I'm blogging today from my sister's house in beautiful Stevensville, Montana, looking out at the Sapphire Mountains from my window as I write. It's a great opportunity to get my book done with no distractions, and I just finished the chapter on Hunters and Farmers - how there may be a genetic relationship between the outlooks of liberals and conservatives, having to do with leftover genetically-transmitted survival traits from when humans lived in hunter societies and later on, agricultural societies.
One difference I have noted (and has been backed up by research) is that conservatives are more susceptible to perceived threats than liberals are.
And we all know that the GOP has exploited this mercilessly. They are continuing to do it because - it works! Why abandon such a successful strategy?
Another trait of the authoritarian follower personality, according to Dr. Altemeyer, is the tendency to be aggressive towards the opponents of the leadership that they follow. Lord knows the Repubs have been relentlessly and aggressively attacking Dems, whether they were in the minority or majority. And Dems have been sitting there and taking it.
Is this giving credence to the Republican assertion that Democrats are 'weak on terror'?
After all, if we (as the majority, mind you) can't even stand up to terrorizing by Republicans, how can we expect Americans to believe we will be strong on security? Now that the shoe is finally on the other foot, the Republicans are doing exactly what they excoriated Dems for doing while we were in the minority! And instead of pointing this out, and instead of using our majority to push through legislation that we believe in by forcing the President to veto it, and sending it back again and again, we capitulate! We give away our power voluntarily!
No wonder the public has a hard time taking Democrats seriously.
As liberals, we are community builders, and we aim for consensus and compromise so that everyone gets something. And our ability to empathize makes us loath to assert that our way is the only way.
But, unfortunately, the Repubs have no such scruples. They do believe that their way is the only way, and they are willing to go to the mat for it. And Democrats are paying the price for refusing to answer the challenge.
Haven't we learned our lesson yet? Don't we understand that 'giving in' to Bush in hopes that it will be reciprocal only screams 'weakness'? Compromise is not in his vocabulary (way too many letters!), nor is 'bipartisanship' (ditto!) - it only means 'do what I say'. Bush's way is "Let's compromise - I'll do what I want, and you go f*** yourself!" How is it that Dems are not understanding this?
When Tom ‘The Hammer’ DeLay was Speaker of the House, he got Republican votes in line by bribing and threatening – using his K Street influence to support those members who agreed to vote his way, and threatening non-compliant members with supporting and funding a challenger to their seat. He created order and obedience by fear. Is this the only way to get party unity? Dems have got to step up, or we will continue to get stepped on. We're not bringing 'knives to a gun fight' - we're bringing overcooked linguine.
It is more urgent and important to Repubs than to Dems that they get their way, because the rank and file really believe that "Islamofascists are coming to get us." The 'leadership' knows better, but it's the sure-fire way to get everything they want. It's their trump card, and they play it like Diamond Jim Brady every time. Logic is trumped by fear, so conservatives will buy any lie or exaggeration and take it to heart, because that's how they're built. And since we don't feel the urgency of believing that they're right around the corner getting ready to follow us here to blow us up, we don't have the need to crush anyone who stands in the way of our 'safety'.
But we should be afraid - not of Republicans; not of 'Islamofascists' (after all , our long-time Cold War enemy the Soviet Union - which was much more of a threat than Iran could ever be - had nukes and we didn't attack them), but of losing our rights and civil liberties. And we need to be as willing to fight to keep them as the Repubs are willing to fight to get rid of them. We need to be as willing to fight for peace as the Repubs are willing to fight for war. We need to be as willing to fight for the well-being of the little guy as the Repubs are willing to fight for the well-being of the wealthy and the big corporations.
Dems 'weak on terror'? Apparently so, when they're terrorized by Republicans.