Friday, August 19, 2011
Conservative regressive nostalgia
This clip of Rachel Maddow's show last night is illustrative of for what conservatives are nostalgic; a return to a better, more romantic America before all of this nasty governmental intervention. I say romantic because it wasn't really a better time by any standard of health, safety and human welfare. But it was better if your worldview is one where white men are in control, guns determine who is right, survivalistic barter is better than a humane safety net (or even currency, it would appear) and black people knew their place. Maddow uses the examples of Nevada conservative candidates for US Senate in the last election. First there was Sue Lowden, who envisioned a time before Medicare, where one could barter chickens for medical checkups. This was ultimately her undoing, showing the ridiculous longing of a return to medieval economic systems without mentioning how landlords at the time were actually Lords, and peasants were part of their property. After she lost out Sharron Angle suggested that if we weren't pleased with government we could return to the days of armed revolution by using “second amendment remedies.” This lunatic fiasco got her roundly defeated in the Senate race.
And along comes Senator Tom Coburn's latest comments. Not only does he bring back the chickens for checkups idea, he says he wishes he could carry a gun on to the Senate floor, ostensibly to settle disputes via a good ole', down-home, wild west shoot out. If that wasn't bad enough, he then denigrates Obama as a black man, arguing that he likes governmental programs because they gave him an undue and unfair advantage over whites. Gone are the days when we had to equally compete for advantage in the jungle, where might won over some weak, simpering human rights bullshit. And by “we” he means white men, for everyone else is not entitled to compete on that field. Why can't we just go back to slavery? We treated them folk right, gave them a good, dry barn to sleep in, plenty of food.
We see this same thing playing out with the more radical conservative Presidential candidates Michelle Bachman and Rick Perry. Maddow makes a valid point that it makes no sense whatsoever to compromise with these types of positions. Compromise by its nature assumes a reasonable disagreement between equally viable positions. That is not the case here. This is a battle of worldviews, one from a bygone era and those from the modern and postmodern world. Do we really want to return to the caste system, to burning witches, the black plague and all the rest? If not, we must not barter with these fanatics. Rather we must not only make rational arguments but use emotionally convincing rhetoric showing the errors of this view and bring our society into the 21st century. I don't want my country back but to move it forward.