Counterculture Con HQ

February 1, 2010

Elitist: You are Angry, Irrational

You know how we sometimes enjoy taking a sneak peek inside the mind of the secular progressives and the cultural elitists?  Fresh off a Pew poll reporting that Republicans are more informed than Democrats comes this reverse fisking by the cultural elite as they attempt to poke around inside your thick, unedumacated skulls; this one by a European elitist who it’s obvious has never even met a member of this odd species he attempting to psychoanalyze, but is happy to rely on the memos and talking points passed on to him by his American colleagues in big media.  The verdict?  True to form, you are angry and irrational!  Fisk this one with me.

WHY DO PEOPLE OFTEN VOTE AGAINST THEIR OWN INTERESTS?

The Republicans’ shock victory in the election for the US Senate seat in Massachusetts meant the Democrats lost their supermajority in the Senate. This makes it even harder for the Obama administration to get healthcare reform passed in the US.

Last year, in a series of “town-hall meetings” across the country, Americans got the chance to debate President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms.  What happened was an explosion of rage and barely suppressed violence.

Rightwing protests are never violent, while Leftwing protests almost always are.  That has already been established.  Yet the media will never describe protests by the Left as “explosions of rage,” or “barely suppressed violence.”  That is because the media’s sympathies are with protests that come from the Left.  Many if not most of these J-school grads remember fondly the glory days of their idle and carefree youth, attending rallies to meet chics and protest the evil Rightwing.  They have since gone from tie dyes to suits and ties, but their sympathies haven’t changed.  Leftwing protests have entirely positive connotations to them.  Recall how gingerly they treated the Leftwing hate fests directed at Bush throughout his presidency.  Now contrast that with how they reported the Town Hall meetings  as “full of rage and barely suppressed violence.”  As you can see, they don’t like you very much.  Yet these bleeding hearts still manage to “care” about you in some abstract philosophical vanguard of the proletariat kind of way, and will work for your “best interests” even if they have to drag you kicking and screaming into their centrally-planned statist utopia, selfless saints that they are.

Polling evidence suggests that the numbers who think the reforms go too far are nearly matched by those who think they do not go far enough. But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.

Nonsense.  When asked whether they support the current bill making its way through Congress,  Rasmussen reports that 58 percent of respondents prefer no change at all, and 61% Say It’s Time for Congress To Drop Health Care altogether and focus on the economy. Thirty percent of respondents supported the bill, and 11 percent said they were still not sure. It seems the emotionally involved author has a story to tell, facts be damned– precisely what he’s accusing you nitwits of further down in the article.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.

That might be called standing on principle.  The principle of limited government, and believing that the welfare of your country comes before your own personal interests.  You know, like believing it’s not cool to bankrupt the country just so I can get mine.  This kind of thinking is foreign to some in the elite and the fractured coalition they represent, who believe humans are purely economic beings.   You are irrational because you aren’t falling all over each other for a piece of America’s economic carcass.

Anger

Instead, to many of those who lose out under the existing system, reform still seems like the ultimate betrayal.  Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?

And again with their “anger” and “rage.”  Though when the Left protests it’s called “passion.”  They also play this semantics game when it involves the ballot box.  It’s all about how they choose to characterize you. No facts are necessary.  For in fact it is the Left which is violent, not the Right.  We have never seen violence at rightwing protest; not here in America.  Yet violence and destruction is a staple of the Left, and it is a reflection of their anger and rage.  So obviously there is some projection going on.  The elitist media will never comment on Leftwing violence and rage because they are embarrassed by it.  Or if they do, that violence is portrayed as a response to some injustice by the “Establishment” (read the Right).  When in fact they are the Establishment, if their control of the media, academia, and entertainment industry is any indicator.

So while the majority of Americans report being happy with the current healt care system, and even Liberals insist in private conversations this health care overhaul is really just to cover the uninsured, this professional bloviator and talking points massager insists you are voting against your own interests out of sheer irrational “anger” and “rage,”  when in fact you are doing nothing of the kind.  You simply prefer what you already have.  But again, he has a story to tell, the facts be damned.

Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?  It might be tempting to put the whole thing down to what the historian Richard Hofstadter back in the 1960s called “the paranoid style” of American politics, in which God, guns and race get mixed into a toxic stew of resentment at anything coming out of Washington. But that would be a mistake.

If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them. They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.

Here he actually tries to give you credit:  you’re angry and irrational, but you’re not stupid.  People indeed do resent politicians who think they know best; politicians who forget whom they represent.  As bad as insurance companies can be (and nobody is denying the need for reform), the public trusts the big government statists even less.  This is a philosophical objection, an objection which even those who currently may not have health insurance choose to stand by.  It has nothing to do with hate, unless it’s the people’s hate for elitists, and who can blame them.

There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots. As the saying goes, in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. And that makes anything as complex or as messy as healthcare reform a very hard sell.

That’s right, because if you have to “explain it” (read coerce), then it’s top down, not grassroots.  And Americans do not bow at the feet of big government as in Europe.  We are still a nation of free people.

Stories not facts

Just like this article– no facts, just a story.

In his book The Political Brain, psychologist Drew Westen, an exasperated Democrat, tried to show why the Right often wins the argument even when the Left is confident that it has the facts on its side.  He uses the following exchange from the first presidential debate between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 to illustrate the perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off:

Gore: “Under the governor’s plan, if you kept the same fee for service that you have now under Medicare, your premiums would go up by between 18% and 47%, and that is the study of the Congressional plan that he’s modelled his proposal on by the Medicare actuaries.”

Bush: “Look, this is a man who has great numbers. He talks about numbers.  “I’m beginning to think not only did he invent the internet, but he invented the calculator. It’s fuzzy math. It’s trying to scare people in the voting booth.”  Mr Gore was talking sense and Mr Bush nonsense – but Mr Bush won the debate. With statistics, the voters just hear a patronising policy wonk, and switch off.

Here he gives us no better than cherry-picked rubbish chosen to support his elitist narrative.  There’s a reason why Republicans are more informed than Democrats, and why Rush Limbaugh’s audience is one of the most informed in the country, and it’s not because they don’t care about the info.

For Mr Westen, stories always trump statistics, which means the politician with the best stories is going to win: “One of the fallacies that politicians often have on the Left is that things are obvious, when they are not obvious.  “Obama’s administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans’ Depression, caused by the Bush administration’s ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him.”

This is the most ignorant thing he’s said so far.  Obama has done everthing he could to blame this on Bush, and it hasn’t helped.  The reason for this is that Americans aren’t blaming Obama for the mess he inherited.  What they blame him for is how he chose to respond to it; or rather how he has seemingly ignored it.  Once the stimulus bill was passed he essentially walked away from the economy and focused all his energy on health care, something the American people have never viewed as a priority (even if the wonks have), and certainly not something as a priority in the current economy.  THAT’S what they’re blaming him for, and no amount of “branding” the current economy by Obama is going to help him.  Obama focused on healthcare because he misread his mandate and thought he could use the economic crisis as an opportunity to enact “fundamental change.”  He miscalculated.  This country changes by increments, not in revolutionary orgies such as in banana republics like Venezuela.  A president governs this country within the 40 yard lines because the system is designed to maintain stability, not to humour every would-be saviour who comes along to remake the country in his image.

Reverse revolution

Thomas Frank, the author of the best-selling book What’s The Matter with Kansas, is an even more exasperated Democrat and he goes further than Mr Westen.  He believes that the voters’ preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests.

Ah yes, there is something wrong with you, Kansas!  They believe they are better at determining your self-interests than you Kansian nitwits do.  This is how the elitist thinks.

The Republicans have learnt how to stoke up resentment against the patronising liberal elite,all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking. Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America’s poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.

Notice he focuses on the claim that the GOP stokes resentment against the patronising elitism of the Left, while going out of his way to ignore… the patronising elitism of the Left! lol.  It seems to me that without the Left’s patronising there wouldn’t be anything for the GOP to stoke.

Thomas Frank says that whatever disadvantaged Americans think they are voting for, they get something quite different:  “You vote to strike a blow against elitism and you receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our life times, workers have been stripped of power, and CEOs are rewarded in a manner that is beyond imagining.

Even if all that were true, it would be worth it.  Because we loathe them almost as much as they loathe us.  But frankly, what he’s saying here is not true.  It’s all just theories and platitudes which have been debunked time and again by one statist experiment after another.  One only need look at what they have done to California–a model of Liberal statism–versus Texas, which has prospered under limited government.  The former is an economic basket case, while the latter is a bastion of economic prosperity.

“It’s like a French Revolution in reverse in which the workers come pouring down the street screaming more power to the aristocracy.” As Mr Frank sees it, authenticity has replaced economics as the driving force of modern politics. The authentic politicians are the ones who sound like they are speaking from the gut, not the cerebral cortex. Of course, they might be faking it, but it is no joke to say that in contemporary politics, if you can fake sincerity, you have got it made.  And the ultimate sin in modern politics is appearing to take the voters for granted.

A useful analogy on his part.  The French peons revolted against the economic elites because they were literally starving.  In their place were installed the Jacobins and the radical intellectuals of the Committee on Public Safety who then proceeded to dismantle French institutions and culture until the very peasants they purported to represent revolted against them.  And how did the intellectual liberators of the starving masses respond?  With the guillotine.  Blood flowed in the streets during this reign of terror.  The catastrophes that have been unleashed by intellectuals are without number.  We won’t be lectured by them.  Their marxist theories that see human beings in purely economic terms have never served them well.  It’s a faulty model, especially in a deeply religious America.  Like the French, the American “peasantry” (yes, they do see you this way, gentle readers) also have a small problem with the radical intelligentsia who feel they have a mandate to march through our secular and religious institutions in the name of some atheist utopia where they promise everybody a daily ration if only we’d agree to play along.  Unlike the French, however, we aren’t starving.  These revolutionaries don’t have anything to offer that we really need, or certainly not anything for which we’re willing to bargain away our cultural heritage.  And this time they don’t have the guillotine, just frustrated screeds in newspapers on the certain path to bankruptcy because nobody thinks what they’re selling is worth paying for anymore.

This is a culture war but it is not simply being driven by differences over abortion, or religion, or patriotism. And it is not simply Red states vs. Blue states any more. It is a war on the entire political culture, on the arrogance of politicians, on their slipperiness and lack of principle, on their endless deal making and compromises.  And when the politicians say to the people protesting: ‘But we’re doing this for you’, that just makes it worse. In fact, that seems to be what makes them angriest of all.

That’s the first intelligent thing he’s said.

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