Hate to be self-referential but….
The more people I encounter, the more it seems the difference between the political poles is a social construction. Aside from the prominent examples of ideological contradictions (Liberal Racists, Conservative Welfare Cheats, etc., and everyone knows at least one), there are some very real reasons that people seem to adhere to beliefs, act upon impulses and support policies that may do them harm in the long run.
We are manipulated, especially the bottom third of the economic scale, into believing we belong with those in power but are being sold an ideological package labeled “Liberal” or “Conservative” and anything that falls outside those preconceived broad definitions is filtered out of choice.
There are some hot-button issues that are determined by our closer communities. If you are White and rural, you are more likely to feel X, or Urban Black and Gay, Y, but after that, I’m always surprised at the level of nuance people show when they have discussions with people with opposing views who are willing to engage them. Being able to have conversations between my fiscally conservative friends about a topic like gun control is a whole lot easier than being able to talk about the subject with a rural hunter, but not impossible. Speaking to a Melinneal liberal arts college kid about not understanding the new gender definitions or why “safe spaces” exist is a hell of a lot harder than discussing it with a moderate, but older LGBTQ ally who is still in the process of understanding all of the above him/her/themselves.
As a friend of mine recently said “I don’t talk about politics on social media anymore, It’s all a matter of where you come from and how you see it” truer words…. But we need to have those conversations, preferably face to face, in each others presence without our “Hi I’m a Liberal” or “Hello I’m a Conservative” stickers attached.
There is no doubt that we are what we are primarily because of where we grew up and what we were surrounded by.
There are other factors,
But, I’d say, mostly you have to be exposed to new people, and new ideas to at least know they aren’t the monsters you have running around in your head.
Even if Conservative, Libertarian, and Liberal brains are “different” don’t we all need each other’s perspective to live with each other?
I think that even when we come up against issues that we are steadfast on, especially so in some cases, we need to listen harder and assume less.
I think its the only way we’ll ever possibly learn to live together. Our existence as a species depends on it.
According the Washington Post, the GOP leadership is all in a tizzy over a potential Trump or Carson primary win. They know what the rest of us who don’t live in neverland do, that although stranger things have happened, neither screams “electable” in 2016.
They quote a Romney aide (terrifying in the fact that he represents the rational side of the GOP considering what he and his running mate in 2012 stood for) and the venerable “source that will not be named” as basically saying, “if we can’t conjure Republican Jesus up out of the tears of illegal immigrants and dead babies, we are so fucked!”
With all the introspection of a rural townie hooked on smack, they fail to see how the Frankenstein’s monsters they see before them were created by none other than their own angry white hands. They forget the Michelle Bachman’s, Sarah Pailn’s,
Kurt Sharon Angle’s or Dan Patrick‘s they presented as viable mainstream candidates and wonder why the fuck they keep sliding deeper and deeper into the wackadoo, racist, conspiracy addled, puncline-less joke of an insane asylum, dragging half the country with them in the process.
Its your own fucking fault you clueless assholes.
Remember the southern strategy? How about Lee Atwater, Ollie North and Willie Horton? What about more recent Republican poster boys like Cliven Bundy, you know , that all-American patriot, who just off the cuff exposed himself as a brazen idiot racist. Batting a thousand so far.
All while you marginalize the more reasonable wack-jobs in the party, you know, those who actually have convictions beyond “fuck the brown people.” All while you let ideologues shills base their governing on not letting the black guy in the White House have nice things. Because, Obamacare.
Yes, YOU, all you mainstream, fiscally conservative plutocrats, this shit is all your fault for not taking this divisive, lowest-common-denominator shit seriously when it was serving you well, and doing so only now, as your stranglehold on the narrative got away like a greased pig at a Klan roast.
Fuck you, you deserve to lose, you deserve every genuflecting, cowfucking vote you’ll get. Unfortunately the rest of us don’t deserve the 4-8 years of resentment, violence and anger that will surely follow. Even in the event of your party’s victory.
See, it’s actually the American people who’ll pay.
I’ve often been accused by friends, acquaintances and the occasional family member of being either “too liberal” or of just being “a liberal.” First off, I’m usually befuddled by the statement because I’m not sure what that even means. Can or should anyone define themselves simply on the basis of one aspect of who they are? Does being a Fireman automatically disqualify you from being a father, does being a firefighter disqualify you from being a woman?
I am a man, more specifically an African-American male, more specifically a man of mostly African descent, with significant European ancestry as well as American Indian, Mediterranean, and various other ethnicities. Does that disqualify me from being a feminist, or an occasional bigot? Do the thoughts to the contrary disqualify me from being any of the things I feel with a greater measure that I am?
I read a lot of “manosphere” related blogs, from the ones that take themselves way too seriously and occasionally make me throw my hands up and walk away exasperated, to those who try to walk the line of respectability and occasionally teeter off the edge. Does it make me a misogynist because I find nuggets of value in these writings? Does it make me a dreaded “SJW” when I disagree?
I’ve written before about finding inspiration in places that either scare me or repulse me (perhaps not in those words but this is heavily implied often) but alongside that inspiration, finding the proper amount of disgust.
When I was in College, I owned a copy of Iron John, flirted with the burgeoning men’s movement and got way too in touch with my feelings. I resolved that I was a good thing that I was raised largely by women. I understood what periods meant and had just enough of an inside track to having many a female friend with whom I enjoyed long talks if nothing else. I was 135lbs soaking wet and unsure of myself as a human let alone a man. I always bloomed perpetually late and in some cases, ended up better for it. In others, it was torturous, sometimes still is.
I remember that time culturally as well, the geeks were silently preparing to take over the world through every living room, and men were flirting with androgyny because we thought it would get us laid. It was the path of least resistance in a culture that was still trying to define and in some cases, undo manhood. Why try to wrap yourself up in the rugged traditions of being a man when those traditions were as much a restraint as they were freeing. They required so much damned work and so much effort, why not just give in?
From this, it is easy to draw parallels between men’s changing roles and the periods in history when women faced similar choices, at greater peril. Now that last part of the sentence is important, it isn’t an approbation designed to ramp up attraction from women. It isn’t an “I feel your pain” ploy for the affections of the other sex (this too has become complicated, misgendering be dammed!) it is a simple truth. Men, possessing of greater physical strength on the average and a history of using that strength to dominate those weaker than them have caused much violence over maintaining the preferred class, mostly White Angelo Men, another fact.
You don’t have to know much about history, only the broadest of strokes will tell you that there has been a great transformation in gender since I was born (the late 60’s) and that change has become the source of tension. As much tension as there is in the fact that change has occurred in other “roles” and categories as well. Gender, Race.
What it means to be an American in practice is catching up to what we’ve been taught it means on paper. Combine all the cultural upheavals that have happened in the past 100 years or so, accelerating in the last 15, and you have what we have now, a lot of angry, distrustful people of all stripes. The closer we come to the ideal America my Catholic school civics nun taught us, the less US we are.
Men are angry because we deeply fear the next woman we look at lustfully may not have been born that way, White men are angry because they feel the country, hell the world they’d been implicitly told was theirs is no longer exclusively so. Black men are frustrated because of the existing barriers of Race and our annoying inability to grow beyond victimhood, real or perceived. We, more than most, are schizo-Americans, entitled to all that we have never been allowed to have yet “entitled” still. We are stymied and stilted by our continuing reverence for a God that was never ours and lack of any real viable alternative.
Politically we are divided into camps of “Left” and “Right,” “Liberal” and “Conservative,” divided mostly along lines of education and race we are kept so busy with petty bullshit, fighting each other over it, that we don’t see who is truly benefiting from it. Hint: it is neither them nor us.
It isn’t just here that this wave of change threatens to devour us. Europe, especially the more liberal economies, are also struggling with cultural change. Israel’s dwindling interest in peace and its neighbors tiring of war has hardened each side into intractability. We are all to blame in a way.
So what about us middling folks, the ones who despite having strong inclinations to one side or the other, rest practically, in the center. Those who believe in live and let live but if my neighbor feels the need to use deadly force to stop an intruder from entering their home, that the neighbor should not only have the right to do so but must also live with it if he or she makes a fatal error.
What about those of us who believe that there are things that Socialism just does better and things that Capitalism, as unfettered as it can be with the balance of government enforced monopoly laws does far better than Socialism ever can. What about those of us who believe that all the amendments to the constitution should be equally protected, including the second, but none, not even the first, is absolute.
Or those of us who accept the right of everyone to determine their gender identification while still asking that those of you who do to please have patience with those of us who need to adjust to the idea. Or that those who feel that although traditional gender roles are outmoded, still respect the arrangements of others who adhere to them by choice. Just as we respect those who choose to turn them on their head. That in a world of division and fragmentation, both are equally brave in their own way.
What about those of us who are so far to either side in our heads, but realize that as we are now there is so far to go before a Libertarian or Socialist utopia can be achieved. That we, as humans, aren’t quite ready for total freedom without feeling the need to subjugate others nor can we be totally collective while maintaining our individual selves.
What about that middle?
The latest incident of seemingly random violence, where two police officers were gunned down in cold blood in a CiCis Pizza in Las Vegas, should hopefully be a wake-up call to the nation, but somehow I doubt it. At the nexus of gun control, which cops have been painfully absent in the discussion of lately, and extreme Right ideology, to which many in the departments may secretly espouse, there is the threat and now, the actuality of violence against police officers. Now I am no blind believer in the sanctity of law enforcement, I believe that in many cases they have grown painfully unaware that they serve US and not the other way around. Police have been getting more and more bold about restricting and in some cases outright trampling on the public’s rights. But under NO circumstances would I say that cops should be killed execution style, or any style, while not engaged in law enforcement activities. Police are aware of the fact that they have the ability to use deadly force, and therefore are targets, they accept this as a part of their job, but this…
That being said, there is a terrible irony in all of this, actually several. Just last week another incident in Forsyth county Georgia (anyone else remember Forsyth county? 1987? ) where a “sovereign citizen” Dennis Ronald Marx attempted to lay siege to the county courthouse. He didn’t make it inside. So here you have two incidents of anti-authoritarian, anti-government violence directed by whites against a largely white power structure yet there is not yet an outcry. Here comes the irony. Remember Ice T? Not the TV friendly streetwise cop on Law and Order, not even the OG, but the lead singer and primary lyricist of Body Count. Body Count who wrote a little song called Cop Killer. A fucking song, and not even a particularly good fucking song, got law enforcement, political leaders and the whole country talking about free speech, the POTENTIAL of violence against police officers and well at least covertly, race. Where is that outcry now?
I’ve been telling friends and family for years that I feared such a resurgence of this type of ideological violence, that the rhetoric of G. Gordon Liddy and the burgeoning right wing talk phenomenon he heralded would collude with the erosion of the White middle class that started with Regan and accelerated with Clinton, that Angry White Males were only being made angrier by reinforcement of their elemental belief that they were superior by the talk radio establishment, that all of this and more would coalesce into violence in a way we haven’t seen yet in this country’s modern history. It now seems that my biggest fears are coming to fruition.
The ideologues are taking over the GOP. The Tea Party is at the nexus of Koch, God, Guns, Manifest Destiny, American Exceptionalism ™ and fear. Just as the great brainwashing of American people of color that opportunity was within their reach and that racism was no longer a “thing” and its resulting gangs and poverty dyslexia, Whites who had always been absolutely sure of their Americanness and golden ticket holding status are now experiencing their own form of Mxyzptlkian confusion. Already having the established “right” to bear arms drilled into the culture, that “right” and all the power/impotence it implies has made them a confused mess. These thugs are no more than gang members, they behave in the same manner, have either formalized or implicit codes of conduct, and traffic in drugs and violence, one being the mind altering type the other of their implicit superiority, their “birthright” and the fear of being just as economically bad off as the brown people, one gets you fucked up and high, the other gets you fucked up on fear. It is very easy to get twisted up in the racial politics but that’s only because of the 200 years of programming not only inflicted on Black America but White America as well. Everything is about race, but nothing really is about race at all.
Which brings us to 2008…
White America was quietly stunned, at first.
At first, surprisingly, only Fox news had speculated that the couple involved in the incident had fringe ties. But to anyone who lived through the sporadic violence of the 80’s and 90’s, the skinhead resurgence and the Alan Berg incident as well as the numerous beatings, stabbings and dragging’s that have occurred over the last 30 years the all hallmarks of the manifest anger of angry white males.
I’ve been struggling with the ideas surrounding the apparent eclipse that began covering the bright light of White privilege for a while now. Although I saw, as millions of others, the election of Barak Obama as a major turning point that I also think some of us also knew would not be smooth sailing through. In fact, in many ways it would get worse
before it got better if in fact it gets better at all. I remember watching the 2008 election results come in and feeling a sense of promise and dread. As all pivotal moments go, from graduation to landing a new job, to saying “I do” the luster of the thrill of accomplishment rapidly gives way to the sheer terror of “what the hell do I do now.” I can only imagine what the reaction was on the other side.
The Palin effect.
The first indication that there was a blood in the water came before the election itself when the GOP made the head-scratchingly bad decision to run Palin as McCain’s running mate. Aside from her painfully dim political I.Q. and her strikingly horrific faux-folksiness she was uniquely unqualified for the vice presidency, in fact she was uniquely unqualified for Girl Scout troop leader. I realize that all candidates vetted through the party system are sculpted in some way by the parties expectations, or or what they think the party is expected to be by the eggheads in its leadership, but this Frankenstein’s monster of ignorance was probably the worst move the GOP has made in recent memory. A calculated (probably on an abacus, because calculators are the work of the devil) concoction at the crossroads of gender, jingoism and religion, her ascension to the throne of chief wing-nut was the bunker hill of the current and future civil war within and without the Republican party.
Never had a candidate been so built around so many false notions and disparate parts as Palin. A fiscal conservative governor in a state that receives a disproportionate amount of federal funds for a relatively small number of people, a social conservative who’s daughter’s out-of wedlock birth caused more than a casual derisive snicker or twelve and a gun toting grizzly mama NRA loving every-white-woman who was rumored to have secretly boned an African-American basketball player star, Palin can’t even be described as a mass of contradictions, she’s simply a hot mess.
Despite all of this, and demonstrating one of the central insanities of the Tea Party and its loose socially conservative Ecumenism/ (borderline?) racism, she was and to a certain, clawing to still be relevant sense, the poster woman for the movement. Choosing her, the GOP phase shifted from doling out chum to “the base” to trying to outright co-opt it. The results have not been pretty.
Of course the prevailing feelings of entitlement were stirred by Palin’s big spoon; the soup was already boiling for many years. In a lot of ways the election of Barak Obama signaled a sea change that the White Right have been fearing, warning against and arming for since before the civil war. But it was the election of 2008, the emergence of the Tea Party and Palin’s fawning, despicable and disgusting approbation of it that began to galvanize this “other America.” Bringing together Libertarians of the economic kind (The Pauls are only Libertarian when it suits them, opposing Gay marriage on religious grounds and opposing general Civil rights as a way to add froth to the already rabid base and remaining largely silent on Marijuana decriminalization, many of the above clearly NOT Libertarian in the least) old angry White men who have found themselves in a world they did not make (because the very premise of America to them had always included a sanctified place in this country for even the least of THEM while demonizing the rest of US, no matter how productive, no matter how American) and now instead of blaming the greedy and the wealthy who have been lying to them and using them as foot soldiers, bulwarks against the unwashed brown masses, they have reverted to their worse nature and are blaming the victims.
There is something inherently horrifying to many people that is very comforting to these folks, the old romanticized order of things that has good hard working (white) folks getting by (barely) on hard work and “skilled” manufacturing and mechanical labor (which is being lost to the same “market pressures” that have lowered the number of skilled jobs in the US to the lowest level in modern history) and shiftless Blacks and Mexicans serving them in some capacity. They don’t need to be reminded that it was less than 70 years ago when slavery effectively ended in the south, though they won’t call it that. They call Obama a Socialist without really knowing the meaning of the word, either do not know or conveniently forget that the consensus among historians and most rational people is that union membership and wartime government spending was what created the middle class and that when one group is deposed as the convenient scapegoat, they will eventually fill that role.
Next, the radical right goes mainstream.
Libertarians are naïve, at least as naïve as hippies. Both “movements” are at their essence the product of selfish little privileged twerps who have forgotten exactly how privileged they are. Hippies preached peace and free love (another word for sleeping around with no consequences) Libertarians preach “free markets and according the libertarian bible and inconsequentially Koch funded “Reason” magazine, free minds (ha!), which translates into “fuck the poor, they, like us have an equal opportunity to get along in this country and are poor because they want to be.” The fact that a relative handful of people per generation climb out of poverty, let alone make it to the top 50% is statistically nonexistent (though like UFOs and Conscious Capitalism, there have been sightings) notwithstanding.
When the punks came along they all but held the door for the current crop of moneyed anarchists.
I wish I were exaggerating.
Several years ago, as I was struggling even harder to make ends meet, I encountered a squirrely little man in his late 20’s early 30’s who either ran or worked as a supervisor for a national chain of auto repair shops. It was early in the dawn of the rebirth of the “Libertarian” movement, Lyndon LaRouche its ideological grandfather was being prosecuted and was eventually jailed and his brain-children were making noise person to person. I remember being stunned to silence at the unabashedly ego driven spew he set forth, it was so long ago and I was caught so off guard that I don’t remember how it started but what followed was the most passively hateful, frighteningly certain and stunningly idiotic screed I had heard coming from someone not in a hood.
When I think of the modern Libertarian party, its foot soldiers and its current leadership, I always remember that guy. The gut who said that he had no problem with welfare because it kept poor people out of the free market (what?!?), that taxes should be illegal and we should have to pay on an individual basis for roads, fire and police protection commiserate to our use of the above services and a whole host of other statements that sounded like Ayn Rand violated LaRouche and this socially deformed love child was the result. Statements that you could, clearing all the reality we know about human nature and human behavior, on some other rational plane possibly maybe after we’ve been all turned to egoless automatons, possibly be true.
Yes I said egoless, this ego driven philosophy would require a world with absolutely no ego to be fair and equitable, if that were really the point and not a colorfully hypnotic wrapper meant to distract while it steals your wallet. Actually conversely Libertarianism REQUIRES ego as its primary concern is the individual, which unless you are that pill popping, “think for yourself as long as it agrees with my philosophy” Ayn Rand person, you wouldn’t have many people to deal with anyway.
I have at least one friend who espouses loudly a “libertarian” philosophy. I suppose in a way if you were to follow the rationale that it was better to stand for something than nothing at all it is admirable, but no, it isn’t. It isn’t admirable to stand for something simplistic and venal, that couches its “truth” in logic but because of association has to align itself with some of the most contrary and destructive philosophies and racist, sexist and anti-Semitic tendencies. All in the name of freedom, which as those of us who are at least 45 know is just another word for nothing left to lose…
Which brings us back to…hippies…
I was born as the hippie movement was “selling out.” The yippies were taking over, getting respectable, tripping on the weekends, bathing… Eventually they would give birth to the Yuppies and the DINKS who would become the Libertarians. The Yippies really tried, really hard, to bring the scrapings of values the Hippie movement managed, it its LSD infused haze, to stumble across. Peace, love, all great concepts, all great in concept, but none as tangible (or marketable) as the peace signs and “Have a Nice Day” obnoxiously yellow and cheerful smiley faces that they sewed on their hash stained Levis denim vests. They tried to sell peace and love, while supporting famine and war, the hippie generation voted overwhelmingly for Regan, the excesses of their youth both forgotten and held in a cigar box deep back in the darkness of their walk in closets. The hippies discovered money, something they could reject as teenagers and young adults, largely because they knew it would always be there at home.
My Libertarian friend, by the way, was born into an upper middle class family, which is important to mention…
The Hippies came mostly from middle and upper middle class families, after all who could afford to drop out, and who would it occur to do so? The idle hands of the sons and daughters of the first great middle class generation and the rebellious sons and daughters of the upper echelon would be in great company, one would be rejecting the values of their parents by engaging in as much sex and drugs and acid rock as their parents sacrificed for in order to get them to turn their backs on their parents values and not end up, really, poor. The object was to lose the ego of the greatest generation and walk away from its trappings of work and commitment for “freedom.” In this case, a word for nothing really to lose at all…
Under the guise of Peace and Love there was also a tribal nature to that freedom that was largely white.
White, upper/upper middle class…privileged.
The reaction to the hippies were no better. http://www.mariabuszek.com/kcai/PoMoSeminar/Readings/BangsWhite.pdf
It all comes from some form of privilege.
What you believe, in some ways, is a direct result of where you came from.
The more privileged you are, in many ways, the more naïve you are.
Even I am this, even I am both. Privileged, and naïve.
But thank god I’m not a fucking Libertarian.