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Saturday, February 06, 2010

At The Washington Post

Every political community includes some members who insist that their side has all the answers and that their adversaries are idiots. But American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.
I wonder why WaPo printed this?

One of the oddest facets of current US politics is that so many are dismissing the tea party crowd as a bunch of right wingers, when the reality is that many of these people have been pretty consistent Democratic voters. In no way does fiscal responsibility require a particular political bent. Look at Canada - it got itself into fiscal trouble decades ago and then adopted a policy of fiscal conservatism which has largely been followed by liberal and conservative politicians.

As far as I'm concerned, the tea party movement is a third party at this point - probably produced by the cooperation between the GOP and Democrats to bar third party candidates from presidential debates. Thus both parties insulated themselves enough from gnawing concerns among the citizenry to produce a large pool of voters who were disaffected and concerned over the national direction.

Not only that, but the reality is that we have to pay for what we want, and this country has enough entitlements already to ensure that reckless spending threatens most citizens' welfare. The theory that they are too stupid to know that is just, well, stupid.

The tea party movement might be the response to the theory that the fatal flaw in democracies is the power of the voters to "vote themselves largesse"; the problem for voters is that once they have got the largesse, they now find they have an interest in continuing it. There is little sense in robbing the bank that you expect to pay your pension.

A hot and unpleasantly nasty discussion in the comments on the article.

Groan! MoM, I read that piece, and the first page of comments. When the discussion leads off with, "How can we not be condescending, when they are so stupid?" you have a pretty good idea how from from the free exchange of ideas this is going to go.

I had a graduate student, PhD candidate in history, working for me,who supplemented his Teaching Assistant income with shade tree mechanic work. There were times when he would patiently put his fingers together with that "Now, Mikey, this is something that you'll probably understand better when you're older, but let me try to explain," tone, and tell me about something that happened before he was born, but well within my adult lifetime. I have had physics professors tell me about health care. I am a nurse, and there are objective measurements that say that I am smarter than John Kerry, to cite just one example. I have dealt with Medicaid, and often beaten them, as an advocate for a patient. I know what happens to patients when they don't have me to got to bat for them. Now these 'geniuses' tell me that I just do not understand the wonderfulness of putting all the bureaucracies together. WTF?!

Michael Adams
Everyone wants to feel needed, and everyone should seek out the place in the world where they are-- their community, whether that be a geographic community, an online one, a religion or ethnic group, or what have you. The danger lies in the leap between that humble participation and the prideful "there but for my efforts go the poor benighted heathens." I know from personal experience how easy it is to fall into that pattern of thinking. And it saddens me to know that the easiest, fastest way out of it is to be thrust into a situation where you discover just how useless your particular efforts are: that recycling that can really isn't saving the planet, that chaining yourself to the dean's office really won't force the Regents to call off a tuition increase. I fear that when reality finally mugs these condescending liberals, the blows might do the worse damage for having been so long in coming.
Michael - It does get a little bizarre at times. I was talking with one of my brothers last night. This one is a physicist, and he got his doctorate at an Ivy League institution. In no sense of the word is he stupid or uneducated.

He just can't wrap his mind around the failure to address the problems with "climate science". He said last night that he thought we were reaching a tipping point, and that if we didn't back up and reassert the necessity for science to be grounded on evidence that we would experience a general cultural decline.

Political policies can't be worked out by throwing invective at each other, just as scientific theories can't be proven by asserting that they already have been.
Wacky Hermit - I do get the sense that a lot of this is based in human insecurity and human failings.

However the rules of basic courtesy do address a lot of these bad but universal human failings. When it breaks down we are more like a society of toddlers or teenagers than adults.

We've got painful choices to make. We need debate over them, so we can all understand that a utopia is impossible, and that the bigger the hole we dig, the more we all must suffer.

I think what disturbs me the most is that the debate isn't happening. Not so much the divergent views and beliefs, but that we apparently aren't even willing to discuss the fundamental problems. Do we fear all possible solutions so much that we think it's better not to even try?

But it's not just liberals. There are still conservatives out there who believe we can somehow cut taxes and ignore the debt. I don't know what they are thinking - it is not enough to point out the failings of the other person's argument. Just because the other person's solution is wrong doesn't mean that yours is right. Nor is it even possible for one person or one institution to wholly understand our nation's difficulties, which are comprised of the varying needs and opportunities of very diverse people in very diverse communities.
I would suppose that academia is probably the bastion of "progressive" condescension. Thinking back on the years misspent wandering through its groves, I am persuaded that the root of this attitude is a deep need for a feeling of moral and intellectual superiority. It is a matter of essential self-image. The professional educator, and his charges, glory in the contrived supposition that they hold aloft the torch of reason and "progress," surrounded by a sea of Archie Bunkers. It is tantamout to self-stimulation. None of which is to suggest, of course, that truly dumb conservatives don't abound. Still, the fallibility of the intellect is a core conservative value.
I think one overlooked factor in retail employment
has to do with tax season. All of the tax prep companies had been hiring from December into
early January. If you are getting money back from Uncle Sam you tend to file early. If you owe, then later.
This "stimulus" also provide a small bump in retail sales now, followed by a decline in April. I think this
will become very evident this year.
Having been a registered Independent voter for many years I thought things might change as we have seen a big increase in registered independent voters the past several years but they mostly think being an independent voter means voting for either a Republican or Democrat..little seems to change.
The Tea Party crowd doesn't impress since its real easy to be for lower taxes but the issue becomes what programs to cut in order to get the budget in line and its hard to get much agreement on that except to cut out the big banks!
I spent most of today with 5 8 year old girls in my home.When I contrast the behaviour of a giggle of girls to those who are supposed to manage our society...the girls win,hands down on both good sense and courtesy.8 year old girls.As far as Tea Baggers being a viable 3rd party,no,they are astroturf.We will not see a viable third party in the USA short of a meltdown and probably not then.
Tom - "a giggle of girls?" Funny.

As to the tea baggers, you know, I begin to question whether either the Dems or the GOP are a viable party at this point. Normally our system works by one party or another absorbing the new consensus as it develops. I am seeing little sign that this is happening in either party.

It will not be until we get the truckdrivers, etc into it that we will force some reality recognition into DC. How that will happen I don't know.

My guess is that voters will fire anti-incumbent shots across the bow in the next election. I am planning to vote against both of mine on the grounds that they haven't been paying attention to the business at hand. One is Republican and one is Democrat, but neither seem to feel the need to actively participate in legislative solutions.
The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty — and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies.
I think it's definitely time for a new party. Neither seems to be grounded in the day to day reality that most folks deal with. The Dems have not been well served by becoming the party of the elite. It's caused them to be arrogant and condescending (as we saw in Obama's behavior when he ran for the presidency.) Cutting taxes and letting corporations do what they want didn't work out too well for the Repubs either. My boyfriend and I are on different sides of the political spectrum, yet we seem to find more issues in common than both parties! It's time to put them into their places and throw the bums out.
It struck me several years ago that modern "progressivism" is less a coherent set of ideas than it is an assertion of a claim to social status and membership in a group with which an individual wants to identify.
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