Dispatch #9

          Tea Party and Liberals Agree?                               Jay Gilchrist  5.10.11

The problem  I see on the Right is the mix of fuzzy thinking and esoteric thinking.

The Problem I see on the Left is Assumption; assumption that everyone is in agreement on items – first principles – that I suspect is not the case.  Another assumption I too often see is that the Democratic legislative compromises on diluting progressive ideals are always unnecessary and abhorrent.

The Tea Party intellectual leaders challenge the Left’s thinking by asserting it destroys the American entrepreneurial spirit. That cause and effect is highly problematic and proven only in theory disconnected from the reality of our current situation.  The non intellectual wing just spouts irrational complaints that in addition are naïve regarding that same situational reality.

The intellectual Left adheres to principles in theory that are equally at odds with our situational reality.  The rank and file ignores the fact that the government could go broke supporting the underclass but does, like some Tea Party grass roots, want social programs to expand without too much new tax burden.

Where they seem to agree is that they both want their cake and eat it too.

What’s needed is to start the conversation over again with less emotion and more focus on shared values.

I just listened to a discussion on NPR between the biographer of Ayn Rand, an intellectual from Carl Rove’s think tank Freedom Works and Mr Chait of the National Review (a liberal publication).  Allowing for the need on a radio broadcast to speak in short bursts as time is very limited,  the panel still made some cogent observations that got me thinking about shared values buried in the disconnect between the two views.

I’m hearing that Ayn Rand’s view of Darwinian Capitalism matches the Tea Party view about government.  Government should not interfere with events through regulations.  It is the individual’s responsibility to accept the consequences of any action he takes.  Consequently he should be allowed free rein to do whatever he wants to succeed.  Liberals won’t agree to that but are upset that some people do get to do whatever they want without responsibility to the rest of us.

Liberals agree that we needed to bail out Wall Street but wanted the perpetrators in jail.  Tea Party folks wanted no bailout…. but agreed prison sentences would be nice.  But the law, as currently in force, prevents government from imprisoning based on retroactive interpretation of law.  Both factions might agree that the laws, including the loophole privileges sneaked into most of them, need top to bottom cleaning out.  Again, that conflicts with our social/economic reality.  We got here through compromises of the past.  The dig out would take almost as long as it took to dig these holes and would be intolerably disruptive.   Yet a few things seem to be do-able without catastrophic consequences. Re-balance the corporate tax code?

My assumption regarding the Liberal view is that the protection of the citizenry, even from themselves, is the constitutional duty of the government.  Further, it is the responsibility of the citizens to democratically determine the outlines of future action and abide by majority rule – thereby limiting any one person’s options socially and economically.

The fuzzy thinking on the Right is most transparent where they decry control yet demand government support.  The fuzzy thinking on the Left is insisting that government must control without acknowledging how flawed the results of that invariably are.

The flawed persuasions from the Paul Ryan types on the congressional Right are so internally contradictory even Tea Party activists must be stunned.  To say in a town hall meeting that regulations must end, taxes on the rich must drop and social programs must be privatized is internally consistent but leaves the old white middle class voter suspicious.  It could mean they must give up rights and money they feel they earned.  It looks like bait and switch.  These same politicians seem internally inconsistent when everyone knows they voted for the bail outs of Wall Street .  Tea Party people probably would like government spending cut enough elsewhere to allow entitlement programs to go on forever.

That said, those on the congressional Left are equally internally inconsistent.  They are equally responsible for program overlap, government bloat, incredible giveaways to the private sector and incredible fear of a tax and spend label that makes them spend without taxing.  

The comments on the above NPR program between the biographer of Ayn Rand and the Freedom Works guy brought some things into sharper focus for me. My reading of Atlas Shrugged left me suspicious.  The biographer exposed the internal inconsistencies of Ayn Rand’s life.   How can a rational person just ignore the fact of human greed.  Think Bernie Madoff.

On page 317-18 of David Brooks new book, The Social Animal,  he says what he sees as the basic problem.  We have all heard Brooks make his conservative based comments on TV on almost every channel.  He’s more interesting when he writes a book…. this book.  After 300 pages of analyzing every research report and book dealing with neuro, hormonal, social science and psychology discoveries of the last ninety years he applies this information to politics.  He asserts that by  ignoring their social sensitivities and thinking mechanistically,  legislators have  only taken seriously those factors that could be quantified and toted up in an appropriations bill.  They rearranged material conditions while undermining social relationships in unintended and destructive ways.     

The Left plowed under decaying neighborhoods and replaced them with shiny housing projects.  The underlying support social systems were destroyed. The projects became unfit for human habitation.  Then the Left went on to create welfare policies that destroyed what was left of poor families. 

Then the Right had their turn.  By deregulating, giant chains like WalMart were loosed to destroy local shop owners and the network of community they helped create.  Global financial institutions took over local banks then moved on to impose a manic herd of traders thousands of miles away to exercise their greed against the common interest.  Free market advisors flocked to Russia to promote privatization while while ignoring rebuilding communal trust and a functioning law and order system – the true seedbeds of prosperity.

Both Left and Right then went forward to unleash fratricidal conflict in Iraq, oblivious to the psychological effects of a generation of tyranny.  Most legislative actions seemed designed to destroy social capital.   The resulting chaos was met by a growing state power to control the void left by social atomization. In Britain, a soaring crime wave was met with four million security cameras and more debt.  Soon we will have bipolar nations, presided over by centralized bureaucratic states, that have an increasingly fragmented and disempowered citizenry.

Socially depleted nations spawn personal identities that form around their political faction, turning political parties into cults.  That has led to partisan ugliness and in turn to collapse of trust in political institutions.  The state becomes at once both alien and intrusive.  Too far way from us, yet way too influential.

That is Brooks’ conclusion.  I now see things somewhat differently than before reading the book.  I see a window which may provide a way to talk to the Tea Party people, albeit with some fear and much caution.  The window is shared values not cultish adherence. The language that may work would be emotion based, not logic based.  I tried this with a neighbor who responded to my offer of Progressive involvement. With some negativity she declared her discomfort with living now in liberal Massachusetts as she preferred to be surrounded with small government conservatives.  I responded that if we should talk this over we might find we have areas of real agreement.  After all, I said, we are both Americans.  She softened immediately.  She said that could be true…. the ultra Right scared her more than her quiet liberal neighbors. 

Democratic activists have a lot of work to do.  It may not be enough.  We have to reestablish relationships first with our registered Democrats and then with those who might be approached with a common values theme.

About JayG

I'm the elected Treasurer of GBVD and committed to the idea that if Democrats from all over the valley join together we can become a critical mass to elect and monitor Democratic Party candidates. I have retired from corporate life several years ago. This is my time to Give Back to this great nation in its time of need. I have chosen to do this as a Democratic activist. I am a member of the Milford Town Committee, a delegate to the state convention and am a representative to the town from Precinct 6 and serve the selectmen on one of their advisory commitees. My career background is in the life sciences.
This entry was posted in Political News - Blackstone Valley. Bookmark the permalink.

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