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Monday, October 17, 2005

For Some Reason...

This made me laugh out loud. Carl at NOFP has a new anthem, writing "I've looped it for two days, pausing only for sleep and sports."

On that note, I found SC&A's latest interview with Neo-Neocon very interesting, and I bet you will too. This in particular made me pause and wonder:
In general, I think that most liberals and conservatives tend to be of different personality types, and that's one reason there's not a whole lot of crossover or ability to understand each other. My rather lengthy "A mind is a difficult thing to change" series is devoted to exploring some of these questions, so it's hard for me to summarize. But I do think that, as a very rough generalization, conservatives tend to be more into factual information and history as forming the underpinnings of their political beliefs, whereas feelings and their own sense of how to help people are more the province of liberals. The left--that's another story entirely.
I don't know. Are people who tend to vote Democratic really different personality types than Republicans? I don't think so, but I'm probably wrong. It seems to me that we have a lot of people who claim to be liberals espousing some pretty illiberal views, and some conservatives have pretty liberal views, in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

To add to my confusion, I think the majority of American voters are neither liberal or conservative, but moderate pragmatists who hold essentially liberal views (in the old-fashioned sense) and just base their political strategies to achieve those goals on what they think is feasible.

Last week Dingo and Pedro and I were arguing (so, what's new?), and we really agree:
Pedro:
I think it's much easier to argue with a false caricature of your opponent than the reality, which is that both liberal and conservative thinking have reasonable and important places in our national discourse, and both deserve to be heard. But too often the fringe gets characterized as "the voice of the movement" and fringe rhetoric preempts debate by relying on emotional moralism.
Dingo:
These two elements, the far right and left feed off of each other. The more one gets out of control, the more the other follows. I really don't think you appreciate the message that is being heard from the conservatives. It might not be what all conservative are saying, but it is what is being heard.
I think the problem is not that there are far left and far right political wings, but that they are considered important when they are usually not. I don't see how they can control matters when they are such a small part of the electorate.

I think the problem is that the moderate majority is not being heard, and this destroys consensus and creates an artificial division where there is none. For example, in the wake of Katrina most Americans thought two things:
This is just not controversial among the voting population - yet trying to get Congress to act this way has proven difficult. It's hard for me not to believe that the political operatives of both parties aren't bent on magnifying the rhetoric to create illusory difficulties. I think they do it on purpose.

For example, huge majorities in the US population would say that we should stop spending the excess social security tax RIGHT NOW and start saving it while we figured out how to deal with the coming deficit. But Congress doesn't want to do that, and so it pretends that we are saving it. But we aren't.

The truth is that there are a few real issues which are real points of disagreement (the Iraqi war, some energy issues, some economic policy issues), but that the American public really has a strong consensus on many issues. I just don't think that the majority of the political operatives in Washington want to address those issues, and so they create needless controversy to avoid having to deal with the political fallout.

Call me a cynic, but the ranting political heads I see on TV don't bear much resemblance to the Democratic, Independent and Republican voters I know. The mystery is why this artificial divide persists. And maybe this is why Congress has such a low favorable rating. The last time I checked it was in the 30's. We really aren't getting an efficient government dedicated to minimizing problems. Instead we get the Delays (we've cut all the fat from the budget) and the Pelosis (Social Security is solvent until 2042) lying baldly and brazenly to our faces. It's no way to run a government.


Comments:
Most people (95+%?) do not pay attention to political arguments. People vote according to (in decreasing order) their parents' party, their extended family, their friends, their church or social organizations, their co-workers and the general community attitude. This has been documented in a number of studies.

This explains the long term dominance of political parties, generally two or more generations, and the hundred year total dominance of the southern states by the Democrats. It also illuminates the red state/blue state dichotomy.

Realignment is occasioned by unusual events: the Civil War, the depression, the Carter debacle (which was caused by Nixon closing the gold window).

Vietnam/Watergate occurred during a transition period and served to muddy the situation rather than having a long term effect.

Demographics indicate a Republican ascendancy for at least a generation, if not more.

We have a society that would well please the founders. We, for the most part, regard the government as hired hands, servants if you will. When things going well we reelect them. When things go South, we make a change.
 
Roy - things aren't going well.

And your history may be accurate but it's not complete. The Democratic party may have dominated the south for a century, but what it stood for did change over time.

Normally that's the way things change - gradually. Every once in a while a big shift or adjustment is needed and a particular party can't accommmodate it, and then you have something like the Reagan revolution.

As for debate, most of the real social changes came about through changes of opinion in the country. Abolition, the labor movement, women's rights, the end of segregation, etc were all founded in a popular debate first, and then in a change in the party platforms that recognized those popular changes.

What I'm trying to get at is that I think that the gradual process of political change is no longer working, so that we may be facing one of those big changes.

I might be totally wrong.
 
Dear MaxedOutMama,

I don't thimk we have any major disagreements about political change in this country. Indeed, political change is engendered by debate.

It may be that we perceive the major issues differently. From my perspective, a retired ne'er do well writing from a trailer park in deepest darkest Florida, the major issues are security (lots of veterans here) and the assault on religious expression. We are informed not only by our own lives but by our parents' lives. Life has been tough but it has always gotten better. We have always been in peril with brief periods of perceived security. The Democrat Party is pursuing radical change in society perceived as attack on tradition and an unrealisic view of the innate perils of the world.

We have been assailed with the dangers of deficit spending for more than a century. Guess what? Things are pretty good. We have been warned about the jackbooted minions of the government. Guess what? We elect our local sheriffs.

We are, indeed, in a period of political transition. It is not going in the direction that the Democrats like.

Regards,
Roy
 
No, Roy, I believe that the assault on free speech (religious expression is just a subsegment of that) is profoundly dangerous.

Terrorism and national security is a real issue to me.

What I'm getting at is that I think the American electorate is more willing to discuss these issues than the parties, which indicates to me that we have a problem.

With regard to deficit spending, in about 10 years you are going to find out that it is a very real problem. We are headed for the wall between around 2013-2015. The combination of Medicare, government pensions and accumulated debts is going to blow up in our faces.
 
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