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[politics] More on why I am not a Republican - Lakeshore
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Jay Lake
Date: 2013-05-13 05:05
Subject: [politics] More on why I am not a Republican
Security: Public
Tags:personal, politics
Most of this post will be familiar to long-time readers, but every now and then I am moved to address the topic again. I occasionally see references to myself through the various blog alert services that say things like, "I stopped by Jay Lake's blog, where I learned that as a conservative I am immoral and evil. I'm not going to read him anymore."

Sorry to hear that, but I call them like I see them.

I lived in Texas from age 18 to age 36. The first four years of that (1982-1986) I attended the University of Texas at Austin. The Young Republicans were a huge presence on campus, happy, youthful Reaganauts everywhere. And that weird fusion between conservative politics and Evangelical Christianity was already well along in Texas in those days. So over the years I heard over and over again how liberals were immoral, Democrats couldn't be trusted, that anybody who supported progressive policy [x] was in league with the devil. It was a comforting, self-valorizing stream of rhetoric for Texas conservatives that didn't have much grounding in fact, and for the most part brimmed with hypocrisy. And it made me very allergic to conservatism, even when my own political opinions were still pretty fluid. Such posturing and ad hominem attacks aren't the kind of posture someone arguing from a position of strength needs to rely on.

It's also the case that over the years, I've developed a strong sense of intellectual honesty and self-reflection. This is part of my atheism, part of my empirical outlook on life. I am certain that I fail at least as often as I succeed in upholding those values, but I return to them over and over again, as my personal touchstone.

In the years of and since the Reagan ascendancy, the Republican party, and many American conservatives, have lost their capacity for either intellectual honesty or self-reflection. At this point, in the 2010s, the GOP has transcended even the parody that people like me could see of what was happening in the 1980s. The stance against teaching critical thinking, for example, because it might undermine traditional values. That literally sounds like a joke, until you realize it's the real thing, from the Texas Republican Party platform. Or the fact that no major Republican politician will admit to knowing the true age of the Earth, or speak up for the extremely solid science behind evolution. This is basic reality. Not debatable policy points like tax structure or immigration form. Not legitimate ideological or philosophical differences. This is the world as it is. Which the GOP will not admit to, for fear of losing voters from its cherished base.

But once you allow doublethink and deliberate intellectual dishonesty into your worldview, there are no more brakes. Climate change denial is built on the same pattern as evolution denial, but driven largely by funding from major Republican donors. Like evolution denial, these are knowing, self-conscious lies, deceits and rejections of reality being pursued for short-term political gain.

Almost without exception, the conservatives and Republicans I know personally are decent, humane people who honestly believe that they're doing the right thing with their votes and their campaign donation dollars. But when you support a party whose political fortunes are based almost entirely on counterfactuals, from evolution denial to the idea that guns make society safer to abstinence-based sex education to supply side economics — all those and many more are cherished Republican stances that don't meet even minimal tests of provability in the real world data — you support a party that is contributing aggressively to the decline of American competence, as well as the decline of our technological and political leadership worldwide. Republicans are actively working to make our children stupider, cripple our science and destroy our economy. Anyone not committed to the ideology can easily see that. And the self-same lack of intellectual honesty and self-awareness required to be a Republican in the first place makes it overwhelmingly difficult for those decent, humane people I call friends to see what their votes and dollars are actually doing to America and the world.

Do liberal-progressives get it right all the time? Hell no. And the Democratic Party is frankly full of shit on a lot of issues. The 'Third Way' Democrats have been Republicans in moderate suits for years. But at least liberal-progressives have some sense of intellectual honesty and a grasp of the real workings of the world. And we're not working to undermine science, technology, education and culture in the name of continuing to generate enough angry white guys to keep our voter base motivated.

In the end, I'm not a Republican because I have self-respect. I can't vote for a party whose very basis is such continuous, profound and reflexive intellectual dishonesty. In a different political world, I might well be a conservative, but I can never be a Republican.

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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2013-05-13 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Such posturing and ad hominem attacks aren't the kind of posture someone arguing from a position of strength needs to rely on.

Then why are they transformed into good things when the Left does them?
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-05-13 14:06 (UTC)
Subject:
Then why are they transformed into good things when the Left does them?

I never said they were. All I said was the Left gets it wrong somewhat less often than the Right. Not from some mystical moral superiority, mind you, but from a more functional engagement with facts, data and trends in the real world.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2013-05-13 15:17 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
I think that the Left understands the hard sciences better; the Right understands the soft sciences better. There seems to be a Law of Conservation of Stupidity here: many conservatives (especially the Religious Right) apply their Stupidity to biology and climatology; many liberals (especially the Marxist Left) to economics and foreign policy.

The main reason I vote Republican is that the government has far more power over economics and foreign policy than they do over biology and climatology.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-05-13 15:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As for the stupidity of left and right economics, I draw your attention to the economy at the beginning and end of the Bush administration. By almost any measure you care to name, the Right drove it into the ground hard. Budget, deficit, Dow, employment rates, you name it.

I also draw your attention to the economy at the beginning of Obama's administration and now. The Dow is as high as it has ever been, there is modest if insufficient job growth, and both the budget and the deficit are apparently rounding the corner.

For that matter, draw the same comparison with Clinton administration.

As with most conservative arguments, yours doesn't survive contact with the data. :)
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Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-05-13 16:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd also point out that Obama's economic policies are only marginally 'left' unless we're using left in a really odd way. Deficit spending to replace demand in an economy in recession was something that wasn't all that controversial (Reagan and Thatcher and Bush I all did it)

Arguably, if they'd spent more faster in 2009, rather than limping with 7.5% unemployment we might see that down at 6%ish and with the modest tax rises, we'd have the deficit even lower.

It's also worth noting that there are several major global economies that have tried the full austerity path and all of them are doing worse than the US is at the moment.
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jordan179
User: jordan179
Date: 2013-05-13 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Incidentally, note the common factor here: both Christianity and Marxism are functionally religions.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-05-13 15:24 (UTC)
Subject: Re:
Well, yes. But the American Right is overwhelmingly Christian, while the American Left (such as it is) is only very fractionally Marxist. (Assuming you're using the term "Marxist" in its objective meaning rather than as a conservative scare word synonymous with "liberal"). So there's no particular equivalency there.
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andelku: Apu
User: andelku
Date: 2013-05-13 17:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Apu
The American Left is mostly able to agree on where to go to pizza on Wednesday, and only then if there is a vegan option and an alternate pizza date on Saturday for those who are unable to make Wednesday.
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We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....: Spaghetti
User: kshandra
Date: 2013-05-13 19:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Spaghetti
if there is a vegan option

And a gluten-free one.
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David Wilford
User: David Wilford
Date: 2013-05-13 14:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
When I called my mother yesterday as is my custom on Mother's Day, we both agreed that the Republican Party is morally bankrupt, as we've both seen where she lives in Florida and where I live in Wisconsin. I happen to work in Minnesota and it's been gratifying to see the Democratic legislature now passing a law legalizing same-sex civil marriage and a Democratic governor who will sign it into law. Republicans on the other hand are busy making the same old lame pleas about how it all somehow threatens the family and crying crocodile tears about how opponents of same-sex marriage are being unfairly portrayed as bigots. In short, pretending that they're the real victims. They can pretend that their own bullshit doesn't smell, but it's still bullshit.
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Twilight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2013-05-13 15:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yanno what? If I can watch Jerry Doyle (Bab5), they can damn well read you ;>,

Keep on keepin' on!
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We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....: WhipThisOut
User: kshandra
Date: 2013-05-13 16:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:WhipThisOut
*wry smile* I've noted my personal bemusement more than once over the fact that I can separate Jerry Doyle's performance from his politics, but I can't seem to do the same thing with Adam Baldwin.
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Dave O'Neill
User: daveon
Date: 2013-05-13 16:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just about manage it with Adam Baldwin, but then something always triggers in my head that he's really crazy and reality impinges on me again.

That said, I could deal with his character in Chuck because it seemed he was actually playing himself.
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Twilight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2013-05-13 19:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I actually do the same with Jerry ;> I see so little of Adam, I don't really connect (outside of Jayne in Firefly, I had to look him up!).

But yea, there are actors I can sep and others I can't - and I'm not sure why...
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LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-05-13 16:43 (UTC)
Subject: Lack of something...
Keyword:pingback_bot
User daveon referenced to your post from Lack of something... saying: [...] iant. I was minded of it by an interesting piece by Jay Lake on why he's not a conservative [...]
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andelku: Apu
User: andelku
Date: 2013-05-13 17:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Apu
I'm a non-white, non-Christian woman from the South.

The GOP pretty much told me that I wasn't welcome in their party of "Real Americans" in the mid-80s and then they're shocked, shocked! that we minorities have been "tricked" into voting for the Democrats over and over. They cannot draw a line between their actions and reasonable consequences. That would involve that critical thinking thing.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2013-05-14 16:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There are some very good reasons I left, and I say this as a seventh-generation Texan.
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Agent Mimi
User: agent_mimi
Date: 2013-05-19 03:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We don't know each other, but I wanted to wish you the best of luck in moving somewhere else! I'm a similar situation as you and very much understand your predicament. Good luck!
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Agent Mimi
User: agent_mimi
Date: 2013-05-19 03:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Almost without exception, the conservatives and Republicans I know personally are decent, humane people who honestly believe that they're doing the right thing with their votes and their campaign donation dollars.

I hear this a lot and very much wish it applied to my life, but I can't think of a single conservative I know now who is either decent or humane. I'm often accused of disliking people because of their politics, which sounds a little like the complaints you get, too, but for me it works backwards. By that I mean what generally happens is I see someone behaving in a particularly bad manner -- sudden bigotry I hadn't noticed before, usually -- and only later do I discover they're conservative. Happens with people I know online a lot; in real life here in Kansas, I have to assume everyone is conservative.

What I don't have to do is put up with it. I'm reasonably sure my public posting of a hard-right conservative's bigotry on the local newspaper forums (that he had deleted months ago, in preparation for his run for city council; I kept copies) kept him from being elected. But it also means I don't have even a single friend in town and can never expect to make one, nor hold a job.

So when a conservative tells anyone that they refuse to read someone who is "closed minded" because they think conservatives are "immoral," I just laugh bitterly, because I know all too well what conservatives do to the people they think are immoral. Not just individual acts of revenge but laws passed to codify hate, discrimination, etc. They have no right to complain.
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