A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Where to begin. . .

. . .with this paean to progressive thought from a very lonely, depressed South Carolina Kerry supporter? As odes go, this one seems pretty reflective of the sentiments of the few Kerry backers I've had any contact with, and some (like one of my uncles) with whom I've not had any contact since the election, but have heard about through the family grapevine.

There's a tendency among the libertine to view conservative beliefs as nothing more than a means by which to keep them down -- to exclude them from life in America. I'm right smack-dab in the Bible Belt, myself. Kentucky concedes no ground to South Carolina when it comes to the presence of Southern Baptists, Pentecosts, Jehova's Witnesses, Sevent Day Adventists, nor any other evangelical or charismatic Christian sects. We have our snakehandlers, just like South Carolina does. And, assuming the demographics are roughly the same, we have our share of gays, minorities, and impoverished, as well. And, like South Carolina, Kentucky went heavily for the President.

And, also as in South Carolina, our Democrats are walking around in a haze of stunned disbelief. As I've said before, I wish conservatives and Republicans were so easily convinced of imminent victory. How Democrats were able to become so assured of victory in the face of polling figures across the board that indicated a race that could go either way, I think, says a great deal about the problem they face today. What it says to this particular blogger is that the need of the progressive mind to believe something outweighs any and all evidence, imperical and anecdotal, that is contrary to that belief. In short, it's that they just don't listen.

There's some evidence to back that up in this piece by Kerry Cook, the afforementioned progressive South Carolinian from Myrtle Beach. In listing a synopsis of his/her beliefs, one assumes the intent is to clarify some misconceptions among the larger voting public, and perhaps instill a sense of shame among those who voted differently for being so quick to come to conclusions as to the motives of those who voted for John Kerry.

It's as if Kerry Cook is telling us all, "I'm not a monster! I'm a human being. I'm. . .a. . .human. . .being!" So, let's take a look at Kerry's political principles as given in The Sun:

"I had heard Jim DeMint, during his senatorial campaign, actually state that he was in favor of banning gays and single pregnant women from teaching in public schools. Instead of hurting DeMint, his statements appealed to the majority of voters."

Would that be the vaunted "popular vote" who liberals spent the last four years trumpeting as the rightful final arbiter of all elections, from dog catcher to the President? What happened to the outcry that the electoral college should be done away with? What happened to the assertion that America is really liberal, and that direct representation was the only just way to decide the leader of the free world? Did the American people suddenly develop this case of stupidity over the past four years, or was that stupidity simply lying dormant during the 2000 election?

"I realized how much power the "evangelicals" and "born-again Christians" have in this Bible Belt."

The use of Taranto's patented "scare quotes" is notable here, but aside from that, another question remains: Do you think that these scare-quote-Christians have too much power? If so, how do you propose to remedy the disparity? Are you prepared to disenfranchise them in some way? Are you prepared to abridge their free speech rights in order to ensure that the issues that drive them are excluded from the national debate?

"I remembered the message placed recently on a Socastee Baptist church billboard condemning 'homosexuals,' 'liberals' and 'heathens.'"

And what, precisely, should be done about that? Should these words be banned, or should it be codified into law that these words only be used in a positive, affirmative sense in public places? Are there more words that need to be added to this list? Should this list be a "living document," to be revised and extended as new words crop up in the language? And who gets to make the list? Are "Biblethumper" and "Jesus freak" elligible for the list? How about "fascist" and "nazi"?

"It was apparent that the "moral values" of DeMint and our president were those accepted by the majority. At least I could understand why voters voted the way they did."

Again, the "popular vote" rears its ugly head. So, it appears that Kerry Cook has no beef with the notion that the "moral values" issue is one in which liberals find themselves in the minority, despite the proclamations of Michael Moore and others that Americans are more liberal than our government institutions indicate. But, then, we all knew that. Even the Democrats I personally know admit it, albeit in a very round-about fashion.

In discussing politics with the yellowdogs in my area -- mostly labor union members -- when moral issues (gay marriage in particular) come up, they automatically proclaim it as "bullshit," insisting that Democrats "don't really believe all that," and that it's something the GOP has made up out of whole cloth in an attempt to scare people.

My question is: Which is it? Do Democrats believe in all this inclusiveness and diversity, or do they not? Is it just something northeastern liberals mouthe in order to placate a small but vocal minority with a lot of sympathizers in big cities, or is it a real priority for Democrats to welcome everyone to the table? That's an issue that the DNC needs to work out if it is to ever stand a chance of succeeding in Middle America again, and I don't think the process will be a pretty one.

"I could understand how voters could be swayed by campaigns based solely on fears of terrorism and future attacks in our country. I could understand how voters could vote for privatization of the Social Security system; could disregard the enormous budget deficit; could disregard the huge sums being spent to wage a war in Iraq and pay private contractors to rebuild that nation."

Therein, Kerry Cook, lies a huge chunk of the reason that Democrats found themselves losing across the board on November 2. Americans rejected your portrayal of the the President's motives, because it depicts the machinations of an evil man. . .something we all know is simply not the case. The documentary evidence that has piled up in the days following 9/11 and in the prosecution of the War on Terrorism dispels that notion in any reasonable mind. We have all seen that the President is a caring man. We've seen him shed tears at the loss of innocent life. We've seen him break up at the mere thought of talking to a mother or wife who has lost a son in war.

You might have made the case that he is somehow dangerous, or even incompetent -- and you tried -- but that just wasn't enough. You had to promulgate the notion that George W. Bush was an evil pawn of larger, more sinister forces at work in our political system. After all, there is no other way to describe a person who would, as you have us believe, ruin Social Security, bankrupt our nation, and frighten the masses with terrorist bogeymen, all so he could line the pockets of his already super-rich friends with lucrative government contracts.

"All it takes is a selfish plan to live for today without worrying about future generations."

You might want to lay out your vision of the "selfish plan without regard to future generations" before the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose future suddenly includes personal sovereignty -- a not so small thing to people who have never tasted it. Explain George W. Bush's disregard for future generations to the women who bravely stood in line to vote for the first time in Afghanistan's history, while under the threat of widespread attacks on polling places. Tell them how their morning prayers in preparation for death that day were nothing more than meaningless motions undertaken in a big plan to enrich the President's big money men.

"I could even understand how voters can vote for a 'man' on the basis of his looks and 'down-to-earth' mannerisms."

Well, I should hope so. You had eight years of lip-biting, colloquialisms, and southern charm to help you arrive at that understanding. Anyone who doesn't understand that is likely driving around with a Forbes '08 sticker on his bumper right now.

"What depressed me, however, was the feeling I got that, by voting Democratic, my moral values were judged to be somehow less than those of the majority of voting Americans."

You see, Kerry. . .this is a problem for all "progressives". Your moral values aren't by necessity "less" than those of the majority. And, believe it or not, the majority doesn't spend a whole lot of time calculating the value of your morals.

No, the fact of the matter is that your moral values were "at odds" with those of the majority of voting Americans. (I find the qualifier "voting Americans" revealing, by the way. It's clearly a distinction being drawn by Kerry Cook to convince "progressives" that while they may be in the minority where politics is concerned, the "real" majority counts people who do not vote, and that they are much more likely to agree with "progressives". A little self-serving, I think.)

"Before accepting the idea that I am a person of low moral values, I thought about some of the things I believe in:."

OK, but before dealing with the arguments, you have to first deal with the premise, which is constructed in such a way that any judgement arrived it is automatically rejected as invalid by true progressives. In the progressive, post-modernist school of thought, there are no values to be placed on morals, good or bad -- as long as you're happy and your conscience is clear. That is what allows "progressives" like Michael Moore to depict antebellum Iraq as a happy, peaceful place simply by showing children playing outside. "How bad can it be? The kid's got a damned kite, for pete's sake! And, just look at him smile!"

The moral legitimacy of the Hussein regime is disregarded as a factor in justifying the war. And, if you're a "progressive" and are offended by the assertion that you are incapable of making moral value judgements because your philosophy doesn't allow for it, let me finish. I also believe that the vast majority of the "progressive" vote never gives one bit of thought to its underlying philosophy of post-modernism. And, furthermore, if most "progressives" actually knew the basic tenets and guiding principles of left, they would reject them out of hand.

Now, on to the list:

"I believe in God's two great Commandments, the second of which states: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

I won't even get into the numbers thing, except to ask why it is perfectly permissible for "progressives" to use the government to promulgate two out of the ten Commandments. And, if two is OK, why not five or eight? Why not just the odd-numbered ones on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday...the even numbered on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and then all of them on Sunday?

And what makes those two particular Commandments better than the others? Are they of higher moral value?

" I try to live my life in accordance with the Ten Commandments, which are embodied in the two great Commandments."

Do you need Democrats in office in order to do that for some reason? Is the President doing something to somehow thwart your efforts to live by the "Cool" Commandments?

"I believe that, by definition, the term marriage means a union of a man and a woman, and that this definition need not be changed; and I believe that fidelity is the most important quality of the partners in a marriage."

The "definition need not be changed"? That's a whole different thing from saying the definition "should" or "must" not be changed. But, when your moral compass has no poles, you can't really say that anything "should" or "must" be done, as it would imply a moral heirarchy -- something not recognized by post-modern thought. This is why liberals so often seem to speak in vague, evasive terms.

"I believe in the family structure. We have raised three children trying to instill in them feelings of respect and tolerance for all people."

Well, that's nice. I believe in the family structure, too. I don't think the "family structure" is really affected by whether or not I believe in it, though. The family structure will be the family structure, no matter what, as long as it's allowed to remain intact. It's what we do to preserve that structure that counts. Conservatives are willing to codify the basic, accepted family structure into law. "Progressives" are willing to say they believe in it, but go no further, as that would again imply the unacceptable moral heirarchy.

"I believe that, as Abraham Lincoln said, "The role of government should be to do for people what they cannot do by themselves."

In response to that I'll turn to fellow Ldotter, M2 (Reply #9):

This is incorrect. Lincoln's actual remarks were the following: "Property is the fruit of labor...property is desirable...is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.....Government should not do for people what they could and should do for themselves."

"I believe that the gap between the wealth of those 'having a lot' and those 'having a little' should not be a wide one."

Well, I'm not so sure there's any disagreement have with that. Where we differ is in how to go about fixing that. "Progressives" tend to think that the government should seek to create equality of outcome, whereas conservatives believe that equality in opportunity is where the line should be drawn. "Progressives" believe that coercive means are necessary to achieve equality, and that penalizing the wealthy is a morally acceptable coercion. Conservatives believe that, given an equal shot at fulfilling their needs, people are generally capable of doing so, and that it is best left to the individual conscience to see to it that those without are taken care of, and that the use of government coercion to achieve these ends undermines the goodness that is inherent in giving.

And, besides that, why is it that "Progressives" can justify placing a moral value judgement on the issue of poverty in the United States, but not on the brutal repression in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why is it more noble for the government to provide services for people in need at home than it is to deliver basic human rights to people abroad?

"I could not see how these beliefs could possibly mark me as a person of "low moral values." I thought maybe there is something else that I am missing. So I decided to reflect on some of the things I do not believe in:

We've just spent the past two and a half years hearing what "progressives" don't believe in, but for the sake of argument. . .

"I don't believe that our 'public servants' or any of their political backers should pander, mislead the public or in any way profit by public service."

Then, why on earth are you not in Chappaqua, New York with a picket sign right now? Can you point to any explanation for the Clintons' obvious wealth other than windfalls stemming from their public service? Did they ever make a single dime that wasn't a direct result of their public service? And I won't even touch on the "mislead" or "pander" points, other than to say, "President Clinton has kept all the promises he intended to keep" and "Ricky Ray Rector". Beyond that, the record is so utterly clear as to not even warrant a mention.

"I don't believe that gays should be treated any differently under our laws than straight people because to do so would be in violation of God's second great Commandment."

Well, congratulations, Kerry! You have shown the wild brilliance that often manifests itself in people who agree with me. The thing is, it's the "Cool" Commandment thing again. And secondly, I dont really believe that's why you believe that way. I think maybe you were sitting around the dorm one day, talking to a friend about the way some people hate gays, and how some jerks you went to high school with were always picking on this one kid because he was gay. And, you talked about how idiotic it was, and how the place you grew up in was full of people like that, and how it's always the jocks and the Biblethumpers. And, especially the Biblethumpers because they're the ones who are always talking about how you go to hell for being gay. And, how hypocritical that is because it says in the Ten Commandments that you should "Love Thy Neighbor".

Admit it, Kerry. Your theology is more a matter of convenient coincidence on the matter than a defining principle.

"I don't believe that stem cell research should be [limited]."

In what sense? The money? The age of the fetus? The number of fetuses? The means by which the fetuses are harvested? Should a mother be allowed to sell her fetus for stem cell research? Should women be able to sell as many fetuses as they want for stem cell research?

"I don't believe that all abortions are bad; and I don't believe that licensed doctors who perform legal abortions should be charged with murder, or that the Catholic Church should deny the Holy Eucharist to anyone who is pro-abortion."

The problem, Kerry, isn't that the majority of people think all abortions are bad. The fact is, most people think some abortions are justifiable -- particularly where the life or physical wellbeing of the mother is in undue jeopardy. The problem is that "progressives" are either unwilling, or unable as I assert above, to say that any abortion is wrong.

As for the Catholic Church, I don't think your vote in the Presidential election counts at the Vatican. I'm not Catholic, though, so I won't deign to say it conclusively. All I know is that I never heard one person say, "I'm voting for Bush -- he'll hold the line on the Holy Eucharist."

"I don't believe that the nonprofit National Association for the Advancement of Colored People should be investigated by the IRS for speaking out on behalf of a candidate unless all nonprofit church groups are also investigated for their political pronouncements."

I don't believe the NAACP is a non-profit church group, to begin with. Secondly, I don't believe any group ought to be investigated without first giving probable cause. If you can provide evidence that there is a systematic attempt at collusion between political parties and tax-exempt organizations, I say investigate. Absent evidence and probable cause, hands-off. I'd say there is ample reason for suspicion with regard to the NAACP, though, considering its roll in the 2000 elections.

"I don't believe that our citizens have any constitutional right to bear arms. It is a privilege and has been held to be so by our federal appellate courts that have examined the issue."

Being in South Carolina, you should have an accute apprecation for these two paragraphs:

"With the bombings came marauding groups of armed white vigilantes called 'nightriders' who drove through black neighbourhoods shooting and starting fires. John Rice and his neighbours guarded the streets at night with shotguns.

The memory of her father out on patrol lies behind Rice’s opposition to gun control today. Had those guns been registered, she argues, Bull Connor would have had a legal right to take them away, thereby removing one of the black community’s only means of defence. 'I have a sort of pure second amendment view of the right to bear arms,' she said in 2001."

"I don't believe that any religious entity should preach prejudice or intolerance. It's against God's second great Commandment."

Again, I say you should probably take that up with the individual religious entities. It is notable, however, that the Reverend Al Sharpton, intolerant religious entity extraordinaire, did better in South Carolina any other state. So, if you're looking for a respite among your fellow Palmetto "progressives", I'm afraid you'll be sorely disappointed. Turns out, it's not just the conservatives down there with the tolerance problem.

"I don't believe that 'liberal' views mean bad views."

I think that would have gone without saying, if only for the fact that if you did, you wouldn't be a liberal. Aside from that, I've already addressed the incompatibility of value judgements with "progressivism," so the statement is moot.

"When all is said and done, I won't be judged to be someone with fewer moral values than the voters who elected DeMint, President Bush and other Republican candidates. If I am, so be it. I may be a 'blue' voter, but at least I am no longer depressed."

In that case, I am happy for you. I hope you won't be offended when I say, God bless you.

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