The Mysterious Conservative Mind

I spend too much of my time trying to fathom why Republican conservatism exists at all. I’m unhappy to say that I don’t understand the mindset in the slightest. How could such a large group claim to have the best methods to advance the nation when almost everything they claim is demonstrably false and everyone but the richest are obviously worse off when their hands are on the wheel?

The most repugnant element of modern Republicanism is entrenched idealogical racism. It’s not a universal racism—Asian-Americans are sometimes conceded to be OK—but one that believes all African-Americans are inferior sub-humans who are incapable of normal ethics and virtues. This belief is nearly universal among Republicans, kept soto voce for the most part, but fairly often expressed proudly, such as when a NC voting official said of his state’s oppressive new voting law, “[I]f it hurts a bunch of lazy blacks that want the government to give them everything, so be it.” Far from being a rare outlier position, this is mainstream Republicanism that bubbles to the surface regularly. Its prevalence is proven by the number of racially-motivated anti-voter laws that have been enacted in Republican-controlled states, but never in Democratic-controlled states.

Republicans are convinced that there are vast numbers of Democratic African-Americans whose entire goal in life is to sponge off the public purse, but the fact is, if all Republicans were eliminated from welfare rolls the cost would be cut by 50%.

The most repugnant element
of modern Republicanism
is racism.

Republicans apparently believe they themselves all descend from landed English aristocrats, and are the natural leaders because they are rich, and are rich because they are the natural leaders. [Addendum 6 December 2013: This is not mere supposition. It is supported by several studies, including this most recent one.] Most of the primary beliefs of conservatism originated in those feudal times. Since all such naturally superior aristocrats were pale-skinned, it follows that anyone whose skin color is darker is naturally inferior. It should be noted that pale Englishmen of the era made similar judgments in print about all the “races” of Europeans whose skin was even slightly less pale than theirs.

The Republican mindset says that government should do almost nothing, except for maintaining a military that costs multiples of the next most expensive military. But they cannot explain how the national work might get done, things like highways, and guiding laws and regulations affecting the common good, or how individual responsibility would somehow be even modestly cost-effective. They want to back away from things like universal public education, arguably the most important element of true democracy, the death of which would without question turn the country into a noncompetitive, non-democratic, Second World nation, if we can say that. Without a structure of government befitting a huge nation of 315-million citizens we would be a ship of state without a rudder, subject to vast corruption and incapable of controlling any element of our destiny.

Republicans apparently believe they are
the natural leaders because they are rich,
and are rich because they are the natural leaders.

The presumed reason for micro-government is the belief that personal responsibility can do better everything that government can do. This is laughable. Belief in personal responsibility is rather like belief in being toilet trained. Is there anyone who does not believe in either? The question is not whether people should accept personal responsibility. Rather, it is a question of whether the way we have arranged society and government is fair to all who are responsible. For example, the liberal belief is that everyone who works full time should be able to afford all the essentials of modern life, including health care and savings for old age. Can we do that now? Many millions cannot, and the primary reason is that the rich have found ways to arrange things for their own benefit, with virtually all new wealth accruing to them. Hundreds die daily because their full time job does not pay enough for health care insurance. This will be at least partially corrected by Obamacare, which Republicans hope in vain to destroy.

Republican conservatives are certain that government is far too big, and we’d all be better off if it went away. Probably few of us believe that every little office in DC is crucial, but Republicans want to dismantle just about everything, including large agencies that basically hold the country together. They want to dismantle the legal apparatus that protects citizens from things like environmental crimes and corporate abuse, forgetting what the air was like before the Clean Air Act, and forgetting that their leadership in the dissolution of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was one of the main contributors to the current economic crisis, now entering its sixth year.

Is there anyone who does not believe
in personal responsibility?

They strive mightily to prevent the achievement of the goals of any Democratic president or legislature, not because they have anything better to offer, but simply because they would rather spoil the game for everyone than to work together for the benefit of all.

A recent comparison between progressive Minnesota and regressive Wisconsin is telling. [Lawrence R. Jacobs, NYT, 23 Nov. 13] The Minnesota governor has done everything the Wisconsin governor has not, and Minnesota is in far better shape in all ways than Wisconsin. Wisconsin Republicans have forced on the state all the anti-worker, anti-government precepts of Republicanism, and it’s a mess.


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