February 15, 2005

Why I'll Never Be a Democrat
(And Always Sympathize With The GOP)

The movie Glory is on TV, and it has to be one of my favorites. It was one of the first adult movies I saw as a kid, along with a few other great ones I remember, so I feel some nostalgia about it. I love the soundtrack and the acting is absolutely superb (Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Andre Baugher, Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Jihmi Kennedy). I also enjoy the fact that, though it is undoubtedly a pro-Union movie, it is far from being all flattery.

What's interesting about it is that, for all the drama, bluster, bravado and idealism, it actually somewhat underestimates the high-minded talk of the time. From editorials in the New York Tribune to private correspondence of enlisted men, everyone spoke and thought in incredibly idealist manners. They used a very flowery language, which I find somewhat burdensome, but they focused themselves on very large and idealistic issues.

The movie, and indeed the entire war and decades-long contest between slavery and liberty, really get to me. It's why I can't be a Democrat, even though the reasoning is somewhat silly. I realize that it's anachronistic and fallacious to blame the Democrats today for the Democrats of 150 and 200 years ago - so I don't. I do, however, blame the same mentality of "poor us, poor them, everybody's out to get us, let's fuck over other peoples' rights because we're victims." Democrats still have that, and they have since Andrew Jackson. It's that populist sentiment, and the idea that "we're good because we're us" shallow nationalism.

It seems to me Democrats still have the same mentality on other issues, only redirected. Whereas before there was the idea "you're different, that's bad" they now have the idea "you're different, that's good." This extends to race and is also nearly universal as the environmentalist movement relates to American indians. It's this stupid, uneducated mindset that went from bad racism to good racism.

They assume the problem with racism is that some people are mistreated. While obviously mistreatment is a bad thing, the real problem with racism is that it's there at all. I would not appreciate being told "You have very good diction, for a brown-haired person" or "your test scores are very high, for a white boy" or "you dress very respectably, for one of German ancestry." Likewise, I would not wish to be told to be proud that some genetic process made me brown-haired or that my parents had German genes. None of those things can be a credit to me, since I did not decide any of it. I can be complimented for things out of my control, but that's not a good reflection of who I am as a person. Anyone who has watched even 15 minutes of an after-school special should know this.

Well a lot of Democrats don't get it. Celebrating group differences is absurd and ultimately divisive. In order to say "I celebrate your group difference" you have to acknowledge that there is a distinct group at all. We should not concede that point. There is no innate moral difference based on hair color, eye color or body size and there is none based on skin color. Many people, rather than even trying to embrace the idea that skin color is nothing more than itself, try to compensate for this by going into the land of positive racism. This is condescending.

Let me just say that I really don't care that my ancestors came from one place or another. It's fun to learn and joke about, but it's an irrelevant distinction. I'm just glad they left whatever European hellhole they were stuck in and successfully made it to America.

A lot of Democrats kept the racism, and now assume that, because it's a positive racism, that puts them in the clear. Rather than trying to treat people as people, they subdivide people into groups. The problem with racism is not just what evil is wrought from it, but that it exists at all. Good racism doesn't truly exist, except as a term to describe positive discrimination. Racism is wrong because it first reduces us to a few genetic traits (beyond everyone but Michael Jackson's control) and then treats us differently based upon it. We are more than our genetic traits.

This is one of my larger objections to the Democratic Party. What I find most humorous is that some Democrats, and even some academics, like to propose the idea of some mythic 'party switch' that occurred somewhere between 1865 and 1930. This is so that they can claim that the Democrats of today were the Republicans of yesteryear and assuage their consciences re: slavery. While certainly some Republicans became Democrats and some Democrats became Republicans, and a few demographics (some Dixeicrats, almost all black people) have shifted, the party ideologies are basically the same. I suppose the funny part is when the Democrats have a Jefferson-Jackson event celebrating their party's heritage as that of Jefferson and Jackson - meaning they are celebrating antebellum Democrats.

The Democrats under Jackson were supposed to be about the common man and against the rich people, Wall Street and banks. This is exactly the same sort of thing we get from Democrats today. The Democrats of today bear strong resemblance, then, to the Democrats of the 1830s - and they brag about this connection. There was no grand switch of the parties, only different groups shuffling around. Some Democrats joined the GOP to oppose slavery, and made great contributions there, but ultimately they left again by the 1870s and 1880s. In the South, demographics show that a lot of the Republican votes in the last few decades come from relocated Yankees and the affluent suburbanites.

I just can't get comfortable with the Democrats, and I think the same mindset that bred destructive racism in the 1850s breeds consdescending racism today.


Blogger abg82 said...

In the 1850s and '60s there was a divide among Republicans. There were the elites that opposed slavery on moral, ethical, religious, and historical grounds. This coincided with a more populist element that saw slavery as unfair competition for white laborers. After all, how can anyone possibly compete with FREE (or, rather, unfree) labor?

This dichotomy reminds me of the Democrats' present state. There are the elites that oppose free trade due to a larger ideology. What's interesting, though, is that the elites appeal to the more populist element within the Democrats using fear-mongering about the trade deficit, jobs going overseas, etc. "They're taking AMERICAN JOBS!"

I think that's the situation with race. The Democrat Party feels some shame and its response has been to go in the complete opposite direction - positive racism. The Democrats then appeal to the populist and self-interested elements within the party by promising a host of entitlement benefits and programs - essentially, the benevolent welfare state that the populists love oh-so-much.

February 15, 2005 10:58 PM  

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