October 13, 2011 by David K. Sutton
Who’s An Ideologue?
You call me an ideologue?
I don’t blindly support any one person or any one party and I won’t back old ideas that need updating when the facts on the ground change. I support reasoned conclusions based on careful consideration of the facts.
I say all of this as a preface to a criticism I have against a specific conservative narrative about many in poverty and without jobs and those in need of financial help. The narrative from the Right is overwhelmingly one of disdain towards the most vulnerable citizens of this country. They say class doesn’t matter. They don’t want to bring up class in discussions about legislation and in fact they say it’s always Democrats who are bringing up class. They go as far as to say Democrats are committing class warfare because they want to increase taxes on the wealthy. Of course, that does contradict the idea that class doesn’t matter.
But they only wish it didn’t matter!
They have to believe class doesn’t matter to support the economic policies that are killing the upward economic mobility in this country. Take for example what seems a default Republican assumption that someone needing financial help is only in that place because they didn’t work hard enough and they wanted a free handout. That same Republican might also decry tax increases on the wealthy because they are the “job creators”. Some might take it even further and say that those tax increases are punishment against those who are the productive part of society. Pay no attention to the fact that it’s making a class distinction which again, isn’t supposed to matter.
Where is the reasoned logic in this conservative narrative? Where is the proof? And I’m not talking about isolated examples. I mean, where are the hard facts to back up their reprehensible behavior towards those with the smallest voices in our society? I know that there will always be people who take advantage of government programs but why is it OK to assume a large amount – maybe even a majority – would fall into this category? Why do these Republicans and conservatives live their lives with such contempt towards so many people they have never met? They seem to think they have a good idea about the plight of others when in fact they have no hard data and no solid evidence to support taking such a negative stance towards fellow Americans.
I do believe that the stance they take has a lot more to do with playing for a team – having a sense of solidarity with a group – then it does with any real world facts, data, evidence or research. The Right is very skilful at using language to evoke emotional reactions. It creates solidarity within the in-group and it’s what creates the disdain towards the out-group which is, for some, the enemy. It’s no longer about solving problems. It’s simply about rallying the base. Take for example the famous quote by Ronald Reagan…
government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem
Is this a statement looking to solve a problem? Or instead is this a statement used to rally the base and pit it against those that would support government having a role in tackling the collective problems we face as a nation?
Look at the attempts this year by Republicans in the House of Representatives to take away the reproductive rights of women. These Republicans know exactly what they are doing. They know these bills are divisive and they know these bills will not pass, but more importantly, they know these bills will rally the base and that is the intention. It’s especially true in an election cycle. Many on the Right expect these social issues to be presented and voted on. These Republicans in congress can run their next election on a platform of standing up for conservative values, which is code for many things, but in this example means limiting a woman’s right to choose. It won’t matter that the bill didn’t pass, all that is required is that it was brought to the floor of congress for a vote.
So again I ask, is this about solving real problems or instead is it about pitting the in-group against the out-group?