Monday, October 02, 2006

Why I bash Republicans

Incredibly Fat Man wrote this comment in response to my last post. I thought it deserved a considered reply:

" most people are pretty dumb (look at how many people vote Republican ;-)"

Most people vote anti-democrat (and therefore republican) because they're tired of psudeo-intellectual democrats telling them they're stupid if they feel differently on an issue.

Well, that particular bash was intended to be humorous. For the record, most people who vote Republican are not dumb (although I think many of them are ignorant). In fact, one could make the argument (and I sometimes do) that the Democrats (i.e. the people who actually run the party, not the people who vote for the party) are dumber than the Republicans because they fail to recognize that people vote Republican for reasons other than stupidity. (As you might imagine, this sentiment doesn't go over very well among my Democrat friends. That's one of the reasons I'm feel pretty confident that my position is correct: I seem to offend both sides more or less equally.)

By the way, there's an excellent book about this called The Left Hand of God which I highly recommend.

This elitism is (in my opinion) the reason the democrats keep getting their asses handed to them. Calling folks stupid is a poor way to get them on your side.

That's true. Calling them traitors does seem to work better from a PR point of view.

There, I feel better now. For the record, let me tell you where I stand politically:

1. I believe in small (but not non-existent) government. I think the size and power of the federal government has spiralled wildly out of control and it needs to be seriously reeled in.

2. I believe in fiscal responsibility. We are on a wild spending binge on our children's credit card. It has to stop.

3. I believe in personal freedom. I think people should be able to say what they want, write what they want, think what they want, worship whomever or whatever they want, eat what they want, smoke what they want, marry whom they want.

4. I believe in personal responsibility and accountability. If you choose to smoke and get lung cancer, don't come bitching to me (or the government). No one put a gun to your head and forced you to inhale. You did that to yourself.

5. I believe in free enterprise. The function of government is to provide a level playing field, not to bail out companies or individuals who make poor choices or get unlucky. (I do think that we ought to provide a social safety net, but I think we should do this purely out of self-interest, not as a matter of principle. I think most people don't like seeing their fellow humans living on the street, and the best way to deal with that problem is to make sure everyone has at least one other viable option.)

Except for the marry-whoever-you-want bit I kind of sound like a Republican, don't I? So why do I bash on the Republicans so hard?

It's very simple: if you look at what the Republicans actually do as opposed to what they say they are almost exact opposites. Republicans say they are for small government, but in the last 50 years the government has grown more under Republican administrations than under Democratic ones. They say they are for fiscal responsibility, but the federal budget deficit has grown more under Republican administrations than Democratic ones. (The correlation is quite striking:

Back in the Carter administration the deficit held more or less steady (and this was during an era of rampant inflation). Then during Reagan and Bush I the deficit grew almost monotonically. Then Clinton came into office and the deficit shrank. And we all know what happened after that.

The Republicans say they are for personal freedom, but the fact of the matter is that they want to use the force of government to constrain your life just as much as the Democrats do, they just want to constrain it in different ways. The Democrats want to throw you in jail if you're not politically correct, and the Republicans want to throw you in jail if you want to smoke pot (even medicinally) or have an abortion (even if you've been raped) or burn the flag.

Republicans say they are for personal responsibility. There are so many examples of Republican hypocrisy on this issue that I hardly know where to begin. Well, let's start with the weasel-in-chief who takes no responsibility for 9/11, no responsibility for the mess in Iraq (according to Dubya everything is just hunky-dory and he hasn't made any mistakes). Let's go on to Dennis Hastert, who let a child molestor go unmolested through the halls of Congress. (They didn't do anything about it because they'd be accused of gay-bashing? Oh give me a break. Even if that were true, why should the prospect of a false accusation of gay-bashing stop you from doing what is so clearly the right thing?)

The Republicans say they are for free enterprise, but in fact they are rife with corruption, giving out billions of dollars in no-bid contracts to the vice-president's former company.

And as if that weren't enough, the Republicans say they are patriots, but then they pass laws that undermine the very bedrock that this country is supposed to stand on: the rule of law, Habeus Corpus, separation of powers, judicial review, the right of the people to be secure in their persons, paper and possessions from unreasonable searches and siezures. They say they are for freedom, but it is quite clear that there is an influential faction of the Republican party that believes that the United States was founded not as a secular democracy, but as a Christian theocracy, and wants to return to those halcyon days. George the First once said, "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." He said that despite the fact that the Constitution very clearly states that "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office" including, one presumes, citizenship. I bash Republicans because they believe in second-class citizenship (or worse) for atheists (that's me), gays (that's many of my friends), people of color, people without means (those are my brothers and sisters). I bash Republicans because they believe that there are witches -- oh, sorry, -- terrorists against whom we can only defend ourselves by giving George Bush the unilateral and unreviewable power to imprison and torture them. I bash Republicans because they want to take us back to the dark ages. I bash Republicans because they want to make me "secure".

I don't want to be secure. I want to be free.

I bash Republicans not because I love the Democrats. I think the Democrats are a bunch of self-important morons who can't see beyond their ivory tower. I bash the Republicans because they are a clear and present danger to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America. I bash them because as a citizen of the U.S. I am bound to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

If the Democrats ever control all three branches of government I'll probably be bashing them.


DoctorChaos said...

In what way has the power of the Federal government spiralled out of control so much? (Pre Patriot Act)

In fact, the enormous growth of government has been in the state and local level, and this is more intrusive pettifoggering bureaucracy than Feds.

In my experience, Federal employees and offices are far more competent, intelligent and productive than state and local ones.

In numerical terms the proportion of Federal employees has not changed much for decades (though the recent Homeland Security clusterf@ck may be changing that); but in the localities it has exploded.

Is this meme a retread the naive idea that 'our good ol boys' are OK, but it is "Them damn Yankees!" who are the problem?

Ain't so.

"I think the Democrats are a bunch of self-important morons who can't see beyond their ivory tower"

"The Democrats want to throw you in jail if you're not politically correct, and the Republicans want to throw you in jail if you want to smoke pot (even medicinally) or have an abortion (even if you've been raped) or burn the flag."

Evidence? The Republicans have actively supported legislation for all those three. When have Democrats actively supported legislation criminalizing "not being politically correct"

You then go on with many specific, and detailed examples, with empirical evidence of perfidy that the current Republicans have pursued.

Many of which, many Democrats, including politicians (c.f. Russ Feingold), have specifically outlined and decried for the same reasons.

And yet, you still are reluctant to vote Democratic?

Even though you know all the facts, the Republican mind control lasers are STILL working very well with you. Karl Rove is very happy because you are their worst enemy and you still are eager to vote Republican the moment you have a modestly "acceptable" candidate compared to any Democrat.

Apparently only if the Republicans nominate Genghis Khan bin Laden, and Democrats nominate a Republican JFK, then do Democrats have a chance of winning.

You cannot bring yourself to say that "I admire that many Democratic Senators finally have the balls to stand up to the rape of the Constitution." Why not?

They say the same things you do.

Nobody is of course free from venality, including Democrats, but the ratio among current power-holders is about 20:1.

I am not partisan inclined myself, and always considered myself a "radical moderate". However, there are not two sides to the issue any more. Today, one party is, by clear action and empirical example, firmly against secular, rational, Englighenment values and universal justice and liberty.

"If the Democrats ever control all three branches of government I'll probably be bashing them."

If they try things this bad, then yes. When have they done so since Reconstruction? Nothing else compares.

Everything you describe as believing in is what mainstream Democrats believe in too. The Republican propaganda is successful at convincing you otherwise.

Some Yahoo said...

Now overlay that with the timeline of Republicans taking the house and senate and I agree. Didn't anyone ever tell you that it's Congress that does all the spending?

Well it's true.

It's the Republican Congress that's helped the taxpayer, not Clinton.

Polak said...

You, my friend, sound like you'd vote libertarian if the U.S. party actually got its shit together and made a serious run at the office.

It would be such a different political climate if classical liberalists were in power. And this, I feel, highlights a point that has been lost in contemporary American politics: the "government" asking itself if it deserves to do the things it does. Democrats seek to coninually increase the power of government to offer their equality-programs and Republicans seek to use government to hammer out a moral universalism.

There's never a question of "why do we do the things we do?" but rather "how?" or "when?" A libertarian government would have to justify each and every taxdollar it spends of the people's because the libertarian philosophy espouses the maximum amount of individual freedom that can be attained by said persons. Tax dollars are an inherent form of coercion (which is something quite against the basic idea of the philosophy) and so they better be spent for something goddamn great AND useful to everyone.

John Roylance said...

Great post. DOWN WITH THEM ALL!!!

Jesup said...

Hear hear!!! (Though I think you go overboard on stating how dangerous to freedom democrats in power would be. I think checks and balances are important, but so far I haven't seen anywhere near the level of assault on liberty from the periods where we had democrats in control of the government. And look at Clinton and the budget.)

As for the comments by Dr. Chaos about expansion of state and local government - most of that expansion has been due to mandates from republican congresses (remember when the republicans used to complain about "unfunded mandates" and "states rights", and now that they're in power, they're trying to run all the local school boards into the ground (under the aegis of 'testing') so people will approve school vouchers?) Not to mention the neocons who want to spend the government into such a hole that when they lose power, no government following them can do much of anything other than service the debt they rang up.

Ron said...

You, my friend, sound like you'd vote libertarian if the U.S. party actually got its shit together and made a serious run at the office.

I might, but if they were in power I'd probably bash them too :-)

GeorgeTheFirst said...

Ahem. George the first is George Washington. GHWB is a distant 2nd. And Dubya is a still distant 3rd after that.

Otherwise, good post.

John said...

The longer your post went on, the more virulent it seemed to get. I don't disagree with all your points, I think for the most part they were well-reasoned.

But you were careful to separate the elected democrats from the democrats in control...can you at least be consistent and give us the same courtesy? Rank and file Republicans by and large DON'T like the way a good many things in this country are being handled by the executive and legislative. To wit; campaign finance reform (MAJOR infringement on free speech), pathetic border security, and spending like drunken sailors to name but a few.

Now let's talk about the policy positions of the democrats (and this mirrors the feelings of the majority of the people they represent):

1. Affirmative action. Any intellectually honest person would have to agree it is discrimination. If we're ever going to have true equality, then we have to leave the race question off of the application.

2. Tax the rich. No single group in this country is more reviled than high-income earners. No one can reasonably argue that cutting taxes has done anything but improve the economy, which is stronger by *every* measure now than anytime in history (including the reign of Bill Clinton.) And it is a fact that the top 10% of income earners already pay more than 50% of the nations taxes. Redistribution of income and moving away from an ownership society is the stated goal of many democrats. This is socialism.

3. Federal funding of stem cell research. I'm not opposed to stem cell research. But if it holds that much promise, ask yourself why aren't the major pharmaceutical companies just footing the bill themselves? (You DO know that it's not illegal, right? Republicans NEVER outlawed it, they just said the taxpayer shouldn't pay for it.)

4. They will scream to the top of their lungs about the 1st amendment, but they pretend the 2nd amendment doesn't exist.

The things I don't like about Republicans are their willingness to outlaw matters of personal freedom, such as gambling and drugs. I participate in neither of these activities, but the choice should be mine to make so long as the activities don't harm anyone else.

The best summary of democrat vs. republican philosophies I've ever seen is this:

Republicans care about equality of opportunity; democrats care about equality of outcome.

And for the record...I guess I'm one of the few people left that does believe Saddam had WMD. In fact, I think they're still there. Iraq is a desert the size of California. Very easy to bury things and very difficult to find them. The world is better off without Saddam, and to say otherwise is to condemn millions of people to his brutality.

FINALLY, regarding this whole Clinton interview thing...where was the outrage when Dan Rather *synthesized* a bogus report about GWB? And GWB gets no kid glove treatment from the press. Clinton was asked a simple question, very respectfully, and he went ballistic about it. He could have kept his composure and answered the question and I would have been satisfied. Instead, I'm left thinking "he doth protest too much."

That's all.


Ross said...

"But if it [Stem cell research] holds that much promise, ask yourself why aren't the major pharmaceutical companies just footing the bill themselves?"

Two reasons. First, the research most needed in stem cells right now is basic research, as in, the kind of research that has very few profitable or immediate applications. Despite the claims that we'll be able to do anything with stem cells once we can control them, learning the protocols for finding, maintaining, and controlling stem cells are what we need to learn first.

Second, because the ethics of stem cells and the ownership of treatments based on stem cells are still in discussion, it's not clear if treatments based on stem cells can be effectively monetized, and pharma companies are only interested in patentable product lines with billions of dollars in upside. It's how that entire industry is wired and expecting them to be distracted by hugely risky piles of money that just might possibly be found in stem cells is being a little naive.

"4. They will scream to the top of their lungs about the 1st amendment, but they pretend the 2nd amendment doesn't exist."

I'm with you there. With GWB's recently stepped up attacks on Constitutional liberties, I have recently accumulated a lot more liberal than conservative friends. But when I mention how I'm in favor of the whole Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment, I don't get a lot of agreement.

Then I tell them I'm a gun owner (and a bit of a gun nut) and the conversation goes very strange indeed.

"Republicans care about equality of opportunity; democrats care about equality of outcome."

I agree with the spirit of this statement in that I believe that fairness and equality are opposing forces and that risk-takers should succeed or fail fairly and are entitled to rewards if they should happen to succeed. The problem is that the equality of opportunity put forward by the Republicans seems to be limited to those who already have opportunity and privelege. The rich and poor alike are prevented from sleeping under bridges...

Further, the truly wealthy who own the neocons don't seem to have to take risks when they can write themselves checks by making sure the companies they own get huge no-bid contracts thanks to Rumsfeld, Cheney,

"where was the outrage when Dan Rather *synthesized* a bogus report about GWB?"

I was annoyed and upset, until I found out that the content of the report was exactly correct (Bush was a slacker who was almost thrown out of the National Guard because he couldn't be bothered to show up), and it was only the presentation of a recently transcribed Word document with the exact same words and meaning as if it was the original report that was Dan Rather's mistake. Then I felt sorry for Dan and imcreased my dislike of those who continue to support GWB, wrong or wronger (sic).

John said...

>> The problem is that the equality of opportunity put forward by the Republicans seems to be limited to those who already have opportunity and privelege.

I grew up in southern WV...a democrat stronghold...where entitlements are a way of life. When I left WV in 1996, I was penniless. Today, I have my own company in Texas. I own an airplane for my biz and regularly fly helicopters for fun. I eat sushi at least 4 times per week. I'm not bragging...I'm telling you this because I made the decision to improve my station in life and have thus far done pretty well with it. I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm getting there.

Excuses for failure are easy to come up with. Ignoring the excuses and actually succeeding is a lot harder.

>> Then I felt sorry for Dan and imcreased my dislike of those who continue to support GWB

I've never seen any document like you describe, I'd love to know your source on that. Regardless, you're admitting that it's OK to lie and fabricate evidence to present news as long as you feel it is accurate. Ask yourself honestly...would Foxnews' Brit Hume be given a pass if he had somehow fabricated a video showing John Kerry shooting himself in the leg to get a purple heart? We both know the answer to that one.

Great discussion. I'm just really tired of the lopsided political makeup of the tech community continuing entirely unchallenged. Anyone who blindly follows the leaders of either party are nothing more than sheep. Cynicism can be healthy or it can be cancerous. I think the outright hatred for GWB by the left has so colored their outlook that they are no longer capable of being objective and rational. I was never a Clinton fan, but I was never vitriolic and I could recognize when he did something I thought was good. I think most on the left are incapable of this with Bush.

Again, I'm not a Bush cheerleader...he has definitely pissed me off on a number of issues. But I can also recognize when he does things right. Not wavering on the war on terror is the right thing, IMHO. Cutting taxes...definitely good. Illegal alien amnesty..bad idea. The health care plan he and Ted Kennedy cooked up...god awful. I can disagree with him without thinking he is the son of satan.

UuEllBee said...

It is not mathetically possible for everyone to always be "successful", which is one reason we need a social safety net. I would agree that we should support such a thing out of self-interest but not only out of self-enterest. What's wrong with a little compassion? Also, I would posit that a more-cooperative society is more beneficial to everyone than a dog-eat-dog rat race of overly selfish self-interest.

Having said that, I definitely think the current welfare system has some problems. For example, I haven't seen that the system really encourages people to get off welfare, and I'm speaking from personal experience not just pulling something out of my ass. I think we should have a system a system of support not a system of entitlement. [Open question: how come the welfare system is so broken? I'm not so sure you can so easily blame one "side" or the other.]

As to the issue of Democrats and guns, I think this idea that all Democrats (or other "left" types) are anti-gun is something of a myth. In an essentially two-party system, none of us can really fit in precisely to one "side" or the other. Some people write me off as a typical "left"y, but I am nothing (OK, not much) like that bleeding heart stereotype. I have known and know plenty of "left"ies, whether Democrat or Libertarian or what have you, that own guns or support the ownership of guns and don't get all "weird" when the topic comes up. On the other hand, there are plenty of counterexamples.

And on another other hand, I have even known lifelong Republicans (at least in terms of how they vote) who acted very similarly to "the conversation goes very strange indeed" when the subject of guns comes up. To me it seems that most (?) people have no familiarity or experience with guns and are afraid of them for vague reasons.

Disclaimer: All standard disclaimers apply.

Ron said...

What's wrong with a little compassion?

Nothing. The problem is that there are legitimate disagreements over where compassion ends and enabling self-destructive behavior starts. I think a good general principle for resolving such disagreements is to let the private sector do it. This idea that the government has to take care of everything is really corrosive.

John said...

What's wrong with a little compassion?

I think it could well be argued that just being in America is opportunity enough to do whatever you want. Imagine what it would be like to be a common person from Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, China, etc. and being granted citizenship to the USA; I daresay you would feel like the world was your oyster.'re right's a fine line between a hand-out and a hand-up. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to do nothing at all.

abbrusc said...

Pssst! I hate to break it to you, but I think you might be a Libertarian...

Ron said...

you might be a Libertarian...

Noooooo!!!!!! ;-)

Nick said...

Good article. I, like you, tend to bash both sides quite a bit.

I'm not so convinced by your correlation of the chart and your assertion that Republicans support big government. It seems to me that the chart more indicates that you can cut taxes overnight, but cutting spending is a long-term process, so in the short term, deficits increase not due to an increase in spending, but due to a decrease in income without a decrease in spending.

Terrell said...

Isn't it interesting that everyone on both (all)
sides is discussing (arguing) about government
policy, i.e. what government does (or doesn't do)
about given issues.

Nobody can understand how any rational person
could disagree with them (be honest, aren't you
all thinking that). LOL

Consider this.

A government policy is derived from logical
deduction based on a belief about what is "the
proper role of government".

A belief about the proper role of government is
derived from logical deduction based on a belief
about "what government is (or should be)".

A belief about "what government is" is derived
from logical deduction based on a belief about
"society and what it is (or should be)".

A belief about "society and what it is" is
derived from logical deductions based on a belief
about what is a "human".

A belief about what is a "human" is derived from
logical deductions based on a belief about what
is the ultimate nature of everything, i.e.

I may have left a couple of steps out but you get
the idea.

I'm willing to concede that most people are
rational/logical and the widely different views
about government policy are ultimately due to
widely different (and un-reconcilable) beliefs
about the ultimate nature of everything.

The best presentation of this thinking (in
English and maybe in any language) is “The Myth
of Religious Neutrality” by Dr. Roy A Clouser.
Disclaimer, this is a graduate level text book
not for the faint of heart.

My own beliefs about the ultimate nature of
everything lead me to be incompatible with every
position presented here.

In fact, there is no political party in the U.S.
that believes as I do. (There is a small one in
Canada, one in South Africa (I think), and a
small hand full in Europe.)

There is one political organization in the U.S.
that I agree with. for anyone that is interested.

sistah43 said...

oops, to this blogging thing.

1). The tobacco companies deliberately hid information re: studies about to increase nicotine content specifically to make cigarettes MORE addictive thereby significantly reducing the ability to stop smoking. So in order to assume personal responsibility for your lung cancer, you would have had to know (as the tobacco companies knew) that the cigarettes you were smoking were enhanced to significantly reduce your chances of being able to quit. That is why they lost the law suit. Follow the money trail. After arguing extensively with a friend regarding this issue, I provided this analogy: let's say cell phone usage increased the incidence of brain tumors and a certain percentage of us decided to use cell phones anyway would we be to blame if one company found a way to boost their carrier signal for fewer dropped calls that increased out chances for brain tumors but didn't inform us about this simply so they could increase market share? What's their culpability if there's an increase in brain tumors?

So this leads me to a more generic point re: the differences between republicans and democrats. The notion of assuming personal responsibility in a culture where the odds are stacked against those who don't have the means or ability to fight corporate culture seems grossly unfair. One of my favorite examples is the McDonald's coffee law suit that is often cited as an example of an egregious litigious culture. In that case, the woman got awarded two days worth of McDonald's coffee sales (ie: 2 million dollars) because it turns out that McDonalds was serving their coffee at 180* (at this temp, 3rd degree burns are possible); higher any other competitor because they found that people were more likely to buy their coffee as it would still be warm when they got to work. McDonalds had consulted their legal counsel who indicated that any litigation was likely to be settled for far less than the increased sales they would get by serving their coffee at what was generally acknowledged to be an unreasonably high temperature. Unfortunately, the terms of the settlement included a gag order on all concerned parties. Several years later, the terms came to light but "McDonald's burnt lady justly compensated" didn't read well as a headline, I guess.