September 5, 2011

Bagmen, egomaniacs, and kooks

Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult:
Among the Republican base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some "other," who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear. It is not clear to me how many GOP officeholders believe this reactionary and paranoid claptrap. I would bet that most do not. But they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base with a nod and a wink. . . .
I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one. . . .
Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness.
Read the whole thing.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In an otherwise great piece, the author makes one error. Most local Republicans I know sadly believe what he calls the party's "claptrap".

John Foust said...

Simple test, Anony. Do "most local Republicans" spend as much time denying any claptrap as they do promoting their personal favorite claptrap du jour?

There's got to be a name for this margin. Maybe someone with more edumacation or functioning brain cells can remind me. It's what holds groups together, and God knows Republicans like to stay in line. They're also damn good at spreading claptrap to the faithful. Individuals may not voice their opposition to a particular piece of claptrap for fear of disturbing group cohesion or for fear of being expelled from the group. Their opposition to a particular piece of claptrap has to rise to a certain level before they'll risk speaking out. On the other hand, if they feel committed to a particular piece of claptrap, they improve group cohesion and do not risk expulsion by repeating and amplifying it.

In fact, I see there's what's known as the "Gadarene swine fallacy" in logic, where "supposing that because a group is in the right formation, it is necessarily on the right course; and conversely, of supposing that because an individual has strayed from the group and isn't in formation, that he is off course. The individual may seem lost to the group but not off course to an ideal observer."