A Far Right Freak Out

“We lost America” according to Limbaugh

The re-election of President Obama was not unexpected.   In fact, having followed the polls and Nate Silver’s modeling of the election it played out almost as if scripted, with no surprises.    In my predictions I got only two races wrong, and I knew each was a long shot (NC for Obama, Carmona for AZ Senate).    Usually elections hold surprises, this one did not.

At least, not for those of us who believed that the pollsters knew their business and someone with Nate Silver’s track record should be taken seriously.    On the far right there was shock, indignation and collective anger and dismay.   How could this happen?   (Note: I use the term “far right” to differentiate them from average, reasonable Republicans and Romney supporters.)

Many bemoaned the fact that the country “is no longer center-right,” and talked openly about the inevitable decline of the United States.   A few on the fringes hoped for a quick decline, with talk about “going Galt” and stocking up on ammo and supplies.  Glenn Beck urged people to buy farm land, get as far from the East coast as they could so they can be around “like minded” people and keep the kids away from public schools!   The country cannot survive an Obama victory, Beck prophesied.     After the heady high of 2010 many found the results of the 2012 election simply impossible to accept.

Many on the right took these “predictions” seriously!

Two things are happening.   Some on the far right are stuck in their own parallel universe.    They read each other’s blogs, watch FOX news and listen to talk radio, creating a sense that their own view is far more widespread than it is.   Groupthink of this sort isn’t rational, it’s more like a feeling, something “in the air.”

Moreover part of groupthink is to see your opponents as less intelligent, moral or rational than yourself.   That the left is “falling for Nate Silver’s statistical mumbo jumbo” or “believing obviously skewed state polls” becomes viewed as self-evidently true.   They reinforced each other’s certainty that the left was deluded.   Some even fantasized that the left would riot and burn cities if Obama wasn’t re-elected!

Liberalism is not about dependency but opportunity

That brings me to their second error : a caricatured and completely over the top misguided view of the left.    To them the left loves big government  and has a victim mentality that rationalizes taking from the rich.    The right, in this odd perspective, represents hard working Americans who take responsibility for their success and want personal initiative rewarded.   The right is steadfast, rational, ethical, and responsible.   The left is wobbly, emotional, greedy and jealous of success.

That explains the level of intense emotion and anger on the right. They have constructed a straw man adversary who represents the worst character traits humans have:  greedy, lazy, wanting to steal from others, irrational, unethical, and jealous of success.   To them the left is a group of slack jawed moochers relying government to rob from the job creators to give them their flat screen TVs, dependent on a sinister government who trades this ‘free stuff’ for votes.   If they truly believe all that it’s understandable how righteous rage, indignation and even resignation come from this election.

The reality is that virtually no one on the  left believes people should see themselves as victims.  Indeed the key to success in life is personal initiative, a willingness to work hard, and an acceptance that each individual is responsible for their own success in life.    The only sense of entitlement  is that military service entitles veterans to basic support when they come back, and that after a life of work the elderly are entitled to a basic standard of living and health care.

Moreover, the views of the left are rooted in a sense of liberty that can be traced back to thinkers like John Stuart Mill in Great Britain.    Mill noted in mid-19th Century Great Britain leaving the market to its own devices had led to horrific results.   The economy was growing, but the workers lived in squalor, working class children weren’t educated, health care depended on wealth, and that social status at birth determined life success, not hard work and personal initiative.

John Stuart Mill is in many ways the father of modern liberalism, recognizing the positive role the state needs to take to expand liberty

Capitalism and markets are good, but we can use the state to assure that all people have true opportunity.   In trying to make sure that people aren’t condemned by status at birth to a life of grueling labor and poverty, the goal is to expand liberty.    Create real opportunities for everyone to succeed.   Make sure that hard work and initiative determine success, not simply status at birth or how much you inherit.

The left in the US embraces the notion of wealth as a reward for success.   Why are so many millionaires Democrats?   They don’t hate success or think being wealthy is bad.   Rather, the goal is to make sure that if you’re poor you still have the opportunity to become wealthy –  that the deck isn’t stacked against you.   Again, that’s an expanse of liberty, in line with American values.

The debate should be about how to work towards real opportunity without stifling economic growth and development.   What role should government programs play, and are they effective?   How do we prioritize dealing with the debt and deficit, how do we restructure our economy to fit the changes of the 21st Century?

So with all due respect to those on the far right freaking out:  chill.   It’s OK.   Democrats don’t want to overturn capitalism, create a country of dependent moochers, or punish success.   Indeed no Democratic plan would even raise tax rates close to the levels they were under Reagan.   Democrats are open to making reforms of what isn’t working, they want government programs to create opportunity for people to help themselves, not build a dependent class.

While the media covered the anti-Obama riot at the University of Mississippi, more telling was the much larger “peace rally” held to counter the anti-Obama protest

It’s emotionally satisfying to imagine the other side as more menacing and less rational than they are — the left does that to the right as well.   But ultimately Americans come together and solve problems.   Americans recognize that disagreement is an essential aspect of our system — we learn by debating differences and exploring compromise.

Ideology can be comforting – many use it as a way to try to find certainty in an uncertain world – but it’s based on delusion.   No simplified model of reality can really capture the complexity of the economic and political realities we face; rather, we have to work to solve problems and be practical and patient.    As the President noted, what unites us is far stronger than what divides us.   As Governor Romney noted in his gracious acceptance speech, it’s time to put the partisan bitterness and division behind us.   Time to get to work!

Advertisements
  1. #1 by Norbrook on November 8, 2012 - 16:48

    Considering the bogeyman conspiracy theories that have been promulgated by various of the far right, it’s not surprising that that there’s such a freak-out. Backed up by blatant racism, as well. My favorites are the posters over at Free Republic which want to become a colony of England again, or the others who are planning on moving to Canada. Because moving to countries with strict gun-control laws and national health plans gets you away from socialism, you know. 🙄

    • #2 by pino on November 8, 2012 - 23:43

      Backed up by blatant racism, as well.

      I’d bet a hundred bucks you don’t have working knowledge of the definition of racism.

      • #3 by Norbrook on November 9, 2012 - 07:53

        Hmm… you can donate your money to the Red Cross. I love sucker bets.

      • #4 by pino on November 9, 2012 - 08:18

        Hmm… you can donate your money to the Red Cross. I love sucker bets.

        I don’t think you adequately know the difference between racism and bigotry.

        Put the hundo you owe me in a savings account; your kids are gonna need the money after this disaster.

      • #5 by Norbrook on November 9, 2012 - 13:39

        don’t think you adequately know the difference between racism and bigotry.

        They’re part and parcel. Funny, how no one has ever questioned a president’s birthplace before, or his religion. That was a big thing in the Republican primaries, btw, and brought up by the candidates themselves. Prevaricating as you are just shows you’re avoiding the issue entirely.

      • #6 by pino on November 9, 2012 - 17:45

        They’re part and parcel.

        Okay, now we’ve confirmed it. I think I’ve changed my mind; you owe me a hundred dollars.

  2. #7 by thenewamericanlondoner on November 8, 2012 - 18:02

    Great post, Scott. I have trouble squaring my Republican friends who are still e-sniping at Obama with the much vaunted bipartisanship of Romney. But this does offer a strong explanation.

    Not sure about Romney’s concession speech though. I found this article both compelling and rather perceptive as far as readings of language go. Be interested to see what you think. http://www.salon.com/2012/11/07/romneys_concession_speech_was_not_gracious/

    Norbrook, I had heard Republicans were threatening to move to Australia where they have an atheist woman as their Prime Minister. I wonder if they would have got on their any better than in Canada.

  3. #8 by Jeff Fordham on November 8, 2012 - 18:08

    Scott says …..”Some on the far right are stuck in their own parallel universe. They read each other’s blogs, watch FOX news and listen to talk radio, creating a sense that their own view is far more widespread than it is. Groupthink of this sort isn’t rational, it’s more like a feeling, something “in the air.”…………..

    Brilliant…..its what I have been ranting about for the last 10 years. ITs “bad day at black rock” for the GOP and I have been thoroughly enjoying it for the last 2 days………..stunned faces from those who were rude and loud while they mocked the office of the presidency.

    When you live in your own fact free bubble……..where you are inclined to make shit up…….that old reality train can come along and run your ass over………and how they have been mauled by the truth.!!… Even over at ROARR ……..Sean had predicted a stalemate…………while I insisted that there would be a “CLEAR WINNER”…….BECAUSE THE DATA SAID SO !

    Why is a rational discussion at the data or facts getting nearly impossible with these people?

    here is another good take from the Houston Chronicle yesterday

    CONSERVATIVES vs REALITY

    http://blog.chron.com/partisangridlock/2012/11/conservatives-vs-reality/

  4. #9 by Snoring Dog Studio on November 8, 2012 - 21:10

    Thank you. A marvelous post. It’s disheartening to hear the nonsense coming out since Obama won. I would have expected more from Sen. McConnell than back to finger-pointing and blaming. What a shame. But it sounds like Boehner might actually be across the aisle or at least moving in that direction.

  5. #10 by dirtnrocksnomo on November 8, 2012 - 22:27

    Nice break down of thougt from both sides. This attitude from the right is correctly described and to be honest it pisses me off to no end. They refuse to accept the validity of ideas from anyone other than themselves. Already they are trying to somehow invalidate President Obama’s victory in order to have an excuse for not compromising. President Obama won a convincing electoral college victory and when all is said and done will probably have a popular vote margin of more than 3M. This election was a clear endorsement of Obama. Even more so when you consider republicans did not run as a viable alternative but made this election a referendum on Obama’s leadership and policies. It is well past the time that the republican party take their medicine of defeat, swallow some pride, act like adults and meet democracts half way. If not more.

    A former republican.

    • #11 by pino on November 8, 2012 - 23:53

      Nice break down of thougt from both sides

      Scott has it correct in the broad and wrong in the specific.

      The right wing IS freaking out. But where the republicans are wrong is when they say that they just weren’t “conservative enough.” They are wrong on a whole bunch of things; immigration, gay rights and the continuation of the far-right–the extreme far-right min you, position on abortion.

      Where Scott is wrong, however, is his assessment on the fiscal sides of things and the critique of the impact of the social safety-nethammock.

      The programs that we have built do NOT reward initiative. They create dependence.

      Already they are trying to somehow invalidate President Obama’s victory in order to have an excuse for not compromising. President Obama won a convincing electoral college victory and when all is said and done will probably have a popular vote margin of more than 3M. This election was a clear endorsement of Obama.

      It most certainly is not a mandate for Obama. He squeaked by in Ohio, Virginia and Florida. Lost North Carolina [I take personal responsibility for that, buy the way].

      It is well past the time that the republican party take their medicine of defeat, swallow some pride, act like adults and meet democracts half way. If not more.

      I would humbly suggest that Obama take the same advice.

      • #12 by dirtnrocksnomo on November 9, 2012 - 12:15

        Obama won with a clear electoral college advantage and roughly 3M more votes. Results in individual states aren’t that meaningful as long as we have an electoral college system. Romney was trounced in CA and the pacific northwest but I don’t think that means much either. Like it or not, Obama clearly stated throughout the campaign what he intends to do and 50+1% (even more in fact) endorsed him. I think it was a mandate for Obama.

        As to your point about goverment programs. I don’t believe they lead to dependence as you do. Yes, there are those who clearly should not benefit and game the system but that is a small slice of the population that is benefiting and they should be rightfully rooted out. Admitedly there is also the issue of keeping the programs solvent. In his acceptance speech President Obama pointed out the need to reform these programs so let’s hope that a solution can be found. A large group of elderly as well as people and children who have lost spouses and parents remain productive contributors to our society because of these very programs.

        President Obama has extended his hand to compromise on nearly every major policy decision of his admininstration only to have republicans turn their back or negotiate with an uncompromising position. The onus is on republicans to come to the table in good faith or risk alienating even more voters. I can understand that you don’t agree and that is fine we don’t have to agree. We just see things differently but politics is compromise. I will be directly impacted by some of the tax policy changes and I don’t agree with everything President Obama intends to do but as they say elections matter and the results speak for themselves.

  6. #13 by pino on November 8, 2012 - 23:41

    The re-election of President Obama was not unexpected.

    For the record, I had Obama winning. I was wrong on Wisconsin [truly a wild card upset pick that I didn’t think would come true], Florida, Virginia and Colorado.

    Some even fantasized that the left would riot and burn cities if Obama wasn’t re-elected!

    Well, that funny commercial with the old ladies threatening to burn this mother fucker down had something to do with it.

    To them the left loves big government

    This is a true fact. The left DOES love big government. See health care.

    has a victim mentality that rationalizes taking from the rich.

    Again, fact. See, “pay their fair share.” It has been demonstrated that the welathy pay far more than their fair share.

    represents hard working Americans who take responsibility for their success and want personal initiative rewarded.

    Guilty as charged. I do take responsibility for my success. I certainly don’t look to the government or my neighbor for it. And I absolutely reward personal initiative. In fact I punish irresponsible behavior and shower rewards to the responsible.

    How is this even controversial?

    Indeed the key to success in life is personal initiative, a willingness to work hard, and an acceptance that each individual is responsible for their own success in life. The only sense of entitlement is that military service entitles veterans to basic support when they come back, and that after a life of work the elderly are entitled to a basic standard of living and health care.

    And yet program after program bleeds those exact qualities out of people.

    it’s time to put the partisan bitterness and division behind us. Time to get to work!

    Let’s see how bi-partisan Obama and Reid are willing to be. Word is he is giving a speech tomorrow? Let’s see if he uses the word, “mandate.”

    • #14 by John on November 9, 2012 - 08:28

      Maybe he’ll use “political capital, and I intend to use it” like Bush. Similar popular vote, and a very narrow electoral college win. Didn’t hear anyone complain about that in 2004.
      Why do we keep bringing up Bush? Because very few on the right act like they remember him.

      • #15 by GiRRL_Earth on November 9, 2012 - 11:25

        well said!

    • #16 by Scott Erb on November 9, 2012 - 14:39

      I and most Democrats agree that programs that bleed initiative and responsibility from people should be changed. There should be real conversations about that, with compromises and reforms. I object to the demonization or the claim that somehow people want to create dependence. I don’t think anyone wants that. I accept that well intentioned programs designed to enhance opportunity may actually create dependence. That’s something that needs to be fixed, where it happens.

  7. #17 by GiRRL_Earth on November 9, 2012 - 10:34

    Great post Scott. I never realized how much hate there is in this country until this election. This country was founded by people escaping religious persecution (among other things). Its a pity we do not have the ability to resurrect the dead, that is, our founding fathers because I would love to hear what they have to say, after they’ve caught up on everything that has happened since.

    I consider myself a slightly-left of center Liberal. I work hard. I pay my taxes and I vote. I do not expect handouts, nor do I love “big government”. As for “Obama-care” f.k.a. Romney Care — well, as a resident of Mass, I resented Romney for giving me no choice but to have health insurance or be fined when I file my income taxes. However, with that said, I do feel people have a right to health care — it shouldn’t be about the haves and the have-nots. But let’s not go there…

    As for some of those right-wingers wanting to abscond to Canada — correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t Canada have a “single payer” health care system? That reason alone should scare off anyone who hates Obamacare.

    My two cents.

    • #18 by Scott Erb on November 9, 2012 - 14:37

      Exactly! My local state Rep, who is Republican, lives just a ways down the road and when we talk politics we agree on a lot. I think most Republicans and Democrats share a lot of core values, with differences in what those mean in practice. The caricatures of the left as lazy lovers of government are perhaps the most annoying part of the political discourse these days.

      Haters of Obamacare have to go to the third world to find a place without a health care system. The rest of the industrialized world has something in place, usually with more government control than Obamacare. Moreover, those systems are supported by most Conservatives everywhere — everywhere but in the US, at least.

      • #19 by GiRRL_Earth on November 9, 2012 - 15:29

        You bet! I also sent the link to this post to everyone in my office!
        That’s incredible. Clearly the extreme right needs to get educated. I’m so glad the election is over.

      • #20 by thenewamericanlondoner on November 9, 2012 - 16:40

        It’s true. One thing that no politician in the UK wants to be seen to be doing is weakening the power of the NHS and its ability to provide a good level of care to everyone, no matter how little money then have, as a basic human right. It baffles me that the NHS was founded in the wake of World War II and here are as Americans still arguing over the right to healthcare.

  8. #21 by GiRRL_Earth on November 9, 2012 - 10:52

    Reblogged this on GiRRL_Earth and commented:
    I really enjoy Scott’s blog and felt his recent post was worth sharing (read: spreading).

  9. #23 by lbwoodgate on November 9, 2012 - 16:10

    Excellent post Scott. I have tried to avoid any commentary on either side about this election simply because I am spent and ready to move “Forward” on an issue that is critical, I feel, for all of us – Climate Change. This will be my focus for the coming months.

    Yet having taken the time to read your assessment of right-wing reactions to Obama’s victory and the Democrats retaining the Senate, I find, as usual, that you have addressed the factors objectively and cogently well as anyone. 1st class stuff. Your students are lucky to have you guiding them.

  10. #24 by pino on November 9, 2012 - 17:52

    One thing that no politician in the UK wants to be seen to be doing is weakening the power of the NHS and its ability to provide a good level of care to everyone, no matter how little money then have, as a basic human right. It baffles me that the NHS was founded in the wake of World War II and here are as Americans still arguing over the right to healthcare.

    Sigh.

    You have the “right” to enter into contract with anyone that’ll have you; a doctor, insurance company or whatever.

    You do NOT have the “right to healthcare.” Because if you make that argument, that implies that you have the right to force someone to either provide that medical care or labor on behalf it. And there is no “right” to do that.

    I will grant you that a kind and compassionate nation would care for itself, and it is indeed noble to contribute to the relief of those less fortunate. But that doesn’t a “right” make.

    • #25 by thenewamericanlondoner on November 9, 2012 - 18:37

      “…the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ” And Humphreys was right. Nor is America in the majority in this ultimately selfish attitude to healthcare.

      There aren’t many in the developed world who mind paying a bit more in taxes (and it must only be a bit because America still spends significantly more per person for healthcare than most countries that provide it for free) nor does anyone think they are paying for someone else’s healthcare. If you’re paying into a system that provides everyone with guaranteed healthcare, you are investing in a better society that has one less obstacle standing in the way of individual independence and initiative.

      And if healthcare is not a right, what is it? A privilege?

  11. #26 by Alan Scott on November 9, 2012 - 18:20

    Scott ,

    First off Congratulations on you getting the election right. I had it wrong . I still believe you are wrong on the EU surviving.

    Now as far as hatred on the right , George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were hated by Liberals. I remember it well . To bemoan the hatred of President Obama by the right as something unique is very funny .The amount of projection here is staggering . But, hey you guys run the country now . I fully expect a rerun of 2009 . Not much can stop you . Enjoy the moment .

    As far as Obamacare, like everything else the devil is in the details . I expect it to work as well as Solyndra did.

    • #27 by classicliberal2 on November 9, 2012 - 23:50

      The hatred of Obama isn’t unique–it’s basically a retread of what happened with Clinton. The difference between the hate aimed at them and the hate aimed at, for example, George Bush Jr. is that Bush actually earned that hatred by what he did, whereas the seething, psychotic hatred aimed at Obama and, before him, Clinton–both center-right pols–is based on an entirely phony image manufactured by the nut right solely for the purpose of hating it. Obama the Kenyan, Muslim socialist who wants government to take over everything, bury Big Oil, institute death-panels to kill granny, has an “anti-colonial” attitude he genetically inhererited from his father, said business owners didn’t build their businesses (no less than the theme of the Republican National Convention this year), spends too much time on luxurious vacations, didn’t call the Benghazi attack an act of terror the day after it happened, and on and on and on. Virtually nothing within the right’s portrait of Obama has any basis in reality. That’s not surprising, because virtually nothing the right itself says has any basis in reality anymore.

    • #28 by Scott Erb on November 15, 2012 - 20:34

      In some post we were discussing Germany and energy. I’m not sure where that discussion was, but here is an article you might be interested in, Alan:
      http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/how_germany_is_getting_to_100_percent_renewable_energy_20121115/

  12. #29 by SShiell on November 9, 2012 - 22:30

    Erb, as with Alan, I would like to commend your prediction. You got it right, almost dead on – me, not so much.

    As regards the “hatred” shown on the right, I do not agree with their sentiments. Althought I do not agree with much Obama stands for, he is still our President and deserves congratulations for his victory and respect for the position he holds.

    But I have to say your memory and that of many of the other conmmenters is a short one. The “hatred” you speak of is not limited to the right. The hatred shown toward Reagan for the entire 8 years of his adminstration by the left is still something that does not sit well with me to this day. And I remember the inauguration of Bush the younger – I was there. He was unable to perform the traditional inaugural walk because of protesters pelting his car and convoy with debris and that was relatively tame when you then consider the treatment he received for the rest of his administration.

    I also agree with you that, in my own words, now is the time both sides should “bury the hatchet” of the recently concluded political war and come together to do the work of the people. We have far too many challenges in the near and long term to spend much time pissing around over the semantics of the word “mandate” and just get the job done.

    • #30 by Scott Erb on November 9, 2012 - 23:02

      I tried to always show respect for President Bush, even as I opposed his policies in Iraq. In fact, by his second term, when his approval ratings were tanking, he was showing real growth in the job, shifting strategy in Iraq to one that President Obama could even continue. The ability to make such a change in strategy in response to a failing policy isn’t easy. Also, President Bush was right on immigration — if he had gotten his way the GOP would be in much better shape today. I have no ill feelings for Bush.

      I also didn’t like the protests on his inauguration. Vice President Gore’s concession speech was gracious, and I wish his supporters had taken seriously Gore’s claim that once the Supreme Court decided the case, people should accept that President Bush became the legitimate winner of the election. So yes, there was the so called Bush Derangement Syndrome that mirrors Obama derangement syndrome now, you make a fair point.

      I recall a lot of opposition to Reagan’s policies, though I don’t recall the level of personal vitriol against him that you do. But every President has some intense opposition. Coming from big media figures with claims we should stock up on ammo and that the country is finished still seems to me to take it up another level.

      I think, though, Boehner is signalling a willingness to work with Obama and asking Obama to lead. How they deal with the fiscal cliff will be telling in what to expect in the coming years. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  13. #31 by Titfortat on November 10, 2012 - 07:48

    14,000,000,000,000…………….Left and Right, you got there together. It should be interesting to see when and if you get out of this one. History shows us all empires fall, it is just a matter of time. The unfortunate fact of the matter is that the whole world is in astronomical debt. Is it even possible to come back from that or does the system need to fail and something new be reborn from the harsh lessons we will learn from it?
    My take on Obama’s win is that he should be thankful that the right has too many loonie toons on social issues. I live beside you guys and those nuts even give me pause for concern.

  14. #33 by Ron Byrnes on November 10, 2012 - 18:16

    You are an excellent thinker, writer, and blogger Scott, and this is you at your very best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: