The failure of the American Right
I was rather apathetic about the 2012 American Election. Romney or Obama... it didn't really seem to matter. But many in the media are talking about the failure of the conservatives to attract people. The philosophy, ideology, and policies of the right are simply not attractive to many people.
On this I think there is a point. The American right has to being to really look at its philosophy and reflect on what it stands for and how its policies should be put forth.
All Leaders Think They Do GoodI do have a general belief that all leaders think they are doing what is good. I don't think Hitler woke up every morning thinking 'How can I be the most evil person today?' I think he thought he was doing what was good to bring back Germany and reshape the world into a better place. Well of course he didn't value things like... life... and peace... very well and so he goes down in history as one of the most evil people.
So I don't doubt Obama or Romney in these desire to do what is best for America. I'm sure there are politicians just in it for the position, but even they are the most benign of people. What determines who is 'good' is the the result of ideology, special interests, political navigation, results...
It All Starts with IdeologyBut it all starts with ideology. Ideology shapes how people perceive the world around them. If you know me, you know I don't believe anyone is free from ideology. This is especially true of progressives who are some of the most ideological people who ironically preach they don't have any ideology.
Republican IdeologyWhat dominates the Republican Ideology is some notion that America was built on 'American Values' and it is these values that have brought America its great success. We risk losing these values and in doing so will fall to the level of other countries.
To put it simply... if Americans adopt values largely found in Mexicans... what exactly stops America from becoming more like Mexico? It's an interesting question and blends in as well with the immigration question and why Republicans are perceived as being anti-Latino in many circles.
Where Ideology Meets PolicyNow this is where I'm going to be very critical of the Republican party. How their policies reflect their priorities of values.
It is in this intersection where the image of the racist, greedy, old white man Republican is born.
Rule of Law, Not Rule of MenThis is a general attitude that there should not be a legally privileged class in the United States.
We all obey the same rules and work within the same system.
They have certainly deviated from this ideology. They have special laws and privileges for those employed by the government. As they believe in heavy government invovlement, it neccessarily means greater discretion at the hand of bureaucrats in terms of which companies suceed and which fail...
On the other hand, they've managed to convince a significant portion of the United States that by providing people with good quality public services, they provide each citizen with equal opportunity. They also give the impression they are work to bring such privileges to all Americans... it's just a matter of time and money and will.
They do not offer much here. In the ideological realm, they give lip service to this issue. But they have almost no grand policy framework. Although at the State level, there is some movement towards removing the privileges of the public services as in Scott Walker's fight in Wisconsin, there has been nothing at the Federal level. They have also made no great cause of the government invovlement in the economy and the special treatment banks, the auto sector, farm sector, military... receive.
So the Republicans perceived as not offering the benefits of the rule of law to the poor and middle class, and are simply seen as being against those in government. The Democrats are seen as trying to provide equal rule of law via government services and are just limited by money.
Individualism/Freedom Of ActionThis is a general attitude that people should be free to do what they wish as long as it does not infringe on the rights of another.
They have certainly deviated from this ideology. Although they have basically deviated it on economic matters. They use high taxes to provide monopoly services and then say one has the freedom to use private services... but most people don't have the money as they've already paid for the service via taxes. They've also been active in over-regulating areas to guide society to their desires. On the other hand, they've expanded freedom in most social areas such as sexual freedom, anti-discrimination...They are also seen as more amenable to drug legalization.
They do not offer much here. They are generally not for social freedom. They also have not capitalized at all on any economic freedom for 'the people'. They have not made school vouchers for example a significant campaign platform for the poor and middle class. They have largely catered to the economic freedom of the rich and corporations. They have not taken advantage of the low-cost living that individual rights offers. They've made no case to the people about this. Even when it comes to the issue of taxation, the Republicans make a stand against tax hikes for the rich... but where is the great push against rising property taxes, sales taxes, fees... that affect large numbers of Americans? Where is their sense of economic freedom then?
So the Republicans are perceived as giving the rich and corporations freedom to act, while once again offering none of this freedom to the average American. So where is the benefit?
Civic RuleThis is a general attitude that the American people should be in charge of their government. At the grand political level, this means that local politics should be very important, as should State's right.
They have certainly deviated from this ideology. They have largely grown and believe the larger and most distant the government, the better. They believe the federal government should be in charge of most things. They have grown to dispise local differentiation of policies and prefer universal national programs. On the other hand, they have managed to embue the people with a sense of civic responsibility as characterized by the Obama election. The people believe they are agents of change in America. The public schools elicit a form of civic responsibility and rule.
They do not offer much here. They speak briefly about state's right and local government, yet have no concreate policies to actually make a difference in the lives of people. They offer nothing to bring civic rule to the masses or the urban poor. They mainly speak of bureaucratic changes on different levels of government. They have made no push to demonstrage the benefits of civic rule to the average preson.
The Republicans again are seen as the party that is not trying to involve minorities in the rule of government. It is the party of the old white man trying to organize the country.
A Virtuous PeopleThis is a general attitude that the American people should be virtuous. Traditionally this virtue was derived from Christian roots, but this need not be the case. A virtuous people can be a free people as they can be trusted to govern themselves.
They have certainly deviated from this ideology. They generally have abandonment any ties to traditional virtue that would allow people to govern themselves and have instead switched their morality to greater political virtues like equality, helping the poor...
They do not offer much here. They pay political speak to various virtues. Yet these same sources of virtue have become laughable in recent history. Sex scandals inflict the church. Homosexuality seems to affect their people. The benefits of these virtues have also not been translated into any signficiant social gains such as significantly lower rates of teen pregnancy in Red States or anything along those lines. The benefits that they can claim with the virtues they adhere to are simply non-existent. Even the virtues of military service have been gradually eroded with wars increasingly seen as less of a moral cause. Even George Bush Jr could not garner the virtues of morlaity to push the case of war against Sadaam Hussein. Instead he pursued a more nuanced political position of weapons of mass destruction.
The Republicans are seen as the laughable party of false values and ignoring evidence and reality.
[Perhaps more to continue]
In short, when it comes to American values, the Republicans pay a lot of lip service, but ultimately offer no policies that align themselves with that vast majority of Americans. The Democrats have twisted the values but still offer some benefits to the average American.