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What do these ten ideas have in common?

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What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby jjoyce » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:11 pm

From The New Yorker's John Cassidy:

1. Gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected.
2. Private enterprise is good; public enterprise is bad.
3. God created America and gave it a special purpose.
4. Our health-care system is the best there is.
5. The Founding Fathers were saintly figures who established liberty and democracy for everyone.
6. America is the greatest country in the world.
7. Tax rates are too high.
8. America is a peace-loving nation: the reason it gets involved in so many wars is that foreigners keep attacking us.
9. Cheap energy, gasoline especially, is our birthright.
10. Everybody else wishes they were American.


Call it what you want, the upshot is the same: a failure to look reality in the eye and deal with it on a sensible, empirical basis. Which, if you think about it, pretty much defines Washington politics over the past twenty or thirty years.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby other i » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:33 pm

11. if you're talking about radical denial, you HAVE to have a point about climate change.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Bludgeon » Wed Jul 25, 2012 9:50 pm

Q:
jjoyce wrote:What do these ten ideas have in common?


A: Most are all steeped in stubbornly outdated liberal stereotypes of conservatives. Its like listening to Lutherans trying to describe Catholics: all you get is distortion. God "created" America? What, he sat down and wrote the constitution?

These "ten ideas" are also crude, condescending oversimplifications. It would be like calling environmentalists "sky worshipers" - kind of true, but they would say it's more nuanced than that. You know, where all the bad scary things that happen in the sky are the result of cosmic wrath brought on by the gods' anger at our human behavior? I don't see a difference, but if you ask the sky worshipers they will probably tell you that they prefer to be called "environmentalists." To each their own.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:12 pm

Well could these be core narratives of
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Mad Howler » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:21 pm

Well could these be core narratives of the following short list:

NRA - cause your fear serves their masters sales objectives.

The Heritage Foundation - for whatever nefarious purposes they have to confuse the public and more importantly our democracy.

People for the American Way - Just because you shouldn't feel bad about your ability to consume all you want, as a matter of fact it serves the interests of those who will shove this notion down your throat.

I could go on, but unless we get our heads around what is going on please do not expect better. Stated another way "you get more of what you accept"
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby snoqueen » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:05 am

Most are all steeped in stubbornly outdated liberal stereotypes of conservatives. Its like listening to Lutherans trying to describe Catholics: all you get is distortion. God "created" America? What, he sat down and wrote the constitution?

These "ten ideas" are also crude, condescending oversimplifications.


I think they're a distillation of the apparent basics underlying the short list of organizations Mad Howler started to assemble (and then quit, realizing it was self-evident and redundant). They might also be seen as the "fake" basics, with the real basics being more self-serving and not at all beneficial to the portion of the electorate being addressed.

If you don't acknowledge the fundamental (real, not fake) beliefs upon which those organizations operate, you're in denial. I might point out it's the same kind of denial the voter ID fans are in regarding the purposes of that law: something is being painted with pretty colors to conceal its real intents. How long until the conservative electorate catches on to the fake?

For example, the idea environmentalists are "sky worshipers" or "tree huggers" is just silly. (I actually never heard of sky worshipers before, but apparently you listen to different sources.) Maybe someone in California got photographed hugging a tree once and the right took it and ran with it, but it's hardly the purpose of environmental regulation, which is generally understood to protect the environment that sustains everybody's lives, health, and well-being but sometimes is inconvenient for companies that, say, want to dump mine tailings on the ground and let them leach into the water table.

Ridiculing sky worshipers is the fake, giving believers the opportunity to laugh at and ridicule something silly. Giving a pass to environmental depredation is the real intent.

If you truly don't understand the social purpose of environmental regulation, go drink some bad well water and come back and we can talk more.

From the article:

Some of these statements may be true. But truth or falsehood isn’t the point here: it is whether or not certain beliefs are amenable to reason. I don’t think these are...


His observation is well taken. We can't reason you guys out of these beliefs. We can't discuss them with you (a red flag right there). We can't give counterexamples that will show you how nonsensical they are. We can't discuss shades of gray or a continuum from sense to nonsense. They're like a religion, an airtight closed belief system cooked up to keep people thinking they're noble and right and being put on the defensive by, well... everybody else.

It's interesting the writer comes from another country. It's hard to see this stuff from within, same as it's hard to see how crazy your crazy family is until you move away for a while.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Bludgeon » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:29 am

Sorry, Snow, most of these ten ideas are incredibly distorted. Expanding on the old "rose colored glasses" analogy, its crucial to remember that any observer's perspective taints his/her perception. The job of that observer, if he/she wants to be respected, is to counterbalance that perspective with the realization that their own opinion needs to be accounted for during the interpretation.

A lefty might read above, "gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected," and perceive it as a clever stab at the simplicity of said "belief". Its not clever, nor poignant. Better for any partisan to resist the urge to engage in a one way argument with him/herself.

Example, I could take any ten liberal ideas, put them in a list using playful language to make a pointed statement about their ideology. When all you have to argue against the other side is your own version of their position, how hard is it to "win" a point? A person can win points all day arguing against him/herself. And so has John Cassidy "won" points in this argument between himself and [/generic conservative] in this little play at logic.

But its just kind of sad. I tend to forget that there are a lot of people lately, if not a majority, who consider such bouts of "paper championship" to be a valid form of debate. As such, I have to remind myself that - alas - perhaps the obvious slights, caricatures, misrepresentations and oversimplications escape the notice of a left wing partisan.

In a certain way (that surely evades most lefties' attention), there are more liberal ideas in the above list, than conservative ideas. Meaning that if one follows these leading statements to their sarcastic roots, they're more revealing about liberal ideology than that of the conservatives. After all they reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the one, caused by the bias of the other.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby rabble » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:06 am

I remember a survey put out by a woodworking magazine I subscribed to, in which they asked a few questions about lumbering and global warming. Best practices, verifying that woods have been harvested in a sustainable manner, things like that.

They got so much hate mail they apologized. Turns out a whole lot of woodworkers believe global warming is a hoax and responded with variations of "the next time you people mention that liberal global warming crap, cancel my subscription!"

So they stopped talking about it. And not a whole lot of people complained. I was one and I got a private response but not a public one. They weren't taking any chances.

That's a pretty damn simplistic attitude. Conservatives like simple ideas. Little itty bitty talking points.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Stebben84 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:45 pm

Bludgeon wrote:Sorry, Snow, most of these ten ideas are incredibly distorted.


So you don't agree with any of them is what you are saying.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby jjoyce » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:11 pm

Bludg is being defensive. If he had followed the link, he'd know that the columnist presents these not to be critical of the right, but to be critical of Americans. Those notions might be more common among traditional conservatives than traditional liberals, but Democratic leaders are certainly not motivated to dispel any of them.

"American exceptionalism" is not presented as debatable anymore by the right and is definitely not challenged by many on the left. Guys like Ron Johnson say it as a challenge, like if you disagree with this you're disagreeing with 1+1=2.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Bludgeon » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:39 am

Respectfully JJ, the quoted blog is very partisan. Counterpoint:

Thomas Sowell wrote:"Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours."

http://townhall.com/columnists/thomasso ... nda/page/2

Should the Swiss abolish gun ownership? Seems like they're doing pretty good with the pro gun laws that they have.

The idea of American Exceptionalism is erroneously portrayed as the concept that the United States is by inner virtue superior to other nations. That's not what it really means.

Anyway, Snow and Mad Howler make the obvious pretty clear: that these are partisan observations directed in a derogatory way at conservative ideology. British Labour politics are pretty much a mirror for American Democratic politics on everything from guns to environmentalism, Immigration and what have you. It's not a Brit's dig at America, its a progressive dig at conservatism; though neither bite would sting.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby snoqueen » Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:47 am

I was thinking this one over before coming on line, and I wondered if we might pick apart a couple of the ten items and figure out why the cons found the list so offensive and such a misstatement of their beliefs.

Let's skip the gun thing, which is possibly hopeless at the moment. Bludgeon brought up a good place to start:
The idea of American Exceptionalism is erroneously portrayed as the concept that the United States is by inner virtue superior to other nations. That's not what it really means.


Would you tell us what it really means to you, then? (seriously)

To me, it means America gets to break any rule that applies to other nations, in general. One rule would be not invading other countries, particularly countries we are not in a border dispute with. We get to invade anybody and we expect to be regarded as right in doing so.

Another rule might be cooperating with global efforts to improve the environment and reduce human actions that worsen global warming. We get to pretend accepted science is wrong or common-sense measures simply shouldn't apply to us. At the same time we ignore solutions being developed in other places that we could adopt and tinker with on a scale large enough to make a difference.

Another part of the same syndrome is believing we're superior when the data shows we plainly are not on so many measures, like health outcomes (especially by expenditure, but not entirely), educational outcomes, and measures of personal freedom (always somewhat subjective, but still thought-provoking). Should we disregard real data and hold on to our beliefs indefinitely?

In a way what we believe doesn't matter a whole lot -- people in other countries can always just laugh and go about their business -- but I think it diminishes our own ability to face our problems and look to other places to find and try out ways they've managed better.

At the same time, sometimes we cooperate. The pact negotiated between Canada and the Great Lakes states for protection of our water supply is a good example. We actually agreed to restrict certain potential uses of our shared water supply for the benefit of others, and the benefit of future people.

I would like to hear another side of all this.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Bludgeon » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:26 am

I wouldn't say I found the list to be offensive. One of the least pertinant (but most striking) differences between liberals and conservatives is that for whatever reason, liberals tend to be offended by all sorts of things, while conservatives tend not to be offended by much at all.

"Outdated", rather than "offensive", is how I would describe the list; and "misguided," "distorted," "oversimplified," "leading," and "biased."

I'm still kind of new to conservatism, though I've had three years practice since I quit the Democratic party. I'm one of the growing number of conservative atheists. I don't like much of lefty social politics but most of the conservatives I know don't object to gay marriage (not a priority but not an objection), and I'm against all forms of prohibition. So I can't tell you what the really, really religious people think about American Exceptionalism; but the truth is I've found the evangelicals to be a minority, and I've been through some pretty conservative circles now.

Anyway, in casting America as "created by God and given a special purpose", the author and JJoyce seem to impose a vision of
'natural rights' to what they perceive as conservatives' idea of American Exceptionalism. Some very bizarre Southern Baptists might think of it that way (or the author might suppose they do), but there's no valid origin for what is put forward as the 'popular idea' that America, the nation, was 'created by God'. Its just a far reaching assessment of the opposition's ideology.

You go into a rural enough area in a religious enough region and you can find somebody who thinks just about anything you can imagine. Then again you can go to 'Occupy Cleveland' and find five people who think its a good idea to buy fake bombs from the FBI and try to blow up a public bridge (this year). Shall I write a list of ten of their ideas and use it to describe the whole of liberal ideology? I'd be tempted, but I'd be wrong.

So if you want to understand contemporary conservatives' conception of American Exceptionalism, start by discarding any notions of "what we think the Baptists think."

Personally, I find the valid observations on American Exceptionalism to be points most everyone would agree on, conservative or not:

Unlike the Spanish who came west and found gold, English settlers came to North America and found dirt, cold, starvation and hardship. Early settlements never would have survived without the natives' help; but once they did survive, they eventually began to thrive. Few people found instant prosperity but through hard work, thrift and sacrifice a very productive society emerged. Unlike England where everything there was to be had was already owned and everybody poor was guaranteed to work hard for the few and stay poor for life, colonists could work off their debt in a short span of years and soon become land owners themselves.

The greatest distinction about the newly formed society was always its ability to break form from class based societies of old. Sure - class still exists. But now anybody could become rich; anybody could act on their ideas and use them to literally shape the world around them. To the extent that class structures have been softened, America has been exceptional; to the extent that we still find new ways to enforce these old barriers, America has not.

Nonetheless, a certain form of 'institutional exceptionalism' developed naturally and became tradition. It happened here because it couldn't happen anywhere else (no room). The first generations of settlers were a highly industrious people whose intellectual leaders cut their teeth on the edge of the Enlightenment at history's perfect moment to put a lot of new, profound ideas into practice - as if the perfect dreamers guided by the perfect muse found the perfect clay in these rugged New Englanders who set the precedent for all of us. The result was a societal value to empower the individual to generate social good, while working for his own prosperity. Working - not being 'given'. Because people value what they work for, they had a vested interest in the availability of this opportunity for anyone who seeks it.

Wikipedia:
"American exceptionalism is the theory that the United States is different from other countries in that it has a specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy. In this view, America's exceptionalism stems from its emergence from a revolution, becoming "the first new nation,"[1] and developing a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire."

I don't often wholly approve of Wikipedia's version of history, but that description is (in my opinion) as suitably accurate as it is far from John Cassidy's off-mark sneer. I did also enjoy (and recommend) the bit of Tocqueville's writing on the subject that I perused last year.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby TeachInPeace » Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:01 am

Bludgeon wrote:Unlike the Spanish who came west and found gold, English settlers came to North America and found dirt, cold, starvation and hardship. Early settlements never would have survived without the natives' help; but once they did survive, they eventually began to thrive. Few people found instant prosperity but through hard work, thrift and sacrifice a very productive society emerged. Unlike England where everything there was to be had was already owned and everybody poor was guaranteed to work hard for the few and stay poor for life, colonists could work off their debt in a short span of years and soon become land owners themselves.

The greatest distinction about the newly formed society was always its ability to break form from class based societies of old. Sure - class still exists. But now anybody could become rich; anybody could act on their ideas and use them to literally shape the world around them. To the extent that class structures have been softened, America has been exceptional; to the extent that we still find new ways to enforce these old barriers, America has not.

Nonetheless, a certain form of 'institutional exceptionalism' developed naturally and became tradition. It happened here because it couldn't happen anywhere else (no room). The first generations of settlers were a highly industrious people whose intellectual leaders cut their teeth on the edge of the Enlightenment at history's perfect moment to put a lot of new, profound ideas into practice - as if the perfect dreamers guided by the perfect muse found the perfect clay in these rugged New Englanders who set the precedent for all of us. The result was a societal value to empower the individual to generate social good, while working for his own prosperity. Working - not being 'given'. Because people value what they work for, they had a vested interest in the availability of this opportunity for anyone who seeks it.


Exceptional is a relative term. The exact same narrative could be given for South Africa, Belgian rule in the Congo, or the Raj in India. Colonists colonize - that's what they do, at the expense of the already present, already "highly functioning", already perfect societies that were and are here. The only reason America exists is because it was simply too far, and too large for the crowned heads of Europe to maintain control of. Try a history book that wasn't written by a white man, for a ten year old.
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Re: What do these ten ideas have in common?

Postby Bludgeon » Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:13 am

TeachInPeace wrote:Exceptional is a relative term. The exact same narrative could be given for South Africa, Belgian rule in the Congo, or the Raj in India. Colonists colonize - that's what they do, at the expense of the already present, already "highly functioning", already perfect societies that were and are here. The only reason America exists is because it was simply too far, and too large for the crowned heads of Europe to maintain control of. Try a history book that wasn't written by a white man, for a ten year old. Image


We get it - if the U.S. isn't portrayed in a negative way, you're not happy. A present:

Image

(sour apple)

(enjoy)
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