five things. First values. Reagan talked about values not just issues and positions on issues and programs. Second, he communicated. He connected with people. Third, people believed that he said what he thought, that he was authentic. As a result they trusted him. They knew his values, they assumed that he was telling them the truth, that he communicated clearly, so they trusted him. And then they identified with him, for that reason. That's what they ran the campaign on, not on the issues and programs but on those five things. George W Bush ran a campaign on the same things, whereas Al Gore and John Kerry ran on issues.

[stuff snipped]

Think about electing a president. You don't know two years from now what that president is going to face. So, you elect the president not just on the promises, based on the programs that he might or might not be able to get through Congress. You elect a president based on the values he has. Does he have your values? Is he going to tell the truth? Can he communicate clearly to you and effectively? Can he arouse the public and inspire people? Can that person come out and say things so that you trust them? Do you identify with them? Those are really important things. They're not just matters of mere personality.

posted by nooneyouknow at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and on a philosophical level: Just because one moral set utilizes all categories of morality established by some European dead guy doesn't make them superior to morality that only utilizes two. I personally think a simplistic morality can be the best. For example: I'm going to punch my fists as much as I want, until it comes into contact with someone else's nose. In other words, live as you please, but with consideration and respect for everyone else. I think I could argue that moral code above the conservative moral code the author insinuates is better.

Also! This article really isn't psychology at all. It is communication theory and philosophy. I do not think this author has a disciplinary reason to study this issue at all. Considering how little respect communication studies gets from areas like psychology, they sure do seem bent on getting in on our game.

This could be terribly dangerous. The article said, "If the purpose of diversity programs is to fight racism and discrimination (worthy goals based on fairness concerns), then these goals might be better served by encouraging assimilation and a sense of shared identity." If this dude knew anything about the cultural studies accomplished since the civil rights movement, he would know how problematic that thought process is. It just makes whiteness the ultimate culture, and all other minorities are expected to shed their cultures that make them unique so they can assimilate into whiteness. The author, while I appreciate his support for Midwesterners, clearly is still an ass hole empiricalist jerk.
posted by metricfan at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't vote at all, because I'm lazy.

you said you were voting for mckinney

a good troll keeps his stories straight
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2008


Democrats are neurotic, Republicans are character-disordered.

Conservatives think liberals are evil, while liberals think conservatives are stupid. The downside is that one tends to be rude and the other tends to be mentally ill.
posted by Brian B. at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2008


you said you were voting for mckinney

Wasn't me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:46 PM on September 10, 2008


MetaFilter thinks every other way of thinking is the result of a mental disorder???

No, but many of the people with varied opinions here are thoroughly confused why the Republican Party (which does directly declare that any other way of thinking is Evil or Treasonous to cover up actual practices that ARE Evil and Treasonous) has so much support from people who should know better. I'd just simplify and call it "political codependency".

ONCE AGAIN, most of MetaFilter's chattering classes are NOT Democrats, just Anti-Republican, which includes Party Democrats, Soft Democrats, Obamanites, Libertarians, Independent Moderates, Independent Liberals, European-style Liberals, European-style Conservatives (less Conservative than American-Style Conservatives), Socialists, Soft Socialists and even some Pre-Reagan-Paleo-Conservatives. A good mix that can create some spirited intelligent discussion until the supporters of the New Fascists Republicans come into pool to pee.
posted by wendell at 8:47 PM on September 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Conservatives think liberals are evil, while liberals think conservatives are stupid.

And the exact reverse is frighteningly close to the truth.
posted by wendell at 8:48 PM on September 10, 2008


And I write newspaper doggerel, thank you very much. Livejournal poets wouldn't know the work of Julia A. Moore or William McGonagall if you read it to them until they fled the building, screaming.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:50 PM on September 10, 2008


> But, economically, they are, in fact, voting against their self-interests.

And they give more to charity, which is also against their self-interest. No one would do that unless they're crazy (and stupid), right Astro?
posted by jfuller at 8:51 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm personally voting for McKinney.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:08 AM on August 28

you said you were voting for mckinney
posted by pyramid termite at 8:44 PM on September 10

Wasn't me.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:46 PM on September 10


If McCain knew you could do that, Steve, he'd have picked you instead of Sarah.
posted by wendell at 8:52 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Oh wow - just finished the surveys. That's a whole lot of radio buttons. And it turns out I have a much stronger "retribution" streak than McCain. Eesh.

I was puzzled by one thing: In the Moral Dilemmas section, it begins with a notice that you are about to watch a silent video of a woman being interviewed. You are instructed to focus only on the woman's face and ignore the words that appear on the screen - if at any time you peek at a word, you have to start the video over. When you're done, you press Next. And then it's over.

I wondered, what does this gauge? If it's your honesty, how does it measure it? By timing you between "Begin" and "Next"? In that case, what if someone is able to watch the entire thing with looking once (I wasn't)?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:53 PM on September 10, 2008


Isn't this all out the window now that 18 million HRC supporters will vote McCain because of what Obama and the DNC did to their girl? They flip-flopped!

Seriously, everyone I know well, no matter what party they belong to including the socialist workers party, if you say well, you're people have some good idea about X, but you are bat-shit insane when it comes to Y - the start arguing that real member of the true party don't believe in Y. They do this with no shortage of passion or detail.

Most of us are not fish or fowl or good red herring. Although someone who titles a piece "What makes people vote republican" must have some preconceived notions about his audience...

The morality quiz seems off to me. I am not a saint. Also, what do the mean disgusting? Like if someone vomited on a nun? It would depend why.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2008


> Liberal statism produces a nation with a robust economic foundation, a strong middle
> class and a government that responds to input from the people to accomplish national
> goals and support the common good.

Tick me off a few places where liberal statism has done this. Or we talking Utopia here?
posted by jfuller at 10:47 PM on September 10 [+] [!]


I like Canada. I think it's a pretty nice place to live, and while things aren't perfect, I don't worry as much whether paying for my health care will leave me short of rent at the end of the year.

And they often vote in what they see as the interests of the country rather than in their own selfish and narrow self-interest.

If that were true, then they would be voting to RAISE taxes, because the budget deficit and ballooning debt is just about one of the biggest threats to their country. But they aren't. In fact, many conservatives (in this thread and elsewhere) have been quoted as saying that they won't vote for Obama because they believe he will raise their taxes.

People who care about their countries don't just give lip service to patriotic symbols -- they pay taxes willingly (if not gladly - it's still money), and don't expect tax cuts in times of budget deficits and economic bad times.
posted by jb at 8:55 PM on September 10, 2008 [8 favorites]


And they give more to charity, which is also against their self-interest. No one would do that unless they're crazy (and stupid), right Astro?

No, it's not crazy. I don't recall ever having said that voting for something that you think is for the greater good, against your own self-interests, is crazy. I did say voting for one party out anger at an imagined contempt from another party might be a little daffy.

All I recall saying was that they are, in fact, voting against their economic self interests. If I said otherwise, please point out where.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 PM on September 10, 2008


> William McGonagall

If only she were still alive, I would set one of Willie's poems for Florence Foster Jenkins to sing. Large Hadron Collider, eat your heart out.
/derail
posted by jfuller at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2008


Heck, are there any indicators of national health that show improvement under a Republican administration?

Is 'brown people killed' an indicator of national health? I can never remember...
posted by pompomtom at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Neither party represents much of most folk here. I was in Denver during the DNC. I have never, never, seen so many 4" heels in my life. I will probably never see so many 4" heels again in the rest of my life. Do these heels, what are these heels to Democratic folk? Must be something judging by the prevalence of them.

Likewise, does the RNC represent most republicans?

Both parties should hold the conventions in Wal-marts; so these 'party' oriented people can get a view of what real world is for most folk.

Thanks, buzzman. It helps to be reminded again what it looks like when people hate the poor and blame them for their own poverty

?Who is blaming who for whose poverty? Is poverty a sum of money issue? Why do people continue to live in this mid to late 20th century concept of wealth as a definition of poverty? So, here we are. Early in the 21st century.

Happiness, family, roof over head, job... all the concepts that built this nation; gone, dismissed by a dollar valuation of self. Ah our great, mighty; so liberal leaders. Yep. Value = Money? Eh? On Metafilter?
posted by buzzman at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, from the article jfuller posted:
The strongest explanation for charity, though, is religion. Religious people, whether Christian or Jewish, regardless of race, donate far more than the nonreligious. This includes religious liberals, but there are fewer of them. Nonreligious conservatives tend to watch their nickels.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


If only she were still alive, I would set one of Willie's poems for Florence Foster Jenkins to sing. Large Hadron Collider, eat your heart out.

I like the way you think, and you have my vote.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:00 PM on September 10, 2008


And they give more to charity, which is also against their self-interest. No one would do that unless they're crazy (and stupid), right Astro?

No. They give far less to non-church organizations, and church giving is often called tithing, which doesn't have to be used for charity, and is tax deductible. Most churches publicly claim that it will be used for expanding God's kingdom. The biggest scam going is to think that church donations are usually charities.
posted by Brian B. at 9:04 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Astro Zombie: And I write newspaper doggerel, thank you very much.
Well you might extend the same leeway to CG, that's all. His comment wasn't too light for this thread.

William McGonagall
Sir William McGonagall, knight of the White Elephant

posted by kid ichorous at 9:07 PM on September 10, 2008


Town turns an F-5 Katrina into a booming economy.
Wait, they have hurricanes in Kansas? Global warming is really getting out of hand.

Greensburg KS withstood an F-5 tornado in 2007. I stopped for fuel in August of this year. That's 2008 for those that can't read too well. Smiles everywhere. Money going in every direction. Buildings going up. New storm cellars going down. Economy in lieu of perpetual dependancy. I just about stopped and planted my back in that town.

Global Warming jokes about two cities that lost lives to weather extremes? Hey, thats. Not Funny.
posted by buzzman at 9:12 PM on September 10, 2008


Socialism is anathema to classical liberalism.

Nope. Tyranny is anathema to classical liberalism. Even the "liberal" French revolution did have its "socialist" Robespierre, and even then he was considered just "too radical", not "anathema" to the bourgeois ideals, and what was his downfall was the tyranny of the Terror, not his lower-class populism. Classical liberalism was primarily concerned with the abuses of the nobility and kings (including, if you want to talk economy, taxation to support the (birthright) "upper class", and the mercantilist economic interventions of the time).

I'm sure most of the enlightenment thinkers would be perfectly fine with "socialist" Canada. Before you bring up taxation, Canada has about the same tax burden as the US - actually lower, I believe, for the "bourgeoisie" (small businesses). Most would cringe at the Republican corporate-welfare and big business subsidies. All will probably come back as zombies to eat your brains if you try to pin the label of "classical liberalism" on the Patriot Act.

I'm no fan of socialism, or most of the Democrat interventionist, union-centric, nanny-state, economic policy. But, believe me, the Republican interventionist, big-business-centric, corporate-welfare economic policy isn't any better.

[NB: Please read the paragraph above with the non-American use of "liberal", non-Marxist use of "bourgeois", non-Soviet use of "socialist" and non-neocon use of "Terror"]
posted by qvantamon at 9:14 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


For an outsider's perspective, America the Tarnished by Ronald Wright is a thoughtful historian's take on what makes America so different from other western democracies. In a nutshell, it is 500 years of militarism combined with geographic isolation. You're just a belligerent people! Can't you all just get along? (Ducks and waits for attack on Europeans)
posted by binturong at 9:16 PM on September 10, 2008


Democrats are people who have never paid taxes. Seriously.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:17 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems an error page comes up after the first Perceptions of Politicians scenario: The message "alter table politician_perceptions add column politician_perceptions_cond_5_2 varchar(255) null
Unknown column 'politician_perceptions_cond_5_2' in 'field list'" and a "Submit Query" button that prompts a username and password window to appear. Could be bad coding ... or ... maybe it's a test to see who is more likely to try and crack into a university website, Obama or McCain supporters?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:19 PM on September 10, 2008


Ingroup/loyalty; Purity/sanctity; Authority/respect

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."

"We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states, and yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states."

It's interesting to me that probably the three most famously inspirational statements from the progressive era of the Democratic party (meaning New Deal forward, for the purposes of this argument) incorporate some or all of the aspects the article mentions.

I think the guy might have a point.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:21 PM on September 10, 2008


You can go back to "explore" and just skip that, or try again.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:23 PM on September 10, 2008


also, qvantamon, while you're technically correct about tyranny being anathema to Classical Liberalism (and I spent two hours in a Con Law class today going over this very subject) to the Classical Liberal mindset in America at the time (which included all legal thinkers until Oliver Wendell Holmes) socialism was tyranny, because it required abridgment of freedom of contract, among other things. In that paradigm (again, until the realist movement began with Holmes and then Brandeis) to speak of one was very much to speak of the other.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:26 PM on September 10, 2008


And they give more to charity, which is also against their self-interest.

Not necessarily. Not all charities are alike, although the book reviewer you link to states that "In the book, all charity is assumed to be good." Not all charities are alike, not all charities are good. Some religious-based charity giving is considered an near-obligation by some churches (including some Liberal churches). Other charities get much of their contributions through other forms of "social pressure" (the Often-Liberal-Identified United Way through its workplace fundraising gets a lot of Not-Liberal-Identified contributions). Some 'charities' are what is known as "501(c)4s" which are allowed to spend up to 49% of their funds for "political purposes". And some 'charities' are borderline scams (which I would personally consider any org that uses more than 50% of contributions for more fundraising), targeting the same kind of people who think the Republican party does good.

Charity is used by people to have "control over where their money goes" and its "tax deductible" status is a major selling point, which is one of its less honorable motivations. Many people use the fact that they give to charity but would never accept charity as a way to show they're "successful', while some (whom I have met) use it as a way to show they're "good people".

Basically, the "conservatives are more charitable" trope is just another talking point oversimplification that falls apart under the kind of analysis that so many Conservatives don't want to do. But then, so does the appeal of a lot of so-called charities.
posted by wendell at 9:28 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


You can go back to "explore" and just skip that, or try again.

Too late, I've already got a brute force cracker up and running.

Alright, I went back and got a different candidate. This time there were additional pages to complete, so naturally my results were really skewed in one direction, and it doesn't seem I have the option to re-take it. Screw you, social science! Coding trumps again!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:29 PM on September 10, 2008


If that were true, then they would be voting to RAISE taxes, because the budget deficit and ballooning debt is just about one of the biggest threats to their country. But they aren't. In fact, many conservatives (in this thread and elsewhere) have been quoted as saying that they won't vote for Obama because they believe he will raise their taxes.

That's because they think the solution to the deficit is to reduce spending, not to raise taxes.
posted by Class Goat at 9:30 PM on September 10, 2008


I really respect George Lakoff's work in this area. One of the central findings of the framing that shapes people's political affiliation is the idea that conservatives are united in the belief that the world is an essentially fair place. That is, you get what you deserve. God, or The Market, or Some Other Force is watching and people who end up in bad situations put themselves there whereas people who are rich and happy worked hard to get there and pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Government's job is to get out the way and stop screwing over all the hard working success stories to prop up the failures.

Liberals, on the other hand, see the world as essentially unfair place. Many people, despite their best intentions and hard work, end up screwed by a bad system and terrible conditions. Others benefit from the wealth of their forefathers, genetic superiority, or cheating the system. Government is one way in which we can help those who are disadvantaged, as helping those in need will benefit all of us in the long run. There is also the protection/danger dichotomy and a lot of other stuff I have probably misinterpreted and oversimplified, but that idea did seem to have a ring of truth to me.
posted by sophist at 9:34 PM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Government's job is to get out the way and stop screwing over all the hard working success stories to prop up the failures.

Yet, they believe that Government by way of Armies and Police must be constantly protecting them against Evils that apparently God, The Market or Some Other Force cannot.

And things like the War on Drugs, believing that Drug Abuse is a Bad Thing that will ruin your life but placing thousands upon thousands of users (who are not sellers) in jail because, uh, why? The naturally occurring punishment is not enough?

And if they really believed in the Free Market, why do they support the seizure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by the Government? This is sure to become the single most costly example of "propping up the failures" in the history of the U.S.

And Lakoff's 'framing' of Liberalism is nothing I believe in, but I don't claim to be a conventional Liberal. Just a realist.
posted by wendell at 9:50 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


An hour ago I was all ready to feel more compassion for the Republicans, trying to get where they're coming from and maybe thinking they valued morality, maybe a morality with a different emphasis than mine. Then I saw the McCain lipstick on a pig video and again, in May this year, with him sleazily playing victim on his site, outright manipulating the truth. It's really difficult to like Republicans, Republican leaders anyway.
posted by nickyskye at 9:53 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's because they think the solution to the deficit is to reduce spending, not to raise taxes.
posted by Class Goat at 12:30 AM on September 11 [+] [!]


So they drank the Kool-aid. The way you reduce deficits is by cutting spending and/or raising taxes. Considering the state of the current American deficit, both are needed.

I was reacting against to the idea that conservative voters are just voting selflessly. Truth is that a lot of people vote for the Republicans because they believe it is in their own best economic self-interest, not in a fantasy of one day being rich, but right now, because the Republicans have told them that Democrats will raise their taxes, and no one likes to actually look at the bothersome numbers to realise that for the vast majority of people this is a lie.
posted by jb at 9:54 PM on September 10, 2008


That's not to say that the differences in morals isn't interesting - and it does show that there is a cultural aspect to the "culture wars". But when people are going around saying "I won't vote Democrat because they will raise my taxes", they are not voting on culture but on perceived (rather than actual) self-interest.
posted by jb at 9:56 PM on September 10, 2008


Interesting article, thanks for posting it. But after thinking about it awhile I think he gets it completely wrong. Basically he argues that Democrats need to sound more like Republicans in order to win elections. Democrats have been trying that strategy since Carter and it has only got us in to the shitty situation we are in today.

You have to give it to the republicans, after endlessly complaining in the 80s and 90s about how minorities asking for equal rights had made the nation into a bunch of "victims," they stole the strategy for themselves and are now promoting white Christians as the biggest victims group in the country. Why should I respect what these people think when they support policies that have weakened the nation domestically and resulted in reckless foreign wars that have resulted in the deaths of countless innocents. Their politics are dead wrong, and it would be morally wrong of me to support them in any way.

One of the interesting parts of What's the matter with Kansas was that in the early part of the 20th century Kansas was a fairly progressive place. Hell, Woody Guthrie would never have become a communist in today's world. And that brings up one difference between now and then. Back then you had active organizations that not just promoted progressive causes, but that backed these cause by appeals to socialism. The democratic now has no overriding philosophies beyond vague appeals to good government, while the republicans can appeal to god, patriotism and Adam Smith.

We need a resurgence of radicalism in this country. Socialism is already creeping back in, the two biggest mortgage banks were just nationalized and we have a VP from the most socialist state in the country. People just need to get out organize and kick some fascist ass.
posted by afu at 9:57 PM on September 10, 2008


Sorry -- you can cut the deficit by cutting spending. But that's not what the Republicans do. I would respect them a hell of a lot more if they did; disagree with them over what they chose to spend money on, but at least I would respect them.

The Republicans are - and have been since Reagan came to the throne - truly fiscally irresponsible. They are the "cut taxes (for those who need it least) and spend more, and leave the check for the kids to pick up" party.
posted by jb at 9:58 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


People who care about their countries don't just give lip service to patriotic symbols -- they pay taxes willingly (if not gladly - it's still money), and don't expect tax cuts in times of budget deficits and economic bad times.

Not only, as someone pointed out upthread, did you miss that the "economic conservatives" want to cut spending (not raise taxes) to reduce the deficit, you're missing the other part of their argument: it's not that they are cutting taxes to give themselves a bonus, they're doing it to INCREASE government revenue.

I'm not sold on their arguments, but that is the supply-side argument (see ). Raising taxes does not always increase revenue, lowering taxes does not always decrease revenue. The real question is where are we on the spectrum right now, and what effect will raising or lowering taxes have given our current position.

Personally, I agree with them at least as far as reducing spending goes (a good start: end the Iraq war). On taxation, I'll have to confess I'm not enough of an economist to say which way taxes should go. I'm voting for Obama for many reasons, but doing so "against my economic self interest", as given the numbers I've seen recently I would pay less tax under McCain (Obama not really raising my taxes, but McCain's tax cuts are more biased towards the upper/middle end and Obama's towards the lower/middle).

posted by wildcrdj at 9:58 PM on September 10, 2008


Wow, this article is really good. The MeFi thread -- not so much.
posted by Slothrup at 9:58 PM on September 10, 2008


arrggg.... well obviously there is a close link tag looking for a home somewhere now ;;
posted by wildcrdj at 9:59 PM on September 10, 2008


If one does not want 'The Democrat' - what is the alternative? "The Republican" - and that is why many vote for 'the republican'.

Ron Paul took a shot at addressing that on the 10th. http://www.campaignforliberty.com/

Instant run off voting would be another example of attempts to talk about present situation.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm lazy and this isn't my election.

That said, perhaps someone will do the legwork to track down some graphs showing clearly what happens when Republican versus Democrat administrations are in power. I know I've seen one for the debt, and it's rather frightening how the debt skyrockets every time a Republican gets into power. Surely there are equally enlightening graphs for other factors of national interest.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 PM on September 10, 2008


I don't care what most of you think leads people to vote "against their self interest." You don't know them or know what they see as their self interest.
posted by Purtle at 4:31 AM on September 11


The kind Nazi Hans had a family, and loves, and a mother he cared for and dear beautiful Helga in the countryside longing for his train to return. But the train was busy, and never returned.

You can bend your back and jump hoops all you like as the people you know and love are decent and kind but consistently voting Republican is suicide for rural America, if not all of America. One drive through the angina of the Heartland is evidence enough.
posted by plexi at 10:05 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Again, regarding the article jfuller posted: the author does indicate that tithing is included in his definition of charity. Although I agree with the point that "charity is a behavior, not a motivation", tithing is the behavior of giving to your church. Your church may in turn help the poor, but the primary function of tithing is support of the church. Also, there's this:
Likewise, he refuses to give points to the liberal for favoring government aid. Talk isn't cash, and anyway, he says, "Government spending is not charity."
This makes the title "Who Really Cares" grossly disingenuous. He's dismissed social welfare outright: only charity counts as caring. A study examining who donates to what charities and how much might be interesting, but the book isn't called "Who Really Donates to Which Charities".
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer:
Yeah. I was preparing a comment about "enlightenment thinkers" before (which I junked after I accidentally hit reload and lost it), and some of it spilled into my "classical liberal" comment.

However, just as "liberal" changed meanings, so did "socialism". Socialism, especially of the Marxist variety, incorporates two things - redistribution and heavy state intervention (or planning) in the economy. From what I remember from Smith, he's very much anti-intervention, but I don't see him coming out strongly against redistribution. In fact, much of the "neoclassic"/"libertarian" anti-distribution rhetoric comes from the ideological opposition to late-19th/early-20th-century socialism (mostly marxist). Marxist socialism is tyranny for classical liberals because of the state planning - but since socialism's basis was on "social fairness", the debate shifted to that front, and the liberal side eventually placed stronger emphasis on rebutting the "fairness" of redistribution.

Today "socialism" mostly equates with the redistribution part. Intervention/planning failed over and over, and mostly everyone gave it up to some degree, so that part of "socialist" was slowly taken out of the term. Countries considered "socialist" today are quite free-market economies, albeit with a redistribution element (for example, Canada, Scandinavia). I'd say a classic liberal from the 18th century who had never been "changed" by a debate with marxism wouldn't take much issue with Canadian socialism, even if most schools that today claim the classic liberal heritage (especially libertarianism) do.
posted by qvantamon at 10:14 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Laffer curve: eponysterical.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:19 PM on September 10, 2008


Greensburg KS withstood an F-5 tornado

buzzman, since you clearly don't understand the relative power of hurricanes and tornadoes, let me explain it quickly for you:

Hurricanes frequently spawn tornadoes. The reverse is impossible.
posted by oaf at 10:21 PM on September 10, 2008


I know I've seen one for the debt, and it's rather frightening how the debt skyrockets every time a Republican gets into power.

There are 2 parties in the US of A. The Tax and Spent Democrats and the Borrow, Tax and Spend Republicans. Both parties have a spending problem.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:22 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


afu: I see what your saying, but I don't think the democrats have gotten helped us get into this shit situation by sounding like republicans, but rather by capituating and moving rightward on issues in order to try to win possible swing votes.

The article isn't promoting that, it's just offering a better way to understand voters that very well might agree with Democratic policies, but the Democrats haven't been able to reach them on an instinctual, and somewhat irrational, "moral" wavelength nearly as well as the Republicans have. It's not that the left's ideas are immoral, but rather that the right has been very good at painting them as repugnant, with all emotional guns firing, and the left has just tried to respond with logical, and true, explanations, while shitting on people who don't respond to that tactic as inferior.

It's not a good strategy for winning elections, nor for convincing people of the rightness of your ideas.

Anecdotally, I've met a number of people who are lifetime republicans, who have vowed to vote for Obama this time around. I haven't met or heard of anyone going the other way. Part of this, of course, is the shitty economy, and part of it is war fatigue, but I think the biggest issue is that people really can't deny Obama's inspirational nature.

He not only does well with the old Democratic standbys of harm/care and fairness/reciprocity, but also ingroup/loyalty with his talk of the people of the country being more alike than they are different, purity/sanctity with the friendly, non-judgmental family values always on display (with either himself or Joe Biden) in the background, and particularly authority/respect in his almost messianic status, and while he's not always been as perfectly in line with my leftist policies as I'd like, none of these avenues for his message and campaign have required selling out his positions.

For as long as I can remember, the great football game between the Dems and the GOP has had the Republicans and Democrats alike running great defense, while the Republicans kept passing the ball on offense and in response the Democrats keep running the ball into a defense that is ready for it, and saying that passing the ball would make them no better than their opponents.

Of course, the republican team has also been cheating, but my (strained) analogy has no moral elements to it on purpose - it's just about the game. Talking to people on levels that they respond to is morally neutral, and it's foolish for the Democrats not to play as well as they can out of spite for the strategy that's been kicking their asses. If they do this right (and I think Obama is finally the guy who's willing to "air it out," so to speak) then all the cheating in the world won't stop them, because once they play the game as well as the republicans have been doing, their policies (which have more value) will succeed. But if they can't play the game, it won't matter.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


My dad's no academic, but he always tells me the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative is this: a liberal can imagine him- or herself in another person's shoes; a conservative never can.

Reading all this, I still think that's the best explanation I've heard.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2008 [15 favorites]


Working class east coasters who vote Republican are white flighters that are still voting their long held racial resentments against "those people" who ruined their old neighborhoods. They also associate the democratic party with corrupt urban machine politics. They are anti-union and see big city labor as also corrupt. They are totally pro law enforcement and military; most of them served in some capacity. Health care is a sticking point for them but they are willing to let this go for the time being because they can't imagine Obama running the White House from the "black perspective." They imagine an Obama presidency to be full of handouts to the lazy poor and are convinced that their taxes will go through the roof in order to pay for them.

I know this because I know these people. I call them, "family."
posted by The Straightener at 10:42 PM on September 10, 2008 [6 favorites]


Getting back to the alien thinking of the Republicans who are the subject of this discussion, they believe more in classic liberalism than in modern big-L Liberalism (alias Progressivism); believe in the former and really quite despise the latter, and don't see them as being connected.

Haven't been too many of that kind of Republican since the pre-Goldwater days. At least that's not what Republicans run on anymore. They win on defense (read: fear) and wedge issues. Some of the old guard talk about the importance of the whole Constitution, but that's not anyone's policy. I can appreciate what conservatism claims to be, but it's really not anything like that in practice these days by those who have power and claim to speak for conservatives.

You see problems with social welfare, but I see real issues with creeping authoritarianism and a strong anti-intellectual religious streak in the current Republican Party, which is a dangerous combination. Given the right set of circumstances, and given what we've already seen them do, it wouldn't take much more to descend into an honest-to-god police state infused with capitalism and fundamentalism. We're not very far from it. Socialism doesn't scare me. I don't see any militaristic leftist groups in the US of any significance. Al Gore is not going to go around the world and make excuses for torture. Barak Obama is not going to spend all his time trying to blow smoke up my ass by claiming that Iraq is a great success and worthwhile use of an enormous amount of our resources and their lives, or that cronyism and money politics is OK when you call yourself a "maverick."

All I'm asking is some straight talk, right? ... like that guy likes to talk about, because the way we've got things set up right now is not going to be sustained for long. But I'm not stupid. I'm putting my weight behind the guy who doesn't worship at the altar of authority, who isn't afraid of boogeymen, and who doesn't take me for a damn fool.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:42 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The USA needs a new party to fill the void left by the Democrat shift to the right.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:45 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The USA needs a new party to fill the void left by the Democrat shift to the right.

Since the shift to the right was due to the fact that Americans tend to be conservative, who do you think is gonna vote for this party? No, what the USA needs is for McCain to lose. Maybe that would prove that appealing to evangelicals isn't enough anymore, and maybe we'd see the rise of a new conservative party that isn't out to screw people and actually focuses on the real issues affecting this country. I can dream, can't I?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:02 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


There are blue parts in most Red States and red parts in most Blue States. It's more correlated with relative population density than anything else. If you live in a place where you don't see many different people every day then you are more likely to rely on simpler social structures and less subtle social values.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:03 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


qvantamon: while it's still in my head (and thanks for your response!) a Classical Liberal brought into today's world would have a very hard time even understanding where our thinking about such matters had come from, so foreign would it be.

The Classical Liberal looked upon law and policy through the (objective to their eyes) viewpoint of limiting the power of the "public sphere" to encroach upon the "private sphere" as much as possible, not as a matter of policy, but because there just wasn't any other paradigm for how to think about judicial review. Many people look at Lochner v. New York and the following "age of Lochner" as if the Locher decision were itself revolutionary. It wasn't at all, in fact, save for the fact that the universally accepted legal rubric was used upon the state-regulation issue in the SCOTUS, setting a (in retrospect) damaging precedent, and for Holmes' dissent, which was the first Realist attack on Classical Legal Thought (a.k.a. Classical Liberalism).

The majority opinion was in fact so pedestrian as to seem blindingly obvious to most of the Court. They were operating under qualitative tests. What kind of NY statute is this? If it's labor law, then it's discriminatory towards helping bakers at the expense of bakery owners, and redistributive, which is unconstitutional. State power can be used only to pursue the goals of health, safety, welfare and morals, and only then in the most direct and universal way possible, so does it satisfy any of those? If it's safety, well, there's nothing inherently dangerous about baking to either the baker or the public. If it's about public health, there are more direct ways of going about making sure the bread is sanitary. If it's about welfare, Bakers are competent, and not wards of the state, so we must protect their freedom to contract. This law doesn't use proper means to work towards a proper end on any given test or in any bright line category. STRUCK DOWN.

This was just common sense under classical liberalism. The age of Lochner is in fact the age of Holmes and Brandeis tearing down the thinking which led to Lochner. Holmes' dissent called bullshit, saying that while the majority claimed that they were avoiding making policy judgments, the rubric they used made enormous policy judgments on it's own, and then the next twenty years were about Holmes moving the debate into quantitative questions. Not whether a mean works toward an end directly or indirectly, but how much it can affect the end. Weighing free speech against the purposes that curtailment of free speech were designed to promulgate. This was legal realism, which then imploded upon the quantitative reasoning making everything an individual policy judgment.

We are still in that age where every major court case is a weighing of policy ends and means, but now we have brought process to the forefront. People talk about the first and second amendments all the time, but probably don't realize that the fourteenth amendment is the one at the center of all appellate law. Judges will make up the rest of it as they go along, and some, like Posner, will even brag about doing so, but Due Process and the rules of procedure are what's "written in stone" now, until some influential Justice comes and tears those down for something new.

Justice Harlan would step into today's world to see a legal dystopia several evolutionary stages of thought removed from his own. In his thinking, federal child labor laws were a violation of the interstate commerce clause and unequal bargaining power was not just a novel concept, but one which struck at the very foundation of freedom. The thought process, even in someone like Scalia, has changed from the private individual's rights coming first, and then considering what power the government may exert over it, to a direct reversal of those priorities.

A Classical Liberal wouldn't recognize the U.S. of today, let alone a Socialist (and still tyrannous under his definition) Canada.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:05 PM on September 10, 2008 [7 favorites]


Rangeboy: I like your father's definition. My own has been (for the last eight years) that a liberal will burn the flag to protect the constitution. A conservative will burn the constitution to protect the flag.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:08 PM on September 10, 2008 [23 favorites]


Here's another related article, Politics & Literature: Framing the Political Narrative for Victory in the 2008 Presidential Election, from the other open thread about this topic. This article also mentions The Political Brain by Weston, as well as some of George Lakoff's ideas about why people vote republican (ie. why one framing "works", and the other falls flat).

How is this post here not a double? No biggie though, I'm all about the discussion, wherever it is, however long it takes to load.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:15 PM on September 10, 2008


The USA needs a new party to fill the void left by the Democrat shift to the right.

Keep dreamin'. The party is responding to the people. A Green party, for example, has no chance in hell. Democracy is a shit sandwich. You try to stuff as much nutrition in there as you can, but if you want to win, you have to eat a lot of shit.
posted by Camofrog at 11:30 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


(I should add that the "other open thread" I was referring to is not the loong Palin thread.)
posted by iamkimiam at 11:39 PM on September 10, 2008


I want to echo solipsophistocracy's claim that Haidt is awesome, and I want to link to an excellent, excellent paper of his: The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail [pdf]. If you want to see where Haidt is coming from, it's all in this review article, which gives a brilliant synopsis of moral psychology over the past century. Read it and then see what see what you think of the Edge.org piece.
posted by painquale at 11:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


a liberal can imagine him- or herself in another person's shoes; a conservative never can.

yeah, that's a restatement of my INTP vs. INTJ comment above.
posted by troy at 11:46 PM on September 10, 2008


Both parties have a spending problem.

1994-2000 was reasonably well-balanced, and that was "both parties". In 2000 Greenspan was getting worried that the USG would be running out of debt to issue to capital markets.

heh

Back in 2005-2006 I liked playing with a budget simulator that is no longer available now; reversing the Bush tax cuts and cutting the DOD by 30% was sufficient to balance the budget.

The $3T the government is spending this year doesn't vanish into a black hole, divided by $50,000 per job, that's 60 million jobs directly or indirectly supported.

The problem isn't spending, but what goods & services we're getting for the money we spend.
posted by troy at 11:52 PM on September 10, 2008


Navelgazer - Harlan hardly counts as an 18th-century liberal... he's off by a couple centuries :)

Great text, anyway. I had no idea about this era in American Law. Awesome reading. Thanks!
posted by qvantamon at 11:53 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


The party is responding to the people. A Green party, for example, has no chance in hell. Democracy is a shit sandwich. You try to stuff as much nutrition in there as you can, but if you want to win, you have to eat a lot of shit.

I think it's more a consequence of the ballot voting system, which correlates with simple two-choice races.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:53 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


To all the people saying we need more parties, I suppose it's time to mention Duverger's Law.
posted by Class Goat at 12:11 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Navelgazer: In his thinking, federal child labor laws were a violation of the interstate commerce clause

But isn't there something reasonable about this perspective? Rather than inviting unintended legal consequences by expanding "interstate commerce" to achieve socially desirable ends, it might be cleaner and more explicit to just make amendments for any new powers we'd like to grant the federal government.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:49 AM on September 11, 2008


IME, I think if you're INTP you're liberal and INTJ you're conservative.

What? Every INTJ I know -- including myself -- is liberal. I'm sure conservative INTJs exist, I'm just saying that your point makes no sense.
posted by Nattie at 1:21 AM on September 11, 2008


Why do people vote Democrat when the destruction of America would seem objectively to be against their own interest?
posted by Phanx at 1:42 AM on September 11, 2008


What makes people vote Republican?

9/11
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:26 AM on September 11, 2008


Thanks, Rudy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:37 AM on September 11, 2008


Democrats are people who have never paid taxes. Seriously.

Utter bullshit. Seriously.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on September 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Is anyone else horrified by buzzman's unbelievably racist/ignorant comments?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:47 AM on September 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


Another ineresting graph I'd like to see: taxation rates versus administration. Do the middle class really pay more under Democrat administrations? Do the poor? I know fersure the wealthier you are, the less you pay under Republican administrations.

I'm more and more convinced that these facts need to be presented to the public in very simple, stark graph format.

This is one such graph. There must be others.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:51 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I only read the first half of the comments when it became apparent that most people hadn't actually read the article, but were driven to comment based on what they already believe.

Which basically proves what the article was trying to say.

In sales, they tell you "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." The "five band equalizer" model of voter concerns is a useful tool to recognize what that sizzle is for people with different viewpoints.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:25 AM on September 11, 2008


I worked for a guy who was like me in many respects -- age, background, technological adept -- but that he is a staunch Republican. The total breakdown in communication so well described by Haidt was echoed time and time again whenever we'd talk about politics (and we had to eventually agree to stop doing so to remain in business together). Essentially, I would describe a political situation and describe my approach through as logical and rational thinking, and he'd shoot me down with his approaches based on gut feeling and moral absolutes. Nothing I could ever say would sway him, because rational views -- even backed up by facts and charts -- are just flotsam in the tide of "because it isn't right". And, clearly, I just didn't get it.

I'd like to see Haidt write about Canada, where "mosaic" is the national identity rather than "melting pot."
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:31 AM on September 11, 2008


> Is anyone else horrified by buzzman's unbelievably racist/ignorant comments?
> posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:47 AM on September 11 [+] [!]

Optimus provides a textbook example of why someone might vote anti-progressive, namely being tired of being vilified by folks who shout "racist" as often and as meaninglessly as Joe McCarthy shouted "Communist." Kansas says no to Stockholm Syndrome, soi-disant progressives can't figure out why.
posted by jfuller at 5:39 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


The article has some great points, but I take issue with part of the conclusion, specifically that the "duping" of the populace is not relevant to the Republican success strategy. Purely anecdotally, I've seen people receive emails about how Cindy Sheehan hadn't seen her child in years before he died, all kinds of awful things about her, etc. Friends latch onto this, buy into it. When I carefully debunk via Snopes and the like, I get the, "Well, I just don't like her" response. This in and of itself is not particularly telling.

Months later, however, they will have forgotten the debunking and go right back to believing what they'd originally heard. Seen it happen with various other incidents. Apparently, some critical faculty does not engage saying, "Wow, this one group keeps feeding me disinformation. Perhaps I should be wary." Facts, no matter how presented, do not seem to penetrate initial "feelings" formed. Trust, once given, can be abused as leisure.

There's a lot of "have to / gotta / must / ought to / should" reaction and not enough "Oh, really? Why is that?" thinking in the loop. I suppose I agree with some of the additive portions of the article, but none of the subtractive.

His prescription seems a little weak - adoption of a similar set of concerns (the same, but different!) will simply dilute the Democrats' message.

To address an in-thread concern, it isn't the Democrats who have often pushed that enlistment is "desperate" - it's been the Republicans, right here on Metafilter. It gets dressed up in phrases similar to "socioeconomic opportunity," but people, on MeFi not long ago, have told me flat out that some people have no choice but to join. The opportunity bit covers "desperate" and "insane" is at least partially addressed by the idea that, when it comes to enlistment, choice magically vanishes.

Notice the have to / gotta / must in there?
posted by adipocere at 6:05 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


> I'd like to see Haidt write about Canada, where "mosaic" is the national identity rather than "melting pot."

...I wouldn't. I don't think he gets multiculturalism, or that a viable pluralistic society can exist without assimilation and "Durkheimian foundations (ingroup, authority, and purity)".

If a country has a healthy pluralistic society, they're more equipped to understand and co-exist peacefully with other countries and viewpoints.

I believe there's still a very strong "Us vs them (the rest of the world)" sentiment in the U.S. and the GOP keeps whipping it up, and are apparently still capitalizing on it.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:25 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I personally wouldn't say conservatism is a mental disorder, and I don't think the article contends that, either.
-
What part of the following from the article did you miss?

"...conservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible, fond of hierarchy, and inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death."


You say that like it's a bad thing, Cool Papa Bell. There's an argument to be made that this mindset provides a very useful societal role, in that it provides a solid bulwark of 'this is what we know hasn't killed us yet, let's stick with it' against the wild unpredictability of experimentalism - in the same but inverse way that progressiveness prevents stagnation. This static/dynamic tension is what keeps us culturally interesting and alive.
posted by Sparx at 6:27 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not only, as someone pointed out upthread, did you miss that the "economic conservatives" want to cut spending (not raise taxes) to reduce the deficit, you're missing the other part of their argument: it's not that they are cutting taxes to give themselves a bonus, they're doing it to INCREASE government revenue.

Has this every actually worked? I'm curious - the only examples I know well (Reagan, Mike Harris in Ontario in the 1990s) it did not work. They cut taxes, they cut spending, and they increased the deficit. Are there any counter examples?
posted by jb at 6:39 AM on September 11, 2008


I'm starting to doubt the ability of the USA as a country to survive this schizophrenia. Each side is completely convinced of their own righeousness and no amount of persuasion or fact can budge either.

Of course I'm part of the problem. I've never met a conservative who can lucidly explain their position or back it up with facts. This, to me, is flat out immoral; basing your decisions on statements that cannot be refuted means you are vulenerable to being gamed by anyone who can manipulate the human mind. Rational decisions are not (as) vulnerable to this.

I'd like to think I'm amenable to compromise but I'm not really, not on the really divisive issues. I know I'm at least in the same neighborhood as right, how can I compromise with someone who thinks that my just, right, and fair is evil and whose idea of virtue and goodness is anathema to me?
posted by Skorgu at 6:42 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's because they think the solution to the deficit is to reduce spending, not to raise taxes.

Good. Then maybe we can cut my taxes that are subsidizing what we spend on them. Red States Feed at Federal Trough, Blue States Supply the Feed. I'm pretty fucking tired of having my "elitist San Francisco lifestyle" denigrated by people to are happy to take my state's money.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:11 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Democrats are people who have never paid taxes. Seriously.

I pay taxes in your country - my income isn't very high (about $18,000), but I think I may pay more than citizens on the same income. And I don't get to vote. I would vote Democrat if I could. I also pay taxes in Canada. I could have just conveniently forgotten to tell Canada about my income, since it's not independently reported to them, but I told them because I believed that I should contribute to my country's well-being.
posted by jb at 7:18 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


The signs I saw were "Thank you" signs. And I don't think any of the local populace took shots at the folks that came to help either. Or stole from their neighbors. Of course; in conservative places like Greensburg (I really don't know. Maybe it is a "Democrat" town. I just can't think of many "Democrat" areas that recover so well); most folk behave in a semi-normal manner; normal being normal in Europe, Asia, and most parts of the world. Work. Reap reward. And help others. What true radicalism these people have.

Benefit of the doubt: perhaps you're completely well-informed otherwise, but just so you know, you come across on this issue as having no fucking idea what you're talking about. The devastation and inhumanity post-Katrina was on an incomprehensible scale. I was there months afterwards and the horror was unspeakable. Please pick another issue to be glib about.
posted by odinsdream at 7:36 AM on September 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


On a cemetery photo trip to the rural middle of Ohio, I came across multiple headstones where the dead proudly displayed their political affiliation. No Democrats, Liberals, or Pinko Commies to be found; just Republicans.
posted by xena at 7:45 AM on September 11, 2008


Basically he argues that Democrats need to sound more like Republicans in order to win elections. Democrats have been trying that strategy since Carter and it has only got us in to the shitty situation we are in today.

The emotional touchpoints are different for liberals and conservatives. Many Democrats do a poor job of using them to their advantage. However, see how Bill did it:
Our nation is in trouble on two fronts: The American Dream is under siege at home, and America's leadership in the world has been weakened.

Middle class and low-income Americans are hurting, with incomes declining; job losses, poverty and inequality rising; mortgage foreclosures and credit card debt increasing; health care coverage disappearing; and a big spike in the cost of food, utilities, and gasoline.

Our position in the world has been weakened by too much unilateralism and too little cooperation; a perilous dependence on imported oil; a refusal to lead on global warming; a growing indebtedness and a dependence on foreign lenders; a severely burdened military; a backsliding on global non- proliferation and arms control agreements; and a failure to consistently use the power of diplomacy, from the Middle East to Africa to Latin America to Central and Eastern Europe.

Clearly, the job of the next President is to rebuild the American Dream and restore America's standing in the world.

...

Barack Obama ... will work for an America with more partners and fewer adversaries. He will rebuild our frayed alliances and revitalize the international institutions which help to share the costs of the world's problems and to leverage our power and influence. He will put us back in the forefront of the world's fight to reduce nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and to stop global warming. He will continue and enhance our nation's global leadership in an area in which I am deeply involved, the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria, including a renewal of the battle against HIV/AIDS here at home. He will choose diplomacy first and military force as a last resort. But in a world troubled by terror; by trafficking in weapons, drugs and people; by human rights abuses; by other threats to our security, our interests, and our values, when he cannot convert adversaries into partners, he will stand up to them.

Barack Obama also will not allow the world's problems to obscure its opportunities. Everywhere, in rich and poor countries alike, hardworking people need good jobs; secure, affordable healthcare, food, and energy; quality education for their children; and economically beneficial ways to fight global warming. These challenges cry out for American ideas and American innovation. When Barack Obama unleashes them, America will save lives, win new allies, open new markets, and create new jobs for our people.

Most important, Barack Obama knows that America cannot be strong abroad unless we are strong at home. People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.

Look at the example the Republicans have set: American workers have given us consistently rising productivity. They've worked harder and produced more. What did they get in return? Declining wages, less than 1/4 as many new jobs as in the previous eight years, smaller health care and pension benefits, rising poverty and the biggest increase in income inequality since the 1920s. American families by the millions are struggling with soaring health care costs and declining coverage. I will never forget the parents of children with autism and other severe conditions who told me on the campaign trail that they couldn't afford health care and couldn't qualify their kids for Medicaid unless they quit work or got a divorce. Are these the family values the Republicans are so proud of? What about the military families pushed to the breaking point by unprecedented multiple deployments? What about the assault on science and the defense of torture? What about the war on unions and the unlimited favors for the well connected? What about Katrina and cronyism?

America can do better than that. And Barack Obama will.
But first we have to elect him.

posted by caddis at 7:58 AM on September 11, 2008


Plexi,

Please do not compare the conservatives in the Midwest to the Nazis. That is ridiculous and cliche.


My point is, yes they may be voting for the destruction of rural America. However, the do the Democrats bring that up too often? Is that a major issue of this campaign? No, because the Dems often think it is unnecessary to even attempt to persuade the conservatives. They think these people are just so dumb they could never be convinced.

Just because some of us will vote for the Dems doesn't mean we are any less bias and ignorant. Our bias and ignorance just supports the "right" party is many of yours views.
posted by metricfan at 8:03 AM on September 11, 2008


Is anyone else horrified by buzzman's unbelievably racist/ignorant comments?

I think it's possible to be horrified by the ignorance without pulling out the racism label.
posted by norm at 8:22 AM on September 11, 2008


This! Purtle FTW.
posted by lunit at 8:43 AM on September 11, 2008


Red states are relatively poor to blue states, which suggests that prosperity tends to favor liberalism.

Wrong.


Being an epidemiologist, I can assure you that the ecologic fallacy only means that inferences using ecologic analysis can be wrong, not that they are wrong. And there are plenty of other factors that indicate that the economies in the blue states do better. You need to offer counter proof, not just the idea that a mistake may have been made. Tighten up!

- Archie Bell, for himself and the Drells
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:46 AM on September 11, 2008


I came across multiple headstones where the dead proudly displayed their political affiliation.

and they're STILL voting!
posted by pyramid termite at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


On a cemetery photo trip to the rural middle of Ohio

Nice observation, xena. I think that also points to the crux of the article that Republican mindset is akin to fundamentalist religious mindset.
posted by binturong at 8:53 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Off topic: I love how rep are saying we need a change in office.....

Correct me if I'm wrong but for the last 10 years haven't they been in control of nearly everything???? and look at the condition of the country. God bless American but the republicans can go straight to hell!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:02 AM on September 11, 2008


and they're STILL voting!

as opposed to the Democrats in Ohio who aren't allowed to vote at all.
posted by lukemeister at 9:06 AM on September 11, 2008


Well, I drove through Greensburg, Kansas on the way to Colorado. That's Kansas. Town turns an F-5 Katrina into a booming economy. Or they could have eh, waited for help. Can you picture a Kansan on a wind blighted prarie, stripped of grass and trees; having their home destroyed and holding a "Help Us" sign?

Yeah, go white people! Can you imagine Kansans begging for a government handout like those bums in New Orleans? All lined up in their FEMA trailers waiting for a check before they rebuild? The idea is laughable. If a town of 1500 people can rebuild quicker than a city of 1 million, clearly something is deeply wrong with the character of Democrats.
posted by designbot at 9:13 AM on September 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think it's possible to be horrified by the ignorance without pulling out the racism label.

I am normally loathe to say that what someone said was racist, but if you read what he's saying here, you see a lot of racial stereotypes crop up over and over - no work initiative, their hand out for government money, having too many kids, absentee fathers, etc. It's pretty obvious what he's driving at here. And it's sad.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:39 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The problem is that raging narcissists, who gravitate to the field of politics, are spectacular manipulators, phenomenal at charismatic magnetism. With them it's all about appearances. Fake appearances. Unfortunately, behind the mask of success and believe-in-me confidence is deception, malice, greed.

I think Republican voters tend to want to Believe, rather than think, deal with complexities. The Republican leaders put out an image for those inclined to need to Believe.

The last few generations have been all about image, the whole cult of personality generated by Hollywood, Madison Avenue, TV, MTV. So these days the game strategy is to appear excellent and be teflon coated, which doesn't make for good leadership or the safe guidance of a country.

Republican Abraham Lincoln would have lost the election these days because he had an awful hairstyle, a ratty beard, suffered with crushing, lifelong depression (sometimes he never got out of bed), had a seriously mentally ill wife and wasn't especially attractive.

And that seems sad to me that people have been so easily swayed. Flash is fun, popular appeal is nice but it's not all that is needed in running a country.
posted by nickyskye at 9:41 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Republican Abraham Lincoln would have lost the election these days because he had an awful hairstyle, a ratty beard, suffered with crushing, lifelong depression (sometimes he never got out of bed), had a seriously mentally ill wife and wasn't especially attractive.

He was also like 9 feet tall. That Lincoln Memorial thing? Yeah, actual size. And the taller candidates have outperformed since the shift to a televised society.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:54 AM on September 11, 2008


Well said nickyskye. I've said this before: If we looked at our political/electoral system as our process for breeding leaders, we're selecting for some pretty horrible traits.

Think about the things we've been rewarding with victory over the past 25 years of election cycles.
posted by butterstick at 10:18 AM on September 11, 2008


No, the very tall Lincoln would not be elected today.



He'd be playing for the Sonics.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:18 AM on September 11, 2008


kid ichorous, he was the tallest, lol.

John McCain, the presumptive nominee of the United States Republican Party in the United States presidential election, 2008, is 5 ft 7 in (1.70 meters). Were McCain elected to the presidency, he would be the shortest president in 120 years.

Barack Obama is 6 ft 1 in (1.87 m). :) See, I'm not immune to this crap and hate that.
posted by nickyskye at 10:24 AM on September 11, 2008


Every Republican I have ever met, including my father, my girlfriend's family and some of my best friends, have said one of three things when I've asked them why they vote Republican:

1. Because I have money and Republicans are the party for people with money. It sucks for everyone else I guess, but I'm not voting for them, I'm voting for me. (this is said by the very few rich people I know)

2. Because I'm a born again christian. (This is said by the born again christians.)

3. Because I don't think my taxes should go to paying for someone else who doesn't work for a living. I think Social Welfare Programs are bullshit. (this is said by everyone else.)

anecdotal, I know. the fact is that these are all new yorkers who say this, so their votes don't count anyway, since new york skews so heavily and reliably liberal in federal elections. additionally, they may not represent in any way the feelings of the middle of the country republicans. but on the off chance that they do:

number 1 makes perfect sense. it's self-serving and callous, but hey some people are that way, and in my experience the very rich tend to be. so there you go. their electoral votes don't count. they vote with their dollars and you have to fight that differently than you would by getting them to change their electoral vote.

number 2, what can you do? they used to not vote. they were disenfranchised by an entire country that thought they were loonies. then bush says he talks to god and now nothing will make them vote liberal. if God himself came down and said republicans were the devil, born agains would say it was a trick of the devil. there's a logic behind their value system, and that value system revolves almost entirely around abortion. there is no liberal foothold into this voting base, because a central plank of liberal platforms is abortion rights. they would rather send living people off to die in a foreign land for no reason than accept the idea that a zygote is not a living person, and that's their choice to make.

number 3, this seems to me to be the voting base everyone is talking about when they talk about republicans that vote against their own interest. my dad's one of these types. you could sit there and talk about the percentage of his taxes that went to welfare versus the percentage that went to the military all you want. you could bring up all the republican tax increases you wanted to. you could bring up every other campaign platform and try to weigh it all on the side of democrats and he'd agree with you. but at some point some switch went off in his head and that miniscule percentage of his taxes that went to a welfare mom all of a sudden became the reason we threw the boston tea party. now he sends around these obnoxious chain emails full of distorted anecdotes about the cutesy reasons republicans are right, and they all end with some punchline about how nobody wants to pay for someone else to not have to work. the problem is this: the logic behind their decision seems so simple to them that they didn't really give it much more thought than that initial gut reaction, and like so many simply made decisions it missed the larger picture. But if you paint them the larger picture, especially in a way that shows just how much they missed the first time, they feel stupid and they reject it out of pride.

an example conversation I might have once had with my dad:

dad: i'm not going to pay for someone else to sit at home on their lazy ass!
me: but dad, what if, when all of us kids were still here at home, you and mom got in a car accident and you died and mom was terribly injured so that she needed help managing her every day affairs. she'd have no income, she'd have terrible difficulty finding work, and she'd have 3 kids to care for however she could manage.
dad: she'd have my life insurance!
me: she'd have 3 kids, dad. how long would that money really last?
dad: yeah, well, that's not who's collecting welfare! it's these lazy bums!
me: how many people on welfare have you met, dad?
dad: don't be ridiculous! you know what they're like. everybody knows what they're like!

and it goes like that. the fact that he was in much better financial shape under clinton than he has been since? means nothing.

so if these issues are even remotely representative of the rest of the country, what do we have? we have 2 intractable positions, and one that's based so largely on self interest, and a feeling of being oppressed, that it will not hear the possibility that the society's well being as a whole can contribute to his own.

so yeah, I'm going to vote for the candidate who promotes unity. of course I am. obama's my boy. but when people act like there isn't this complete intractable rift between right and left, I can't help but wonder what makes them say that? conservatism seems to me to be an entity that exists because of simple but convincing falsehoods. they are convincing because of their apparent simplicity. welfare means i pay someone else's bills for no reason. abortion is murder. taxes are bad. war is necessary. liberalism seems to me to have accepted the truth that life is more complex than that, and has chosen to deal with the world the way it is, and not the way we're more comfortable thinking about it.

of course, that's just my view based on these anecdotes. maybe I'm part of the problem.
posted by shmegegge at 10:27 AM on September 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


The Winning Frame has Emerged
posted by homunculus at 10:36 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Were McCain elected to the presidency, he would be the shortest president in 120 years.

I've been reduced to hoping that the historical preference for tall presidents will lead to Obama's winning.
posted by lukemeister at 10:37 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've been reduced to hoping that the historical preference for tall presidents will lead to Obama's winning.

Speaking for the short community, I hope a surprise Kucinich / Warwick Davis / Bjork ticket takes them all out at the ankles.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:06 AM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Why do people vote Republican? I'll tell you why: because it's not Democrat.

That's not a joke. Imagine if 90% of the electorate decided to consistently commit to the Democratic party. You know what would happen? The Democratic party would split.

Each party is really a form of coalition government. It's not "conservative" or "liberal" on all issues because it has to speak to different groups with different desires. How do you get libertarians and anti-abortionist/anti-gay marriage/anti-pot people in the same party? You promise different groups one or two of their main concerns.

It looks like there are only two candidates running, but that's an illusion. There are fifty candidates running-- Greens, socialists, big oil, anti-tax, pro-tax, etc. We've just forced two men to stand for all of those other issues.

And that's why Presidents then behave unpredictably; they're forced to act on issues that were never something they cared about, or perhaps even agreed with. Do you think George Bush in 2000 was hoping to blow up some Iraq? Or expand him some Medicare?

These terms "conservative" and "liberal" and everything else are fabrications based on aspiration. It's simply another way the candidates can hook you in to their side.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 11:41 AM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do you think George Bush in 2000 was hoping to blow up some Iraq? Or expand him some Medicare?

Well… Uh…
posted by designbot at 11:54 AM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I generally vote Republican because I live in New York and have experienced what one-party Democratic rule does to a place, and especially what happens when there's no vigorous Republican opposition.

By this logic, yes, that means if I lived someplace like Idaho I'd vote Democrat.
posted by knockatize at 11:58 AM on September 11, 2008


I'm quite liberal, but a bad 2nd party is a big improvement over even a good single often system. If you had many parties, your see more left wing ideas being discussed. But we've only the center-right democrats playing "party of change" and solidly-right republicans opposing change.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:17 PM on September 11, 2008


Great article, disappointing thread.

It's interesting--usually it's not quite so easy to tell who's commenting without having actually RTFA. But man, pretty much crystal clear on this one.
posted by 912 Greens at 12:57 PM on September 11, 2008


I wish folks had focused less on the initial essay and more on the responses, most of which obviate the perfunctory partisanism of this thread. In particular, the James Fowler response was incredibly interesting (though I don't necessarily agree with him in all his methodology or conclusions).
posted by klangklangston at 1:12 PM on September 11, 2008


This comment by Purtle rocks. I am a Southerner, and somewhat conservative and I usually stay far away from these threads because, well, you know. I really appreciate Purtle's insight and her observations of the people around her. She doesn't agree with them politically but has taken to time to understand where they are coming from and why they might feel the way that they do. And coming from a very conservative background, I feel like her observations are spot on. Calling conservatives, stupid, nazis, idiots, ignorant, etc. really doesn't make us want to be friends. Thanks, Purtle, for your post.
posted by pearlybob at 2:25 PM on September 11, 2008


for what it's worth, I skimmed the article rather than reading it before I posted, and I'd be lying if I said that skimming it gave me a perfect understanding of what he's saying. I mefi from work, and basically I grab my moments to read and comment where I can, but it's in short bursts. But from skimming, what I took away from it was that the Haidt's premise is summed up very well when he says the following:

Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society. When Democrats try to explain away these positions using pop psychology they err, they alienate, and they earn the label "elitist." But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?

his answer to that question, after much anecdotal rambling, is this:

The Democrats must find a way to close the sacredness gap that goes beyond occasional and strategic uses of the words "God" and "faith." But if Durkheim is right, then sacredness is really about society and its collective concerns. God is useful but not necessary. The Democrats could close much of the gap if they simply learned to see society not just as a collection of individuals—each with a panoply of rights--but as an entity in itself, an entity that needs some tending and caring.

and additionally:

even as liberal bumper stickers urge us to "question authority" and assert that "dissent is patriotic," Democrats can ask what needs this foundation serves, and then look for other ways to meet them. The authority foundation is all about maintaining social order, so any candidate seen to be "soft on crime" has disqualified himself, for many Americans, from being entrusted with the ultimate authority. Democrats would do well to read Durkheim and think about the quasi-religious importance of the criminal justice system. The miracle of turning individuals into groups can only be performed by groups that impose costs on cheaters and slackers. You can do this the authoritarian way (with strict rules and harsh penalties) or you can do it using the fairness/reciprocity foundation by stressing personal responsibility and the beneficence of the nation towards those who "work hard and play by the rules." But if you don't do it at all—if you seem to tolerate or enable cheaters and slackers -- then you are committing a kind of sacrilege.

Translation: Democrats need to pander to the Religious Right and stop supporting Social Reform programs. What makes me translate him this way? Well, I'll tell you.

He says we need to close the sacredness gap, not just say God and Faith every now and then, but he says that this can be accomplished by seeing sacredness as another word for "society and its collective concerns." another way to say that in the way he's saying it is to see the word sacredness as being a sort of moral collective concern, or... I don't know... a Moral Majority. Yes, I'm putting words in his mouth, but I don't believe I'm putting ideas there. What he's saying essentially translates to pandering. He's saying we need to stop seeing society as "a collection of individuals—each with a panoply of rights," and instead see some kind of gelatinous whole. More importantly, if we remember what he said above ("Conservative positions on gays, guns, god, and immigration must be understood as means to achieve one kind of morally ordered society.") he's urging that we appeal to their desire to create a society that conforms to their morals. That we suppress dissent and embrace authority, even at its worst.

It's a monumentally flawed argument. He imagines that we don't realize that conservatives want a homogeneous uniform society. Of course we realize that. That's our principal problem, is that we don't want that. The homogeneous uniform society that didn't dissent from political authority is what conservatives have been fighting for since the days when women fought for suffrage. it's what we've fought against for 100 years. If we stopped simply to pander to some conservative voting bloc, we'd stop being liberals and democrats. We'd simply be Republicans.

Most troubling, he acts like there's nothing wrong with the things Conservatives want, and in many instances that's true. But the ones where the tensions are really focused right now: abortion, gay marriage, iraq... this isn't as simple as trying to see things from their point of view. They're wrong. Demonstrably wrong. They were wrong when they fought women's suffrage, they were wrong when they fought the civil rights movement (and don't give me that nonsense about the dixiecrats, either. those politicians all turned republican.), and they're wrong about abortion, evolution and gay rights. you don't pander to that. you fight it. If we act like they've been duped about evolution and abortion, it's because they have, not because we're so elitist. They don't have a good reason to think evolution is wrong. They have terrible, absurdly ignorant reasons to think so. They think bananas are God's gift to human hands. They have been lied to and they're being manipulated. And Haidt thinks the way forward is for us to tell them they're right and not to question authority. Christ, what an absurd notion.

But here's where I really take issue, and hopefull this will be the proper introduction to my earlier comment so it can be seen as having stemmed from the article, albeit as I said only from a quick skim:

Haidt paints a picture of Republicans who all think the same. This, as well, is demonstrably untrue. He paints a picture of a people making informed decisions together for the good of the whole, who all agree on the same issues. It's a colossally stupid argument. He acts like there's a gap that could be so easily bridged if we only accepted the authoritarian and spiritual needs of the modern conservative. That's not what a republican is. What is a republican? well, for my anecdotes on that, I'd point you back to my original comment, which is unfortunately as overlong as this one is.

The end result is that I don't see this bridgable gulf. I see people deeply entrenched in particular non-uniform sets of beliefs, beliefs we cannot pander to if we intend to remain liberal, beliefs we should not pander to if we intend to improve America in any way.

In the years before the Civil War. Haidt would have been telling us to just let the slave owners have their way.
posted by shmegegge at 2:26 PM on September 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


designbot already hit on this, but buzzman seems to be completely oblivious to the massive amount of Federal (and some state) aid that went flowing into Greensburg

The Kiowa County Signal has a great rundown of the different programs that were set up, as well as their sources of funding.
posted by uri at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2008


I hope a surprise Kucinich / Warwick Davis / Bjork ticket takes them all out at the ankles.

Oh my god. Imagine the inauguration party!

Nub nub! With feathers.
posted by rokusan at 2:49 PM on September 11, 2008


buzzman is also unaware of the difference between "there's a plumber, an electrician, and a roofer in the next town who are available to help rebuild" and "there are plumbers, electricians, and roofers five states away who might help rebuild if you pay them enough but there are also hundreds of people willing to pass themselves off as skilled tradespeople who will take your money while doing shoddy work then disappearing back to another state."

Or just the difference between "The grocery store in my town was destroyed" and "There are no stores left within an hour's drive of my house."
posted by hydropsyche at 3:12 PM on September 11, 2008


Maybe the solution is to stop trying to compete with the dominant attitudes, and instead to build a community that is free of them, a community of the free spirit.
posted by No Robots at 3:53 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why do all these assholes keep disagreeing with me?
Do they want to disagree with me just because they are assholes?
Or is it that assholes just can’t see I’m right?

I’d add to Haidt’s conclusion that the U.S. also places great importance on institutions and principles (e.g. the Constitution) and that in some ways common language - et.al - is an extension of a kind of class/culture war.

While I eschew the Republican emphasis on homogeneity, the Democratic emphasis on - nothing - is kind of scary.

Sure some folks espouse pluralism, but that’s in contrast to the Republican point and indeed a condition that already exists in the U.S. We are a pluralistic society. Republicans seem to be trying to make the U.S. (lacking the cultural history) about something culturally. Dems essentially oppose that, and not much more. Certainly there is some championing of reason, but that’s not, y’know, a cultural identity.

I’m thinking of Bubba Clinton and him going into McDonalds and so forth. The hyperreal. Which has insinuated itself in the U.S.

Whereas there is an actual Americana thing going on with roots and such - that is growing and evolving into something quite nice - and that is thoroughly ignored by both parties.

That is to say - I can get a horchata and a polish sausage and some souvlaki on my way home from work while listening to Gaelic music. It just is so.

But it’s not a cohesive thing such that it’s reflected on the national scale (e.g. movies* and so forth) as who we are.
(*And we apparently brandish firearms a lot. I mean I make Wayne LaPierre look like Ralph Nader, but yeesh.)
posted by Smedleyman at 4:07 PM on September 11, 2008


No Robots writes "Maybe the solution is to stop trying to compete with the dominant attitudes, and instead to build a community that is free of them, a community of the free spirit."

Free to do everything but disagree? Doesn't sound so great.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:10 PM on September 11, 2008


Town turns an F-5 Katrina into a booming economy.

More people died in Katrina than live in Greensburg, KS.
You are comparing a firecracker to an atom bomb.
posted by vapidave at 4:16 PM on September 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Greensburg KS withstood an F-5 tornado in 2007. I stopped for fuel in August of this year. That's 2008 for those that can't read too well. Smiles everywhere. Money going in every direction. Buildings going up. New storm cellars going down. Economy in lieu of perpetual dependancy. I just about stopped and planted my back in that town.

This is disingenuous.

You can't compare NOLA to Greensburg. A town cannot just rebuild itself. It takes things like coordination, access to capital, and social networks, and the sheer size and scope of the two disasters is completely different. For example, with Katrina, a large urban area was flooded, making transportation impossible. I would assume that for a small town that gets hit by a tornado, there is the capacity to respond - local contractors have the heavy equipment to immediately move debris, for example. With Katrina, folks had to wait for the city to be pumped out, and you can't do that with a bucket brigade.

What's most disingenuous about buzzman's comments is that it does not take into account the racism most NOLA residents faced as they tried to escape the storm. Black residents were stopped, at gunpoint, from leaving the city to other areas (which happen to be white and affluent).

As well, to actually touch on the point of this thread, I would assume that most black NOLA residents are poor and vote Democrat, and not Republican.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:38 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


“Conservatives are, at the core, selfish and self-centered; they promulgate a "I got mine, you get yours" philosophy”

Uh - Abolitionist Christian Quakers and the Republican party didn’t oppose slavery? Democratic liberal pacifist working class copperheads didn’t oppose the civil war to free the slaves? No?
The antisemite Henry Ford who helped build the Nazi war machine was a liberal? Huh. Seems to me he introduced the 5 day work week.
FDR breaking up J.P. Morgan and transferring the cost of bank failures from bank shareholders to depositors and taxpayers was a good thing? Good ol’ liberals.
No democrats voted for that asshat bankruptcy bill we had a bit ago? No?

Argue all you want about the liberal/conservative dichotomy, the fact is “liberal” and “conservative” radically differ from their substantive meaning to their common usage meaning.

Academically - yes, the U.S. is a liberal democracy, the constitution is a liberal document.

I myself want to preserve that. I want to maintain the economic and political stablilty and sustainability that represents so I oppose the radical change based on reason alone so many ‘liberals’ (and, most certainly the Bush administration) seems to espouse.
That make me a ‘liberal’ does it? Or am I selfish for opposing ‘progress’?

Goldwater opposed some measures of the civil rights movement, ostensibly because the method by which it was being pursued was unconstitutional. That makes him ‘selfish’?

Is that ‘progress’ when, oh, we love the constitution, but let’s ignore it this time because, hey, we’re right?

The pastiche of “my guys are better” comments in this thread prove there’s very little consideration of actual political theory and a lot of ham handed, broad brush stroke painting garbage with no sense of history or the complexity of the ideas within the main piece.

You can’t just look thru the lens of history in an oversimplified manner with modern connotations and preconceptions all in place and say “well MY guys have always been right” and retroactively label anything ‘good’ as being under the auspices of your modern common usage.

Now that isn’t to say I have a beef with the general gist there. Are the guys calling themselves ‘conservatives’ now idiots? Yep. Would it be idiotic to trust anything even vaguely related to them right now? Yep.
Are there factions and offshoots in any political sphere much less the terms they themselves use? - yep.

Hell, look at all the things labeled as ‘liberal.’ It’s just as stupid and myopic to say all things that are bad in the U.S. were caused by conservatives as it is to say the same thing for liberals.

It’s this Ann Coulterization of the rhetoric.
And really, I could care less, but this was an interesting piece and there was an intelligent clear discussion to be had.

Oh, but we have to show ‘those’ guys on the ‘other’ side how stupid they are. Once they read my post, it’ll blow their minds man!
C’mon.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:12 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


(And to be clear - I’m not calling out both ‘sides’ here, I’m decrying the use of label and political shorthand over more in depth and detailed discussion.)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:14 PM on September 11, 2008


Optimus provides a textbook example of why someone might vote anti-progressive, namely being tired of being vilified by folks who shout "racist" as often and as meaninglessly as Joe McCarthy shouted "Communist." Kansas says no to Stockholm Syndrome, soi-disant progressives can't figure out why.
posted by jfuller at 5:39 AM on September 11


I'm pretty sure it's racist when you claim that white people in white towns do just fine on their own after disasters but black people in black towns are just holding their hands out for money. Jesus fuck, does that even need to be pointed out as racist? Isn't it self-evident? Not to mention that his claim is some fucking grade-A bullshit anyway, as refuted by like ten people upthread.

You want to be a racist? Fine, who gives a shit? Just don't try to hide it by using code phrases like "I can't think of any "Democrat" places that hold up so well" or whatever secret words the Klan put in its newsletter this week. Just fucking say it already. Fucking cowards.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:41 PM on September 11, 2008


Smedleyman:

I don't disagree with you (mostly). Labels and political shorthand are sloppy.

"Liberal" and "conservative" are certainly slippery things that carry a lot of nuance and mean vastly different things to different people. Nuanced political discussion, however, requires much more space than an internet forum. In an effort to distill a great deal of semi-reasoned thought, I tend to get a bit hyperbolic.

Point taken.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:52 PM on September 11, 2008


The Republicans' fraudulent appearance is that they are moral, truthful, accurate, concerned about values. But the smallest examination of any particular thing being talked about by either McCain or Palin reveals the deception, the conniving, the conning, backtracking on what was said, ignorance of basic information about the world or other countries.

It was fitting that the Republican National Convention took place just as yet another hurricane hit the New Orleans they abandoned during Katrina. I wonder who the people of Louisiana will vote for this election? It'll be interesting to see if Bushco takes care of the damage barreling towards Texas this week with Ike.

Ike's economic affects may not be limited to just the southern U.S. Texas has 26 oil refineries and most, including the nation's largest, are clustered along the Gulf Coast.

What could have been behind McCain, Mr. POW, for preventing finding other POWs?

Relentless doubletalk.

And what is particularly despicable is that the media are enabling deceptions. If it weren't for the internet and careful examination of the facts, lie after lie after lie would get passed off onto those who would otherwise be suckered.

Wall Street Journal scrubs their article on Palin

Palin all ready to go to war.
posted by nickyskye at 8:48 PM on September 11, 2008


nicky,

brasschecktv looks wingnutty. I can't stand McCain, but from a quick tour of the site, they appear to see conspiracies behind every door.
posted by lukemeister at 9:13 PM on September 11, 2008


Perhaps some Republicans don't support homosexuality, but to be fair they don't know many gay people

They likely do know gay people. Maybe several. But their mentality is structured in such a way that they believe their friends are the "good exception." The model they've constructed in their heads remains the same-- they just make exceptions for the people or situations they are personally aware of.

The link did give me insight into the way some Republicans think. But it also gives me some insight into the reasons I think the way I do.... the truth is that all of the "higher purpose" parts of my life are taken care of without politics: I am part of a tight-knit ethnic and religious community, and I have a strong sense of identity. Not only do I not need a political party to serve those needs, but the Republican party panders to a specific identity and religious movement that acts like they would be threatening to my own. When it comes to whom I'm going to vote for, the questions become, "How can I ensure that I will have access to health insurance?", "I want to make sure that my taxes aren't spent on foreign adventures that seem primarily glory-driven," and "What will maximize the odds of my (hypothetical) children and grandchildren having the best possible academic and professional opportunities, regardless of their social position in life?"

Questions on the mind of Republican voters, according to Haidt -- listed as ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity -- are gratified in me via other outlets, so it doesn't even make sense that I would choose a political party based on them.
posted by deanc at 9:35 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"In an effort to distill a great deal of semi-reasoned thought, I tend to get a bit hyperbolic."-
Benny Andajetz

I myself have never in a billion years, engaged in hyperbole. *smiles when I say that*
Didn't mean to single you out per se. Just the mix of the detail and broad strokes there.

But yeah, I cede to your point on there not being a whole lot of space on a 'net forum.
We do need another word - fat cats? I don't know.

It's troubling that there is such a mix of altruism, ignorance, selfishness, and sagacity in people. When it's backed with power it's hard to say what a truly 'good' or 'bad' decision is.
I mean - did FDR mean to screw taxpayers? I don't know. But that insurance turned out to be a pretty good deal on a case by case basis. I suspect he had pretty good intentions. If he didn't the country would have wound up in far worse shape.

I think we (not just you and I but most of us here) all can I.D. the folks who don't, really, have good intentions.

And my own anger and frustration is more (and and more properly) aimed at them. I just can't think this pattern of thought thrust upon so many of us (and I engage in it too) doesn't serve some purpose.
I mean it's just so divisive. (best way to beat folks - fracture their unity - hell, look at racism - that make any damn sense at all?)


(on the other hand, it's partly human nature - I almost got into a fight with some dude at a Blues/Blackhawks game a while back. I was wearing my Hawks jersey. Guy wanted to fight me - because of course the Blues are great and the Hawks suck and where do I get off wearing that jersey. I ultimately said "Yeah, ok, I suck dick because I'm a Blackhawk fan" to get out of it. (I'd probably've "won" the fight - but I'm going to cave in some guy's head over a game?) So some people take these labels way way more seriously.)
posted by Smedleyman at 9:42 PM on September 11, 2008


I was at Baskin Robbins this evening. They had two election themed flavors:

Whirl of Change: Peanut-Nougat ice cream whirled with chunks of chocolate-covered peanut brittle and a caramel ribbon.

and

Straight Talk Crunch: Caramel ribbon, chocolate pieces, candy red states and crunchy mixed nuts swirled into White Chocolate ice cream.

A portly young woman next to me insisted on a scoop of the Straight Talk Crunch. In definitive conclusion, the Republican ice cream flavor just tastes better.
posted by clearly at 9:43 PM on September 11, 2008


brasschecktv looks wingnutty

lukemeister, yup, you're right. brashchecktv is definitely wingnutty and conspiracy minded. But I think the videos linked make reality based points. I'd appreciate your opinion after seeing the vids.

The other links were DailyKos re The Wall Street Journal and ABC.
posted by nickyskye at 9:53 PM on September 11, 2008


deanc,

I appreciate your point. I know there are likely many gay people they "know", and it is the culture that inhibits many from coming out of the closet. I'm not excusing that, nor do I want to. I just want to point out that these people share the same level of humanity as we do. I do not believe they are inherently selfish people, but I think they are living in a selfish paradigm. People can change their paradigm, and that way is through education. We need to teach people that diversity is not a hurdle to overcome, it is something that makes the world great. It is a fundamental idea, and while diversity programs may have slogans like that, they don't always act like that. Aristotle said to the effect we don't appreciate a blank canvas as beautiful, it is the differences on the canvas that make the art. It is the black line contrasted with the white space and other colors.

We need to embrace diversity, which means not deamonizing the ignorance prior to that diversity. These people deserve the dignity of being persuaded. Yes, they may willingly surround themselves with homogeneous messages, but that is one hurdle we will have to jump.

We liberals proclaim diplomacy as the way to solve problems, we put all of our political power in communication (or say we want to). That means diplomacy within your own country.
posted by metricfan at 1:10 AM on September 12, 2008


Perhaps these red states wouldn't be so read if all the blue voters didn't move out to the coasts?

Perhaps they wouldn't move to the coasts if you could get an abortion in the red states, or you didn't get the shit beat out of you for being a fag.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:04 AM on September 12, 2008 [3 favorites]


We need to embrace diversity

We need a proportionally representative government. As many as noted above, there are millions of Americans who feel disenfranchised and disassociated with their country because their political views do not fall into either the Republican and Democratic party, and our system of government makes it impossible for other political parties to gain any slice of power in any of the three branches of government.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:07 AM on September 12, 2008


We liberals proclaim diplomacy as the way to solve problems, we put all of our political power in communication (or say we want to). That means diplomacy within your own country.

I believe that you're being sincere when you say this, and that you really think there's been no effort to gently and kindly educate people about racism and prejudice in general. But what you need to realize is that you're being an apologist for bigotry. You're making excuses for it, and you're wrong about liberal attitudes on top of that.

Has no one heard of Sesame Street? Reading Rainbow? The Bearenstein Bears, Dr Seuss, The X-Men? We've been giving you your kinder gentler tolerance message for decades! This whole nonsense about liberal elitist attitudes is a line of bullshit you're being peddled by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. Has Obama been making redneck jokes? No. Did Clinton? No. Did Dean, Kerry or Kucinich? No. I think Gore may once have made the "it's all relative in West Virginia" joke at a debate, and that's unfortunate, but that's about it.

Try remembering that the next time you want to act like all democrats do is look down on your poor southern students. Remember that, and remember Matthew Shepherd, and remember that it's not our job to act like it's okay to be a bigot. It's not our job to molly coddle their tender sensibilities when they're dragging an innocent boy to his death. You want your diplomacy at home? You've got it. You've always had it, and those poor beleaguered people you keep talking about have resisted it for as long as we've provided it. No, they're not bad people. But they are being duped and manipulated, and when they whine about these elitist attitudes they're just proving it further.
posted by shmegegge at 8:41 AM on September 12, 2008 [4 favorites]


I worked for a guy who was like me in many respects -- age, background, technological adept -- but that he is a staunch Republican.

I work with a similar guy and have had many, usually calm, discussions with him about things like Iraq, the economy, and global warming. The interesting thing is that I truly believe he is a Republican because they have better talking points. He gravitates to those sides of the argument, because he has more rhetorical tricks to level, whereas on the other side of the debate, he has to broaden his arguments to include all the information and he's a tad intellectually lazy. My dirty secret is that when I was in high school and under the influence of my father's idolatry for William F'Buckley, I was exactly the same way. Until, of course, I matured to the point that I realized these same clowns were trying to get me killed in a stupid war and to lock me up for my recreational use of herbs. I started to realize this shit matters.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:25 AM on September 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


likemeister: In nicky's defense, you don't have to search far to find examples of McCain, or Palin even, going back on what he's long said. The Daily Show had a field day with it during the convention.

I'd hunt up specific clips for you, but internet is going slow. Tubes must be clogged, or something.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 AM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Speaking of TDS/Colbert, are they off the air this week?
posted by five fresh fish at 12:40 PM on September 12, 2008


Yes.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:07 PM on September 12, 2008


Coming from a family and a part of the country (Texas) where a lot vote Republican - many folks grew up "in the party." Which may sound odd - but it's just the norm, and Democrat is considered the non-norm. Now having said that, my Republican friends and relatives will often critique the party/the candidates/their elected officials (several disliked Bush in his governer days as they said he was a bad businessman and therefore not to be trusted in any management situation) - but then go and vote Republican again. Even though most were hardcore fiscal conservatives they will still vote for the party, while at the same time expressing concern at the economic direction - because they expect the party politicians to continue to promote the same course. It was once explained to me as a sort of "better the devil you know" kind of thing, and comfortable because it was the party people had "known all their lives," whereas being Democrat was a choice that people made.

(Unlike the impression you'd get around the internet, my Republican relatives and friends often have been known to have civil and humorous conversations with me, which do not end in me being called a godless liberal for being a non Republican or having my moralty come into question. In fact they usually end up with us agreeing that all politicians aren't to be trusted any farther than they can be flung, and the hope that Eventually Everything Will Be Better. And then we're silent on who we hope will get elected to make that happen - and thus all smile and go away pleased. Well, mostly. One of my very Republican relatives has read Obama's books and is now an adamant Obama supporter - and it's actually kind of weird, because she's surrounded by very conservative, adamant Republicans who would be horrified at her choice. It's just a sort of bizzarro world situation. I keep waiting to find that there's a hidden camera and this is some kind of sociology experiment.)
posted by batgrlHG at 4:13 PM on September 12, 2008


politicians aren't to be trusted any farther than they can be flung

Democracy would be well-improved with the introduction of trebuchets to the process. I'm not entirely sure how we'd go about deciding which politicians require flinging. but I'm quite convinced a trebuchet would be the perfect tool for that job.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2008


I'm not entirely sure how we'd go about deciding which politicians require flinging. but I'm quite convinced a trebuchet would be the perfect tool for that job.

Sounds like a job for asavage!
posted by lukemeister at 6:31 PM on September 12, 2008


I'd say all politicians can be flung, but in an area surrounded by areas of varying landing conditions (water, sand, gravel, concrete and varying vegetation including cornfields, forest and cactus) and develop criteria for turning the trebuchet - but never eleminate randomness completely. Finally, the perfect mix of Political News Coverage and Reality TV. (Oh, and only politicians who support condom use can be allowed to wear helmets)
posted by wendell at 7:08 PM on September 12, 2008


"And whichevar politicians G-d wants—he keeps!"
posted by cortex at 7:19 PM on September 12, 2008


Excuse me shmegegge ,

I have a feeling you didn't read my above posts where I identified myself as an atheist liberal who studies philosophy of communication for a living, as well as teaches the very people you're calling bigots. I am one of the MANY people working to provide an empathetic and diplomatic perspective for these kids. I am one of the MANY people who do this everyday, even though you may think PBS children's shows are the extent to which we should try. I take my job very serious, I am passionate about what I teach. They LOVED Mario Savio's Berkley speech and the conversations that resulted were wonderful. We analyzed the metaphor of throwing your body upon the machine and how he extended a business metaphor to education, ultimately proving the negative impacts of such a metaphor. Long story short, you don't know what you're talking about.

It's really wonderful for you to bring up Mathew like others bring out the Nazis. Don't tell me about Mathew. My friend and colleague is a gay man from Laramie County, I've studied the rhetoric surrounding his death, and I have seen his mother speak. I have walked across campus past Fred Phelps' protests, we see it all the time. I have had friends attacked for hate crimes. My other friend and colleague is directing The Laramie Project for her senior project. I may possibly understand the situation much better than you. I may not. But don't assume my defense of honest moral people being misled by a corrupt group of politicians means I know nothing about Mathew. Your link to Wikipedia is offensive to me as a scholar who reads the peer reviewed literature Wikipedia sources cite.

It is insane how people can spend so much time and energy deamonizing these people when most of them have no more power than the average white American. Go for the people who have the power, push your politicians (and mine) to impeach people like Bush. But you might as well stop wasting your time on those whose vote is no more valuable than ours. Hold yourself accountable.

I read more hate in your comment than I see in my students. I understand the arguments for revolutionary actions. I know the Weathermen. However, even the Weathermen understood the citizens were not the targets, the government was. Fight the system, not the pawns.

And no, the past couple of decades have not been this great fight against racism that should have already succeeded. We have emphasized the melting pot and assimilation, we promote color blind policies, and we act as if everything should be perfect. There is a necessity for people like Malcolm X and MLK. MLK is the one the average American can relate to, and Malcolm X is the one that promotes ideas too radical for the time but are later accepted. Additionally, the processes in our country that promote oppression are complex and numerous, and they have little to nothing to do with these rural Kansans you call bigots. For example: http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-03-03.htm Do some research about what really constitutes oppression and racism, then take the time to ask yourself, "Is an 18 year old Kansan using gay to mean bad or calling a Hispanic a spic really the true oppressor?" While you go contemplate that, I'm going to continue with my lessons in rhetorical sensitivity and communication ethics. So while all diversity tends to flee from the area, me and my colleagues stay to provide the perspectives missing in these student's lives.

I beg you, please do not do to Mathew what our society has done to those who died in the Holocaust: force their death into a state of cliche.

One last thing:

Kansas also is one of the freest states to get an abortion. They even have a couple doctors who perform the controversial third trimester abortions most liberals would be disgusted by. We're not talking about a mother's life in danger, we're talking about anyone. So no, I doubt that is what is driving out the liberals. Because really, that IS the only issue for liberals right? You make abortion sound like fresh sushi, you just can't get it in the Midwest!
posted by metricfan at 10:14 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Upon further research, it doesn't surprise me to find out shmegegge is from the New York area. I am willing to bet a large sum of money that you've never stepped foot in Kansas. Am I right? Have you ever met someone from Kansas? People who fly over us to get to LA do not deserve the right to pass hateful judgment and whore out the death of an innocent young man.

You live in an urban jungle, but there is so much beauty in this country, and Kansas is one of those places. Not all of it is pretty, but we have prairies, the flint hills, and a massive sky with intense storms that are amazing. Who keeps this land beautiful? The parks department does it for Central Park, I'm assuming. But these "bigots" maintain this country's nature so people like you can be tourists. A friend of mine worked at Yellowstone and told me all about how people like you try and take pictures of the bears with their cubs and follow them into the woods. People from your neck of the woods ask questions like, "you cage the animals up at night, right?" Maybe they're not sophisticated in Opera, but they know not to walk up to a god damn mother bear and her cubs! Farmers are the original environmentalists. Not corporate farms, but those individuals who come from the land, who have owned the land for generations, and who have kept it up for their livelihood and the benefit of the country. They do more than your Nalgene bottle could ever hope to accomplish.
posted by metricfan at 10:33 PM on September 12, 2008


Also! Since when is Kansas considered in the South? Many things in Kansas are named "Free State", like restaurants and such, because of the proud history of the state as being a free state. They withstood attacks from pro-slavery terrorist groups, and the Jayhawks is actually the name of the abolitionist group that fought against the pro-slavery group. If you didn't know, the Jayhawk is the mascot of Kansas University. Last year's NCAA champions.

I attend Kansas State University, which has the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy ICDD, and my thesis advisor is very active in this organization.

Look up John Brown on your reference cite: Brown has been called "the most controversial of all 19th-century Americans." He wasn't exactly peaceful...

I just thought these things were important for you to understand about Kansas. This whole situation is far more complex than your comment implies.
posted by metricfan at 10:57 PM on September 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Purtle, you might wish to note that part of this post is about why people vote republican with the implication to Democrats of, "how do we get more votes?" We have a two-party system. The point of winning elections is so that your side can get in office and pass your laws, not the laws preferred by the opponent.

To a degree you really face the liberals' dilemma: the point at which you realize that the rhetoric of liberalism -- that agreements can be made between opposing parties that are mutually agreeable -- conflicts with political reality-- that many times, two factions have diametrically opposing interests in which one side ends up being the loser and one side ends up being the winner. Civil rights didn't come about by convincing pro-segregationist whites to come around to MLK's point of view. It came about by defeating them politically in Washington and forcing them to accept the reality until they stopping fighting against it.

A lot of what you advocate ends creating a perverse incentive for the opposing side-- the opposing side can take progressively more and more extreme views as you follow them right-wards in the hopes of finding "common ground." The more extreme they become, the more willing you are, in the name of diplomacy, to follow them there.

You are actually the one who is not giving enough credit to the views of social conservatives and not respecting their views: their views are real, deeply held, and non-negotiable. You need to respect those facts, not believe that "the power of dialog" will do anything to change it. The question is whether you're going to let them set the agenda, or whether you're going to make sure that they don't get that kind of power.

Oh, and nice work there with the "people from an ugly urban jungle might know a lot about opera, but the people in the heartland really know what maintaining nature is all about." So cliche.
posted by deanc at 6:24 AM on September 13, 2008


Upon further research, it doesn't surprise me to find out shmegegge is from the New York area. I am willing to bet a large sum of money that you've never stepped foot in Kansas. Am I right? Have you ever met someone from Kansas? People who fly over us to get to LA do not deserve the right to pass hateful judgment

I'm from the solid red state of Arizona. I've never stepped foot in Kansas, but I spent twenty motherfucking years in Phoenix trying to convince the people who live there that hey guys maybe Mexicans aren't so bad, maybe they're just like you, trying to earn an honest living, trying to provide for their families, maybe we shouldn't casually use terms like "dumb Indians" or "lazy Mexicans," maybe we shouldn't have civilians running around the desert with guns hoping to catch and truss up some poor Sonoran dude just trying to come to the U.S. for a better life.

And after twenty motherfucking years of being told by inbred trash and yuppie scum alike that the Mexicans were ruining Arizona, I got the fuck out of that godawful racist hellhole and moved to, yup, New York. I hope the Mexicans come here, too.

Flyover country? Damn right. I'd rather eat my own fucking eyeballs than move back to Arizona. You want to stay and make a difference? Good luck. See you in a few years.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:25 AM on September 13, 2008


Wow. Getting intense here, but still engaging...

Purtle, points taken. Your observations resonate a bit with my feelings that the meaning of "conservative" has been corrupted and usurped by the new right. At one time conservative (the small c variety) was associated with ideas like tradition, thrift, community. A conservative of this stripe would not drive up the deficit, or be getting into pointless foreign adventures, and they would see the value in energy conservation, and so forth. I don't fear or dislike the Kansas you describe.

Trying to relate back to the topic of the OP, the question remains - why do these decent people you describe still support the GOP when federal GOP administrations continue to perform counter to their promises, and seemingly counter to the conservative values I've mentioned?

Ideas? Is it simply the fact that the Democrats are the party of the East-Coast yuppie scum you've described?
posted by Artful Codger at 7:11 AM on September 13, 2008


Purtle, what are you talking about?

Maybe you didn't notice, but whatever anger was in my post wasn't directed at your students, or the people they live with. The anger (it was not hate, though you no doubt feel more self-righteous insisting it was) was directed at you. I'm not demonizing your students, I'm telling you to stop apologizing for them. I'm not saying your students are ignorant bigots, you are. And yes, I read what you said about being and atheist liberal. That's why I said you were an apologist. Here's you:

Perhaps some Republicans don't support homosexuality, but to be fair they don't know many gay people.

You can say this with a straight face? Try reversing it, "Perhaps some liberals don't support Kansas, but to be fair they don't know many Kansans." Oh wait, you already used the fact that liberals don't know Kansans to excoriate them for their ignorance and their prejudice. What's good for the goose, Purtle.

They are allowed to give speeches that are conservative, maybe banning the teaching of evolution, but we work with them to phrase and construct their arguments in ways that are heartfelt and sensitive.

Look, how you teach your kids is your business, and more power to you, but don't act like teaching them to be heartfelt in their ignorance makes their ignorance okay. I'm sure these kids are great, as I already said, but they're being lied to and manipulated, and anytime someone mentions that apologists like yourself and conservative talkboxes like their parents get all up in arms with their cries of elitism.

I would venture to say that many liberal students, even if they think they are empathetic to the oppressed, couldn't be as sensitive and understanding as my students.

this is just an incredibly stupid thing to say and is exemplary of everything that's wrong with your argument. You talk about new york liberals like we're all just sitting around looking for excuses to tell redneck jokes. you're out of your mind. No, I've never been to Kansas, but I've been to Denver, Dallas, Florida, Nevada and elsewhere. I'm not criticizing Kansas, I'm criticizing the bigotry you keep trying to make excuses for, no matter where it happens. Have you ever been to New York for more than some teaching conference? How many new yorkers have you spent real time with? If there are any, have any of them conformed to the picture you've painted here? fuck your opinion of new york.

And don't come at me like you spend every day of your life remembering Matthew Shepherd. You want to sit there in flyover country (yeah, I said it. Deal.) and act like you can blame all the country's problems on liberals moving out to the coasts (still can't believe you said this with a straight face) then sure I'm gonna bring him up. Why? Because liberals aren't dragging anybody to their death. Nobody said the people of Kansas are bad people, but racists are doing horrible things for horrible reasons. It's not demonizing them to say so, it's telling the truth.

So fuck off with your accusations. The problem in this country isn't democrats, it's bigots. We've been trying to educate them for decades, and we'll continue to do so. The whole idea that there's a new york movement to demonize the south or the midwest is stupid, and you only believe it because you believe what the conservative pundits tell you, liberal atheist or no. Every person I know from the midwest or the south (and my office is largely composed of them. it's a weird thing with competitive video gaming.) who has moved to or even visited new york has, to a man, told me how completely surprised they were by how nice new yorkers are, and by how well they've been treated, here. We're not how you think we are, and you'd know that if you weren't so busy acting like we're elitist devils out to get your precious students.

In this culture war you're insistent on describing, we're on your side, even though we live here. The people who are resisting unity are the conservative racists you're so insistent on apologizing for, not the new york elitist liberals you think exist.
posted by shmegegge at 8:31 AM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


We think of the moral mind as being like an audio equalizer, with five slider switches for different parts of the moral spectrum. Democrats generally use a much smaller part of the spectrum than do Republicans.

To continue the audio analogy, if the two sliders represent, say, 5-20kHz, and the other three represent 20-500kHz, you could see how unintentionally prejudiced this statement really is.
posted by klanawa at 10:55 AM on September 13, 2008


A lot of what you advocate ends creating a perverse incentive for the opposing side-- the opposing side can take progressively more and more extreme views as you follow them right-wards in the hopes of finding "common ground." The more extreme they become, the more willing you are, in the name of diplomacy, to follow them there.

You are actually the one who is not giving enough credit to the views of social conservatives and not respecting their views: their views are real, deeply held, and non-negotiable. You need to respect those facts, not believe that "the power of dialog" will do anything to change it. The question is whether you're going to let them set the agenda, or whether you're going to make sure that they don't get that kind of power.


This is very well put, and reminds me of this article:
In terms of consequences, why should we endorse bi-partisanship? That is a fundamentally anti-democratic response. Here I am persuaded by argument by political theorists who, following Joseph Schumpeter (whose conception of democracy is, despite common caricatures, neither a ‘realist’ nor ‘minimalist’), insist that robust competition is crucial to a healthy democracy. For instance, Ian Shapiro* suggests that competition has two salutary effects: (i) it allows voters to throw out incumbents (known more appropriately as ‘the bastards’) and (ii) it pressures the opposition to solicit as wide a range of constituencies as they are able.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:10 AM on September 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Two ways for the Democrats to earn a large enough proportion of the Republican base that they will never again have to worry - guns and the military. If you can learn to accept those two groups then you will probably do okay.

Guns

Arguments for gun control are fine and I myself have made them but people in the USA like having them. Okay - I can accept that. Here's some ideas regarding gun ownership that I think can be negotiated between politicians, gun owners and their advocates.

* You may own any firearm as a matter of course. Automatic weapons or those that meet certain restrictions (such as .50 Cal sniper rifles or weapons of that nature) can be purchased and owned given sufficient reason (i.e. you own a weapon range or something of this nature).

* You must pass a full background check between point of purchase and delivery of the weapon. This includes a full psychological screening to determine your suitability for ownership, federal criminal database check and other applicable checks determined by local law enforcement.

* You must submit to a local police officer checking your house for firearm security and to ensure that you own a safe for your weapon. The police may deign to, at any time, request confirmation that your weapons are correctly stored without notice.

* You must attend a firearms training course and show minimum standards for safety and capability. You must reattend any such training course on an annual basis. The test will include written aspects which will cover basic topics such as applicable local laws with regards to weapon ownership and usage.

* Your weapon will be test fired and the ballistics record logged in a Federal database. Any changes made to the weapon (i.e. new barrel etc.) must be logged on this database. Failure to do so carries mandatory fines, possible criminal proceedings and forfeiture of future weapon ownership rights.

* Sensible carry laws with concealed carry as an option. Mandatory training in both safety and local laws and required affiliation as a "deputised" citizen for concealed carry.

* Stronger prison sentences for firearms used in a negative capacity. This would include instances where someone publicly draws a firearm to catch a purse snatcher. Nuh uh. Not justified. No purse contents are worth an individual's life.

* Mandatory counselling and investigation for those involved in a shooting. If a cop has to hand over his firearm and be investigated after a shooting and must attend counselling to assess the psychological impact of taking a human life then so should a civilian.

These are just some ideas off the top of my head - I'd like to hear any MeFi gun owner's criticism of these, either directly or via MeMail. Feel free to add criticism if you are anti-gun-ownership as well - I'd be interested in seeing if there is any middle ground acceptable to the two sides in the argument.. What I'd like to see is an acceptance of firearms culture but in a manner that increases safety.

In the UK we do not have much legal firearms ownership and I think that's great - it means only criminals and the police have firearms (barring shooting club members who should not be allowed to take their weapons away from the shooting club in my opinion) and that is great - it works for us.

The Military

Embrace the military. It is capable of more than destruction. Many of the people in the military are extremely smart. I've been talking to a lot of retired and active duty SF guys recently and they are uniformly as smart as the vast proportion of MeFites.

Accept that a standing military is necessary for global security. That means that yes, sometimes you might have to go to war. It means that occasionally diplomacy fails and people are dying and you do need to send your young men and women off to fight and die in foreign fields.

Support the military and the families of those serving. Give them the support they need so that when the job is done and they come home they can rely on receiving treatment - both physical and psychological. Provide training for those who seek employment elsewhere once they have served their term. Ensure they have the best equipment and the funding they need to address whatever issues require their attentions around the globe.

Offer an alternative to military service to those seeking an education but not wishing to tote a rifle around a combat zone. A GI Bill but allowing people to take a different path - taking on roles that will be useful to the USA. Building projects or repairing infrastructure. Helping the poor or the sick. You're supposedly a Christian nation according to many. Show it. Building low-cost housing. Taking time out to educate disadvantaged kids. This doesn't have to be limited to the US either - elsewhere around the world - an international aid network that sends the people of the US to other countries to learn about and help those who need it.

Country first? Militarily no single nation can touch you. Earn the trust of Europe and the rest of the world again. Where is the modern day Berlin Airlift that shows what American industrialised power and determination can do when faced with humanitarian crisis? When you are respected people will listen to you. When they fear you they will hate you and conceal wrongdoing and work against your interests.

Encourage military technology companies to diversify. Right now your military R & D budget is somewhere in the region of $insane. We know Lockheed Martin/Boeing can make the F22. Can they make a more efficient international transport aircraft? Can they make an aircraft that uses sustainable power sources? Can they develop aircraft that are dual-purpose capable of airlifting soldiers to Darfur one week and humanitarian supplies the next?

If you don't encourage the corporations to investigate alternate sources of income and profit with structured tax breaks then you've only yourselves to blame when they come up with a new and awesome way of killing brown people. Hold them accountable. You're not going to turn Springfield Armouries into Springfield Power Tools but with enough nudging you could maybe use some of that defence budget of yours to address military and civilian needs.

I don't know if these make sense to any of you guys and girls at all or if I am just piddling into the wind here but if you could get these two voting blocs then all that's left is the Anti-Choice, the Corporate Rich, the Crazies and those who still support Ron Paul (the Crazies, again).

I just look at the divide right now between "left" and "right" and there are so many issues which will not ever be resolved. Why not steal some of the votes and, you know, compromise?
posted by longbaugh at 12:25 PM on September 13, 2008


Optimus,

I'm not quite sure why you're so angry, I never bothered to look at where you're from. I wasn't talking to you. So congrats on working so hard in Arizona. But with the anger you seemed to jump to in that comment, I wouldn't be surprised if every conservative you talked to rolled their eyes, "dude is going on a rant again..." I went to a Lutheran school for nine years, and I spent loads of time defending homosexuality. That doesn't make me some kind of saint, and that doesn't give me the right to decide those people are evil.

The people who are resisting unity are the conservative racists you're so insistent on apologizing for, not the new york elitist liberals you think exist.

You posit all Kansans as being racist or bigots, and I'm some how apologizing for people who drag other people behind their car. Can we please remember that didn't happen in Kansas, and none of my students would do that. Those two men that killed Mathew are right up there with Fred Phelps, they are not the norm.

And you're right, I don't spend every day thinking about Mathew. However, I am confident I spend more time thinking about it than someone on a coast. We have constant reminders, such as Phelps' "God hates fags" signs and speakers like Mathews MOTHER. But this isn't some kind of pissing contest, my point is that we have Mathew's death as a regular part of our lives in a way most people don't. Try and tell my friend, who would also apologize for the "bigots" who grew up as a gay man in Laramie county. (Which is important to note is in WYOMING) Try and tell him he never thinks about it, and that because he feels the great majority of his students are good people he is somehow supporting Mathew's death. Can you even imagine what it was like for him? There is a lot of diversity in thought here, and you are not giving any credit for that. And again, he didn't up and abandon the Midwest just because there are people here who don't like gay people. Even as a gay man from Laramie, he doesn't assume everyone is evil. I think his opinion of the Midwest is probably way more valid than yours.

And when you claim I just listen to conservative rhetoric, again that is ridiculous. I have extended cable just like you guys on the coasts, and Fox news is not the ONLY news source we get. I don't like watching cable news anyway, all of it is generally crap. I'm sure you agree.

bell hooks once said she relates better to poor whites than she does with rich blacks. Why is this black social activist saying such a thing? Maybe because it is about much more than these individual's opinions. It's about racism, classism, manipulation from the media, etc. Much more than you're considering when you say I'm a bigot.

one source says about her visit to lecture at their school, hooks expanded upon her experience working in public schools, working with her sister, who is a teacher, and with teaching her own students on the college level. She pronounced her main goal as being able to help students critically think about any issue at hand, and also to change their beliefs about their own capabilities.more

I've been studying for about four years by now all about how whiteness is centered in this country and perpetuates a racist system. These are pretty radical ideas, and try walking up to the average persona and tell them about how racist our system is. It's hard to explain to the average person how color blind policies hurt minorities, they don't usually buy it. However, I can teach them to think critically about the rhetoric around them. I'm teaching them to listen to those Republicans and question them, I'm teaching them to do what you hate them for not doing. There are loads of social activists, like hooks, all over the country working for this same goal. We are not bigots, we're doing the work you can't seem to do yourself.

Come talk to me about bigots when you have a student ask to give a pro-life speech, and when told that was a subject a ten minute speech can't deal with, she came back with a pro-gay marriage speech. I'm consistently surprised by my students' ability to think critically of the things around them. Like my students who gave a speech about the difference between the US and UN definition of terrorist. They talked about how the US definition gives us the right to arrest a huge group of people who wouldn't otherwise be considered terrorists, and how the UN definition would implicate America as terrorists. Through one assignment, I got a group of students to see how our political rhetoric has huge consequences, and then got them to share those ideas with the rest of their class. Have you gotten such a discussion going between 18 year olds?

I've also judged our testing out process, so kids can skip taking the class and get credit. They have to present a speech, and us GTAs grade them. One student claimed feminism is destroying society, and that when women work they send their kids to day care. That day care was run by Mexicans who knew just enough English to run a business, but the next thing you know your daughter comes home wanting to wear a sombrero, eat tacos all the time, and can imitate Dora the Explorer just a little too well. I'm almost saying this word for word. I failed him. I out right failed him. And when another GTA questioned censoring student's messages, I said he needed our class so he could learn rhetorical sensitivity and progressive ideas. Oddly enough, this student was from the East Coast. Maybe he moved here so he could be "surrounded" by people who agree with him, but turns out he wasn't surrounded. I would fail him again in a heart beat if given the chance. This year I failed a student who called Islam an inherently violent religion, as did the others who graded him. When they come to college from their small towns, where they do not know any gay people (who are out of the closet), they meet diversity. That's what I fight for on a daily basis. What do you fight for?

I don't think it is advantageous for your cause to call the very people fighting on the front lines bigots. Just because I like my students, doesn't mean I like all of their ideas. It also doesn't mean they don't change. Or can't change. I don't think I would get very far teaching them progressive ideals if I called them out as bigots. What do you think? Should I just walk in on the first day and say, "Listen up BIGOTS, I'm here to teach you how to be good people." Do you think that is a morally righteous approach?
posted by metricfan at 3:19 PM on September 13, 2008


Oh, and there is nothing wrong with democrats? We're the ones that let Bush take the country to war! We are just as responsible for this war as the Republicans. Has congress declared war yet? Did they even bother to question executive power at all?
posted by metricfan at 3:29 PM on September 13, 2008


The Democrats are almost as much at fault, yes. That is why you should be closely examining the quality of your candidate, instead of blindly voting a ticket. Especially because the Democrats are very often not particularly progressive or liberal.

If you really want health care, if you really want the US to work toward a peaceful planet, if you really want jobs, if you really want your rights and the freedoms that come with those rights, then you sure as hell can't continue to put the power of governing in the hands of crooks, liars, and warmongers.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on September 13, 2008


You posit all Kansans as being racist or bigots,

No, I didn't. You are bad at this. Since this seems to be the central tenet of your entire poorly thought out point, we can just ignore most of what you said.

Once again, I never said all kansans are anything. I don't give a shit where a racist is from. We have plenty of them on the coasts, too, in every town you care to name. The point is that you, Purtle, are acting like the problem with bigotry is liberals. You made the completely ridiculous claims that liberals moving out of Kansas is to blame for Kansas' predominance of republican voters. You've made completely ridiculous claims about new york and new yorkers, as well. The only person who has been portraying all people of any particular stripe, location or demeanor as ANYTHING is you.

also, for real, nobody cares about your students. you really like to go on and on about them, and that's great. I think it's just swell that they have a teacher who cares that much about them, and they're lucky to have you. but I don't give a shit what speeches they give. nobody ever said your students were bad people. nobody. if you look for it in this thread, you won't find it. nobody criticised your teaching technique, either. again, go look for it, you won't find it.

one more time, and this is the last time I'm going to try to get this through to you: my point is that you are making excuses for what bigotry you DO know of, and that you're blaming it on this stereotypical liberal elitist persona that only exists in your head and the imaginations of the conservative pundits that told you about it. there is no elitist new yorker sneering at kansans, there are only the people who publish the books you teach from, who make the tv shows that inspire you, and that have been fighting on the front lines of racism for as long as that fight has existed. stop making excuses for racists in kansas and stop acting like new yorkers are so god damn judgmental. you're the one being judgemental. you're just flat out and completely wrong. you act like we all hate anyone from the midwest and the south, and yet we voted an Arkansan and a Georgian into office. Meanwhile Kansas voted for the slick Hollywood guy. We vote on and care about the issues, not where you're from. Apparently all you care about is where someone's from.
posted by shmegegge at 9:42 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't we just vote for a vice president because she looks cute? Oh wait... you mean we should pay attention to the issues?
posted by 2TheTopMarketing at 10:10 AM on September 15, 2008


Democrats and Republicans react very differently to misinformation and refutations.
posted by Skorgu at 6:35 AM on September 17, 2008


Not only that, conservatives are bigger wussies.
posted by caddis at 10:48 PM on September 19, 2008


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