Saturday, August 1, 2009

Evil Republicans

When we Democrats talk about those evil Republicans we're making a big, big mistake. We have to make a clear distinction between the Republican Party leadership and most rank and file Republicans.

I know a lot of Republicans personally, and I've known many of them for decades. Nearly all of them are honest, upright people you could trust with your last dollar. They might not make the best companions for a trip to the Burning Man festival, or to watch some sex/drugs/rock&roll-drenched, plotless avant-garde movie with. But they might be great to go scuba diving with (and I speak from personal experience), or to see a well-made, mainstream PG-13-rated Hollywood movie with. Or to be in a baby-sitting co-op with.

True, they do generally oppose most Democrats on a variety of social and fiscal issues. We are in different parties for real reasons. But few rank-and-file Republicans are out to rob us blind--unlike the GOP leadership.

And when we lump them all together, we reinforce the Republicans' sense of tribe--that America=the Republican tribe, while the Democratics en masse=an occupation of "our" country by people with alien values who hate America and whose leader and representatives must be opposed in every way possible.

When we reinforce this us vs. them mentality, we don't get healthcare reform. We don't get Wall Street reform. Or if we seem to, we get gutted versions of what we really need.

If not for this, there are many issues we could cooperate on, and they'd be more willing to reform their own party. Wouldn't it be great for everyone if the GOP became less like the Party of Palin and more like the Party of Eisenhower?

The first step for Democrats is ceasing to tar all Republicans with the same brush. Always refer to the Republican leadership when that's appropriate. Find the areas of common ground that we share. Republican voters don't want lying, demagoguic leaders shilling for special interests any more than we do. Help them realize our tribe is America, not any political party.

George Washington's farewell address warned the American people about "factions." Prophetic words.


Julee Jackson said...

I believe this blog to be right on. I've experienced this in my own right leaning family. In describing my anger at the Republicans on vaious issues I have been so vehement I have alieanated those that would agree with me. I too know many Republicans that are people I trust in matters not related to politics.

I will from now on keep in mind it is the Republican leadership that is the true enemy of all of us. They are the ones who benefit most from polarization and of course their corporate sponsors.

JC said...

Your points about tribal thinking are very important and not something that ever seems to be discussed, since we're all enveloped in our own tribes. I try to vary my news sources, but the cable network that is overtly right-wing just drives me nuts, I find its best if I avoid cable news altogether.

I find that most of the time its hard to engage someone who is spouting off for the other side, but I do try, and apologetically state my opinion, and here in Texas, I'm usually the first "liberal" that people actually meet face to face. I like to think that the fact that I'm pretty nice and easy to talk to might have some effect on the tribal us vs them mentality.

Keep up the good work