Monday, January 14, 2013

How to Do Division

Everybody knows that a majority of white people vote Republican and overwhelming majorities of minorities vote Democrat.  This is known as politics.

In the good old days, politics, such as it was, was clan-based.  People didn't actually vote in elections, but they supported their family, or their tribe, or their local lord.

Then they invented the nation state, and people supported their language-in-common nation state.

All this is merely to say that politics is division.  The politician makes his living by dividing people. In the old days, they did it by uniting "us" in the family or the tribe against "them," the foreigners.

But the industrial revolution started mixing families and tribes and nationalities something new was needed, and it was Marx who developed the basis of modern politics.  The educated elite would divide the nation state up by class, pitting the working class against the middle class, the workers against the employers.

In the natural development of things, it happened in the United States that by the 1970s the division of workers vs. employers was starting to fray.  An old Democratic friend reminded me how it had worked.   Now that the worker had become a homeowner, thanks to an FHA loan, he told me, that ungrateful worker had become a Republican.

A generation before the machine politician had railed in similar terms against the civil service.  The bureaucrat with civil service protection stopped making his grateful contribution to the machine.

With the old working class ascending into the middle class a new method of division was required.

We all know what that is.  You only have to know that in America any Republican or conservative is a racist, sexist, homophobe unless proven innocent.

In Commonwealth the lefty manifestist duo Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri develop the intellectual apology for the new politics of identity by race, by sex, and by sexual orientation that has revised and extended the old politics of class.  They talk about the "violence and hierarchy of identity."  In their view "identity maintains hierarchy primarily through social structures and institutions."

Get it?  Identity is manufactured by the ruling class in order to create a hierarchy of oppression against the colored, the female, the LGBT.  Thus the lefty politics of race hatred, of anti-religious bigotry, of anti-family bigotry, of gay sequestration is represented as the fight against racism, sexism, fundamentalism, homophobia.  It really is brilliant.

When people demand that conservatives and Republicans reach out to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, they are asking the impossible.  It is impossible to fight the left-wing politics of hatred by saying, hey, we are nice guys and we will propose a politics of quotas and free stuff, only not so much.

And I don't think that the implicit conservative/Republican program will work.  The idea of waiting until it's obvious to the black or Hispanic in the street that the Dems have betrayed them just won't cut it.  The Dem-voting minorities are like soldiers in an army.  It is very difficult to desert from an army, short of an absolute rout where discipline breaks down, because there is usually no place to hide.

No.  Politics is division.  That is inescapable.  Conservatives and Republicans have to find different ways to divide the American people, ways that cut against the Democrats.  But what?  Obviously, it's not that obvious, or someone would already have done it.

Let's look back to Ronald Reagan for some tips.  The big deal in the 1970s, when Reagan was beginning his rise, was the cultural backlash against the Sixties culture.  The "silent majority" was frightened and disgusted by the sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.  The so-called Reagan Democrats were mostly people offended by the cultural liberalism of that era.  Reagan divided the voters by neutralizing the New Deal economic divide in favor of a cultural divide.

In fact, Reagan was so successful in dividing America that the Democrats were forced to amp up their race identity program and encourage massive Mexican immigration.  Their cunning plan created a whole new immigrant cohort that they could woo with class and ethnic identity politics.  As we know from Judis and Teixeira in The Emerging Democratic Majority the Dems think they have a generation-long winner with their politics of identity.  And maybe they do.

But there is almost more than one way to cut a cake, and the profession of politics is finding new ways to do it.  Here are some ideas.
  • Liberal war on the poor.  Liberals have demolished lower-class culture and the family.  There has to be a way to appeal to lower-class women on this, to show them that there is a better way than government dependency.  We are talking about the children.
  • Liberal war on science.  Liberals advertise themselves as pro-science.  Except they don't believe in modern economics (other than the convenient Keynesian idea that more spending is good); they don't believe in climate science, as we are finding out; they don't believe in a crony-free economy, as in Solyndra, biofuels, wind energy.
  • Liberal war on prosperity.  Liberals have convinced the middle class that they care about the middle class.  Then they go and pass a tax-cliff bill with $62 billion in tax loopholes for big business.  Come on fellahs; surely someone can figure out how to wage war on liberal crony capitalism.
  • Liberal war on women.  One fine day women are going to wake up and realize that a culture of sexual license is anti-woman.  Look, I'm a guy; I appreciate that sexual license is great for guys, and forces women into bed.  The argument for female chastity is not just moralistic; it is practical.  The more things a women allows inside her body the bigger chance that she will get diseased and unable to bear children.  We've just experienced a generation when science could mostly kill the nasties.  But it looks like that era is coming to an end.  Look for a sudden change in the culture.
But really, I don't know anything.  All I have is faith.  Somehow in the next few years, a politician will rise to power on the right on the strength of some politics of division that cuts against the current Democratic advantage that boxes Republicans in on race and sex.  That's just the way the world works.

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