Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On the roots of the Tea Party

George Lakoff asks where the Tea Party comes from and what we can do about it.
The individual issues are all too real: assaults on unions, public employees, women's rights, immigrants, the environment, health care, voting rights, food safety, pensions, prenatal care, science, public broadcasting, and on and on….

Conservatives really want to change the basis of American life, to make America run according to the conservative moral worldview in all areas of life.
Lakoff argues that empathy, in the mutual social contract between citizens, is the foundation of our democracy.
From these, our freedoms and our way of life follow, as does the role of government: to protect and empower everyone equally. Protection includes safety, health, the environment, pensions and empowerment starts with education and infrastructure. No one can be free without these, and without a commitment to care and act on that care by one's fellow citizens.

The conservative worldview rejects all of that.
Using a structure he has presented before, Lakoff argues that conservatives want a strong man, the strict father figure he calls The Decider. This is an authoritarian figure who "knows best".
Conservatives believe in individual responsibility alone, not social responsibility. They don't think government should help its citizens. That is, they don't think citizens should help each other. The part of government they want to cut is not the military (we have 174 bases around the world), not government subsidies to corporations, not the aspect of government that fits their worldview. They want to cut the part that helps people. Why? Because that violates individual responsibility.

...And what of people who are not prosperous? They don't have discipline, and without discipline they cannot be moral, so they deserve their poverty. The good people are hence the prosperous people. Helping others takes away their discipline, and hence makes them both unable to prosper on their own and function morally…..
So much for empathy. But it's not just the rigid semi-libertarianism: it's a world view linked to a certain submission to power.
Above all, the authority of conservatism itself must be maintained. The country should be ruled by conservative values, and progressive values are seen as evil. … To protect and extend conservative values themselves, the devil's own means can be used again conservatism's immoral enemies, whether lies, intimidation, torture, or even death, say, for women's doctors. Freedom is defined as being your own strict father - with individual not social responsibility, and without any government authority telling you what you can and cannot do. To defend that freedom as an individual, you will of course need a gun.
Sound familiar?

Lakoff goes on to describe how the Democrats have become enablers of this behavior, unable to fight back against the lock-step of the thugs and accepting their frame of events and politics. And he tells us that what is happening in Wisconsin needs to happen elsewhere.He finds hope in the actions in Wisconsin. It's not just the Middle East that is seeking justice. But a real question is whether we've gone too far.

Apparently a lot of Wisconsinites have "buyer's remorse" about their governor. But couldn't they have seen this coming?


JCF said...

There's too much "Right Track/Wrong Track" voting in this country (y'know---where there's voting AT ALL!).

If you think the Country/State is "on the Wrong Track", you "throw the bums (incumbents) out", w/o any further thought as to whether the incumbents (which ones?) actually have/had a significant influence on the (current) Wrong Track or not.

Then there's the magical thinking: where an Economic Collapse 10 (or more) years in the making, OUGHT to be completely turned around, to Near-Universal-Prosperity, within 2 years. ["And don't raise the deficit while you're at it! Nor taxes on ANYBODY!"]

On the one hand, no one wants... intelligence ("logic") tests, in order to vote.

But on the other, I *KNEW* that all the Born Again Blue Voters (ala 2006 & 2008)---who CLAIM to have "suddenly seen things clearly for the first time"---would be back voting Right Track/Wrong Track in 2010 (defying all logic).

It's frustrating in the EXTREME.

JCF said...

Then of course, there's a TV "News" network, that proclaims "Right Track = GOP control, Wrong Track = Democrat control", which SHAPES so (too!) many of those perspectives.