Regardless of ideology

Steve Benen has a good summary of a debate about conservatism and liberalism, whatever those two words mean. The starting point was a certain Daily Dish commenter noticing that, whereas conservatives were mostly interested in shrinking government, no matter the effect, liberals were interested in getting the government to provide certain services, not in growing government per se. It’s a good discussion, but there is one thing (from Jon Chait) that I don’t think I agree with:

The contrast between economic liberalism and economic conservatism, then, ultimately lies not only in different values or preferences but in different epistemologies. Liberalism is a more deeply pragmatic governing philosophy — more open to change, more receptive to empiricism, and ultimately better at producing policies that improve the human condition — than conservatism.

I’ve always been liberal, proud to call myself liberal, and if people who want fiscal sanity and a decent health care system think they should call themselves “progressive” instead, I’ll all myself a progressive instead. If there’s two sides and one of them is wrapped up in meaningless ideology and the other is at least somewhat interested in attaining practical goals, I’ll call myself whatever the practical side calls itself.

Right now, pragmatic people call themselves liberals and ideological people call themselves conservative. That’s painting with a broad brush, I realize, but it’s pretty much true. I’m not sure any of that has to do with liberalism or conservatism per se. I don’t know if it means that Burke and Bobo’s other idols suck and their liberal equivalents are awesome. But I do think that fact that conservative pundits talk so much about Burke and Hayek and (let’s be honest) Reagan, while liberals talk more about exactly how much large the stimulus should have been and how much money we could have saved with the public option…that is telling.

There are a lot of factors that have led to this. One is that regular, reality-based journalism is now thought of as liberal (maybe this started as a symptom, but it’s now a cause as well). Another is that ideology is more malleable than pragmatism. Pretty much anything the Koch brothers want to do can be described as “conservative” or “libertarian” ideologically, if you try. So there are political incentives to being completely ideological, even though it’s a disaster in terms of governing effectively.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to be more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy. But I’m skeptical.






123 replies
  1. 1

    But I do think that fact that conservative pundits talk so much about Burke and Hayek and (let’s be honest) Reagan…

    And Marx.
    And Lenin.
    And Hitler.

    Benen’s piece was a great conversation starter, I’ve been mailing that link to a bunch of folk of all stripes.

  2. 2
    Billy K says:

    Well said, DougJ.

  3. 3
    burnspbesq says:

    Here’s a thought.

    Reject both (all?) nebulous philosophies. Be in favor of what works, and opposed to stupid in all its many forms.

    I’m only ideological about three things.

    I hate the New York Yankees.

    I really hate Real Madrid.

    And I really really really fucking hate the fucking Tar Heels.

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    I think the main difference is that conservatives look back to a supposedly idyllic past which they work to recreate, while liberals tend to look forward to a potentially idyllic future. We cannot change or recreate the past, so pragmatism has no place in achieving conservative goals, which are ultimately based on nostalgia and other emotions. We do, however, have the power to affect our future, and this is an undertaking best served by engaging with the real world around us.

    On a local level, I see this whenever the school budget comes up for discussion. Conservatives always, and I mean always, talk about when they were kids, and how they didn’t have special ed or computer labs, and how the teachers were all married ladies who didn’t need things like health insurance, etc. They never talk about desired outcomes and how best to achieve them because they are simply not interested in such things.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Right now, pragmatic people call themselves liberals and ideological people call themselves conservative.

    I don’t even know if that much is true. One of Obama’s biggest sins – at least in the eyes of the netizen left – has been his dedication to practicality over ideology.

    How many times have the fireblaggers demanded we burn down legislation they don’t consider up to quality standards? I wouldn’t consider abandoning minor progressive change in favor of a greater progressive ideal the sign of practicality.

    Likewise, we’ve got folks in Congress pushing for ENDA, gay marriage, and other civil rights issues during one of the biggest economic downturns in history. Practicality isn’t driving straight rich whites to champion legislation for their minority neighbors, particularly when energy could be going towards pure economic gains like financial reform or jobs programs.

    If progressives were truly practical, the conservatives should have been running roughshod over us all with religious fights and social concerns. And yet, while you’ve got your Harry Reids and Howard Deans ready to cede over the Cordoba House, you’ve still got Al Frankens and Sherrod Browns and Barack Obamas fighting the good fight. Over a purely ideological issue.

    I think if you overlook liberal idealism, the next ten years aren’t going to make a lot of sense to you.

  6. 6
    catclub says:

    Burnsbesq @ 3

    I hope you only mean the UNC ( primarily basketball) teams.
    You probably are from NC to hate that much, and self-loathing
    may not be constructive overall.

  7. 7
    freelancer says:

    maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy.

    Leads you to “being” more impractical? Think your train of thought got ahead of your typing. Just a guess.

    /pedant

  8. 8
    Punchy says:

    /searches frantically in vain for the Sully link, double-checks that DougJ actually wrote this…

  9. 9
    MattR says:

    I think the overriding issue is that white, Christian males are no longer the overwhelmingly dominant force and there is one group of them who refuse to accept that.

  10. 10
    morzer says:

    @burnspbesq:

    If you add the RedSox, the Jets and the Patriots to the list, we could be starting a real third party together!

  11. 11
    Roger Moore says:

    But I do think that fact that conservative pundits talk so much about Burke and Hayek and (let’s be honest) Reagan,

    What’s really telling is how much they talk about the great Conservative icons while ignoring their actual beliefs. What they’re really after is figureheads they can get people to line up behind while disguising what the real leaders are after.

  12. 12
    El Cruzado says:

    I see ideologies as tools, and ideologues as folks with one particular hammer for whom everything else becomes a nail. Use whatever will Make Things Better, and Don’t Hate.

    Other than Real Madrid. It’s ok to hate them.

  13. 13

    Hey, fuck you, DougJ!

    (just spreading the love to all the FPers so you don’t feel left out)

  14. 14
    cat48 says:

    Pragmatic+liberal+Niebuhr=Obama That’s why folks can be easily fooled by his ideology. I think pragmatism used to be a trait of most Midwestern politicians. Before the Right went full blown Southern Strategy+religion+Fox News, the Republicans in IL were pragmatic. It’s difficult to interact with a Repub now for me. I still do, but it’s not very enjoyable any longer.

  15. 15
    angler says:

    “pragmatic people call themselves liberals and ideological people call themselves conservative”

    Even that’s too charitable. There is no more liberal, or progressive for that matter. Those are remnants of an age of ideology where everything had to slot somewhere on a politics protractor. It’s what made the name centrist so nifty.

    You’ve got a divide now between corporate cronyism on one side and honest government on the other. The rage cagers in the tea party are like the wicked witch’s flying monkeys. They have no stake in the game but love funny outfits and drama.

    p.s. shout out to zinfab–firebaggers! boo yah!

  16. 16
    jl says:

    “is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy.”

    My answer is ‘no’.

    In the US the terms liberal and conservative have been so muddled, and so gamed to serve the purpose of short term political strategy, that I don’t think they mean anything anymore.

    I don’t think the current brand of GOP and tb*gg*r reactionaries, conmen, and radical lunatics, are real conservatives, using US history as a guide. John Adams, Herbert Hoover, Eisenhower were conservatives in some sense. How do they go together with Newt Gingrich, Huckabee, or Ryan, or Palin?

    I don’t see how the terms are useful in dealing with important issues of the day. Take the sorry deficit, or rather, catfood commission.

    Alan Simpson ‘310 million tits’ Simpson has been acting like an arrogant, prejudiced, raving loon who does not know his facts. Bowles has shown either extreme dishonesty or extreme incompetence in standing by methods of calculating the debt burden that are demonstrably wrong by any standard, liberal or conservative. Why drag ideology into debating whether the current catfood commission should be junked? The commissioners are unfit and the commission is stacked to reach a predetermined conclusion.

    If, when, or whenever, some one like Brooks writes a silly column describing the debate over the catfood commission in ideological terms, the best thing for people to do is to make fun of him.

  17. 17

    Since consevatism has devolved into a pure and simple con game played on the timid by the plutocrats, perhaps it’s past time to ask what Conservatism even means in the 21st century.

    Are there going to be people who can’t handle change with their fists on the levers of power much longer? Will they survive when their constituency dies off? And what will replace them?

  18. 18
    j low says:

    whereas conservatives were mostly interested in shrinking government

    Umm… Yeah… that’s sure what Saint Ronnie and Dubya did. That is if you call a massive buildup of military and security state spending shrinking government.

  19. 19
    Paul L. says:

    liberals were interested in getting the government to provide certain services, not in growing government per se.

    Explains liberals supporting Government banning incandescent light bulbs and mandating toilet tank sizes.

    I’ve always been liberal, proud to call myself liberal, and if people who want fiscal sanity and a decent health care system think they should call themselves “progressive” instead, I’ll all myself a progressive instead.

    How does that square with you would posting as a rightwinger/wingnut constructing straw-man arguments?

  20. 20
    Scott de B. says:

    Both liberals and conservatives can be slaves to ideology (just look at doctrinaire Marxism if you want proof), but liberals are more pragmatic presently because they’ve been subject to repeated slaps in the face by reality (rise of conservatism in the U.S., losing the Presidency repeatedly, loss of Congress, and for those on the far left, collapse of the Soviet political and economic system).

  21. 21
    danimal says:

    Conservatives just don’t care about policy anymore. Policy is not where their votes come from, policy is not where they invest their emotions, policy is just not that important. It’s why they can turn on a dime at times. Values are key to them, and all policy matters MUST be translated into values to get them to listen. I contend, for example that the most effective arguments on immigration reform come from the Old Testament (lots of verses urging acceptance of immigrants).

    We need to understand and internalize this when talking to conservatives (and especially moderate, persuadable conservatives). Explaining that HCR reduces the deficit because wank, wank, wank doesn’t reach them at all. Going to first values (saving lives, showing mercy, etc) keeps the conversation flowing. Speak to the moral value and not the laundry list of good things that will happen. We need to figure out which values are important and address their value concerns if we want to win their votes (or at least shut them up).

  22. 22
    mikey says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy. But I’m skeptical.

    It genuinely matters what belief structure the ‘nebulous philosophy’ includes. As an example, while a deeply religious person might respond to an earthquake by praying, an atheist would be more likely to be turning off the gas valve and checking on the neighbors.

    In order for a philosophy to produce pragmatic, empiricist results it should include pragmatic, empirical provisions. The reasons Liberals want to address climate change is because of the science. The reasons Conservatives don’t want to address climate change is narrow self-interest IN SPITE of the science. In other words, the Liberal’s belief structure demands acceptance of the best answer, the Conservative’s belief structure demands adherence to the ideological answer, even if it flies in the face of observable reality..

    mikey

  23. 23
    Zifnab says:

    @Paul L.:

    Explains liberals supporting Government banning incandescent light bulbs and mandating toilet tank sizes.

    And why did those damn liberals steal my coco butter? And who let those liberals run all over my damn yard?

    The moon landing was faked! Don’t let government take my Medicare! Where are my teeth, Matlock is almost on.

    Duke Lacross, Duke Lacross, Duke Lacross.

    /Paul L.

  24. 24
    Mayur says:

    Why do you think the right loves to invoke the specter of hippies or commies so much? They want to avoid admitting that, in the here and now, they are the ideologues and their counterparts to the left are the pragmatists.

    To be honest, I’m beginning to think ’twas ever so. Were the suffragettes impractical ideologues? The marchers for civil rights? The activists and legislators who got OSHA and clean air/water/soil statutes signed into law? Richard fucking NIXON with his France-style healthcare plan?

    For all I know (and I didn’t live through it), even the most famous liberal ideological firebrands may have been a non-factor. The guys who made the October Revolution happen were a bunch of soldiers faced with the choice of freezing to death or rebelling; the peasants carrying the flag for the French Revolution were trying to get some of their grain back from the crown before their children starved. Right-wing ideologues might grate on me precisely because they’re agitating for nothing save the chance to watch the world burn.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Dan says:

    For me at least, part of being liberal in the best sense is being open-minded. That doesn’t commit you to any particular philosophy but it means you are willing to consider issues from various viewpoints before settling on a particular idea. It also means you remain open to reconsidering that idea in the face of new information/arguments. This is in contrast to much of today’s conservatism which is the narrow-minded pursuit of an ideology that has no basis in the way the world actually works, facts be damned. Or is that just me being close-minded about conservatism…

  27. 27
    Mary says:

    @Zifnab:

    One of Obama’s biggest sins – at least in the eyes of the netizen left – has been his dedication to practicality over ideology.

    As the risk of being labelled a firebagger, I have to disagree. I think that netizen left’s criticism of Obama is that he is dedicated to perceived political expedience. I think that the policy preferences of the left are based on practicality and empiricism. Unfortunately, those policies are painted as ideological preferances, which then makes them politically impractical. I think that many would prefer that he take a less pragmatic political path to enact more pragmatic policies.

  28. 28
    slag says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy. But I’m skeptical.

    I’m not entirely sure about this. See Jonathan Haidt. I don’t know that political morality is all bullshit. It seems to accurately describe a lot of my experiences.

  29. 29
    Zifnab says:

    @Scott de B.:

    but liberals are more pragmatic presently because they’ve been subject to repeated slaps in the face by reality

    Were Nixon, Reagen, and Bush not sufficiently face-slappy for the conservative movement? It’s not like liberalism is the only ideology that – when distorted into demagoguery and taken to irrational extremes – failed miserably in the last 60 years.

  30. 30
    Suffern Ace says:

    What we would be cool, though, is a discussion of liberal ideological blind spots. There must be some, since the pragmatic outlook continues to lose.

  31. 31
    Mayur says:

    Paul L.:

    Explains liberals supporting Government banning incandescent light bulbs and mandating toilet tank sizes.

    It does, actually. Conserving water and energy is called sound policy, you moron. And it will save the American people huge amounts of money even in the short term.

    Or is there a Constitutionally-protected basis for you to be able to use one particular style of light bulb?

    As to the toilet tank size, I do get it!

    You need the biggest tank possible, given that you’re full of shit.

  32. 32
    catclub says:

    “One of Obama’s biggest sins – at least in the eyes of the netizen left – has been his dedication to practicality over ideology.”
    This is when Obama is often called a true conservative.
    Change as little as possible to get your desired goal.

    Conservatives used to be those saying: “Don’t change something that works – pretty well. Change is always dangerous.”
    Now, “Re-write the Constitution!”
    Those are actually the radicals.

    Those in favor of keeping the status quo are generally considered conservatives. And except for changing who is in control in Washington, it is pretty much the same as ever.
    No change to healthcare, no change to medicare,
    no change to white privilege. Keep the bankers and business on top. Those are practical goals, but they are getting mixed in with radicals who also want a change in who is in control of Washington.

    The discussion should really come with the following provisos: 1) Applies to the US political scene,
    2) At present.

  33. 33
    LittlePig says:

    If you can change your mind in response to new information, you’re a liberal.

    If you can’t, you’re a conservative.

    You’re welcome.

  34. 34
    jl says:

    The feds have banned incandescent light bulbs?

    Edit: Oops. Sorry, I misread the comment.

    “Explains liberals supporting Government banning incandescent light bulbs and mandating toilet tank sizes.”

    I myself favor banning toilet tanks and madating the size of incandescent light bulbs (they should be as big as your head). So I guess I am not a liberal.

    One learns so much about oneself from some of the commenters on this blog. Yeesh, all this time I thought I was a liberal.

  35. 35
    El Cid says:

    Conservatives do not believe in limited government or in growing government more slowly. No matter what the tourist phrase books say.

  36. 36
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I’ve said this a few places, including Benen’s: people who identify as “conservative” basically want “freedom for people who are like me, pain for people who aren’t like me.” “Like me” means hardworking, Christian, white… you’d think that rich and poor would have something to do with it, but I don’t really think it does: you can be rich and Like Me, or poor and Like Me, but the important part is Like Me and money doesn’t qualify or disqualify anyone.

    By extension, then, tax cuts are such an article of faith over there because the Like Me people see themselves as… tax-payers. There are moochers and free-riders out there who don’t pay taxes and are looking for a handout, and if you don’t pay taxes, you don’t stand to benefit from a tax cut. So it draws a dividing line between the hardworking, deserving, People Like Me and the lazy, greedy, Other.

  37. 37
    beltane says:

    @Zifnab: That post kind of proved my point. In the mind of a conservative, everything new must be evil, and even mundane objects like toilet bowls and light bulbs can take on strong emotional significance.

  38. 38
    El Cid says:

    @Mayur: If Americans can’t shit into abundant gallons of fresh, clean drinking water, what good is it being Amurkin?

  39. 39
    Cat Lady says:

    Conservatives want justification for their selfishness and utter lack of empathy and to preserve their inherited (white) privilege, and wherever they think they can find some intellectual underpinning for that like Rand or Burke, they run hard with it. When they can’t find it, they just make shit up like Conservapedia, or clap their hands over their ears and scream la la la la can’t hear you.

    Liberals understand that what benefits them also has utility for the society at large, and requires consideration for others. If that sounds golden ruleish, then yeah, funny that. Policy is easy when the in group is really, really small, and hard when it’s everyone other than old white middle/upper middle class men.

  40. 40
    bemused says:

    @Mayur:
    Every time I’ve had a discussion with a republican about any policy that is proven to save money, they instinctively and instantly pooh, pooh it because it originated with a Dem/liberal. Every time.

  41. 41
    Zifnab says:

    @Mary:

    I think that netizen left’s criticism of Obama is that he is dedicated to perceived political expedience. I think that the policy preferences of the left are based on practicality and empiricism.

    I suppose I’m defining “practical” as “what will pass Congress” and you are defining “practical” as “what will work”. And in that sense, I think you’re partially right.

    Had we embraced Krugmanomics, knuckled down on the big banks, passed a single payer health care system, and doubled the stimulus, we’d still be facing a host of existing problems in the US. We’d likely have a host of new problems to boot – because unforeseen consequences are a bitch. I don’t doubt life would be better. I suspect the gains would be skewed away from corporations and towards ideological allies. I don’t think the benefits would be purely practical.

    But there’s still a host of social issues that aren’t based on practicality in the least. Legalizing gay marriage, reforming the prison systems, passing ENDA, passing card-check for unionization, reforming NASA, public option – these aren’t practical concerns nearly so much as they are idealogical goals.

  42. 42
    jacy says:

    @beltane:

    I think the main difference is that conservatives look back to a supposedly idyllic past which they work to recreate, while liberals tend to look forward to a potentially idyllic future. We cannot change or recreate the past, so pragmatism has no place in achieving conservative goals, which are ultimately based on nostalgia and other emotions.

    I think that very succinctly sums up so much. That’s why I get so tired reading crap about the how conservatism is not living up to the nebulous ideas of the philosophers that conservative and libertarian writers so worship. When you’re living in the real world and not a sophomore in a nice liberal arts college, there’s really not that much time to be mooning around about philosophy. You’ve got to get your shit together and do something.

    And the something that liberals do is not always perfect, and a lot of times is compromised, but at least we’re fucking trying. There is a real world that needs taking care of, and we don’t have time to be fucking Ambassadors to Candyland.

  43. 43
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @danimal:

    Going to first values (saving lives, showing mercy, etc) keeps the conversation flowing.

    This is an inspiring idea but I think it’s doomed to run aground on the Like Me vs. Other divide. They might believe in saving lives and showing mercy to People Like Me, people who deserve it. But they don’t really believe in saving the lives of or showing mercy to Those People, black/brown/female/gay/Muslim/etc. You’re right that conservatism is no longer about policy if it ever was in the first place, but it’s not even about principle, except by way of tribalism, that is, people who are part of the tribe have certain principles they expect to uphold for and on behalf of other members of the tribe.

  44. 44
    Brachiator says:

    @El Cruzado:

    I see ideologies as tools, and ideologues as folks with one particular hammer for whom everything else becomes a nail. Use whatever will Make Things Better.

    Yeppity yep.

  45. 45
    curious says:

    very nice point about the conversational touchstones on the liberal and conservative sides. liberal numbers will never trump conservative philosophy in conservative circles, and vice versa, likely.

  46. 46
    beltane says:

    @Mayur: There is no law that prevents Paul L. from keeping all his faucets open all day or running the space heater 24/7. I can think of about a million better ways to waste money, but I’m not a conservative so I really don’t know what makes these people’s boat float.

  47. 47
    catclub says:

    FlipYrWhig @ 36
    This.

    The revolutionary thought that is the parable of the good samaritan, asking who is your neighbor, is that everyone,
    EVEN those who aren’t like you, is your neighbor.

    We are highly resistant to learning it.

  48. 48
    qwerty42 says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I’m only ideological about three things.
    I hate the New York Yankees.
    I really hate Real Madrid.
    And I really really really fucking hate the fucking Tar Heels.

    What about the Illinois Nazis?

  49. 49
    slag says:

    @Suffern Ace:

    What we would be cool, though, is a discussion of liberal ideological blind spots. There must be some, since the pragmatic outlook continues to lose.

    I’ve thought a lot about this, and when it comes down to it, I end up at one conclusion: Given the immense power of inertia, authority, and privilege, it’s an absolute wonder that liberalism ever wins.

    Obviously, this means that I’ve learned to have fairly low expectations.

  50. 50
    dan says:

    I was starting to get the feeling that the blogs were becoming a circle-jerk. But when Balloon Juice cites Washington Monthly’s views on Conor Friedersdorf exploring the ways in which someone like Matt Yglesias approaches public policy … . Maybe I need to expand the blogs I read. Or give them up completely.

  51. 51
    Bill Section 147 says:

    As liberal as I am, I am not of the, “My Team is ALWAYS Right” club. I think that is part of being liberal. Also, their used to be liberal Republicans. There still are conservative Democrats.

    Since the resignation of Nixon there has been the huge shift in Republican philosophy away from any effort at maintaining consistency or constancy. It seems that whatever they want to be fact today is all that they allow to be discussed. It hardly even takes effort to find quotes from Republicans that are rebuttals to what they are saying now.

    In embracing the zealots, the hyper-religious, the uber-patriot they have become ridiculously dogmatic. I believe that Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and GHW Bush (if one could suspend any knowledge that they were historic figures) would lose their primaries if they ran on their ideals from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

    Every conservative, if they believed in the mission, would have been for raising taxes and making sacrifices on the home front in the face of two wars. Now all “conservative” means is no taxes. Big government, OK as long as its at the poor’s expense. Foreign intervention, OK as long as we gain raw materials and war profits aren’t taxed. “Show us your Papers,” OK as long as it’s not for some entitlement program.

  52. 52
    Redshift says:

    @j low: Exactly. Conservatives have always been interested in talking about shrinking the size of government; doing it, not so much. However, the rise of Reagan and movement conservatism did introduce one change — before that, there were quite a few Republicans who actually talked about what parts of government they wanted to eliminate. The result was that not a lot of them got elected, so they never got near doing it.

    With Reagan came the new ploy of talking about “shrinking government” without ever eliminating anything popular, and at most making up stories about how the problem was things like foreign aid and welfare, which are actually tiny fractions of the budget. Building on this basic lie, the Two Santa Claus ploy was implemented, where Republicans pretend that unfunded tax cuts will “force” the government to cut spending, and try to hamstring Democrats (who actually care about governance) into making cuts that they avoid making because they’re too unpopular.

    But you basic point is absolutely correct — since Reagan, conservatives have shown no evidence of actually wanting to shrink government when they’re in power, just in talking about it for political gain when they have no power to act.

  53. 53
    slag says:

    @dan: One man’s circle jerk is another man’s argument.

  54. 54

    @jacy: Ditto this. I just posted the same link into E.D.’s thread below. I think it’s part conservatives pining for a past that only existed for them (and only for a small portion of them at that), part ‘freedom for me, but not for thee’, and on those who truly believe in the ‘free market’, part naivete. Many of the tenets may sound good in theory, but they don’t fucking work. I am not saying all liberal ideas work–because, they do not. However, as jacy said, at least our side is fucking trying. It really is about what works, which is a more liberal view than conservative one.

  55. 55
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @catclub: The neighbor family with the NRA license place with the Confederate army regiment on it… I sure as shit don’t love them. But if My Tax Money is going to help them, meh, that’s the cost of doing business in a commonwealth.

  56. 56
    Mary says:

    But there’s still a host of social issues that aren’t based on practicality in the least. Legalizing gay marriage, reforming the prison systems, passing ENDA, passing card-check for unionization, reforming NASA, public option – these aren’t practical concerns nearly so much as they are idealogical goals.

    Really? I think these are eminently practical concerns. They all have demonstrable and practical benefits to society. People didn’t call for the public option simply because it represented some nebulous ideal of a beneficent government that provided for all its people. They wanted it because they believed it would help to control health care costs by forcing insurance companies into competitive pricing.

  57. 57
    morzer says:

    @qwerty42:

    Real Madrid were La Liga’s equivalent of Illinois Nazis, only more effective:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/spor.....el-clasico

    Then on the day of the match, to make sure Barça’s players got the centralist message, Spain’s director of state security visited their dressing room just before kick-off. Packing a loaded gun – though some Madridistas question the packed piece – he quietly reminded the visitors that “you are only playing because of the generosity of the regime that has forgiven you for your lack of patriotism”. A singular inspirational team talk having been delivered, the following kickabout was only ever going to end one way. Real scored early, then made it two on the half-hour, whereupon Barça, fearing lethal consequences, properly capitulated; it was 8-0 to Madrid by half-time. The second half was a relative non-event, the game ending 11-1.

  58. 58
    Redshift says:

    @Bill Section 147: In embracing the zealots, the hyper-religious, the uber-patriot they have become ridiculously dogmatic. I believe that Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and GHW Bush (if one could suspend any knowledge that they were historic figures) would lose their primaries if they ran on their ideals from the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.

    Which is especially amusing in light of the fact that conservatism claims to be about returning to the good old days.

  59. 59
    dan says:

    @slag: Well then, you, sir, are not a man with whom I would like to argue.

    Couldn’t they fit Digby in that tag team of links? Sheesh.

  60. 60
    ornery curmudgeon says:

    Conservatives want hierarchy and class, liberalism is about equality, ie, liberation.

    Liberation from the tyranny represented by hierarchy and class.

  61. 61
    Redshift says:

    @asiangrrlMN: And while it may not happen as quickly as we’d like, liberals tend to come around to dumping ideas that don’t work and accepting ones that do, even if we didn’t think they would work out that way. And the fact that modern conservatives often do the opposite is revealing about their motives. The classic example we all know is the Earned Income Tax Credit, which was originally a conservative anti-poverty measure. Since it turned out to work, it is now strongly embraced by liberals generally. But more interesting is that it’s opposed by conservatives, showing that they supported it because they believed tax cuts fix everything (or maybe just because liberals were against it), not because they actually wanted to address poverty.

  62. 62
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Redshift:

    With Reagan came the new ploy of talking about “shrinking government”

    I’ve long been intrigued by the minor but IMHO significant shift from talking about THE government to talking about just plain government. My hypothesis is that “government” is rhetorically something like a relentless force poisoning everything it touches, whereas “the government” connotes actual human beings doing their best to do their jobs. I’m not sure I’ve even convinced myself of that explanation, but I’m positive modern conservatives almost always leave out the “the.”

  63. 63
    MikeJ says:

    @morzer: Can we just save time and hate any Beckham associated team? Hating Man U is like hating the Yankees.

    I’ll have to admit though I barely gave the Galaxy any more thought than I did the tar heels, whatever they are.

  64. 64
    cat48 says:

    All day long GOProud & Log Cabin Repubs have been on MSNBC explaining how it is time for teh gays to come to the party that believes in civil rights for teh gays because Ken Mehlman came out & is working for it! Also2, Laura & George…..

    Is this a new campaign strategy the Rethugs are trying by having Mehlman come out & try to recruit Dem gays? Maybe I’m just not being “pragmatic”, but I’m suspicious

  65. 65
    mclaren says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy. But I’m skeptical.

    The two philosophies aren’t nebulous. They’re crystal clear. One is sane, the other is insane. The choice isn’t between pragmatism and ideology, it’s between sanity and insanity.

    One group (conservatives) denies documented facts like global warming. The other group (liberals) deals with them. One group (conservatives) claims the U.S. economy grew at a record pace when Reagan reduced taxes for the rich — the other group (liberals) looks at the historical statistics and sees that from 1980-2000, the U.S. economy grew at a rate of 2% per annum compounded, compared to a growth rate of 4.5% per annum compounded from 1945 to 1980 when the taxes on the rich were above 66%.

    That’s not a difference in philosophy. That’s denying reality versus dealing with reality. Nothing nebulous about it. One group (the conservatives) insist that 2 + 2 = 3. The other group (liberals) point out that 2 + 2 = 4.

    Moreover, there IS an intrinsic reason why self-indentified conservatives must deny reality. Because they have a 150 year history of being wrong.

    Look at the record. Conservatives opposed ending slavery. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed voting rights for women. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed ending child labor. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed the 8-hour workday. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed universal public education. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed the New Deal. They were wrong. Conservatives opposed medicare. They were wrong.

    Everywhere you look, on every stand conservatives have historically taken, they are wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, all down the line, in every case.

    So how can you continue to believe in conservatism with a record of being 100% wrong all the time?

    You deny reality.

  66. 66
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ornery curmudgeon:

    Conservatives want hierarchy and class, liberalism is about equality, ie, liberation.
    __
    Liberation from the tyranny represented by hierarchy and class.

    And yet it’s Tea Party conservatives who are always bleating about liberty and tyranny, and Glenn Beck name-checks a champion of the French Revolution like Tom Paine. IMHO conservatives want hierarchy of their group over others, but they would say that within their group, they were all equal in the eyes of the state.

  67. 67
    danimal says:

    FlipYrWig–You’re right that there’s a tribal element to conservatives today (and probably always was). But demography is going to kill them off without something else unifying them, and “traditional values” appeals to them much more than policy specifics.

    Obviously, “traditional values” is a very malleable term when it comes to complex social and economic policies, leading to endless frustration when trying to pass actual legislation.

  68. 68
    Gen. Jrod and his Howling Army says:

    Freedom is the sound of a ten-gallon toilet flushing.

  69. 69
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    More amusement from Bible Spice: according to the WaPo (yeah, I know, sorry and all that) she was asked by an anchor on Faux Business News to share her views on Sen. Scott Brown (Teddy’sSeat-MA):

    “Well, you know, take the consideration, though, that’s Massachusetts, and perhaps they’re not going to look for such a hardcore constitutional conservative there, and they’re gonna put up with Scott Brown and some of the antics there,” she said.

    In her state, she went on, those “antics” wouldn’t last.

    “But up here in Alaska, and so many places across the U.S., where we have a pioneering, independent spirit, and we have an expectation that our representatives in D.C. will respect the will of the people and the intelligence of the people — well, up here, we wouldn’t stand for that.”

    Mmm, as jeffreyw would say . . . word salad for supper.

    And to think the Washington Post felt this was worth sending me an e-mail bulletin.

  70. 70
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @mclaren:

    The choice isn’t between pragmatism and ideology, it’s between sanity and insanity.

    I think there is such a thing as a sane conservative. Just not in the Republican party. All the sane conservatives are Democrats now. There’s an ideological rift between liberal and conservative on Team Sanity, and then there’s Team Insanity.

  71. 71
    Bill Arnold says:

    Explains liberals supporting Government banning incandescent light bulbs…

    It’s a small point; the US Federal legislation mandated a 30% improvement in efficiency at producing visible light. If somebody has a black-body-radiation device that is 30% more efficient than the common tungsten filament design at producing visible light, they can sell it. These are probably already available.
    Personally, I prefer the “150 watt equivalent” CFLs for work areas over 100 watt incandescent bulbs.

  72. 72
    Bill Section 147 says:

    @Redshift: Funny that. I think today’s Republicans often confuse their memories of Christmas Morning with reality. They were 10 and gifts were already under the tree, the fire was warm, and breakfast smelt wonderful. Now that they are parents the damn kids are up too early. Nobody is happy with all the gifts they bestowed. The plastic tree and cheap ornaments are going to be a pain in the ass to put away. And now they can only blame themselves for having to go to Church.

    Ah the good old days when Dad paid taxes and Mom cleaned the toilet bowl.

  73. 73
    morzer says:

    @MikeJ:

    That seems eminently reasonable, good sir.

  74. 74
    slag says:

    @dan: Well, as we’ve observed on this very blog, it’s easier for us to argue with people we mostly agree with than it is to argue with those we mostly disagree with. Would you rather DougJ be bashing David Brooks or Jeffrey Goldberg instead?

  75. 75
    beltane says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: It’s the taxpayers in MA and other northeastern states that fund all that pioneering independence in Alaska. Someone has to pay the bills and it sure isn’t the red state folk.

  76. 76
    DougJ says:

    @dan:

    But when Balloon Juice cites Washington Monthly’s views on Conor Friedersdorf exploring the ways in which someone like Matt Yglesias approaches public policy … . Maybe I need to expand the blogs I read. Or give them up completely.

    Heh.

  77. 77
    El Cid says:

    Who says trying times don’t produce great literature?

    Via Wonkette, your new dystopian novel of your Obamacare death panel hell.

    Looking for visions of a hellish future where every American has health insurance, gasoline costs ten dollars a gallon, and nature has largely reclaimed the exurbs from the strip malls and McMansions? If so, Universal Coverage by Daniel Putkowski is calling to you! A dystopian novel “in the tradition of 1984 and Animal Farm” (says elitist literary critic Newt Gingrich), Universal Coverage reveals the horrors of socialized medicine through the tale of one man’s quest to find a Boat-Hospital of Freedom to treat his unwell son. Fawning blurbs from Newt, Steve Forbes, and the president of NYU’s College Republicans are plastered on this book like gaudy lipstick on a common street pig, so it has to be good.

    [H]e met an unofficial-looking woman wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt, as if she’d just come from an aerobics class.
    __
    “Universal Coverage Card?” she asked, holding out one hand without looking up from the frozen drink she stirred with the other.
    __
    Reaching for his wallet, Smith said, “My son was brought here. This is an emergency.”
    __
    “Like, duh, that’s why it’s called the emergency room,” came the reply.

  78. 78
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @El Cid: There’s nothing more shudderingly dystopian than a fit and spunky casually-dressed young woman attending to your emergency medical needs.

  79. 79
    Mark says:

    @cat48 – I don’t believe there are a whole lot of gay white males who are legitimate Democrats. They want rights for them, but not for others, and they’re always flapping their gums about defense, low taxes and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. In that sense, they’re no different than wealthy straight, white males. You don’t need to be straight to have white male privilege.

  80. 80
    Dan says:

    A liberal puts him/herself in the shoes of the less fortunate and makes policy decisions accordingly. A conservative assumes that the person has brought it on himself and makes policy decisions on the assumption that he should not be asked to make any sacrifices for anyone but himself.

    A liberal recognizes the various ways in which we necessarily rely on government (the roads we drive on, the water we drink, etc..). A conservative is resentful of all government assistance with the exception of the assistance the conservative receives from the government.

  81. 81
    YellowJournalism says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: I thought the true term of endearment now is to invite him to eat a bag of Cheneys, lightly salted.

  82. 82
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Dan:

    A liberal puts him/herself in the shoes of the less fortunate and makes policy decisions accordingly.

    Remember how at the Sotomayor hearings one of the big Republican points was the oh-so-farcical notion of _empathy_? That said a lot.

  83. 83
    asdf says:

    “pragmatic people call themselves liberals and ideological people call themselves conservative”

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    Talk to my Texas relatives sometime. You’d think you were talking to idealistic teenagers, not middle-aged grown ups.

  84. 84
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Ninety posts in, and no one has quoted Bertrand Russell:

    “The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.”

  85. 85
    morzer says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Shuddering, yes.. dystopian.. well, maybe some of us like our dystopias more than we should.

  86. 86
    Dan says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Perfect example. God forbid anyone governs with empathy. The only acceptable empathy is for the unborn.

    There’s a selfishness to today’s conservatism that I don’t think has to be there. “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps” isn’t a bad way to live one’s own life, that doesn’t mean it makes for a great political ideology.

  87. 87
    Adam Lang says:

    Maybe I’m wrong, maybe there is some intrinsic reason why saying you believe in one nebulous philosophy inevitably leads you to be more impractical than saying you believe in another nebulous philosophy. But I’m skeptical.

    You need to read about the more recent findings in the psychology of authoritarianism. A substantial percentage of conservatives are simply authoritarians, whereas liberals simply do not have that constituency. Those conservatives that aren’t authoritarian may well be just as pragmatic as the liberals are, but ignoring that group of people doesn’t make it go away, and it skews things in precisely the direction you mention.

  88. 88
    Marmot says:

    @MattR:

    I think the overriding issue is that white, Christian males are no longer the overwhelmingly dominant force and there is one group of them who refuse to accept that.

    No. I mean, sure it’s a factor, but this group has been freaking out illogically for as long as you care to look back in history. During the McCarthy era, the right wing was shitting itself over water fluoridation, vaccines and mental health services. They built up a big conspiracy theory about an Alaska mental-health bill in Congress that they claimed was going to create an American gulag.

  89. 89
    shep says:

    Yes, when discussing the nature of right/left ideology in people, let’s not leave out the psychology. The way people think is a teensy bit affected by the way they feel.

    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  90. 90

    Well, I mostly disagree with most of you.

    It’s all about the plutocracy.

    “Conservative” is an emotional stance or preference: “keep stuff the same!” For instance, I am an environmental conservative: I want to keep the same species, habitats, and ecosystems we have now. And a person can be conservative about food, or sexual positions, or cheese, without it being a matter of ideology versus pragmatism.

    But politics is about power. Therefore, political conservatism *must* be about keeping power in the hands of the powerful. When aristocrats were powerful, conservatives loved aristocracy, and liberals were the bourgeoisie.

    IMHO the big change with Reagan — where all government, any government, became the enemy — signalled that the balance of power in the US had shifted to the point where corporations were the *most* powerful actors in society. Of course they were against the government — that was the competition! The point of “shrinking the government” was to give yet more power to the corporations, to make sure that there was no impediment to corporate power, and to the power of the rich people who run those corporations.

    The greatest mental difference I see these day between conservatives (including most libertarians) and liberals is that the former cannot seem to wrap their brains around the idea that the rich should be blamed for anything. They rant a lot against “elites”, but they never manage to make elite = rich, it always slides away to be about education or arugula or something. It always reminds me of someone sliding on ice, as though the idea has no traction, or like one of those science fiction stories where people’s brains have been controlled so that they *can’t* see the elephant in the room, eating all the peanuts.

  91. 91
    Kryptik says:

    @Mary:

    I think you’ve captured my sheer frustration with our political system much more concisely than I could.

    The problem I’ve had with this administration and Dems as a whole is that pragmatism and political pragmatism are intrinsically different animals…and strangely prone to almost exact opposite solution. Obama isn’t a pragmatist. He’s a political pragmatist. What this sadly means is that he plays to Republican frames because it’s the path of least resistance, and sadly this results in wholly unpragmatic solutions. Yes, they pass, but only after a lot of what works his stripped out to appease the GOP and conservative members of the Dem party.

    I’m not even looking for rigid pursuit of ‘what works’. I just want an actual negotiation that starts from ‘this is what really works, lets try it’, and compromise from there, rather than ‘this is what we think can get passed, lets start from here’.

  92. 92
    Mike G says:

    Liberals were interested in getting the government to provide certain services, not in growing government per se.

    For me it’s about finding the best way of delivering services, whether it be private or government. For example, in the case of health care, it’s pretty clear from the example of many other countries that some form of public system of health care at the basic level – as with education, police and fire protection – is the way to go if you don’t want a Blade Runner society.

    Unlike Randroids or socialists I don’t have a rigid ideological attachment to either the private sector or the public sector in every case.

  93. 93
    shep says:

    @Doctor Science:

    They rant a lot against “elites”, but they never manage to make elite = rich, it always slides away to be about education or arugula or something…

    Oh, you almost had it. It always slides away to be about government, which is why wingers always conflate elitism and government. And you need to separate the con men, i.e., the professional Republican, from the mere authoritarian-following rank-and-file. Basically, their respective roles are: the professionals make up the lie and the rank-and-file believe the lie. According to one lie, the rich are good and government is bad, so elites outside government are good (unless they’re George Soros) and elites inside government are bad, unless they happen to be Republicans – the big lie being that Democrats are elitists who love government, ergo they are always bad.

  94. 94
    jrg says:

    If you liberals are not interested in big government, how come I can’t stop in the middle of the interstate and take a dump? Huh? How come I can’t burn a pile of tires in my yard?

    …and getting fined for not recycling is at least as bad as the holocaust. Worse, actually. No incandescent light bulbs means I’m the jew of librul fascism.

  95. 95
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Doctor Science:

    Therefore, political conservatism must be about keeping power in the hands of the powerful

    You’d think so. But I think that most people who call themselves “conservative” don’t see themselves as powerful. If anything, they see themselves as back against the wall.

    I think political conservatism is about bringing power back into the hands of “normal people”; that’s why it’s nostalgic, because there’s a kind of mythology that the normal people had things going pretty good until all those uppity women, Negroes, hippies, and queers started making a fuss until The Government had to give them stuff to shut them up.

    Or, in other words, I don’t think too many people who call themselves “conservative” are too clear on what it is they’re trying to “conserve.” It’s more like counter-revolution or counter-reformation.

  96. 96
    Nick says:

    @Kryptik:

    I just want an actual negotiation that starts from ‘this is what really works, lets try it’, and compromise from there, rather than ‘this is what we think can get passed, lets start from here’.

    The problem is, the other side won’t even start negotiating until you start at “this is what we think can get passed, lets start from here”

  97. 97
    Nick says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    there’s a kind of mythology that the normal people had things going pretty good until all those uppity women, Negroes, hippies, and queers started making a fuss until The Government had to give them stuff to shut them up.

    This is why I always say when LBJ famously said “We’ve lost the south for a generation” he should’ve said “we’ve lost the country” because that’s what happened.

    “Real Americans,” those working class white folk who like many of the Democrats’ positions no longer felt obligated to vote for candidates who will implement them, because they figured the Democrats would just let the women, negroes, hippies and queers (and Mexicans) cut to the front of line and by the time they get access to all these new shiny things, the women, negroes, hippies, queers and Mexicans would have sucked them dry leaving nothing for them. So fuck it, no one gets any cake.

    So they cling to their guns and religion.

  98. 98
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Kryptik:

    I just want an actual negotiation that starts from ‘this is what really works, lets try it’, and compromise from there, rather than ‘this is what we think can get passed, lets start from here’.

    The problem with doing it the former way is that it takes an extremely long time. The health-care bill was kind of like that: “let’s take everything that has ever been proposed to control costs and expand coverage, mash it all up, and then hash it out.” But by the time it was all done, people were exhausted.

    The advantage of starting with “this is what we think can get passed” is that you can skip a few steps between proposal and passage, in theory. It’s like the difference between bidding $150K for a house listed at $300K that the comps tell you should probably go for $280K, figuring you’ll go back and forth and back and forth; and bidding $260K and just getting it wrapped up before you feel like killing each other.

    I think by the time you have a bill, you might as well constrain yourself in terms of what you can get passed. The time to talk about what really works is long before that, by pushing out white papers and writing books and testifying at hearings.

  99. 99
    Nick says:

    @FlipYrWhig: It goes beyond that. Sometimes if you go in at $150 for a $300, often the seller will just reject your offer and not even give a counteroffer, wait for you to be “more reasonable”

    that happened when my parents sold their house twenty years ago. Someone came in at like 55% of asking price and they laughed the person off, didn’t even take him seriously.

    I know we’re beating a metaphor to death, but it’s important to note that sometimes you have to be realistic in negotiations…go too far either way and the negotiations won’t even start.

  100. 100
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Nick: Yeah, I know, that’s why I always bark at the people who come around here to say “It’s Negotiations 101! You always ask for more than you think you’ll get!” Not if your ask is so out of whack that you don’t even get to sit at the table in the first place.

  101. 101
    Nick says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Also, and again I don’t mean to beat the metaphor to death, the buyer sets the parameters of a negotiation. The buyer is Congress (and by extension the American people), not the President. The President has to SELL his ideas to Congress and the public. Winning an election gave him the public approval to do that.

  102. 102
    Ripley says:

    @cat48: I think they’re just trying to get Ken a date.

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ripley: Would you say they’re looking for the dream Ken-a-date? :P

  104. 104
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Nick:

    So they cling to their guns and religion.

    Not all Boers are in South Africa.

  105. 105
    chrismealy says:

    @Davis X. Machina: I have that on a bumpersticker on my car. OK not really.

  106. 106

    Conservatives think human nature is fundamentally bad and therefore authorities and institutions are needed to stop the worst behaviour. Also, they believe in the removal of temptations for bad behaviour, so things like unemployment benefits and free health care are bad because they promote laziness, for example.

    Progressives think human nature is fundamentally good, so governments should provide more opportunities for human potentials to flower.

  107. 107

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I go back and forth on whether I think the people who call themselves conservatives are aware, even subconsciously, about who and what they look up to. But they *are* authoritarians, and they naturally grovel before the bootheels of the powerful.

  108. 108
    dan says:

    @slag: Ummm, yeah.

  109. 109
    gnomedad says:

    @jrg:

    No incandescent light bulbs means I’m the jew of librul fascism.

    I love it! Do we have a standard tag for “They’re taking away my liberties!” whining? “Incandescent bulb users are the new Jews” has a nice ring to it.

  110. 110
    El Cid says:

    Edison bulbs are the whale oil lamps of illumination fascism.

  111. 111
    gnomedad says:

    @El Cid:
    “Going Edison?”

  112. 112
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Suffern Ace: I’d recommend Bob Somerby’s blog, the Daily Howler, for a liberal critique of why liberals get their butts kicked politically. It’s partly a matter of a liberal media that really isn’t all that liberal, and looks the other way in the face of charges like “Al Gore wants to take away your car!” or the list of people that the Clintons supposedly had murdered.

    It can get disheartening, though. We libs ain’t learning.

  113. 113
    Mogden says:

    This thread is about as enlightening and enjoyable as a WSJ or politico comment tab. In either case, it’s a bunch of people enjoying their confirmation biases.

  114. 114
    E.D. Kain says:

    Nice post, DougJ.

  115. 115
    Ruckus says:

    What I don’t get is that conservatives don’t believe in natural Darwinism, survival of the fittest organisms, yet they believe in economic darwinism, survival of the richest. There is disconnect/denial on so many levels with conservatives that it may be impossible to catalog them all.

  116. 116
    mclaren says:

    @Nick:

    But the Republicans never even negotiated. They simply voted NO NO NO NO NO NONONONONONONO. That’s not a negotiation.

    Every once in a while the Republicans lied to Rahm’s people and said “We could vote for this if you strip out [X] and include [Y]” but then every time Rahm’s people made concessions, what happened?

    The Republicans voted NO NO NO NO NO NONONONONONONO.

    So Obama and his people should have started out with the most extreme position they could think of and the Republicans would scream and rant — so what? The Republicans were going to scream and rant no matter what. Then Obama and his people should let themselves get gradually moved toward the center, away from their extreme starting position, and finally they should’ve labeled it “a great comporomise.” Then Obama & company would’ve gotten most of what they wanted, the Republicans would still call it the destruction of America and a socialist-secular machine (they’d tell that lie no matter Obama & company got passed) but now Americans would be a lot better off.

    Example: Obama and company should’ve started off with the position that the bill would disband the AMA, nationalize all doctors and pay them a flat $20 per hour salary, eliminate for-profit hospitals by law, eliminate fee-for-service medicine, mandate single-payer national insurance and place hard caps on the amounts the government would pay for any procedure.

    The Republicans and the AMA and other greedy corrupt parasites would become hysterical and run TV commercials and full-page NYTimes ads attacking Obama’s proposed legislation. So he gradually strips out one provision after another and finally agrees to a compromise where we’ve got single payer with flexible caps on what the government pays for medical procedures but no nationalized doctors or slara caps and an excess profits tax on hospitals.

    Instead, Obama started out by giving the medical-industrial complex everything they asked for, so then when it came time to negotiate, the only place left to move was toward more greed, more cartels, more collusion, high health care costs.

    Dumb idea.

  117. 117
    Xenos says:

    @danimal:

    Speak to the moral value and not the laundry list of good things that will happen. We need to figure out which values are important and address their value concerns if we want to win their votes (or at least shut them up).

    This is an excellent point. The principled conservatives I have seen turn away from the movement have never done so because of pragmatic issues but because their principles were so offended by, for example, Abu Ghraib, lying about the war, religious intolerance, and even Terry Schiavo. The pragmatics about where on the Laffer Curve we are or whether a war is being waged competently really do not matter to them.

  118. 118
    catclub says:

    @Martin Gifford:
    “Conservatives think human nature is fundamentally bad and therefore authorities and institutions are needed to stop the worst behaviour.”

    Except if that behavior comes from a corporation made up of people.

  119. 119
    Ludwik Kowalski says:

    Crusado wrote: “I see ideologies as tools, and ideologues as folks with one particular hammer for whom everything else becomes a nail. Use whatever will Make Things Better.”

    This applies to Marxists; all of them believe that only proletarian dictatorship will lead to improve social conditions. The first experiment of that kind of social engineering failed. But this does not discourage them.

    Ludwik Kowalski, whose autobiography:

    Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality

    is now at

          http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

    This short self-published book is based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

    I would very much appreciate it if you could share the link with others who might be interested. Perhaps someone will review these books somewhere. Let me know.

    Ludwik Kowalski
    Professor Emeritus
    Montclair State University (USA)
    kowalskiL@mail.montclair.edu

  120. 120
    Ludwik Kowalski says:

    Reading my own message I see that some might thing that it is a commercial. That is not true; both of my books are FREE. I simply believe that many people on this forum might be interested in my unusual testimony. The link to my second book is

    http://csam.montclair.edu/~kow.....ction.html

    The book is dedicated to my father, a victims of Stalinism. It describes facts with which most of you are familiar. The most interesting part should be Chapter 7; it shows how Stalinism has been discussed at Montclair State University. Section 4.5 is also worth reading; it provides numerical data about how little American students know about Stalin.

    Ludwik Kowalski,
    who also wrote an online tutorial about a very easy way of creating websites

    https://sites.google.com/site/tutorwebsites/

  121. 121
    Nick says:

    @mclaren: It wasn’t about the Republicans (except Olympia Snowe), it was about the conservative Dems like Nelson, Baucus, etc.

  122. 122

    @catclub:

    @Martin Gifford: Conservatives think human nature is fundamentally bad and therefore authorities and institutions are needed to stop the worst behaviour.

    catclub replied: “Except if that behavior comes from a corporation made up of people.”

    Corporations are one of the institutions that are needed to stop the worst behaviour So if they do the wrong thing, it’s to stop the badness of socialism, so it has good intentions and therefore is good.

  123. 123
    sparky says:

    yeah dead thread and all, but still…

    Another is that ideology is more malleable than pragmatism.

    i do not think these words mean what you think they mean….

Comments are closed.