Thursday, August 13, 2009

Warning to Republicans- We are Not Doing This for You!

Not so fast, Republican scum. This is not just about how the American public is discovering that the Democrats have deceived them. We are looking at you too.

We hate the greed, the lies, and the naked hypocrisy. Most of all though, it is that arrogant, self-congratulatory air of moral, social and intellectual superiority we can’t abide. There isn’t a tenth of the senators or congressmen on either side of the aisle, in Washington, who I don’t hate. Yes, I mean hate. I loathe those politicians. I despise the president. I think a lot of people are feeling the same way.

I especially despise the knee-jerk partisans who publicly display their ignorance by lowering the general level of discourse with snide and derisive comments about those with whom they disagree. Don’t call us “a mob” just because you’ve been ignoring us so effectively that we have to shout to be heard. We will not silence ourselves. And don’t think, just because you may be against the health care bill, that we are going to give you a pass. That sound you hear in the town hall meetings about health care is not the agitation of a partisan mob and it is not (at least not yet) the howl of a revolutionary rabble. If you look closely, you will see that it is every day people who are realizing and beginning to articulate that they are feeling betrayed.

I have been sitting and holding my tongue since the election of Barack Obama. I have been praying that our well-intentioned friends on the left were right and that I was wrong about the dangerous nature of the Obama victory. Now I find that there are many things worse than discovering you were wrong about the candidate you didn’t support and one of the very worst of them is happening right now.

The realization has been creeping in on me that not only had I been right to fear calamity in an Obama Presidency, but I was also wrong about the possibility that there might arise, in Washington, an honorable, intelligent and respectable opposition to the dreadful policies, empty rhetoric, pseudo-intellectual post-modernism, reckless “change-aholism” and idolatrous personality worship.

No, that sound that the Mainstream News Media is doing its best to filter out and cast in a prejudicial light is the sound of people waking up from the dream of being held in the warm embrace of a motherly and progressive government that wants to make everything “all right” and realizing that they have been encircled in the cold embrace of the mother of all boa constrictors- The Progressive Left. It is the cry of people who have finally found their resistance to the personal charm and political capital of the new administration and realized that if there is any hope of stopping the slow but inexorable strangulation that is already under way, they must act with passion and urgency. Like me, they are not just disappointed; they are in despair and futile rage.

Let me be perfectly clear:
I don’t just hate the stupid arrogance and messianic self-satisfaction of the Obama presidency; I hate the sickeningly ineffective and concupiscent faux conservatives on the other side even more. Both sides have betrayed their voters, their own natures and the promise of the American experiment in self-government.

Our President, charming, slick, loquacious and calculating though he is, could not help, in a few obvious gaffes, giving us enough unguarded moments through which to glimpse the size and darkness of the betrayal.
It was not, for example, just his initial knee-jerk, Community Organizer reaction in which he famously said that the "police had acted stupidly". That was bad enough. The smarmy "beer summit" with officer Crowley was, to me, even more of a symptom of his sub-rosa contempt for the middle class values and general class prejudice.

It amazes me, in retrospect, that no one that I am aware of has yet observed that inviting an Irish cop over to your formal rose garden, when you are accustomed to $100.00-a-pound steak, is the nearest thing in America today to the insensitivity of inviting a black guy over and serving him Fried Chicken and Watermelon. It is the way in which insufferable elites treat those they hold in amused contempt.

Likewise, the example he used earlier in that same verbose, slow-motion train-wreck of a press conference, in which he attempted to create the impression that family physicians are liable to drum up extra revenues by doing unnecessary tonsillectomies to the detriment of their patients and the economy. Leaving aside my original reaction to this, which is that I suspected that this might be a veiled reference to the heavy Jewish representation in the medical profession. I have come to realize, though, that it is not the anti-Semitic caricature of Jewish doctors doing unnecessary tonsillectomies that The President was after here, it’s actually a kind of classism.

This has not happened overnight. There are those who have written about this time in American history as class warfare but it is subtler than that. In today’s America, the class system has been twisted and spliced into a kind of Mobius Strip in which what we used to think of as the Upper Class has joined in common cause with what used to be referred to as The Poor. The confederation of these two constituencies, that used to occupy the polar extremes of the class spectrum, has warped the socio-economic plane on which America has always provided the most equal opportunity and freest marketplace of ideas in the world.

The public (the real people) has been slow catching on. Affirmative Action did not sufficiently alarm the working people and middle class. They allowed themselves to be lulled and co-opted when money market and mutual funds gave them the impression that, someday, they might live without actual labor and creativity in the style of the moneyed, coupon-clipping upper class. The nationalization of the Automobile Industry was slipped by them in a fog of urgency. They saw the value of their homes degraded by a crisis in mortgages that were intentionally sold without the time-honored requirements and caution so that “those less fortunate” could also have homes of their own.

The feelings and “dignity” of The Poor, in fact, supply the muscular grip for The Progressive Movement which has always been a cause born of privilege and upper class pretension. The chief distinction of the upper class is that they do not “need” to work. They can live their accustomed lifestyle merely by looking after their interests. As witnessed by the make up of the houses of congress and the Whitehouse which have come to resemble nothing so much as Ivy league clubhouses for those born to the upper class and the few fortunate tokens who they have raised up by affirmative action and so fully indoctrinated into the progressive fraternity that they cannot see that they are dupes. They are so progressive that they believe that self-defeating, divisive dogmas like the Black Value System vaunted by Barack Obama’s Chicago Church are positive and constructive not poison pills that will only perpetuate the racial divide and defeat successive generations of young black people. The alliance between the two great occupationless classes one living off the efforts (and sometimes crimes- as in the Kennedys) of earlier generations and the other swilling at the public trough (welfare recipients, political appointees, most of the news media, much of academia) has combined many disparate groups and turned them into a many-headed serpent that knows only to squeeze harder on the diminishing majority of people who work, create and earn livings in spite of the mounting pressure.

It would not be accurate to call the insidious, snide, condescending negation of middle class values a war on the middle class. It is almost never a warlike state. Only the occasional savagery (like the assault on Sarah Palin) rises to anything akin to war. There is just the constant tightening of the counter-cultural squeeze that mocks ambition, sneers at business acumen, recoils from value judgments and belittles even the healthiest of self-interest.

There is a deep prejudice in liberal circles against those who "sully their hands" with trade, profit and useful functions. The taxonomy of what makes a member of this new hybrid “occupationless” class needs to be worked out but it appears to have a great deal to do with those who spend the majority of their (working) time doing things that “look after their interests”, denying reality and jockeying for position than coming up with original ideas, making (verifiable) scientific discoveries, moving objects from one place to another, making anything useful, protecting society from itself or creating value of any kind.

I remember the horror amongst the room full of anthropology students I was asked to address a few years after I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree. A professor with whom I had maintained a relationship had asked me to come to a career night and tell them about my path after graduation. I told them about my experience with Affirmative Action and how I had found interest and satisfaction outside of academia. I spoke of how, having studied Anthropology, I felt that my understanding of people and life was enhanced and that whatever career they chose (or chose them) they would be well served by the education in humanity they were receiving. Looking at people Anthropologically was a great tool, not just for understanding the human condition but for understanding and serving people’s needs.
There were several graduate students in the room who were outraged by my tale.

In the ensuing rant, I was all but driven from the room. I don’t recall the exact words but, thirty years later I still feel the emotional temperature. I was informed that no one there had any interest in any career other than study, teaching and research and that the proper uses of Anthropology did not include anything remotely to do with making money in a direct way. They did not use the words “middle class” or “bourgeois” but they hung heavy in the air nonetheless. It was my first direct experience with this particular kind of class consciousness which I will call “occupationalism”. The bottom line is that if you work for a living, you are not one of us.

So now the actual workers, thinkers and producers are on the verge of realizing that The Democrat Party (that they used to think of as the working-man’s party) has become the party where the Upper Class and The Poor have come together under the progressive banner to squeeze them within an inch of their lives and that The Republican Party (that they used to think of as the party of the rich) has lost its way among the debris of the Bush years of “Compassionate Conservatism”- essentially a defenseless wreckage. If we are going to avoid a class war, it is up to one of these parties to come to its senses and re-adopt real values and actual work.

The first step is to recognize and reaffirm the dignity of real work and actual values, to stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks and begin behaving like America again. Get out of the boardroom and the examining room. To hell with compassion! Let’s create opportunity. Forget the opinion poll results, lead with conviction and reason. Tell the government to provide us with law, order and safety and stay out of the way- we will do the rest. We are the ones who never stopped working and all we want is the chance to continue unobstructed.


Wingnut523 said...

As the last line of "Office Space" said so succinctly: Fuckin' A

Robert J. Avrech said...

Excellent post. Dennis Prager refers to two political parties:

The Dangerous, and The Stupid.

You can puzzle out which is which.

Nancy Coppock said...

Yes! Yes!

I've always said when everything craters, who's going to be important? Those gear head torque winding guys hanging out with tractor pull shows! I would find my niche because I can paint camo in any color or I could open an underground school for young people. Only people that produce a product in the egalitarian future.

The Jackalope will be Delacroix's Liberty leading the troops through the battered whitewashed walls.

Jim Ramsey said...

Well written; exactly my sentiments since the last election. The earmarks controversy demonstrated that most of the GOP members feel that they are just as entitled as the Dems to porkbarrel their way through their petty projects to protect their private interests. I have told many a Republican fund raiser that I will give them no more money until they all stop acting like Democrats. Well said Robert--"The Dangerous, and The Stupid."

Dag said...

Where are Democracy's Jacobins?

Not in America. We have a rule of law based on the will of the people set in centuries of common experience. We have laws we obey and change when they are found wanting. We have a Democracy still. We can still elect representatives of our choice. We still live in a Democracy.

All Hail Democracy's Jacobins.
But, a Democracy is a style of government in itself, not a melange of personal pursuits counter to Democracy. It's about Democracy, this system of our; and that which destroys Democracy is anti-democratic. We chose Democracy, and nothing else is legitimate. We have a Democracy to maintain, not a Democracy of "what" but of "is." There is no room for other than Democracy in our Democracy.

It's a mistake to assume that all modes of political intrigue are valid in a Democracy: only Democracy is valid in a democracy. No competing modes. Yes, the dreaded "Dictatorship of the Majority." Drive out the rest.

David Foster said...

Class warfare is definitely being promulgated by Obama/Pelosi/Reid...however, it is not a "vertical" rich-against-the-poor kind of war. It is a *horizontal* war of class against class, and, specifically, of those who owe their money & status to academic credentials and political connections against those who have been so presumptuous as to succeed in other ways.

For example, if you started and ran a small manuacturing company, building it into a personal fortune of $100 million (without benefit of Ivy League degree or inherited family money) then Obama/Pelosi/Reid will denoune you as "the rich" at the very same time that they view you as inadquate to be considered a member of the elite.

There have traditionally been multiple status ladders in American society. This is an attempt to collapse al of them into a single ladder, with tight control over who is allowed to climb it.

lgude said...

Seeing the US in Charles Krauthammer's terms as a 'commercial oligarchy' I would say you are describing the effects of the corruption of that oligarchy with deadly accuracy. At its simplest it is Wall St and Washington and we have just seen them destroy a huge amount of wealth with the housing bubble. I think it is beside the point to speculate which party is more responsible. Both have colluded to betray those productive Americans who create value. And they continue to do so in the way they are handling the debacle which they created by creating more fake value. Like you say, we have to create real value.

I believe a lot of centrists voted for Obama because they felt that the country needed a new future oriented generation to lead. What they got was the rump of the 50s leftists that Harry Truman and Americans for Democratic Action defeated in '48. That is, the now dominant faction of the Democratic party (ie Pelosi, Reid, Obama) that still think the post war social democratic agenda circa 1950 is 'progressive.' As you rightly point out so do the fashionably wealthy and the elite of academia. The Republicans are more up to date having peaked in the 80s with Reagan and the recognition that the mid century liberals were mistaken in believing government could go on taxing and spending indefinitely. Once Newt failed the Republicans themselves retreated to mid century liberalism lite under Bush. Bottom line - our oligarchy is not only corrupt, its fresh out of new ideas.

Mark Amagi said...

Another excellent post! I think the Republicans have blundered into becoming the party of Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin, although the Party establishment is still largely ruled by the same crowd that backed Bush and Wall St. I think they basically use the Religious Right, and in order to appeal to them, feign a disingenuous anti-intellectualism, or maybe it is just a total lack of ideas. Anyway, to make a go of it and defeat the Progressive socialists they must, as I've stated in "Conservative Populism" [],both articulate an argument for core conservative libertarian principles and appeal to the Middle American working class.
The Dems have long since abandoned the American middle class as I discovered back in the late '80s, and like others, realized the Democratic Party had left me. I highly recommend Christopher Lasch's Revolt of the Elites; back in 1995 he got it right, the modern Progressive revolt is a top down revolt, led by the elite knowledge class.

RB Glennie said...

now tell us how you really feel, `beast'...

melinwy said...

A truly excellent article. I agree with all you stated.

You have put into words what I've felt for a long time and many of my family and friends. Keep up the great work.

I suggest everyone pass it on.

Thank You!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

That, sir, is an inspiring article. Keep up the good work, and keep writing. Patriots like you are the front line of defense against the damage being inflicted upon us by the "powers that be"...

truepeers said...

Have a look at Virginia Woolf's letter on "middlebrow". You'll see that the (proposed) alliance of the elitist and the plebe against the middle dates from at least the period, in the wake of WWI, where high culture entered into a despair and nihilism and pushed away the middle classes who, if they had not often been at the cutting edge of high culture nonetheless had until then aspired to keep up with it. But in the 1920s, a distinctive "middlebrow" publishing industry and associational culture arose, setting the terrain for highbrow rants against "Babbitry" and the "booboisie". Those graduate students belittling you were just mindlessly recapitulating 1920s sneers.

If we want - and we do need - a class of politicians who can lead with productive moral values, it is not enough, I think, to suggest that they just give us good laws and then get out of the way. They do have a necessary oversight role in watching, measuring, negotiating, regulating our freedom. It is a mistake to think we grow freedom by diminishing politics and the institutionalizing, in government, of political negotiations and decisions.

Take, for example, the current financial debacle. Writing loans to people with no income, no jobs, no assets and then repackaging and selling those loans so their real toxicity can't be seen, so that financial players can win big commissions and bonuses while forestalling the day of reckoning, is either outright fraud or the most bizarre confabulation of magical thinking in the minds of many thousands of financial people. The continued unwillingness of the banks to mark their bad "assets" to market is also, it seems to me, a form of accounting fraud being played on their investors.

I tend to think it wasn't a mass psychosis of magical thinking, that America has just been witness to a massive fraud, a massive ponzi scheme, that thousands of people involved in the financial industry must have been more or less aware of in its build up. And how many have even been investigated, let alone charged, by the legal-governmental authorities? Zero. No, "government" has been actively trying to paper up the fraud lest we lose entirely our confidence in the present Wall St.-Washington system and have to go through a massive dislocation in finding ourselves again.


truepeers said...

But there is no denying, it seems to me, that the reason this massive fraud was made possible is because the rather "laissez-faire" financial industry proved itself full members of the human race, i.e. immersed in original sin, and corruptible. Somewhere along the way the economic players needed to be accountable to political players, via government. Instead, a mix of laissez-faire ideology and cronyism that tied together Wall St. and political interests "ruled".

Laissez-faire cannot be the guiding ideology of real freedom. Real freedom involves having a hand in ruling yourself, in tandem with your fellows in a self-ruling democracy. It does not mean thinking there can ever be a society where the market simply polices itself with no political negotiation and regulation outside the market. Just try to imagine a market where you could buy every form of insurance and "credit checking", every necessary piece of contract law, to mitigate against the risk of corruption in those with whom you were in trust relationships (perhaps keeping in mind how the bond rating agencies have just proven themselves readily corruptible by the logic of the marketplace). At some point you would always come to realize that you ultimately rely on a kind of disinterested, potentially self-sacrificing, morality that cannot be articulated in any purely economic logic. And this would entail more than the rule of law (though of course that would be indispensable) because there are always novel situations in which forms of "grey market" immorality are not going to be foreseen by the law. There will always be a need for an economic insider who goes political, who breaks with the economic players and hence his own self-interest to say "look what is going on, this is wrong, WE have to do something about it".

Freedom requires some kind of partial closure to the economic free market through a political marketplace. Unless we take up this claim seriously, and see where it takes us in conceiving a truly ethical, if not "moral" economy, for the years ahead, the left will always have a great political advantage over those of us who truly want not to control (as does the left) but to find rulers who help maximize our freedom. Shouting at tea parties is not enough. The forces of freedom must become full players in politics and government. And that can only start with building up the narratives that give people the reason and desire to so involve themselves.