Apocalyptic rhetoric of religious right is playing with fire

The religious right leaders and right-wing media predicting apocalyptic scenarios if President Obama is re-elected are just playing political games.

Photo by Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner

When Robert Knight says an Obama victory will “push us over” the edge into “losing our constitutional republic,” or Matt Barber says the election is about “good vs. evil” and “may determine whether we as a nation sink or swim, live or die,” or when John Hagee says it will “bring absolute socialism,” they’re just talking out of their collective asses. They don’t really believe it.

That wild talk is just pep-rally hyperbole that they don’t really expect to come about any more than they really expected all of the horrific consequences they earlier predicted would come to pass when Vermont first allowed civil unions, or when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed.

But not everyone understands that it’s just a game. And not everyone understands that these over-the-top predictions and lies are just role-playing aspects of that game.

And when some of the people who listen to, and trust, these religious right spokespeople and right-wing media outlets hear what those folks are saying — and believe it, the consequences can be tragic:

Albert Peterson shot dead his wife and two sons hours after going to church because he dreaded the thought of Obama winning the election, a family friend has revealed.

A confidante of the family for the past 25 years has spoken to MailOnline about the strength and grace of the Peterson family, as well as the torment that plagued Albert which drove him to shoot dead his wife Kathleen and his two sons Christopher and Mathew at their suburban home [near] DC on Sunday.

A history of mental illness, the loss of a dear uncle, and a growing fear of Obama winning a second term in the White House took its toll on the mind of Mr Peterson, a wealthy defense contractor, the friend said.

The Washington Post has more.

The reckless rhetoric that this tormented man absorbed and latched onto is not directly esponsible for causing his actions. He was probably bound to latch onto something as a pretext for such destruction, and so the right-wing demagogues cannot be held directly responsible for making this man a powder-keg of violence and annihilation.

But they should take responsibility for flicking lit matches at that powder-keg.

I wonder if people like Knight, Barber and Hagee — like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Tony Perkins, David Barton, Rush Limbaugh and all the rest — ever pause after hearing stories like this and, even for a moment, contemplate the way their reckless words can lead to horrors for anyone frightened or foolish enough to take them seriously. I wonder if those folks ever lose any sleep over that.

I doubt they do. To them, it’s just a game.

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  • AnonymousSam

    In other news, Glenn Beck asserts that Eve Online, the MMO, is actually a front for the CIA.

    Why do people take this guy seriously?

  • Madhabmatics

    I hope our other popular Somethingawful guilds are fronts for government organizations. I was in “Ye Olde Goone Squade” on EQ2, I am pretty sure we were a front for the ATF.

  • AnonaMiss

    In other news, Glenn Beck asserts that Eve Online, the MMO, is actually a front for the CIA.
    To be fair, if any MMO were a front for the CIA, it would be EVE Online.

  • Carstonio

    If Jonathan Bernstein is right, the right-wing demagogues have a financial interest beyond the obvious one. They make more money when the GOP is out of power because because that makes righteous victimhood easier to sell. Bernstein doesn’t explain what the other incentives might be for the party being dysfunctional. I might say the GOP is not worth saving except that any replacement might be far worse. Writers like E.J. Dionne argue that there’s a place for a rational opposition party to the Democrats, one that urges caution in the fact of change and one that is skeptical about human nature. But I’m doubt that such a party could long avoid becoming the advocate of the perpetuation of privilege, which is what happened to the GOP in the Gilded Age, because people with privilege naturally seek to oppose change.

  • Pamela Merritt

    If a rational opposition party shows up, I’m sure they will be worth a listen.

  • Carstonio

    I agree. I would vote for a Republican if zie favored things like single-payer health care, marriage equality, more progressive taxation, stronger unions, and more protection for the environment. Whether there are such Repubicans now is another question.

  • friendly reader

     And don’t forget “not using drones to kill civilians.” Tragically, I don’t think that’s going to change regardless of who gets elected, and I don’t know what we can do to stop it.

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve resigned myself long ago to the  idea that American foreign policy will always be wretched (it has been for 200 years, why stop now?) and just vote on domestic policy. That said, what with the electoral college rendering my vote meaningless, I may try to find a third party I side more closely with for the presidential ballot. Or do a write-in.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    If a rational opposition party shows up, I’m sure they will be worth a listen.

    You mean like a left wing party?

  • Hypocee

     Welllll, things used to be a bit more complicated. Both parties were parties of privilege in the Gilded Age, and the Democratic party was the party of Southern racism.

  • Carstonio

     Good point. The difference with the Republicans is that they started out opposing slavery and (in principle) advocating citizenship rights for blacks. The party did have progressive elements for some time – my state’s Mac Mathias may have been the last prominent Republican to consider himself liberal. The Democrats ended up being an alliance of liberals, unionists and other progressives from the North and segregationists from the South until the middle part of the last century, and Woodrow Wilson was a progressive who pushed segregation.

  • Lori

     

    Writers like E.J. Dionne argue that there’s a place for a rational
    opposition party to the Democrats, one that urges caution in the fact of
    change and one that is skeptical about human nature.   

    I really wish that people, especially those who have a large public forum, would stop buying into the idea that Republicans are skeptical about human nature and Democrats are not. That’s a totally false construct and perpetuating it doesn’t help make anything about our party system better.

    I’d also really like it if financially well-off white male members of The Village would stop talking about the value of being cautious about change. Change isn’t always good and we do always need someone looking at it with a wary eye, but coming from Dionne and others like him it smacks of shallow defense of the status quo that benefits them so much.

  • Carstonio

     I don’t like that construct either. To some degree, it endorses or enables the authoritarian position that government’s chief role is keeping people in line. You’re exactly right about the status quo and the people who benefit from it.

  • http://politicsproseotherthings.blogspot.com/ Nathaniel

     Oh, there is definitely an option for a rational opposition party against the Democrats.

    One for example that opposed running our economy for the benefit of banks, was for stronger unions, single payer health care, and higher taxes on the rich.

    In other words, any rational opposition is going to come from the left.

  • Carstonio

    My hope is that if the GOP implodes and the Tea Party becomes a fringe party, then the Democrats wouldn’t feel so much pressure to cater to the middle and would be freer to broadly support progressive initiatives. Or else the progressives start their own opposition party that moves the middle further to the left. To put it brutally, this may require the simple march of time, with Obama’s biggest group of opponents – old Southern white men without college educations – dying off.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The media’s obvious complicity in aiding and abetting this kind of stuff by failing to do even basic fact checking or background checks on their talking heads and interviewees is something that should not be overlooked.

  • lightning bug

    The term that’s coming into use is “stochastic terrorism“.  Folks seem to be finally starting to notice this; it’s been going on for a long time — at least back to the John Birch Society days.  We’ll see if anybody does anything about it.

    Unfortunately, evangelicals seem to be incapable of saying “You!  Outta the tent!”.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Oh, no, they say it just fine. To anyone who says out loud that there might be occasions on which abortion might be the least wrong option, situations in which gay handholding is perhaps permissible, scenarios in which the people who say the planet is heating and the oil running out are not wholly incorrect.

  • Victor

    (((they’re just talking out of their collective asses. They don’t really believe it.)))
     
    Fred, I think that we are all playing a very scary game and even sinner vic agrees with me that we should all take a good spiritual reality laxative and go back to praying that GOD (Good Old Dad)  will give U>S (usual sinners) a good right and/or left hand here!?
     
    I hear ya! There’s no coherent sentences capable of logical and consistent speech above so maybe there really is a sinner vic? :)

    Go Figure!

     http://www.patheos.com/blogs/theanchoress/2012/09/29/court-eunuchs-of-msm-wont-tell-us-so-thank-you-bbc/#comments

    Peace

  • CrazyF

    There is already a group of people keenly aware of the costs of inflammatory speech, people who work for abortion clinics. They are a constant target for terrorism in the form of shootings, bombings and stalkings. I don’t think the right has been able to tap the same anti-kitten-burning coalition rage about Obama, but the rhetoric is still worrisome. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I agree that we need an opposition party to the Democrats, but given that the Democrats keep drifting towards the center, I rather favor a liberal opposition party myself…

  • http://mostboringradical.tumblr.com/ Lori

    Right.  The Democrats are already a party that is cautious about change.  The current Democratic Party would make a fine conservative party to work as a counterpart to a genuinely progressive party.  

    What we currently have is one moderately conservative party and one party that is a tent for every far-right ideology going today.  

  • Carstonio

    “Conservative” works as a label for the Democrats only if one assumes the word means caution or opposition regarding change, and I agree that the party should be doing much, much more to reduce privilege. What is labeled political conservatism in the US is really a defense of privilege, and while this sometimes involves opposition to change, more often it involves change in the opposite direction, or reversing change. I suppose the technical term for that is reactionary and not conservative.

    What you propose would be one party acting as an accelerator and the other (the Democrats) acting as a brake. That analogy is sometimes used in the corporate and entertainment worlds to describe the visionaries versus the bean counters. That wouldn’t be a bad alternative to what we have now, which is one party as a brake and the other seeking to drive back home in reverse, or disconnect the ignition. In the European democracies, even what they call conservatives seem to agree with the opponents that the purpose of government is for citizens to obtain things working together that they couldn’t obtain on their own. Perhaps that’s a reaction to those nations’ experience of having feudalism, just as the experience of having state religions and denominational warfare has arguably resulted in more atheism. What Americans call conservatives are really feudalists who think they’re defending Daniel Boone/John Wayne frontier individualism.

  • Tricksterson

    Ideally those are the functions of liberal and conservative.  One keeps things moving forward, the other keeps them from running off a cliff.  Unfortunately it’s currently the self proclaimed conservatives who are steering towards the cliff leaving the liberals in a role they’re not used to or comfortable with and thus not very good at.

  • Fusina

    A friend of mine from Great Britain says that our far left people are called mid-range people there. All I could think was, “Coo, we can get even further left?”

    Oh, and I realized today that my parents, both staunch GOPers, are voting for Obama. Romney said so.

  • Carstonio

    That friend’s point is not quite fair to the people on the US left whose positions line up with those of UK leftists. It’s more useful and accurate to use an objective spectrum and point out that the US has many more people who fall on the center and right portions. The US equivalent of the UK leftists do exist, they’re just far fewer in number and generally locked out of what the media laughingly bills the mainstream.

  • David Starner

     There is no such thing as an objective political spectrum, especially if we tie ourselves to this one-dimensional right-left concept. People vary all over the place, especially by place and time, and the people of 14th century England or 21st century Iran aren’t remotely on what the people of the US or of Europe consider “the objective political spectrum”. It’s like maps; there is no objective map of space, and to the extent that there could be maps of the entire universe, they would be unusable large and biased simply by the projection to 2 dimensions. Any political spectrum, particularly one that reduces the huge variety of political views to a workable number of dimensions, is one arbitrary slice out out of the political universe, with bias being introduced in flattening.

  • http://loosviews.livejournal.com BringTheNoise

     There is no such thing as an objective political spectrum, especially if
    we tie ourselves to this one-dimensional right-left concept.

    This is very true. While I’m not overly enamoured with their questionnaire, I do think that the 2-axis spectrum at PoliticalCompass.org is a good step forward, separating out the economic and authoritarian issues (as was alluded to earlier, with Stalin, etc).

  • Carstonio

    By “objective” I mean evaluating political positions according to a single standard, instead of assuming that one country’s definitions of left and right should apply everywhere. I was looking for a word that’s the opposite of “relative.”

    The premise behind my question is partly what you and David rightly point out, which is that the left-right concept is misleading. Even the two-axis concept is misleading. The problem with looking at the degree of government control of the economy as a standard is that it doesn’t get at the goals behind specific types of control. The old USSR did arguably guarantee a bare minimum standard of living, but it was just as oligarchical as pre-revolutionary France or the Jim Crow South. Libertarianism either doesn’t recognize that its type of economic liberty inevitably leads to oligarchy, or else regards this as just another example of the world being a just place.

    I don’t pretend that my standard for gauging political positions – whether these reduce privilege or perpetuate it – should be the universal one. Among other reasons, it’s natural for people to have positions that would reduce privilege in some areas and perpetuate it in other. I’m more interested in having a standard that isn’t nation-specific. Others here have rightly pointed out that the folks who are normally considered liberal in the US would be considered center-right in Europe, and we shouldn’t assume that one is right and the other wrong. A roundabout way of saying that I think standards and principles are more useful than labels.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I’ve seen political compasses with 7 axes, I think that MIGHT be enough to start modeling politics beyond the US vs THEM level.

  • Hexep

    I would love to see this.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     I have been told something similar by a British friend.  (I think the way he put is was that many Democrats would be considered too conservative to be electable in the UK.)

  • vsm

    Prior to the 2008 presidential elections, several Finnish right-wing politicians were invited to some right-wing solidarity conference hosted by the Republican Party. The delegates found it amusing, since they considered themselves politically much closer to the Democrats, and not just on foreign policy. A few weeks ago, all 200 MPs were asked whether they’d prefer Obama or Romney as the next POTUS. Three were willing to admit they’d pick Mitt.

  • aunursa

    I agree that we need an opposition party to the Democrats, but given that the Democrats keep drifting towards the center, I rather favor a liberal opposition party myself…

    The Green Party and the Peace & Freedom Party aren’t liberal enough for you?

  • EllieMurasaki

    The Green Party does not have a single US senator or representative, a single governor, a single state congresscritter. A hundred thirty-six elected officials nationwide are Green Party. A hundred thirty-six.
    The Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates were arrested two months ago, along with three other people protesting foreclosures, and I don’t think it even made the news.

    The Green Party opposes both the parties that control US government at all levels, yes. That does not mean the Green Party has anywhere near enough power to be the, or even an, opposition party.

    And the Green Party at least has name recognition. Peace and Freedom Party? I am quite well educated on current and recent US politics and political history, and I had to Google it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     Exactly.  I meant I’d like to see a party to the left of the Democrats be VIABLE.  As in, actually potentially getting elected.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, so would I. My point was aunursa seems to think that the US already has a viable leftwards party. Which, no.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Yeah, that was meant as a reply to aunursa.

    I mean, I could form the 1-person Me Party and it would be to left of the Democrats, but it wouldn’t be a viable party. :-)

  • aunursa

    So the Green Party is more in alignment with your values and goals than the Democrats.  It’s just that you want a party that can get people elected.  Do I have that correct?

    If that’s the case then your problem is not with the party; your problem is with your fellow citizens.  You (not just you specifically, but all those who share your values and goals) need to convince your fellow citizens to support the policies that you favor.  Absent that change, no party to the left of the Democrats will be viable statewide or nationwide in a winner-take-all system.  Alternately you need to change the election system so that seats are determined by proportional vote.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Thank you for the advice. We hadn’t thought of those at all. Tell us more, oh wise one.

  • aunursa

    We hadn’t thought of those at all.

    The discussion has focused on the need for a viable party more liberal than the Democrats … or that an existing party simply needs to rebrand itself.  If you (collectively) accept that your actual need is either (a) to convince your fellow citizens to support your agenda, or (b) to change the election system,  good for you. Perhaps I missed the post on this thread that indicated that anyone had considered those necessities.

  • Lori

    Why oh why must you be such a complete and total tool about everything related to politics? No one discussed why the Green and Peace & Freedom aren’t viable parties when it comes to getting votes. It’s possible to answer the question of why they don’t get more votes without being nasty to/about voters.

    But I guess that”s difficult to grasp when one supports the party that’s working overtime to simply disenfranchise people who are electorally inconvenient to them.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    It’s possible to answer the question of why they don’t get more votes without being nasty to/about voters.But I guess that”s difficult to grasp when one supports the party
    that’s working overtime to simply disenfranchise people who are
    electorally inconvenient to them.

    I think it’s broader than that: it’s often simply difficult to engage with people who support something we oppose without being nasty to or about them, regardless of the particulars of the topic.

  • aunursa

    Why oh why must you be such a complete and total tool about everything related to politics? No one discussed why the Greens and Peace & Freedom aren’t viable parties when it comes to getting votes. It’s possible to answer the question of why they don’t get more votes without being nasty to/about voters.

    I’ve read these sentences three times slowly.  And I regret that your points elude me.  Reading through the thread I see that people have discussed why the Greens aren’t able to get votes.  And if you are implying that I was nasty to or about voters in my post above, I fail to see how.

  • Lori

    I was saying that we can think that the Greens can’t get votes without thinking that the problem is with our fellow citizens (in the general sense).

  • aunursa

    I regret if I gave you the impression that I am arguing that the reason Green Party cannot get its candidates elected is due to a problem with your fellow citizens. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Since you seem to have missed my point earlier: my issue with you is that you assumed that our observing a problem and not in the same breath proposing a solution meant we had not put any thought into possible solutions, with a strong implication of we are too stupid to think of possible solutions. With or without the implication, that insults me. I doubt I’m the only one.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Exactly.  I meant I’d like to see a party to the left of the Democrats be VIABLE.  As in, actually potentially getting elected.

    Step 1:  Cripple the Republicans.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Step 1:  CrippleVanquish the Republicans.

    FTFY. They’re too dangerous to be left in a position where they can rise again.

  • Ben English

    Even if they rose again as a serious and thoughtful opposition to the Democrats instead of a frankenparty of various and sundry far-right interest groups? I mean, I’m not saying that’s likely, but it seems more likely than any sort of left-wing-but-not-off-the-deep-end party gaining traction.

  • P J Evans

    I am quite well educated on current and recent US politics and political history, and I had to Google it.

    You really have to go back to the Vietnam era, when they were the anti-war party on the far left.

  • P J Evans

    The Green Party and the Peace & Freedom Party aren’t liberal enough for you?

    My brother has been in both. He’s now registered as a D. Neither the Greens nor P&F have any real organization or any chance of winning anything in my state.

  • Marylynne1

    Did the man shoot himself too? Or just his defenseless wife and children?

  • P J Evans

     yes. Killed them, then himself.

  • hagsrus

    Check your voting staus:

    http://www.canivote.org/

  • Hexep

    I think the Green Party would have to rebrand itself in order to have some success, even at the cost of name recognition.  I have no doubt that it has detailed positions on the whole gamut of issues, and that it could form a cabinet with a complete set of portfolios, but as long as it’s the Green Party – instead of, say, the Social Democracy party or the New Liberal Party or Square and Fair party – it simply comes off, viscerally, as being single-issue.  That sort of thing can work in proportional representation systems, where the Green Party could form a coalition with the Right to Choose Party and the Union Action Party and they’d balance out that way, but there is nothing suggestive in ‘The Green Party’ that they’d have a nuanced position on, say, healthcare reform, credit regulation, or Korea.

    Granted, one could say that the Republicans are now a single-issue party to the tune of ‘cut taxes,’ but counterpoint – the Republicans are a mite shitty, and are now beginning to pay for it as the high tide of history runs over their feet like King Canute, and proposes to drag them out to see and get eaten by the sharks and barracudas of mediocrity.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     I don’t know about the US Green Party but the UK Green Party most definitely does have a full manifesto http://greenparty.org.uk/policies.html

  • EllieMurasaki
  • Hexep

    Oh, of course they do.  Nobody would last this long if they didn’t.  But if they’re ‘The Green Party,’ it follows naturally (to some) that other parties are ‘Not Green,’ which means that the difference between them is one of Green-ness.  Besides, I recall hearing that the Green Party split into two factions, and that just muddies the water if they both call themselves ‘The Green Party.’  One should try and re-position visually on a wider array of issues.  Changing a name might seem paltry, even petty, but it’s amazing how much in politics depends on presentation and image management.

    Anyway, if they aren’t accomplishing what they want now, what have they got to lose by re-branding themselves?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RAPF5V3YPOUWAZGAJ2VCQM76Q Alicia

    Granted, one could say that the Republicans are now a single-issue party to the tune of ‘cut taxes,’

    You could say that, but it wouldn’t really be true. If you look at the current record of the House Republicans elected in 2010, you’ll see that they have interests far beyond tax cuts. They care about a wide variety of issues, including blocking contraception as a mandatory part of health insurance, cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood as well as NPR and PBS, trying to repeal Obama’s health-care law. They may be stunningly incompetent screw-ups, but no one can say that they’re only bad at one thing. 

  • P J Evans

     It would help if they didn’t have a history of being bought by the GOP.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     Yeah we have a saying in Britain. The Republicans are the right wing party in America… as opposed to the Democrats – who are the other right wing party in America.

    And seriously this is true from the perspective of this side of the pond.

    The Democrats float somewhere around the left of our Tory Party (so still a ways right) and the Republicans float somewhere around the right of the same party. The only radical party of the left in England is the Greens. Scotland has the SNP who’s policies have proven to be fairly left.

    On the upside the right of our Tory Party isn’t characterised by religious fiundamentalism just extreme fiscal conservatism and classism.

  • Carstonio

    I suspect that some Democratic office-holders may be more leftist than they let on but fear alienating many voters. It’s been suggested that Obama was for marriage equality all along and that his statements over the years have been subtle hints to proponents. Biden putting the issue forward may have been a deliberate tactic.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I suspect that some Democratic office-holders may be more leftist than they let on but fear alienating many voters.

    What I care about, when hiring politicians, is their policies. If knowing what they fear allows me to predict their policies more accurately than knowing what they are “really like”, then what they fear is more important to me than what they are really like.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    On the upside the right of our Tory Party isn’t characterised by religious fiundamentalism just extreme fiscal conservatism and classism.

    Which isn’t much of an upside if you’re poor.

  • Carstonio

    What exactly defines leftism and rightism? My own impression is that the right end is focused on authoritarianism and privilege and the left end is focused on reducing privilege.

  • vsm

    That might be a workable definition in the current American context, but I don’t think you can really pin authoritarianism on either side. Left-wing authoritarianism (e.g. Stalinism) exists, as does right-wing anti-authoritarianism (e.g. Libertarianism). Using privilege as a main analytical tool is also something you’re most likely to encounter among the American Left. I doubt a member of the French Parti socialiste would describe her politics in those terms. Oh, and any European party that calls itself Liberal is almost certainly right-wing.

  • Carstonio

    What makes Stalinism left-wing or libertarianism right-wing? Is the latter definition because libertarianism preaches economic just-worldism? 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     I thought Stalinism was “left-wing” in the economic sense, since it involves (correct me if I’m wrong, smart people!) increased government control/regulation of the economy, while libertarianism is right-wing because it promotes decreased government control or deregulation of the economy. I think it’s hard to divide the left- right- axis (assuming you even think it has any value) into a sharp line like that, because you can have all those other dimensions to it, and no two people (much less two societies) can agree on a hard definition of each term.

  • Hexep

    It all began in France in the 1700s, shortly after the French Revolution.  The different estates would sit in different places relative to the President’s chair; the Second Estate (the nobility) would sit on the chair’s right side, the Third Estate (the commoners) to the left.

  • Carstonio

    Thanks for the background. I knew some of that already. My question is about the criteria for deciding where a position or ideology falls on the spectrum.

  • Hexep

    Well, we got these two estates, sitting on opposite sides of the room, and naturally they have their own interests, and their own policies, and so each one had a fairly coherent ideology to it.  As democratic systems evolved in Europe, it proceeded much the same way, with new issues as they came up being allocated to one or the other side based on how, hypothetically, each of those two groups would feel about it.

    It’s possible to ‘break’ this system, of course, by introducing elements that neither one would have an automatic position on, and of course, there are times when both of them, or at least elements of both of them, came together to cooperate (like certain regimes that arose in Europe in the 20s and 30s, hm hm…)  It was also made dramatically more complicated by the rise of the new urban aristocrat, the merchant industrialist, whose loyalties were at first uncertain – since aristocrats were often interested in war, for nationalistic or ideological reasons, but those merchant industrialists (unless they made war supplies) often weren’t.  With the rise of labor unions, though, the relationship between urban workers and rural workers solidified in response to the solidified relationship between urban and rural aristocrats (since the urban and rural workers were often at odds due to food prices – urbanites wanted them down, ruralites wanted them up).

    By and large, though, the question boiled down to, what’s in the interests of  the aristocrats?  And what’s in the interest of the commoners?  When the system started, the aristocrats had a great deal of power, so they were the proverbial breaks on the system – they were the ones who wanted things to stay the way they presently were, hence them being the ‘conservatives’ in the sense of ‘wary of change.’

    There really isn’t a rule of thumb for these things, and all things being equal it’s a poor model (as is the 2D political compass, which is better but still isn’t really ‘good’) by the best guideline I can offer is, ‘is a given policy good to aristocrats?  If so, it’s right-wing.  Otherwise, it’s left-wing.’

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What makes Stalinism left-wing or libertarianism right-wing? Is the latter definition because libertarianism preaches economic just-worldism?

    The degree of government control of the economy.

    Total: left wing authoritarianism.
    None: Right wing libertarianism.
    A fair bit: Social democracy.
    Just enough for society to function: Classic liberalism.

  • Fusina

     I don’t know about anyone else, but I am more focused on increasing privileges so that everyone can have them. (you know, the privilege to live in some sort of housing not made of cardboard or canvas, to not starve, to not have to choose between taking care of illness or staying in housing and not starving–those privileges). Oh, and being able to marry whomever one wants to marry, regardless of gender (but not species, unless they can intelligently consent). Again, this is just me. But then, I have friends who are gay, and I have friends on social security and medicare. So I have seen the damage these policies do from close up.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Um, privilege is not what people of one group have and people of another group don’t. Privilege is the gap between them. Sure, one can reduce that gap by knocking the first group down to the second group’s level, but one can also reduce it by lifting the second group up.

  • Fusina

     Ah, so not the sort that my children have been taught come with responsibility then. But yes to the lifting up of the second group.

  • The_L1985

    That’s the impression that I get, as well.  When I was a teenager, I found authoritarianism vaguely comforting, but as an adult, it terrifies me.

    However, that fits well to current events in the US, not so well to other times and places.

  • Fusina

    When I was a teenager, I found authoritarianism vaguely comforting, but as an adult, it terrifies me.

    Me too. It would be nice if someone had all the answers in nice compact book form, but no one does. Yeah, I know there are those who think they do, but they are all batshit crazy, and being someone who is an eyelash away from insanity myself, I kind of recognize crazy when I see it.

  • Ben English

    Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative… They hardly have any real value as descriptors of someone’s political positions anymore. I consider myself a pretty conservative person: I’m not enthusiastic about the legalization of drugs, I think the free market is a good idea when the proper regulations and standards are in place, and I feel that Bush’s foreign policy was more of a fuck-up in the details than in the principles.

    Yet by the standards of the current GOP, I’d be radically left wing. I find the defense and exploitation of privilege against the less-privileged disgusting. I support marriage equality, don’t want pseudoscience bullshit taught in schools or given as health advice, support the first amendment protections against government-endorsed religion, and think that our tax system is vastly too regressive and needs to be overhauled. I don’t object to a single-payer healthcare system in principle but am skeptical that it could ever get anywhere in the US, and would settle for a government option or a bit more reform under Obamacare.

    Largely because of Fox News and religious extremism, nobody can call themselves a liberal in American politics and get anywhere. The terms ‘progressive’ and ‘social justice’ have been poisoned by guys like Glenn Beck. Hell, even ‘feminism’ gets you eyerolls because radical ‘wymyn born wymyn’ feminists have become the caricature the very word evokes–which is no accident, of course.

    And of course, the rhetoric not only renders facts, words, and ideas useless for political discourse, but also triggers horrible tragedies like the man in Fred’s post. My heart breaks for that family and that church. He wasn’t even a poor man, he was described as well-off. Obama’s reelection probably wouldn’t have noticeably changed his life: maybe even improved it, got him better health care.

    But now he’s dead. His wife is dead, and his two sons are dead.

    For no good reason.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    There wasn’t an opinion poll for that, Lori.

     Also, Voter Fraud Writeup on BradBlog.

  • Lori

    There ought to be a poll about what people think of the fact that the GOP is playing both offense and defense on voter fraud.

  • http://www.facebook.com/susan.paxton.94 Susan Paxton

    What everyone continues to tiptoe around is the freakishness of the evangelical right lining up behind a man they don’t (and I don’t, for that matter) consider to be a Christian.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of which, why are people all up in arms about registered Republicans or Democrats being switched in voter fraud cases?

    Your vote in the poll booth is anonymous and free. Whether you’ve been accidentally on purpose registered as a Repub has nothing to do with ticking off the (D) names.

  • http://semperfiona.livejournal.com Semperfiona

     In some states, which party you are registered with determines which primary you can vote in.

  • Carstonio

    My state has closed primaries, so voters who aren’t Republican or Democrat can vote only for school board candidates, whose party affiliations are not listed on the ballot.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Well that hardly matters now; primaries are closed for the November elections. Granted, it’s still asshole behavior, but the way people are treating it, it’s like being Registered Republican somehow magically makes your vote at a secret ballot not actually appear in the box.

  • Lori

    I haven’t seen anyone up in arms about switching of (R) and (D) registrations, but I can think of a couple issues with it. Others have already mentioned voting in the primaries. That’s not relevant for this election, but most people don’t check their registration unless they change something (address, name after getting married or divorced, etc) so the switched folks could run into problems next cycle. There’s also the issue of which party is going to send you stuff in the mail making you aware of candidates and issues. I assume registration rolls are also used to recruit volunteers. So, it’s not the end of the world but it’s also not something that should happen on any significant scale.

    The thing I’ve seen people (justifiably) up in arms about is that the firm hired by the GOP to do registration was only registering Republican voters. They’d turn Dems away or toss their registration. That’s not only a jerk move, it’s illegal.

  • Carstonio

    I tried ISideWith.com and got these results for agreement with my own positions:

    Jill Stein (Green) – 94%
    Obama – 89%
    Rocky Anderson (Justice)  – 78%
    Gary Johnson (Libertarian) – 66%
    Virgil Goode (Constitution) – 7%
    Romney – 3%

    What does it mean that a fringe party that explicitly endorses theocracy comes slightly closer to my views than a supposedly mainstream candidate?

     


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