GOP Bullies

Interesting read at alternet this morning:

Most conservatives now openly reject the very idea of democracy. Whether it’s corporatists seeking to own every branch of government and privatize every public institution, security and intelligence types cracking down on our civil liberties, or Christian nationalists out to turn the country into a theocracy, conservatives are increasingly united by the conviction that Americans cannot be trusted to govern ourselves.

According to Dave Johnson, if you really want to understand just how hostile conservatives are to the very idea of democracy, and how debased their discourse has become on the subject, just take some of their favorite sayings and substitute the word “government” with either “democracy” or “we, the people.”

So: “government is the problem, not the solution” becomes “democracy is the problem” — or, perhaps worse: “we, the people are the problem.” Likewise: “smaller government” becomes “smaller democracy” and a smaller role for we, the people. The idea that “government destroys liberty” is clearly code for “democracy destroys liberty.” And so on. (It’s a great game you can play at home — fun for the whole family!)

Along these same lines — and despite the conspicuous way the Tea Party fetishizes the Constitution — it’s increasingly evident that the future they have in mind very explicitly does not include the Bill of Rights, a people’s Congress, the ability to petition our government, or the right to appeal to the courts for redress. I don’t have to enumerate the violations on this front, but I do encourage progressives to start seeing these assaults on our rights as clear evidence that our opponents fundamentally do not trust democracy, and are very deliberately out to destroy the constitutional rules that ours runs on.

They also don’t trust diversity in any form. They’re actively hostile to the idea of E pluribus unum — out of the many, one. Anybody who’s not white, straight, Christian, conservative, and male is inherently not-American. And the only acceptable function of government is to keep those Others — both here, and abroad — firmly in their place. The nightly news is full of fresh assaults on the rights of those who don’t fit their narrow definition of Real Americans.

They have embraced bullying as a political strategy and an acceptable cultural norm, which has in turn coarsened our civil discourse to the point of democratic breakdown. Rush Limbaugh and his throng of hate-talking imitators have given their listeners wide-open social permission to say ugly things in public that would most assuredly get them fired if they said them at work (check your company handbook, which no doubt has firm guidance on this point), and would probably precipitate an immediate divorce if they said them at home. The tone alone says it all: this is not the way you talk to people you intend to have any kind of future with.

How apropo!


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10 thoughts on “GOP Bullies

  1. I’m not sure I’d say “most conservatives”. To be sure there are many who do and probably many of those in power. However, I think the majority of conservatives (those who identify themselves as conservatives) don’t think about those things and don’t realize what the decisions of their leaders is leading to. They have their philosophy of personal responsibility and they have their news sources that preach to that. Most don’t care enough to think about where it leads. You do get the vocal minority who truly believe these things. For most, though, they just want a culture where responsibility is rewarded. They don’t care about the rest of it.

  2. Corey Robin, a political science professor at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center has a whole book on this topic called The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin. His theory is that, since the time of Burke, conservatives have been driven by a need to establish hierarchies in all spheres of life, from the relationship of a parent to a child, from men to women, from men to one another, it’s all about hierarchy. Progressives & socialists see the world as flatter, more egalitarian. Conservatives are driven by a need to win while progressives are driven by a need to share.

    Historically, the conservative has sought to forestall the march of democracy in both the public and the private spheres, on the assumption that advances in the one necessarily spur advances in the other. Still, the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been to cede the field of the public, if he must, but stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field.

    Of course this has shifted in recent years as conservatives drive hard to un-make the state as a democracy and re-make it as a theocracy / autocracy.

  3. I won’t disagree that there’s an element of hierarchy and control. Especially at the top end. But do you really think the average republican voter is even cognizant of the fact they are being controlled? You believe the majority of the GOP voters are voting the way they do in order to control those who disagree with them? Maybe I give them too much credit, but I just don’t think they think about it. I think they vote the way they do because they are enticed to. It’s kind of like Obama’s notorious “guns and religion” comment back in 2008. The republican establishment (your hierarchy) controls those who vote against their own self interest by deception and attempts to legislate its control over the remaining populace. I may have to make a trip to a library though. That book you referenced sounds entertaining at least.

    1. But do you really think the average republican voter is even cognizant of the fact they are being controlled? You believe the majority of the GOP voters are voting the way they do in order to control those who disagree with them? Maybe I give them too much credit, but I just don’t think they think about it.

      No, not at all. I believe most voters are essentially acting out a morality play in their heads determined by some deep-seated beliefs in how the world is and should be structured. Freidrich Engles wrote about this phenomenon in 1893, he called it “false consciousness.”

      Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives. Because it is a process of thought he derives both its form and its content from pure thought, either his own or that of his predecessors. He works with mere thought material which he accepts without examination as the product of thought, he does not investigate further for a more remote process independent of thought; indeed its origin seems obvious to him, because as all action is produced through the medium of thought it also appears to him to be ultimately based upon thought.

      I wrote about this very phenomenon on my other, more radical blog, The Masses.

      Ideology derives from a though process that is clouded by motives external to the thought motives apparent to the thinker. This sets up a false consciousness about what and why things are the way they are. The filter of capitalism obscures the reality of the circumstance in which the thinker thinks.

      So how does this play out in terms of modern thought and action? Put simply, we’ve erected a series of biases that ensure American’s do not recognize the relationship between their economic situation and their lack of class consciousness. As American’s we do not like to talk about class. It rankles our sense of equality and egalitarianism. But that also serves the purposes of the economic ruling elites, the wealthy 1%. They are able to leverage and exploit our belief in equality to paint mechanisms designed to improve the equality of Americans as “socialism” or “class warfare.” Things like progressive taxes, inheritance taxes and food stamps get paraded as examples of unfairness by the right.

  4. yes, i see the point brian is kind of making: most republicans are too stupid to know what they are doing or saying so you can’t blame them all for effing themselves in their own damn asses. it’s just like how a tornado works. the dumb air gets trapped on top of the smart air, and when gravity kicks in, both airs happily whip into a confident, loud, violent, destructive funnel cloud that tears the earth apart. thing is, the smart air knows it belongs on top and is prepared to fight for every inch. the dumb air thinks it doesn’t matter if it loses a little altitude here or there, because it has been told, no matter what it does, it will ascend to heaven. thing is, all air knows where heaven is – six feet under ground. lastly, our politicians sit in the eye of the cyclone, having a nice sunny day and doing everything they can to keep aloft and stay out of the scary bad weather.

    1. JS: I don’t think it’s a question of “stupid” or “smart,” but a question of “conscious” or “unconscious.” Would you call Neo from the film The Matrix “stupid” because he didn’t know he was a battery? Or would you call him “unconscious?” And by the way, The Matrix is one of the great political films of our generation… It just happens to look like a science fiction movie. 🙂

  5. The people who are controlling ALL of us are the RICH. See, on YouTube, Bill Still’s “The Secret of Oz”. You’ll learn about how the wealthy, beginning with the Rothschilds, the Morgans, etc., have foisted their privately-owned central banks (that’s what the Fed is) on all countries. We have a “debt-money” FRACTIONAL RESERVE LENDING system, which gets us further and further into debt, while the money goes to the top .1%. We could’ve had a debt-free government-issued currency, NOT backed by precious metals, like the ancient Romans, the colonies’ “scrip, and Lincoln’s Greenbacks. All of these worked FINE, until the rich came along, to change it for THEIR benefit. When the bankers talked Woodrow Wilson into helping them institute the Fed in 1913, eight years later, Wilson make a tragic statement, saying he was VERY sorry. See “The Secret of Oz”.

  6. Another favorite retort of the right to any mention of the big “D”: “This is a Republic, not a Democracy.”

    Which is sort of like saying a wet cat is not a cat because it’s wet.

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