Is it just me?

I was raised a Southern Democrat in what has become a very red state. We didn’t believe in hand-outs, but trusted the idea that government was beholden to those who had fallen on hard times. We went to church, and were taught that everyone was a child of God, no matter their faith, race, status, or background. While my family has never been all that conservative, we did vote for Republicans. Besides, it always seemed that Republicans and Democrats were able to find common ground and work through their differences.

But something seems to be happening nowadays. The Southern Democrat is a dying dead breed, and I find myself getting increasingly angry about what Republicans do and say. I used to see them as a party of fiscal responsibility. Now it seems they are becoming a party that believes rich people are rich because they’re good, God-fearing people, and poor people are heathens that got what they deserve.

I mean, in what world is giving tax breaks to millionaires fiscally responsible? Do these people realize that millionaires don’t actually pay 50% in taxes? No, they find loopholes in the tax code, with the help of their lawyers and accountants that only they can afford. And this argument that taxes are crippling our economy is inane. The current tax rates are much lower than they were in the 90s, and I don’t recall the economy suffering all that much back then.

And what happened to the Tea Party/Republican election slogan of slashing budgets across the board? Instead, we’re cutting measly amounts on the backs of the poor, minorities, and women, while increasing the amount going to defense. I see people at Tea Party rallies holding up pictures of Ronald Reagan – as if he could ever get elected by these idgiots. (While we’re on the subject, could there be a worse misnomer for a political movement than “The Tea Party”? These guys really don’t have the grounds to claim “taxation without representation.”)

And what of this whole religious movement in the Republican party? When did Christianity become all about abortions and marriage? In fact, when did Christians become so close-minded that they can’t see the necessity of some abortions and the beauty in all loving relationships? Do we only care about children before they’re born? Do we no longer have compassion for women in abusive relationships, or for children with dysfunctional parents so long as their straight?

Is it just me? Have I changed that much? Has the Republican party always been this one-sided? I’d like to think I’m a fairly open-minded, middle-of-the-road individual when it comes to politics, but I can’t seem to find where that is anymore. I’m looking for the good ol’ days of American politics, but I’m wondering if that was just a fable I learned as a child.

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21 thoughts on “Is it just me?

  1. You haven't changed, just the folks around us where we grew up. Empathy has been replaced by anger and we haven't seen such a concentration of wealth since the times of Rockefeller and Carnegie, except these giants have no since of civic obligation.

  2. And what makes me upset about the religious points, and Catholics, is that all they care about is the abortion issue but not how young mothers do not have any support/help, or that people are losing their homes and jobs.

    They want to stop abortion but no one is helping women and girls who have babies they can't support (either financially or mentally/emotionally).

    They don't care about the death penalty, but they say they care about life.

    How you can even be Christian and republican is a mystery to me.

    It's just hypocrisy at its finest.

  3. great post. I have wondered the same thing many times. Though I think I have, in fact, drifted toward the liberal side of the spectrum, I really don't think the folks I grew up with had the same views as the Republicans of today.

    I know that I have very different views from my red-state peeps though. I think that gov't should be a safety net, they seem to feel that gov't just messes things up and they should not be in the business. Let the community take care of those that need help. Of course, they also are convinced that poor folks just don't want to work and take advantage of the social programs.

    But yeah, the news has been really depressing recently.

  4. Speaking as a conservative Republican, I am offended by this post, which has completely missed the point. I am primarily motivated by the desire to see old people eat cat food, while I light cigars with $100 bills.

    Jesus H. Christ. Caricature much?

    P.S. WTF do you think the “Southern Democrats” — whom you miss so much — stood for?

  5. @Neuro-conservative: So sorry to offend. I don't believe that all people who vote Republican are rich white d00ds who hate poor people. But I do think that the people they are voting for are implementing policies that hurt poor folks, minorities, and women. The cuts recommended by the latest Republican CR represent this – planned parenthood, EPA, health and human services, and education take the biggest hits. And the defense budget gets a 2% increase.

    If we're really serious about controlling debt, why not take a bigger stab at the tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans. (Don't even get off on the Small Business argument either – most small businesses would be lucky to have revenue greater than $250,000/year; far fewer show profits that exceed this amount after making payroll and paying for the lights to come on).

    BTW, the Southern Democrat I remember most fondly was my grandfather who passed 20 years ago. He didn't go to church because he thought small town Christians were small-minded and hypocritical. And he believed the poor were to be taken care of by government – ie, the people. He didn't call it redistribution of wealth, but taking care of those that society had left behind. HE stood for people that couldn't stand for themselves – the same people that have no voice in today's Tea Party “revolution”.

  6. I would be curious which parts of the House-backed GOP budget Neuro-conservative thinks should be adopted. Which massive cuts to social or environmental services should we sign into law, NC? What are you so offended by?

  7. Micro Dr.O — Thanks for your response. I would imagine that your own experiences as a practicing Christian in the sciences might help you to recognize how easy it is to paint a caricature of “the Other.”

    PLS — I especially like the parts of the budget that hurt poor people, and make our air and water dirty! Like most conservatives, it brings me great pleasure to see people suffer. As you well know, there can be no other reason why the GOP would insist on these cuts.

  8. Neuro-conservative, we are not gleefully stereotyping all republicans as sadistic selfish rich people.
    But you have to face facts. Once upon a time, a sadistic selfish rich man would have voted for republicans… and those elected republicans would then get to Washington and mostly governed sanely (not to my taste, but sanely). But now, decent self-sufficient middle class people are voting for republicans…and those elected republicans are going to washington and governing like the crazies. It doesn't matter what your personal noble motives for voting for a dude is- if that dude goes and cuts programs for old people so that they have to eat catfood.

  9. Great post. For years, my father has been ranting about how Republicans no longer care about what happens to you after your are born, just that you are born period. I recently had a discussion with a friend about this, and she confessed (though would never admit to it in church) that she would much rather a woman have an abortion if it allows her to get her life on track, get an education, and get a job, as opposed to having a child and raising it on abortion. I did find it a little sad that she feels like she has to pretend otherwise in the presence of her other friends and church, because they would be so disappointed with her.

  10. Preach it!

    For example, I totally fail to see why it makes sense to give money to NASCAR(!) but cut education, food for kids, etc. Poor people just don't have as good a lobby. Sure, cut, but cut out the stuff that doesn't hurt our future expenditures and long-term growth first. If kids don't get fed and educated, we're just going to have to spend more money jailing them later.

  11. The hardest part for me to understand has been how so many people can vote against their own best interests. How many Tea Party folks make over $250k a year that they should get all up in arms about a 3% tax increase for the welathy? How can so many low-income, conservative Republicans vote against the social programs they live on? How can the fear of becoming a “socialist” overcome the desire and need for quality healthcare in those who don't have any and can't afford it?

    I mean obviously the answer is education and understanding, but it makes me wonder HOW it got that way. The only thing I can come up with is that it's a cultural thing – especially Southern vs Northern American culture. I guess I could understand the wariness of government after it took away the Southern ability to be slaveholding, but what about the rest?

    I don't know….it boggles my mind. There is plenty of hypocrisy in the Left and among the Democrats, but it just seems so much more blatant among the Republicans. Do that many people just not see it? Or do they not care?

  12. JLK — You may wish to consider the possibility that some Republicans may actually be more educated than you, particularly about economics, and understand that governments rarely provide “quality healthcare.”

    Moreover, low-income Republicans may prefer a system in which they might work towards their goal of earning more, rather than a life of stagnation on the dole.

    Or do you think the citizens of Detroit, for example, have been effective in voting in their own economic interest for the last 50 years of Democratic mayors?

  13. The problem with prospects for young scientists in the US is structural and it's absurd to blame it on a particular congress, particularly one reacting to an electorate that is outraged by government spending.

    Laboratories, at least in biomedical sciences, rely on cheap graduate student and postdoc labor. It was never sustainable to 'train' (and I use the word loosely… exploit would be better) so many new scientists in the expectation that a significant number of them would attain jobs in academic research. It's basically a Ponzi scheme of science traineeships.

    To enable the current generation of PhDs to run laboratories with a reasonable expectation of getting a NIH funded grant (ie ~20 percent funding levels, like 5-10 years ago) the NIH budget would need to increase well beyond the 3% inflation in biomedical sciences. Some suggest 10%. So complain about the NIH losing 1.6 billion all you want, but until the administration comes up with a plan to restructure US science, the current crop of grad students and postdocs is going to be the lost generation.

    The sad thing is that this crisis has been looming for years and there have been plenty of well publicized articles bringing it to everybody's attention. But it's not in the interest of established scientists or the societies to tackle the problem.

  14. Just to feed the troll, and as a point-in-fact… most economists realize the need for government intervention in the health care sector because we understand how ADVERSE SELECTION leads to MARKET FAILURE in health insurance markets.

    Now, the type of intervention and the type of health insurance preferred may be different than what politicians come up with… but I hate it when people spread their ignorance in the name of economic theory. There's a reason there's a field of economics called Public Finance. Having taken one course in microeconomics or macroeconomics does not an economics education make.

  15. You may wish to consider the possibility that some Republicans may actually be more educated than you, particularly about economics, and understand that governments rarely provide “quality healthcare.”

    The key word here is some. Many of the people we're referring to, however, are not nearly as well educated as JLK, you, me, or many of the other commenters here. And they will continue to receive less than optimal education if the cuts in the proposed House CR become reality.

  16. I figured N-C would evade the question and try and turn it around – oldest tactic in the book if you want to hide from something unseemly.

    The proposed budget is indefensible, regardless of where you fall on the politcal spectrum unless your interests inhabit a very narrow slice where the general populace is worse off to the benefit of a very small group that all have the same phenotype. You can feign indignation all you want, but you can't hide the stink of the very clear message that budget emits.

  17. To defend N-c, I must argue that s/he is not a troll but rather a true believer. Which makes him/her an idiot of course. No offense. 🙂

    Now as to those educated economic geniuses who brought us trickle down and voo doo economics (aka spend and cut taxes), well their approach has been totally falsified over the past 30 years. Deregulation and trust the selfish interests to be beneficent, another favorite of GOPers, has likewise failed utterly, proving the lefty tragedy-of-the-commons unfortunately correct. So I'm sorry, relative education, privilege and class has little to do with this. The real common denominator here is a sociopathic degree of selfishness. And narrowness of vision, unable to look beyond arm's length.

  18. First and foremost, when I suggested that a lack of education is contributing to what I see as people failing to vote in their best interests, I did not necessarily mean education in general. I was referring more specifically to a lack of education in public policy, political philosophy, and economics. In other words, I believe there are people who vote Republican because everyone around them votes Republican, because of the ads they see on TV, and because they grew up in Republican families – NOT because they understand what their vote means or how policy may be impacted. I think many people bought into the fear-mongering surrounding the healthcare bill without ever actually reading or understanding the bill and what it hoped to accomplish in its original form. Media outlets like Fox News certainly did nothing to spread the truth and facts, as they consistently fail to do.

    But let's talk about this for a minute. Conservativism, as I understand it to be, is the belief in limited government and therefore limited taxation and government spending, a belief in the freedom to succeed or fail without government intervention or penalty, freedom of choice in all aspects of life, and a belief in upholding the constitution and all of the rights this country was founded on. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

    Now, as far as all that goes? I have NO PROBLEM with Conservative beliefs. We can debate the merits of limited government and spending, fair taxes, etc.

    Here's where you lose me. How can you uphold those ideals I laid out above and at the same time rail against gay marriage rights, abortion rights, etc.? How can you go on and on about freedoms and forget about the separation of church and state? A true conservative ideal should have nothing at all to do with religion, yet somehow it has come to also mean conservative religious beliefs that have no place in politics. That is where the hypocrisy comes into play, in my opinion. Not to mention the Republican recent history of spend, spend, spend while cutting taxes. Are you kidding me? Money has to come from somewhere – the Bush era was something akin to giving a 14 year-old with no job a credit card with no upper limit and setting them loose in the Mall of America.

    Say whatever you want, but that is NOT what conservativism is supposed to be.

    You want your freedoms, conservatives? Awesome. I'll stand behind that. But get out of my bedroom, get out of my uterus, and then we'll talk.

  19. JLK-you're confusing Republicans with Libertarians. Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) are idealogically hypocritical. Republicans want the govt. to keep their hands off their money, but control aspects of society (abortions, gay marriage, etc.). Democrats want the social freedom, but are ok with the govt taxing for the greater good. Libertarians want the govt out of it all…social and fiscal issues. I'm too much of a bleeding heart liberal still to jump all the way into the Libertarian camp, but their philosophy makes a lot of sense. I believe our founding fathers were mostly libertarian…at least in the modern definition of the movement.

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