Monday, February 20, 2012

Political Round-Up

Some random throughts on the state of the 2012 campaign:

First, it looks like I really do have super-powers.  Whoever I vote for in a primary goes on to lose the nomination, even if it's a "sure thing."  Why I couldn't have gotten super-speed or invisibility, I don't know.  After voting for Romney because he was "better than Gingrich," I've managed to destroy both of their campaigns.  You're welcome, Rick Santorum.

Speaking of Romney, if he does happen to wind up the GOP nominee, he'll still be fine in the general election.  No, he doesn't excite the conservative base.  But when there is no choice besides Mitt and Obama, with potentially 2+ Supreme Court nominations in the next 4 years, the base will hold their nose and vote for him..

But Santorum, he's interesting.  I worried back in the SC primary that, even though I like him a great deal, his position on social issues makes him too easy for the left to caricature.  But now I'm having second thoughts.  First of all, if we conservatives honestly believe that having conservative views on social issues is a guaranteed loser, what does that say about us?  Secondly, for all of the talk about Romney (or McCain 4 years ago) being able to appeal to blue-state folks, that math only works in the primaries.  The RINO is always the moderate-to-liberal undecided voter's favorite Republican... until they get a chance to vote for the Democrat.  I'm beginning to wonder if Santorum might not actually be more electable with genuine "swing" voters that people think.  Put another way, I wonder if there might be more votes to be picked up on the margins of the issues like religious liberty than there really are from moderating those positions.  I don't know.

Along those same lines, I know Santorum is going to be savaged as a religious weirdo.  But really, the Mormon guy wasn't?  Indeed, let's take three different religious profiles and arrange them in order from most mainstream to most weird: Mormon, Catholic, Jeremiah Wright-style liberation theology.  Yeah, I know.  The problem is that Santorum actually seems to believe what his religion teaches.  Again, this is somehow supposed to be a negative, right?

Finally, I have been exasperated of late on the internet.  Darn facebook!  This is at least tangentially related to the Santorum thing, by the way.  Is it just me, or is there some rule that only conservatives and Christians can be lampooned as dumb hicks?  Maybe I've been unlucky lately, but several conversation threads I've been involved in have involved the assumption that conservatives, Tea Partiers, and religious people are just stupid.  I don't get it; I know that southerners, fundamentalists, red-states, etc. have to carry around the idea that we are the people of Wal-Mart.  But why is it that the equally-large number of uneducated people in inner cities don't get hung around the neck of the left as a similar albatross?  I never seem to see conservatives or Christians putting up posts online with the theme "point and laugh at those stupid liberals, boy are they dumb!"  But it's a daily occurence in reverse.  Perhaps this is because so many of my friends online are former students, many of whom are now college students (often at pretty elite schools). 

I posted the following article online, and nobody commented on it.

I think it describes and analyzes that issue pretty well.  Anybody in this forum interested in it?


Kim said...

Well, well! My jaw literally dropped when I saw you had a new post. What a pleasant surprise! Also, I have a post going up tomorrow, and I was just laughing this morning that it seemed to use the word, "round-up" like seventeen times:). It was funny after reading that to see the same phrase in your title.

Okay, moving on. I can't speak to the political analysis here, but I did want to say something about the stereotyping. I agree with you about the stereotypes used all too often by the left, but I would strongly disagree that it is a one-sided phenomenon. The left uses the "stupid" caricature far too often to describe the right, but the right fights back with gusto when they use "godless" to characterize the left. I know that you are in a position to feel first-hand the scorn that comes from those who view things differently from you, and I know that it is incredibly frustrating. The reason I know all that is that I am in a similar position. I could give you loads of anecdotal evidence showing that my (perceived!) liberalism has led to various degrees of accusations of godlessness. Here's a line from a dear, dear friend from GA, who asked me this question in all sincerity and with a sheepish smile: "So explain to me again how someone can be a liberal and be a Christian, b/c I was trying to explain it to my husband last night and I forgot what you said." I took NO offense at this question, but I was very saddened about how deep that perception of liberal godlessness has permeated the right. And while my friend's inquiry was innocent, I can also testify firsthand to numerous incidents where my (perceived) liberalism caused both my general morality as well as my capacity as a spiritual teacher to be viewed with very sharp suspicion.

To be fair to both sides, perhaps there is a kernel of truth behind the stereotypes. There is a general perception, even on the right, that higher education correlates with liberalism...which is why the right often looks askance at various educational institutions. Similarly, there is also a general perception, even on the left, that political conservatism correlates to Christianity. Both of those perceptions/realities (?) make me sad. But I wouldn't say that one is worse than the other. Actually, if I had to be called either stupid or godless, I think I'd choose stupid.

Coach Sal said...

Well, Kim, I agree to a point. But I think the two stereotypes are related. The idea that "liberal=Godless" is probably colored by the fact that so many liberals treat all traditionalism, including religion, as stupid. I even would go so far as to wonder aloud if when you find expressions of faith among many conventional liberals, if there is not an unspoken "but of course, he/she doesn't REALLY believe that silly stuff. That's just a pose for the rubes." I think President Obama gets that treatment from the media a great deal: he's the highest-profile politician to say out loud that marriage should be man-woman, but it is pretty much understood that he HAS TO say that. Likewise, it's his administration that cut funding for "plan B" morning-after contraception, but he didn't get the Santorum treatment.

Anyway, did you read the WSJ article I attached? There's some really good stuff there about intellectuals and intellectualism, and also anti-intellectualism/populism. You're one of the ones I wanted to hear from about that; I'd really value your opinion on it.

Kim said...

So....the "godless liberal" stereotype is mostly true??? Hmmm...I will respectfully decline to share the degree to which I find truth in the other stereotype:); instead, I will attempt to give you a window into an alternative kind of liberalism, one which is very much rooted in Christian belief. If you get a chance, check out this blog:
Also, see Rachel Held Evans' blog for a counterpoint to godless liberalism ( Or Internet Monk. Or Experimental Theology. (It just so happens that I am going to highlight that last one on my own blog tomorrow.) These blogs differ in the degree to which they are political (I ordered them "most" to "least"), but I have definitely gotten the impression that all of these Christian authors are also liberals.

As for the article, I did read it when you put it on FB, and I thought about responding, but I thought that I did not fit into the demographic that you were targeting. For example, I certainly don't know anyone who would own a Prius, much less someone who would choose it because it was ugly. (And even though I would not mind owning an environmentally conscious car, I certainly wouldn't pick it because of ugliness.) Anyway, I skimmed parts of it, but the overall impression I got is that the author is saying that liberals are arrogant in their belief in the law of progress, while conservatives honor "the democracy of the dead." I disagree. I think both liberals and conservatives cite the dead when it suits them and ignore the dead when it doesn't. And I definitely think arrogance cuts both ways. Believe me, there are plenty of conservatives who think liberals are stupid. I could give you a list if you wanted. To a degree, we all think that our views are more intelligent than our opponents', right? Otherwise, we would change them. So believe me, on my fb I get my fair share of people wondering aloud how all these highly educated folks (liberals) could be so dumb. I don't see arrogance as a liberal commodity or a conservative commodity. I see it as a human flaw.

That is certainly not a comprehensive analysis of the article, but those were my dominant impressions. Hope that helps?

Coach Sal said...

No, not "mostly true." And the reason I said "conventional liberals" is because you are definitely not of the conventional variety. I do think that the "conservatives are dumb, liberals are Godless" dichotomy is somewhat rooted in a transitive property of sorts--that far too many assume that "Godless=intelligent."

As for the article, you definitely are not part of the demographic I wanted to tag, but I'm interested in your take, once again because you are an unconventional liberal. But among many of my most-liberal (or at least most-loudly-liberal) friends, the subtitle of the article ("snobbery as the last refuge of the liberal arts major")is spot-on. Don't forget, I work in a place where intellectual vanity is the coin of the realm, for faculty and students alike. And a pretty regular rite of passage for our highest-achieving students is the rejection of the faith of their fathers, often with the encouragement of equally-brilliant teachers. It's also this demographic which just LOVES the sneer-as-high-comedy exemplified by Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. The line in the article about, "if you don't get the joke, you ARE the joke" really resonates.

Even among the financially elite, some of the cultural stereotypes are glaring. When Ann moved from one campus to another of the preschool our school owns, moving to the more "yuppie" campus (despite the fact that both charge identical tuition), it was a running joke that the parents who paid $40k for a Lexus in Mt. Pleasant looked down at the parents who paid the same $40k for a Ford F-150 King Cab on James Island.

That brings me back to the political. I know that you are quite unlikely to vote for Santorum if he becomes the GOP nominee. But it won't be because you think that it is insane or stupid that someone believes in traditional Catholic morality in the year 2012. I respect the political difference, so long as it comes without the smear and the sneer. And the reverse is true, as well: I am perfectly capable of opposing Obama on policy and philosophy without buying into the "He's a Muslim sleeper agent" crap. I think that what continues to rankle is that the mainstream recognizes that the redneck making the "Muslim" claim is dumb, but gives credence to the other as being sophisticated.

Greg said...

Ignore the name; this is Kim again.

Yeah, I don't really know anyone like that. If I did, I guess I'd understand more why it bothers you so much. As it is, I must confess that I don't fully understand why it does. I mean, yes, there are liberal elitists out there, and yes, they probably think we are both stupid, but who cares? WE know we are freakin' brilliant (sarcasm), and the people who love us don't seem to think that we're idiots, so who cares what anyone else thinks? Seriously! Personally, I prefer low expectations; it gives me a chance to prove people wrong (it's the high expectations that I find so crippling). But I guess if I was surrounded by it all day, it would be very grating. People can be so disagreeable about politics, which is why I generally avoid the topic.

That said, I don't know much about Santorum; I'm kind of waiting to see who gets the nomination before I spend time learning about them:). But I was thinking about your ideas on the voting middle and the fringe and all that. As someone in the middle, I will confess that I am generally uninterested in voting this year. However, there are a few people whom I could see voting against, so in that sense, I would think that a party doesn't want to pick someone too fringe. There is a very real chance that such a choice would mobilize votes against them. Maybe that's just me, though...

Coach Sal said...

My animus towards the snobs isn't particularly personal--my ego (as you well know) is pretty darned healthy. :-) But I sometimes feel compelled to step up and defend the honor of the conservatives and Christians who are maligned by faux-intellectuals. Sort of a "pick on somebody your own size" from a nerd.

But on the political side, my original point about Santorum was/is that he was called "too fringe" from the beginning; it's the reason I didn't even consider him in the SC primary. But the main reason he's called "fringe" is because he's a staunch Roman Catholic and therefore seriously socially conservative on issues of life, marriage, etc. I'm wondering whether that profile is REALLY too "fringe" to win, or if there might actually be more people who find that positive (or at least not disqualifying) than the conventional wisdom says.

Kim said...

"Pick on someone your own size"? Aren't they smart enough to defend themselves?:)

Regarding Santorum's strongly pro-life status, I do have some tangential thoughts/questions about the Bishops and the birth control...thing. As I have only been informed through the occasional blog, I feel my information is very one-sided. I don't want to get into it here, but I might hit you up the next few days on Fb for a counter opinion (if I remember).

As always, it has been fun talking to you!

MichaelPolutta said...

Larry, the article made sense to me - well, as much sense as a relative lightweight like myself can grok such ideas.

Kim - I'd love to ask you a serious question. What are the aspects of liberalism that you like, and what are the aspects (assuming there are some) that you dislike? Said differently, why do you consider yourself liberal (or, with what tenets of liberalism you you identify), and are there aspects of popular liberalism that you must ignore or accept with distaste?

Full disclosure, I consider myself a conservative. I am a friend of Larry's from way back.

Kim said...


The funny thing is, I don't consider myself a liberal at all. Furthermore, I find the fact that I am labeled as such to be an indictment of the radicalism and hysteria of Southern conservatism. The reality is that I am borderline apolitical, barely keep up with the NEWS, much less politics, and ally myself much more with the kingdom of God than any earthly nation. That said, I am also not a conservative and do not always vote Republican...which apparently, makes me a liberal:).

And oddly, I think Larry once summed up the reason I am not a traditional Republican/libertarian conservative when he observed the seeming contradiction in conservative belief system that says that national legislation should be founded on Christian principles, yet overlooks legislation to protect the poor and oppressed. We want to legislate sexuality, but not charity. I think the most liberal thing about me is that I agree with Larry's statement.

That said, I have heard many, many conservative responses to that indictment (including Larry's). To a degree, I can even see where they are coming from. However, at the end of the day, I rarely find them convincing. To me, it is something that we Christians will just have to agree to disagree about. Our greater allegiance, like I said earlier, is to the kingdom of God.

Hope that helps!

MichaelPolutta said...


Thanks for your response. I apologize for misinterpreting the dialogue.