Data, facts, prejudice. All in one tweet and one sentence, via DailyKOS.
How does race shape the vote? In NJ poll, whites uneasy w/racial change back Romney 9-1; those ok w/it back O by 3-2. http://t.co/…
— @RonBrownstein via web
In other words, not all Republicans are racists, but almost all racists are Republicans.
The last line is of course a variation on the words of John Stewart Mill, who said (roughly, I am too lazy to pull it up right now) “it is not true, as some have claimed, that all conservatives are stupid. It is however demonstrably true that the vast majority of stupid people are conservative.”
This is becoming more and more of a problem for the American conservative. It is indeed true that I am pretty liberal in my leanings. However it is also true that pragmatically speaking I expect my government to lean only very slightly liberal. The reasoning is that a slight lean means progress. With almost no exception, the good life, the proper politics, the reasons we stay in society… The qualities of what Aristotle would call a eudimonaic or flourishing life, have come down to us through liberal policies. We are better for having given suffrage rights to everyone. We live better lives for having ended slavery. We improve quality of life for having weekends and less hours worked per week. We raise the standard of living for all by giving maternity leave, and so on, and so forth.
Some think that the natural solution, if the above is true, is to simply take the most extreme liberal ideals and put them in place now. I think that is a disastrous idea. The reason is that culture is a human product, and humans need time to adapt. The idea of equal rights between genders goes back at least to Plato, and almost certainly before. The reality is still in progress. My argument is that the reality could not have happened in Plato’s time, because people would not adapt. The backlash would be horrible. The implementation may well have taken longer due to such a backlash.
The pragmatic solution is to then do something the taoists have advocated for over two thousand years, as demonstrated by the “yin-yang” or “tai chi” symbol. You have all seen the cleaver little circle divided by a sinuous line into black and white halves, each with a dot of the other shade deep inside. It isn’t just a silly picture.
The yin-yang is a symbol of the Taoist view of human nature. The taoists divide attitudes and opinions into “male” and “female” parts. I place these in quotations because they are not meant to be qualities held by you based on your gender, rather that is only the metaphor used by the taoists. A proper human has all of the qualities in this list within them to greater or lesser extents. “Nurturing” is a female quality, but all humans, male or female, have some nurturing, in some amount, to some degree, in some situations.
The yin-yang is drawn as it is to illustrate the movement of male into the female domain, and female into the male. It implies change, shift, and evolution. It suggests that even the most “male” quality must have some “female” to survive, and vice versa Thus the dot of opposite colors in each side, and the sinuous line implying movement.
Which brings us back to politics. The ideal for the wider civilization in Taoism might be thought of as 51% progress, 49% resistance. This means that we are always moving forward, always seeking a better life, always taking those steps forward and adding rights and protections and improving lives, but always cautiously. Always in slow steps. Always with an eye to the wider culture, to not make them too uncomfortable.
Yet always uncomfortable. Always pushing just a tiny bit harder than the conservative wants, to make them grow.
The problem for the American conservative is that they are no longer actual conservatives. They are no longer the “male” force holding the wheels back so that progress is slow. Instead, due to a combination of the Nixon strategy of courting the racist with dog whistle politics, the Reagan courting of the evangelical fundamentalist vote, and the fact that once combined these two groups are deeply anti feminist, the conservative party is not a place those who resist progress go to slowly adapt, but rather a place they go to ferment. The conservative party needs a dose of independent leaning ideology that gives conservatives room to change their minds. To slowly come around. To give credence to the joke that you can change from a liberal to a conservative in twenty years without ever changing your mind on a single policy.
Instead, the conservatives have tied their identity to groups that should be changing. And aren’t. Because they are not forced by their fellow conservative, but exploited.
When the conservative identity was simply that they where more comfortable holding to the status quo, and supporting community and responsibility, it was a force for good, albeit one that would change even as the status quo changed. It remained a force for good as long as it was two things: the gentle braking motion that kept progress in under control without stopping it, and the reminder that morality is both individual and community based at the same time.
Today the conservative identity has refused to shift with the status quo. It has not been a check on the movement to a better system for women, by allowing change from homemaker to actualized individual with choices of her own, allowing the movement, but slowing it. Instead it has demonized those women who have moved forward as “feminazis” and hateful shrews. It has not been a place that those who are uncomfortable can adjust, but rather has led the backlash.
It has, in short, become a haven for racist, sexist, backward thinking, rather than a place such thinking fades away. It instead creates an echo chamber that magnifies the very worst in human behavior.
All of which makes it very difficult for someone like me to take anyone identifying as conservative seriously. Even while I know that we desperately need actual conservatives of thoughtful and measured care to keep the system in tune, it becomes increasingly difficult to stomach what is currently a cesspool of the very worst that humanity has to offer.
The only solution I see is to add a minimum of 4-7 parties, viable parties, to the system. This would require parties to work together on ideas and goals they agree on, and allow a “junk party” that would in time gather the human detritus that currently owns the GOP lock stock and barrel into one place. Where we could ignore it. It would also mean an actual conservative party not filled with the very worst ideas humanity should have already discarded, that could discuss such issues as debt reduction or over regulation without being tied to the most extreme versions of these ideas, which are destroying the nation.
Sadly, I cannot see anyway to create these viable parties short of shreading the constitution and starting over. I am open to ideas.