There is nothing in what I have written that will change anyone’s mind about Black people. about poverty, or about our problems in education. But that was not my intent. My intent was to lay out my world view, perspective, pov, and reveal my paradigms and narratives I operate from. In addition, I hope I have responded adequately to questions posed by David and Jim.
It comes down to what kind of a country you want to live in. Finland provides all the things the GOP despises: health care, education, housing, parental leave, vacations, all the things we know make for a stronger society. And the results have been excellent: Finns still go to school and work and take care of their families, they don’t slide into lethargy in a cloud of smoke or sit on the couch with a needle in their arm. They have not lost the “main spring of human progress”.
Why don’t we do the same? For the same reason other countries in the Americas don’t: we are all former colonies; only Canada has avoided that trap and Woodard details why in his American Nations. Ian Haney Lopez lays out what I have been saying a long time (see my blog in its early days): Whites believe that social programs benefit minorities and they don’t want to see that. Like the old toothless White man in Mississippi recorded by Alexandra Pelosi saying him getting food stamps was right because he deserved them, not like those minorities.
In this summary I will state as boldly as I can what I “think”. I think that Liberal Democrats and no one else have promoted the general welfare and defense of the U.S. Frankly, I don’t think it requires any proof or citations that the bulk of the supporters of conservatism in this country, older White males, were raised in a time when they were the “Americans” and the many other groups that made up and make up this country were discounted, the bit players, the extras, in the American movie. They grew up believing that that was what America is and a few Norman Rockwell paintings and WW II movies with an Italian or Black character to prove we believed in equality reassured them that it was OK to live in segregated communities and for their kids to go to segregated schools.
The reason that situation existed in the first place I think is our colonial past. But the Founding Fathers laid the groundwork for a society of equal rights and opportunities. That requires some unpacking. What I mean is that the way the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were written contained the seeds of all that has transpired since to move this country away from that colonial heritage and realize in reality the promise of equal opportunity. Donald Trump has shown us the power of denigrating women and minorities. His disapproval ratings show that that is a losing game. After all, the people my age are leaving the scene, those who remember a different America. Even people born in the fifties turned 10 in the sixties and saw a different world. Nevertheless, it has taken the infamous “changing demographics” to slowly erase the pernicious influence of social stratification. The sequelae of generations of such stratification, women’s roles highly restricted, women’s freedom highly restricted, women’s rights not encoded in the law, minority rights ignored, a deep and powerful narrative of White Christian hegemony, and more are still with us but under siege. First Obama, then Hillary Clinton are smashing barriers whose breaching was considered unimaginable when I was a child in the 40s and 50s.
The essence of Conservatism is resistance to unnecessary change. That sounds as if it would accommodate change until you realize that the body of Conservatives is made up of stake holders in the status quo and they are the ones who decide when and what change is necessary. The conservatives, OTOH, react to perceived encroachment on their status and are easily distracted by a narrative of values under attack, religion under attack, the family under attack, the nation under attack, all based on a bogus narrative of unrestricted wealth and happiness under an earlier regime of White Christian rule. The conservatives have been exploited by the economic elite to capture the legislative process and create tax law beneficial to the elite and forcing the government to turn to the middle class to support services. The jujitsu of this elite has been to the turn the conservatives against a “rapacious and tyrannical” government, thus weakening the government further and strengthening the hand of the elites through their control of the legislative branch. This is the process Francis Fukuyama describes. The only fire wall against total control of the country by these elites are the Presidency, the Supreme Court, the judicial system, and the vote. Major attacks on the judicial system and the vote have been launched by conservatives who believe judges are destroying the moral fiber of the country by deciding in favor of immoral and illegitimate claimants like homosexuals and abortion providers and the vote is being reduced by propaganda against all fact that voter fraud is an actual problem. Spokespersons for conservatives have openly said that the purpose of these voter ID laws is to reduce turnout and get Republicans voted in. Only a very unAmerican person would believe such an act to be moral.
And only a very unAmerican person would believe it a good idea to ignore the Constitution on so many issues, issues like religion, voting, the equality of women, and so forth. Many want to impose a Biblical interpretation on the law and then have the nerve to complain about Sharia law – another non-existent bogeyman. How do you treat such people with respect? They are either complete shysters because they know these efforts go against the Constitution or they are hopelessly ignorant of the Constitution. This is why, in view of the large numbers of such people and the unequivocal findings that they are concentrated in the slave states that I have suggest the resurrection of the Confederacy. That may be tongue-in-cheek, but only because I recognize its unlikelihood. In the same way I recognize the unlikelihood of a parallel resolution: Black Americans choosing to form large communities and begin to control the most dominant elements of society: the schools, health care, the police and courts, the financial institutions, the socioeconomic safety net, etc. Jim mentions the failure of so many polities controlled by Blacks for many years now, starting with Stokes’ victory as mayor in Gary. Like the Black man on the ship said he’d be captain only when it was sinking, Blacks became mayors of major cities only when they were about to topple over from rust. In the same way, when a large school district is the only employers in a Black area, the superintendent and board of education become the only employers, conferring great power on them. When the community is already weak due to poverty and lack of education, it is very easy for people of questionable intentions to move in and take over. In addition, those Black areas and Black leaders were answerable to the White power structure, just as the mayor of Flint was answerable to the Republican governor. Those Black leaders could lead only so far as the establishment would allow them. My vision would involve setting up a special relationship with the federal government, excising the area from state control as many states are dominated by those entrenched in the old colonial patterns, and a vetting process for would-be leaders would be set up. Due to the total lack of will to do this in the Black community, I haven’t thought this through and I am sure it will never happen. Of course, if Trump is elected………….. all bets are off.
The New Deal marked the maturity of this nation. The Great Society propelled that vision further. The backlash has been mounting ever since. This is why I call conservatives reactionaries.
My experience with you, Jim, is that when we cite personal experiences to back up more general observations about the state of society, you redirect that to be evidence of us seeing everything in terms of Black and White, aka race. If we cite statistics on issues like housing discrimination, discrepancies in educational funding, voting restrictions, cynical decisions on transportation, police and court policies and even misconduct, you offer Right wing blog sites or Right wing think tanks to counter that, ignoring the poor reputation these sources have in academia and politics, as long as they shore up the Right wing pov. The Conservatives complain of Liberal condescension, but it is hard not to be condescending when conservatives repeatedly go off on discredited sources like Breitbart or O’Reilly. That whole Planned Parenthood selling baby parts thing was pursued relentlessly by Fiorina, an actual presidential candidate. What can she be worth? That’s why Kasich, as Conservative as he is, is at least sane and the only hope of the GOP, but putting him at the head will enrage millions of people who want Trump, especially now that Cruz is out (today is May 4, 2016). You seem to be partial to Libertarians, Jim, and they are a trifle better morally than conservatives only because they are consistent: we won’t help you but if you want to smoke dope, help yourself.
To be honest, I think some of your thinking is just naive……… not a bad thing, it’s just that you need more exposure to how the other half lives. In my case, incidents do burn themselves into my brain and perhaps you could accuse me of bias, bitterness, a skewed world view or whatever, but I remember when my mother lay dead in a cubicle in an emergency room and when my family arrived after me and the nurse was directing them to my mother’s body, a doctor became very angry and said, “That’s not her family!” Why not? Oh, this was 1992, so that may qualify as “a long time ago”. I don’t fault the doctor, he just was not used to a world in which people did not pay attention to skin color, a colorblind world, you might say.
Now, the night after Trump took Indiana and thus became the GOP nominee, a shattering event, we will watch to see what Republicans do. The future of the party is at stake because while many Republicans turned their backs on Goldwater, the party itself did not break apart. Trump may have that effect, the party may have to be destroyed in order to save it. The country needs a center right party just like it needs a center left party and we used to have that. I have tried here in this essay, which is far too long to be called an essay, to show more completely what I wrote up in my blog entry, The Road To Trump, that is, a fairly personal view, taking into account my world view, my perspective, my frame of reference, the paradigms I operate out of.
More than that, the whole country needs to figure out what to do with all of those voters for Trump and Sanders who obviously feel left out and disaffected. They are there if the parties can address them and their issues. The Trump voter who is angry at Obama for representing and serving the grasping minorities will now pursue the conservative line that minorities vote for Democrats because Democrats give them “things”, “stuff”, the lie that Fox News routinely puts out via O’Reilly et al. Thus progress in rebuilding the GOP post-Trump is in doubt.
The night of Trump’s Indiana victory, Steve Schmidt, McCain’s senior advisor and the guy who picked Sarah Palin, gave a passionate response to Chris Matthew’s question to him re the GOP, quo vadis? But Joy Reid came right back at him full force, reminding him of all the dog whistles the GOP engaged in over the years to recruit disaffected White voters and assure them they would end abortion. put prayer back in the school, wipe out terrorist cells, and lower taxes, none of which they did because they could not do that and knew they couldn’t. This dynamic set up the Trump phenomenon.
I hope this extended essay can display the roots of all this in the 1600s so as to enable us to analyze origins and sources and begin the rebuilding process.