Friday, October 15, 2010

A Certain Conservative Delusion

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to this column on RealClearPolitics by Arnold Ahlert entitled "Why Dems are Going Down in November." It's rife with the usual right-wing internet boilerplate. (Did you know that health care reform is the "absolute epitome of ideological, public-be-damned arrogance"? I guess I was supposed to be happy with Republicans doing absolutely nothing to reform our health care system beyond passing Medicare Part D. I just love paying $322 for half an hour in a recovery room!) But there is one point in particular I wish to take issue with here. Ahlert writes:
Progressive contempt for the values and traditions which make this the greatest country on earth can no longer be disguised. An American president who "believe(s) in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism" has made it plain that this is not a great nation which needs tweaking, but a fundamentally flawed one needing a complete progressive make-over. Once one understands this basic premise, everything this administration and Democratically-controlled Congress does makes sense. All of it centers around the ridiculous premise that America owes the world an apology for any number of shortcomings, many of which can only be alleviated by government-mandated "social justice." That would be the same social justice which demanded-and still demands-that Americans manifestly unqualified to own homes be given mortgages, regardless.
What is this shit about progressive contempt for American values? What makes Ahlert think that he speaks for American values? President Obama has lived American exceptionalism; he is a product of it, a manifestation of the American Dream and the belief that any American can reach the limit of her potential, no matter how modest her beginnings. If anyone is invested in American exceptionalism, it is President Obama, not some rube who blogs for the New York Post.

For too long, conservatives have gotten away with claiming that they have some kind of monopoly on American values, when in fact it is conservative ideology that contradicts it.  Rather than insist on rules of fair play that make it possible for everyone to flourish, conservatives insist upon deregulation and its attendant anarchy which preserves the advantage the very wealthy enjoy in the "free" market. Conservatives claim that they represent family values, and yet consistently make it more and more difficult for actual families to tread water in this economy, by resisting health care reform, increases in the minimum wage, extensions of unemployment benefits in a recession, and so on.

Ahlert claims that Democrats feel the need to apologize to the world for American shortcomings. He hopes that you will infer that Democrats feel the need to apologize for America. Ahlert thus implicitly identifies America with the policies of the Republican Party during the reign of Bush II. In fact, we do need to apologize to the world for the actions of the renegade Bush II administration. But those actions were not representative of America, and to apologize for them is not to apologize for America: to apologize for them is to apologize for the actions of those brought under the influence of an insane ideology by radical terrorist Muslims and opportunistic neocon politicians.

You don't represent American ideals, Arnold: you represent a political party that will do virtually anything to regain power and make government work for corporate elites at the expense of ordinary folks like me.

Democrats will go down in November, but Ahlert is out of his mind if he thinks that it's because Republicans have a monopoly on American values.

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson