Comments: A few stories

"In the comments section, we've been discussing (wondering) what's wrong with the Democratic Party this century. Looks like they're missing another opportunity to display leadership and vision. Bottom line? It's starting to be very clean that they don't have any leadership, not that's worthy of the name. And over at WaPo, Terry Neal is asking if Democrats need a Gingrich?"

I actually found the article "Do the Dems need a Gingrich" rather depressing. According to the article, the Democratic party seems unified about how to criticize the Republicans: the party of corruption and cronyism. But the Democrats are not united around a vision of what they are for. They are, at this point, a mostly negative party, united by they are against, rather than what they are for. At least, that is the impression given by the article. I think that is sad.

Liberals, I think, tend to overestimate how much the charge of corruption carries weight on the Right. This week I'm visiting my parents, and just yesterday my dad made a complaint on that topic. We were talking about Delay, and my dad, exassperated, wondered why Delay's own base didn't throw him out.

I've a fair number of conservative friends. One thing I get from them is the consistent line that all politicians are crooks. All of them. So when something like Delay comes to public attention, their standard relpy is "The Democrats are just as bad." And of course, there is something to that, enough to make it hard to defend against. This bit you quote sums it up perfectly:

"The GOP rank and file takes its values seriously. Just imagine the outrage were Rush Limbaugh revealed to be a drug addict, William Bennett a compulsive gambler, Gary Bauer a philanderer, Strom Thurmond the father of a black child, or George Bush a coke fiend. They’d never work in this town again."

Which is to say, from the conservative point of view, everyone in politics is corrupt, so there is no point punishing anyone for corruption. I've come to believe that there is a strong link between conservativism and tolerance of corruption. Why should there be a link? I think the underlying attitude is something like "Don't rock the boat" or "Accept the status quo" - attitudes which feed into both a conservative world-view and acceptance of corruption.

Posted by Lawrence Krubner at October 12, 2005 02:32 PM

It's always easier to be against something than for something. Nothing's easier than sitting on the sidelines, munching popcorn, and pontificating about how things should be done.

I've a fair number of conservative friends. One thing I get from them is the consistent line that all politicians are crooks.

Well, this illustrates what I said in the comments below. People have become so convinced (by Republicans) that government is evil and corrupt that they view revelations of individual corruption as the status quo.

Thus, Republican leadership is able to use this belief to win support for their "smaller government" policies and it pays off when their members get caught dipping a hand in the till.

It's all tied up with the religion thing, you know. If you take a good look at what passes for 'Christianity' in this country today (meaning, let me be clear, the "evangelical" movement that's so prominent), much of it is very Old Testament. And the Old Testament is not so much about redemption and renewal as it is about corruption and hellfire. Any preacher will tell you he can fire up a congregation ten times as easily thundering about the perils of eternal damnation as he can trying to describe the euphoria of heavenly bliss.

Republicans use these techniques, preaching about the evils of government. And the congregation claps along with the choir and then leaves the tent, nodding sagely and promising themselves they won't be having with none of that kind of thing any more.

And when they hear that the preacher got caught with his pants down and his hand in the till, they nod again and think that just proves the preacher was right...evil is everywhere and it's gonna gitcha if you don't watch out.

If you're on the Left, this is a vicious cycle to try and break. What we need is an intervention of some kind.

Posted by Anne at October 13, 2005 10:44 AM