Mike Polioudakis, from “Democrats and Republicans”, Part 3
PARTS 3 and 4: SOME FAIRLY TRUE STEREOTYPES OF DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS
In Parts 3 through 5, I sketch the Parties now. In later parts, I explain original Liberals and Conservatives. Then, I explain how original Liberals became Democrats and original Conservatives became Republicans. At the end of the essay, I return to the worldviews of Democrats and Republicans.
I describe both Democrats and Republicans largely in terms of how they trade the services of the Party for votes and money from clients. The services include attacking enemies of the clients. I do not explain much. I am not measured and polite but I think I am accurate and fair.
I do not describe some issues about which Democrats and Republicans have deliberately opposed views, issues that are fun to talk about. For Democrats, all authority is evil and every authority figure is a storm trooper or the enemy. All non-Whites are noble rebels, even ugly sexist racist hater “gangstas”. For Republicans, all authority is good, except for a few misguided police officers who favor gun control; and all authority figures are like God, Jesus, John Wayne, or the Pope. For Republicans, all non-Whites are corrupt and cannot self-govern. Giving up a city, state, or nation to them is throwing money down the toilet and like selling you children. For Democrats, White people only seem to govern well because they use non-Whites to create a pool of resources that White men can use to grease the skids of corruption and deals. White people don’t govern through honesty and rule of law but by having set up a successful crony system that gets its operating money off the backs of working people, non-Whites, and women. They are successful gangsters because they have perpetuated slavery into modern capitalism. All this mutual blame is a lot of fun but it takes too much to sort out. We couldn’t get to the bottom of it unless we first went through the issues that I go through here.
As far as I can tell, neither Democrats nor Republicans really have an agenda beyond getting and keeping power by serving clients. There is no overall realistic view of good modern America in a modern world made better by a good America. Neither Democrats nor Republicans serve clients and gather power so they can use the power to bring us to a good vision of a better America and a better world. They might think they have a vision of a greater America and better world but that vision does not come out in their acts. Instead, they offer vague visions of “fair America”, “socially just America”, “great America”, “family America”, or “American Dream”, mostly to entice clients and use as an excuse for and against particular programs and for and against groups. I see little link between their political work, any realistic vision of what a good America might really be, any realistic vision of what a better world might really be, and all the vague propaganda fantasies.
In 2018, I find both the Democratic and Republican Parties creepy. Yes, many individuals are not creepy but still the whole scene is creepy. It has been creepy at least since Ronald Reagan. There is too much hypocrisy, too much un-reality, and too much seeking power and favors. There is too little figuring out what is real and what is good for America and the world over the long run. This is a shame because we can’t throw up our hands at politics and tend only to our own narrow business. “Family first” becomes “family only” and that doesn’t work in a democracy any more than does “take care of number one”. We have to keep trying, even in the political arena.
For example, in dogma, both Democrats and Republicans accept the ideal of “live and let live” and don’t impose their view of life on other people as long as others don’t cause trouble. In dogma, both Parties believe in free autonomous people and self-determination by individuals. In fact, both Right and Left are intrusive and demand conformity. Both Democrats and Republicans put their idea of a group above the idea of the free individual and both force individuals to conform to their groups. They apply the idea of free autonomous person differently to suit agendas. By applying selectively to suit their agendas, they destroy the ideal. Democrats apply the ideal to drugs, sex, and unrealistic ideologies, and deny you can freely choose Christianity while Republicans apply it to being duped in various markets such as the housing and stock markets and deny that a true human can freely choose to believe any religion other than Christianity. They define what a person is and which groups are the right groups not by any high ideas of personhood or human bonding but by what works in politics now.
You can’t be a Lefty among Righties or a Righty among Lefties. You can’t not-be-a-feminist among feminists. You can’t not-be-a-Republican-Christian among Republican Christians. You can’t dislike drugs among pot heads or booze among whisky drinkers. You can’t defend a woman’s right to choose to abort among Right-to-Lifers, and you can’t say “abortion might be killing but it is not murder” among “Right to Choosers”. Lefties get nervous if you go to Christian church every week. Righties care exactly which Church you belong to. To Righties, all homosexuals are next-to-Demons while to Lefties anybody who isn’t a little Queer doesn’t know the fullness of Life. Black Lefties also care about which Church, they are disgusted by homosexuals, and they don’t like that White Lefties look down on all Church including their Black Church, but neither side can admit the rift. For Republicans and Blacks, if you don’t belong to some Church, you are not fully human. You don’t count. Among Lefties, if you are not hip enough, and you don’t make the right wise cracks about Republicans, Whites, and the Christianity typical of White Republicans, you are not fully human. Among Republicans, if you don’t drive a Buick or a pickup truck, you are a Lefty elitist and not fully human. Among Lefties, if you aren’t a hipster in training, and don’t defend everything Black, you are a modern Nazi. Among Righties, if you are a hipster, you like the arts, or you sympathize with “women’s issues”, you are gay, the old-fashioned bad gay type.
Whatever happens bad, the other side did it. Whatever happens good, we deserve all of the credit. All good ideas and people come from us; we produce only good ideas and people; all bad ideas and people come from them; they produce only bad ideas and people. If an official on our side has a moral lapse, it is a small lapse and easily corrected; if an official on the other side has a moral lapse, it demonstrates beyond any doubt the thorough depravity in all of them, shows their weakness and their inability to deal with domestic and foreign issues, and is a sure sign the country will collapse into a scene from Stephen King unless they get out of power right now, at least half their people leave politics for ever, and we get full power right now. On both sides, if you ever voted for the other side, then you are a naïve mindless conniving selfish dupe and you deserve all the badness that the country got when that other Party had power. If you are a Republican, you deserve the Great Recession, housing crisis, the war in Afghanistan, budget deficits, and collapse of all the infrastructure; if a Democrat, you deserve North Korea, illegal immigration, Black riots, the murder of police officers, supposed failure of Obama Care, and collapse of all the infrastructure. The really sad part is that most people go along with this crap even though they know it is nowhere close to being true.
PART 3: DEMOCRATS
No Core Vision, the Center Will Not Hold.
The Democratic Party has not had a vision of a better America, a better world, and the role of America in a better world, since the late 1960s. That vision was seriously faulty and failed.
Liberals started in the 1600s by trying to make sense of society, social institutions, governing, and the place of individual people, so as to make better states. Liberals had to have standards for assessing when things made more sense or less sense. Along the way, beginning before 1900, Democrats got so confused that it seems they have neither consistent sense nor standards.
Democrats now don’t have any single world view by which to assess: goals; when things make more or less sense; when to change or not change; which sides to take or oppose in which issues; which groups to support, ignore, or reject; which causes to champion, ignore, or oppose; and how to govern well. Instead, Democrats have a vague confusing sense of social justice. Democrats define who they are as much by what they oppose as by who they are positively. Democrats decide which group to embrace, ignore, or reject as much by the value of the group as a political client than by the intrinsic merits of its case. Democrats decide which cause to champion, ignore, or oppose as much by its use in getting and holding clients, who opposes the cause such as Republicans, and its use in politicking, as by the intrinsic merits of the cause. This situation is not unusual in politics. Republicans are painted into the same type of corner on the other side of the room but their situation differs somewhat.
Although “business does it all” is not enough as the world view of any political party, Republicans get away with claiming it. Democrats don’t even have that much. Vague left leanings and willingness to take up almost any cause or any client is not enough. Being critical of government and of all political order is not enough even if it is fun. Being sure that all business people are robber barons out to cheat all working people is not enough even if it is fun too. Being sure that all minority groups, women, and groups that do not succeed well are victims of the ruling class is not enough. Fighting the system and “the man” is not enough. Being a rebel is not enough. Having a big heart is not enough although praiseworthy. Being for individual freedom and self-determination is not enough unless it is part of a comprehensive world view with deep religious and-or philosophical roots, and Democrats have not had that in a long time.
Democrats say “social justice” is in short supply, it is a good enough goal to bind a party, and it is a good enough idea for governing well. I agree we need more social justice but the idea is not enough by itself to hold together a party or govern well. Different groups in the Party see social justice differently. Their priorities are not the same. Usually they put themselves at the top of the abused list and so should get addressed first with the most resources. Not every group can be at the top of the list and no group can get the resources it wishes. When groups don’t get what they wish, they get jealous. Unless the Party can define social justice so as to settle differences between groups and settle priorities and allocations, the idea of social justice cannot bind the Party or serve as the central principle for governing. If the Party defined social justice well enough to settle priorities, it would have to bring in ideas beyond vague social justice, it would have to acknowledge difference between groups, and it wishes none of that.
Besides confusion over social justice, groups in the Party see differently and they contradict enough in their view that they would not be under the same umbrella if they did not need a cover party to work for them. Blacks, Hispanic, White and Asian working people; middle and upper middle class people who feel sympathetic; women; environmentalists; and LGBTQ people (gays) are not all close enough to get along well enough. American Blacks see abortion in ways that are not compatible with feminist pro-choice women. Blacks see gay acts and people as deeply immoral and socially disruptive, a view that is not compatible with LGBTQ people and middle and upper middle class friends. Environmentalists see a huge dire threat that must be met before raising the position of Blacks, Hispanics, or women if raising their positions requires that we exploit nature more. Old people want to make sure they live decently and get abundant medical care. The White and Asian working and middle classes left the Party when, to them, its idea of social justice became “give the Blacks all that they want first, no matter how long it takes and how much it costs, even if no long-term good comes of it, make the Whites and Asians pay for it, and make White and Asian children give their jobs to Black children”.
Without a clear working vision at the center, the Democratic Party has defined itself partly by how it is not Republican. Not all Republican ideas, programs, and critiques are false. Not all Republicans are bad people. Defining itself against them leads Democrats to exclude much that is useful. Defining yourself negatively doesn’t work in the long run. It lets other guys set the agenda. It leaves out groups that you would like to have such as the working class, middle classes, and good business people. It requires that you demonize the other side so as to make your side angelic and appealing. It requires that you criticize practices that really are overall good such as business. It requires that you demonize people that do the practices that really are overall good people such as business people. It has required that Democrats look down on Christianity because most Republicans are Christians.
Because the Party takes many groups and many causes, it cannot give enough to every group and cause to make sure each succeeds once-and-for-all. It puts on band aids so as to keep a group in the Party. It uses band aids, and only band aids, for decades. Nothing is ever settled or done. Groups and the people behind causes stay in the Democratic Party because Republicans won’t give them anything and so there is no other place to go, but the groups and the people behind causes are not happy. The fate of national health care in general, and Obama Care in particular, since the 1950s, is a case in point. The persistence of Black bad performance in schools and the economy, and persistence of Black crime, is another illustration. The environment is another. Abortion likely will be another.
The lack of once-and-for-all success is partly because Republicans take away funding that Democrats had set aside to solve problems. Republicans always succeed at leaving only enough to meet the bare legal minimum, band aid money, and never enough to deal finally and successfully with problems.
Inadequate funding hurts but that is not the only reason or the most important reason that Democrats don’t solve problems once-and-for-all. The Democratic Party can’t tell when a group-or-cause succeeds once-and-for-all, when it limps along, or fails, because the Democratic Party does not know what really ails the economy and the country on a deep level, what causes problems, and so how to fix them. The Party doesn’t know why problems keep coming back despite funding. The need to take in many groups blinds the Party to the need to seek root causes and work from a deep level. If the Party did look deeply and act accordingly, it would lose some groups. The Party would rather evade deep thought by offering ongoing band aid help, and so keep as many groups in the Party as it can.
Not looking into root causes, combined with the need to recruit many clients at minimal cost, means the Democratic Party offers second-rate or third-rate analyses of issues that nobody really can accept as coming from a good general deep understanding of economy and society. Clients accept Democratic analyses because they hope to gain, not because they believe the analyses. Who really believes we can give everybody a free college education and, if we do, everybody will automatically get a good job and achieve the American Dream? Who really believes that more welfare, more programs, more marches, or more racial awareness, can permanently cure the problems of Black people in America?
The Democratic Party cannot offer a comprehensive and fairly self-consistent view of the economy and society. The Democratic Party cannot tell the simple truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, candidly. It has to expand, placate, avoid, waffle, and weasel. Most of what it says is superficially true, but the ideas come out skewed enough to be unsatisfying. This problem of non-truth is common to all politics. It might be part of the definition of a political party. American Democrats are not much worse than other parties and are not worse than Republicans. Still, not enough deep truth is not what I want, I dislike it, I think it is not what most people want, and it is not enough.
The Democratic Party is trapped in a bad vicious circle. The Party cannot offer a comprehensive fairly self-consistent view of the economy and society because it cannot afford to lose groups, including the people behind causes. Always, some groups find something to dislike about a comprehensive fairly consistent view even if they like most of it. They hate looking in a mirror, that they are not first, don’t get enough funds, and don’t get enough political support. That much antagonism is enough to threaten to withhold support in upcoming legislative votes, withhold support in elections, to threaten to leave, or really leave as did working and middle class non-Blacks in the 1970s. If enough groups threaten or do leave, the Party is weak, and having a real deep view did nothing. If the Party offers a weak shallow view that glosses over contradictions, enough groups will stay in the Party to get some things done half way. But, with a weak shallow view, the Party can never get enough done, deeply enough, to solve problems once-and-for all. So, if the Party keeps many various groups, and, because it keeps various groups, it cannot offer a big fairly consistent world view by which to solve problems once-and-for-all for some groups. Because issues don’t get solved once-and-for-all for anyone, groups are always unhappy and looking for an excuse to demand, threaten, or leave. Because the Democrats can’t solve problems once-and-for-all for at least some groups, there are always problems looming and always groups that need Democrats. To keep groups, the Party can’t offer decisive deep analysis of the society and the economy. And so on.
Anybody who lives in a parliamentary (British style) system is familiar with this situation. Italians think this is normal by the time they are four years old. But it is annoying to Americans. I think people born after about 1980 sense this situation and most of them dislike it.
The Republican Party has its version of this same scenario but its version is not as acute because they can unite various groups and activities well enough by using “business” as a cover. Whether that cover holds up after the Tea Party and Trump remains to be seen.
What follows really is only expansion and commentary on the above. New sections begin in bold as above. Because not all topics deserve to be marked off in bold, I use sub-sections. Sections and sub-sections begin with a dash to start new topics.
Ignorance of the Economy.
-Democrats don’t understand a real modern capitalist economy well enough.
Strangely for the Party critical of Big Capitalism, Democrats don’t understand the underlying economic causes of unemployment, bad jobs, sustained profit, and most economic problems; and they don’t know how underlying causes affect the economy, economic problems, and society. They don’t really know the economic roots of class and they don’t appreciate the interaction of class with groups such as based on ethnicity and gender. They don’t seem to know where profit comes from, what profit is earned (fair) and what is unearned (unfair). They don’t see that flaws of the economy are both the root of problems that they seek to address and impose limits on what they can do to address any problems. They don’t appreciate the kinds of personal character and group attitudes that make a modern capitalist economy run well and they refuse to see the kinds of personal character and group attitudes that won’t work.
They fall back on simplistic ideas such as that most profit is unfair and really belongs to the people (they are not Marxist but populist and simplistic). All business people get more than they should and we can always take a little more from them to give to the poor and to use in Democratic programs. Democrats blame naked prejudice alone for sexism, racism, nationalism, and religious bias. They never see how underdog groups contribute to their own malaise. They blame wealth using its power to keep its wealth and power. I do not slight prejudice and self-perpetuating wealth and power but they are not enough to explain all that happens. We cannot undo prejudice without working on economic causes at the same time. We can’t use wealth for good if we don’t know how it is made, held, and used. We can’t lessen the effects of deep economic causes unless we know how a real capitalist economy works, good and bad, and we are ready to keep it healthy. We can’t work on the effects of deep economic causes unless we appreciate capitalism and the good that it does. We can’t take too much from the economy. So we have to know what might be too much, and, for that, we need a good idea of how it all works. We have to see that the character and attitudes of a group really do affect how people in general treat the group, and that groups need to control bad character-and-attitudes and need to cultivate good character-and-attitudes.
Democrats think they can tinker with the economy as much as they like so as to sustain their programs without also harming the economy, without eroding its ability to sustain programs, and without eroding its ability to sustain general quality of life. They think they can give to every cause and to every self-proclaimed victim without eroding the ability to give to causes and victims, and without damaging the general economy. Ironically, Democrats think Republican business has built an economy so strong that Democrats can rely on the Republican economy for all Democratic ends, including ends that harm the economy. Democrats are wrong. The economy will not hold up to everything that Democrats wish from it such as free medical care and free college for everyone. We cannot afford everything. Democrats are not deliberately bad minded in wishing unending bounty from the economy. They are like pioneers in a forest, thinking that, no matter how much they cut, the forest will always be there and always will have enough for every need; then they are surprised one day to find it is all gone.
Whenever a Democrat says “In the richest country the world has ever seen, I don’t see why X group can’t get the care that it needs and deserves”, “We really can have it all”, or “Dare to hope”, that is a sure sign the Democrat doesn’t know how the economy really works, doesn’t know if we can afford the help, and doesn’t know what we have to give up to get it. We might be able to afford it and we might not. The Democrat might be a wonderful person with a big genuine non-bleeding heart. But he-she doesn’t know if we can afford it, he-she has not put this need in the context of all needs, and he-she has not put this need in the context of keeping the whole economy running well.
It is also a sure sign that the Democrat has not thought out the need and the program in the context of real human beings and real human behavior. The Democrat has not thought out the effects of helping on the recipients now and in the future, on other people who are tempted to join the program, and on the national character. In fact, Democrats do know better but for ideological reasons assume people will always act up to the best ideals and that programs will always work because people always act up to the best ideals. This attitude is not primarily hope in general human nature but is primarily a form of deliberate lying-and-delusion, usually for political gain.
-Original Liberals wanted individual behavior, social institutions, and society to make sense. Democrats now are not Liberals in that way. They could only be Liberals in that way if they could offer a coherent and appealing view of “make sense” and of a sensible society as a whole; but they cannot. They cannot do this because to do so would mean losing clients that they need.
Original Liberals appealed for change from behavior and institutions that do not make sense to ones that make better sense. Original Liberals were champions of change for that reason, not for the sake of change itself and not without thinking of the good and the bad that might come of particular changes. Democrats take on the mantle of champions for sensible change, but really they are not. They want change that benefits their clients and benefits their relations with their clients, not change that always makes greater sense. They promote changes so their clients do better, such as accepting non-standard families and accepting soldiers of non-traditional gender, but Democrats do not promote those changes as making more sense than older forms such as the ideal nuclear family or the straight-man-only army. They promote those particular changes because clients with non-standard families, such as Blacks, and with non-traditional genders, are powerful now. Democrats are not really the enemies of old annoying order or champions of new better order. They are champions of any change that benefits their power relations regardless of new or sensible.
They are content with an old institution even if it does not make sense when the old does not hurt clients, sometimes helps clients, and a change would not help in politicking. Democrats gerrymander when they can. Democrats love the old neighborhood boss, especially in ethnic areas where White upper middle class Party heads can’t go. Democrats support the traditional unrealistic American middle class and working class nuclear family when they wish to lure back the White working class or wish to appeal to successful immigrants. Now that PC is tradition, Democrats protect PC and back up women and Blacks who use PC. Democrats are fine with the anxiety that PC makes. Democrats consider reverse discrimination the new norm and urge us to live with it.
-If Democrats did accept how taxes and the economy work, they would fight all sales taxes and most tax breaks, yet they do not fight those and often promote them. At least, Democrats should make clear that they know that poor and working class people suffer as a result, but they don’t do even that much.
-Democrats have been accused of “tax and spend”, meaning their solution to every problem is to throw money at the problem. To get the money, they levy ever-increasing taxes, especially on the working class and middle class. This charge is partly true but not as much as Republicans say. It would take me too far afield here to get into the details of when it is true and when not. The point is that, if Democrats did understand the economy, this charge could not be brought against them. The fact that Democrats have this tendency, even if not as bad as Republicans say, and even if Republicans also throw money at rich people and Republican clients, shows that Democrats don’t understand the real economy and the real class system as they should. Here it is good to take Republican advice: before considering more tax-and-spend to solve a problem, think of alternative solutions when possible, or face the fact that we can’t afford to do that much about this problem.
Underdogs and Outcastes, Nothing at the Center.
-Democrats are traditional champions of underdogs, including ethnic minorities, immigrants, believers in religions other than Christianity, women, oldsters, and nature. Underdogs look first to the Democratic Party for support regardless of how much of their world view they otherwise share with the Party. It is good that groups feel they can go to Democrats but that good effect does not mean what happens is good overall. Democrats do not choose which cause-or-group to champion by its intrinsic appeal and by how much good it will do for America overall, balanced against the costs of fighting for the cause and of dealing with the issue. They choose by how the group-or-cause fits into the overall Democratic stance and how much benefit fighting for the group gains for the Party. All parties do the same thing including Republicans.
This situation is not always bad. Without it, we would not have had anyone fight for workers, Blacks, gays, women, alternative families, consumers, social freedom, and artistic freedom. Much the same is true of how books and music get published and promoted. They have to be able to succeed in a mass market or we don’t read them or hear them. We lose out on some good material (everything I write) but we also got William Faulkner, Star Wars, jazz, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and Nirvana.
On the other hand, being the champion for all underdogs causes problems, as noted at the start of this part of the essay. First, not all groups have problems simply because they are minorities or underdogs. Not all groups are pure victims that just need to be un-victimized (saved). Groups add to their own problems. Even if other groups, the economy, or society, is a big part of the problem, often the attitude of the group-in-pain is the biggest obstacle to making things better. Even if the attitude does not make things much worse in itself, it can channel thinking and block good thinking so that the group in pain does not see the best response. Democrat support actually enables all these contributions and even adds to them. Rather than the group figuring out what is wrong, its part in the mess, and what it can do on its own, it takes an attitude of rebellious victim and expects the Party to cover. I cannot go into specifics here without turning this essay into a fight over attitudes by Blacks, Hispanics, protectors of nature, and even women.
Second, most groups under the Democratic umbrella know they are not fully compatible with at least some other groups. Even if they have no open conflict, they have little in common. When was the last time Blacks showed up to help nature or labor leaders showed up to help Blacks? Blacks and Hispanics fight over jobs all the time. To keep the groups together, the Democratic Party cannot craft a strong and unified vision of America and the world. The lack of vision allows it to invite in anybody but the lack of vision also makes it weak. Various groups know that they, and other, are with Democrats not because they believe in the Democratic vision – it can’t be strong enough for anybody to really believe – but primarily because they need the power and the help. Their loyalty is more to their own cause than to anything in common with other groups and with being Democrat, much like the alliance of parties in Italy at any one time. They do not trust other groups or rely on them. They are happy to ignore other groups or to take actions that hurt other groups as when environmentalists demand strong standards for auto emissions and pollution, standards that lead to fewer jobs especially for unskilled labor such as for Blacks and Hispanics; or when Blacks and Hispanics fight. The lack of a single solid vision might give the Democratic Party some flexibility to adjust to changing conditions and the future but it loses more than it gains. The Democratic Party can never adjust well to new social, political, economic, and cultural realities because it cannot delve deep enough into those realities.
Unrealistic View of Human Nature.
-In theory, Democrats both respect the rule of law and they see-and-embrace differences between people and groups. They promote difference and inclusion. In practice, Democrats confuse equality under the law with absolute sameness of people and groups; and they confuse differences between people and groups with opportunities to assert special privilege through the law. Sometimes Democrats think equality under the law implies absolute sameness as in some political correctness (PC, see below). They pretend to ignore important differences that matter even when we respect equality under the law such as different attitudes about education, respecting the law, decency, and respecting neighbors. They make a big show of accepting different cultures, groups, sexuality (gender-ness), and individual differences but it is not clear exactly what we are supposed to do once we respect the varieties enough to make sure that everybody is treated equally under the law. They are not clear how we respect this group well enough yet still make sure other people don’t get hurt too much so we can fully respect this group. They ignore that Democratic groups don’t all respect each other and that various groups use the idea of “respect me too” to get “respect me first and most”. Democrats want us not to confuse the idea that somebody-is-not-like us with the idea that another-person-is-not-fully-human-and-not-equal-under-the-law but that is not what comes across in proclamations of sameness-within-diversity and full equal rights for all. What comes across is, by using the law, you can get what you wish even if it violates the idea that law is for the good of all and we are all equal under the law.
-Democrats, have an unrealistic view of human nature and of the culture (attitudes) of subgroups such as Whites, Blacks, working people, upper middle class people, Republicans, and immigrants. In theory, at bottom, everyone is a near-angel and quite rational, will see the right thing to do, will do it when he-she can, will respond to state aid only modestly and for the greater good, never cheats in getting state benefits, develops bad feelings only in response to ill treatment and only directly in proportion to the ill treatment, and will give up bad attitudes and bad acts when given half a chance with social justice. All of this is true regardless of the original culture-and-attitudes of anybody. Of course, this idea of humans and groups is wrong, impractical, and has bad results.
In practice, core and near-core Democrats take a condescending stance toward their clients in which core and near-core Democrats are the wise priest-like (though also charming and rascally) people who bring social justice while the clients can never learn to be quite as rational as Democrats need but can learn to be rational enough to get along and not to rock the boat of Democratic programs. Even this view is not accurate, and leads to wrong, impractical, and bad results. Republicans condescend too but the feel is different.
Sometimes the Democratic attitude is sweetly hopeful but more often is condescending and annoying. It’s the attitude you get from an environmentalist, Black person, or feminist, who thinks you would be OK as a second-rate or third-rate semi-human being if you only had your consciousness raised but likely you never will and you have to be treated as if you never will. You can be molded into someone who is merely bumbling and who fits in enough to carry on, but that is about it, and that is enough as long as you stay on our side.
Democrats can see that their clients think the economy and politics are a zero sum game (whatever one person gets another person loses) and the clients think they are always the losers. But Democrats think they can make the economy and politics into an obvious positive sum game beyond what it already is (everyone benefits) and can make their clients think they are winners too in the new game.
Democrats think they can make everything fair, almost absolutely fair, and fair enough so that clients and everyone will accept that it is fair and will join enthusiastically. Too often you just can’t make the world fair this way. Sometimes you can make everybody a bit better off but almost never can you make everybody equally well off and so make the whole thing almost absolutely fair. Democrats think you can. Democrats act surprised when things get better but not equally better for everybody, and then people get angry. Actually, Democrats don’t really think this way but pretend to think this way because it appeals to clients with a problem.
Democrats think everybody can see when he-she-or-us are getting a good deal, likely an unfairly good deal, as with rich and powerful people. Democrats think, when people see they have a good deal, they will be filled with human kindness and voluntarily give up their wealth for the greater good. Democrats think Republicans and Republican clients, or even Democratic clients such as the upper middle class, will voluntarily give up their wealth for the greater good and feel happy about it.
Democrats feel poor clients will feel grateful when Democrats get Republicans to give up wealth, and Democratic clients will not try to get more than their fair share when the state forces Republicans to give up advantage. Democrats think their clients will never freeload or act selfishly.
According to Democrats, all oppressed groups, at the deep level that counts, are entirely free of bad attitude, bad motives, bad character, and bad acts. No person in any oppressed group is ever biased in any way that makes a difference or that matters. No person in any oppressed group ever acts badly or has a bad character. All people in all oppressed groups have really good hearts that are only waiting to emerge. People in oppressed groups routinely reach out of their pain and oppression to help even their oppressors by teaching their oppressors the real meaning of being human, having a heart, and helping a fellow. They teach their oppressors all the true American arts such as music, dance, and drama. They teach true spirituality such as from Native Americans. The attitude of Democrats reminds me of the idea that every hooker really has a heart of gold.
All bad attitudes and behaviors by poor people, Blacks, Black men, Hispanics, Muslims, “White Trash”, crack heads, meth tweakers, women, immigrants, etc. are entirely-and-only due to oppression by the state, the economy, and nasty prejudiced groups such as Whites and men. All bad attitude and bad behavior is entirely-and-only due to prejudice and oppression by the groups that control the economy and the state, chiefly upper middle class and upper class White men, women, and their allies. People with power and wealth make the state and the economy unfair. Other people, the oppressed people, develop bad attitudes and behaviors as a response to the unfairness in the state and economy created by the ruling class, and only in that way.
All bad attitudes and bad behaviors by oppressed people will vanish once people get a chance through education or a program. Then everybody will be a perfect Enlightenment citizen and act with sufficient rationally for a modern democracy. If people get welfare, people will not cheat but will use welfare only to help families. If we support disabled people, nobody will pretend to be disabled just to get support and so not work. If people get a diploma from a school, then we can rely on them being educated up to the intellectual and moral ideals of the diploma and they will act up to the moral and intellectual ideals. Diplomas automatically solve all problems. The only reason for bad relations is prejudice. In areas where most Black people have a job, then Black-on-Black crime will be no greater than White-on-White crime or Asian-on-Asian crime. If we just tell all Black people that Black-on-Black crime is bad, then they will stop right away. If people see the unity of humanity, they will stop prejudice and the ensuing bad acts, so, for example, gangs will not fight and not kill innocent people in drive-by shootings. Anybody can buy a house in any neighborhood. People will stop making noise, littering, and parking all over the lawn. If everybody had a diploma, everybody would seek an honest job and would not turn to crime. If we legalize soft drugs and victimless crimes such as prostitution, we will have no problems from those drugs or that activity. If we give all convicts a half-way decent job, there will be no recidivism.
Once we explain clearly to people that they should be good, kind, and helpful, of course, everybody will be good, kind, and helpful. We don’t need to compel anybody to do anything if only we can explain well enough. Once everybody understands, everybody will be a good Democrat.
The best place to explain is in the public schools. We can’t count on churches or other private groups. We must use the state to indoctrinate children and so make good citizens.
-Of course, in contrast to Democratic clients who are all on the verge of becoming angels, all business people cheat in every way they can, and so all business people cannot have the same human nature as Democrats and the clients of Democrats. They are demons. No Republicans want fairness but instead all Republicans want power and wealth. Republicans are at heart immoral hypocritical opportunists. Some of them are merely deluded, somewhat simple people yearning for simple morality and easy-to-understand order, but they are just as much a problem because they go along with the bad Republicans. So, Republicans can’t have the same basic human nature as do Democrats and the clients of Democrats. Republicans, business people, rich people, powerful people, and all clients, are not susceptible to gentle persuasion and to Democratic reason. Republicans and their clients cannot be saved no matter how much good we do for them or how much friendship we offer. They must be carefully controlled, and we must use the state to do it. Republicans have exactly the same attitude toward Democrats and their clients, including necessary use of the state.
More Bad Democratic Attitude.
-This Democratic patronizing attitude is not compatible with the idea that all people will be good once they see the truth, and all people easily can see the truth if show. But Democrats are able to live with both sides of the contradiction.
Democrats see “people as people” in the same way we see a sad wet little kitten as a potential grown cat, a powerful hunter, the pride of its neighborhood, someday, maybe, if we help it enough now; but secretly we hope it never grows up fully because then it won’t need us and then it won’t have the same deceptively lovable kitten nature. We want the clients to stay clients even after they see our truth.
Of course, some children (clients) are easily hurt and even children (clients) do harm. Even the kitten kills innocent birds in the neighborhood, and it kills even more when it is grown. So Democrats have to protect all people, not only against the ravages of society and bad Republicans but against themselves as well. Democrats have to protect Democratic clients against themselves. Democrats explain why they have to do this when they can, but, if other people, their clients, are too stupid to get it, Democrats have to get Republicans force them to do what is in their own good. Democrats take this attitude even with people who are smarter than the Democrats are and who have had more experience than they have had. This attitude adds to “political correctness” (PC). It adds to the modern “hipster” pose. Without it, living in irony would not be possible.
Republicans have a version of this attitude but the Democratic version is more cloying and annoying. At least when Republicans look down on you, before the days of PC they did so openly, and they give you the reasons fairly openly, such as that you are an indecent subhuman who does not know God and so you can’t live in decent society. I don’t go into differences between them and why Democrats are more annoying.
In some cases, this contradictory attitude leads to good ideas such as helping drug addicts and helping women who have been abused sexually or by violence. It led to better-quality education in the 1950s and 1960s. It might someday lead to equal pay for comparable (equal) work for women. In other cases, it is simply stupid, as in supporting welfare matriarchs (now not much) and public housing. It leads to overlooking Black-on-Black crime and excusing attacks on the police. It is hard to figure out the correct view of human nature and to correctly make programs following the view only of Democrats or only of Republicans.
Democrats have this view of human nature not because they really believe it but because it gives them an excuse to promote programs, get clients, get favors from clients, get morally indignant against people who don’t share their view (such as Republicans and me), and oppose all programs of Republicans because those programs are not based on the same view. The same is true of Republicans in their way.
Democrats are like children who have figured out how to use “but that’s not fair” so as to get what they want but haven’t figured out yet that the family can’t give them all they want and that they personally would be better off if they grew up. They know, but refuse to accept, that it is not all about fairness even if fairness is a huge value and an important lesson. So, they use fairness only as a tool and do not use fairness as it should be used. They are like the teenage daughter before she goes to college for a couple of years. They are not selfish in the way that a five year old is selfish but their selfishness hurts all the same. They are correct enough to be worrisome, and to win points in arguments, but not enough to make long-term sense; and it is hard to explain why to them. Sometimes owning a 5G phone just like everybody else really does not make your life that much better. Sometimes you are better off with a good character and with some real education. Sometimes you don’t deserve to be boss.
The Democratic attitude is mixed up with the idea that some people are more hip, cool, smart, with it, trendy, chic, well-dressed, sexy, sensitive to modern art, especially music, sensitive to new ideas, in the know, and a hot rebel. This attitude is mixed up with the ideas that (a1) underprivileged ethnic groups such as Blacks and Hispanics, (a2) and marginalized groups such as Gays, (b) automatically are more hip-cool-gangsta etc; (c) but sympathetic accepting Whites and Asians can learn from them and so become hip-cool-pseudo-gangsta etc. “I’m in with the in crowd”; everyone not a Democrat or client is Mr. Jones or the bad guy in “Positively Fourth Street” (from Bob Dylan). If you are hip-cool-gangsta-etc, you must have Democratic leanings; you should have leanings toward a modern “ism” such as feminism or Black-ism. If you are a Democrat, are in an “ism”, or are in a movement such as “Black lives matter”, then you are more hip-cool-gangsta all around. Surprisingly, this attitude has not waned in the face of reality since it first began in its modern style in the 1940s; it only changes form a little. Marginalized groups suffer from the attitude just as much as White Democrats, likely because the attitude makes them out to be automatically hip-cool-gangsta etc. and superior to White Folks in the ways that really matter, even when they are not. The attitude is false, on all counts. Sometimes the attitude is funny, especially when each generation thinks it invented the attitude; but, after decades of display, sometimes nasty, the attitude is more annoying than funny, and it causes a lot of real damage, including some crime. Maybe the worse damage is how it shuts minds. Republicans have their own annoying style.
If you are Black, Hispanic, a modern liberated woman, an LGBTQ (gay) person, went to college, or have seen much of the world, then it makes no sense that you might not be a Democrat, or, heaven forbid, might be a Republican.
Both core Democrats and their clients know that core Democrats and their clients don’t have a correct view of human nature, of rational yet heart-filled core Democrats, and of their hip-cool-gangsta clients. Both core Democrats and their clients know that they are not nearly as rational as they wish, are not nearly as good as the image of clients as “fallen angels”, and that clients will not change to become ideal Enlightenment people after only a few days of state support through Democratic programs. There is no point going into what core Democrats are really like or what clients are really like before and after help. Yet both core Democrats and their clients continue to pretend. Pretending is a huge hypocrisy, and the pretending-hypocrisy weighs on the hearts and minds of Democrats and clients.
Core Democrats look down on clients and look down on themselves for being so foolish as to continue to help when it does so little good – but can never admit it to themselves or to their clients. Clients feel looked down on, hate people who look down on them, hate themselves for saying they will change when they know they will not change, hate themselves for needing help and taking help, turn hatred out on other people, and turn hatred on the people who try to help them. This response is human and normal but it is still a problem. The response to this attitude is not to “unpack” it, see it plainly, see groups for what they really are, and come up with better relations and better attitudes, but instead the response is to “double down”, cover up harder, and throw more money. This complex is found where one materially better-off group tries to help another group, even in war and famine where help is clearly needed and help does much good. In America, this attitude adds to the overall creepiness of politics and the haze of creepiness that pervades Democrats and clients. It adds to racial, religious, and gender tension and violence. I dislike the whole complex of attitudes, especially the hypocrisy and deliberate blindness.
-If Democrats wished to show they have a firm grasp of the economy, human nature, and human nature in groups, they would join Republicans to get rid of programs and ideas that don’t work, and would work hard to develop programs that do work, that don’t balloon up and don’t tempt otherwise hard-working decent people to become dependants of the state. If Democrats wished to show they have a firm grasp on reality, sometimes they would stand up to clients. Some individual Democrats have tried all this, and sometimes reform groups in the Party try. The joint welfare reforms of the Democrats with Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan, the welfare reforms under Bill Clinton, and some of the many suggestions of Hillary Clinton, have been good steps in this direction. But there has been no overall change of view or change of heart. Always realistic reform movements within the Party are only minority movements. Common sense never seems to get from the minority reformers to the large mass of Democratic clients.
When Democrats propose deep and broad national health coverage, propose free college for all, take the side of people who abuse the police, offer amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants without a clear understanding of the implications and without a realistic plan to control immigration in the future, and don’t explain how helping nature benefits jobs and families in the long run, people know that Democrats have not thought through any implications either in terms of what we can afford or in terms of human nature. When Democrats call for gun reform that will have no real effect on crime, and do not call for gun reform that would have a real effect on crime, people in general have to doubt Democratic sense. Doubt about such ideas undermines all Democratic ideas about welfare reform, drug use, civil rights, human rights, gender roles, family, and everything that Democrats might see better than Republicans and might have better ideas about, ideas more in tune with the times.
People in general don’t believe Democrats can change to be more realistic about the economy and human nature. People believe Democrats depend too much on clients, and so have to give to clients, for Democrats to be able to step back and craft what is best for the nation. People never see Democrats stand up to clients with the truth and so never believe that Democrats can stand up to clients when the welfare of the nation as a whole is more important.
-In the future, Hispanics and women will become more important in the Democratic Party, in particular as they hold office, but also as large voting blocs. Hispanics and women are as rational as any group. They are as rational as long term core members of the Party, other clients of the Party, or Republicans. They are potentially as competent as anybody. How the Party acts toward them as both members and clients, and how they carry out their roles in the Party, will go a long way in making the attitude of America in general toward the Democratic Party and making or breaking the success of the Party. If they show deep understanding of the economy and human nature, can stand up to clients, have realistic ideas, and offer realistic programs, then the Democratic Party will succeed. If they merely carry on as usual from the past, nobody will believe there is a realistic head on a Democratic shoulder, and the Party will fail.
-The Democratic Party core is made of comfortable middle class people with secure good jobs, some upper middle class people, and some wealthy people. The Party includes clients such as poor people, unemployed people, people with bad jobs (low pay and no benefits), Blacks, Hispanics, women, once-upon-a-time Jews, and old people. The Party includes some White people and Asians but many of them left in the 1970s. The Democratic Party used to include working people and middle class people who had reasonably good reasonably secure jobs but quite a few left in the 1970s. The Party used to be the party of labor generally and organized labor but many of those people left in the 1970s.
Working class and middle class people who have half-way good jobs but who fear falling into poverty and who feel insecure mostly moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s but now might vote with either Party. They feel forgotten by both Parties. Especially Whites this category feel forgotten. People of all ethnicities in this category change votes and Party affiliation more according to local candidate than national policy, unless a charismatic leader emerges or they believe the claims of a self-appointed savior. Until wage stagnation and the wealth gap became clear, costs of living rose, and they could see that their children were not getting ahead, they tended to vote Republican. Now that they do not think Republicans will help, they do not automatically support either Party. I do not know which way their allegiance usually goes now. I do not clutter up this essay with guesses over each issue. If I were forced, I would say the older people of this group still tend to vote Republican but younger people are moving more Democratic. Please use you own experience to make the division for yourself about this group as you read other points.
The Party gets and keeps power by giving favors to clients in exchange for votes, favors such as welfare, Social Security, SS Disability, unemployment, legal protection, protection for the environment, support for education, support for research, trying to turn bad jobs into good jobs, some tax breaks, and help with the police.
The State is Our Best Friend and Only Real Friend.
-According to the Party, the state can deal with problems better than any alternative means such as the free market, private initiative, or private charity. The state cannot fully solve all problems but it always deals with problems better than alternatives. Look first to the state to solve problems.
Democrats rarely consider that state intervention, even well-intended state intervention, might cause more harm than does the original problem. The state might help with the original problem but it might also cause collateral damage that is as bad or worse. The state is like a doctor giving a prescription for a big bottle of pain pills to cure backache only to find the patient is now addicted. For example, we need to help people with something like welfare but welfare often balloons and it tempts people who would otherwise work to not work. The new harm often leads to people becoming dependant on the state. Sometimes you have to put up with the original problem or have to find smaller solutions. Democrats have no habit of anticipating when a program will do harm and so they are caught by surprise and are unable to deal with new harm. They have no framework in which to make good guesses about overall harm and benefit, direct and collateral, and so to make plans that convince others how to proceed. They see only a current issue and a quick fix through giving resources (money).
As a result, Democrats are too open to pleading by interest groups and their programs are too open to unforeseen harm and to abuse.
For example, “equal opportunity, not equal outcome” is Rightist propaganda but it is also true. Yet Democrats do not see that it is true, see why it is true, and see why the distinction is so important to working class people with decent jobs, middle class people, and upper middle class people. More importantly, Democrats seem to wish not to learn.
In the Democratic view, only the state can muster enough power to oppose other powers such as business firms, churches, strong religious passion, public opinion, and prejudice, powers that threaten general liberty, general well being, and the well being of the clients of the Democratic Party. Power must be met with power, and only the state has enough power. To guarantee basic freedoms and rights, the Party needs to control the state.
Only the state can gather enough resources to fully compensate people and groups who have been maltreated (fully redress grievances) and give those people the support they need to get back on their feet and to keep themselves in the face of opposition. The state can take resources from the people in general, and from oppressors, to give to victims, and only the state can do this. In taking resources and using them like this, the state always increases the general welfare. Taxes are the main means to take and redistribute resources.
Democrats do seem to want to cure all problems by throwing state money at the problem and victims rather than by getting at what causes a problem and rather than considering how people will respond to a big dollop of state money. Democrats do seem not to consider that state help might not be best and not to consider that money might not solve all problems. Democrats do not see themselves this way but this is how they come across.
When underdogs, victims, or groups with a self-perceived need, seek resources that they cannot obtain through their own business, own work, and own community, they seek resources from the state, that is, they seek money from the state. To get money from the state, they go first to the Democratic Party. It is not always wrong that people should use the Party and the state to get resources. Victims of most big natural disasters should expect help from the state. But the habit of seeking money from the state leads to clients with dubious claims and to too many clients seeking help from Democrats. The Party can no longer assess which clients deserve help, which to help, and how much to help. The Party cannot tell who to say “no” to or say “not that much” to. It can no longer assess how much the state can help and how to apportion state aid.
Equality of Wealth, and Who Pays.
-Contrary to deliberate Rightist propaganda, Democrats do not seek total equality of wealth. For a long time, many people, not just Democrats, have known that a situation of few very rich along with many poor is bad for a nation. Big differences in wealth lead to big differences in legal justice, social justice, and lifetime chances. Big differences in wealth are passed down to future generations and grow. Big differences in wealth cause problems.
Often, even in a modern diverse capitalist economy with a variety of jobs and incomes, many problems can be reduced, and welfare of the nation as a whole can increase, by taking some wealth away from the rich and giving to the poor – state forced redistribution. For a long time, people also have known that some wealth disparities are good and that totally equal wealth is not as good as some disparity or is outright bad. People know that big redistribution is bad. People do not want to take all the wealth of wealthy people; they do not want to “fleece the rich” or “soak the rich”. They want the rich to “pay their fare share” by paying a bit more in proportion as wealth goes up.
The problem is that Democrats cannot make a good case for how much less the poor should pay and how much more the rich should pay. The Democrats cannot come up with a workable believable plan for taxes and other government “taking and giving” that everyone can see is reasonably fair and that does not threaten to get out of control. So, all Democratic plans sound like “fleece the rich” even if that was never the intent and that would not be the result. All the programs sound as if they will hurt the overall welfare of the country. In that case, not even the middle class, who hope to be rich someday, can support the programs.
-Democrats say they support personal autonomy and self-determination, as with freedom of religion, freedom to choose an abortion, and freedom of choice in the market. In fact, they are equivocal and they often support strong state intervention, especially in markets. For example, the Democratic Party favors strong regulation of many markets so as to protect poor people and consumers and the Party favors centralized medical care. But Democrats do not explain why they support freedom in some cases and state intervention in others. They do not say when we can rely on individual autonomy and choice and when we cannot, and why. Even when Democrats are correct, we need to know why, and the why should be part of a bigger view. As an exercise in political logic, they could start by explaining why we needed forced retirement savings in the form of Social Security, why Social Security has been a big success, and why similar programs might not work, especially private-only programs.
In theory, Democrats support de-criminalizing and legal leniency for some activities such as sex, and they support small sentences on some crimes, especially “victimless” crime such as prostitution and drug use. This view makes sense in terms of promoting personal autonomy and responsibility but that is not what Democrats argue. They simply pick some arenas in which to work for de-criminalization and leniency because those arenas are popular among clients. They overlook contradiction. Support of freedom in situations such as drug use and sex might undermine arguments that people are unable to choose and so are being exploited in other arenas such as in financial markets. If you can choose a drug you ought to be able to choose a mortgage. Liberals do not think through (or state publicly) their view on individual autonomy and what their view implies. Why can people figure out sex but not mortgages? Sex and relationships are more complicated than mortgages. It is not clear why Democrats support minimal laws about activities other than that the laws about such crimes have often been used to attack the client groups of the Democratic Party, such as Blacks and women, so that minimizing legal control of the acts protects client groups of the Democratic Party. When Liberals seek to minimize laws about sex and drugs, it does not seem as if they are promoting individual freedom but instead are protecting their power and are attacking the families of working and middle class people. Protecting Blacks and women is a good motive but would be better if placed in a fuller context that includes believable ideas about individual freedom and responsibility.
Democrats traditionally tolerate non-traditional lifestyles including “Bohemianism”, non-traditional gender, non-traditional sex acts, and drug use. Yet this supposed tolerance of non-traditional lifestyles often is more of a philosophical wish than it is action to defend individual freedom. Democrats do not strongly pursue laws to allow individual free choice. Most clients of the Democratic Party, including ethnic groups such as Blacks, and many groups that the Democratic would like to win as clients such as working and middle class people with good jobs, condemn non-traditional sex and gender lifestyles, condemn abortion, condemn all pornography, and do not want freer use of drugs. If Democrats push too hard for lifestyle freedom they might lose some of their present clients and they can never win the working class and middle class back as clients. Verbally supporting lifestyle freedom but doing little to protect it seems like wanting to have it both ways.
Despite the ideal of individual autonomy and choice, Democrats favor regulation of markets to protect consumers and nature. These regulations would help consumers, and consumers need the help, but the regulations would also hamper business in some ways and would restrict consumers in some ways. The Republican Party has successfully painted all regulation as an attack on business and on consumer choice and benefit. The Democratic Party has not been adept at sorting out which rules might do more overall good than harm and so gaining support for skillful regulation.
While saying Democrats favor freedom of religion, in fact, Democrats look down on religion in general, on most particular religions, and especially on Christianity. In public, Democrats praise non-Christian religions and worshippers such as some religious ideas of some Native Americans, Buddhists, and some Muslims. In private, Democrats think any religion is merely a social and personal crutch, and sincere belief shows weakness of mind and character. Democrats are NOT waging a group war on Christianity. Individual Democrats merely ridicule it as a way of raising their own status among their peers. They do enable anti-religious zealots to go after all links between religion and the state as when anti-religious zealots wish to remove Christmas decorations from public areas. It is not clear if Democrats enable anti-religious zealots to attack religion as a way to annoy the Religious Right and the Christians who move to the Republican Party in the 1970s.
-Please see material from Part 2 on the family.
For reasons that I can’t go into here, nearly all Americans, Democrat and Republican, have returned to religion of family. They might call it a return to Christianity, Islam, or Hinduism but it is more a return to religion of the family than to the core beliefs of the major religions. The family they have in mind is the idealized nuclear family from TV.
Even people who cannot live in this kind of a family still support this ideal. It is hard to win elections if your policies might somehow possibly in imagination weaken the idealized family. This situation is a problem for Democrats because some of their policies, such as gender freedom and freedom to choose abortion, support non-traditional families, non-families, and non-traditional gender choices. Working and middle class people take any policy that supports any non-traditional families and non-traditional gender as an attack on the idealized nuclear family and on all working and middle class families - even when support for non-traditional families and non-traditional gender does not harm working and middle class families and can help them. Working and middle class people take publicly supported freedom to choose abortion as an attack on the family, and so on the working and middle classes, even when they privately seek abortion sometimes. Working and middle class people take non-traditional families and non-traditional families as rivals. Whatever helps rivals of the working and middle class is thus an attack on the working and middle class. So Republicans are able to portray Democrats as against the family just at a time when the family is central in religion.
Some Democratic policies do support non-idealized non-traditional families and the policies might help those families compete with traditional families but that does not mean Democrats aim to attack the working class or middle class. Most Democratic policies also can help working and middle class families even when they help non-traditional families such as “Obama care”. Some Democratic policies do support all families such as consumer protection and support for education. Democrats do a poor job explaining because their own ideas and goals are unclear to them.
It might not be possible to convince working and middle class families that non-traditional families are not their serious rivals, and not possible to convince working and middle families not to attack policies that support non-traditional families and non-traditional genders. Modern TV shows such as “Reba”, “Modern Family”, and “This is Us”, help people to think more clearly. “Millenials” seem to be clearer about this situation. I don’t know how to support a broad spectrum of family types without causing some types to be jealous of others and to seek political support against potential rivals. Both political parties will continue to exploit this situation. Democrats have to show how policies that appear to undermine the nuclear family, to undermine the working class, and middle class, do not undermine the family and those people. Democrats have to stress policies that support any family as supporting all families.
-Some particular Democrats genuinely feel for illegal immigrants, but mostly the Democratic Party (and various churches) supports immigration and supports helping illegal immigrants so the Party can recruit immigrants as a client group. With Hispanics, Democrats have been largely successful because not all Hispanics climb the wealth-and-class ladder quickly but they do climb it quickly enough to have hope and to use the American political process. Democrats have not been as successful with immigrants that climb the ladder quickly such as well educated Muslims, Asian, and Hindus. Some clients, such as Blacks, view immigrants as a direct threat and wish the Democratic Party not to support recent immigrants, to hurt immigrants, and to protect current clients from immigrants. Some policies that benefit immigrants also benefits Blacks, such as more health care, help with employment and education, and lessening of laws about personal behavior (sex) and drugs, so these issues remains contested. Current Democratic clients want those policies to help them but not to help immigrants, and that is hard to do.
Real Acceptance and Real Help.
-Democrats have not thought through what real acceptance and real help mean. Democrats did not invent the idea of political correctness – the modern version goes back at least to John Calvin, and Republicans-Conservatives are giants of pseudo-moralistic judging. But Democrats did promote the modern version. PC Democrats are as moralistic, judging, and narrow-minded as any people. They are as conformist as any people I have met, and they enforce conformity. A group of Democrats all looking exactly alike and parroting the same views is normal. Democrats are equal to White Right Christians in conformity. Democratic upper middle class women, of all colors, are among the most moralistic and intolerant people that I have met. American Blacks are among the most condemning and intolerant people I have met. Democrats have never been able to explain why they tolerate some things, publicly tolerate but secretly condemn others such as sexual experimentation by their own children and sexist racist “hater” music by Blacks, yet openly condemn some other things such as guns and pornography. Because there is no believable obvious consistency, people assume Democrats use tolerance or moral indignation whenever one is more likely to help their agenda.
If a client group accepts the help of Democrats, a reasonable person would expect that client group to buy into some of the ideals, including tolerance and acceptance. Again, beyond the surface, that is not true. Blacks, Hispanics, groups of poor people, activist women, environmentalists, and most Democratic groups, have their own world view and group morality, and they want other people to live by those. They don’t really think about how the various group views and moralities might get along or about the greater deeper principles they are supposed to share. They tolerate other groups within the umbrella of a big movement such as Civil Right and Environmentalism, or within the Democratic Party, so they can achieve their own goals. But they do not really respect other groups and would change other people if they could. How often do Blacks support environmentalists or women?
More on Costs.
-When thinking about giving help, we have to figure out how much help costs. We have to consider costs even when the appeal is highly moral. As I was writing this paragraph in April 2018, America had to think if we wished to go to war with Russia over an attack with gas by Syrian dictator Al Assad on his own people. How extensive should be our response, should we warn the Russians (we did not), should we avoid hitting Russians, and should we be ready to follow with more raids? In the international arena, Democrats have about as much sense as Republicans over appeal versus cost but for domestic causes Democrats seem to have no sense. They simply don’t consider how much it costs to help, whether we can afford it, and whether we should use resources in other ways. If they do make these calculations, they certainly don’t tell them to their clients or make them public. When a Party does not carry out these calculations in public, then it can only seem that they don’t care about the cost to the country as a whole because they would rather curry their clients. It can only seem that the Party puts the interests of the Party and the client above the interests of the Party as a whole.
Even if we do have enough resources to fund a particular cause, if helping is likely to cost considerably more than it gains, we should not help. If you are likely to get hit by a car running into the street to save a mouse, you should stay put. Likely you would run to save a child. You can figure out some in-between cases yourself. How about your dog? How about a strange cat? This sounds cold but it is not. When we figure cost and benefit, we can see the money cost somewhat and we can claim the moral benefit even it is not likely to happen. Yet it is hard to figure the practical gain to the country and hard to figure out the moral cost. It is easy to see the money cost if we gave everybody satellite TV access and a big TV (or a giant gas-guzzling SUV and free gas for life), voters would vote for our Party if we did, and we could excuse such stupidity by saying it is for national defense. But we should stop to figure out the practical gains and losses to the country and we should see the damage to the American character. The gain does not justify the cost. To me, the moral cost is greater than the practical cost. Any Party with any scheme needs to do this figuring and do it in public. Democrats will not. When they will not, it can only seem they don’t care because they put themselves and their clients above the national interest. Even if that is not true, it seems that way.
When a Party will not make these calculations domestically, then all its calculations internationally are necessarily called into question and invalidated, even if its calculations are rational and correct. When you lose your reputation, you lose your reputation. When you lose your reputation, naturally the other Party seems valid by comparison even if the other Party is made up of bleating demonic goats.
Rights and Responsibilities (Duties) 1.
Citizens and residents of a democracy have both rights and responsibilities (duties). Neither rights nor duties are more important than the other. Neither can work without the other.
It seems people in America now stress rights far more than responsibilities. They don’t stress rights as in a democracy. They stress the “right” to get something, an advantage, a gain, treat, or power. They use “rights” as a mere tool. They use “rights” as a symbol of which side they are on and of their power in the battle of sides and culture. They overlook responsibilities that come with each right and overlook duties in general. They don’t care about the place of their particular right in the whole system of rights, duties, and citizenship. The idea of responsibilities and duties has been lost because it is a strategic detriment, an anti-tool, an annoying impediment. This abuse is true even of real rights such as to vote, privacy, not to be harassed, and to respect as a person; and to duties that go with them. They treat a state payment such as from welfare as if it were a right equal to the right to vote. The modern idea of rights is one of the biggest examples of how “political correctness” has correct ideas in theory but is hurtfully abused in practice. It shows why people hate PC. The modern idea of rights is one of the biggest abused tools in reverse discrimination and in manipulation by self-styled disadvantaged groups. The modern idea of rights erodes the true ideas of civil rights, ethnic equality, gender equality, privacy, dignity, etc. I am not only a grumpy old man here. Something did change in the 1970s and after. Think of ads for lawyers on TV hinting you can live easy for life at your neighbor’s expense because you pricked your finger on his-her roses.
Republicans say Democrats are entirely and only to blame. Democrats and their clients stress “rights”, and they always-and-only stress rights as mere “give me”, without caring about real rights, real duties, and citizenship. “My rights are big while yours are small, my rights always win over yours, and you pay to enforce my rights. Any dispute between us is not about facts or about real competing rights; it is always-and-only about you not granting me my full rights, my due respect, and some reward in power or material goods to express my rights or to make up for any abuse. Any fault you see in my group is never a fault in my group but always is a bias that you carry so you can take my rights, take what I want. When I say the rights of my group have been damaged I mean I have not gotten what I want. I use the rights of my group to get what I need. Any problem my group has is due always-and-only to another group taking our rights, it is never our fault. I have no responsibilities when I assert my full rights as an individual or through my group.” Some Democratic clients do seem to lie compulsively, tell silly lies that nobody could believe but expect the lie to be accepted, and seem unable to tell truth from lie; this business about rights is one of those. People who claim an “entitlement” such as welfare or SSD, claim to have been disrespected in a restaurant, or abused by police, often look more to gain or a satisfaction than to make sure the system of rights and duties is carried out fully and fairly for all.
In contrast: “All Republicans always deeply appreciate duty and the need for citizens to carry out their duties. All Republicans assert rights only when a right also serves general good. We always see rights in the context of a system of rights, responsibilities, and citizenship.” In fact, most people that stay in the military for a long time do feel a sense of true duty, and tend to be Republicans or to get Republican-ized while in the military. Working and middle class Republicans seem more likely to work for the whole community than do people in other groups. There is some truth to what Republicans accuse Democrat clients of and what they brag about themselves, more so since the “nanny” state.
There is enough misunderstanding of rights and duties, enough shirking of duties, and enough abuse of rights, to accuse people in both Parties, and the abuse shapes both Parties. People are selfish regardless of Party, selfishly neglect their duties, and are selfish in their abuse of rights. Often enough, Republicans put property rights, social order, and urban “development” above the right of poor people to live in their own old neighborhoods, and they use the big bad state to overwhelm the rights of individuals to do it. Using tobacco is not a right equal to the right to a fair trial. Sorting out this issue quickly turns into a big treatise. That is not the goal here. Instead, I ask you to do the work.
Start with a simple idea. All rights have responsibilities, responsibilities usually entail some rights, and responsibilities often allow some privileges. If you own a house, you have to keep up the sidewalk, and sometimes portions of the street, in front of your house. You have a duty to take care of your garbage and not to make the neighborhood dirty or loud. To take care of your own house gives you the right to the same from neighbors and the community in general. If you own a gun, you have duties to know how to use it correctly, not to use it badly, to protect it so that cannot be abused such as by children or by a temporarily angry person, and to make sure that only similarly responsible people own guns. Think about each right and each entitlement, such as the right to vote, housing, be served in a restaurant, respect from the police, welfare, Social Security, etc. If people don’t live up to the duties, can they keep the right? I think not.
Focus on the duties that go along with particular rights. If a child has a right to an education, do his-her parents have a duty to make sure their particular school is a good school, without foisting off that duty on the state or on “other” people? If people in an area want a quality education for their children, and a quality education can succeed only if the community has the right attitude, who has the biggest duty to make sure the community provides the right background attitude? If well-educated children are essential to a democracy, the economy, and to preventing bad character, then do people have a duty to help schools even out of their area? If a person has the right to welfare, what duties does he-she have, including the strict legal requirements but beyond those as well? Allow that a person has the right to own a business firm. Does the owner have the duty to serve all people? Which people can the owner exclude? Do women really have a right to equal pay for equal work or comparable work? I think they do. Then what responsibilities do women have in claiming the right, and what responsibilities do they have when they get the wages? If women and LGBTQ people (gays) claim they are mistreated as second class citizens, and claim the right to full recognition and acceptance, then what responsibilities do they have when they get that right? Do (illegal) immigrant “Dreamers” really have a right to stay in America? If they do, what responsibilities go along with the right? If staying here is a privilege rather than a right, but a privilege that many Americans would grant, then what responsibilities go along with the privilege? What duties do gun owners have other than keeping most guns locked up in a box most of the time? I think being a professional in America, such as a professor, teacher, doctor, lawyer, dentist, police officer, soldier, or accountant, gives status, and the status entails some responsibilities that other people don’t have. What are the responsibilities, and do these people really carry them out? If we have a right to use nature, what duties do we have toward nature? When people claim a right but overlook duties, what do they really wish for?
Now think about Republicans and Democrats. Which rights and duties do they stress and which do they overlook? Which rights do they claim without accepting the responsibilities? I write a little more about how Republicans make mistakes about rights and duties in the part below about Republicans.
The primary duty always is to be an informed citizen capable of assessing candidates and issues, and to make a good choice. If you have the right to vote, you must be ready to vote adeptly. In a world closer to the ideal than this world, if people did not fulfill their duty to be informed, I would take away their privileges (rights) as citizens. In this world, few of us live up to our duty to be informed but we cannot take away all privileges and rights merely because we are not fully perfect. How many people know all the “stuff” from sections on the economy at the start of this essay, why don’t they know it, and should they still have the right to vote if they don’t know it? You don’t have to agree with me about those issues, but you should know the material. Think how far away a person can fall from being a good adept citizen and still enjoy the privileges of being a citizen such as the “right” to vote. Think about how we would assess.
Make Sense, Again and in Anticipation.
I mentioned “make sense” above, and use “make sense” in the history parts of this essay on Liberals, so I say more about it here.
Democrats think they make sense but they don’t, or at least not to most people who are not already in the Party or a client. Even to clients, Democrats don’t make general sense; Democrats make sense as a group with power that is most likely to bring the client benefits, protection, or help to avoid a loss. That is not enough.
To make sense in governing of a nation, a party has to see the big picture of national welfare. It has to balance morality and practicality in service to the greater national welfare. It does have to hear moral appeals but it has to know when a response to a moral appeal simply costs too much in terms of money, what is foregone, and effects on national character. It has to prioritize moral appeals and costs. It has to know which group comes first, second, third, or last, and how much any group gets. It has to know when the sum total of responses costs too much even if the response to each moral appeal seems fair and seems not to cost too much. It has to say “no” and “wait” to clients. It has to say “you ask too much in the current world”. Because most appeals are moral, and morality and attitude are tied, a party has to assess the attitudes of its client groups and take that into account. It has to set clients straight when they have a bad attitude or has to refuse them when they will not change their bad attitude.
Democrats appear to do none of this. Even when they do it, the general consensus is that they do not. Democrats don’t make sense. Republicans claim they do all of this. Of course, they are no better than Democrats, but they have a reputation for being so. The public believes Republicans do make sense. To see the unfair but real weirdness, think how Republicans do not control fringe gun rights advocates and about the attitude of fringe gun rights advocates. Think how Republicans fail with White Supremacists. Yet Republicans always seem to make sense while Democrats do not. On top of what I say below, you think out why Democrats have a bad reputation (undeserved) while Republicans have a good reputation (also undeserved).
If a political party screws up prioritizing and “gives away the house (farm)” on a few big issues, then the party will lose its reputation for making sense, maybe forever. Even when the party does make sense on other issues, big and small, and makes more sense than rivals, still it will not be seen as making sense. Once a party loses its reputation, the bad reputation sullies everything, and the party can rarely get back a good reputation. People might turn to this party for help, or because the other party is in really bad shape as with Republicans and Trump, but people do not really go back to this party for sense and they will leave the party again when the other party is more sensible.
Not only Westerners but many people tend to think in terms of Reason versus Emotion, although that idea is said through various metaphors (“hot heart, head, blood, guts versus cold heart, head, blood, guts”, “long guts versus short guts”, or “long fuse versus short fuse”). In myth, women are emotional, nurturing when not corrupt, and devious. Men are rational, straight, and strict. Once a woman loses her reputation, she is lost forever and must use guile, as with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. When one woman loses her reputation, most of the other women in the neighborhood now look like angels by comparison even if they do a lot of secret kissing and “heavy petting”. Democrats are now the irrational emotional corrupted party that is vulnerable to emotional pleas and has to use guile while Republicans are the reasonable morally upright party that wins with logic and candor. Maybe only a woman who was a girl in the 1940s or 1950s can know how deeply annoying this frame is. This kind of discrediting is part of what happened to Democrats but only part.
Unfortunately, Democrats perpetuate the discrediting by continuing to make big mistakes.
We need a national health care system, more than what we got with “Obama Care”. Especially with rising costs, to run a national health care system correctly, we have to know when to say “no” and “enough”. We have to know when to say “learn to live with it”, “here is a long-term prescription for morphine”, or “we can help you die if you wish”. That is what the French and Canadians do, and it works. Democrats won’t do this. They won’t face reality. They hint they can give everything to everybody. People know Democrats can’t give everything to everybody and Democrats some people have to be denied care and so die. Republicans, Sarah Palin was outstanding, were able to convince people that Democrats would set up secret “death panels” even when Democrats never suggested anything like that. The Republican answer is no national health care at all, in which case poor people themselves have to decide they can no longer bankrupt the future of all the grandchildren to make granny live another week. Just as many people die under Republican practice now as ever would under die Democratic plans in the future, and the practice now seems far crueler, but Democrats get all the blame while Republicans get all the praise. If you don’t face up to issues fully and deal with them fully in the open, then you get what the Democrats got, and you deserve it.
One foundation of making sense is the rule of law. A Party cannot play fast and loose in applying the rule of law. That is how we get “banana republics” and Vladimir Putin. There are modest exceptions. Mercy and humanity play a part in law. But still we cannot get too loose. Sometimes we have to be cruel to keep the system that serves us all well. The TV show “Law and Order” examined this dilemma well in many episodes. The rule of law applied to President Nixon and it will apply to President Trump and his cronies when their time comes. If we wish to apply it to them, we have to apply it elsewhere as well. Democrats have a reputation for applying rule of law selectively and for not appreciating the rule of law in general. Rule of law applied selectively is not rule of law. Democrats don’t make sense over the rule of Law. That is why, in the 1970s and 1980s, the Republicans billed themselves as they party of Law and Order, and where the TV show got its name.
Illegal immigration ebbs and flows with prosperity in the United States, so, while the US was not doing well economically from about 2007 to 2014, sometimes more illegal Hispanics went back to their own countries (especially Mexico) than came to the US. Still, the situation with illegal immigration is bad. We have to make sure illegal immigration stops, and we have to deport a fair number of people who are here illegally now. We have to put in jail people who hire illegal immigrants, including the officers of business firms who might not personally have done the hiring. If we do not do all this, we abandon rule of law too much. We do not have to be cruel for fun. We can show correct mercy to children who came here young and who were born here. We can allow their parents to stay to but no other kin. We have to stop “chain migration”. But Democrats refuse to see this need. They do not refuse because they really don’t see but because they wish to get and keep all Hispanics as clients. They imply everyone can stay for any reason now and in the future. Again, they try to give everything to everyone. They throw rule of law out the window for mere political gain. When Democrats support “sanctuary cities” and the selective enforcement of law, they do NOT come across as merciful and humane. They come across as conniving and selfish. Some proposals by individual Democrats make sense but those are not the ideas of the Party as a whole. It seems Democrats simply want to allow all illegal immigrants to stay here, thus to encourage more to come, and to allow all who come in the future to stay. This does not make sense. If this is not what Democrats propose, then they need to make clear, and believable, what they do propose, why it would work, and why it is best.
Individual Democrats have offered some reasonable ideas on gun control such as background checks and harsh penalties for using a gun in a crime. But that is not what people think of when they think of gun control from Democrats. People think Democrats wish to take all guns from everybody right now. Some of the perception is due to Republican evil propaganda but not all. Republican propaganda fills a vacuum left by Democrats. Most Democrats cannot offer anything remotely reasonable to American ears. Democrats cannot come up with good proposals because they refuse to see that gun control is not one problem, about one social group, with one solution for all, but that gun control is several problems, over several social groups, each of which requires a different solution. Democrats won’t see the whole problem because at bottom they don’t care about guns and gun crime. They care about getting past this particular horrendous incident and about not looking bad to the people that deplore all the incidents and blame guns. They care about feeling righteous by attacking a straw enemy just as many people that fight abortion really care more about feeling righteous and won’t think out realities. Democrats don’t want to alienate any clients such as Blacks-in-general who see Blacks use guns in Black on Black crime. This is weaseling and it does not make sense. Republicans come across as reasonable simply by doing nothing, defending what is now, and saying they defend the Constitution – all the while really also only grooming clients. (Gun problems include: school shootings, other mass shootings, terrorist shootings, shootings based on social groups such as religion and gender, general crime such as armed robbery, personal murders such as of one spouse murdering another, gang crime, drug crime, human trafficking crime, inner city crime mostly of Black on Black, inner city crime of short term temper mostly of Black on Black, and crime about guns and gun trafficking, at least).
When Democrats fail in this way on this many major issues, then they fail by default on all issues. They stop seeming to make sense even when they do make sense.
This point will anger people: The Democratic Party is the Party for modern women. Women are still trapped in the “good girl versus bad girl” complex, as partly noted above. Enough Americans still see women as irrational, emotional, and not making sense. Enough Americans still see activist women, modern women, working women, and feminists as bad girls, that is, as somewhat immoral as well as not making sense or as over-bearing, pushy, and selfish and so as not making enough sense. So, when the Democratic Party sides with those women, it sides with bad girls, and reinforces its image as a fallen irrational sappy Party. This view of modern women as bad girls will change as women of both parties get political and economic power. All the “feisty” girls and women, and all the women not in need of a man to save them, in the media, are a good sign of the change. I am not sure if most modern women will then become the good girls and, if the change in how Americans in general view women will save the Democratic Party. I am doubtful.
The Democratic Party is a little like the “crazy hyper-feminist hyper-PC ex-girlfriend” that you really don’t want to hang around with regularly but you like to see every once in a while, not to have sex, but because she is fun and being around her does lead to some good ideas and good times for a while. Democrats sometimes seem to wish to live up to that image. Mostly, though, they are like the smart ex-girlfriend that was good at helping you with your literature homework when you were in school or with your legal case work now that you are out in the real world.
Apart from whether any policies of either Party make sense, people tend to judge all the policies and the whole Party on their view of the character of people in the Party. Valid or not, people link good moral character with making sense and link bad moral character with not making sense – despite decades of stories about anti-heroes, rebels, bad boys, bad girls, social inversions, and moral inversions. People see Democrats as somewhat immoral (really more morally careless) and so not to be trusted to make sense while they see Republicans as doggedly moral and so to be trusted to make sense. People know most so-called Democratic amorality is posing and silly playing. But they have seen enough harm come from it that they are wary. When the time comes, the wild girl (young woman) in college is the un-cool old-fashioned mom. People know that, in real life, Republicans drink too much, pop pills, and chase their neighbor’s spouse but people still think Republicans have the correct long term values in mind, and so Republicans still make more sense overall even apart from moral values.
Repeat: To govern well, to make sense, a party needs a believable coherent practical and moral world view, a sense of a better America, a better world, and the role of America in the better world. Neither Democrats nor Republicans have this believable world view but Republicans fool people that “business” alone can do the trick while Democrats fool nobody about any ideology. Nobody fully accepts any world view offered by Democrats even if particular people have sympathy for some particular projects such as saving hungry children and sympathy for partial views such as social justice. When a party does not have a sufficient world view, it cannot make sense, no matter how good some of its particular projects and ideas. People feel this lack in Democrats, and their feeling reinforces all the other ways in which Democrats do not make sense.
When a party stops making sense in the eyes of the public, then people in the party feel they don’t have to make sense, and they actually do stop making sense. Party officials stop expecting clients to make sense or to be able to tell sense from nonsense. Officials start feeding clients whatever works to keep allegiance. Clients know they don’t have to make sense to get what they wish for, that emotion often works better than sense, and so stop offering sense. Everyone falls back on appeals to emotion and on superficial morality. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy and a vicious circle.
This all happens with Republicans too for some issues in the culture wars but that dollop of craziness does not undermine the general view of the whole Party as making enough sense. People don’t expect Republicans to make sense about gay rights, Christianity, Muslims, or even outsourcing, but still think the Party as a whole does make sense. If the new Republican Party makes enough big stupid mistakes such as the huge tax break for rich people of 2017, ignoring the pain of the working and middle classes, rejecting all help with health care, building a wall on the Mexican border, or reneging on the Iran nuclear deal, then maybe eventually enough people also will see Republicans as despoiled, emotional, a bit too immoral, irrational, and not making sense. Oddly, that is how the Trump Republicans see the old guard such as Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan; I think the Trump Republicans are more that way than the old guard. Even then, such a change will not necessarily lift Democrats back to rational moral practical visionary making sense.
I do not offer suggestions as to how Democrats can make up for lost ground except that they had better begin making thorough sense even if it costs them support from some clients.
-The Democratic attitude toward Christianity is complicated and unfortunate. I cover some of this topic in the history parts of this essay so here I say only what is needed.
The Democratic attitude comes from an older Liberal attitude. Liberals were cautious about any claims that could not be verified by science-like methods: by public demonstration, by clear logic from other publicly validated scientific laws, or believable historic reporting. Any claims against obvious common sense were to be doubted unless verified by science-like evidence or trustworthy authorities. Liberals did not doubt everything unusual. Science came up with unusual facts and ideas such as that lightning is only huge electric sparks (Ben Franklin) or Jupiter and Saturn have moons (Galileo). When an unusual fact or idea was not backed by science-like evidence, Liberals said: there was no reason to believe it if it contradicted other established scientific laws and facts; there was no reason to believe if it contradicted common sense and was not supported by science; there was no reason to believe if it was not needed for other serious ideas such as morality; and, if it contradicted good morality, that was reason to doubt.
Most religious claims such as miracles are not needed to support good morality. Some claims, such as there are bad witches, lead to bad acts based on bad morality, and so we should not believe them. Liberals rejected the need for many of the claims in Judaism and Christianity such as that God stopped the sun from going around the Earth so Joshua had more daylight in which to win a battle, or that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some Liberals said the claims were false while some (most) Liberals just said the claims were irrelevant and so we need not decide them or believe them. Humans tend to think anything we need not accept or decide is in effect false and to be rejected, so the de facto position got to be “false” on all the supernatural claims of Christianity, leaving pretty much only the morality.
Other people took all Liberals to say that all religions are false and bad even when most Liberals did not mean that. Other people did this as an over-reaction to protect their own beliefs, an over-reaction that is as harmful as un-critical condemnation of religion. I say more about morality and the supernatural in other places, so I do not say more here.
The Liberal stance does not mean Liberals rejected the morality of Judaism or Christianity. Most Liberals were strong proponents of that morality, and were even content to say that morality and God had some kind of close relation.
At the time Liberals were developing their view, the only real religion of importance to them in Europe and the Americas was Christianity. So the default position got to be that Christianity has too many false claims, it is not literally true, and people could be good by accepting the morality of Christianity without accepting any of its claims about the supernatural or accepting any claims about the supernatural from any source. That got to be a kind of chic stance among Liberals. It lingers in academic Liberals today. It is not strictly true but it is true enough for here. Especially after a religious revival starting about 1820, the default position among far too many Christians got to be: “Liberals are amoral or immoral, hate Christianity and Christians, use spurious so-called logic to attack Christianity and Christians, never see any of the virtues in Christianity or Christians, Christianity is true no matter what Liberals say, Christians have to believe no matter what, and Christians have to defend Christianity in any way we can including strong emotion and use of the state”. Not all Churches took this stance. Some big Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, took reasoned Liberalism (not silly knee-jerk attack of all Christianity and all religion) as a worthy challenge, worked to develop sensible defenses of religion and Christianity, and worked to merge reason with belief and morality. Sadly, most Churches including big Churches such as the Roman Catholic Church still try to use the state to promote their morality.
Then, beginning in the late 1800s, came some unfortunate turns.
First, beginning with academics, the idea that Christianity is false, silly, not needed, and a delusion of the masses became entrenched. Not only were Christians wrong but they were fools. It was chic to disdain Christianity and Christians. Academics used Christians as foils to make themselves feel better, much as genders and races use others to make themselves feel better. As the 1900s went on, more people went to college and so more young people were indoctrinated with a tacit disdain for Christianity, Christians, and formal religion. In response, Christians saw the Liberals as immoral fools deceiving the masses and corrupting all of Western civilization. Christians used a caricature of Liberalism to make themselves feel better, excuse themselves, explain why everything went wrong, and as an all-purpose straw dog.
Second, strong world events, such as World Wars 1 and 2, the Great Depression, pollution, the demise of nature, plagues, hunger, socio-economic classes, racism, and religious wars, undercut belief in old traditional religion, including especially Christianity. Christianity had no answers or few answers. The events hit Westerners hard because we had made so much progress in other ways but could not seem to get out of savagery and could not seem to help people see the light.
Third, Westerners encountered religions other than Judaism and Christianity. In particular, they met Eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. In contrast to Christianity, these religions became chic. I do not go into why and how academics and self-styled “free thinking” people could scorn Christianity yet be fascinated by other religions. The easy half-right answer, good enough for here, is that people need religion, the West scorned Christianity, but Westerners still needed some religion, so they turned to ideologies that they could twist to suit their fantasies.
Fourth, Westerners developed views that could serve as alternatives to religion or that undercut parts of religion by explaining them away as merely something else. Communism became increasingly a force after about 1900. After World War 2, trendy Westerners followed Existentialism – I can’t here explain it. Beginning after World War 1, deep psychology, usually a Freudian version but there have been many, explained away religion by saying, for example, that God is nothing but a stern father writ large and the Virgin Mary is nothing but the pre-adolescent view of a kind mother writ large. Anthropologists explain how religious patterns follow social-cultural patterns and the two can reinforce each other, so religion does not have any independent truth even if it serves as a template for society. Religion in the Middle Ages both followed and set the template for European Feudal Society. Biologists explained how people do not see the world exactly as it is, and how our modest distortions can lead to belief in ghosts, spirits, gods, angels, and witches.
Fifth, both chic Western intellectuals and anti-rational belief-only Christians developed an anti-science bias. These people not only ignored science except to gain from it (everybody loves iPods and cell phones), they said science was wrong and evil. They said it was evil in different ways but they still it was evil. Normally these two camps (chic intellectuals and purposely irrational religious believers) hate each other more than they hate anything else but in this one cause they came together. They reinforced each other. The chic intellectuals gave the anti-rational believers tools to use against science and against rational thought. Republicans were allied with the anti-rational old believers by default but not all Republicans liked this turn. They do not like biting the hand that feeds them, and they do not like militant anti-rational anti-science craziness. They are happy to separate realms and some Republicans even try to keep the best of both realms while minimizing contradictions. Lacking a deep foundation, Democrats did not know what to make of this mess, and sometimes went along with the chic intellectual anti-rational bias. But they also sensed that the anti-rational basis anti-science propaganda supported the far Religious Right of the Republicans and so Democrats did not go too far. This is another case where the middle of Democrats and Republicans overlaps and both middles oppose the extreme but neither Party will open their eyes to reality and say what needs to be said.
I wish to stress that large Christian Churches, such as the Roman Catholic Church, never participated much in the anti-rational anti-science wave. They respected the need for rationality and science even though they also stress the need for belief. There were semi-crazy groups in all the Churches that did rail against rationality and science but they never carried the whole Church, and they do not seem as strong now.
It is not necessary to hate rationality and science to hate what we have done to the planet and to hate the abuses that stem from capitalism and from militarism. In fact, hating rationality and science only gets in the way of understanding fully and being able to find good responses. The answer is not to stop science and technology but to use them better. To use them better you have to know them.
Sixth, the above points tended to happen more with people who had Democratic backgrounds. Also, people who went to college tended toward Democratic-style politics. So, scorning Christianity and Christians got associated with Democrats. On the flip side, holding to Christianity got associated with Republicans. I do not go into why having traditional religion is linked with well-to-do people and the secure working and middle classes. Not only did Republicans come to think of themselves as Christians but, especially after the middle 1970s, they came to think of themselves as anti-Liberal (anti-Democrat) Christians in the sense above without succumbing entirely to the anti-rational anti0science belief-only stances of the Religious Right. Some young Democrats did make fun of Christians while adopting non-traditional beliefs; and some Republicans did deliberately reinforce their belief in old style anti-rational belief-only Christianity. But, in fact, most Democrats retain much of Christian belief, especially as they marry and raise children, and most Democrats do not scorn Christians or Christianity. Republican intellectuals, such as Bill Bradley (Firing Line) and political theorists such as Neo-Cons that were strong under George W. Bush, hardly seem to be traditional Jews or Christians, or even properly religious.
One shameful lapse backward by Republicans is denial of global climate change, in which otherwise rational Republicans ally with the irrationality of the Religious Right. They shameless use anti-science anti-rationality to attack sound arguments. They shamelessly use bad data to create their own fantasy arguments. They do not do this because they don’t believe in science but because they wish an excuse to get whatever profits they can now before the bottom falls out. That is a lot of hypocrisy. This is why attacking science hurts nature in the long run.
Because Democrats recruit from among underdogs, outsiders, and minorities, Democrats made a point to say non-Christian religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are good and should be respected. Democrats extol the Black Church in America even while making fun of churches with mostly White members. Democrats know so little about Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism that their assessments make little sense but people got the appeal to tolerance anyway. When praise of non-Christian non-Jewish religions comes from a real desire to be inclusive and broad-minded, it is very good. When it comes out of ignorance and the desire to recruit clients, it is not necessarily bad but it is not the good it claims. When it is combined with scorn of Christianity, it is bad, and the good intentions behind it cannot make up for the bad. I do not guess how Democrats and academics justify the hypocrisy of scorning Christianity but extolling non-Christian religions, and of scorning churches with White members but extolling all the Black church(es). Republicans see this hypocrisy clearly, and it makes them “double down” on their defense of Christianity even while they try not to offend non-Christians. Blacks also see the hypocrisy and know it means that Democrats praise their church(es) and Democrats ally with Blacks as a political ploy and not out of a deep bond or deep respect for Jesus and his Church. Non-Christians also see the hypocrisy and know it means the same.
Sensing an opportunity, Republicans force Democrats to say publicly that they think traditional religions, especially Christianity, cannot be literally true and that people who believe it to be literally true cannot be fully rational. Pushing Democrats into that corner is not fair but Democrats will always be susceptible until they think out their own views, can explain their own views, and can deal with the hypocrisy that comes of playing the client game.
I enjoy my roots in traditional Christianity, and I follow the teachings of Jesus, but I am not a Christian according to standard views that rely on the Trinity. I have read about religions and I lived for eight years in a good Buddhist country with some terrific monks. I believe that morality and the supernatural are intimately related, so that one strongly implies the other, but they are logically separable. So, I “get it from both sides”; and that is why I feel confident about what I said above. Academics treat me like an imbecile, a dupe, a bit dangerous, prone to rely on emotions not logic, a religious zealot in intellectual disguise, and not to be trusted around children and dogs. Christians and Republicans treat me like their false stereotype of a Liberal who hates God and Jesus no matter how much I defend both, as a dupe of clever Democratic-Liberal ideologies, an imbecile, and not to be trusted around children and dogs.
There has never been, there is not now, and likely there never will be, a war on Christianity. The scorn that some Lefties have for traditional-religion-in-general-and-Christianity-in-particular does not amount to a war on Christianity. Mostly it amounts to a war on their own intellects and souls. The purging of religious items from public areas, especially from state-owned areas, is sad but reasonable, and it does not amount to a war on Christianity. We really can’t run America on the basis of any one religion even if there can be no doubt that Christianity played a big role in the growth of America. PC stupidity such as mandatory “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is silly and regretful but also is not a war on Christianity. Try to tailor greetings not to offend, but, if you have a good heart, and you accidentally say “Merry Christmas” to a non-Christian, I am sure he-she will forgive. Jews put up with it for hundreds of years. If a Muslim greeted me with “May Allah guide you”, I would be happy. The current trend of the courts to allow religious art and the symbols of religion for historical value is the right way to go. Non-Christians, especially atheists, need to develop thicker skins. Christians, especially the Republicans who defend Jesus for political reasons rather than from true sympathy for his teachings, need to grow thicker skins. Everyone needs to grow up and lighten up.
Democrats, as individuals, really do need to figure out their own beliefs and to confront their hypocrisy about religion, values, and politics.
Should Democrats and self-styled Liberals stop disdaining Christianity out of modern chic, look hard at their own morality, consider relations between morality and the supernatural, give Christianity and all religions their due, and start living according to decency and maybe according to the teachings of Jesus? Sure. Should Republicans stop thinking their convenient institutional Christianity or born again version of Christianity is real Christianity, stop thinking Jesus loves them more, stop using their false Christianity to feel superior, stop using their false Christianity as an excuse to abuse others, learn about all religions and give them their due, consider real morality, and live according to decency and maybe according to the teachings of Jesus? Sue. I have no idea how to bring this about. If Jesus, Confucius, the Buddha, Mohammad, etc. could not do it, then I can’t.
Bad Political Correctness (PC) versus Good Morality.
-This section only introduces the topic. See my essay. I love the ideas behind PC but hate the practice, as I love old Liberal and Conservative ideals but hate the practice of Democrats and Republicans.
PC is superficially correct moral ideas that are used not primarily because they are moral and correct but as a tool to show power and to control other people. It is modern “holier than thou”. Some form of PC has been around a long time. I trace the roots of modern PC to John Calvin. Republicans have a version of PC, as bad as the Democratic version. While in a group of Republicans, say “Ronald Reagan began the irresponsible selfish bad deficit spending that has bankrupted America”.
The problem is not morality as such. All morality guides and restricts acts. So do all ideologies and ideas including those that say not to be governed by ideologies or “herd morality”. The issue is whether the guidance is good guidance to good ends.
Why then do Democrats get blamed for PC while Republicans get a free pass on their moralistic huff? Partly because everybody expects Republicans to be hypocritical up-tight conniving selfish moralists but expects Democrats not to be that way. People expect better but don’t get it. People expect the Right Wing to be moral scolds but not Democrats. Yet that is what they get.
Democratic style PC is the natural outgrowth of Democratic confusion over equality under the law with absolute sameness, and vice versa. It is the natural outgrowth of confusion about what diversity-and-inclusion really means and how it relates to equality under law. It is the natural outgrowth of the fact that some Democratic groups really don’t get along. It is the natural outgrowth of groups using ideas such as equality under the law and inclusion-and-diversity as tools for their benefit without real regard for the underlying principles or the fate of others. It is the natural outgrowth of the fact that Democrats have a silly ideal of human nature in theory and are hypocritical in practice about human nature. Unless Democrats can come to grips with equality under the law, same and different, diversity and inclusion, the fact that groups differ, and the fact that some groups don’t get along, then Democrats are doomed to pernicious PC.
As with the Democratic attitude about Christianity and other religions, Democratic PC is a contradiction that entails hypocrisy. Democrats are supposed to accept full human nature including faults, and they are supposed to be able to work with that. Democrats are supposed to believe that full human nature with all its faults is enough for us to work together, and that the faults can be corrected enough gently enough so we can work together. Democrats are supposed to be accepting and including. They should be able to take a joke. Democrats are supposed to be a bit “laid back”. They laugh at the “church lady” and they think they are never like that. They should accept the view of various ethnic, gender, and religious groups, and that view includes jokes this group makes about those groups. Some Jews still call women Christians “shiksa”, which comes from something like “apart and icky” although now it is not used much in that derogatory way but as “temptation”. When Walowitz makes fun of the term on the TV show Big Bang Theory, it comes off as funny, not offensive. Penny is a “shiksa goddess”. Democrats should be able to tell the difference between friendly humorous “put downs” versus nasty insults based on bad ideas. Democrats should be able to put up with human foibles. Democrats should see beyond foibles to the deep issues and real problems, to the issues that shape foibles.
But PC Democrats are none of that. They lay in wait for someone to make an error, an error that most people would not call serious, so the PC Democrat can jump all over the poor sap. They are like spiders that hunt by lurking and jumping. They are scolds. They care more about bludgeoning a victim and taking control than about teaching good ideas, personal relations, and social relations. They seem not to get their own PC ideology of fairness and decency at any level deeper than mere ideology, and, apart from the shell of the ideology, seem not to have other humane ideas.
When PC people get corrected and get told that their PC hurts more than helps, that they are in it more for the good feelings of moral superiority and indignation, naturally they feel bad and get angry. Usually correcting them that way does little good. Yet they refuse to see that other people feel the same way, and it does as little good, when they scold other people using PC as a tool. If you can’t see yourself like this, then you don’t have the right to much moral indignation or to scold.
PC supports a double standard that is more prominent among Democrats. Equality under the law and respect for diversity are supposed to go together but, in fact, it seems that Democratic groups use the law, equality under the law, and the idea of diversity to get and keep privileges. They each care for their own status and don’t give a damn about the well-being of other groups or the general idea of equality-and-diversity.
In the Democratic version of equality-and-diversity, the group traditionally not in power has privileges that the old group that traditionally had power now cannot have. The group traditionally out of power can do things to the old-power group cannot do. Blacks can call each other “Black”, “nigger”, “brother”, and “sister” but Whites should never use those terms for Blacks or among Blacks, not even in friendship, not even in joking friendship, and not even when no Black is present. We must use “African American” (not accurate) and other similar terms such as “Chinese American”. Yet Blacks and Asians need not say “European American” or “Greek American”. Many Blacks use “Whites”, “White people”, “White folk”, “White man”, and “White woman” as abusively as Whites say “nigger” and Blacks still refer to Whites as “honkey” and “redneck”. In music, Blacks can call women by horrible names, threaten sexual abuse, and threaten violence, regardless of artistic merit, while no non-Black could. Men can never say “girl”. Yet when women get angry at men, they openly derisively call them “boys”; and women commonly refer to themselves as “girls”. Hispanics extol “La Raza” but Democrats officially get angry when White people enjoy European culture and Whites extol the achievements of Europe. My experience with claims of discrimination is that they are used for personal gain and to hurt others rather than to make sure there is no discrimination and to assert equality for all.
We have to allow some leeway to disadvantaged groups, and we have to give them some compensation, but we have allowed too much too long. We are too susceptible to “White guilt” and to “middle class guilt”. Other groups sense susceptibility and they use PC to exploit it. Thus PC enables victimization rather than fights victimization. They PC does not make things better but worse.
PC enables reverse discrimination and it enables non-Whites and women to coerce their employers, schools, churches, restaurants, and everyday people. PC enables using an accusation of discrimination to get what you wish, not because discrimination was really what was going on or it was the most important factor. This use of PC severely hurts the good cause for which PC was intended. It lets us overlook or excuse the dismal performance of Black and Hispanic children in the public schools and Black violence. PC enables such evil as Blacks shooting non-Black police officers, and shooting some Black police officers just because they are police officers. PC enables bad selective blindness. When Republicans had code words that enabled discrimination, those words enabled bad acts and blindness. It is not clear which practice is worse. What matters is that neither should be allowed, but modern Democratic PC not only allows, it enables.
PC lets people feel they have earned a great victory when they catch somebody, lets people feel good about themselves, when really they have done little or have done harm. It is like when anti-abortion activists change the law to allow them to stand 20 feet from an abortion clinic, rather than 50 feet away, so they can get in the faces of women who come seeking help. PC now is more about personal gain through feeling good than about making any real changes.
I saw on TV reference to a poll in which most college students preferred inclusion-and-diversity over free speech. The quality or accuracy of the poll is not relevant here. Simply to ask this question means it is better to have on campus some number of stereotyped underdogs, regardless of academic ability, and not to allow people to say anything about it, especially not to say anything un-PC. Better to shut up and drink the Kool Aid. Yet this view is typical of the harmful stupidity into which PC leads us. Inclusion and diversity depend on free speech, they would never have happened without free speech, and they could not continue without free speech – even free speech that questions PC inclusion and diversity or even free speech that wrongly painfully questions any inclusion and diversity. Inclusion and diversity without free speech are not real inclusion and diversity. Real inclusion and diversity could not endure without free speech. If inclusion and diversity combined with genuine ability is the right thing to do, then true free speech will lead to them. Not to see this, and instead to prefer some external pretend show to real decency, is a tragedy. Democrats have to ask how they support this view. No Republican delusion exceeds this stance in stupidity or harm.
PC perpetuates the stereotype of (formerly) harmed groups as never able to take care of themselves, never able to grow up, never adult, never smart enough, always behind other groups. Everybody knows PC is not natural, that PC language is not natural language. If we have to always be and speak un-natural around some group then that group is not alright. They are always behind and unable. If they are always behind and unable, there is never any end to it. If they are always behind and unable, then the only way they will ever get any semblance of equality, fake equality not real equality, is to press often-unfair claims of discrimination. If they are always behind and unable, why should they get jobs first, get the good jobs first, get any good jobs instead of somebody else, or be the boss? People don’t mind taking care of people who really need care but the central premise of PC is that the disadvantaged don’t really need special care – yet we have to give it to them forever and ever.
The worst effect of PC is that PC blocks seeing deep forces because it lets people get great satisfaction from superficialities. When a Black catches a White saying “Black” instead of “African American”, the Black person doesn’t have to think why Black kids do so badly in school, why there is so much Black on Black violence, why Blacks cultivate a bad attitude that never has done them any good, or why there is persistent unemployment and why so many jobs are bad. When a woman catches a man saying “girl” she doesn’t have to think about the deep evolved human nature of men and women, the glass ceiling, or why women still only get about 70% of what men get for comparable work. When a White person catches a Black person playing at PC to feel good, get ahead, or put down White person, when you see Al Sharpton on TV, or hear about another Affirmative Action case, the White person doesn’t have to think about any of this.
People have learned to follow PC in public not because they really agree with the practice but because they get in trouble if they don’t. That is how the stocks and pillory worked in 1650.
In this situation, people can’t agree or disagree with the good ideas that once were behind PC. People don’t get a fair chance to see the ideas behind the cloud of PC. Because PC practice works out badly so often, and overshadows good results even when good results happen, if people take PC to represent the actual basic ideas, then people have to disagree with the basic ideas, even when the basic ideas are good. That is the opposite of what PC aims at.
The ideas behind PC are too important to allow PC to undermine them. We must focus on the ideas and deep issues.
The “Me Too” movement helps women that have been abused, sometimes but not always beaten or raped, but coerced and used all the same. I was shocked as a youth to learn how many of the women I knew had had not only uncomfortable experiences but experiences that bordered on rape or were rape. It is good for women to share the experiences and good for the men who do bad things to be exposed. It is good to insist that men refer to women by terms that do not infantilize women (make them small and stupid) and that do not make it easy to use women. It is good for women to use all means available to make men see them as humans and treat them accordingly. We will get a few public accusations that make too much of a sexual advance and so hurt a few lives unfairly. You have to decide if that is a small enough price to pay.
The desire of women to be treated with respect and not be abused far pre-dates 1970 and far pre-dates the “Me Too” movement. I see little practical difference between the desire of women in 1820 that all men act like gentlemen versus the desire of women now that all men act like gentlemen. Insisting on superficially decent language and polite behavior in public did not change society and human nature in 1820 and likely that will not do the job now. If people think it will do the job, then, again, PC actually hurts more than helps. If economic and political power alone can do the job, then I am sad for all of us. Women and men need to think why men and women act as they do, both from human nature and from the particular social-economic-political-cultural-religious-and-historic conditions at particular times and places. They need to base strategy for good change on that. If they do, PC will follow of its own accord, or will follow with some modest intelligent pushing. If not, no PC will make much of a difference over the long run, and it will hurt. The same is true of all other groups with all grievances.
PC now is more of a liability than an asset. By focusing on superficialities it gets in the way of seeing the really important forces underneath. The women of the “Me Too” movement did not complain because men called them “baby” but because men molested the women. Forcing men not to say “baby” would not by itself make any difference in men molesting women and it would blind us to seeing what would make a difference. What would?
Catching White people saying “Black” or “nigger” might make Blacks feel good but won’t change much. Forbidding all people to use the word “nigger”, even among Blacks in camaraderie, might make Whites feel good but won’t change much. Catching Black people saying “honkey” or “red neck”, or using “Whites” as a curse word, might make White people feel good but won’t change much. Driving around blasting bad hip-hop or country music might make you feel good but it only makes things worse. Tearing down all Southern Civil War monuments, or defending all monuments, might make you feel good but it does little to end racism and it does a lot to sustain racial antagonism. Worse, it means you don’t have to think why you should tear down or keep monuments, should tear down some but keep others, and what better to do to achieve equality under the law and racial respect.
Yes, small things such as language do make a difference but not often the pivotal difference. Find what really matters and work on that. You have to look not only at economics etc. and the attitudes of the “oppressors” but also at the attitudes of your own group as well.
When I say “PC is more a liability than an asset, it enables bad acts, hides important deep forces, lets us feel we have won a victory when we have not, and we should get rid of it to focus on the deep forces beneath”, I mean it. I mean rely on decency and knowledge instead of ideology. When Republicans say “Washington Liberal PC nonsense” they mean: “Get rid of annoying restrictions; stop looking for deep causes; go ahead and treat badly anybody that you don’t like or who gets in your way; and we will take as much power as we can get with little regard for anyone else”. Republicans mean “Use our ideology of decency to cover up indecency”. Learn to tell the difference. Learn to be decent.
In today’s climate, I do not know how to promote the good ideas behind PC without falling into the bad traps of PC. I do not know how to get Democrats to see they need a better middle way than they have now. I do not know how to get Democrats to follow good vision based on decency rather than promote blindness based on ideology. I do not know how to make people respond to each other on the basis of simple decency so we need neither ideologies nor PC hyper-moralizing.