17 October 2005

Insight Into a Republican Mind

An interesting post on Spacetropic this past Saturday. To be brief, the post is simultaneously anti-Wal-Mart and anti-anti-Wal-Mart. That is, it expresses opposition to Wal-Mart but also to those who oppose Wal-Mart.

It starts out first by putting forth the same, tired old beaten-worse-than-a-dead-horse stereotype of the left:

I picture the typical beardo-the-weirdo professorial types and tofurkey Leftists standing outside the Wal-Mart entryway, waving signs and handing pamphlets to low-income families who might be there to buy baby formula or a coat for Junior.

...the ironies are too insufferable when career university types, 19-year old students and Greens think they've got all the answers about job creation and helping the poor.

What about all lefties being wiccan homosexual abortionists?

But then Spacetropic reveals that he, too, is not exactly a Wal-Mart fan: I'm not enamored with Wal-Mart, as longtime readers know already, because of it's ability to distort markets and destroy tightly-knit communities.

According to Spacetropic (i.e. Republican) logic, only his opposition is legitimate, and any leftists who share the same opposition must be against capitalism, not Wal-Mart. They must be young fools, not wise, street-tough Republicans who've grown up and know how the world really works.

I was disappointed to read this post, but it's typical of the Republican mindset. Here is an issue which can pull together Dems and Repubs, but this Repub not only wants no part of it, he feels the need to construct a vilification based on caricatured stereotypes.

I think this post reveals an important aspect of Republican psychology: die-hard Repubs have a psychological need to define an external threat group. They need to make someone "the enemy" so they can define themselves as being the good guys.

As far as I can tell, Spacetropic is less a blog about issues & politics than it is a part of the dominant party echo chamber. Republicans are great, Democrats are evil. How enlightening.


Anonymous said...

On target, except you missed the part about Spacetropic not necessarily being a Republican or a Democrat, but a "moderate". He supports John McCain AND Hillary Clinton.

After reading his posts, I can only conclude that anyone to the left of Spacetropic is a hippie communist, while anyone to the right is a religious fanatic (although he is more charitable with his characterizations of those on the right).

Nick said...

I've really been intrigued by the debate Brendan's post set off across the blogs. Its been a good discussion.

As a centrist myself, I think Brendan raises some strong points that have yet to be refuted. However, I do think he could've spent less time casting dispersions on those who disagree with him.

Still, you come close to doing the same here. You write :

"I think this post reveals an important aspect of Republican psychology: die-hard Repubs have a psychological need to define an external threat group. They need to make someone 'the enemy' so they can define themselves as being the good guys."

First of all, Brendan is hardly a die-hard Repub, but I know you're very passionate about what letter goes after one's name-- some of us could really care less.

But second, you cast a stereotype about Republicans that's actually true of partisans on both sides. Don't tell me plenty of Democrats don't go around talking about Republicans as thoughtless, war-mongering bible thumpers motivated by some combination of fear, superstition, and greed.

Demeaning and dismissing the other side and casting yourself as an enlightened do-gooder: that's not a Republican thing, that's a human being thing.

But I really have yet to hear much on the substance of Brendan's post-- that many people shopping at Wal-Mart shop there because they can't afford Target or Wild Oats, creating all sorts of political and philosophic contradictions.

Its an interesting subject, noting that most of the globally-minded commerce going on in this country is being done by wealthier folks.

I have real problems with the left's dominant views on markets, commerce, profits, and class. They seem reactionary and simplistic, i.e. rich equals greedy and bad, poor equals noble and unfairly persecuted.

But I'd still fight a Wal-Mart being put in a city neighborhood, based on the number of small businesses with better-paying jobs it would shut down. But its hard to argue with the help it provides poor folks-- giving them lower prices on essentials than most anywhere else.

Reading "The Emerging Democratic Majority" when you get a chance. Some of thse splits in practice and philosophy could change political equations over the next couple decades.

WestEnder said...

It is correct that the characteristics I assigned to die-hard Repubs are true of die-hard Dems as well. They are true of all die-hards in general.

But the die-hard Repubs are in control of all branches of government at all levels. And when one wing of one party controls most of the public sector as well as the private sector, it's gonna get the bulk of the criticism. It's silly to expect otherwise.

I disagree that my post is comparable to Spacetropics. He took a bridge issue and made it divisive. And he did based on nothing but stereotypes and hyperbole.

The argument that Wal-Mart helps the poor is as holey as swiss cheese. Instead of building more Wal-Marts, why not reverse the exacerbating income gap (see my post on the Gini coefficient) and create a bigger middle class? This would give us less poor AND less Wal-Marts.