Optimism ↔ Pessimism

Conservatism is ascendant. Over a period of three decades, conservatives have managed to chip away at our laws and regulations to increase their control of the country and make themselves richer. Their ideology says that concentration of wealth and power at the very top is an excellent thing, and all those who are suffering because of it deserve exactly what they are getting because they are lazy or morally lax. There is more than a little raw racism in this attitude.

Conservative Republicanism is not a political movement. It is a radical religion, with a well defined set of ideological elements that have been carefully and scientifically nurtured over a long period, so that True Believers accept what they are told without question. The elements themselves are not scientific or logical—in fact, they cannot be defended with actual evidence of any kind—but their propagation and promotion makes use of all the sophisticated mind-science, or brainwashing, that Madison Avenue has learned about how to shape attitudes and perceptions to sell a product.

Conservative Republicanism
is a radical religion.

One of those ideological truisms is that affluence and riches come to those who deserve it, and, conversely, those who are poor are poor because they deserve their poverty. Affluent Middle Americans who accept this religion strongly believe in it because they are its beneficiaries, and they believe that people of color (who have forever been victims of racism) deserve to be poor.

No study I have heard of has attempted to measure the attitudes and beliefs of Republicans whose lives have suddenly been ruined by those who most benefit from these articles of faith, the mega-rich. My guess is that when that study is done, those interviewed will not want to talk about it, because it will demonstrate in undeniable personal terms that they were wrong, that their lives have been upended and emptied by false beliefs. Until that happens, no amount of statistical evidence or logic will convince them, which is why I speak of conservative Republicanism as a religion. Religion is faith, and mere science, logic, and statistical evidence cannot breach those walls.

Religion is faith, and mere evidence
cannot breach those walls.

The principles of Democrats cannot aspire to the same sort of status as the Republican religion because they depend entirely on truth that can be demonstrated objectively. They do not lend themselves to simplistic bumper-sticker slogans. When science shows something unexpected, Democrats must adjust their understanding to account for new truths. Republicans never have to do this because they already have their eternal truth. For this reason, Democrats will never be able to inspire a following similar to the True Believers that accompany Republicans everywhere, who simply aren’t interested in testable truth.

Conservative Republicans have been very successful at dominating the terms of political debate, because they realized early that Mad Av principles could help them shape the very minds of their followers, and once so captured, followers will remain faithful. They have been so successful, and successful with devising subtle code for their racism, that they could make such claims on the floors of Congress as: Democrats want everyone to have the same wealth, whether or not it is earned. That suggests Democrats are communists. It is also racist code because many Republicans wrongly believe that there are large numbers of people of color who live off of taxpayer handouts.

The American future has been seriously
compromised by conservative Republicans.

The American future has been seriously compromised by conservatism. Economic inequality has never been higher. The purposeful destruction of constraints on the unlimited greed of Wall Street led directly to worldwide economic crisis. Republican fear that any acknowledgment of the impending ecological crisis would limit corporate profit has virtually halted any effort to address the climate change that is now upon us. Republican ideology has shifted virtually all our new wealth to the richest few and created a whole new category of the near-poor who can’t pay for health care or retirement.

The economic crisis has been seized as an opportunity to make headway on their disaster-guaranteeing policy of eliminating taxes and government. Moreover, they refuse to do the one thing most likely to bring the economic crisis to an end, spend money to create jobs and therefore tax revenue. Their reasons are partially ideological, but they are just as much a tactic. Their stated tactic is to prevent any improvement of the country so they can claim that President Obama was a failure. Another element of this tactic is to keep the administration tied up in court so they can’t do their job. (See recent bogus attempts to claim the Attorney General refused to cooperate after he submitted over 7,000 documents they requested.)

How does one characterize a party whose goal is to hurt the government and the people?

It is not a time of optimism. Our moral decline just in the past decade has been rapid and dangerous, and our economic imbalance is just as bad. We are flirting with a plutocracy that could destroy our entire democracy, bringing to an ignoble end the most important political experiment the world has seen. It is not out of the question.

For the young, it is essential to believe
that the rising plutocracy can be
stuffed back under its slimy rock.

And yet.

Imagine you are an ordinary peaceful German at the height of Hitler’s insanity. Could you feel optimistic for the future while the whole world is burning, and the Third Reich is systematically murdering anyone they can find an excuse to murder? Damn few could, I suspect. And yet, the post-war world was one of hope, optimism, and recovery. How optimistic or pessimistic we feel about the future right now is not necessarily what will come to pass. For the young, it is essential to believe that the rising plutocracy can be stuffed back under its slimy rock, and democracy, equality, and rule of law, the bedrock principles of our government, can once again take their rightful place, guided by truth, not religious lies.


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. But then again, comparing those who are moderate and reasonable within the Democrats with those who are fundamentalist and rabid within the Republicans is kind of like comparing apples with oranges. Sadly, there are dangerously misinformed ideologues on both sides of the fence, and probably equally as many from either side who cannot/will not understand the limitations of reality or the demands of justice. I think the proliferation of the idiot Republican politician is more reflective of his/her usefulness to the uber-rich, than it is of a correlation between reasonableness and one’s binary placement in a two-party system. . 🙂

    This is an outsider opinion, though. I am Canadian – formerly a Liberal voter and currently in the Green camp.


    • I certainly agree that there are idiot Democrats. It just seems to me that we are swamped with utter nonsense from the right, far in excess of anything left-wing nuts dream up.


      • That’s true.


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