Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Defining "Common Ground" in Diagrams

To follow up on my previous post on common ground, here are my basic parameters. (This is basically a roundup of past posts, with much greater discussion at the links. Click any image for a slightly larger view.) I can find common ground with people who believe in the social contract: I could pretty much stop right there. The idea of a social contract is pretty basic, and was central to the founding of our nation, but modern conservatism overwhelmingly rejects the notion on almost every level and in virtually every arena. I can find common ground with people who recognize that plutocracy and democracy don't mix: I can find common ground with people who are members of the reality-based community, interested in effective policy and responsible governance. (They're "wonks" in this somewhat tongue-in-cheek diagram, explained seriously here and more flippantly here.) Related to the social contract above, I can find common ground with those who recognize the authoritarian strains in movement conservatism, and are instead interested in building, maintaining and improving on a fair system for everybody: Also related to the social contract, I can find common ground with people who don't have extreme goals or selfish, reckless behavior: I can find common ground with people who are anti-bullshit, who oppose false equivalencies, and aren't afraid to say so when both sides aren't equally to blame. As Daniel Patrick Moniyhan reportedly said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." Having an open mind means giving someone a fair hearing, not turning off one's bullshit detector. It doesn't mean wiping one's mind of all prior knowledge or ignoring the track record of the speaker. I'm happy to work with people willing to fight the Stupid-Evil-Crazy Vortex:
Read through the Danny Goldberg piece linked in the previous post, and it'll remind you that conservatives have lied outrageously about almost every single issue under the sun. Eight Republican senators voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don't Tell, which is encouraging. However, the GOP's die-on-this-hill stance for tax cuts for the richest Americans and its obstructionism on the START deal were horribly irresponsible, shamelessly disingenuous and utterly indefensible. START finally passed, but its passage never should have been in jeopardy. It should not be such a difficult fight - with the outcome seriously in doubt - when it comes to matters of basic sanity and essential need (like securing loose nukes). The Republican Party has not been run by responsible adults for some time now. This should be no secret whatsoever to anyone who's followed politics over the past decade or more. Moreover, ignoring this, and shrinking from challenging political figures who utter falsehoods, severely hurts our country. Currently, I'd say our situation looks something like this: Liberals criticize the Democratic Party for its failings all the time. Meanwhile, I've lost track of how many times I've put in a good word for reasonable, well-intentioned people who identify themselves as Republicans or conservatives (I know a few). I'll probably continue to do so, but sometimes I'm awfully weary of it, because that characterization is so laughable when it comes to the conservative political class. I'd love it if the few reasonable types left could take over their party, but I'm not going to pretend that the GOP is something other than what it's shown itself to be countless times: irresponsible, reckless, inhumane, corrupt, dishonest, plutocratic, and occasionally downright nihilistic. Neither am I going to pretend that denying that reality will somehow make things better. As I've often written, if both major political parties merely competitively pandered to the middle class, America would be in far better shape. But it's delusional to think scoundrels of any stripe will suddenly develop consciences on their own. Only a real threat to what they hold dear - only a loss of power – can curb them. Even then, they'll only change if obstructionism and waiting two to four years ceases to work. Banishment to the political wilderness for a generation or two is what's needed.



Anonymous said...

the perspective is off - its not political parties that is the core of the problem, its personality types, i.e., there is nothing to "fix" in the republican party. It is a collection of people that relate, feel they have common outlook with other republicans. That commonality: authoritarian, violent, insecure, fear mongering, self-absorbed, bullying, oppressive, bigoted, ignorant, angry and everything else you describe is the problem. Whether you call them republicans, conservatives, violentarians, zealots, or anything else you better figure out how to appeal to and modify their hideous, distorted, indecent personalities if you wish to change the direction of the society.

Anonymous said...

Yes, people who identify/run as republicans are likely more predisposed toward authoritarian, fear-mongering, and the like, but they don't exist in a vacuum. There's a whole right-wing infrastructure that builds on, feeds, and normalizes this behavior. They've managed to create a self-reinforcing bubble, and indeed that's served to pull the party out of the sane, fact-based world which is probably our single biggest problem. So, indeed, it's not the party exclusively; it's the party and the infrastructure around it that's the problem which is broader, but essentially still maps to the discussion here.

Democrats have a much weaker, less self-reinforcing infrastructure

Anonymous said...

To extend that a bit more and make sure to get Godwin's Law invoked. Your argument is like saying that the problem with Nazi's is that they're composed of authoritarian, violent, insecure, fear mongering, self-absorbed, bullying, oppressive, bigoted, ignorant, and angry individuals. So, we need to figure out how to appeal to these individuals to change their behavior so to change the direction of their party.

bradjshannon said...

You (Vagabond) should read
Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20, 98-116


Jost, J.T., Federico, C.M. & Napier, J.L. (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 307-333.

they're available from the authors here and here, respectively. Right up your alley.

libhom said...

I think the "BLAARGH" section of the Stupid, Evil, Crazy graphic was unrealistically small. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love this