Monday, November 15, 2004

Culture War

Boy, do I get tired sometimes. Tired of the weird, yet deeply offensive, claims of those who do not share my views. I’ve mentioned recently the huge number of liberal columnists, bloggers, and leaders calling everyone from areas that didn’t have a majority vote for Kerry ignorant, stupid, evil, etc. On Hannity and Colmes a few days after the election Geraldine Ferraro, the one-time Democratic vice-presidential candidate, stated “…if all the blue states … seced[ed] from the union, think what would be left for those red states; nothing….no educational system. Nothing. …where is all the talent in this country? Both sides, the Northeast corridor.”. Ms. Ferraro has seemingly never heard that there are, indeed, universities and businesses in places other than New England and the edges of the coasts.

Similar arguments abound that ‘the most food production in America comes from the Central Valley of California – if the Red States don’t get with the program, we’ll starve them out’. Of course, the Central Valley voted overwhelmingly Republican in 2004. While the voting patterns in the last election look shockingly like the map of America from space at night, showing where the most lights are, to assume that intellectual capital means superiority, or even supremacy, is pretty silly. The concentration of intellectual capital in urban areas has more to do with access than innate superiority. And all the stockbrokers on Wall Street won’t help you if the farmers on Main Street won’t sell you milk.

Writer Lawrence Henry, in his article Secession, eh? In the online version of the American Spectator draws a very interesting parallel. The last time that a group of people that felt that they were being isolated and disenfranchised by the American voting system and began making noises about secession was in the early 1800’s. The Southern American states felt threatened by the changes that threatened to permanently alter their way of life. The change from a distributed agrarian economy to a concentrated manufacturing economy terrified the South, enough that they waged war to keep things from changing. In the end, of course, they were doomed. The same forces that were changing economics had changed everything else.

The secessionists of the antebellum South made a lot of valid-seeming points; they were richer than the North, especially the plantation owners. They were the center of culture for America, especially the arts and fashion, and were much more cosmopolitan with regular trade with Europe, an elite that traveled abroad extensively, and a more cohesive culture. And, of course, during the War Between the States the Confederacy enjoyed the support of the French

Despite loudly spoken concerns from conservatives that America is going down the wrong path; despite 40 years of Democratic control of Congress; despite the legalization of abortion, a key moral issue with many conservatives; despite the attacks of the Left; you don’t hear conservatives speaking about leaving the country. But the Left speaks about it more and more. Perhaps this is indicative of something.

I think that, deep down, many liberals realize that change is inevitable and unstoppable. The generation of change that began in the late ‘60’s may be like the Lost Generation; a single generation with concerns that seemed to dominate for a time, and then faded away into history. The decision that must be made by liberals now is – is purity more important than influence?

The vast majority of liberals are calling for either no change to the Democratic platform, or a shift further to the left. They again and again refuse to “compromise” on their “core issues” or abortion and gay marriage. This may be the key to their self-destruction. Many Democratic voters are primarily interested in social justice (living wage, poverty, death penalty issues) or peace (opposition to war and American foreign policy) or economics (a bit of both social justice and peace with a focus on reining in corporations and the power of the wealthy). And ecological concerns (vanishing wilderness, pollution, animals, etc.) are also a large part of the Democratic base.

Just like the misconception among liberals that all ‘moral values’ voters are a monolithic bloc focused on abortion and gay marriage, they seem to think that all Democrats value all elements of their platform equally. If it continues to be apparent that a hard-line leftist stance on abortion and gay marriage loses elections, they may begin to see defections from their party by people willing to compromise in order to make gains in social justice, the environment, etc. In other words, the pledge that the Democratic Party will always support abortion on demand may be a suicide pact.

We can see the effects of this myopic view of all voters as ‘single issue voters’ today. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out in an article in the New York Daily News, the ‘moral values’ exit poll has led an overwhelming number of liberal commentators and strategists to conclude that they were defeated by angry, ignorant, homophobic, White, redneck men. This leads to an easy demonization of their ‘enemy’ and allows them to claim the moral high ground. After all, they are ‘tolerant, open-minded, and on the side of rights’ while their foes are ‘inbred hicks’.

A look at polls, though, proves them wrong. The ‘anti-gay backlash’ is a myth – the increase in votes for Bush in 2004 compared to 2000 in the 11 states with an amendment to ban gay marriage was less than his percentile increase in states without such an initiative. In Ohio the increase was less than 1/3rd the increase in states without gay marriage on the ballot. In other words, there was no surge of anti-gay sentiment driving people to the polls – in reality, a large number of people who voted Democrat also voted to ban gay marriage. This fact is probably too disturbing for many liberal pundits to contemplate.

Bush increased his numbers among Hispanics, Jews, Catholics, Blacks, senior citizens, and women. Especially married women. Where is this surge of ‘rednecks’? Why would married women vote based on homophobia? Think about it; based on polling a person who voted for someone else in 2000 but voted for Bush in 2004 is likely to be a married Hispanic Catholic woman – hardly your typical homophobe with two teeth driving a truck with KC lights. Yet the liberal pundits and bloggers insist that the election was because of the mythical redneck, not the actual middle-class woman with kids.

So where do they go? Insisting that they are both innately superior and posses the moral high ground, what will the Democratic Party do? My prediction is – they’re gonna’ crank it up to 11. By refusing to consider that they may be wrong, but convincing themselves that they only lose because people don’t ‘get it’/are ignorant/deluded, and by refusing to consider that some of their platform items are incompatible with the morals or desires of a majority of Americans, they will try what they tried in 2000 and 2004, but with more force. Michael Moore has already announced he is making a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11 to “inform people of the truth” and a lot of columnists are increasing the tempo of their attacks on conservatives. Add in the repeated statements that any judge who agrees with the majority of America will be filibustered, and we are looking at some serious brinkmanship by liberals already.

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