Before we get back into the Unca Brett Business or any of that other silliness, let me take a few seconds to correct some misapprehensions people have acquired over the years. This may take a couple of posts, but we all have the time, so what the hell. (For the record, if cursing bothers you, this is probably not a blog you should bookmark…I drop enough F-bombs that LiveJournal put me behind an adult wall.)
(Another side note: If you’re reading this on your tablet or phone while driving, shopping, visiting your grandmother, or any of the million other things people seem to think they can multi-task with dicking around on the phone, stop it. The world is out there, not in here. This will still be here when you find a more appropriate time and place.)
Okay, so here are some things that bother me because they are not true. And when I say not true, I don’t mean they resonate badly with my feelings. I mean they are factually inaccurate.
Americans are divided among Conservatives, Liberals, and (largely apathetic) Independents. There is literally no way that could be more wrong; even saying, “Americans are divided among monkeys, kitty-cats, and wombats,” is more accurate. “Conservative” and “Liberal” don’t really make any sense when viewed as philosophical opposites. There’s a reason for this. The actual philosophical opposite of Conservative is Progressive. What happened was that around about the 1920’s, the Progressives (and the political party of the same name) gave themselves a black eye by being as crazy as a bag of cats. By the fifties, calling yourself a Progressive was pretty much the same as painting your house with a hammer and sickle, so they started using the less villified term of Liberal. This worked out well for them, because it allowed them to be associated with true Liberals who were mostly concerned with ensuring the rights of all Americans (for instance, making sure that “a jury of ones peers” meant that an urban black man didn’t have to face twelve white guys from the suburbs). They were also in favor of relaxing some of the laws that made no sense (and were probably racist in their design). The opposite of Liberal, by the way, is Authoritarian.
There are a lot of Conservative Liberals and Progressive Authoritarians. I’m not saying that no Conservative is Authoritarian, or that no Progressive is Liberal; I’m just saying that the concepts do not necessarily coincide. It does, however, occur to me that Liberal views are best suited to conserving the American Way of Life (whatever that is) and that Authoritarianism is the most efficient means of achieving Progressive goals. In any case, none of these labels adequately define people, since every one of the 300 million plus Americans has a slightly different view on every issue, even if they don’t think they have an opinion at all.
This problem with painting wide swaths of citizens with the same inadequate brushes has been compunded by the fact that a wide variety of journalists have spent the last forty or so years conflating terms so that most people automatically assume that all Conservatives are Republicans and all Liberals are Democrats. If it’s inaccurate to pigeonhole human beings into general philiosophies, then its just plain stupid to further pigeonhole them by assuming that they must, perforce, support various political parties. Colin Powell’s support of Obama’s campaign in 2008 didn’t make him a Democrat or a Liberal. If anything it simply illustrated and underscored Americans’ fear that a McCain Presidency would have expanded and intensified the power grab and violations against civil liberties that had been perpetrated by the Bush Administration.
Political Parties are not the philosophies they claim to represent. Political Parties are incorporated organizations designed to acquire money and power through the electorate. That’s all. If you want proof that the Republican Party doesn’t speak for conservatives, go review how the party treated Tea Party candidates that defeated their favored sons in the Primaries in 2010 and 2012. If you want the same kind of proof about the Democratic Party, go review the 2006 Leiberman victory in the Senate. In both cases, you’ll see astounding examples of a political machine punishing its members for “going off the ranch” by trying to serve their constituents within their own moral and ethical code.
The Parties’ interest is not in achieving philosophical aims. It is in achieving power and the cash benefits that go with it. Never kid yourself on that one. AARP didn’t become the biggest and most influential lobby in Washington by having convincing and reasonable arguments. They did it by threatening to pull their support (and, by extension, the support of their several million members–although that’s never been tested) and by writing fat checks.
So if you say Conservative when you mean Republican, or Liberal when you mean Democrat, you’re wrong, or you’re lying. Either way you need to shut the hell up and let the grown-ups talk.