Friday, November 05, 2004

What does Red America want?

Why Americans Hate Democrats—A Dialogue - Depressed liberals analyze what ails them.

Freud posed the same question about Woman and, as a feminist comedienne responded, "Why didn't he ask?

For the past 3 days liberal pundits have been rehearsing the received wisdom of the past decade about Culture Wars and speculating about what it would take for the Democratic Party to win back "middle American" voters. The most common proposals are: get religion, get "vision" and get simple.

The very fact that it has never occurred to any of them to ask is symptomatic of the conditions that created this cultural divide. Liberal pundits are so out of contact with middle Americans that they regard them as members of an alien culture whose beliefs, preferences, commitments and folkways are anthropological data. Why is it so dang difficult to figure out what they want? They aren't living on the moon, they speak English, they can articulate their beliefs, state their preferences and explain their priorities. They are amenable to reason.

So long as liberal pundits and politicos treat them as anthropological specimens, the Enlightenment Project is doomed.


bls said...

Nah. That'd be too easy.

bls said...

But here's a suggestion, for starters, just in case anybody takes you up on this idea: liberals need to read something besides the New York Times and Slate and Salon. They should watch FOX News and Brit Hume occasionally, instead of CNN and Peter Jennings. Listen to Limbaugh and Hannity, now and then, and turn off NPR.

Conservatives know liberals, and everything about liberals, because liberal media is everywhere and liberals are the star of every show. But liberals have no clue what conservatives think or feel or want because they scorn conservative media, which is in any case a fairly new phenomenon. This is the source of the ignorance.

Lindsay Beyerstein said...

I'm furious about that Slate headline. A) It implies that Democrats and their supporters aren't real Americans; B) It's false.

We asked Americans whether they hate Democrats, and they said "no"--48% of Americans just voted for a Democratic president. "We" as in "We the People."

Anonymous said...

You said:

"They are amenable to reason."

The problem is that they aren't. The Enlightment project is doomed because red-state America is systematically dismantling the secular infrastructure. Witness the current federal case in Cobb County in Georgia, in which a young-Earth creationist petitioned to have warning stickers placed on biology textbooks, because evolution is in conflict with her religious beliefs (as if her personal beliefs were enough to claim that evolution is false).

The problem is getting worse, since many parents home-school their children (the better to shield them from Enlightenment influences), and voucher initiatives will soon allow tax dollars to be used by students to attend religious schools, whose primary purpose is to inculcate religious (read: anti-scientific) dogma.

The basic problem here in the states is that large numbers of its citizens reject secularism and rationalism. The Republican appeals to "allow religion into the public square" are intended to lower the threshold for rational discourse of public policy. So for example, this allows conservatives to make abortion illegal for everyone, by simply arguing that this is "what most Americans want." Nevermind that the decision to have an abortion is a private matter that affects only the woman, her partner, and her doctor.

The conservative movement in America rejects liberal democracy. They are not in favor of using the state to protect personal liberties. Right-wing Christians want to use majority rule and the power of the state to prescribe behavior for everyone. The threat to democracy articulated by John Stuart Mill, the tyranny of the majority, is happening here in the states.

The election has only recently happened, so maybe I'm still in shock about the outcome. I have voted for losing presidents before, but it was never that big a deal. Bush's reelection was for me the first time I've been actually scared about the consequences.

H. E. said...

False. 48% of voters went for Kerry: quite a few of those were in red states and quite a few were committed Christians, including lots of committed church-going blacks. Conservative evangelicals are a small and, believe it or not, shrinking minority of the population--Barna, e.g. puts them at 7%. I don't know the figure for home-schoolers but I'd bet it's much lower than that.

Lots of people have false beliefs but that doesn't mean they're not amenable to reason in some global way. There isn't a vast right-wing Christian conspiracy aiming to dismantle liberal democracy and establish a theocracy any more than there's a vast left-wing secular conspiracy intent on banning the Bible and turning the country into a sexual free-for-all.