Monday, February 16, 2009

Buy Partisanship?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Here we go. Again. *sigh*

Sweet bleeding Christ on a corn-flake, what will it take for Dems to understand that there is a very important distinction between right and left?

The left believes that if both sides give a little, a compromise can be achieved that gives everyone something.

The right believes that to compromise is to abandon one’s principles.

This very basic distinction is at the core of the dynamic between Dems and Repubs, and it is why this scenario plays out the same way every single time.

This is one of the differences between the Strict Father frame and the Nurturant Parent frame, and one of the weaknesses of the Dem position. Because of a worldview that believes that all members of a society are entitled to having their position considered and figured into a final outcome - in other words, a democracy! - Democrats will attempt, as far as possible, to make room at the table for those who do not think like they do. And they believe that in doing so, the other side will reciprocate, and while no one will get all of what they want, everyone will get some of what they want.

And they’re always surprised and dismayed when they get cock-blocked and steamrolled by Republicans, who will fervently argue against what they fervently supported the previous month when their guy was on top. Witness Grampaw McPTSD calling the stimulus package “generational theft” - while the entire Bush administration was spent in allowing bloated, crooked corporations to rape and pillage the American taxpayer, leading to the collapse of the economy and saddling the next generation with the debt that the big fellas have no intention of paying themselves - privatizing profits and socializing losses. Or howling about being left out of the process by Dems, when their mantra while in the majority was “We won, you lost, so STFU”.

Well, duh.

How can the Dems expect anything different, when the worldview of the right insists that compromise means abandoning core principles?

You have to consider it from their viewpoint, which is black-and-white, good-vs-evil, right-vs-wrong. Remember that bumper sticker which said “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it”? To them, compromising with Dems is no different than negotiating with terrorists. If you truly, in your heart of hearts, believe that your cause is right, and others are wrong, why would you compromise? Would you say, “OK, terrorists, if you only kill 50 people a year instead of 500, we’ve got a deal”? No, you would not.

This is the view of the authoritarian follower, which largely skews Repub because the Repub point of view (might is right - he who has the gold makes the rules) speaks to this mindset in a way that reaches their need to be led by a strong father figure. One of the hallmarks of the conservative personality is discomfort with uncertainty and ambiguity, and a viewpoint that espouses strength, dominance and certainty is irresistible to them. These traits are diametrically opposed to questions, multiple points of view (especially ‘seeing it from the other guy’s perspective’) and admittance of uncertainty - all factors adults must deal with in a complex world.

And if you accept this premise - that those whose authority you embrace and accept are completely in the right, and those who do not believe are completely in the wrong - then compromise is not an option, is it? The corollary to this idea is that whatever is necessary to ensure the predominance of this point of view is acceptable, simply because their leaders are right. So it doesn’t matter what argument you use to achieve your objective, as long as you reach your goal. That’s why the Repubs can contradict themselves over and over with righteous wrath, a straight face, and a clear conscience.

This is also why ‘tolerance’, instead of being considered a positive value, is considered the Devil’s work. If other viewpoints are wrong, why ‘tolerate’ them?

Dems are up against this at every turn, yet they fail to recognize it for what it is. And when Dems (in power and out) attempt to placate Repubs by giving them concessions, they are seen as not only wrong, but weak as well. Remember how the Repubs repaid Bill Clinton for giving them the ‘welfare reform’ they demanded? They impeached him, because they have no respect for those they can dominate or intimidate. And that’s how they see compromise - as a weakness to be exploited.

I’m not sure that attempting to ‘buy partisanship’ by handing out goodies (the same ‘goodies’ that made us all sick) to Republicans from the cookie jar will do anything but embolden and unite them further. Bi-partisanship means one thing and one thing only to Republicans - Democrats giving up the booty. It’s like trying to quiet down a tantrum-throwing toddler by anxiously plying him with presents and candy - it only reinforces the idea that if he acts badly enough for long enough, he’ll get his way. The only thing Republicans respect is dominance, and I think that the only way Obama will be able to handle them is with a swat on the bottom and a seat in the corner.

Dems better wise up, rise up and start kicking a little ass, or the actions of Repubs during the Clinton years will seem like Democrat boot-licking by contrast.