Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Uncivil discourse: from DC to HOA

We're having one of those contentious home owners' association elections in our neighborhood. Unfortunately it has exposed a rift in the community. Partly generational, the younger people would like to make some changes. The older people are resistant. This is normal.

What's not normal is the vehemence with which it's being fought. Instead of reading the different candidates' statements and deciding on the merits of their arguments, supporters of the status quo are walking around the community advocating a vote against the challenger, claiming she'll "do something illegal," and scare-mongering about higher HOA fees, etc. Rather than advocating positively for their own side, they are making threats and false accusations.

The net effect of this is to deepen the rift and entrench the opposition. Instead of finding the compromises that make for a modus vivendi, and mutual government in this shared community, it makes people unhappy and angry and disenfranchised.

It's not unlike Washington. The cynicism of the "scorched earth" policies of the Republicans is breathtaking. There is no longer any pretense of balance or the good of the country: just power, power, power that serves the oligarchs and the elites, facilitated by a compliant judiciary that has sold elections to the highest bidder. The days of actual statesmen in Congress, who compromised each other into the middle to mutual benefit, is eliminated. That shining city on the hill is dark and befouled, and is poised to be even worse after November.

As pointed out in this MUST READ article in the New Yorker, the "activism" of the tea partiers is fueled by the super-rich oil-baron Koch brothers, who have extreme libertarian views that would eliminate all regulation (environmental chief among them), all social safety nets, and of course, taxes for themselves. Indeed, many things that benefit the angry teapartiers, would be eliminated by these shadowy conspirators who hide behind shell organizations and think tanks, and have limitless pockets. The society they want to return to is almost feudal in its abuses, with grim images of Dickensian London coming to mind.
The Libertarian Party platform called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement "Anarcho-Totalitarianism."
What's amazing to me is how these teapartiers are persuaded to oppose their own self-interests and support this excrement.

As for our neighborhood? We used to like it. But with this viciousness, we're not as happy any more, and will probably more seriously consider moving.

I don't see the same option nationally.


Daniel Weir said...

The practice of defining oneself in opposition to another is part of the culture of rivalry that includes, at its worst, scapegoating.

Malcolm+ said...

You may want to check out "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America" by Thomas Frank.

MarkBrunson said...

What's great about the tea-partiers, and libertarians in general, is that they have no clue!

The only thing that holds the people they enrage with their selfish nonsense is the laws they'd get rid of. They are weak, and, in the first wave of the world they envision, they and their entire families would be wiped off the face of the earth and those who they think they deserve to rule would take all they "built."

Maybe, it would be best to send them someplace like the Mojave desert, and in a few years, clean up when they've killed each other off.