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11 September 2008 @ 09:28 am
Why Democrats "Don't Get" Republicans  
Via the_gwenzilliad:


What Makes People Vote Republican

From the introduction:

Diagnosis is a pleasure. It is a thrill to solve a mystery from scattered clues, and it is empowering to know what makes others tick. In the psychological community, where almost all of us are politically liberal, our diagnosis of conservatism gives us the additional pleasure of shared righteous anger. We can explain how Republicans exploit frames, phrases, and fears to trick Americans into supporting policies (such as the "war on terror" and repeal of the "death tax") that damage the national interest for partisan advantage.

But with pleasure comes seduction, and with righteous pleasure comes seduction wearing a halo. Our diagnosis explains away Republican successes while convincing us and our fellow liberals that we hold the moral high ground. Our diagnosis tells us that we have nothing to learn from other ideologies, and it blinds us to what I think is one of the main reasons that so many Americans voted Republican over the last 30 years: they honestly prefer the Republican vision of a moral order to the one offered by Democrats. To see what Democrats have been missing, it helps to take off the halo, step back for a moment, and think about what morality really is.
 
 
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markbernsteinmarkbernstein on September 11th, 2008 08:51 pm (UTC)
I think that may be an example of the disconnect the article discusses. In thinking back to the 80s, it seems pretty clear that the Republicans were actually connecting with specific issues that a large group of voters felt weren't being addressed properly. Now, that's not 100%, of course, but it was certainly a different party than it is today.

I can accept this. I was never particularly drawn to the Reagan Revolution myself (I voted for John Anderson in 1980), but I'll grant that the man appeared to be sincere. I was thinking more of the Gingrich Revolution of the 90s and Dubya's campaigns, which I *do* regard as cynical.

To a certain extent that is where the grass roots come in.

Obama agrees with you. :) It doesn't make the news, but a huge amount of the money and volunteer effort in the Obama campaign is going to the ground effort - voter registration (millions of new voters registered - I recently saw a figure of 400K new voters in Michigan alone), organizing, and GOTV efforts are, in many ways, the centerpiece of his electoral strategy.

I'm not talking about ignoring the fringe Right (or Left, if we go from a Republican perspective).

Neither am I, depending on your definition of "fringe". I'm referring to the historical fact that it's incredibly unusual for any Democratic or Republican presidential candidate to pull less than 40% of the vote. There are a *lot* of people whose minds won't change, and the reasons vary. I don't, for example, regard as "fringe" someone who always votes Republican because being pro-life is their most important issue. Or someone who always votes Democratic because they're an ACLU member whose primary interest is protecting First Amendment rights.

If we want to truly unify the country

I don't know if that's possible. This country, as far as I can tell, only shows a high degree of unity when attacked. Other than the short period after 9/11, you have to go back to WWII, I think.

Some examples might include pork-barrel spending, stopgap measures to cut taxes or to fund particular individual programs, changing one's stand on an issue after the fact due to political pressure, selection of certain nominees for high public office who stand close to the Presidency, and (in my mind and particularly so today) voting for acts to provide a President and government with unprecedented powers against the country's own citizens when belonging to a political party claiming to be for free and independent thought (or a political party claiming to be for less government interference, take your pick).

Again, none of this is meant to say that Republicans are or have been the good guys.


That last line made me stop and blink. I see everything on that list as things that Republicans have done in my memory. None of them strike me as primarily Democratic sins.

It's all well and good to blame the media and spin, but if you have a real understanding and connection then you become media- and spin- and sometimes even scandal-proof.

And it's all well and good to make these sorts of generalizations, but history has shown how difficult it is to achieve "real understanding and connection". I think that the cable news era has made it even harder.
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on September 11th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
"voting for acts to provide a President and government with unprecedented powers against the country's own citizens when belonging to a political party claiming to be for free and independent thought (or a political party claiming to be for less government interference, take your pick).

Again, none of this is meant to say that Republicans are or have been the good guys."

That last line made me stop and blink. I see everything on that list as things that Republicans have done in my memory. None of them strike me as primarily Democratic sins.


Last I checked, the "Patriot Act", excesses and all, passed both houses of Congress each time with majorities far exceeding party differences.

It has been a while since Democrats have been in control of both the House and Senate, so I suppose some might think that pork-barrel spending was invented in 1994 by Newt Gingrich. I assure those with shorter memories than you or I that it was not. I also point to a Democratic majority in the House that doesn't seem to be quite as willing to challenge the status quo as they campaigned on, seeming to be more willing to let things slide so that they could continue to point to the failures of the Administration.

And yes, the "close to the Presidency" line was meant to point to a certain current VP candidate I view with a non-zero amount of cynicism. Never say I don't throw you a peanut sometimes (*grin*).
markbernsteinmarkbernstein on September 12th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Then we agree that members of both parties have been guilty of all the offenses you list. I had inferred from your previous comment that these were, in your eyes, primarily Democratic sins. I see now that's not the case.