Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Wisdom of the American People

When my oldest son was about 10, I told him about politics and why Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad. He asked me a very pertinent question: If the Republicans were the good guys, why did the Democrats almost always win?

I told him flat out the horrible truth. "Because the American people are stupid." He looked a bit shocked and then I saw the light go on behind his eyes as understanding filled his soul. Suddenly, with that one simple but accurate explanation, it all made sense.

It was an oversimplification, of course. Only about half of the American people are stupid, but there's enough of them to keep the Dems in power.

I know we are always hearing people talk about the "wisdom of the American people," but it's all PR. Many Americans have no wisdom. They follow a simple formula: they'll vote for you if (1) You promise to give them something for free (universal health care), and (2) you provide excuses for why they are lazy, couch-potato, overweight mediocrities (it's always someone else's fault. They stole your "fair share" of the goodies by getting an education, working their butts off and planning their lives).

Then there's the vanity factor. There's a kind of snobbery to being a liberal or a Democrat. It's because (1) you care about other people SOO much, (2) you are terribly sophisticated and (3) you are incredibly enlightened, whereas conservatives are people who (1) hate everything and everybody, especially racial minorites and gays, (2) are greedy fat-cats who smoke cigars and drink champagne while foreclosing widows and orphans, and (3) are terribly unsophisticated about the things that matter, e.g. the latest Hollywood fashions, Hip Hop stars and trendy bumper-sticker slogans ("Hope and Change!").

Yes, you have to be terribly sophisticated to believe in policies that don't work and never did, but you keep promoting them anyway. You have to remember, it's not about voting for policies that improve the economy and increase human freedom and national security, it's about voting for the policies that make you look cool and sophisticated to your peer group. It's about the delicious feeling of moral superiority and how you can roll your eyes at a liberal pal in the presence of some neanderthal who asks "why would anyone support gay marriage, or allow illegal immigration, or release the Gitmo terrorists into American courts?"

You don't even have to explain your positions or give rational, articulate answers to the neanderthal's questions. Rolling your eyes as an expression of moral superiority is enough, and certainly satisfying. Yes, voting for liberal policies is really a fashion statement, not the expression of a coherent political philosophy. It's like driving a Lexus or wearing a tennis shirt with a little alligator on it. It's code for "I'm special...and I'm BETTER than you are!"

Okay, it really isn't completely accurate to say that half of the American people are stupid. What I should have said was "stupid or lazy or both."

They're stupid because their best understanding of history and economics is whatever sound bite can be put on a bumper-sticker and easily memorized.

They're lazy because understanding what is needed and necessary for the long-term survival of freedom, democracy and capitalism requires study of complex subjects. It's much easier to give a gut-reaction to whatever is happening at the moment than to place it in its proper historical context, or study the causes and remedies and make sound decisions based on sound principles and actual facts. That all takes work. There are television shows to watch after all.

Okay Son, you aren't 10 anymore, but I want to revise my explanation of why Democrats get elected. Yes, it is because the American people are stupid -- but also because they are lazy and covetous and vain.

They don't want to do the work of thinking, or be held accountable for their own lives, or delay gratification long enough to get ahead, or turn down free goodies that the government stole from somebody else, and they like to feel suave, cool and sophisticated even though they're not.

Yes son, now that you're older, I think you can handle this somewhat more complicated set of facts.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

excellent analysis!! Stoogie's younger brother

Stogie said...

That's STOGIE with only one o, por favor.

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