Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why Would Any Genuine American Ever be a Rightwinger?

Yesterday's B-and-F with Rightwing Reader (see comments) reminds me of something I've been meaning to blog about for some time: What makes the average American take a hard-right turn?

All of us Americans grew up breathing the same constitutional air, with the same Bill of Rights, and the same cultural stories (I use the word in its large sense)about what America stands for, didn't we?

We are the Land of the Free. We're innately suspicious of government. We originated because of governmental abuse. We don't cotton to domestic spying, which we associate with Red Square and the KGB. That stuff's for the UN-free. Americans won't tolerate it. Freedom belongs to all Americans. It's our birthright.

All men are created equal. We know "men" means "people." All Americans are created equal. Well, OK, we might not be perfect, but we'll get there eventually because of our long tradition of believing that God created us all in God's image.

We have three branches of government because we don't want a king, we know that legislators make mistakes, and we need judges to balance laws against the intent of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We have 230+ years of legal tradition about what all that means. The idea that judges shouldn't play that role is anathema. It's why we created the judiciary as equal to the executive and the legislative.

We have freedom of religion. Quakers, Catholics, Baptists, and all the rest came here partly to get away from somebody else's idea of what religion ought to be. The last thing we want is an official state religion, because we know where that goes. Besides, no real American would tolerate anybody telling him or her what to think or what to believe.

Now, all this, and much more, is bred in the bone of Americans. So what can possibly cause an American, of all people, to turn his or her back on our founding values?

And more mystifying than that, what make any American think that today's generations--unfamiliar as we are with state oppression, inexperienced as we are in the reality of a state religion, innocent as we generally are (so far) of applied star chambers, domestic detention centers, systematic domestic spying, and genuine authoritarian rule--think for a second that we are wiser than the founders? Our founders experienced all these things, and for that reason, wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that have sustained us so well all these years. Our experience, and our education, are paltry compared with theirs. It's hard to imagine that we could do better at governing than they did.

I'm all ears. What offense in the last forty years was so great that it even conceivably justifies a revolution--think a 180-degree revolution--in the meaning of America? I'd really like to know.


Right Wing Reader said...

Ok I'll bite. We obviously have very different views of what the founding fathers believed. For instance, they did not advocate for gay marriage, comprehensive welfare, social security, lack of personal responsibility, unions controlling schools, abortion, flag burning, open borders, experimentation with embryos, euthanasia, high taxes and a slew of other things. The reason I am conservative is that I believe in what they believed, staring with the right to LIFE, then liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

AvenueFog said...

First, I love your blog! Been lurking a while ;-)

I would like to take a stab at answering your question as to why any genuine American would go right-wing. At least right now, on this day in history there are many people who were raised in a religious (Christian or not) environment where a moral code is held in high importance. Because many faith-based organizations have aligned themselves with the GOP, it is viewed by many to be the guardian of our countries values.

The disconnect that is happening in your mind may be because we don't see many of the issues in the Democratic platform to be amoral, as the right wing does.

For example, a Democrat is likely to believe that welfare programs are highly moral in that it is imperative that the majority help elevate the poor. Their assumption is that once on their feet the poor will help themselves.

The right wing is likely to believe the opposite. Judgment is rampant in any fundamentalist or hardline religious group: those who are different are wrong. Therefore it is their assumption that welfare encourages people to remain poor, be wards of the state, and not help themselves. The poor in their communities often receive welfare-type assistance through their churches so state welfare is viewed as a crutch for those that are not "them" therefore they are bad.

Take that issue of abortion... if you do not believe life begins until birth, or until a fetus can survive on it's own, abortion is absolutely moral. If you believe life begins at conception, of course you would believe it to be amoral.

It's a matter of perception. I still want to believe that both the Right and Left have all our best interests in mind, and it's somewhere in the middle that is the right thing for the majority.

EC, a very liberal Democrat

PICO said...

Dear RWR and AveFog,

First, welcome, AveFog, and welcome back, RWR. Thanks for compliment of your time and attention.

I'm going to wait to comment substantively, hoping that maybe there'll be more responses. At some point, I'll answer. Thanks for your input. I hope we can all stay civil.


Morning Angel said...

1. This is not a "Christian Nation." That is a myth.

2. Espousing a "moral code" is not the domain of Christianity. Moslems also live by a moral code as do Odinists, Wiccans and Buddhists.

3. Congress, as stated in the 1st amendment of the United States, "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." That's still in effect, by the way.

4. Advocacy by Democrats is, invariably, a protection of rights and privileges that people, as citizens and human beings, should already enjoy under our constitution.

5. Pico, I believe you answered your own question in your post on June 17, one I keep permanently linked on my blog. The right has their reasons, but it has nothing to do with God and definitely nothing to do with Christ.

PICO said...

Dear Morning Angel,
Thank you for your comment, too. And thank you for reminding me of that post.

Right Wing Reader said...


Not quite right, but a pretty fair job. We don't believe welfare is immoral, but instead that it should only be a helping hand up, not a permanent lifestyle. Welfare reform, as passed by Republicans, signed by Clinton, and supported by Obama, has been pretty successful in that regard.

I don't believe people who are different are wrong. If I were that black and white, I wouldn't be on this blog.

I believe abortion is immoral, but it's not a religious conviction so much as a philosophical one.

Morning Angel,

1. 86% of this nation is Christian. Please explain the myth.

2. It IS the domain of Christianity, as well as other religions.

3. Yes but that hardly means we're not a Christian nation. Congress didn't establish that we all watch TV, but we are overwhelmingly a TV viewing nation.

4. We disagree here. Unborn babies have no rights in the Democrat platform. Children do not have school choice or the right to pray in schools in your platform. Union membership is mandatory in most states. You see us as limiting freedoms, and that's how we see you.

Right Wing Reader said...

I just noticed my response to Morning Angel's 5th point didn't post. Not sure what happened.

5. To claim that what the "right" does has nothing to do with God and nothing to do with Christ is simply preposterous and I hope you know better. Though I completely disagree with most Democrat stances regarding prayer in public places, homosexuality, aborting mostly poor and minority babies, sexual promiscuity, marriage, church attendance, and support of charity using other people's money (government) instead of their own, I would not make the claim that what you believe means you have nothing to do with God or Christ. I cannot judge your relationship with God or Christ. How is it that you can judge mine?

PICO said...

I've posted all the comments that I've received. If you've sent something that doesn't appear here, please re-send it. Any omission is inadvertent.

I don't think Morning Angel was speaking to your personal convictions. I understood her to mean the Organized Right, and to say that the Organized Right uses God for political purposes.

To ALL: I don't want us to get sidetracked with personal attacks, real or perceived. If you want to argue this point, argue about whether the Right and Left politicize God. Keep all argument at a philosophical level, please.

Ideally, let's keep the focus on interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights. That's where I don't understand conservatives today. From these documents come all my views about how we as a Body Politic ought to approach specific issues like abortion and homosexuality. My religion informs how *I* personally approach these issues.