Mike Polioudakis, from “Democrats and Republicans”, Part 4
PART 4: REPUBLICANS
Some Introductory Remarks
-This essay was written in late 2017 and early 2018. The material about Republicans is not about Donald Trump and his bad antics. I lived in Alabama when Roy Moore was running for Senator. I do not take Trump or Moore to represent Republicans. Take any major half-way and decent Republican figure as a better representative such as John McCain. This material is about the better Republicans.
Even so, take Trump and Moore as logical extensions of what I say here. They are what happens when the forces of dogmatic partisanship nurtured since Reagan escape control. They are what happens when you let loose the “brown shirts” (look it up on the Net). Take Trump and Moore as a lesson about what not to do. Even if Trump wins a second term, gets his wall, makes peace with North Korea, and learns about trade, he is still a lesson in who not to be and what not to do. Trump’s attempts to slander the FBI, Justice Department, and intelligence community, are enough to put him outside what any self-respecting decent Republican before him would have done. His “base” bought it and loves him. That is sad and scary.
Reagan, Bush 2, and Trump succeeded because many Whites, Asians, religious zealots, cultural zealots, and fearful people, mostly from the working class and middle class, moved into the Republican Party in the 1970s through 1990s. Trump does not really share their beliefs but he can pretend adeptly and he knows how to rally support from them. Trump does not speak for all those people. Many have more sense and more humanity. But he fronts for enough desperate, irrational, and extreme people so they control the Party. If they control it long enough, they will change the Party and politics.
-The core members of the Republican Party are people on top of society. Unlike in the past, they are not the sole dominating group in the Party because of the working and middle class people that joined after 1980. It is easy to imagine the Republican core in a big conspiracy. They give the masses just enough to control the masses. They give the masses just enough freedom so the masses can act out a little to blow off enough steam, and so authorities can identify troublemakers. They don’t give the masses enough so the masses ever get any real wealth, power, or control. This was the style of governing of the Romans, Chinese, British, and likely other successful large-scale rulers. Even now, police adopt a similar strategy with people who are chronically under-employed and are criminals. Recent pop culture likes to use the bad but alluring fantasy of a secret dominant group. Why are rebels against an evil empire or a would-be world conqueror perennially popular?
Even so, I doubt that Republicans are part of a giant conspiracy. Instead, I think the way that the world turned out gave Republican leaders this pattern and they, being smart, made what they could of it. To keep the pattern going, all that Republicans have to do is what people with wealth and power wish to do. Some perceptive individual Republicans do see the pattern and take conscious active steps to keep it going and keep themselves on top but I doubt these people are part of a cabal – SPECTRE – that rules America and tries to rule the world. In some places, Russia and China at least, there is a small group of such people, so what I say here does not always apply elsewhere.
Breaking a self-reinforcing pattern might be harder than breaking a giant world plot, or, at least it is less glamorous to fight a self-reinforcing pattern than to fight an evil empire. What would you do to fight a self-reinforcing pattern rather than an evil empire and its evil emperor?
At least since the middle 1960s, and now even more with the rise of a semi-capitalist rich ruling class in Russia, China, India and other nations, the wealthy powerful people of different nations have more in common with each other than with the non-rich non-powerful people in their own nation. The core of the Republican Party in America has more in common with similar people in France, England, Germany, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Brazil, India, and Mexico than with the working and middle class people who joined the Republican Party after 1975. They often do well to support each other rather than to support the non-rich non-powerful people of their own parties in their own nations. Again, this reality suggests a conspiracy but again I doubt. I say the same: the way the world turned out gave an opportunity to rich powerful smart people, and they took it as far as they could without undermining their old bases in their own countries. I don’t know what this reality means for politics in any particular nation or relations between nations – here is not the place to guess. The Russia-Putin-Trump antics might be an example of a would-be conspiracy and of how weak such international conspiracies can be. Some people use multi-national corporations as examples but I do not go into that issue here.
Several places I note how Democrats and Republicans act selfishly without enough regard for the nation as a whole. You will see, in this essay, selfish actions that I do not explicitly point out because I got tired of saying it. That behavior is common in politics so it is not necessarily any evidence of a plot in America or among rich powerful people around the world. Sometimes selfishness with little regard for the national good is evidence of loose cooperation among the international rich and powerful people but often it is not. This essay cannot guess when disregard for national welfare likely is evidence of a ruling group or likely is not. You can have fun guessing. If I could get a grant of several billion dollars so I could fit in among the rich and powerful, it might be fun to look for any conspiracies or to find there are none. Of course, if I did find one out, likely I would die before I could write my report. Until then, academics and political commentators will have to guess from the outside. I’m sure they will.
-Contrary to Lefty myth, most Republicans do not hate everyone else: Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays (LGBTQ people), and Nature. Republicans would rather those people did well and Nature did well, and Republicans will sacrifice to help. Republicans supported Civil Rights in the 60s and the Environmental Protection Agency (Nixon did not start the EPA but he did see the value and go along). If Republican business owners could be sure Black candidates were really qualified, had a good attitude, and would not cause more problems than people in other groups, Republicans would be happy to hire Blacks, at least through positions of middle management. When Republican owners had confidence in Asians, they hired Asians in legions. White Republican business owners prefer Hispanics not only because they get the Hispanics cheaper but because of the Hispanic attitude toward work.
Republicans do fear non-Republicans. They often fear non-Whites and fear anybody below the level of the comfortable middle class. But this fear is not more than when working and middle class Blacks and Whites and Hispanics all fear and hate each other. It is not more than the average Black fears in walking the street in many Black neighborhoods. It is sad all around but it is part of the many fears that pervade modern life. The good things of modern life can’t take away all this fear in Republicans or in anybody.
-Despite good wishes, Republicans will not spend too much. They will not endanger their own middle-and-long term security and endanger the chances that their kids go to a good school and get a good job. This is understandable. Working class and middle class people do the same when they have something to hang on to. Black people do the same when they have something to hang on to.
Republicans have seen how little gain has come from programs, how much programs have ballooned, how much programs have cost, and how programs and regulations have, in fact, cut the ability of hard-working honest successful people to hold what they made. (Democrats see it too but will not admit it.) Rather than repeat the mistakes of the past, many Republicans want an end to all the silliness. They are tired of trying to figure out what will work and what won’t work, only to see that what they thought would work blow up again and rip the guts out of the economy and out of programs that really do good. Not ending all the silliness likely will bankrupt the country. The only way to save the country is to end all the silliness.
Stop throwing good money after bad. Start putting money where it will do some good for sure and will do the most good. That way, we get the most for our investment, and the most for our investment is likely to lead to the greatest good. There is no other way to get the greatest good for all. Is putting our money where it is sure to do less-than-the-most-good likely to lead to the greatest good? If ending all the silliness leaves some people at a comparative disadvantage, then so be it. They are still well off in absolute terms compared to what they would have had if we had mismanaged wealth and compared to poor people all over the world.
-Rather than re-try failed projects, Republicans would rather put all their eggs in one basket: business. They say: You can see that business works, see the good results when America prospers. You can see problems go down. You don’t see that with programs, or not much. The Obama Boom of 2015 onwards (falsely claimed by Trump), did more to reduce Black unemployment than all the programs of the past. If business does work, and business works for my family, why not use business as the solution? Look to business to give everyone enough so that, even though all are not equal, we all have enough so that our children have realistic hope, and we take the edge off bad competition and we can work together. Let business find technical ways to save nature. Let business find a place for all ethnic, religious, and social groups who are willing to work. Let business find ways to work together. Don’t adopt anything that hinders business. Don’t fund alternatives because that is a dead waste and it hurts business. Oppose the fools that don’t see all this.
Business is the Republican way of hinting that they can-and-will give everything to everybody but also of making people individually, or as a social group, responsible for what they get or don’t get. It is the Republican way for the Party to have its cake and eat it too; and it works. It is a way to give to your clients while blocking the clients of the Democrats and all-the-while making the results seem due to the merit or demerit of the people that get and don’t get. That is an impressive political strategy, and worth holding on to.
Business is the guiding worldview of Republicans. Business is how Republicans would like to see a better America, the world, and the role of America in the world. This is much how the English saw themselves in the 1800s and what the Germans wished to have beginning in the late 1800s. This view is much like the Chinese view now of China as eventually the biggest economy in the world and thereby leading the new Chinese-centered world. Business means wealth means power, and vice versa. Even if China does become the biggest economy in the world, that status will not be enough to lead the world properly. Business is not enough for a vision of a better American, a better world, and the role of a better America in a better world.
Republicans try to add a version of morality to business but that “pasting on” does not succeed and the two cobbled clumsily together are not enough for a good world view. Business is how Republicans hint that they can-and-will give everything to everyone, so Republicans seem to succeed because people believe what they wish to have; but still Republicans do not really succeed in giving us a working world view. People sense the emptiness behind the Republican business-is-all world view much like the emptiness inside a powerful Ring Wraith. Most people want much better. People put up with the Republican business world view, “double down” over it, and fool themselves, because Democrats have no coherent world view at all to offer in its place, and people need a coherent world view.
People hide from themselves what they do. This hiding leads to guilt, bad feelings of the self, and bad relations with others.
-Maybe the greatest political triumph of Republicans in the 1900s was, in the 1970s through 1990s, to convince working and middle class Americans, including the women in those classes, and including many non-Whites, that their interests rested with business, business firms, business people, and business leaders far more than with anything in the Democratic Party. Republicans convinced the working and middle classes that business leaders were their leaders and their saviors. Republicans got those people to look on Republican leaders as modern lords. For the entire 1900s until Ronald Reagan, those people had viewed business as the opposition and enemy. They shifted not only due to Reagan’s silky rhetoric but his charm did help. He gave people a rationale for doing what they wished to do for other reasons. You will see some reasons scattered through all parts of this essay. Belief in business and its leaders is so strong that it easily overcomes cases when it seems that business is abusing the working and middle classes, as with sending jobs and factories overseas (outsourcing), tax cuts for the rich, and the income gap. The strength of the belief in business is due partly to what Republicans say they offer but also to what Democrats don’t offer, what Democrats portend (threaten) such as more support to non-Whites non-Asians, partly to desperation, and partly to irrationality that I am not much in touch with and so can’t comment much on.
-If you fear that the irrational demands of other groups will undermine the country and the security of your family, then you fear, strongly dislike, and sometimes hate, those people. This is one reason why Blacks fear, strongly dislike, and often hate Whites, and why women sometimes hate men. It is a reason why Democrats and Republicans hate in general. People make ugly what they fear so that they have an excuse to fear and hate. It even happens to the group with economic power, business people. It is sad. But it is also human, and it is hard to avoid.
-Because of the failure of social programs, I (Mike) have found it hard to tell Republicans what is going on, tell them about deeper realities of the economy, history of the economy, history of attitudes, and what might be more reasonable than simply to deny all programs and to push business like crazy. They think I try to excuse the failures and to find another rationale for continuing the failures or to begin new failures. It is hard to tell Republicans they know the economy and human nature better than Democrats but still they misuse their knowledge and that their selective use amounts to willful ignorance and willful badness. It is hard to tell Republicans that the flaws and problems are real. It is hard to show them that business does not by itself solve all problems, that a rising tide does not float all boats. They take any alternative to “gung ho business” as going right away to full blown Russian-like old-style socialism, with Republicans paying, their families ruined, and them living under the thumb of Democratic non-White and gender-weird Commissars. Even when they do know better, they have to reject a fully realistic view of the economy including its flaws and problems because they don’t think a full understanding will lead to anything good and they think it must lead to something bad. They have to reject truth that they know is true. All this is sad.
What Do Conservatives Wish to Conserve or to Change?
If you have not already done so, please read Part 2 on the family.
Conservatives should have some things that they wish to conserve, that they wish not to change. They should also have some things that they will change. They need to be able to tell one from the other and to give good reasons. They do not have to make sense in the same way as Liberals but they do have to make sense in their own ways. Republicans are not conservatives in this way, at all. They do have things that they wish to keep, often mostly symbolic; and they do embrace some change, usually change that benefits them in finance and power; but they cannot give coherent good reasons, not the same reasons that an old Conservative would give.
Republicans are not Conservatives in that they wish to keep institutions from the past because those institutions have proven themselves good. Republicans wish to keep old institutions when those help Republican wealth and power. Republicans invent institutions and pretend the new is old so they can get the new adopted and can use the new as they wish, as with executive privilege and their ideas of states’ rights and gun rights. Old Conservatives opposed changed without direction, change that did not lead to the good of the whole, and “Lefty” change because most such changes create more harm than good. Republicans do not oppose change for those reasons but because the change erodes their power and wealth. Conservatives adopted the new when it built on the old, did not cause too much damage too fast, caused some obvious good, and when the old was not up to the job of what society needs now. Republicans do not wish to keep the old, discard the old, avoid the new, or adopt the new, for those good Conservative reasons. There is nothing Republicans wish to conserve in the original sense of the term “Conservative”. Republicans make a show of keeping some institutions but the institutions are not as they were in the past and usually are idealized and not realistic, such as the many Christian churches and the mythological American family. Usually the idealized form helps clients of the Republican Party and it hurts Democrats and their clients, such as the idealized nuclear family living in an idealized single-family house with a big yard, the woman staying home, and the man going out to bring home the bacon. Republicans extol their image of ideal traditional religion that never was without knowing the history of their religion, what is really old in it, and what changed 2000 years, 1600 years, 400 years, 200 years, or 50 years ago. They want to “conserve” business even if business as we know it is only 200 years old and corporations only 150 years old. Original Conservatives detested capitalist business and would detest most business practices now. Republicans want to keep their idealized unrealistic institutions although those institutions go against God-given nature such as chemical-heavy mono-cropping.
Republicans (seem to) wish to dance on Nature’s grave like a bunch of cackling demons; yet Nature is the first, original, and likely the best, gift that God ever gave us. It is the original institution that needs to be conserved under the stewardship of godly people. God did not give it to us only to use, use up, pollute, and kill, but to be kind to, as God admonished the people of Israel to be kind to animals and to strangers. Is get-rich-quick how we carry out our duty as stewards?
Reminder: A lot of social and cultural change did happen fast starting in the 1950s, most change was silly, and some was hurtful such as indiscriminate sex. But, contrary to Right Wing scare stories, not many people got lost in the changes. The changes of the “wild 60s” are no longer a threat and no longer an excuse to hold on to unrealistic families and unrealistic beliefs. Most people now are not afraid of LGBTQ people (gays) and marijuana. Most people welcome guidance about what was original, old, and good, what to keep, the new normal, what to change, what to change to, and how fast. They won’t get guidance from Republicans as long as Republicans insist on saying they adhere strictly to old time family and old time religion, as a tactic to hold some clients. That is why Republicans lost “Millenials” in 2008 to Obama and why they will lose Millenials again when young people have a real choice. Rather than Charles Manson, people now should fear people who devised the housing crisis of 2006, credit card charges, fake bank accounts, and the Wolf of Wall Street, but Republicans do not warn us against them.
Ask Republican children if they would like to live in a small house with four generations of kin, take care of the old people when the old people poop in their pants, forego marriage if you are among the young children, be a spinster at 19, marry only who your parents approve of, date only sparingly and only with a chaperone, go to church every Sunday, not have an abortion if you get pregnant at 14, never get drunk in public, always do military service, not get an education beyond sixth grade especially if you are a girl, and spend seven years as an apprentice before opening your own small shop. Why don’t Republicans defend that family? That is the real traditional family, not the Cleavers from TV.
Republicans need to decide what they really want to keep and why. They need to decide if that really is the tradition, and, if not, why they still fight for it. They need to decide what change to accept or reject and why. They need to decide what changes they look forward to and how to get there so the new is as good as possible. They need to explain why all this is “Conservative” or is not Conservative.
It is not Conservative to believe in a sinister homosexual agenda, war on Christmas or Christians, or a war on the family. It is not Conservative to see things in terms of cultural wars. It is Conservative to see things in terms of the underlying causes, in terms of what holds society together, what changes with the times but does not really threaten society, and what really does threaten society.
What EXACTLY about homosexual pairs and about families based on homosexuals bothers you? It is alright to say “it creeps me out” if you are old enough and have had little experience with LGBTQ (gay) people; but it is not alright to rest with that feeling if you are a true Conservative. It is weakly alright to say “the Bible is against all homosexuality and homosexuals” but you had better understand the Bible really well and understand not only the very few parts that disparage homosexuality but also the parts that call for seeing the common humanity of us all and for appreciating the good character of most gay people. If you use the Bible, then you should understand that other genuine people can use the same book and come to different conclusions about this issue.
What EXACTLY is good about good families and bad about bad families? Are all Conservative families good in the good way and are all Lefty families bad in the bad way? Are more Conservative families good in the good way than Lefty families? Are you sure? Are Conservative families better in the good way than Lefty families? Why not promote what is good and fight what is bad in all kinds of families, of all political persuasions? Isn’t that the true Conservative response?
Aside from the tendency of Democrats to spend like crazy where spending won’t do much long term good, what exactly is at stake in the cultural wars? Why don’t you fight for something deeper?
Do you really think America will go to hell if it becomes more Left wing, as, for example, if we legalize marijuana or gay marriage? What is God really mad about, and are you avoiding that? Are you doing what God really wants even more than disparaging homosexuals? Don’t you think God will be happy if we seek to respect people as Jesus respected people?
What are the deep underling principles that you wish to promote or to fight? Don’t settle for external markers such as clothing, sexuality (gender), family type, gun ownership, or who a person voted for in any election. Don’t even settle for nominal religion such as Christianity or Islam. What is good in each religion that you wish to conserve as part of your religion and as a plan for your life based on religion? How do you conserve what matters without distraction from what is not very important? That is what a true Conservative does. Do you really do that?
When a candidate says “As a Conservative blah blah blah”, what he-she really means is something like: “I will promote business. I will take from the poor, working class, and middle class to give to business if I think it will promote business. Business can save us. I will support projects that help business but fight projects that do not help business. I will fight projects that help Democratic clients such as Blacks and women and immigrants. I will make sure the children of our clients all get a good enough education and make good enough connections to get good jobs. I will make sure the children of our clients get good enough jobs although I take wealth from them to support business. I will make sure that the children of White, some Asian, and some Hispanic, clients, get the best first shot at good jobs and that the children of Democratic clients are relegated to leftovers. I will not support projects that give the children of others a chance to get good jobs first. I will kill those projects. This is my idea of family values, what I wish to conserve. You can count on me for that. I will support the symbolic crusades that identify us to ourselves and against others yet that make little real difference in business, such as for guns but against abortion, against marijuana, and against non-traditional gender and sex. I will make fun of attempts by women, gays, and non-Whites to find self and purpose. When I say ‘Washington and Liberals are bad’, I use them to stand for all that our clients fear, against everything I support, so I can use them as a bad contrast to my good position.” This stance has little to do with Conservative ideas. Don’t settle for this crap.
Rights and Responsibilities (Duties) 2.
See Rights and Responsibilities 1 above for Democrats. The Republican view of rights and duties is best seen in relation to two ideas from economics. Even a modest treatment of the ideas from economics needs more space than I can give here. I put a version in an essay on my website as a companion to this essay. Here I give a brief version without justifying points. Before you get angry at the content, read the companion piece and take seriously its suggestions.
The two economic ideas are labeled A and B. Here, “rich” and “wealthy” include the upper class and most of the upper middle class. “Non-rich” is everyone else, and, includes some people of the upper middle class. Lefty professionals such as college professors like to think they are not allied with the rich but in this case, as in most cases, they are. I subsume “income” under “wealth”.
(A) Investment, Economic Health, Growth, and Rich People
(A1) Ideas in the Republican View:
(A1 a) (a1) Despite being the greatest economy ever and robust in most ways, our economy is always in trouble. This is a conundrum but still true. Our economy is hurt by Democratic programs but not only those. It has its own problems. What these problems are remains vague. They are not the flaws and problems that Mike wrote about above. (a2) The economy can always gain from more investment. More investment of any kind never hurts the economy but always helps. So the economy always needs more investment. (a3) More investment and more expansion automatically cure all problems. (a4) There is no difference between forced expansion due to forced investment versus natural growth from natural investment. We can and should use forced expansion due to forced investment to cure all ills.
(A1 b) (b1) Rich people always invest a greater ratio of their income and wealth than non-rich people. The more income and wealth that rich people have, the more they invest. (b2) The more income that non-rich people have, they do not invest but instead mostly waste.
(A1 c) The state can help by giving rich people advantages to give them more wealth. Rich people use the added wealth to invest. Advantages include tax breaks, tax shelters, funds for research, covering business losses, covering business expenses, reducing risk, reducing uncertainty, and more.
(A1 d) (Repeat from a1) The extra investment always helps the economy and so helps all people and the whole nation. There is no limit to extra investment from rich people from state advantages. All added investment from added wealth to rich people from state advantages, is good.
(A1 e) (e1) As I say many times in this essay, giving advantages to one group makes other groups pay for the advantages, not just when the White working class pays for Blacks or the Black working class pays for the White upper middle class, but in all cases. Giving the rich advantages moves (transfers) wealth from the non-rich to the rich. A big way to effectively force the non-rich to pay for the rich is with sales taxes. (e2) in addition to moving wealth from the non-rich indirectly through advantages for the rich, the state can move wealth directly by taxing the non-rich at a higher rate, and then giving advantages to the rich such as with grants for research and by covering business losses. The state does both.
(A1 f) However much the non-rich give to the rich, the non-rich still benefit overall because the economy grows and the non-rich benefit from the growth. The economic growth leads to more benefit for all, including more benefit to the non-rich than the non-rich lost when they subsidized the rich.
Rich people have developed attitudes that go along with these ideas about the economy. I go into the attitudes after I assess the truth.
(A2) Except for b1 and e, all the ideas are nearly completely false. They can be true only under specific and unusual conditions. There is no point here going into those specific conditions because they do not prevail often enough to base general long-term policy on.
(A3) Some Truth: There is a difference between natural good growth versus forced expansion. Forced expansion is almost always bad. The first issues that we need to deal with are the flaws and problems noted in Part 1. We cannot, and should not, deal with vague unspecified problems that supposedly can be cured by forced investment and forced expansion, no matter how unsatisfied we feel, until after we have dealt with the flaws and problems that I wrote about.
The free market, under most conditions, automatically makes enough capital (wealth) for investment, especially for good investment. The free market, under most conditions, automatically leads people to invest the right ratio of their wealth (incomes) given their income and their financial positions. The state does not need to make sure there is enough wealth for investment. The state does not need to insure rich people have more wealth for more investment. The state does not need to move wealth from non-rich people to rich people. More and more investment does not lead to good growth and usually leads to bad expansion that looks like growth but is not. We err to help rich people to invest ever more. We should stop. In unusual conditions where it can help to give rich people more wealth to invest, those conditions are almost always done in less than four years, and advantages to the rich should be taken back. And those conditions do not recur every ten years but recur only about once ever fifty years. Of course, as with nearly all state programs, the advantages are never taken back, and recipients, the rich, always agitate for more of the present advantages and additional other advantages. The state should treat rich and ordinary people the same. It should tax both on a single graduated mildly progressive scale (tax rate increases slightly with income). The state should end sales taxes. The state should not move wealth from the non-rich to the rich. The economy does not always need more help, and does not need more help through playing around with taxes and advantages.
(A4) Attitudes, Rights, and Responsibilities: The attitudes here apply not only to rich people but to all members of the Republican Party including working class and middle class members, although the ideas do not apply in the same way. The ideas apply to the working and middle classes much as the attitudes about “being British” that prevail among the British aristocracy apply to the masses although the masses do not have the same position. For this material, take “investment” also to include owning big business firms, the normal conduct of big business firms, and managing big business firms. The term might also apply to mid-size business firms but here is not the place to quibble.
Primarily for selfish reasons, rich people, business firms, the Republican Party, and its clients, all tend to believe the above false ideas (A1) although they know the ideas are false. Most people repress knowing the ideas are false but still know at a deep level that the ideas are false.
It is important to get cause correct. Republicans do not start by believing false ideas about the economy and then get wrong, bad, and self-serving attitudes from false economic theories. Rather, Republicans start with wrong, bad, self-serving attitudes and then grab ideas from economics that justify attitudes. People do this with religion and academic ideologies. “Entitlement” recipients do the same. Poor people don’t really believe all the crap about bad rich people. They don’t know enough about rich people to believe much either way. Poor people wish support from the state so they seek ideas that justify what they wish. Poor people need to explain their situation to themselves, and it is psychologically easier to blame others and to give ourselves a heroic role. Whoever does it, it is wrong.
Republicans believe bad ideas for bad reasons, invert the real order of cause, repress it all, and this self-delusion allows them to act for their advantage and to justify how they act. You can ponder what such “self psyching out” does to people and to their relations with others. If it happens to Republicans, then a version also happens to Democrats, as described in various places in this essay.
The material that follows is mostly the point of view of rich people. Until about the 1960s, rich people would say ideas such as follow out loud, but, since then, they have learned to keep quiet. In the novel “Brave New World” by Aldus Huxley, the world had consolidated under one government. World society was divided into four large socio-economic classes, largely modeled on Hindu society and with parallels to ideal society as laid out by Plato in “The Republic”. Each class had a distinct view of the world. Each class saw itself as the real base on which society rested, and gave reasons why it was the base. Groups in American society can see the same thing differently and each group sees itself as the base. The novel is short, easy to read, fun, and sad. It is a classic of its kind.
When rich people invest, they help themselves but they also help the economy, the state, and all people individually and collectively. Rich people perform a public service. Their public service is the basis for a complex of rights, duties, and privileges.
In assessing the role of rich people in society and the state, we should see that the public service that rich people do more than outweighs any gain for them personally. Gain for them should play no part in how we see their public service and in what rights and duties their service entails. To see their service in terms of their gain blinds us to the greater good that they do, blinds us to the general good, and leads us to err in how the public and the state act toward rich people. Think in terms of their public service and only in terms of their public service. Deliberately avoid thinking in terms of their gain.
When rich people invest, because they benefit all of the people, they should be protected. They have a right to be protected beyond the normal rights as human beings and citizens. We have a duty to protect them beyond our duties to protect human beings and citizens in general.
A public service often is a duty, especially when people recognize that they perform a public service and have it within their power to perform the public service regularly. Investment is a duty for Republicans. It is their major duty, and about their only major duty, as we will see.
Investment is always risky and uncertain. Risk and uncertainty are dangerous. In carrying out their duty to invest, rich people face danger for their country, often great danger, and they face it all their lives. By investing, they are patriots, like lifetime soldiers, sailors, and airmen (air people) in battle. We rightly see that military people have greater status than most others, including some greater rights. We tend to their health their whole lives, and they are entitled to a pension. In the same way, rich people have greater rights. We should look out for them. The service of veterans ends when they leave the military but the service of rich people never ends. So they deserve respect and consideration their entire lives. Rich people don’t need the kinds of consideration that veterans need. They need consideration that goes along with the service that they give by investing and being rich, and goes along with their social role and social class. Exactly what more rich people deserve will emerge presently.
Even if you are not swayed by the argument that rich people face danger like soldiers, rich people still perform a service that no other people can perform, a real service with real general good. Rich people see their service as their duty, and carry out their duty. For those reasons alone, rich people deserve extra consideration based on their wealth and social status.
Wealth serves the country by guiding investment so that the country grows in the right ways and grows ever more. Wealth makes more wealth and makes ever better guidance. People who already are rich have a right to stay rich and to get ever richer. The state has a duty to make sure rich people stay rich. Rich people have a right to make sure the state makes sure they stay rich and get richer.
Wealth is power and power is wealth. Republicans have a right to power and to ever more power. Their power is always justified while the power of Democrats is always a kind of usurpation.
Simply by being wealthy and powerful, and by running business firms and offices, Republicans get more experience of the real world than other people do. So, Republicans have a right to run the state and the right to power.
The way that Republicans run the state is not directly hands-on but by making sure that the right people get into offices and stay. In investing, and in owning and running business firms, Republicans don’t go down onto the factory floor and weld car frames. Republicans pick the right people to do the right jobs. As the investors and leaders, Republicans have the right and duty to do this. Republicans are better able to do this because they have experience. Putting the right people into state offices is much like putting wealth into the right places and putting the right people into jobs in business firms. Republicans have a right to put people into state offices and a duty to do this. That is how they govern well.
Non-rich people have a duty to accept the leadership of Republicans and their officers. Non-rich people have a duty to go along with Republicans holding wealth and power. Non-rich people ought to feel honored that they can help the Republicans manage the economy and the state by allowing the state to move wealth from non-rich people to rich people.
Non-rich people have a duty not to grumble about unequal wealth and power, and Republicans have a right to make sure their officials know that non-rich people ought not to grumble. Rich people have a right to be protected from unrest by the masses, and the state has a duty to protect rich people from the masses.
Republicans do not have to learn the details of citizenship as long as the people that they get into office do the job for them. Republicans don’t have to learn the details of a school district bond measure or of a highway plan. Republicans don’t have to learn about flaws and problems in the economy, if there are any, which there are not. Republicans don’t have to learn how to deal with problems in the economy, even if problems are caused by flaws. That is what their state officers are for, like business managers of firms. If Republicans spend their time and effort learning details, they can’t learn how to invest and how to get the right people into offices.
Republicans don’t need to pay much in taxes, and should not pay much in taxes because taxes only take away from what they have to give to the country through investing. Even merely filing taxes and paying what the state forces them to pay makes them better citizens than other people because they give more than others. Merely managing their wealth for the benefit of the country is much better service than any taxes they could ever pay.
The state, the people, and officers of the state, should do nothing to hinder Republicans in carrying out their duties and rights by using wealth to invest and by making more wealth by which to invest more. Rich investors and business people should not be hindered by regulations and by so-called “watchdogs”. To a very great extent, good investment and good management coincide with the greater welfare of the nation, and so the greater welfare of the nation can be best promoted by letting good investment and good management act unhindered. Get out of the way.
Republicans have the duty and right to invest, run their firms, and put the right people into state offices. That is how they guide the nation and serve it. That is a lot of duty and right already. That is enough. We should not ask for any more. We should be grateful that rich people (Republicans) do their duty so well and ask so little through their rights. We should acknowledge their rights to hold their wealth, invest their wealth, get people into state offices, be secure in their wealth and persons, and make more wealth.
(B) Taking the Big Role
People in a modern economy depend on each other and help each other although usually they don’t consciously know they help and they underestimate the amount of help given and taken. Simply by doing his-her job, office, profession, or vocation, such as investing and business, each person helps many other people and the whole economy. Each person adds to total benefit. Simply by each private person doing his-her job etc., the total benefit to society is hundreds of times more than from the state, non-profit agencies, churches, politicians, community activists, political parties, activists, and commentators, all combined. This result is a reason to feel good about yourself but not to feel heroic unless you are a police officer, firefighter, military person, or other person directly in harm’s way.
Republicans twist this truth to make too much of it for them but too little for Democrats, Democratic clients, and all working people including the middle class. Republicans take their role in the economy to be heroic and to add greatly to total benefit, far more per Republican person than for other persons. I don’t explain how they rationalize this view. Professional people, business people, and some officers feel they add much more to the total of benefit than do most other people who exert the same effort and more than do other people who might be just as smart and have similar education. Simply by doing their vocation, or by investing, professional people, business people, and some officers automatically do much more good than do other people.
In addition, simply by doing their vocation, or by investing, professional people, business people, and some officers automatically know better how to govern than do other people, and they have the right to govern. Mostly they exert their right-and-duty to govern by making sure the right people go into state offices. Their duty to govern well, a duty that goes with their right, is met automatically because their life leads them to know more about life and about governing than do other people.
Through the benefit they bestow with their vocation, and they benefit they bestow by governing well, professionals, business people, and officers are lord-like and help society much more than do other people simply by the professionals, business people, and officers carrying on with their lordly-like status, life, and vocation. Common people accept this dimension in professionals, business people, and most officers. We not only pay congress people, professors, doctors, dentists, lawyers, and business people but we say “thank you” as well when we would not say “thank you “ to the people who mow the lawn or to a mechanic.
All Republicans feel they belong to this class of lord-like people and so have a right to all this. If they are not a lord themselves, then they are in the class associated with lords. They have done all their duties as a citizen, and have done more duty than others, simply in doing their vocation, investing, and installing people into offices. Their only further duty is to scorn Democrats and Democratic clients. This attitude is unwarranted arrogance. Most professionals, business people, and officers know the danger and fight arrogance. Republicans believe their false version of lordly charisma although they know it is false. Again, you can guess what this contradiction does to their psyches and their relations with other people. One reason people in general wish to be Republican is so they can share this lordly stance, even if only as the equivalent of a squire. One reason the poor, working class, and middle class go along with the rich is because Republicans are the lordly class of old extended into our times.
The wrong attitudes from A and B combine. It is the right of Republicans as Republicans to pay little in taxes, get help from the state, have wealth shifted to them, rule by putting people into state offices, be accepted as the ruling class, and get richer. Republicans as Republicans have no more responsibilities other than to invest, carry out their vocation, and install the right people into state offices. Republicans have done all their duty as a citizen, and have no more responsibilities, when they do that. Republicans think other people should recognize their status and recognize how much they have done for society simply by being Republicans, investing, carrying out their vocation, and installing the right people into government offices.
Of course, not all Republicans think like this. Many are true patriots, do a lot for their country, and make real sacrifices for their country. Many serve their communities and other communities far beyond their vocation and beyond investing. Many Republicans see far beyond investing and token tax-paying. Many Republicans such as (I assume) Warren Buffet, even wish to pay a fair share of taxes, at about the same rate as the middle class. As noted, I think most long-term military people are Republicans who actually do risk their own real lives. I have little personal experience, but I think Republicans, like Democrats, who really have seen much of the world and really do know people, do not rest on the presumptions of their status but choose to work hard to make the world deeply enduringly better. While, like everyone, Republicans might wish other people do the work of their duties for them, most Republicans don’t really expect the masses to do that. Republicans tend to see the big picture nationally and internationally and tend to take their duties seriously as a result of seeing the big picture. Do not tar all Republicans with the above selfish brush.
Even so, the combined bad attitude from A and B is pervasive enough to cause a bias in the Republican Party, and a bias among Republicans and self-styled “Conservatives”. The twisted facts, lordly attitude, claim of status, right to govern, claim of having fulfilled all duties, and evasion of responsibilities, are all much too juicy to pass up. The attitude affects politics and fiscal policy. It creates tax programs at all levels of government. This attitude is fully as bad as the wrong idea of Democratic clients that they have big rights, their rights should always prevail, other groups are always trying to kill their rights, and they don’t have to think about their duties at all. If Republicans have done their full duty when they deposit a dividend check, deliver a dental crown to a paying patient, or get richer thanks to biased treatment by the state, then welfare loafers also have done their full duty when they spend welfare money on booze and drugs and they agitate the Democrats to raise welfare stipends by exploiting the plight of poor kids. The parallel bad attitudes by Republicans and Democrats is why both need a stern course in the idea that all rights entail responsibilities, and in the whole system of rights and duties of a good adept citizen in a modern democracy.
The Main Course about Republicans (with some repetition):
-If we see Republican politicians as distinct from the business class, then the first and most important clients of the Republican Party are big business firms.
If we see big business firms and their leaders as the heart of the Party and see Republican politicians as an extension of big business interests, then the most important clients in 2018 are: (a) working people with fairly steady jobs, often with decent pay and benefits, who are not in some ethnic groups such as Blacks; (b) middle class people with steady jobs, usually with good pay and good benefits, usually White, and usually are not in some ethnic groups such as Blacks; (c) upper middle class people including academic and professional people; (d) some small business people; and (e) many medium sized business people. The Republican Party includes few ethnic minorities such as Blacks, the poor, or people with insecure bad jobs. It includes women who are in the client groups and women who are spouses of men in the client groups. It includes recent immigrants who have done well such as some Asians, Muslim professional people, and Eastern Europeans. It includes many recent immigrants who feel threatened by immigrants from long ago, such as some recent Asians and Muslim immigrants who feel threatened by Blacks and by White Christians.
Again: Working and middle class people who have half-way good jobs but who fear falling into poverty, feel insecure, and fear competition from the working and middle class people just below them, mostly moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s - but they might vote either way depending on which Party-or-candidate they think remembers them in this particular election. They feel forgotten by both Parties. Especially White people in this group 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 wannabe minor demagogue emerges. Until wage stagnation and the income-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 guess here. 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 Republican Party supports big business through: direct legal protection against problems such as liability and law suits, de-regulation for themselves, selective regulation of enemies, selective increase or reduction of tariffs, tax breaks, research in schools, support for research in business firms, grants, and manipulation of markets. The accurate term for all this support is “corporate welfare”. A better term is “wannabe business fascism” but that term is not likely to catch on. The general approach is like China after about 1990.
-The Republican Party pretends to support small business but supports small business only so as not to alienate small business and as a roundabout way to help big business.
-Republicans understand a real modern capitalist economy better than Democrats but they do not use their knowledge wisely. Despite knowing more about the economy, Republicans either do not know, or repress knowing: the economy has an irreducible minimum of involuntary unemployment, bad jobs are pushing out good jobs, many people are now not smart enough to get much of any job, the problems with employment fall unequally on social groups, the problems fall harder on children, and there has been a big increasing gap in income and wealth since 1980. Republicans do not know about, or repress knowing, the flaws and problems of the economy. Republicans pretend the economy could be perfect with their help when they know it cannot.
Republicans do not primarily figure what programs the economy can maintain, what programs are net gains, which net losses, which help the economy, which shrink it, which are morally needed regardless of modest cost, which are moral but too expensive, and which business activities harm human character and nature (environment) over the long run. Instead, Republicans interfere to gain wealth and power and to please clients. They use what they know for that and mostly only that.
Republicans are good at making the criticisms implied above about the programs of Democrats but not for their programs or all programs. So far, Republicans have convinced the public that they are better at this figuring, but, if the public catches on that they will not figure out fully anymore than do Democrats, Republicans will be discredited too.
Republicans know there is a difference between good economic growth based on natural choice and natural investment versus bad economic expansion due to forced investment through channeling wealth to already-wealthy people and firms. They know good growth helps while bad expansion usually hurts. Republicans repress admitting this difference so they can get state aid for their clients, aid that state aid results in more income and more wealth. Republicans repress admitting the difference so they can effectively punish Democratic clients by making them pay for aid to Republican clients. Thus Democratic clients, often the poor and working class, are less able to compete with Republican clients, the working class and middle class.
Republicans do not make a general rational reasonable assessment of all programs in the context of the real economy because, if they did, they would have to admit they know about the flaws of the economy and the results of the flaws. They would have to admit that they deliberately repress some aspects of economic reality that they know are real. They would have to take real unemployment, socio-economic, class, bad jobs, not-smart people, different impact on social groups, and different impact on children, into account, and they wish not to. They would rather pretend that we have full employment, have total social mobility based entirely on individual merit, and that anybody can fully make it, than to do a thorough good job for the sake of the nation.
“More Jobs and Better Jobs through Business” is a Ploy.
-Especially since Reagan and the influx of new Party members after 1980, Republicans promote business not directly but indirectly by claiming to create jobs. Republicans say they ask for tax breaks, zoning changes, grants, legal immunity, pollution exemptions, lax regulations, protection from competition, tariffs, etc. not because it helps business but because it leads to factories, offices, distribution centers, and, supposedly, jobs. Republicans are all about jobs now, not about business. In elections, Republican incumbents take credit for every job since the start of time, and Republican candidates promise to give business more benefits so as to get jobs, and only to get jobs.
Of course, really, “more jobs, and better jobs, through business” is merely a ploy. It is a way to get many people to support a candidate so he-she can support business. Whenever a Republican brags about jobs or promises jobs you can be sure that is not what is really at stake. The sight of Republicans promoting themselves as “job creators” is deeply annoying. Trump is an example.
The ploy works mostly because voters can’t see what else to do. Democrats don’t seem good at making jobs. “Make work” from the state does not succeed in the long run and it costs more than it is worth. Simply getting more education doesn’t succeed now; jobs have to be there before your child can get a degree to compete for them; mom’s basement is a cliché. Business might be good for the country or not; business people might be good people or not; business likely gains more than the people gain when factories, offices, and distribution centers come here instead of go there – but at least local people some place get a few jobs for their children. If “more business here” is the only way you can see to make jobs, then you fool yourself into believing “whole hog” even if inside you worry. Hard-up people believe what they have to believe and believe it all the more when they know it is not really true. Republicans know all this and use it adeptly during campaigns and in office.
The real questions are:
(1) Whether jobs created under Republican conditions lead to net gains for the whole country, the poor, working and middle classes, and all the people; OR
(2) Whether simply letting the economy take its natural course without much help for business would do even better for the nation as a whole; for the poor, working and middle classes; and for the people as a whole; if we were astute about how to manage, how to interfere and not interfere.
Which is better: (1) state interference, OR (2) a mostly free market that is modestly well-regulated so as to benefit the whole (2)? Can we succeed if we merely play fair with business (2)? These questions are hard. The answers require numbers and deep thought about “might”. We have to think if the jobs are good or bad, and how long the jobs likely will last. We have to consider if benefits given to business are by a local area such as a state or county, or if benefits are in a national package. We have to balance gains-and-losses to a local area against gains-and-losses to the whole nation. In a national package, we have to balance gains-and-losses to business in general against gains-and-losses to all the people and the whole nation. So I don’t go into the issues other than to offer my opinion. I strongly favor (2).
The strategy of giving to business can succeed in a limited way, for a limited time, in local areas, such as by leading to more jobs locally and to more revenue from payroll, property, and sales taxes. It can gain enough so gains temporarily make up for concessions in land taxes, infrastructure costs, pollution costs, security costs, etc. Even if it works locally for a while, the strategy can fail locally as when pollution costs are more than expected, people re-locate out of the area to better new subdivisions, people buy their stuff in other shopping malls, or when business gets a better deal elsewhere sooner than expected and moves to another local area or to India.
Even if promoting business locally succeeds for a while, and as tempting as that temporary success is to a local area, local success is not the real issue to a citizen of a whole democracy. For good citizens, even for good citizens in local areas where giving concessions to business might succeed, the real question is whether local gain, and gain to the whole nation, outweighs loss to the whole nation in giving business firms benefits.
(1A) Even if a local area does gain for a while, that does not mean the nation as a whole gained. Jobs gained locally by serving business are like jobs gained through casinos. They help some at one here-and-now but they hurt at many there-and-later more than help one here-and-now. They take resources from other areas to move here. They take away what other areas would have made through business there, jobs there, and modest fair taxes there. They pit one area against other areas, pit one area against the nation, to see who can go lower and give away more to business. Any net gain for this local area likely does not make up for net loss all over. And, any net gain here now likely will be offset by loss here later. Business firms love to get local areas bidding against each other to see who can give away more to business regardless of fairness and regardless of overall gain or loss to the nation.
It is true that a factory, store, office, or distribution center has to be located somewhere, and so it might as well be located here so that here can benefit regardless of what happens there. But, when here and there compete to “give away the farm” so as to get the so-called boon here, then everywhere has lost even if here gains temporarily. The concessions that any locality has to make to get the factory, office, etc. placed here instead of placed there almost wipe out the benefits of getting it here and they often do wipe out net benefit for the country as a whole.
The whole can gain only if the deal with business at every location meets general minimum standards of fairness, standards that insure the whole benefits overall. The whole can gain only if all local areas are stopped from giving away the farm. There has to be a limit on what local areas can give away, and all local areas have to abide by that limit. Concessions to business can be only moderate; they can never be heavy. For example, business should be expected to pay reasonable property taxes and to contribute to infrastructure. We might expect business to help pay for police, fire, and schools. If old business pays taxes on profit, new business should as well. That framework is rarely so. People know in their gut but can’t do much about it.
(1B) Any supposed gain by strongly promoting general business in the whole country, including any supposed overall gain in jobs, in fact loses resources that business should have given to the whole, as by taxes on obvious profits and by fair jobs, and so results in a net loss to the whole. The whole country loses rather than gains. The whole country has fewer jobs rather than more, and has fewer good jobs rather than more good jobs. When business gets benefits that normal human beings don’t get, when big business firms get benefits that small business firms doesn’t get, when farmers get benefits that other business firms don’t get, or when any industry gets benefits that other industries don’t get, the country as a whole loses. The country as a whole loses good jobs. The fact that this interference, even for some business, leads to a net loss rather than a gain is what it means to have a fair free enterprise economy that runs fairly well. This is what it means to say fair trade is better than state interference including better than state aid to business. State aid is not only bad when it goes to unions and poor people; state aid is bad when it goes to business. Yes, really.
Only if business suffered a clear strong disadvantage to begin with, such as by being over-taxed, could general promotion of business lead to net gain for the whole and to more good jobs overall. In the US, business does not usually suffer like that now, although it has suffered like that modestly in the past. After the Reagan, Bush, and Trump tax cuts, business does NOT suffer from over-taxation or from much of anything else, so we cannot consider giving benefits to business as a way to get business back on a level playing field or as doing much overall good.
(1 overall) No, the country as a whole and the people as a whole are not well served by unusual aid to business, either locally or as part of a national plan. That is not a way to make good jobs or many bad jobs. (1) is “no”, (1) is false.
(2) If we were more astute about how to manage the economy, mostly by not interfering, we would get more jobs, and more good jobs, than by trying to make jobs happen by giving to business. We should help the free market to work as it should. If we really wish to help business, mostly we should do it not directly but indirectly through programs that help the whole country such as better education, better education for tech jobs, better infrastructure, better laws, and sensible laws about drugs that reduce jail costs and gather tax revenue. When a business firm seeks a local area, usually even more important to the firm than local concessions are a good local educated work force, a reliable local work force, good local laws, good local schools, good local infrastructure, good local housing, good local security, good local police, and good local fire service. Even a poor community can provide enough of this with the right attitude and cooperation. Business firms should always expect to pay their fare share of all the taxes that other firms pay and that individual firms pay.
(2) is “yes”, (2) is true. Go with (2) instead of unending aid to business supposedly to get jobs (1). We can succeed well if we merely play fair with business. We should not cheat business, “fleece the rich”, or give business extra benefits. It is not that hard to figure out fairness to business.
In theory, all the above is what good market-oriented “Conservative” Republican business people, office holders, and candidates should say too. In practice, instead, they push for as much state aid to business as they can get, at every level, using “more jobs, better jobs” as a ploy. Desperate people go along, both locally and nationally.
It would be good if Democrats could come up with a simple clear believable analysis to show why more business promotion (1) is false and why well-regulated free market fair play (2) is true; and it would be good if Democrats could come up with the proper modest management style that we need to help the whole country with (2). That plan would serve the whole country and all Democratic clients rather than serve only some clients. Not likely. As long as it is not likely, Republicans will get away with promoting business, and the country as a whole will suffer.
(In a deeper work than this essay, two other cases would need considering. Luckily for me here, these issues do not substantially change what I said above.
First, some nations, such as China, give business firms and industries considerable support. How do we handle this situation without distorting our own economy so much that our support actually makes our economy worse than the unfair competition does? The traditional answer is to subsidize-and-protect our firms and industries, locally and nationally. This response works a little, but nations, including the US, always take it too far. Since the 1960s, we have not subsidized-and-protected as heavily as before and we have relied more on free trade. This alternative worked fairly well until China after about 1995. India and other rising nations likely will take the same path as China.
Second, some local areas within the US are poor while others are rich. The level of wealth affects how they can entice business and how they deal with business once it is there. It changes how national packages affect local areas. Almost always, national plans hurt poor areas more than rich areas.)
Not Admit Flaws and Problems; the Economy is both Robust and Sickly.
Republicans repress admitting flaws and problems of the economy because: (a) to do so would interfere with state aid for their clients including business, (b) the mere idea of flaws and problems frightens and alienates Republican clients, and (c) to admit flaws and problems would not prevent Republicans from repressing Democratic programs and their clients.
Instead of the full truth, Republicans say: (A) The economy is robust thanks to Republican businessmen; (B) yet the economy always woefully underperforms due to Democratic programs; C) despite being always solid, somehow, except for boom times, the economy is always in trouble; (D) the economy must have state aid of the kind that only Republicans promote, such as tax breaks; the economy cannot have state aid of the kind that Democrats promote, such as to increase consumer demand and help the poor, working class, and middle class; and (F) Republican style aid is needed not simply to counter Democratic damage but because the economy intrinsically must have Republican style state said.
Republican style aid is needed not only to counter the harm done by Democrats but because, somehow, despite being robust, the economy never does what we want. It intrinsically always needs aid, and it always needs aid of the Republican kind, and only that kind. The fact that the economy never does all that we want and always needs Republican aid is not a flaw or problem as I describe above but is merely an annoying fact that Republicans can turn into a golden opportunity for them.
Of course, this view of the economy is self-contradictory and false. Republicans say all this, including the contradictions, so they can take all the credit for what good comes of the economy, blame Democrats for all the bad, and get more for their clients in any case.
If Republicans admit flaws and problems, they would have to admit this view is false. If they admit it is false, they could not ask for much of their kind of state aid. If Republicans could not ask for their kind of state aid, they would anger clients who depend on it, not only business firms, rich people, and the upper middle class but, lately more importantly, the working class and middle class. If Republicans admit flaws and problems, they have to admit the economy is not always robust in the ways that they say it is and that, when it is robust, economic health is not due mostly to Republican programs. They would have to admit that not all Democratic clients are chiseling slackers, and not all problems come from Democratic clients. They would have to admit that some programs, similar to Democratic programs, are needed to deal with flaws and problems. They have to come up with better versions of welfare, unemployment insurance, health care, aid to children, aid to schools, medical care for children and moms, and etc. Such reasonable programs would further anger their clients if only because such reasonable programs would help the rivals of Republican clients, the poor, insecure working class, and insecure middle class.
Most Republican clients know the Republican view of the economy is false, and Republican clients sense what would happen if they admitted the Republican view is false, although they might not be able to say it. They too believe not because it is true but because it is useful for them. As long as Republican clients buy this false view of the economy, Republicans can easily get away with promoting it, and will promote it to get gains for Republicans and their clients and to hurt Democrats and their clients.
I find all this confusion and denial a tragic waste of good knowledge, a tragic opportunity lost.
More on State Aid to Business and on the Contradiction.
-The Republican contradiction over economic strength, economic weakness, and state aid to business is worth dwelling on. Here the term “business” includes “rich people” as above, which includes much of the upper middle class.
(A) Republicans say American capitalist business has built the greatest economy and best standard of living in human history. It runs beautifully and provides wealth amazingly well for nearly all people.
(B) (B1) Yet, at the same time, the economy does not run at optimum. The economy is enough below optimum so we see problems such as poverty, unemployment, bad jobs, and overseas competition. If the economy ran at optimum, all problems would end automatically and everyone would live well. (B2) It will not run at optimum if the state does not aid business. The state must aid business.
This is a contradiction. Why is the economy running so well but not running at optimum? It helps to know in advance that the real aim of Republicans is to get-and-keep state aid to business and so all the other points are tools to that end.
Republicans give two incompatible answers. (1) All the damn stupid Democratic programs, including regulations, harm business, the economy, and the nation. Despite some benefit to some few lucky people, no programs cause more good than harm overall. All programs cause more harm than good. We must remove almost all programs and regulations.
In fact, Democratic insanity cannot be the only reason or major reason. Programs date only from the 1930s at the earliest, many from the 1960s and 70s, Jimmy Carter reduced regulations in the 1970s, and Republicans have been reducing programs and regulations since. We have had unemployment and bad jobs since before the Civil War, and the Great Depression happened when the state served big business and so did almost nothing. After much de-regulation, the economy still did not automatically solve all problems. Democratic programs do cause some problems but cannot be the main cause for continuing poverty, unemployment, bad employment, and bad relations between social groups.
It is not enough to say we need Republican programs, state aid to business, as a counter to Democratic programs while leaving Democratic programs in place. To do that is to cure low chills with high fever. If getting rid of all Democratic programs cured everything, it would be better to use all our effort to get rid of Democratic programs. It would not be a good use of effort to promote state aid to business on top of Democratic programs. Only if getting rid of all Democratic programs did not cure all the problems, only if the economy still had problems apart from Democratic programs, would it make sense to say we need both to get rid of Democratic programs and to promote state aid for business.
So (2) Republicans have to strongly imply there must be other reasons why the economy does not run at optimum. Republicans do not say what those other reasons are.
Republicans insist that, even if we don’t specify the reasons for the sub-optimal performance, state aid to business can cure the problems completely and only state aid to business can cure the problems at all. We must have state aid to business and we must block state aid to Democrats and their clients. To repeat: The idea that we must have state aid to business is the real goal behind the Republican case. The other points are primarily for support even if they have some merit on their own and even if some people take them as the main points.
Republicans avoid looking at the flaws and problems that I listed above in Part 1. Republicans would deny those flaws and problems can be much of a reason the state does not run at optimum. To accept those flaws and problems as a big cause would mean state aid to business could not alone cure the flaws and problems, likely would not help much, and could make it worse. We would need something more than state aid to business. We would need something like Democratic programs but run much better. We would have to actually govern well. So we have to look elsewhere, and the elsewhere is state aid to business along with removing Democratic programs.
With individuals and non-politicized social groups, an appeal for aid is more effective if the aid fills a deficit, fills a need that causes harm if not taken care of. The Gulf States of America need a lot of help with water control in general but really need the help, and often only get it, after a hurricane causes a lot of damage. The same is true of the economy. Aid is urgent if it helps heal a real need, a need that causes harm. Republicans say Democratic programs are not the only cause of sub-optimal performance, and the flaws that I described above are not the main cause. So there is a real need that has to be taken care of and there must be real causes for the need that only Republicans can see. State aid to business fills a need that must be taken care of, and is the only way to fill that need.
To say why state aid to business does the trick and only state aid to business does the trick, Republicans would have to specify exactly where problems come from. But, if they did say exactly where problems come from, I am sure their case would be weak, and the situation would require action other than state aid to business. I cannot think of any deep reasons that could be fixed entirely by state aid to business and only by state aid to business. As long as people will believe Republicans, it is better for Republicans to be vague about causes, and for Republicans to claim they are the only people who can solve all the problems caused for unspecified reasons, and only state to business can do the job.
Republicans say we should get rid of all Democratic programs even if we cannot specify other reasons for sub-optimal performance. Democratic programs cause so much damage, even if we do right things in the Republican way but do not get rid of Democratic programs, the economy still will run badly, and Republicans likely will get blamed. Reducing Democratic programs is a useful step, a co-first step, even if we must also do other things, Republican things, such as state aid to business.
Although Republicans condemn Democratic programs as a knee-jerk reflex, I think really they care much more about getting state aid for business than about Democratic programs one way or the other. They use anti-Democratic rhetoric as a way to get state aid for business and to make sure Democratic benefits stay within limits that do not harm Republicans and their clients. Republicans are better off to keep modest Democratic programs around as a whipping boy to blame and as a way to get-and-keep state aid to business, as long as Republicans can convince enough people that Democratic programs are bad and, and by doing so, Republicans can keep the upper hand in the battle of state aid. Having modest versions of Democratic programs keeps the masses under control well enough but leaves them restless enough to draw concern to them and away from Republicans. Having modest Democratic programs keeps the people from looking closely at the Republican claim of deep reasons for sub-optimal performance by the economy, reasons that require state aid to business. It is an effective diversion. People go along with this ploy, for various reasons that you should think about.
(Insistence on state aid to business is why Republicans and true Libertarians can’t get along in the end. Libertarians would be happy to end Democratic programs and state aid to business while Republicans wish to reduce-but-not-entirely-end Democratic programs yet keep robust state aid to business. I think Republicans would keep both if they had to choose between keeping both or losing both. Libertarians can’t go along with that.)
Republicans repress seeing that the economy had problems before Democratic programs and it would have worse problems if we removed all Democratic programs – even if Democratic programs do add problems of their own. Republicans repress seeing any flaws and problems that don’t help their case for state aid to business, as I described above. Republicans repress the need to say what the problems are apart from Democratic programs and apart from the flaws that I described. Of course, they insist there are such problems, state aid to business can fix them, and only state aid to business can fix them.
This stance actually works among Republicans and their clients. It works on the campaign trail and in closed meetings to raise funds. It works because they want to believe in something that supports state aid for business and denies state aid for Democratic clients. They believe although, in their hearts, they know it is false, and know that more needs to be done. I am amazed at what people will believe when it serves their selfish interests even at a cost to the greater nation. I am amazed at what works in politics and group dynamics.
Republicans are so eager for state aid to business, and to hinder Democrats and their clients, that they happily let the economy carry on with real flaws that cause much harm to the nation as a whole. They deliberately lie about the harm from Democratic programs. They deliberately lie about other deep causes. They deliberately overlook the recognized flaws and problems that I described above. And they repress the lies. This stance is not healthy and is quite selfish. This craziness is what Republicans accuse Democratic clients of. Almost all lying and repressing makes crazy zealot-like people and makes for bad relations with everybody else.
The Republican desire for state aid for business is a modern revival of what was called “Mercantilism”, in which the state and business cooperate to get power for the state by getting wealth through business. This idea is what economists from Adam Smith onward, and the idea of the free market, were supposed to have overthrown. It never stops recurring in various forms, including modern Republicanism. It is what China is doing and Russia tries to do. I think of it as a form of fascism, which Libertarians think of as a form of socialism.
All this is not the best way to use Republican superior knowledge about economic reality and about a real capitalist economy.
If you can find a willing Republican, ask the following. If not, ask yourself. Why does the economy work so well mostly but runs sub-optimally? What are the flaws and problems? Are they the same as those I described above or different? Can we blame all shortcomings on Democratic programs and clients? I assume we can’t, so why not? If something more than Democratic programs ails the economy, what? Why won’t Republicans tell us clearly what that is? Can state aid to business solve all problems? How? If state aid to business does not make the economy run well enough, why should we aid business at all? How do we deal with the real flaws and problems that I described above?
The Democratic response to all this is as bad as the Republican response. It uses as the root cause of sub-optimal performance that Republicans steal from working people (of all classes) and use the state to help steal. This idea is largely false; unearned or unfair profit is not the same as stealing. This idea does not explain the flaws and problems that I described above. It does not lead to good suggestions about to what to do. We deserve better from both Parties.
-Again: An expanded economy only creates a bigger, often worse, version of the same economy with the same flaws and problems. Economic expansion alone cannot cure flaws and problems. Induced expansion is not the same as good natural economic growth. Even good economic growth cannot cure all flaws and problems. Republicans know all this but repress it.
(1) The Republican Party deliberately lies when it confuses economic expansion (usually bad) with good natural economic growth. The Republican Party lies in saying an expanded economy automatically: (2a) solves all social and economic problems; (2b) makes everyone prosperous and happy; and (2c) makes good jobs for all, without regard to race, religion, age, gender, area, class, or political party. Republicans deliberately lie when they say that (2d) more economic expansion is more good economic growth and so more economic expansion automatically cures all problems.
This hypocrisy is a shame because an honest clear hard-headed assessment of what the economy can support and cannot support, what really is good and bad for the economy and the nation, what is good growth versus bad expansion, and what good growth really can do or can’t do, would be a great benefit to good statecraft and to all the people; and Republicans deprive us of that boon.
-Republicans know that a tax break for one group puts a bigger burden on other groups, usually groups that are less able to bear the burden. Republicans should fight so taxes fall more evenly. This is a good use of knowledge about capitalism and governing. But Republicans do not do this. Instead, they fight for more tax breaks for clients and they enjoy when added burden falls on the shoulders of people who typically vote Democrat, even poor people. This Republican stance contradicts their self-view as great champions of morality, especially morality based in Christianity.
In 2018, Republicans did fight to expand the standard deduction, cap the amount of mortgage interest that can be taken from federal taxes, and cap the amount of local taxes that can be taken from federal taxes; this action shows good use of knowledge about the economy and taxes. I applaud them. But it is rare, too little, and too late. It is not only rare because Democrats opposed it but because middle and upper middle class Republicans opposed it as well, at least until recently. They supported it now only because, if they did not, they would lose support from the working class and middle class that they need for their own tax breaks.
Republicans support tax breaks because tax breaks heavily favor people who can actually take them, Republicans, even while tax breaks do little good for the people who cannot take them, poor people and working people, Democrats, and non-White non-Asian people. The people who cannot take the tax breaks are at a double disadvantage against people who can take tax breaks – they have to pay for some of the gain by richer people and they have to make up for all the lost revenue. Tax breaks are a way to gain an advantage and indirectly to punish competitors and keep them down. How many poor people can afford IRAs or take advantage of deductions for health insurance? Who pays for lost state revenue? I doubt many Republicans know consciously how this gimmick works and could explain it - if they did, they’d have to admit what they are doing - but they sense it and they approve. This kind of policy is part of promoting business rather than programs and a way of stifling programs. Republicans can sell tax breaks as a help to the middle class while glossing over how tax breaks hurt the poor and working class and do not usually help the middle class much. Upper middle class Democrats benefit from tax breaks as much as do Republicans, and so they support tax breaks as part of the trade-offs of politics. So we have many confusing tax breaks and we don’t have to think about what programs really succeed, what programs really fail, why, and what better to do.
-The Republican Party says it favors free trade but does not. It favors free trade as long as the free trade helps business and its other clients. They overlook that state aid to business is not free trade, and, as far as I can tell, some Republicans actually think state aid to business actually is part of free trade. Usually the Party does not care if free trade hurt working people and middle class people. In fact, over the long run, genuine free trade helps working people and middle class people but that is not why Republicans favor their version of free trade.
Since working and middle class people joined the Party in large numbers after the middle 1970s, the Republican Party also attacks free trade to protect them, even at the expense of other clients. Donald Trump pulled out of accords on protecting the environment not because accords harm business (they actually help) but because party hacks had convinced working and middle class people that protecting the environment cost their children good jobs in the short run. They do not talk about the long run. Trump pulled America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership although the agreement would have helped America, helped most business in America, and most working and middle class people. The working and middle class people who entered the Party wrongly fear free trade. Rather than honestly explain free trade and the real world situation, Trump and the Party “caved in” to them. The biggest beneficiary of the American pullout was China, which took up the roles and the business that America vacated.
Republican View of Human Nature.
-To assess the Republican view of human nature, I should first present the Republican view. That takes too long. Rather, the Republican view is much like the American common sense view of human nature, without PC, but supplemented with the ideas of Republicans as the new lords and everyone else as the new peasantry. People are partly rational but also governed by hope, love, kindness, fear, greed, anger, hate, lust, and “us and them”. Republican leaders have the best mix, almost ideal. Republican members have an overall good mix guided mostly by clear-headed clear-sighted Reason. Often enough, nearly all Republicans can put country ahead of self. Many Democrats have good hearts but are fools otherwise. Too many Democrats, especially the clients, are greedy, don’t care about other people, and can’t think well enough to put the country as a high priority even if they cared. I count on readers to know enough about the Republican view so I don’t have to say much by way of introduction. More details come out in my comments.
-The Republican view of human nature is better-rounded than the Democratic view but Republicans don’t make good use of their knowledge. Instead, they pick and choose what supports their ideas about business, supports clients, makes the Democrats look bad, and makes clients of the Democratic Party look like immoral, degenerate, selfish, short-sighted leeches.
Republicans understand the feelings that develop in a zero sum game (what one person gains, another person loses). They have no trouble understanding how American business people feel in a trade game with the Chinese, or how insurance companies feel competing with each other for Medicare funds. But they can’t see how poor people, people with bad jobs, working class people who fear for their jobs, and middle class people who fear for their jobs, have the uneasy desperate feelings typical of a zero sum game, and how their feelings and acts hurt the nation. Republicans are happy to use the fear and anger of working and middle class people to make them into useful clients but Republicans do not channel the fear and anger into making a better economy and better nation. Republicans understand when fearful business firms seek to become clients of the state and so get security but they don’t understand when poor people seek to become clients of the state and so feed their families.
Republicans know how a deal can make everyone benefit but also that all parties benefit equally only rarely. Even if not everyone benefits absolutely equally, still the deal is worth making. Republicans also understand that, when A and B deal often, even if both benefit, if A always benefits clearly more than B, eventually the difference accumulates and the whole relation goes bad. Republicans also understand that competition is more comparative than absolute, more about getting ahead or behind the other guy than how much you actually have or don’t have. So Republicans know why, if A always makes more than B even if both gain, the relationship has to go bad. If Republicans did not know all this dynamic, they could not be good business people or politicians.
But they don’t apply the ideas to make politics better. They don’t see how poor people and people with bad jobs have to benefit and have to benefit enough in relation to everyone else. They don’t see how working class and middle class people with good jobs have to benefit and benefit enough in relation to upper middle class people, upper class people, and business firms. They don’t see how both workers and owners have to benefit and how workers have to benefit enough in relation to owners. They don’t see how Blacks have to benefit and have to benefit enough in relation to Whites. They don’t see that, when we give up a little directly to get more indirectly (we give so the whole benefits), poor people and working people with bad jobs have to give up less than people with good jobs. And so on. Republicans do see, actually, but they pretend not to see so they can use clients better. This is a shame because Democrats seem blind to these issues and so we need Republicans to explain and lead but they will not. They always only grab what they can get, and they usually get the most.
Republicans know that people and business firms want support from the state, people and firms cheat and lie, people and firms get lazy, and people and firms can be “guilted” into doing what we wish. They also know how to make an institutional framework that minimizes cheating etc. so we can get the most benefits with the least costs, and know how to use guilt to do it. They don’t use the knowledge to make programs that address national problems. They know welfare recipients and other Democratic clients cheat, so they design programs to expose cheating but not minimize it, and then use the cheating to try to close the programs. They design business oversight so firms can easily avoid and so firms can benefit even if the country as a whole loses, as with oversight over the housing finance industry and the credit card industry. They support aid to farmers knowing that big agribusiness firms benefit more than family farmers (by making up fake small firms through which to gain benefits). They make middle and upper middle class people feel guilty enough to pay taxes even though business firms get out of many similar taxes. They do not make business firms and managers feel guilty about not paying taxes, not supporting the community, destroying nature, and polluting.
-Above, I said that core Democrats think of themselves as hip-cool-rebel Enlightenment good guys and expect their clients to change into ideal Enlightenment good guys after a few days of state help through Democratic programs. Neither core Democrats nor their clients are like this, and clients do not change into Enlightenment good guys even after decades of help. Both core Democrats and their clients know they are wrong about human nature, the character of groups, and what happens during help. Both core Democrats and their clients hide all this from themselves. They secretly think “We will all be hip-cool-gangsta sweet rebel angels”. Many of the people in most Democratic client groups, such as Blacks and women, feel the following about patrons and other groups but won’t say it: “We are the real humans; they are not now and never can be; even though, right now, they have wealth and power”. Relations between core and clients, and between groups of clients, are deeply flawed by hypocrisy, resentment, and anger. Those bad feelings make for more bad feelings and bad acts. All this adds to the feeling of creepiness among Democrats and their clients.
In contrast, Republicans don’t expect state (Democratic) clients to change for the better through help or otherwise. Republicans think non-successful groups start out with a bad character, and stay that way regardless of how much help for how long. Republicans know, these days, not to express this view out loud because this view is clearly anti-PC (Politically Correct) but they think it all the same. They use as evidence: the continuing failure of state clients even after decades of help, the violence of Blacks, the attitude of Blacks, and some groups do succeed, usually without much help, such as Jews, Hispanics, and educated women. Republicans are not hypocrites except when in a room full of PC.
The Republican attitude amounts to prejudice. How mild or how harsh the prejudice is depends on the person and his-her experiences. Prejudice adds to creepiness that hovers over Republicans, as decades of Lefty critics have pointed out. Just because it is prejudice does not mean some of it isn’t true.
I disagree with much of the Republican assessment and I dislike the prejudice. You can find out where I agree and disagree, and why, throughout this essay. I feel the creepiness.
Still, I prefer the forthright looking down by Republicans on other people to the hypocrisy of Democrats and their clients. I would rather know what people think and where they stand. All Republican points and their attitude are out in the open. I can argue with them plainly, without first wading through a lot of self-serving hypocrisy. I don’t blame them for suffering from the PC Thought Police and so having to offer public hypocrisy. My attitude is like some Blacks in the 1960s when they preferred open racism of Whites in the South to hidden racism of Whites in the North. In my situation in the 2000s, I prefer the open attitude of “we are full humans while they are not and never will be” view of Republicans to the self-deluding hypocrisy of Democrats and their clients. I can be more honest about some things with Republicans than with Democrats, although I cannot be honest about enough things with either group.
Because of my Liberal roots, this turn saddens me.
More on Human Nature.
-Repeat: Some unemployment is inevitable even among people with skill, good character, able bodies, and able minds. So, we have to have something like welfare. If welfare gives people enough money to feel good about themselves and to raise a family, even for limited periods of time, then a lot of people who could have gotten jobs and should have gotten jobs will not get a job but will go on welfare. If we give so little on welfare that people would rather have a bad job than welfare, then we treat a lot of good people and good children badly. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. Democrats can’t see this dilemma at all, or, if they do see, they would rather put up with the cheating so they can service their clients.
Unlike Democrats, Republicans do see this situation clearly. But they would rather hurt decent people who want a job, and hurt children, than give anything to a “welfare cheater”, likely because that welfare cheater is a Democratic client. Republicans don’t put effort into making programs that really would work. They go along with programs that lead to cheating, expose the cheaters, and then feel moralistic and self-righteous. They would rather use cheating and failed programs to incite White people against welfare recipients, incite people with good jobs, and make them Republican clients, than make a good program and maybe let Democrats have a share of the credit. In public, Republicans don’t acknowledge the rock and the hard place because to do so would put them under the duty of using their insights into human nature for the public good rather than for Party power. The truth is the truth. Tell the people straight out, and ask the people what they would like to do.
-More than Democrats, Republicans know: people see themselves in a zero sum game even when Right Wing propaganda says we are in a big happy positive sum game (everybody wins through capitalism, and wins strictly according to what he-she deserves); feel they each individually pay too much for the state while other people pay less and get more; want to feel they get as much as anyone and want to feel that other people don’t have an advantage; and dislike the national debt and wish to pay taxes not for interest on the debt but for real services that improve life for all.
But Republicans don’t make good honest tax plans and good honest budgets that take into account real needs and real ability to pay. Instead, they make up unreal budgets that give big benefits to rich people although history has proven that such benefits do not pay back the nation by expanding the economy. Republicans give tax breaks as rewards mostly to upper middle class Whites. Republicans finance it all by more national debt. I still recall the tax “rebate” of the Bush tax cuts in which Republicans were able to buy loyalty with a few hundred dollars, as politicians buy votes in the Third World. Republicans do all this knowing it makes problems worse in the long run. It makes people feel even more that we are in a zero sum game and makes people even more anxious about taxes, what they pay, what they get, and who pays and gets what. Rather than assuage fears with good realistic plans, Republicans use fears to get power now and they fuel fears for more power later. The Republican responses are a huge waste of knowing human nature.
-More than Democrats, Republicans know that people fear, and people buy guns to assuage fear even though guns are no real help against what people fear most – competition so their children don’t get good jobs. People clutch a gun as a security blanket against vague generalized fear. Rather than use knowledge of human nature, government, and the economy to tell people what people really fear and help people stop fear, Republicans protect gun rights as if clutching a gun will make all the monsters go away. Republicans sell guns as security blankets for the working and middle classes. I own guns. I like guns. I like to shoot. I know which guns are useful in home defense and which not. I am glad people own guns. I am far from an expert. Still, I know guns can’t put money in my retirement account; get my nephews and nieces a good job; buy a house for them; make sure every education leads to a good job; provide a decent role model to the kids of the single mom who lives downstairs and parties all the time; and my guns won’t stop violence among poor people. Why don’t Republicans tell people what they really fear and tell them how to spend their money and minds better? Why don’t they give the people honest advice on which guns work for home defense and which don’t?
-Republicans are responsible for the big majority of bad negative campaigning and dirty tricks, starting in the Reagan era. American politics was never clean but Republicans made it dirty in new ways. No party that wishes to be the Party of Decency can use such evil. Sadly, I blame modern Rightist Christians for much modern dirt. That is not a good use of knowing human nature. God would not approve. Fear of Democrats and their clients such as Blacks, women, and gays does not excuse what the Republicans did and still do.
-Republicans more than Democrats know the importance of decency, know that decency can be learned and indecency can be learned. They know that some groups are more decent than others. They know that the indecency of some groups takes a heavy toll on both the groups and the nation. They have a fairly good sense of how to teach decency and what institutions are needed for decency. They know the state can do only so much to teach decency. But they don’t put all this into practice by leading the state and private institutions in the cultivation of real decency. Instead, they use selected examples of bad behavior to “write off” non-Republicans.
Republicans recognize that human nature is not all good and sometimes people, including groups of people, have sunk so far into bad habits and bad attitudes that there is little hope of changing them for the better or making them behave well enough not to ruin it for the rest of us. The best we can do is to contain them so they do little damage. Once violence is learned as a child, violence is hard to unlearn. Once violence is part of the basic attitude of a group, that group will not get along with other groups and will not be a good part of a good society.
If good behavior is learned early enough, it sticks too. When people learn good values, they can be good citizens and their groups can be good groups. School helps teach good values but school is not even the second best place to learn. The second best place is a religious institution such as a church, temple, or mosque. The best place is family, but the family can only serve this role if it is embedded in other good institutions such as religion, school, and community. The state has to make sure all good institutions are not eroded or attacked. Rarely can the state build these good institutions completely from scratch, so it has to defend what good is already here, and build on that base. People and groups have to build good institutions mostly through their own efforts or the decency will have only shallow roots. Bad schooling can undo the good work otherwise done by church, family, and state.
Contrary to Liberal beliefs, you cannot learn basic values well enough from pop music, TV, movies, the Net, or any media. Decency has to be learned hands-on when you are young. This is why Republicans support institutions such as churches and the Scouts. This is why Christian Republicans take their children with them to serve the poor and people in trouble. There is nothing wrong with all this and much right with it. Democrats have few parallel institutions and try to make up for the lack through the media, especially pop music, movies, and TV.
You can lose basic values by over-exposure to bad music, TV, movie, the Net, and political propaganda including Rightist propaganda.
Think of good people and groups as decent and think of bad people and groups as indecent. This shift to thinking in terms of decency is not crucial but it is important and useful. Decency is real, and it makes a difference. Indecency is real, and it makes a difference too. The state needs decent people and it must control indecent people. Especially a democracy must have enough decent people, enough decent groups, and not too many indecent people and indecent groups.
Some people and groups never understand that decency is basic and we cannot have fairness, justice, progress, or any good things until we first have decency.
You can be a decent person even if you are poor. You can be decent even if you have been hurt by discrimination. Groups can lose basic decency. Once they lose decency, it is almost impossible to get decency going in the group again. You and your group must keep a basic level of decency to enter into the social conversation. Even where some unfairness prevails, still your group can keep enough basic decency, and, through that decency and through other people seeing you as decent, you can overcome prejudice enough to get enough fairness for the good people in your group. You cannot hope to enter into the social conversation and to get enough fairness and success unless you do establish decency first. If you will not establish decency first, then you must expect to be left out and contained.
Indecency by others can hurt you greatly. A single crime against your family can ruin the family and echo for decades. You have to be willing to suppress indecency both in your group and in other groups so that decency can thrive. You have to nip indecency in the bud. You have to stop it in individuals and in groups. If you cannot stop it, you have to cordon it off so that it does not spread from one person to others or one group to others.
While the ideal of judging everyone as an individual is good, it is not practical. We have to judge the basic decency of groups according to the behavior that we see in a big chunk of their members. If a big chunk, not even a majority but only a significant minority, of a group shows indecency, then we have to conclude the group as a whole is indecent enough so we have to treat them as an indecent group. We have to contain them. We have to assume every individual from the group is a threat. We cannot let them into the social conversation as we let in other groups. This position applies to groups in the United States and to groups and nations outside the United States. We cannot judge all Al Queda members as individuals but have to judge according to group affiliation. We might err in judging according to group but those errors are less costly than assuming everybody in a group is decent just because a few people in the group complain about being treated badly.
We know that, if we want to treat a group badly, we can first label them indecent and then use that as an excuse. We know the idea of decency is misused. We know it can be a tool for badness. But the idea of decency is more often well-used than misused. People really can see decency and indecency just as they see fairness and unfairness. Decency cannot be forgotten, and, when used, it must be used much as we use it. We know our past mistakes and we try not to make them again. We try not to succumb to prejudice alone. But we will not make the mistake of laying our society open to indecency.
Democratic programs can make people indecent. Democrats and their programs might be well intended but the end result too often is indecency. The indecency outweighs any good done by the programs. Even if some programs seem to do good in obvious ways such as the health of children, we have to be wary of unseen damage done by making people clients of the state, letting people demand rights without any responsibilities, and making people accept indecency. It is better to oppose Democratic programs, even some potentially good ones, than to allow enough programs so that people forget about responsibilities and decency and begin to see indecency as an effective strategy. People and groups will do that.
Democrats think that bad people and groups can recover their decency if we only give them big chances. This ideal has been proven wrong. It works with some individuals but not with groups. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result. We are not insane. We don’t want to recruit client groups by offering indecent groups support. It undermines the basic decent fiber of society. We are happy to give people a chance but if their groups does not become decent and respond, then we have to stop.
You hardly have to try the experiment. In America, all groups have enough resources to achieve basic decency if they wish. They can make their schools, churches, and families good enough. We have seen many groups come to America and do just that. If any group already is indecent, then that is because they choose to be indecent. They already have had enough of a chance, and they have failed. Giving them more of a chance is not likely to make them decent and successful. It is only a waste of precious resources that could go to other decent children, people, and groups. We do have to try help some of the children in indecent groups but that is about all we can do.
Activist groups within the Left, such as feminists and Blacks, have the same attitude about decency and groups but they apply it differently. They too judge by group. They condemn us as indecent because we don’t go along with everything they want to do and we won’t throw money at them. The difference is we can see evidence for our decency and its results, and can see evidence for their indecency and its results. Who has the greater levels of extra-marital sex and abortions? Who has the greater levels of crime? Who has the more dysfunctional families? Who abuses drugs? Who gets an education and works for the good of the country? Who accepts duties and responsibilities and does only demand one-way rights?
Many Democrats start as good people, decent people, who wish well. Before they adopt that horrible condescending Democratic attitude, they are still decent. But once they adopt that attitude, and once they get used to manipulating our desire for fairness so as to get clients and use clients, then they have lost their decency too. Then they get creepy. The Democratic Party, and its clients, have slid so far down toward indecency, and have such trouble getting back out, that we are frightened. It is not good to think of a major political party with a long history as the party of indecency but it sure seems that way.
We know that some groups, such as (a) gays, (b) young people playing too much with sex, and (c) 30-ish people cruising bars looking for something, don’t really do much harm to society. Some of them (not gays because they are gay) do set a bad example. They don’t physically seduce young people but do set the example that you can be borderline indecent and still get along. See the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”. We know that young people go through phases of experimenting but we don’t want the phases to last long, and so we don’t want too many people around who live like that permanently. Gays and libertines might not be indecent but they do not promote the kind of decency that we need. So it is better to oppose the whole business than to try to sort it out.
-Mike says: Sorting out is as deep an issue as decency. Decency is important and group character is important. But so is sorting out. So is not pre-judging unless you have to. So is not making big mistakes about individuals and groups. Republicans correctly see that not everyone and every group can be made saintly by good wishes, repeated chances, and state aid, and see that some people and groups are so bad that we have to be careful. But they reject too much. They misuse the idea of decency so as to help them reject political opponents and help them with their own clients. They make sure their clients get labeled as decent and their opponents get labeled as indecent. Their mistakes have caused damage. So have the Democratic mistakes that come of not seeing people realistically.
Luckily, Americans in general can pick what is good and overlook what is bad. “Millenials” now accept gays and they accept moderate sexual playing by young people, especially if it leads to enduring pairs. See the movie “Friends with Benefits” and many movies with similar premises. That is good.
Pause to think how you personally see people, groups, good attitudes, bad attitudes, ability to change when given a chance, or inability to change, and decency. Think how your view affects your politics and politics in general. Think how Democrats, in kind, might be able to say Republicans are indecent and the Republican Party is a party of indecency.
-Democrats are like young teens who have learned to use “but that’s not fair” adeptly. Republicans are like the older brother (or uncle) who wants to control his siblings and the family. He uses the ideology of “family” really to help himself even if much of what he does also helps the family. He will always look down on everyone else as “only sis” or “squirt”. He thinks he deserves control because he somehow knows better even if other siblings have more talent in general, have greater specific talents such as in making money, or are better leaders. His opinion has to prevail. Usually, he is right, but that is not the point. The point is that the family would be better off to run more as a group or if other members were in charge, but he can’t allow that. Republicans are like the other siblings, cousins, and nephews who go along because they get what they need and a big fight for better leadership would tear apart the family. They let him fight for leadership because a personal fight for leadership would be too costly to their unit and they mostly get what they want if he is leader.
Republicans think they are like Michael Corleone but really they are more like Fredo if Fredo had gotten control. They are like Sonny, the eldest Corleone brother, if Sonny had not been killed, who was a good hothead, and a good fighter under his father, but would have been a bad Don. They think they are like Mike Corleone if Mike was in a legitimate business and had not turned evil. But they are not.
-Clients of the Republican Party see Democrats and clients of Democrats as rivals and often enemies. White (and now often Asian and even Hispanic) working class and middle class people see the poor, working people with bad jobs, some non-White middle class people, middle class Liberals, and upper middle class Liberals, as rivals and as people who support their rivals. The children of the poor and of those working class people who have only bad jobs threaten to get enough education and connections to take the good jobs of children of the current working class and middle class. Especially the children of non-Whites threaten to take the jobs of the children of White working class people. The clients of the Republican Party need the Party to inhibit their rivals so the working class and middle class can be surer of good jobs for their children.
The Republican Party attacks programs favored by Democrats regardless of the economic or moral merits of the programs.
It attacks these programs as a way to suppress clients of the Democratic Party, that is, the poor, lower working class, etc. It controls the clients of the Democratic Party so as to support its own clients, as part of its agreement with its own clients. Its clients fear the poor, ethnic minorities, etc. so the Republican Party attacks programs that might help the poor etc. to compete.
The Small State and Fiscal Rationality.
-The Republican Party says it supports a small state but does not. Its military and police programs have enlarged the state as much as have the social programs of Democrats. Saying that it favors a small state is an indirect way to attack programs that it dislikes such as unemployment insurance, welfare, Social Security, and health insurance. Saying it favors a small state is an indirect way to attack Democrats and their clients.
-The Republican Party prides itself on fiscal rationality. It says it supports only programs that are cost effective and does not support programs that are not cost effective. Yet its analysis of programs is so biased that nobody can believe its report of cost effective or not cost effective. So, nobody believes Republicans are fiscally rational except when supposed fiscal rationality benefits them. They routinely “cherry pick” reports from agencies such as the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) to use only reports that might support them and to ignore reports that contradict them. They ignore the fact that some benefits programs and other Democratic programs actually help the economy it better than Republican programs such as tax breaks and military spending. When the Republicans are not fiscally honest and rational, then people-in-general give up on the entire government being fiscally rational and fiscally responsible. By not being honest in their fiscal analysis, Republicans threw out a great opportunity to make the entire state more fiscally responsible.
-Republicans attack “tax and spend” by the Democrats but Republicans do something worse: spend but use deficits to pay for spending. Democrats largely learned this tactic from Republicans. Using deficits to pay for current spending is a double tax. Not only do we have to pay back the deficit but we have to pay interest on the deficit. More exactly, our grandchildren have to pay it back, and, when creditors are smart, not in inflated dollars, but in the equivalent of real dollars. The only explanation for “spend and deficit” is that Republicans are willing to mortgage the future of America to please their clients now.
Since Ronald Reagan began massive deficits, the only President to bring down deficit spending and bring the budget close to balance was Bill Clinton, a reviled Democrat. Reagan and both Bushes added greatly to the deficit and in 2018 the Trump-Republican tax bill also added greatly to the deficit. (Some points of the tax bill were good but not the trillion-plus dollar deficit caused by reducing taxes but not reducing much spending. In the long run, that debt will increase taxes more.) What Republicans do explains their real thinking more clearly than what they say.
To spend but not tax, and then to claim to reduce taxes, while really increasing the burden on everybody below the upper middle class, is a cruel and vicious betrayal. It is not Conservative in any way.
-Republicans should be deeply ashamed of their stance toward science. Not only is it not Conservative, it is not humanly rational except at the level of the lowest political conniving. Republicans who support science and acknowledge global climate change should be deeply ashamed that they have not stood up to the crazies and the extremely selfish deniers of science and climate change. History will treat both camps with disgust.
Beforehand, I have to say it is possible to make sane rational models of the cosmos and of life that do not depend on modern cosmology and modern ideas of evolution. I sympathize with people who try to use their intellect to save their religious beliefs. But their alternative models are wrong. The facts are overwhelmingly for scientific models. Physics, modern biology, evolution, and modern cosmology that includes the “Big Bang”, are all true. Taken at face value, nearly all religious accounts, including in the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holy books, are simply wrong. We worship God and his creation, including our brains and minds, more by using them to know his creation than by clinging to old factually wrong ideas as if they were literally true. Much truth about morality and human nature lives in the myths, and we also honor God if we see that truth and accept it for what it is.
Global climate change is real, and we people did it. The facts are overwhelming.
There are only three reasons to deny the facts and cling to delusion. The first is to discredit science in general, and I return to that below in this series of paragraphs. The second is that to deny global climate change serves the best interest of America, in particular America competing with China and Russia. I touch on this reason far below, but I discount it. It is wrong. I don’t have space to argue it here.
The third reason, taken up in this paragraph: By denying global climate change, you don’t have to do anything about it. You may do as you wish without regard for nature or human generations to come. You may spew pollution and kill off nature so as to make profit now. A big group of Republicans wishes to do that. They fight any incumbent office holder or candidate who does not disavow global climate change. They have enough power and money to unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent any new Rightist candidate from winning. So, only the people who kiss the asses of despoilers loudly and long enough can hold office. In league with business owners who wish to pollute are the Republican working class and middle class. They think they can keep jobs, and get jobs for their children, only if business owners may do whatever they wish, and that includes pollute and kill nature. They have enough votes to insure they can unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent Rightist any candidate from winning. Power, wealth, and votes together get a lot done or not done. Rightist politicians don’t have to believe what they (the politicians) say about global climate change. But they do have to deny global climate change in public. Most politicians know global climate change is real but cannot say so or be banished from office. As a result, we have in office only those people who have a huge moral weakness in the center of their political lives. We have in office only people who will be cowards in a big place that really counts. They might be great people otherwise, but this huge weakness at the center is certain to affect what they do in office generally.
Some people do not wish to deny global climate change but do wish to be careful what we do about it. We have a history of over-reacting to over-stated crises, and thus making big costly ineffective programs that haunt us for years. I have sympathy for people that wish to slow down. We should be sure of what is best before we go off half cocked loaded for bear. But reasonable concern is not the issue in debate in America about global climate change. Rightist Politicians don’t say “be careful”. They say “Oh, it isn’t real, and we can do whatever the hell we want”.
Politicians have an odd attitude toward science, shared by many other people. On the one hand, it is a concern of geeks, and we get in trouble if we dive in to the deep end. On the other hand, it helps with technology and engineering, makes great stuff, makes jobs, and protects the country. Most people don’t hate science, but think it is only one of many forces, including magic, glamour, beauty, wealth, charisma, charm, power, “star power”, and “the Force”; and they are more comfortable with the other forces. Science requires too much math. Humans are the complicated result of a long history of natural selection that did not include calculus tests. Most people prefer science to stay in its own realm rather than confuse them when they try to use the other forces. From the late 1800s to about 2000, there was an active anti-science movement, and it tried to reduce science to mere superstition and a mere tool of the rulers. Some people still disdain science that way but mostly people don’t hate science if it stays where it belongs. Most people are like Penny on the show “Big Bang”. To explain why some politicians seem to be against science would be too much for here.
Instead, I focus on people who are strongly religious in a so-called traditional sense, and their relation to Republicans. Even here, we need a warning. Most Christian Churches accept science and its ideas about the history of the cosmos and the evolution of life. The Roman Catholic Church is clear that it accepts modern science. Its stance is admirable. These Christian Churches do a good job finding how science and belief fit together. Buddhism has always been officially pro-science. From all I have seen, educated Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Confucians are almost all pro-science. Thus, fundamentalists are not really fundamental if we take as fundamental what the old wise Churches say.
I do not know why one school of American fundamentalists are so anti-science. They think there is an open nasty un-resolvable conflict between science and the Bible, and the Bible MUST WIN in an exact literal way. Usually people only care about such issues for other reasons than the obvious conflict and people are happy to ignore obvious conflicts when they can get by without facing conflicts. For some reason, some American fundamentalists insist on holding to this conflict with jaws clenched and pointy teeth embedded. Here is not the place to guess why.
American so-called fundamentalists have enough voice now in the Republican Party that they can “wag the dog”. Like business people who hate the idea of global climate change, they have enough power and votes so they can unseat any Rightist incumbent and prevent any Rightist candidate from winning. So, any Rightist politician has to kiss their ideological asses hard enough and long enough. Again, the politician likely does not believe literally in the Bible but he-she has to say that he-she does, and has to denounce science when science goes against the particular interpretation of the Bible offered by this branch of self-styled fundamentalists. Again, only people who will bend their minds and moral senses to this extent are in office. Again, this shows a big moral weakness as the center of their political lives that is bound to affect all they do.
If we support science, then we have to accept global climate change, and that gets in the way of short term profits and jobs. We have to make sure nothing gets in the way of short term profit and jobs, not even science. So, it is better to deny science entirely. If we are going to deny science, we might as well get in a boat with other people who deny science for their own reasons, religious fundamentalists, and who in turn will support us in our denial of climate change and our striving for short term profits and jobs. It helps to embrace one American version of religious fundamentalism. If we deny science in favor of our version of religious fundamentalism, then we might as well get in a boat with people who deny science so they can deny climate change so they can make short term profit and provide their clients with short term jobs. We have a match made in hell. This is disgusting.
God is embarrassed that people use the minds that he gave them in this way. I would love to see a big group of Republican politicians stand up for the truth about global climate change and science, and stare down the bad business people and religious extremists.
Before the reader gets too huffy about Republican hypocrisy, Democrats are as bad in their own ways. Democrats are as big hypocrites as Republicans. Any Democratic incumbent who did not kiss PC long and hard enough would be out of office and any new candidate could not win. Democratic politicians have to pay lip service to the idea that all hardship in America is caused only and entirely by oppression from White people (and now Asians), in particular White men. Democrats have to deny that any other group ever produces people with bad character. No other group ever adds to its problems. That is as hard to swallow as that science is magic and global warming is good for strawberries in Maine.
We see deep mass hypocrisy among us as a little price to get and keep good guys in office while we see modest hypocrisy in the other Party as the Grand Canyon of evil. We should practice being more even handed. Start by looking in the mirror for the giant plank of error that floats in our own eyes.
I stress my disgust with the Republican stance because I believe denying science is a deeper fault even than putting up with the unrealities of PC and reverse bias. It is one of the deepest faults, both because science rests so close to the truth and because of practical implications. Other things depend on seeing the truth as clearly as humans can, and, in our times, seeing the truth depends in large part (other forces help) on knowing and accepting science. Only if we support science can we get at the truth in general and get at the truth in issues such as PC and global warning. If we deny science, we lose it all, and are doomed to live in looking glass lands such as created by PC, magic, short term greed, and one American version of religious fundamentalism. We have come too close too many times.
Republican Sense of Morality.
-Republicans like to say they have a better sense of morality than Democrats and they know better how to balance morality with practicality. They see that morality has to be balanced against practicality, and they believe the fact that they can see this need automatically gives them a better sense of both. They are wrong on all counts. They do have a sense of morality but not necessarily a better sense than other people and their morality is not the best morality for a modern democracy. They use moral claims when that suits their need for power, to support their clients, and attack Democrats; and use practical claims when those do the job better. They are inconsistent in moral claims, and that makes their moral claims seem to be merely tools. Democrats do the same but the charge goes more heavily against Republicans because Republicans make a point of claiming the moral high ground on every issue.
For example, they say we must stop abortion and sometimes say we should stop all birth control except abstinence. Yet laws against abortion are highly impractical and ineffective. Laws against abortion likely create more immorality by forcing women to go against the law. It is more practical, and more moral, not to say much legally about abortion and to let women choose. Contrary to what Republicans think, few women choose abortion for fun but only under dire need. Republicans are free to say abortion is immoral and women should not abort but they are wrong to say the state should support their view, that the state should be the instrument of their morality. Republicans promote laws against abortion because laws hamper poor and working women more than middle class, upper middle, and upper class women, and so secretly anti-abortion laws serve practicality rather morality. Anti-abortion laws allow Republican clients to feel good about themselves, to feel righteous and justified, without doing much good morally or practically, while promoting an immoral use of the state to support the moral views of one group, and while supporting class conflict.
The same can be said for laws about soft drugs and prostitution. The same can be said about sexual and romantic learning by young people.
Fortunately, young Americans have better sense than Republicans.
Republican support of the military shows the same ugly oscillating back and forth between morality and practicality. Republicans always favor a strong military but it is not clear why. The American military is stronger than it practically needs to be. It carries on programs that don’t make a lot of sense in modern conflicts while not paying attention to the needs of modern conflicts such as against guerillas. Most of the Republican arguments cite the practical need for a dominant military all over the world but that goal is impossible and trying to achieve it is highly impractical. Republicans don’t promote the military with practical arguments but with moral fervor. Until World War 2, as far as I can tell, most Republicans were closer to isolationism than to worldwide military domination. The moral fervor caught on as a reaction to the anti-war movement in the 1960s and 1970s and because it is popular with the working class and middle class, whose children make up the military and who moved to the Republican Party in the 1970s and 1980s. A big military does help America to protect some of its economic assets overseas but those assets are now likely better protected by trade agreements. What we need the military to hold for use we should probably learn to live without. When militarism is promoted morally rather than practically, it becomes a big part of the official morality of the state. Even when we need a strong military, and we definitely do, to make militarism a big part of state morality is a big mistake.
Trump’s wall against immigration is a clear example of an impractical burdensome symbol promoted with morally fervor in the name of practicality.
Republicans need to give a clear account of their morality and their practicality. They need to give us clear account of when morality trumps practicality or when practicality keeps us from carrying out all that we feel moral. Yet Republicans won’t and can’t give such an account. As long as they won’t and can’t, then we must conclude that they are mere opportunists and use their holier-than-thou stance as a mere tool. That is too bad. Such an account would do everybody a lot of good. Republicans can’t give this account because it would undermine the pact between the old Republican upper middle class and upper class with the new Republican working class and middle class.
-In a good democracy, no group should try to make its morality the official morality of the state. All groups should be willing to listen to the moral claims of other groups. All groups should work toward a general morality. All groups should accept that the state cannot support their morality alone as the official morality of the whole state. All groups should know that they have to be “more moral” on some points, such as abortion and drugs, than the state, and the “morality gap” should not bother them as long as they are not prevented from living out their morality in their private lives, and their morality does not hurt other people or the state.
Despite all their shouting about patriotism, democracy, freedom, and duty, Republicans don’t seem to see any of this. They feel one group alone should dictate what is the morality of the state, the state should support all the points of morality of that one group, and all people must live up to the morality of that one group. They argue over which Republican faction is to be the one group. They don’t seem to see the danger in this view. They use the idea of one state morality as a tool to control others. They don’t understand that the state does not have to be immoral, and people in it don’t have to be immoral, if the morality of the state does not coincide with the morality of one group of Republicans.
Republicans Won’t Share.
-Republicans deliberately wrongly claim that ALL attempts to take a bit more from the rich amount to unfairly fleecing the rich (soaking the rich), amount to class warfare, reduce incentive to gain wealth and so hurt economic growth, hurt the overall welfare of the nation and so hurt even the poor and middle class, and destroy the chances of the middle class to build wealth and to rise in socio-economic status. All taxes are bad, especially all income taxes.
Republicans can convince clients of their view because their policy does not hurt working and middle class people with steady jobs and benefits but Republican policy does hurt working people with bad jobs and no benefits. Republican policy keeps the poor and poor working class from rising and so benefits the working class and middle class by suppressing their competition. If you help us with this, then we will help you with that.
Also, while opposing all taxes that might directly impact rich people such as income tax, and might even redistribute wealth a bit, such as a graduated income tax, Republicans favor taxes that impact the poor much more than the rich, and impact the poor badly, such as a sales tax (they favor “regressive taxes”). These bad taxes also hurt and “keep down” the poor more than they hurt the secure working class and secure middle class, and so help clients of the Republican Party in their struggle with immediate competitors. The help the secure working and middle class stay secure in the face of bright ambitious poor kids.
Republicans do not use their knowledge of a real modern capitalist economy to propose fair taxes that redistribute a little but not too much, and that guide the economy toward an optimal balance of wealth concentration and wealth distribution. Instead, they use their knowledge of the economy and of politics to seek a total pattern of taxes that favors the rich and hurts the poor, even while they know this overall pattern of taxes hurts the nation as a whole.
Since the growing disparities in income and wealth beginning about 1980, wealth in the US has become so skewed (unevenly distributed)that the skew lowers overall growth and reduces overall benefit from the economy. We have hurt ourselves. Rather than face this situation and deal with it to the long term benefit of the nation as a whole and for the rich, Republicans press their unfair advantage further so as to gain as much future security as possible, and thereby make the situation worse.
Republicans know that sometimes state solutions to problems lead to other harm and that the other harm can be worse than the original problem. They are fairly adept at guessing when the original harm can be addressed without causing more harm. But they don’t use their skill for the public good. They don’t decide when state action might be overall more beneficial than harmful, and they don’t decide if a situation has to be assessed more on moral terms than practical terms. Republicans do use the state for programs and they are able to guess when a program causes more benefit than harm, as when they use the state for large-scale economic development or when they promote free trade. Rather than be even-handed in their assessments and set a pattern for people in general to emulate, instead they say that all Democratic programs lead to more harm than good overall; all Democratic programs lead to more harm through the state than they lead to good by addressing the original problem; all Republican programs cause more good than harm; all Republican programs cause more good than harm even when they rely heavily on the state; and, if Republicans wish not to support any program, that is because they know in advance that the state will cause more harm than the original problem, not because the program was proposed by Democrats. Republicans will not help with global climate change because they say that state help will make things worse. They use the idea of causing more harm than good not to find the best action but as a way to attack Democrats and to promote their own programs. They use the idea as a way to avoid addressing real problems, to overlook real problems, especially problems that hurt the poor, insecure working class, insecure middle class, women, non-traditionally gendered people, and non-Republican ethnic groups. As a result, people in general don’t believe them when they are correct that a state action might cause more harm than good, and people don’t believe them when they offer a better alternative.
-Like Democrats, Republicans have not proposed a generally acceptable rationale for why sometimes it is better to work through the state and why sometimes not.
-Hispanics are a contested ethnic group. When the Republican Party attacks policies that threaten its other clients, such as amnesty for “Dreamers”, then Hispanics support the Democratic Party. When the Republican Party supports policies that Hispanics favor, such as hurting Cuba, Hispanics tend to support the Republican Party. The future allegiance of Hispanics is an important issue in American politics.
Individual Non-Autonomy (Non-Freedom).
-Despite supposed support for individual autonomy in economic markets, the Republican Party supports criminalization of many individual behaviors such as gender orientation, sexual activity, and drug use. It favors strong penalties for these crimes. Now, the Republican Party takes this stance largely to attack clients of the Democratic Party, such as the poor, and to attack women as a political force. The Party takes this stance to please modern client groups of working class and middle class people and to attack the perceived enemies of its clients such as poor people, Blacks, and Hispanics.
-The Republican Party supports (unrealistic) free choice on economic markets but does not support the right of women to choose about abortion and to control their own bodies.
-The Republican Party uses the idea of free choice on the market to support not passing laws to protect consumers and poor people. In fact, free choice on the market is not as free as business firms make it out to be, and supposed free choice on the market helps business firms far more than consumers.
The Republican Party opposes regulation of markets even when the regulation is needed to avert big problems such as the housing crisis and Great Recession of 2007.
-The Republican Party supports some strongly religious (supposedly traditional) people. Partly the Republican Party supports these people because these people entered the Party in large numbers, and exerted much force, after about 1975. Partly the Republican Party supports these religious people because they can be easily mobilized to exert a strong force in elections. Partly it supports these religious people because the policies that these people favor can be used to control and hurt the clients of the Democratic Party and thus to hurt and control the Democratic Party, policies such as against abortion and for restrictive drug laws.
-While Republicans say they support the Constitution, in fact they do not support freedom of religion and of worship. Really, they worship power and wealth before they worship God. They have cut all sensitivity to social justice and all care of nature out of Christianity. In their public face, Republicans support their idea of traditional Christianity. They do so largely because of the emotional commitment of their modern clients (working and middle class White Christians) to the idea that modern clients have of traditional Christianity. Too many Republicans were “born again” after being “born again” became a convenient way to power in the Party. Many individual Republicans, including business people and politicians, do sincerely wish to follow their religion, including Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, but they don’t know how to do so and still support all Republican policies.
-Many Republicans do look down on all non-Christian religion and even on forms of Christianity that do not meet their stereotypes. Until recently, Protestant and Roman Catholic Republicans did not get along well. Not all Republicans despise all non-Christian religion. Individual Republicans admire some aspects of non-Christian religion, including Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, when the religion supports some of the personal and social values that Republicans hold. Individual Republicans have to watch how strongly and publicly they admire non-Christians and non-Christian religions.
-See above about the religion of the family. Republicans say they support family because they support traditional religion and Americans think traditional religion supports the family. Republicans support some policies that Americans perceive as generally pro-family such as against abortion and against non-traditional gender roles. Yet Republicans do not support some policies that Americans think would help the family such as more money for education. Republicans support policies that help their clients and hurt Democratic clients, even when otherwise the policies really don’t help the family, such as to oppose centralized medical care. Republicans are hard on immigrant families as a way to support the families of their clients and attack families of their clients’ rivals. Many pro-business Republican policies, such as against world climate agreements, against nature, and against free trade (NAFTA, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership) would support American families in the long run; but Republicans have to publicly oppose these policies because those policies seem to hurt the families of their clients in the short run.
Immigration, Tolerance, and Various Topics.
-Republicans are schizophrenic about immigration. On the one hand, they want skilled workers from other countries. They want cheap Hispanic labor. They do not want to hire expensive American labor. Republican business owners are, by far, the greatest hirers and so supporters of illegal immigration. If these business owners were jailed for their support of illegal immigration, it would end overnight. On the other hand, Republican clients, the White working class and middle class, see immigrants (wrongly) as a direct threat, and demand that the Republican Party end immigration. The Party says it will control immigration as a way to placate those clients but it does not really control immigration as a way to placate its core of business owners. So far, the business wing that opposes real control on immigration has been winning. Yet working and middle class people continue to go along with the Republican Party, perhaps because the Democratic Party openly accepts immigrants as its clients.
-In theory, Christianity is a religion of peace and tolerance, but Republicans are hardly tolerant or very peaceful. They are notorious warmongers and saber rattlers. Their first response to any complaint by any group seems to be to suppress the group. They are happy to beat people up and throw them in jail. They worship guns. It is hard to make a link between their Christian ideals and their real behavior.
-On the other hand, some Right Wing Christians are among the most honest dedicated hands-on true Christians I have seen. They are in the “trenches” giving with their time and effort because they have little money to give. I do not agree with them on all points of doctrine, and they are too prone to some kinds of violence for my taste, but their works far outweigh my words.
-See above that both Liberals and Conservatives stress their own rights but overlook responsibilities while they overlook the rights of opponents and stress how opponents have not met responsibilities. Republicans stress the right of business firms to pollute, eat nature, sell crappy goods, and cheat home buyers. Republicans avoid the responsibilities of honest business and ethical trade. Republicans point out how the ethnic clients of Democrats perpetuate horrible schools and ugly neighborhoods but Republicans do nothing to better the schools or the welfare of the children in the schools. Republicans cheat in national elections and excuse themselves by pointing out that Democrats might have done the same thing to get John Kennedy elected in the 1960s. Republicans pioneered dirty tricks in elections, flood the media with hateful lying campaign ads, and seem to want the voters to stay ignorant by never being clear on issues. Republicans push deficit spending when they know it is wrong but they will not do what is necessary to control the budget; instead, they blame democrats for lack of responsibility. Of course, Democrats do the same.
This section is long. It includes discussion of Supreme Court decisions on segregated schools and on abortion. It shows how stances get labeled Conservative or Liberal, and how people adopt a labeled superficially Conservative stance for reasons of job, power, and politics.
Modern Republicans are not Conservative in the sense of original Conservatives and in the sense that they think they are. The modern Republican agenda came together in the 1950s to 1970s, and only in the 1970s and 1980s did they commonly call themselves “Conservatives” in the bragging way that you hear in TV ads from candidates and as echoed by suburbanites and business people. Why then? How? In this section, I use a few issues to show what “Conservative” means as code.
Also starting in the 1950s, more after Reagan, “Liberal” became a curse word. Republicans began to call everything Democratic and should hate “Liberal” without knowing the meaning of “Liberal”, difference between a Liberal and a Democrat, and value or disvalue of what they should hate. Republicans threw the baby out with the bathwater. They rejected ideas that had merit just because a Democrat proposed them or because an idea had a tinge of social justice. They went too far and lost credibility, as when they tried to kill Social Security several times and always failed. They lost chances to shape programs to be more cost effective and useful, perhaps the biggest loss.
Democrats did similar bad acts but here I don’t have the space to go into how they misuse “Liberal”, “Conservative”, and “Republican”. Use your imagination.
The point is not to get all people to start using the words correctly. The point is not to convince readers that all the ideas and programs that Republicans call “Liberal” are really good in disguise. Some of the ideas and programs of Democrats and their clients turned truly bad. The point is to encourage people who already wish to think to let go of labels so they can think better. Labels block good thinking and boost bad thinking. Even if it feels to say “as a Conservative…” or “Liberal claptrap”, don’t. You can’t assess ideas if you use labels. I focus on “Conservative” because misuse of it is central to Republican identity. I don’t use “sitting duck” cases that are easy to skewer with anti-Republican barbs. I use cases that had merit and that appealed to Americans in general but that Republicans grew to dislike for pretty good reasons.
Despite claims by Goldwater and Reagan in the 1960s, modern Republican ideas of Conservative and Liberal did not start with a reaction to Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. In the 1930s, even most Republicans were glad of the ideas and programs; and many people, including Republicans, think they saved capitalism from something worse than what Roosevelt ever offered. By the 1960s, labor had been tamed, was part of a complex that included big business and government, and was not seen as socialist or too Liberal. Republican business people had made a peace with labor and liked it. Only later when Republicans came to dislike the changes of the 1950s to 1970s were programs of the 1930s and 1940s, and big labor, seen retroactively as the root of all evil and, what is worse, of socialism.
Again: Only partly did modern ideas of Liberal and Conservative come as a reaction to the 1960s and 1970s, the era of “sex and drugs and rock-n-roll” and of holding all property in common under one big authority like early Christians. The counter culture was more a fashion mode than anything else. The 1970s was the peak of crime in America but that has been over for forty years. New York City is quite safe now. Some people did get hurt but most people had a brief fling and settled down to school, job, married with children, and too much TV. Marijuana turned out to be safer than booze and pills but people mostly quit when they had to be “straight” for work. Compared to the media-hyped but not real excesses of the ‘60s, what Republicans call traditional American life was indeed conservative but not “Conservative” in the sense Americans had always lived that way or it was inherited from a traditional better past world. Compared to an imaginary sex-and-drugs-for-breakfast commune, the nuclear TV family is conservative but not when compared to a farm family of 1840, factory family of 1900, or any big family in the Bible. Republicans made up crazy Liberalism to legitimize by contrast the unreal life that they wished for and that they could use to guide clients. People that still use fear of an imagined crazy bad Liberal river flooding havoc across America should be pitied but not followed.
The 1980s and 1990s brought the follow-up to cocaine, crack, meth, metal, rap, hip-hop, gangs, and “gangsta” but the follow-up was not a threat to most families. Those decades also brought junk bonds and similar scams that were carried out more often by Republicans. Drugs, gangstas, and etc. are not “Liberal” or “Conservative” except when foolish White people think everything non-White is cool or when foolish Black people think “gangsta” is cool and is a viable response to hardship. Urban gangs and “gangsta” music are no threat to Republicans except to the eardrums of the White suburban boys who used to buy the music. They are more a threat to Blacks who wish their children to see reality.
The opioid threat of the 20-teens is not a Liberal plot. It likely affects working class White Republicans more than anyone else. The biggest sources of drugs are drug companies, in which Board members are likely Republicans, and doctors who over-prescribe, most of whom likely are Republicans.
Likely the biggest single cause for the change was that the world economy caught up to the US starting in the early 1970s, and life became less stable for people who used to have good jobs. Many, if not most of the people, at least the Whites and Asians, moved to the Republican Party. I do not go into this topic here. Please see other parts of this essay, especially below on history.
How is Republican “Conservative” middle class life so different Democratic “Liberal” life? It seems Jenna Bush, Taylor Swift, Chelsea Clinton, Ivanka Trump, Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Pickler, Drew Barrymore, and even Lady Gaga, all lead a moderate productive life in private. In private life, they all would be good role models for young women, White, Black, Republican, or Democrat, and even young men.
What are the deep values by which you wish to live and to be a good citizen? How do they apply to specific cases? What have they to do with “Conservative” and “Liberal” as political parties misuse the terms? You are better off finding values and living by them than with slogans or parties. You learn to live by them through personally thinking out how they apply to particular cases.
(1 and 2) Two famous Supreme Court decisions set the stage for Republican use of “Conservative” to validate the modern Republican agenda and “Liberal” to condemn anything Republicans dislike. The goal here is not to declare that the decisions support one side or declare one Party correct. The goal is to see how Republicans use “Conservative” and “Liberal”. I strongly suggest you look up these cases on the Net. Come up with better responses to the issues and Court decisions than your predecessors did. Pause to think if it makes sense to call your responses “Liberal” or “Conservative”. Ask why Republicans and Democrats insist on using the labels wrongly, and why people go along.
(1) COURT DECISION: Brown v. Board of Education (in Kansas) in 1954 outlawed segregated schools and said the state must integrate public schools. The state cannot use the excuse that schools are separated by race but equal in quality, even if, in rare cases, racially segregated schools are equal in quality. The state must pursue racial integration directly. Blacks, Whites, and all ethnic groups must be free to go to the same schools and they should attend the same schools. If Black and White children live in the same district (or county or city), then some White students and some Black students should enroll in all the schools in the district (or county or city). Then, after physical integration, in addition, schools should be equal in academic quality.
It is not clear if integration applies to other often-segregated categories such as by gender and religion, but that issue is not relevant here. Private schools may not discriminate and ideally should be racially integrated but that question is out of the scope here.
In America, residence was-and-is segregated, and schools were-and-are funded by local people. Black people lived in Black areas with Black schools while White people lived in White areas with White schools. Schools were segregated as much due to residence as by deliberate school segregation. Blacks were-and-are, on average, poorer than Whites, and the quality of education depends on local funding. Black schools were inferior to White schools. The differences in residence and funding set a pattern in which Black children got poorer education than White children, got worse jobs, so could afford only inferior schools, so their children also got a worse education and worse jobs, and so on. Although this pattern was never planned, almost everybody knew it and likely many White people thought it was a good thing. After some mixing in the 1960s and early 1970s, this pattern re-asserted in the late 1970s and has remained. In Part 2 of this essay, see the section about schools and family.
The basis for Brown is roughly “right to equal opportunity (equal quality of education)”. Children have the right to equal opportunity, especially in education because education lays the foundation for all that follows. With a good quality education, children have a chance; without it, practically, children have no chance. The state has to insure that children get equal opportunity. The state has to insure that nobody thwarts equal opportunity for children. Segregation by its nature inherently necessarily thwarts equal opportunity and hurts life chances. Segregated schools cannot be equal in quality no matter how much districts say they are. I do not explain what-all goes into quality. Integration gives the only real chance for equal opportunity and equal quality of education. The same reasoning lies behind getting women and Jews into clubs that previously had been only for White Christian men. In addition to the idea of equal opportunity, the idea of the inherent dignity-integrity-value of people matters but I don’t think it was a strong legal force, however morally powerful, so I omit it here.
At first, nobody knew how to make sure schools were integrated. People tried various approaches such as re-drawing district lines. The most dramatic early integration was in the American South, in particular “Ole Miss” (University of Mississippi), the University of Alabama, and public schools in Montgomery and Birmingham.
Maybe the most severe use of integration to produce equal opportunity was forced busing in the 1960s and 1970s. White and Asian children were bused to Black schools and Black children were bused to White and Asian schools, often long distances. I leave Hispanics out. Forced busing was done not so much in accord with legal thinking as due to social pressure and to increasingly obvious bad effects of segregation. The decision was not made by elected legislatures but by particular judges sitting on particular courts. Judges not only said busing must be done but they supervised who came from where, went where, and the schedules. Busing was a costly failure. I am not sure who learned what lessons from the busing episode.
Some few people did benefit from forced busing but the majority of students and parents hated it. Even people that strongly supported social justice, racial equality, and integration, hated it. Even most Black children and parents hated it. People who favored social justice and racial equality thought local areas should have more say in how they achieved those goals.
Forced busing is pretty much over. It didn’t stop because Americans suddenly woke up to the fact it was a Liberal plot designed to forcibly blend races, to demoralize and enslave America. Americans of every political type did what they could not to participate, and the courts alone could not enforce it. Forced busing did drive many non-Republicans to the Republican Party because the Party said it would defend them from that terror and from more such terrors sure to come. To make the point, it labeled busing, everything it didn’t like, and everything its clients should hate, as “Liberal” and Democratic.
Defenders of forced busing said it was a case of the big state knowing better than local regions, and of using the power of the big state to correct bad practices of local areas. When local regions are allowed to carry out social justice in their local way, too often they stall and they do nothing. Martin Luther King, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, said: “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Sometimes the big state does know better than local areas and has to overcome them, as when John Kennedy used the National Guard to force integration of schools, and when the state enforces freedom of speech, religion, freedom to keep and bear arms, and Civil Rights laws. In contrast, local people saw forced busing as a case of the overly big overly strong arrogant state abusing its power to enforce its arbitrary ideas of social justice on local areas, and thus hurting social justice more than helping it.
Except where local areas flagrantly go against the Constitution, we have no good theory of when the big central state needs to oversee local areas to make sure they make no serious errors, when the big state is more likely to be right than local areas, and when the big state should leave local areas alone even if local areas are slightly wrong and the big central state does know better. We do not have a good theory about when the big state might be wrong and intrusive while a local area knows better, and what to do then. America could have used schools to develop a good theory but instead used schools to lapse into more racism by both sides, partisanship, and labeling.
The idea that schools should be forcibly integrated supported the idea that other arenas in American life should be forcibly integrated, including restaurants, theaters, shopping areas, stores, public toilets, work places, hiring, promotion, job security, housing, admission to college, law school, medical school, etc. No segregation laws could apply to these arenas, and directors of these arenas could be jailed and held liable if segregation happened. The idea of forced integration in these arenas helped shape and pass Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. Most of this change was good, but it was done by the big state over local opposition.
“Equal opportunity” led to “compensatory extra opportunity”, “over-compensation”, or “preferential treatment” (my phrases) and to using over-compensation as a basis for Affirmative Action. For example, Black students, and those from other underprivileged groups such as women and handicapped people, got preference in admission to college and law school. Further support for over-compensation came from the practice by the state of giving military veterans preference in civil service such as in the exam for the Post Office, and by private business firms such as banks, car dealers, restaurants, etc. offering discounts to military veterans. Over-compensation also got support from the practice in lawsuits of more than making up for damages. Although preferential treatment was not intended to punish the group that had been privileged, in practice, the formerly privileged groups, usually Whites and White men, did feel punished.
Differences between groups can persist even without a specific force sustaining the differences, forces such as prejudice and wealth, although a specific force usually adds to “difference inertia” (my phrase). Why difference inertia happens takes too long to explain. Hopefully, if opportunity is over-compensated long enough, difference inertia ends. Nobody knows how long that should take but in the 1960s people thought two generations would do.
To minimize difference inertia and to get everybody on a level field, historically disadvantaged people were admitted to trade schools, colleges, universities, police academies, firefighter schools, law schools, medical schools, etc. even with lower grades and test scores than White students. The same people were hired, and given raises and promotions, with poorer records and poorer test scores. People that don’t like this practice when applied to race for long call it “reverse discrimination”.
During the era of discrimination, institutions and business firms had quotas for how many Blacks and other non-Whites to admit and to hire, mostly to keep numbers of minorities low. Integration briefly removed quotas. Demand for over-compensation re-instated quotas but with the numbers for non-Whites higher than before, proportionally higher than for Whites. This use of quotas also is a kind of reverse discrimination but it is “politically incorrect” to call it quotas or reverse discrimination.
Some discrimination by race and gender persists despite reverse discrimination and, to some extent, because of reverse discrimination and resentment about reverse discrimination. Non-Blacks and non-women feel about it the same way they felt about forced busing.
Many people, even people strongly in favor of racial justice, did not see preferential treatment as a step forward but as a new injustice, a step backwards. I do not explain how over-compensation can harm all groups including groups formerly discriminated against such as Blacks. Several law suits were filed over this issue, including famous suits at the Universities of California, Texas, and Michigan. People that promote preferential treatment now call the practice “promoting diversity” and they have found legal protection under that name. It is the same practice anyway.
The TV show “Law and Order” has aired many good episodes about whether Blacks and women should get preference and whether preference, even with good intentions, actually hurts Blacks, women, and general society, in the long run. “Law and Order” also aired programs about continuing discrimination, its roots and its effects, particularly in the history of Lieutenant Van Buren, a Black woman.
If we take 1970 as the beginning of strong social programs, almost fifty years have gone by since the practice was begun but the differences remain at similar levels. I don’t know how many generations fifty years equals. I do not here comment on what this inertia and stagnation implies but you should know of the inertia and stagnation.
The idea of “equal opportunity” also led to “equal outcome”. If schools are integrated to make sure children get a fair chance, how do we know children have had a fair chance? Simply sending children to the same school does not insure equal treatment. Much discrimination by race, gender, religion, and national origin occurs within schools. We know equal opportunity for sure only by looking at outcomes. If White children do better than Black children, then their opportunities could not have been equal.
No explanation other than White prejudice is accepted. No fault can lie with Black children, families, communities, attitude, culture, or simply Blacks; all fault must lie with White prejudice. Only if outcome also is equal could opportunity have been equal. The state has a duty not only to make sure opportunity is equal but to make sure outcome is equal. It is not clear to me how much this idea was actually carried out. I am sure it is still in the minds of many Blacks and Whites, but in different ways. The idea also lay behind programs such as Affirmative Action although the users might deny this is so. It lay behind ideas such as women should get equal pay for comparable work (which I support) although most women do not see the link between their situation and the earlier case of Black children.
Children of families with roots in East Asia (China, Japan, and Korea) and South Asia (Pakistan and India) often do better than White children but not as much better than Whites and Asians do over Blacks. Nobody explains the difference by Asian advantage and Asian prejudice. People refer to Asian culture. Yet nobody refers to White culture and Black culture when explaining differences between Whites and Blacks – it is all White prejudice and never due to any virtue in White culture or to any problem in Black culture. Really it is a mix of White racism, Black racism, White culture, Black culture, East Asian culture, and South Asian culture. But seeing the situation this real way is not politically handy and it violates Political Correctness. You can’t put all the blame on one group if you see it this real way, and you can’t excuse all responsibility for any group if you see it this real way.
People who endorse preferential treatment use equal outcome as one sign of how much preference to give. Often they use slightly better outcome. (a) Give enough preference (b) to make sure the outcome for the previously harmed group is (c) at least equal to the outcome for the advantaged group, or (d) to make sure the new outcome is a bit better; and (e) sustain preferential treatment (f) at that level until (g) we are sure any difference inertia has stopped. Then maybe we can return to the level playing field, to simple equal opportunity. We can never stop vigilance and we must return to measures that ensure equal outcome when needed. So, we might never stop. As when a despot declares martial law, the condition of dire need with preferential treatment seems like “the new normal” now not only in schools but in workplaces and politics.
(Sometimes women offer similar arguments about girls in school, from kindergarten through PhD. Girls [women] are judged worse than boys, get scores worse than boys, and get grades lower than boys, even though tests show that neither has the superior intellect. So this outcome is entirely the fault of an old male-centered male-biased system. No attitudes or acts by girls add to unfair differences. If, about age 12, girls neglect academia to work on appearance, move to gender-stereotyped academic subjects such as literature, reject some gender-stereotyped academic subjects such as math and science, reject some gender-stereotyped roles such as political leader, and embrace some gender-stereotyped roles such as ingenue, that shift is due entirely to previous brainwashing by the male-biased system. If girls or women [girls] coerce or abet girls in doing worse than boys, that act is only because girls and women have been brainwashed into acting as agents of the male system. Girls [women] bear no responsibility. There are no innate differences apart from culture, society, economy, and power. We have to do something extra for girls [women] to end the difference inertia, and we have support them long enough. Girls cannot save themselves, ever.
Women use these arguments when they are angry and to fight opponents. Unlike other groups, usually women don’t take these arguments only at face value, rest only with these ideas, or avoid responsibility. Usually women put these arguments in proper context, find other relevant arguments, and work hard for themselves individually and women generally. Many women, not all, get beyond propaganda even while seeing why propaganda is appealing. The idea of persistent differences between boys and girls despite culture etc. is still controversial.)
People in general accept equal opportunity but reject forced equal outcome and preferential treatment (over-compensation). People in general reject the idea that unequal outcome is due entirely and only to big fault on the part of the group that does (did) better and that unequal outcome cannot ever be due to any idea, act, or fault by the group that does (did) worse. People accept modest measures for a modest time to insure equal opportunity but reject overly strong measures, reject compensation for a long time, and reject over-compensation. Sooner or later, we have to go with the playing field that normal decent humane social relations give us. I agree overall.
Of course, people in the group that does worse disagree, and they push for stronger longer striving for equal outcome. Often they push hoping the state will include preferential discrimination for a long time as part of the remedial package.
Merely the idea of forced equal outcome, especially with preferential treatment, has bad effects, let alone the practice.
(a) People outside the group that gets preferential treatment never believe that preferred people who graduate, get a job, or get a promotion are really competent. The preferred people got ahead only due to special treatment. People never trust the preferred group even when some members clearly do well because of their own merit. People choose members of other groups whenever they can because they don’t trust the competence or attitudes of the preferred group. So prejudice persists. Members of the preferred group still feel as if they have to be twice as good to be accorded equal credit.
(b) Thus preferred treatment is a bad self-fulfilling prophecy and a bad cycle. There is never an end to it all. So there can never be an end to preferred treatment, and so on.
(c) If we see fault only in the group that does (did) better, and never in the group that does (did) worse, then the group that does worse never has to bear any responsibility. It can forget about responsibility in general, forget about learning any responsibility, and forget about teaching responsibility to its children. Always other groups and the state have to take responsibility for the previously disadvantaged group. It never has to take responsibility for itself for anything. It never has to grow up. Even if other groups were responsible in the past to a large extent, and even if the state is needed to correct the situation now, still, entirely blaming the others, making them solely responsible for correcting the situation, and looking to the state for enforcement, teaches bad lessons. It teaches a bad kind of dependency, a slave mentality. It adds to the culture of victim.
(d) The idea of forced equal outcome leads to: “Let the state do everything for us. Don’t do anything for ourselves. Make them pay for it all. Sit around and complain. Look for faults in them. Get satisfaction from complaining and from finding fault with them rather than by doing for ourselves and succeeding.” The idea teaches bad emptiness.
Sometimes we cannot wait for another group or the state to do as it should. Sometimes we have to act even when others are morally and legally responsible. Sometimes we have to take charge of our situation even if is not fair.
(e) Waiting for the state does not mean waiting for every official in the state to help. It means waiting for your patrons in the state to get enough power to set up programs that support you and will keep supporting you. Waiting for the state means avoiding political parties and politicians who will not give you the support that you want or who oppose you. The political parties recognize a group who waits for the state as a great candidate to be a prize client, so at least one party actively courts groups that are waiting for the state. Of course, the other party (or parties) recognizes the danger and actively blocks support to the client group, the group that is waiting for the state. So, the chain of ideas and practices that was set off by the desire for equal opportunity for children ultimately strongly reinforces partisan politics.
(f) Waiting for the state to force equal outcome blinds a group. Less sense of responsibility and less desire to act for yourself contribute to the ongoing badness of schools. Those feelings become part of a feedback cycle in which the schools are bad, so Blacks wait for the state and don’t do anything themselves, the schools stay bad, so Blacks wait for the state and don’t do anything, and so on. Blacks and Whites sense this trap but can’t usually explain it well.
(g) Progress seems never enough and never fast enough for the disadvantaged group. Perhaps out of frustration, perhaps out of long built up resentment, maybe to get satisfaction even acting themselves directly on issues, the present preferred group (disadvantaged group) picks morally and ideologically on the previously privileged group, the group that now has to give. The present preferred group waits to find fault with the old privileged group. The present preferred group gets too much satisfaction from finding faults, often small irrelevant faults. At the same time, the present preferred group overlooks big problems in itself and in the real issues. Watch Al Sharpton talk about Whites. Although not as common now, “man hating feminists” used to be a joke on campuses.
(h) Because of the fault finding and nit picking, real issues don’t get the concern they deserve. Women do get bullied and sexually abused, and we don’t pay enough attention. Black people kill far more Black people than the police do but we overlook that problem. I wish the “Me Too” movement had started in the middle 1980s at the latest.
(i) The idea of forced equal outcome supports race blindness and new resentment. Non-Blacks, mostly Whites, will accept much of the blame for the past and some blame for the present, but not all blame. Problems cannot be realistically addressed until a real assessment of blame on all parts. Many Whites were born after legal discrimination. Many non-Blacks were not part of racial discrimination or they came to America after 1970. Non-Blacks cannot accept that they alone are fully responsible for all the woes of Blacks now. Non-Blacks rightly insist they can take only some blame and Blacks must take some blame. To do that, Blacks have to criticize their own society in the same way that they forced Whites to do in the 1950s through 1970s. It is hard to see your side critically and take blame for your situation when you wait for the state to give you over-compensatory privilege and to force equal outcome, and wait for the state to make the other side pay for you. It does not seem that preferred groups ever do much self-criticism. Whites and other non-Blacks feel: “If Blacks will not take blame or responsibility, don’t act on their own, wait for the state to do it for them, and have the state make us pay, why should Whites and other non-Blacks take any blame either or work on a solution? Why even think about it? Whatever we do will not be enough; and we will get blame for every small fault. We have to put up with PC and preferential treatment already, and we will do that as an operating cost, but we can’t do more and shouldn’t do more.” Both Blacks and non-Blacks can’t see the other side’s view and both groups feel resentment that they did not feel even in 1955 and the days of legal discrimination. A cooperative solution is out of the question. Simple equal opportunity is forgotten.
Although people in general accept the need for equal opportunity while they deny the need for equal outcome, it is hard to have one without the other. When the state supports one, it tends to support the other. When the state denies one, it denies the other. To get equal opportunity without forced equal outcome, preferential treatment, and their “blowback”, requires great ability in statecraft.
Instead of finding the skill needed, groups and politicians say the state has to be big and intrusive. If you want equal outcome, use a big intrusive state. If you want to block bad striving toward equal outcome, use a big intrusive state. Get big intrusive politicians on your side and use them.
Brown v. Board started out as a good idea to correct a real wrong. We should not tolerate racism and discrimination when it hurts children. Then other ideas followed. The other ideas often take the initial goodwill too far, beyond the ability of real people and the real world. The other ideas don’t take into account human nature and the ability of humans to screw things up. Not only Republicans, but many people, including Democrats, say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Even if the quip is often true, the point is not to condemn all good intentions as “Liberal” but to figure out what works and what doesn’t, why, and what to do better. Not all good intentions about social justice are simply a Liberal plot and not all are destined to make things worse. When an idea or program does make things worse, we have to accept reality, backtrack, figure out what to do better, and, if we really can’t do anything better through the state, live with it. If people won’t let go of a failure then we should take a hard look at their roles as clients or patrons. At least we have to be honest. It is hard to be honest, with others or yourself, while name calling.
Republicans came to see not only attempts at equal opportunity but ALL attempts at social justice and social improvement as like forced equal outcome, forced overcompensation, and forced preference. All social programs aimed at a minority or women lead to a big intrusive know-it-all state. They all reduce individual freedom, reduce local autonomy, and lead to dependency, little responsibility, lack of local action, blindness, and resentment. All calls for supposed social justice really only pit one self-interested group against another, pit a self-interested group against Americans in general, and manipulate through guilt. All supposed social justice is really the spearhead to bad socialism.
It is easy for people who have economic security to say all attempts at social justice lead to bad state intrusion and so all attempts at social justice are not worth the cost. And it is easy for people who don’t have economic security to demand equal opportunity hoping the state adds preferential treatment, over-compensation, and forced equal outcome, forever. It is easy for them to become dependants of the state and to overlook responsibility. The two ends push each other farther away, and rip apart the middle. It is hard for people of good conscience to find and hold the middle. Read the poem “Slouching toward Bethlehem” by the great poet William Butler Yeats.
It is also fairly easy, but misleading, to put all the points in two opposing baskets, label those baskets “Liberal” and “Conservative, and love one while hating the other. It is easy to label the programs and failures, and the ideas behind them, as “Liberal”, and hate that. Anything that follows from Brown and supports ideas such as equal outcome, preferential treatment, and supervision by the big state, can be called “Liberal” and condemned by Republicans. Anything that opposes Brown and what followed can be put in the “Conservative” basket and embraced by Republicans.
Prejudice and discrimination are facts. So are goodwill, desire to end discrimination, and the dangers of over-compensation, equal outcome, depending on the state, and avoiding responsibility. How do you we get equal opportunity for all our children without falling into all the problems? How do we minimize prejudice without falling into the other problems?
Republicans say we can’t do any of it. If the task is to end prejudice, the task is utterly impossible. It is better to live with some real prejudice than to try to eliminate prejudice. If the task is to bring equal opportunity for children, even that task is so hard that we Republicans have given up trying. We have done what we could. The costs have proven too high. If you wish to hate us for that, then go ahead. But we won’t sell out the country just to make sure a few groups that won’t help themselves stay as clients of the state.
Democrats say we have to do it no matter costs. We have never really tried. We never ran programs strong enough and long enough to make a real difference. If we do run them long enough and strong enough, we can give equal opportunity, maybe integrate schools, and make a big dent in prejudice. Clients will give up being dependants of the state. Other groups will recognize the quality in members of client groups and stop distrusting programs such as Affirmative Action. We can help Blacks and other minorities so they are no longer a problem but a huge asset.
People in general don’t believe Republicans or Democrats. People think Republicans don’t care, won’t accept that social problems are real, look down on Blacks and women, and deny all programs more to spite Blacks, minorities, women, and Democrats than because programs would never work. Republicans don’t care about equal opportunity for Blacks or minorities because to do so would lose them their clients among working and middle class Whites, Asians, and successful immigrants. The problems that came of Brown and with trying to get equal opportunity happen not only to Blacks and women but to clients of Republicans as well. Business firms, the military, and many farmers seek special treatment, overlook what happens to others, rest happily as clients of the state, forget about responsibility, and resent other groups. Working, middle, upper middle class, and upper class Americans do ALL the same, and would explode without the programs that benefit them. Isn’t all this better labeled “Liberal” if we use the term as Republicans use it?
People think Democrats are deliberately blind to past harm and abuses in the programs; and Democrats only want to “double down” so Democrats can keep their clients and power. They think Democrats are willing to sell out American wealth and American values to get that. People are sure Democratic clients never admit the problems with programs, never admit their own responsibility, and clients think they deserve preference even if to give them preference hurts America far too much. They put themselves above America and everybody else in America.
How do we get equal opportunity without mistakes of forced equal outcome, preferential treatment, dependency on the state, lack of responsibility, and resentment? How would you deal with the biased segregated unequal schools? Given that segregation keeps re-asserting, and that Blacks are still on average poorer than Whites and Asians, how would you get equal quality of education? If you go for a version of “separate but equal”, or “separate but Blacks get preferential treatment for a while” you should know that your suggestion is not Constitutional.
Why do political parties persist in labeling if not to play the client game and to allow their clients not to think? If Parties know labeling does no practical general good, then what appeal do Parties really make by using terms such as “Liberal” and “Conservative”? Why do you go along with it?
Politicians actually do consider issues apart from Party labeling. Politicians are smarter than average, have seen more of the world than most of us, really do want the best for America, and really do want to help groups even apart from using them as clients. But usually politicians don’t consider issues apart from labeling and parties for long. They get exasperated and then they fall back again on partisanship and labeling. Many smart voters do the same.
(2) COURT DECISION: Roe v. Wade in 1973 said the state has only limited authority to pass laws against abortion and the decision said laws against abortion can have only a limited scope.
As best I understand, the reasons: (A) In most situations, people have rights to privacy greater than the rights of the state to invade privacy. (A1) The burden of proof for invading privacy is on the state. You have the right to keep the state out unless the state can give compelling reasons in particular situations. This is why your communication with your spouse, doctor, lawyer, and priest are off limits for the state without a warrant and strong reasons. This is why the state cannot search you, your house, documents, or medical records, without a warrant. (B) Your body is part of privacy. This is why the state cannot force you to get medical treatment except in cases of public health crisis, and why you can get drunk in the privacy of your home. (C) Your right to privacy, including the right to control your body, is an idea that nearly everyone agrees with. (D) Women are people (persons). (E) In some situations, person X has greater rights than person Y. The state has only limited ability to reduce the rights of person X and to increase the rights of person Y. The state has only limited ability to make the rights of Y greater than X, especially in situations in which X usually has had greater rights than Y. (F) In early pregnancy, a woman has greater rights than a fetus. Her greater rights are based on the human right to privacy including to the right to control your body. (F1) This result does not hinge on whether the fetus is alive or not alive, is a person or is not a person. Even if the fetus is a living full person, the woman still has greater rights, at least in early pregnancy. (G) So, in early pregnancy, a woman may abort a fetus if she wishes. It is her body; it is not the body of the fetus or the state. (H) She has choice. (I) The state has only limited ability to stop a woman from getting rid of (aborting) a fetus. The state has only limited ability to make any rights of a fetus exceed any rights of a woman, especially about her body, especially in early pregnancy. The state has only limited ability to make a fetus more important than a woman’s body, to give a fetus rights over the rights of a woman in her body. (H) Later in pregnancy, the rights of the fetus can exceed the rights of a woman and she does not have the right to get rid of (abort) the fetus as she chooses. (J) The Supreme Court had to make guidelines for when, later in pregnancy but before birth, the rights of a fetus prevail over the rights of a woman, and why. I do not go into this topic. (K) After birth, the rights of the (now) child can, and often do, exceed the rights of the (now) mother. The mother may not kill the child or harm the child, not directly or by neglect. Reasons should be given for the change in rights at birth, and reasons should be an extension of the reasons given above about persons. The reasons for the difference at birth were settled long ago by precedent so the Court did not have to explicitly explain.
I agree with the Supreme Court arguments and its decision. I have discussed abortion elsewhere. I do not consider my view Liberal or Conservative in the distorted way used by Republicans and Democrats, and it did not help my thinking to use Liberal or Conservative in that distorted way.
Nobody but a few crazies ever extolled abortion or thought it all good. A few women have abortions to prove they are modern but they are to be pitied. Everybody dislikes abortion and nobody recommends it except in need. There was never a wave of “fashion abortions” as there were waves of people using some drugs or having kinds of sex. Abortions will happen. Liberals do not like abortion. Conservatives are not the only people to dislike it. To dislike abortion does not make you a Conservative. Liberals do not say “abort anytime, even the ninth month”. True Conservatives cannot say “ban it all and send all people who get or give abortions to jail for thirty years”. See the movies “Knocked Up” and “Alfie”.
The issue is good statecraft. Legislators, judges, and good citizens need to consider both morality and practicality. They cannot decide on morality alone, no matter whose morality, no matter how touching the plea; and they cannot dismiss morality entirely in favor of expedience. The state cannot go with the morality of any particular group no matter how vocal the group unless that morality is also the general morality and it serves overall order and good. The state has to decide: what is the defendable general morality in abortion, what realistically can be enforced for the general good and general order, what can be tolerated, what must be tolerated, and what cannot be tolerated.
For the roles, in American culture, of choice, personhood, Love, and the value of Life as shown through Life-versus-Machine, see “The Matrix” series with Keanu Reeves. “The One” is primarily a defender of choice, persons, Life, and Love. Think of misuse of choice in the market, mostly by Republican-owned business firms. If you dislike abortion, think of misuse of the idea of choice in “Right to Choose” versus “Right to Life”. Then think about the misuse of Life in “Right to Life”.
Again, does it make much sense, or help much, to label ideas as “Liberal” or “Conservative” in the bad distorted senses used by Republicans and Democrats? What are the reasons why anyone would label ideas that way? What does “I am a Conservative, you are a damned Liberal” really mean in code? Come up with your own “take” on the issue of abortion, and then decide if it helps much to label your “take” Liberal or Conservative. Then ask why Parties do persist in labeling that way, and why people like you accept the labeling.
People who attack the argument in Roe v. Wade should know that they also attack these ideas: using rights to decide issues, using competing rights to decide issues, privacy, and rights over our own bodies. People who attack the argument invite the state to control our bodies, choices, and selves, and control life in a bad way. I do understand the desire to help “unborn children” but going through the state likely is not the best way.
I think using the state to ban all abortion is using the state to enforce your moral code and religion, and that such use of the state does more harm than good. Using the state to ban all abortion makes the state too big and too intrusive and it prepares the state to be wielded as a weapon in other battles that are less moral and less decent.
At first, Roe v. Wade was NOT taken as an attack on the family and on unborn children. It was taken as a victory of personal rights over the big bad state and over local tyranny. It was taken as a victory against people-and-groups who wished to use the state to impose their moral codes and religion, use the state as their agent. Roe V. Wade was not taken to promote amorality or immorality.
Roe v. Wade got to be taken as the fountainhead of immorality-sin-and-Death, and as a huge example of the big bad state crushing all local better morality, only later when people began to crusade against all abortion. Republicans deliberately took Roe v. Wade those ways to recruit anti-abortion crusaders as their clients, to use anti-abortion fervor in elections, and because they feared anti-abortion crusaders. Wishing to overturn Roe v. Wade became a litmus test of a true Conservative, true Republican, and for deep enough hate of Liberals. It became a litmus test for candidates. Anti-abortion crusaders almost took over the whole Republican Party.
It was never clear that overturning Roe v. Wade actually would end much legalized abortion, let alone plug up the fountainhead of immorality, restore Life over Death, restore the imagined idealized nuclear family, shift moral focus from big bad state to local control where morality is better, and contain the big bad state within the bounds of locally-set moral decency. Simply overturning Roe v. Wade would do little of that. If ever Roe v. Wade were overturned, people would have to do a lot more real thinking about morality, big state, and local area, and would face many local battles. Still, overturning Roe v. Wade became a symbol, and so overturning it went along with thinking in terms of Angelic Life-Loving Conservative v. Demonic Death-Loving Liberal. (Republicans stood up to the Religious Right and anti-abortion fanatics about as well as Democrats stood up to Blacks and Hispanics.)
The right to privacy referenced in Roe v. Wade is not based on anything explicitly in the Constitution. It is based on a right to privacy implied in the Constitution, and inferred from other political writing, from American history, and from well-known aspects of American culture. The idea of inferring ideas implied by the Constitution etc. was not invented for Roe v. Wade. It is an old idea, and it led to other “rights” such as executive privilege by the President. The right to privacy was well understood and well accepted before Roe v. Wade.
Inferred rights can support a big bad intrusive state such as with executive privilege. Yet “small state” Republicans usually staunchly support executive privilege and the idea of privacy. Most Americans, including even Republicans, strongly cherish the right to privacy. It is a bulwark of a small state. If you wish to see the books of a big business firm, you will be met by a platoon of lawyers and you had better come with a subpoena. It seems Republicans should support Roe v. Wade and then teach their children moral and religious values about abortion so their children can make private decisions.
People opposed to abortion, and later their Republican patrons, said Roe v. Wade stepped beyond the usual bounds of inferring a right to privacy or inferring anything. Roe v. Wade was a case of imagining ideas in the Constitution to justify what you wish to do for other reasons. It was a case of imagining ideas in the Constitution to justify social activism, activism aimed against the family, children, innocent babies, America, life, and God. People against abortion said Roe v. Wade was not Conservative (what they called old and traditional) and so it had to be Liberal in all bad senses.
To people opposed to abortion, Roe v. Wade was another case of the judiciary stepping far beyond its bounds, another case of the big overly powerful state abusing its power, as with Brown. Rather than abortion being a judicial issue, people opposed to abortion argued it is a legislative issue. Local areas should be allowed to use their elected legislators to decide what they wished to do about abortion, as with racial integration of schools. The federal government said that to allow local areas this discretion would inevitably lead to abuses that would destroy the rights of women over their bodies. The people opposed to abortion intended to “pack” legislatures with “their people” and so to pass laws intended specifically to counter Roe v. Wade, so the assessment by federal officials was correct that allowing abortion to be entirely a local legislative matter was a way to get around the Court, privacy, and rights, at any cost, to get what anti-abortion activists wanted. To fight people who wished to impose their morality on the nation, only a big unified strong national state could guarantee rights. Only the federal state knows best, at least in case.
Using the state for protection against local power can have some bad implications: (1) Only the central state knows best in all cases. (2) Local government always can be subverted by interests, and can’t be trusted. (3) So the central state must be strong enough always to control all local affairs. This argument works not only for people who support Roe v. Wade. It works for people who support imposing their morality on everyone. It works for Republicans and anti-abortion activists too. If anti-abortion activists can get enough support in the central state, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President, then they can use that way to impose their will. A strong central state is a sword with at least two edges. That’s how we got Prohibition.
Consider the impact of anti-abortion laws according to socio-economic class. (a) Upper class and upper middle class people will get abortions regardless of the law. (b) Poor people and people with bad jobs will not be able to go against the law. They will have to care for unwanted children, often they will have to begin parenting when they are only children themselves, and they will have to leave school before they really get started. If they try to get an abortion and get caught, their lives, and their families, will be severely hurt and disrupted. They will not be able to family plan. (c) The impact on working and middle class people with good jobs depends. Mostly they will be able to get abortions but will be afraid. They will be able to control their reproduction and to family plan. So, people with good jobs, the upper middle class, and upper class, can afford to take a supposedly high moral stand knowing they won’t have to pay any price, and knowing that poor and working class people with bad jobs will have to pay a harsh price. Because of the fear, penalties, disruption, and not being able to family plan, poor people and people with bad jobs cannot compete with working class and middle class people with good jobs. More precisely, the children of poor people and people with bad jobs cannot compete with the children of people with good jobs. If a poor person supports abortion, he-she can be branded immoral, and the idea condemned.
Who benefits and who loses? What would you do if you were in a particular socio-economic category? What stand on abortion would you take and with whom would you ally if you were a working or middle class person with a good job? What if you have only a bad job? Does a strategic response have much to do with moral-legal reasons about privacy, the body, the self, and choice? It is easy to take what seems like a high moral stance to cover what is really a strategic move. Usually the more you need to cover the more moralistic you become. Business firms and minorities seeking privilege do this. If you wish, how do you get around Roe v. Wade to re-institute a harsh ban on abortion, and what reasons do you give?
I believe Republican fervor about abortion is really a cover for a strategic move to get and hold clients, largely by defending people with good jobs against people with bad jobs, and by punishing people with bad jobs. Even if some Republican arguments are deeply moral, still, good citizens who consider both morality and practicality in the context of the whole state cannot be swayed by genuine feelings alone. Good adept citizens have to rise above the morality or practicality of any group to find general morality, general practicality, and general welfare. It is not easy. I think Roe v. Wade laid a good foundation. At this point in American history, to support Roe v. Wade has become the real Conservative position.
NOT ALL REPUBLICAN FEELINGS AGAINST ABORTION ARE ONLY CLASS STRATEGY. SOME REPUBLICAN FEELINGS AGAINST ABORTION ARE GENUINELY MORAL. THE FACT THAT MOST REPLICAN FERVOR IS REALLY ONLY STRATEGY IN DISUGUISE DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY NEGATE ANY MORAL ARGUMENTS EITHER FOR BANNING ABORTION OR ALLOWING ABORTION. IT DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY NEGATE PRACTICAL REASONS FOR ALLOWING ABORTION OR BANNING IT.
The Republican supposed antidote to Roe v. Wade, against supposed abuse of state power, and against supposed socialist programs, was “don’t take ideas from the Constitution that are not in it”. If an idea is not expressly in the Constitution, don’t use the idea or the Constitution. The problem with this solution for Republicans is that Republicans use many ideas not in the Constitution, such as freedom of private business from state regulation, ideas that are less firmly grounded in American history and culture than privacy. As of 2018, I don’t know of a good solution to this problem.
Republicans use the term “judicial activism” for making decisions to promote an agenda, especially a Democratic social agenda. Republicans hold Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade, and all legislation and decisions that followed, as paradigms of bad judicial activism. Left wing judicial Activism ALWAYS works to make a bigger more intrusive more socialist less free, state. It purports to support individuals, equality, social justice, and freedom, but that is only a disguise, and it never works that way even when that was the original intent. Left wing judicial activism is always on the side of bad socialism. Republicans claim that only Democrats use judicial activism to promote their agendas and to help their clients but, of course, Republicans do it too, as when the Court upholds the supposed right of a business firm to give political contributions.
Republicans saw all court decisions behind Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Gay Rights, and to help nature, as cases of unwarranted bad Democratic judicial activism. All of those are seen as unwarranted judicial activism in support of a Democratic agenda.
(These cases and the later social programs that used these decisions are also seen as contributing to the modern stress on rights over responsibilities to the neglect of responsibilities. I agree, although I think it is more a situation of modern people finding an excuse to overlook responsibilities than of court cases causing the modern attitude. We have to be careful about cart and horse. We also have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The ideas in Brown and Roe are quite good but we have to execute them so they cause more good than harm. We cannot use failed responsibility as an excuse to overlook good ideas and overlook a real need for social justice. That is a real, and worse, case of not living up to our responsibilities to think and to decide wisely.)
When a Republican wishes to block an action, or when somebody seeks help from the Republican camp, they bring up the specters of judicial activism and the road to bad socialism. In February 2018, after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Wayne La Pierre, head of the NRA, said banning ANY guns or raising the age at which people could buy assault weapons would be the first step in a quick trip to European socialism and the erosion of all American rights.
The Republican solution to Left Wing Judicial Activism is to appoint people to the courts who oppose it. A justice who opposes judicial activism is said to favor “strict interpretation” of the Constitution and the laws. He-she does not infer any ideas or use any precedent not deeply rooted in the Constitution. Especially he-she does not infer any ideas so as to justify any action by Democrats or their clients, or to justify any action like those actions. He-she should be able to cite directly the words of the Constitution or a law based directly on the Constitution, and those words only. In theory, he-she should not even guess at the intent of writers of the Constitution or writers of important laws but use only actual written words. In practice, justices use the intent of the writers when the intent is pretty well known as through the Federalist Papers.
While “strict interpretation” sounds neutral, in fact, it is the Republican equivalent to judicial activism. Instead of having their Democratic guys on the Court interpreting laws their way, we put our Republican guys on the Supreme Court to interpret laws our way, but insist it is not interpretation. That way, what we do is not interpretation and is pure, while whatever they do is biased and impure, even if, in fact, their view is closer to the Constitution.
While “strict interpretation” is supposed to limit the big state’s power over local areas and to give local areas more autonomy, in fact there is nothing in the idea to make it go that way. Republican justices using strict interpretation could find the big powerful central state should be even bigger and more powerful, although they might use excuses. I think that has happened, but here is not the place to go into examples. The point is that the logic of “strict interpretation” does not inherently limit the state or guarantee the overthrow of Roe v. Wade unless strict interpretation is done by justices previously committed to those uses.
Strict interpretation is seen as “Conservative” because it supposedly overlooks new ideas that came after the Constitution to stick only to what was proven in the past and enshrined. In fact, this kind of strict interpretation is itself fairly new, and so calling it “Conservative” and using it as one standard for what is Conservative, is odd at best.
The opposite to Conservative in this sense became “Liberal”. Whatever Republicans could claim as old, original, and pure was Conservative, and whatever they wanted to claim as good was labeled original, old, pure, and Conservative. It did not matter if the idea was really old and traditional as long as the Republicans could claim it was. Then Republicans could use the dignity of the original Conservatives for support. In reality, original Liberals and Conservatives, not Republicans and Democrats, did disagree but they were not opposite in this new Republican sense. This is a new use of “Liberal” and “Conservative”. See below in this section and in later Parts of the essay.
Republicans made a crusade of getting “their guys” appointed to courts at all levels but especially to the Supreme Court. A Republican nominee in effect had to swear allegiance to the Republican style of strict interpretation even before allegiance to America.
Even if the idea of strict interpretation makes sense, there is no guarantee that strict interpretation goes against a Democratic program and supports a Republican program. It could go either way. It can only go one way if the Constitution clearly favored the Republican program, which it does not, or appointees were guaranteed to favor the Republican program, much more likely.
As mentioned, strict interpretation is not so strict. Words can be used to support many things, including programs not in the Republican agenda. Strict interpretation might lead to equal opportunity or even to equal outcome. So, for nominees to high court positions, part of fealty to the Republican idea of strict interpretation is a personal history of opposing Democratic ideas and supporting Republican ideas. Then the words of the Constitution will come out the way Republicans want them to come out.
It is easy to satirize strict interpretation as a Republican scam but there is more to it than that. Likely the courts did go too far in the 1960s and 1970s, and still sometimes do on both sides (I hate the breakup of the telephone system in the 1980s even if the monopoly was illegal, and I hate all the “rights” that right wing courts have given to business firms, political contributors, PACs, and politic parties). Both Parties have used the courts to back an agenda that is not strictly in the laws and likely not what writers of the Constitution intended or would have tolerated. Again, don’t label and don’t use excuses to label. Again, honesty is the best remedy for propaganda and manipulation.
As with Brown v. Board, in addition to clarifying rights about privacy, self, and bodies, Roe v. Wade also could have been used to clarify relations between the big state and local areas. It could have been used to decide when the state should protect us and when we need protection from the state. Instead, Roe v. Wade and the debate about abortion has been used for partisanship, name calling, and bad crusading.
How would you deal with abortion without limiting not only the right of women over their own bodies but the right of all people over their bodies, and, at the same time, appreciate that people honestly feel for “unborn babies”? Keep in mind that many people against abortion are against it as much to “get off” by feeling righteous, justified, and saved as because they have though it out. Keep in mind the strategy based in class that lies behind opposition to abortion. Can we get along over this issue without involving the state too much, by letting people make their own decisions in early pregnancy? Can we live with a less-than-perfect solution if to do so keeps the state within safe and proper limits? If the big state does not protect our rights of privacy and rights over our bodies, how do we stop local mistakes and local tyranny? Does labeling such as “Conservative champion of the unborn” or “Liberal baby killer life hater” really help? Does a strict interpretation of the Constitution, without a partisan bias, guarantee a ruling against Roe v. Wade? Does a ruling against Roe V. Wade guarantee a return to strict anti-abortion laws, and to the hypocrisy of those?
(3) COMMENTARY: In modern partisanship, issues are not sorted according to real merits or demerits, not according to history, and not according to whether they were like original Liberal or Conservative ideas, but according to whether you like them, and especially according to whether you can use them to foster clients, support clients, and hurt the rivals of clients. Then you label them as “Conservative” and “Republican” if you like them and label them as “Liberal” or “Democratic” if you dislike them. Any idea that you like and can use, no matter its history, is “Conservative”. Any idea that you dislike and cannot use, or that Democrats can use, is “Liberal”. This practice amounts to a tactical removal of the upper brain, one of the big parts that make us human.
This is when people began saying “Well, as a Conservative, I blah blah blah” without having any idea what “Conservative” originally meant. It is when Republicans labeled any ideas that they did not like as “Liberal” whether or not the ideas had any links to traditional Liberalism. It is when ALL ideas of social justice were dismissed as Liberal Democratic perversions. It is when Republicans began to say “As a Liberal, that slimeball X hangs out with Obama, Pelosi, and Schumer, is full of shit, hates family, hates America, hates you, hates Jesus and Christianity, wishes to burn all religious institutions, wishes to take all your property and give it to ethnics, wishes to take away all our guns, will force your daughters to have serial abortions, and wishes to enslave all children”. The worst aspect of this history is that people accepted the shift because it removed the need to think.
(4) EXAMPLES: Here are examples of Republican confusion about what is Conservative, confusion that deliberately serves ideology, propaganda, and power rather than truth. Again, I don’t use cases that are easy to skewer with barbs but cases with real content that might lead to confusion about what is really Conservative or merely constructed conservative. Again, Democrats are just as bad but this section is about Republicans.
A quick tour of a fight within the Republican Party shows, without complications of Party versus Party, the silliness of “Liberal” and “Conservative” as they are used now. In March 2018, President Trump said he would raise tariffs on imported steel 25% and imported aluminum 10%. Trump said trade wars are nothing and American could win easily. Business people, nearly all Republicans, and Republican leaders, were aghast. They warned of the bad consequences of a trade war. Trump was playing to his personal base within the Party, the working class and middle class people that had come in during the 1970s and 1980s. They believed reducing imports would necessarily lead to more jobs and higher wages. Which is the true Conservative idea? Who is the true Republican Party? Is the winner really Conservative? Regardless of whether the winner is a true Conservative in the old sense, the winner will claim its ideas as the true old Conservative doctrine, and make up some plausible reasons. On the Net, find the history of American ideas about protection, tariffs, free trade, and trade war. Since the Civil War, Republicans usually supported free trade but not always. Republicans were willing to protect favorite industries such as steel in the past.
Gun rights are part of American culture, and so they are conservative in a sense; but the crazy gun rights that Republicans support now are new. Limitations on gun rights and gun use are as old and traditional as gun ownership. Western towns in the 1870s to 1890s, when gunfights supposedly killed half-a-dozen people daily in each town, in fact had strong anti-gun laws and enforced them. By standards now, the laws might not be Constitutional but people thought they were good laws anyway. People did not think the best defense against a gun was always a bigger gun. Classic gunfights from movies and TV actually happened only a couple dozen times in the entire history of the old West. Recall scenes in movies and TV where Wyatt Earp made people check their guns before coming into town? To audiences until about 1975, those scenes made sense, those scenes were not Liberal plots. Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda, John Wayne, James Arness, Jimmy Stewart, and Hugh O’Brian were not secret Liberal anti-gun lobbyists. If “old and traditional” is the same as “Conservative” then checking your guns is Conservative.
The nuclear family as we wish it now, really developed after World War 2, in fact, in the 1950s. It is not traditional, and to support that idealized nuclear family is not Conservative. Yet that is how people see all family and is how Republicans see support for that idealized family. Contrary to widespread Rightist propaganda, most Liberals did not all support amoral communes and group sex in the 1960s and do not support them now. Liberals were far more likely to hold roles and ideas that are now called mainstream as in TV shows such as Friends, Reba, How I Met Your Mother, and Modern Family. Using the family to divide people into Decent Conservative versus Degenerate Perverted Liberal is a bad idea.
The idea that a person may pollute air and water is new in the overall historical scope of what should be considered Conservative or Liberal, not old and traditional. In the Middle Ages of Europe, people were executed for polluting. Yet business firms take pollution as a Conservative right from time immemorial.
In the 1700s and early 1800s, Conservatives opposed nearly all big business except those enterprises that were part of government concessions (monopolies). Conservatives favored taxing business and favored state rights over business rights.
The strong property rights that Republicans claim (“we may do whatever we wish with whatever we own, including, in the old days, our wives and children”) also are not traditional but were gradually built up after about 1800 through what people did and in court decisions. Modern property rights should not be called “Conservative”. The aristocracy of the 1700s, the basis for original Conservatives, would never have let commoners do with land and things what business firms do now. Yet Republicans treat modern property rights as if they come from God and are 4000 years old. Modern property rights result from business people wishing to keep the state at bay and from fears about socialism in the 1950s and 1960s, fears that are not realistic now. We need reasonable firm property rights and we need to fear big state intrusion on property rights, but labeling absolute property rights as old traditional and Conservative is factually and morally wrong, does not help reasonable property rights, and will not help if some socialist group gains enough power to threaten reasonable property rights.
Equal opportunity is an old American idea. It is part of the original dream. It is part of why Americans kept launching out into the frontier. It is a big part of what settled this country and made this country. It is not merely Liberal propaganda. The opposite to equal opportunity, whatever that might be, is not a Conservative idea. Even equal outcome is in American thought although not in the full sense that it has been used since about 1970. Americans have never loved inherited wealth and power. To seek and find a workable way to institute equal opportunity without mistakes would be the traditional American idea, and so the real Conservative idea, yet that is not what Republicans or Democrats do.
Abortion and the exposure of infants are not new practices. Nobody likes them. But strict harsh laws against them, laws that are actually enforced, are fairly new. Mostly, people minded their own business. So the real Conservative practice is like what came out in Roe v. Wade. But that is not what Republicans call Conservative because that does not suit their clients now.
A huge American standing military has been a constant of American life only since World War 2. For most of our history, Americans strongly opposed a large military and especially opposed a large standing military. Washington disbanded the army when the Revolution was over. Congress reduced the army to a skeleton when the Civil War was over. The military was costly and unproductive, so not something the state wished to support without strong need. Conservatives before World War 2 thought a big standing military was dangerous and provocative. Yet Republicans now treat a big military as the oldest and best institution in America. They treat everything about the military as Conservative when it is not. Much about the American military is great and morally good but the military is not Conservative in the awed sense of Republicans. Much of the best in the military, such as racial integration and gender integration, is Liberal. In both World Wars, a Democratic President commanded. I greatly admire America’s military. Its deference to civilian authority is saintly, and almost unheard of in the history of nations. But I don’t see everything about the American military as an old tradition with a place alongside the Constitution and Jesus. The current Republican idea of the military as Conservative uses the military to get funds which it can give to clients, and the Republican view extols the military so it can insure a steady supply of funds, a practice that is not Conservative and not in the spirit of the American military. There are good world-strategic reasons for a larger standing military now but not for the Republican sanctification of the military for political purposes.
Religious and moral non-conformity is traditional, old, and American. Religious and moral conformity is human, old, and traditional, but not American. In America, the Conservative option should be religious and moral experiment and tolerance. If it were not, we would not have the Bill of Rights, including the first and second amendments. We would not have 30,000 different Christian groups. We do have good guidelines about when experiment goes too far. Yet Republicans claim the true Conservative idea is conformity to their version of Christianity. Before John Kennedy became President, not even Roman Catholics were Christian enough and Conservative enough to be Conservative. Again, it is one thing to be shocked by the stupidity of the 1960s and 1970s but another thing to claim conformity is the true Conservative stance just so you can have your religion and can impose your religion.
Until the 1920s and 1930s, the use of alcohol and some drugs was traditional and common in America. George Washington had maybe the biggest distillery in the Colonies, nearly all large farms had a still, and marijuana (hemp) grew wild and was a crop. Although set in England, the song “John Barleycorn Must Die” by Traffic gets across the feeling. Modern anti-drug laws date only from the 1920s and 1930s. Anti-marijuana laws originally were a tool to control Hispanics. The true Conservative stance should be to repeal drug Prohibition and seek wise laws to allow moderate use, use that does not corrupt children or lead to social harm, that minimizes law enforcement and prison costs, and allows the states to collect revenue. But moderation over drugs is not the modern pseudo-Conservative style. Hypocritical control is. Just because anti-drug feeling has roots in the silly excesses of the 1960s through 1980s does not make an anti-drug stance Conservative in the true sense and does not make it an antidote to Liberalism. Just because Washington had a big distillery does not mean you should binge drink, get blasted every weekend, and smoke pot like all the guys in every movie by Seth Rogen or Seth McFarland; and it does not mean you should legislate against all drugs either.
Now you should think: “If Republicans don’t really mean ‘Conservative’ when they say it, don’t know the real meaning of ‘Liberal’, and use those terms only as tools, then what do they really mean when they use the terms? What is in the true Republican agenda that holds it together and that allows people to think it is Conservative?” Somewhat backwards, I started this Part with this question in mind. I had to give the answer before I could state the question well.
Democrats have their version of opportunistic thinking and labeling, and they deliberately misrepresent the Liberal, Conservative, and Republican views. You should think out issues for yourself and see how Democrats mislabel to gain support. You should think how confusion is done in the name of social justice, and how we can get as much social justice as practical without undermining the moral, social, and economic bases for all of us. How would you label your program?