Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rush Is Wrong - Sort Of

I catch about 15 minutes of Rush a day, in 3 five-minute bursts. Yesterday he claimed, as he has before, that the Democrats were being reflexively oppositional, before all the information is in, because they are obsessed with regaining power. That may be true in Washington, at least for some.

But what I see when I read liberals online are people who want their world-view to be validated. While the DU and KosKids, or more mildly at the liberal blogs, clearly hope that their folks come to power, that's not what seems to hurt them to their core. They really believe that certain things are true: that negotiation works in foreign policy, that mankind is dangerously warming the earth, that the poor don't get a fair chance. When others don't also act as if these things are true, they immediately conclude it must be for some nefarious reason. No one could possibly not believe these obvious things unless they had some powerful countermotive or personal interest. They must stand to make a buck off it, they must get off on being important, they must want to impose their will on the weak.

They are willing to entertain any number of extremely unlikely possibilities rather than consider that their world-view is what's awry. The oil companies must be willing to lose lots of money and get bad PR because they hope to have a monopoly later. Huh? They want to roll the dice of going bankrupt? Really? Bush and Cheney are oil men and want to make money for their buddies. Huh? Capitalists want to make money for other people? They want to have a theocracy so that everyone believes like them. You mean these churches that keep splitting off from each other, hate large denominations, and can't even decide what kind of music they want are going to somehow coalesce into a unified force to make everyone worship the same way? Are you mad? Bush must be lying...the jobs can't be good ones...thousands of people conspired to steal an election...

It's not the power. It's the inability to consider that they may have structured their lives around untruths.


Anonymous said...

Their beliefs are based on emotion rather than reason. Those are the hardest beliefs to break.

copithorne said...

I'll speak for the "Kos Crowd." In the first paragraph you present the beliefs of the Kos crowd as content:

Mankind is dangerously warming the earth. [This is a scientific hypothesis]
Negotiation works in foreign policy [better than starting wars.]
The poor don't get a fair chance [inequality of opportunity.]

Then you shift that what is really at stake is an interpretation of intent for people who don't see those things. I don't think the interpretation of intent is central. It really is the content.

We'd be concerned about the scientific evidence that we are warming the earth because we think changing the climate will damage our world.

We'd be concerned about starting wars because we value the lives of our fellow citizens, the moral integrity of the nation, and we don't like people "borrowing" thousands of dollars from our children that they don't intend to repay.

We'd be concerned about the inequality of opportunity because we cherish this principle as the heart of the American promise.

Why people don't share these concerns is always going to be a mystery that can only be interpreted. Very roughly, and not to be insulting, the two categories of interpretation are going to be that people are stupid or that they are evil. In the end, it doesn't make much difference either way except in our feelings.

Your post is a movement away from interpreting our intention as evil and towards interpreting us as stupid. As you make that movement, it is like you are more sympathetic and compassionate to the Kos crowd and less angry. I appreciate it. I'd rather you see us as stupid than evil and I'll try to do the same.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Partially agree, copithorne. My point that if these things were true, the Kos Crowd ould have every right to be not only angry, but even a little crazy about it, still stands.

I don't think either "stupid" or "evil" is what I'm going for, precisely. There is an inability to stand back and say "is the opposition viewpoint at least debateable?" The lack of self-reflection... I suppose you could stuff it into either the stupid or evil category, but both would be imprecise.

Speaking in Christian political terms, I would include a number of people left and right: On the left, Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis, on the right Pat Robertson and maybe Jerry Falwell. All have this seeming inability to consider that God's priorities may not be identical to theirs. I don't think any of those people is especially stupid or especially evil. But the result of this tunnel-vision is as bad as what the stupid or evil people do. Despite all poses of listening to the other side, they clearly don't.