22 September 2010


Nutty ex-President Jimmy Carter, has pronounced that the country is more divided today than at any time since the Civil War. This is factually incorrect. There were over 600,000 dead in the Civil War. Where are the casualties in the “culture war?” Furthermore, anyone who was around in the late 60s/early 70s knows that the country was far more divided then than it is today. Indeed the same people on both sides are still around, and yes, still divided. The difference today is that there is alternative media. Back then, the news was owned by the three liberal networks and the NY Times, and the whole narrative was told from a left-wing perspective. Thus they wrote of i.e. the “youth,” the “women” etc. as if all had the same viewpoint, never acknowledging that there were plenty of us on the right. The effect of this myopic monopoly back then was to alienate the public and increase support for the right, leaving the elites in shock when it turned out there were far more conservatives than they could have imagined.

While what is happening today is similar from the elite standpoint, it is nowhere near as intense as four decades ago. The news monopoly has been broken, and even as the establishment controls a shrinking piece of the pie, there are media alternatives today that lean right. Political differences at the ideological level are fundamentally a clash of values. There is no lower common denominator and that is why we have politics- to settle these divisions in a civil manner. Values in and of themselves are not rationally derived, but stem from family, custom, and belief. The establishment media and academia have continuously portrayed the values of the right as “irrational,” never realizing that their own fundamental values also have no rational basis.

After decades of ideology I have come to realize that it can lead to a type of tunnel vision. That is to say that politics dominates all discourse and judgment and is the prism through which the world is viewed. It involves focusing on one topic- politics, with religious fervor, to the exclusion of everything else. This sort of behavior is actually far more characteristic of the left than the right, because they are the ones who politicize everything and attempt to bring all aspects of life into the public sphere. The right reacts when is basic values are challenged, but it is the left that has made every aspect of life political. The right recognizes a far larger private sphere that ought not to be political, whereas the left wants to subject everything to public policy. This sort of fanaticism results in failing to see the interwoven complexity of things and how millions upon millions of individual decisions are the crux of real life. Ironically it is the “liberals” who are most intolerant. They look at everything in political terms, so that in coming upon something new the first question they ask is where this thing or person stands politically, even though it may be totally apolitical to everyone else. They cannot escape the ideological lens, so that ironically the “progressives,” as they now call themselves, are the most illiberal people on the planet. Conservatives are the true liberals, and indeed in virtually every other place in the world what Americans call conservatism is considered “liberalism.” Milton Friedman spent his life trying to rescue that term but never succeeded. Perhaps it is time to explore the true meaning of liberalism.

Meanwhile the “progressive” establishment media continues to portray the Tea Party as a kind of lunatic fringe that is irrational, extreme, etc. In fact given its focus on government spending, excess, and debt, which are undeniable facts, the Tea Party is actually tone of the most rational movements to ever come along.

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