Sunday, July 31, 2011

maybe you can help me out

I had this conversation on Facebook back on April 8th:
Dear women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals, and poor people: You know the Republican Party despises you, right? As in, doesn't respect you enough to tell you so to your face? As in, it will always, always, always end up screwing you over by working to take away your rights and any public services that might help you, for the benefit of industry and oligarchs, even if they told you they wouldn't?

One way in which I've found the Tea Party to be a breath of fresh air is that they've at least been pretty up-front about their hatred. That carries its own very serious problems and brings out the worst in voters, but it has the feel of suppressed urges being laid out on the table for everyone to have to acknowledge.
A friend responded:
I don't buy that the Republican Party "despises" non-whites, non-heterosexuals, and poor people. What I do buy is that the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party has drastically different expectations of how society should be structured, and that those expectations are not being met in the same way they were, say, 75 years ago. Their frame has virtually no overlap with the average liberal frame, such that their fighting/talking points come across as jibberish to a non-ultra-conservative, or in this case that they "despise" those groups.
That's a very generous, not to say politically correct, way of looking at it. That's useful for understanding how conservatives see themselves, but it strikes me as being of the same school as the media's "We'll report both sides, and who are we to judge?". I admit I'm making a value judgement, and "despise" is a strong word, when maybe "fear and disdain" would suffice. When the "frame" from 75 years ago, which they're trying to enact today, says that blacks and Latinos should have difficulty voting, or that women shouldn't have to be paid an equal wage, or that blue-collar (hence lower-income) workers shouldn't be protected from workplace that treating those people as full and equal human beings? The Republican Party, as a governing entity, constantly says through actions and often through words, "I don't consider you a full member of society because of your race/gender/sexuality/income. You do not deserve the full protections and rights that others do." If devaluing someone's humanity isn't despising them, then I'm not sure what is.
It's an interesting question, and really at the core of the divisions in American society, and our mainstream culture's painful addiction to what Paul Krugman calls the "cult of balance":

Think about what's happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating -- offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent -- because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

Krugman once said that if one political party declared the Earth was flat, the headlines would read "Views Differ On Shape Of Earth". It really is that ludicrous.

We're so far from being willing to declare that even the most basic things are wrong (even factually, not just morally or ethically) and not just a difference of opinion that I'm starting to think that with the current media environment we could never even have managed desegregation.

Yet, nothing is simple. Same-sex marriage is alive and valid in six states plus D.C, which was unthinkable just a decade ago.

What do you think? I'm pretty harsh on the Republican Party (and by extension, its supporters) because I find its actions despicable. What's another way to look at it? How else do I interpret things?

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