323. Problems in understanding americans. the left critique of progessives.
March 1, 2010 § 1 Comment
Jeff Tiedrich who posts on Sirking Chimp writes about a Krugman blog post,
Look, for the gazillionth time I’ll offer one plausible answer to that question: America is not a nice country, and we are not a nice people. Most American homes are cramped full of petty malice and spite. Republicans understand the private lives of Americans; liberals still cling to the public facade that Americans show to each other.
I think this is deeply wrong, though partly correct. Most Americans are mad at the way the country is, and is going. Downhill, shrinking expectations, doesn’t bring the best out of people. If you want people to behave well, put them in good circumstances. It is not that we are intrinsically not nice.
I’m going to quote myself from an article I wrote for the New York Press back in 2004, when it was becoming clear that the liberals were going to do their best to lose the election against Bush:
But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber the lie, the more they want to hear it repeated.
The problem is, the “lies” are felt to be closer to the truth than what is offered as “truth”, and this is partly right. The right does offer simple minded solutions, but the left offers incomplete and partially self-serving stuff that is at least as weak.
…If I’m an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and outsourcing threats, then I’m going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.
The left is not articulating his anger as well as the right (this is too simple but close) it is not that he swallows lies, its that he has to chose between two perspectives, one of which feels closer to what he experiences and wants to express than the other. If the general view is, throw all the bastards out, right and left, the right message is closer. And expressed in more familiar language.