Conservatives are a frustrated lot

We Democrats aren’t very good at this campaigning stuff. But we don’t need to be. Because we don’t have Fox on our side.

The conservatives are a frustrated lot. They are frustrated that a Negro is president. They are frustrated that no matter what they write in their homeschool textbooks, it’s getting warmer and everybody knows it. They are frustrated that economics (and arithmetic for that matter) don’t work the way they think it should. They are frustrated that admitted homosexuals get to sleep with members of the same sex openly and they have to sneak out to toilets in the Minneapolis airports. And, did I mention the thing about the black guy in the White House?

Anyway, what really frustrates them it seems is that some of their “natural” constituencies tend to be Democrats. Last week Mitt spoke to the Univision conference and found out that despite the fact that many in the audience are Catholic and anti-abortion, they still aren’t ready to jump on the GOP bus. At the same time, Paul was over at AARP with the old folks, who are really concerned about taxes and thus are a “natural” constituency, except they booed him off the stage. And then there are blacks, many of whom belong to religious groups that are less than welcoming to homosexuality. But, you guessed it, there ain’t a line of black folks outside the local GOP office.

Of course, it’s easy to understand why this isn’t happening if you’re not a conservative. Yes, Hispanics may be anti-abortion, but they’re even more against being subject to embarrassing searches just because of their heritage. They also are against cruel discriminatory policies that split families and condemn children to second class education. Yes, blacks may be fundamentalist Christians, but a black middle class is finally emerging after a century of oppression, and federal laws and programs deserve the primary credit. No black people would live in Mississippi at all if there weren’t a federal government to provide checks and balances. Also, blacks have noticed that conservatives like them as tokens, but not so much as equal partners, e.g., Mike Steele. Old people like me want a balanced budget, but we don’t want to pay for it by eating cat food and moving to Mexico for health care, while guys like Romney have to fudge their tax returns to make it appear they actually paid any taxes at all.

So if everybody else gets it, why don’t conservatives? Because of Fox News, the liberal’s best friend.

I am a Bears fan. If I go to a bar in Wrigley-ville and stand up and shout, “Da Bears are the best team in the world,” the entire bar is going to cheer. But if I go to Boston or Milwaukee or SF and yell that, I will get a face full of beer.

You see, you can say things to like-minded people that aren’t true and get by with it. But when you leave your neighborhood and go out in the world, you have to have some sense of your own bullshit. I can’t stand up in Boston and say the Bears are the best team, because I know better, and more importantly, I know people in Boston know better.

The problem is conservatives have no one to tell them when they’re talking crazy. They live in geographic pockets of like-minded people, listening to radio and TV hosts who repeat their own foolishness back to them, creating an endless feedback loop.  Eventually, they just completely lose any sense of how batty they sound to normal people. In the old days, when we had three channels and real journalists, there was a mechanism to correct for this rampant intellectual incest. Now that governor is gone and the conservative engine is free to rev until it explodes.

Look at Mitt Romney. The whole point of choosing him to be the nominee was because he could say things that would win over independents. Then conservatives saddled him with Paul Ryan, Palin without lip gloss, a two-bit pol who even lies about his marathon times. And to prove authenticity as a conservative, they make Mitt take extreme positions and recite foolish conservative “facts,” like 47%.

So why, after having had the brilliant strategy to set aside ideology and choose an electable nominee, do conservatives undo all that brilliance and saddle Mitt with a set of extreme positions that make him unelectable? Simple: because they have no idea they’re extreme views. They have no idea that telling an audience of retired people that you will cut their healthcare to pay for tax breaks for millionaires is a bad idea, because no one has ever called them on it. When they say stuff that doesn’t make sense in their church basement in Mobile, everybody nods along. It must be true, because they heard it on talk radio or Fox TV.

And wait, it gets better. When they lose this election, and they will, just as I predicted months ago and for the same reasons I cited then, then Fox will tell them that the problem was their positions weren’t rabid enough. So in 2016, we will see even more dysfunctional candidates. Wheee.

We Democrats aren’t very good at this campaigning stuff. But we don’t need to be. Because we don’t have Fox on our side.

Image Credit: News Corpse

9 replies »

  1. Agreed with only two caveats. 1) Re: rise of the black middle class, I’m inclined to give the primary credit to the black middle class for doing the rising. Government did what it could, in spite of fierce opposition, to sweep many of the obstacles out of the way. It still remained for the black middle class to do the heavy lifting, in spite of all the hard work they did of being buried under the obstacles and then busting ass to get everyone else to see the injustice of the obstacles.

    2) Granted, the right seems to have a special talent for listening to its own echo chamber, but to be fair the left is doing a pretty good job of it as well when they listen to Maddow, Schultz, O’Donnell, and (ugh) Matthews. Egad, I find Chris Matthews abrasive and annoying! But I digress. Don’t get me wrong. I generally love listening to Maddow and O’Donnell, but I find myself yelling at the TV during their shows every bit as much as I wish the audience on the right would during *their* shows. Oversimplifications and distractions abound, and seldom do I think they cover the issues I personally think need to be front and center.

  2. As good an explanation of the conservative dilemma as I’ve read, Otherwise. I drove across southern VA on my way back home from a meeting in MD this weekend and every “Romney/Ryan” sign in front of a mobile home made me smile – and then feel a little sad for the occupants – because I’m one of those awful liberals who’d like to see money go to educate their kids and give them decent healthcare rather than enhance the incomes of “haves and have mores” as the Dubya termed his and Mitt’s crowd….

  3. Second Jim here. I’ve also seen the phenomenon he mentions. One in particular is a guy who hasn’t worked full time in like 15 years, stays unmarried so that his girlfriend can collect benefits for her and the three kids they have. She doesn’t work either. They recently moved into a Habitat for Humanity Home by milking the system. They’re both able-bodied.

    So their entire life is structured on government payments. But oh man do they hate Obama, liberals and the creeping socialism that’s destroying their beloved nation. And somehow they see no irony or hypocrisy in any of this. It can only be explained by this analysis from Otherwise.

  4. @Jim: Being intimately familiar with southern Virginia, I would say that, with a few, notable exceptions, the last thing those people want is decent education for their children. So, yeah, that would make you an awful liberal.

    @Lex: I also know the type. Been there. Seen that.

  5. Great insight. There is something scary about this cultivation of crazies on the right. I attended a meeting today in a VERY wealthy part of So Cal while on business trip. Two speakers at lunch for female clients of a private bank. One speaker was the Chief Global Strategist of said private bank discussing Economic outlook, market conditions, etc. (Very bright, plain spoken, non partisan) Second speaker (sponsored by my company) expert on fiscal and monetary policy, current election campaign, fiscal cliff, potential tax law changes, etc. Both often speak to politically diverse groups and strive to avoid partisan commentary. During their talk an older woman sitting at my table began speaking loud enough for others to hear- “Am I the only one that really knows whats going on here? Obama is a Muslim, and a Marxist he is out to destroy this country.” (Prior to the meeting she was participating in the conversation at the table and seemed quite normal and sane) She continued- “he has a Christmas tree at the White House but doesn’t give his daughters presents because that would be against Islam. Seriously am I the only person who really knows what’s going on?” Eventually she had disrupted the speakers, repeating her comments and adding- “that Obama was a plant, part of a decades long conspiracy to overthrow America”. The Chief Strategist then interrupted her loudly saying “look time out, we can discuss anything you like here but let’s be clear- The President was born in this country and he is a Christian. Any representation to the contrary is simply nonsense”. What I found remarkable about this was not so much what she said but that we currently have a political environment where she felt comfortable expressing this in a public. (Consider also that this woman would not have been attending this meeting without a net worth of 10+ million.) As I was flying home I read the Obituary of Andy Williams in the NY Times and it reported that in 2009 he said “…Obama is following Marxist theory. He’s taken over the banks and the car industry. He wants the country to fail.” I find the manner in which paranoid, conspiratorial and delusional political views are being “fanned” in this country extremely scary. Got me thinking of a Bonhoeffer quote- “the power of some needs the folly of others. It is not that [intellectual capacities] become stunted or destroyed, but rather that the upsurge of power makes such an overwhelming impression that men are deprived of their independent judgment, and — more or less unconsciously — give up trying to assess the new state of affairs for themselves. The fact that the fool is often stubborn must not mislead us into thinking that he is independent. One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing, not with the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of him.”