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November 18, 2004

Less contempt; more mutual ground

Gerald Dworkin: November 18, 2004

A first step in getting our message across to those who disagree with us is to stop expressing contempt for them. Garrison Keillor made a joke recently about denying the right to vote to born-again Christians  (since their citizenship is in Heaven) .. That’s not funny.

A second step is to seek to find common ground despite higher-level fundamental disagreements. Both parties to the abortion debate can agree that it would be preferable if there were fewer abortions. So both parties can agree that better access to birth-control is desirable. Both those who advocate gun-control and those who oppose it can agree that trigger-locks and other safety devices are desirable. Both those who support affirmative action and those who oppose it can agree that primary education has to be improved and supported for minority kids. Both can agree that extensive out-reach, and the most diverse pool for hiring, entrance to law schools, etc are desirable.

Of course, this does not mean that we should be any less firm in our convictions about what is right or wrong on these issues. Nor that we should be any less energetic in trying to convince others that we are right and they are wrong. But it does mean that, at the political level, we stand a chance of building coalitions with those who disagree with us.


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Posted by: Benj

The right wing expresses plenty of contempt toward those who disagree with them, why is what you propose specially important for us? And why do you presuppose we hold them in contempt in the first place?

Posted by: Benj | Dec 7, 2004 1:03:32 AM

Posted by: Realish

I'm with Benj. They express contempt for us constantly. It is practically the biggest plank of their party platform: Dems are evil.

You think being more civil to them's going to work? Dems have been trying to be civil to them for years. For every Garrison Keillor jibe you can dig up I can cite 100 in a single day from rightie talk radio or cable news.

Let's face it. They have contempt for me. I have contempt for them. They express it. Why shouldn't I?

I know this sounds defeatist -- hell, defeatest toward the whole enterprise of this blog -- but honestly I've heard this so many times from lefties and we just get pounded over and over and over again. What's it take to convince you civility doesn't work on the modern Republican party?

Posted by: Realish | Dec 7, 2004 1:41:57 AM

Posted by: Steve

I wish Gerald Dworkin was correct, but from my dealing with fundimentalists I do not belive he is. They do not agree that improved access to birth control is an acceptable method to reduce abortions. They believe that birth control is just as bad as abortion, and now they have effectivally won the abortion battle the movement to end birth control has begun. Just look at the number of states that have recently enacted or are debating "conscience" laws that allow doctors and pharmicists to refuse to provide birth control drugs and/or information if it violates their personal moral code. Those laws are going to make birth control unavailable as a practical matter to large numbers of women in rural / exurban areas. Which is the idea behind them, don't ban outright but keep chipping away at access until the effect is the same.

Posted by: Steve | Dec 7, 2004 11:28:36 AM

Posted by: Don

I think Gerald Dworkin expresses good if worthy sentiments. And that is a place to begin. Unless you work with people you cannot get to know them and change their minds.

Writing as one of 'them', I've been trying to get people to lose the contempt for people who think and believe differently than they do.

Mr. Dworkin is wrong in one respect. Garrison Keilor's remark was funny. It may not have been helpful (by reinforcing stereotypes that leftists don't trust democracy) but it was pretty funny.

Posted by: Don | Dec 7, 2004 12:22:07 PM

Posted by: Ethesis (Stephen M)

They believe that birth control is just as bad as abortion

Pardon me, I think you are wrong. I've lived and worked with the "like minded" and have even mediated political disputes between the CC and the traditional Republicans at the county level.

I've also worked with people intimately involved with Right to Life (from which I came away unable to support the death penalty any longer. I did when I was younger, but things change).

The ones I knew did not oppose birth control, though they did fall in line with the views expressed in the Atlantic's "Dan Quayle was Right" -- which is a far different thing. Understanding that difference is the key to understanding what is going on in the programs and approaches taken.

Even those who opposed the death penalty (which is a way to refer to the strong Catholic presence) tended to accept and support birth control, just not as a primary message to young children.

Anyway, interesting to visit here, I'm back to bed, the medicine has kicked in and I'm ready to try to sleep this cold off.

Posted by: Ethesis (Stephen M) | Dec 7, 2004 3:18:55 PM

Posted by: trumpit

Sorry, I thought the joke was very funny! Humor (and a little ridicule) may be "the way" to get religious fanatics to see the folly of their ways; certainly, logic, rationality and contempt have failed miserably to get them to "see the light." Can we all just laugh.

Posted by: trumpit | Dec 7, 2004 9:24:13 PM

Posted by: dead_white_male

No, I don't agree that trigger locks and "other safety devices" are desirable. Trigger locks are not designed to protect children, but to kill gun owners.

And most so-called "safety devices" -- most of which have been tried and found wanting over the past hundred or so years -- do more harm than good. People who assume all the safety catches, switches, levers, etc., etc. always work are lulled into a false sense of security, so that they become slovenly and slack about the basic principles of safe gun handling.

"Loaded chamber indicators" *never* work as well as just dragging open the action and looking inside.

"Magazine safeties/disconnectors," which are supposed to save fools (who think just removing the magazine ("clip") unloads the gun) from their folly, render the round (cartridge) still in the chamber unusable if the operator is caught short while trying to reload, or if the fragile magazine is damaged, or lost overboard, where otherwise the gun could still be used as a single-shot weapon.

These so-called "smart guns" nearly all seem to run on batteries (always dead when needed most) or incorporate fragile computer chips or other unreliable electronics.

Let the police, especially the various armed federal police agencies, "road test" all these "safety" gizmos on *their* guns, before legislatively forcing them on the public.


Posted by: dead_white_male | Dec 8, 2004 12:18:00 AM

Posted by: pepe

Abortions, birth control, trigger locks and other safety devices....

No, there isn't agreement on these things. Both would agree fewer abortions and less violence are worthy goals.

Both also agree that the freedom to choose is valuable. But there are those on each side who are quite willing to take away that freedom to choose from those on the other side--specifically the freedom to make the choice that those on the first side view as less than moral and wouldn't choose anyhow.

That is to say, people on "the Right" who wouldn't choose abortion or birth control for themselves think limiting these options somewhat is an ok policy--they don't feel their freedom to choose is being sacrificed because it's a choice they wouldn't make for themselves anyhow.

People on "the Left" think trigger locks, waiting periods, one-gun-a-month rules are ok compromises because they won't want a gun, have no interest in keeping on at the ready against a burglar, or purchasing several guns at once as Christmas presents for family members (or for themselves because they're a collector whose paycheck this month allows them to treat themselves).

People (particularly Westerners, most particularly Americans) on both sides see their freedom to choose as a valuable resource, and get quite riled up when someone wants to take it away and spend it for them.

Many disagreements happen on these lines, where one group of people propose that the solution to an agreed-upon problem is to take that freedom to choose (or something else valuable) away from another group of people without (or seemingly without) giving up something similar themselves.

Posted by: pepe | Dec 8, 2004 3:51:43 PM

Posted by: Ethesis (Stephen M)

Many disagreements happen on these lines, where one group of people propose that the solution to an agreed-upon problem is to take that freedom to choose (or something else valuable) away from another group of people without (or seemingly without) giving up something similar themselves. is nicely said and covers an important ground of communication.

Posted by: Ethesis (Stephen M) | Dec 9, 2004 10:52:40 AM

Posted by: Jeff

Less contempt and more mutual ground is an admirable goal, but in order to make it happen you had better really LISTEN to what the other side is saying.

"Both those who advocate gun-control and those who oppose it can agree that trigger-locks and other safety devices are desirable."

How did you come up with this idea? Let me expain it in simple terms. I own one (1) trigger lock. It was purchased because the law in my state requires me to show proof that I have one, or purchase another, each time I buy a handgun. If it were not for this, it would have gone out in the garbage years ago. And I still have to root through the junk drawer for it each time I buy a gun (because I'm not willing to buy another lock).

I, and those like me, think trigger locks are not only worthless but actually dangerous on at least three levels. 1) The instill a false sense of security when they don't work on many firearms. 2) They prevent the effective use of a firearm for defense (they are too slow to remove). 3) By preventing the defensive use of firearms, they allow the anti gun arguement that guns can't or shouldn't be kept for defense.

To find common ground, you have to first actually find out what your opponants think. Not just the thoughts of those in a liberal group viewed as less liberal than you. Try listening to a conservative. Or if you can stand it without your world imploding, try a listening to a libertarian.

Posted by: Jeff | Dec 27, 2004 11:39:32 PM

Posted by: Untenured Republican

I have been inside academia for years, first as a graduate student, and then as a tenure track assistant professor of philosophy. Having one foot each in both worlds, what I can tell you all is that the contempt is certainly real, but largely rooted in illusions about what makes the other side tick, illusions that are reinforced and perpetuated by a kind of cultural apartheid--since academic philosophers seldom interact with non-academics in a serious, intellectually engaged way, they actually have no idea *what* ordinary people think except what their own politically motivated/motivating information sources tell them. The result is "politicism"--the peculiar bigotry that regards one's political opponents as not fully human. Since academic philosophers think about difficult subjects that ordinary people would not understand (and in some cases might justifiably regard as not worth understanding), this confirms and reassures the academic that other people are stupid. Of course, any sort of specialized, highly technical knowledge can produce this self-image, and I have no doubt that there have been times and places in human history when astrologers held precisely the same views of the non-initiated. After all, astrology, like analytic philosophy, is highly technical and takes years of study to master.

However, if one actually *talks* to people in settings where there is no asymmetry of power, and listen to what they say, a plausible hypothesis suggests itself. People who vote consistently Republican have core concerns and penumbral concerns, and while opinions on the penumbral concerns may often reflect a lack of critical reflection, the sociological explanation for having opinions on penumbral concerns is that one tends to want to agree with people with whom one shares core concerns. (This phenomenon is equally the case on the left.) But to truly understand the other side, one must identify the core concerns and strive to interpret them charitably.

This is purely anecdotal, but I am confident that it is right. Most people who vote Republican are people who are neither poor enough to benefit in perceptible ways from social spending programs, nor wealthy enough to not have to worry about their economic situation. If their pay stubs had a line on them with a number labeled "Marxian surplus value extracted by capitalism for profit" they would be Marxists in a heatbeat. But that is not what they see. What they see is the extent to which they are taxed. And they know intuitively that some are net tax producers and some are net tax consumers. They reason that their lives would be much more pleasant than presently if they were net tax consumers. They have relatively little difficulty determining who the net tax consumers are (e.g., since most of them are parents, they get to deal with them on a regular basis in the form of public school teachers). So when they hear political argumentation from the left, they not unreasonably tune out the argumentation, much in the same way that I hang up on telephone marketers. They hear, "Blah blah blah [here's how I will steal from you] blah blah blah [and steal from you some more] blah blah blah [all the experts agree that I should steal from you] blah blah blah [don't blame me if I steal from you] blah blah blah [others need your money more than you do, me and my political clients for example] blah blah blah." All the Republican candidate needs to do is completely *ignore* the "blah blah blah" and confirm the voter's suspicion: yup, they're just trying to bamboozle you, but you and I know better, and I won't do that to you.

That's issue number one. The second issue is that an awful lot of these very same people are *parents*. Darwin's nature has hardwired some circuitry in them that becoming a parent triggers: suddenly, self-actualization takes a backseat to my-child-actualization. I'd be willing to wager that 90% of all the villified "religious" stuff on the Right works like this. The Democrat says, "Blah blah blah [only an idiot has children] blah blah blah [who cares what happens to your children] blah blah blah [I want to get to act like a child for the rest of my life] blah blah blah." In short, almost every "cultural" issue Democrats push comes across as indifference to or contempt for ordinary people struggling to hold together their families and take care of their children. Probably actually watching your own child's birth permanently alters your perception fo abortion, for example, regardless of how reasonable and tolerant one wishes to be of the preferences of others, and while this may not change one's bottom line on choice, it does change one's perception of those militant about it. The gay marriage issue, which I confess to not fully understanding, may very well work along similar lines: everyone with children knows that marriage with children is the death of sex. But because sexual orientation issues ultimately are about the right to, or propriety of, having the kind of sex that one wants to, straight conservatives probably have a very hard time sympathizing with what on some level seems like a struggle to win the right to sexual pleasure. They're working too hard for their kids to have time for sexual pleasure.

Now if you combine these two concerns, concern with not getting ripped off, and concern about securing the enormous investment people place in their children, any Democrat who projects indifference on both these scores, regardless of the reasons offered on the specific issues in question, is ballot box poison.

If this is largely right, then Appiah is wrong in thinking that ordinary people suffer from some sort of cognitive guilt rooted in the knowledge that their religious beliefs are irrational, or a desire to be thought well of by their intellectual adversaries. Ordinary people just don't want to believe that they are getting ripped off by people who have no respect for how hard their lives are or the (largely child-centric) projects they devote themselves to. Religious commitments (which are more about identity, community, affiliation and practice than about cognition anyway) are for most people little more than a way of *expressing* moral commitments.

So if I were a political consultant to a Democratic candidate, I would say that until you can persuade voters that you respect the economic difficulties of their lives, the moral structure that they are trying to impose on themselves and communicate to their children, all policy discussions will be perceived as sophisticated rationalizations for libertinism and thievery. It is perfectly possible to overcome this: Clinton largely did. But I suspect that academics would rather feel superior and lose than reach out and win. But in my experience, people are a lot less stupid than you want to believe, nor is it terribly smart to prefer a feeling to actual success at the polls.

Notice that I have not said that Republican candidates *deserve* the trust of their voters. I'm simply explaining how they acquire it. But until Democrats learn to express effectively respect for work and childrearing, they're going to lose and keep losing. The reasons why the demos has abandoned the Democrats is that the demos doesn't believe that the Democrats care about the demos anymore. Open hostility for the cherished values of the demos suggests that the demos may actually be right.

Posted by: Untenured Republican | Jan 4, 2005 10:47:13 AM

Posted by: David Velleman

Untenured Republican: I'm sorry that you didn't use a valid email address: I tried sending you a message of thanks for this very thoughtful comment. I hope that you stick around and continue contributing.

Posted by: David Velleman | Jan 4, 2005 11:11:45 AM

Posted by: Untenured Republican

Reply to David Velleman: I didn't want to go to the trouble of using an anonymizer service (which costs money) solely for the purpose of protecting myself from exposure. I will happily participate in such discussions openly after I am tenured, some years from now. In the meantime, I am in the closet, with all that that implies. I haven't decided yet whether the function of tenure is to protect my speech later or to chill it now (I've met precious few tenured people that any university would *want* to silence). So far, it is doing an excellent job of the latter.

Posted by: Untenured Republican | Jan 9, 2005 11:30:34 AM

Posted by: Paul Shields

I want to thank Untenured for what is perhaps the most thoughtful and interesting post that I have read on this site. I also want to commend David Velleman for recognizing its value--despite its coming from the conservative side. I notice from the various maps that the urban-nonurban division seems to have been crucial in the recent election. Are there any statistics comparing urban vs. nonurban areas in regard to age, percentage of families with young children, income distribution, etc? I have sometimes wondered whether the differences between liberals and conservatives might productively be viewed as rational responses to different types of community structure. For instance, when I moved out East a few years ago, I was reminded again of the feeling of anonymity and heirarchical structure here. Both poverty and wealth seem more visible, and less ameliorated by community.

I am sorry, Untenured, that you feel the need to stay in the closet--although I would not begin to question the perceptions that have lead you to this decision. My own experience has been that many schools will accept a token conservative, especially if they are very good at what they do and they keep a sufficiently low profile. It also helps to be friendly and smile a lot. :-)

But this is a sad situation for the children (our students). They need to see genuine debate--debate that exhibits respect for intellectual differences. I was struck by one parent (on a different thread) who asked whether anyone knew of such a school for his/her daughter.

One thing this site is doing for me, David, is leading me to be more aware of which of my views are socially conservative and which are ‘libertarian’ (I am also ‘liberal’ on some issues). It strikes me that the ‘libertarian’ perspective is more vigorously defended on this blog, perhaps because there is more of a common theoretical framework with classical liberalism--the issues tend to be economic or legal ones. But I think that understanding the motivations for social conservatism might actually be more relevant to your stated mission. Unfortunately, I suspect that the ‘social’ issues are also more difficult, and would tend to degenerate more quickly into food fights. In my case, my socially conservative positions seem to be more complex--they involve a particular understanding of history, a sense of gratitude for my heritage, and judgments that I can only call aesthetic--and harder to condense into a quick post.

Posted by: Paul Shields | Jan 11, 2005 10:26:49 PM

Posted by: Paul Shields


Posted by: Paul Shields | Jan 11, 2005 11:32:39 PM

Posted by: Untenured Republican

Though part of me is appreciative of the kind comments above, I naturally have to smile as well, since I am the fly on the wall who is repeatedly privy to hearing how stupid people *like* me are from people who hold my intelligence in the highest regard (let's just say that I have a book with OxBridge UP, for what it's worth) but who don't realize that people like me include... me. I also smiled when I was told, about 3 years ago by someone I was dating, "You're such a nice person! I keep forgetting you're a Republican!" Unfortunately, such remarks do not inspire confidence in those who make them.

I don't want to seem paranoid. In today's market, you have basically one shot if that. Why take chances? And people pretty much announce what they think from the get-go. If they are, contrary to their express statements, wellsprings of tolerance, frankly, I can't afford to run the risk to find out. I'd rather star in _Europa, Europa_ for another five years than take a chance.

A couple of quick comments on substance, since it seems that that is my function here--to be some sort of possible window into the mind of the Other. One is about the war. Plenty of people on the right find the war loathesome as well. But there is something else: an awful lot of people in the economic bracket I was alluding to above deal with the cards life has dealt them by military service. I recently had the opportunity to live in a working class neighborhood, and one of the casualties from Iraq came from a neighbor three blocks away. The entire street block, all these little cinderblock factory worker houses, was festooned with yellow ribbons for months. You see, while it is absolutely legitimate to want to save American lives by opposing the war, you cannot present this as an opposition to militarization itself, because too many people, people you will *never* meet in your classrooms, especially not in your graduate seminar classrooms, *have* to serve to survive (and guess what? They're not all African-Americans either, though many are). Now do you think, if a member of your community is killed, that you want to *also* think that it was for nothing? This is what I find mind-boggling about Democratic strategy: when the war was still a subject for potential debate, you all lay down to it (well, your professional politician representatives in DC, at least) but as soon as there are sunk costs, *then* you start gingerly approaching the idea of saying the war was a mistake? I hope that you weren't planning on getting any votes from those steel mill towns that had local boys shot up in Iraq after that. And banking on the fact that there are only about 2000 parents out there who passionately want to believe that their children did not die in vain, and that that's not much of a constituency, may be a mistake. When this kid was killed, the whole damn town came out for him. This was a town that was especially hit hard economically, a town receptive to economic arguments against the administration (that's why so many of them are in the damn military!). I can't say that this was a hugely important phenomenon, but it creates some real limitations for maneuvering politically. Next time, stop the war before it starts, or else support it wholeheartedly afterwards. Death is bad, but meaningless death is worse.

The other is about religion. After reading serious, sensible people write considerately and sensitively about Islam after 9/11 (jihad is a metaphor, the extremists have hijacked what is in theory a great and peaceful tradition, claims that are not without *some* merit) one wonders what, say, Pentacostalists (who are not wedded to literalist interpretations of the Bible, btw) have to do to get treated with comparable respect and sensitivity. Plow an airplane into an office building, presumably. Of course that may mean some hard demographic choices. You cannot as readily turn out the vote with people who think that all churchgoers are idiots if you stop saying that all churchgoers are idiots to woo them.

I just recently saw the film "Waco: Rules of Engagement." Do you realize that there are slews of people out there who perceived David Koresh as basically just another Seventh Day Adventist, and that it just goes without saying that a Democratic administration would try to kill him and his children, merely because they were religious and owned guns? The facts are unimportant. If these are the perceptions, you all have some serious re-connecting to do with the folks that have them.

The message is as above: start trying to understand the people, and treat them with *respect*, and they will reward you with their confidence, or at least give your policy proposals a listen. There are two possible interpretations as to why so very many Americans have concluded that the left just does not respect ordinary people--either ordinary people are mistaken (which suggests that the left is just colossally *insensitive*--compare how you experience being told that an African-American experienced something you've said as racist--do you jump all over him for being unreasonable and oversensitive, or do you first ask if *you* have been insensitive?) or else ordinary people are right, and the left does *not* respect ordinary people.

Since I have come to have some views that are not uncommon among ordinary people, and because of my "closetedness" I have a peculiar vantage point. Speaking from what I see, I can only say: it's a whole lot of both, guys. Maybe you need to add a little "*classism* sensitivity training" to the mix? That used to come naturally. What the hell happened?

Posted by: Untenured Republican | Jan 13, 2005 7:37:56 PM

Posted by: David Velleman

Untenured: You are right that the Democrats should have opposed the war from the start. But remember that your phrase "sunk costs" is the name of a fallacy -- the fallacy of "throwing good money after bad", by persisting with a losing investment. In the case of the Vietnam War, reluctance to admit that lives had been lost in vain led people to favor continuing the war, with further pointless loss of life.

In the case of Iraq, however, your point strikes me as valid. The difference between Vietnam and Irap is that criticism of this war is has been solely backward-looking. Kerry's position was that we shouldn't have started the war but, having started it, we need to see it through. So his remarks about its having been "the wrong war at the wrong time" had no practical import for the future -- and so they alienated your neighbors to no real purpose.

Maybe Kerry's position should have been "Let's not quibble about whether we should have started the war; let's talk about how we can do a better job of finishing it." This position would have focused attention on mistakes then being made in the conduct of the war -- mistakes that could still be corrected. And it would have avoided giving the sort of offense that you describe.

Posted by: David Velleman | Jan 13, 2005 10:00:16 PM

Posted by: oliver

Untenured, you left out a third possibility: Middle and upperclass Republican's invest a lot of thought, energy and money into convincing lots of "ordinary people" that Democrats just don't understand or respect them, and in the absence of effective rhetorical countermeasures the Republicans get some folks to believe them...for a while. And while that's happening, the Republicans run over to the hard-core Dems to point out their new converts and spout the same spiel just to get our goats.

Posted by: oliver | Jan 13, 2005 10:31:28 PM

Posted by: Untenured Republican

No disagreement with David's point.

Oliver's point: I'm not sure that I left out the third possibility--at least, if my posts on the other threads are taken into account. I said on the "mutual contempt" thread, if memory serves, that I do not claim that Republicans are *entitled* to this trust (and IMHO, we are not, on many many issues). But the fact remains that there is this "absence of effective rhetorical countermeasures" as you say. My suggestion is that this absence is due to ignorance and insensitivity: not enough people in the Democratic leadership, or in the academia and thinktank strata, are in touch with the working class anymore. It is this shortcoming that I would urge, both as to diagnosis and treatment, as it were. Speaking as a former ordinary person myself :) I am too often flabbergasted by the dumb stuff that gets said.

Now to be as fair as my limited skills allow, this is not always the case. In watching "Fahrenheit 9/11" I was *very* struck by the last few minutes, with the respect for enlisted people, the "all they ask of us is..." line and the devastating conclusion, "will they ever trust us again?" *That*, IMHO, is what respect should sound like. So kudos for that. You need more of that.

My intuition, for what it's worth, is that the Dems have drifted from a genuine concern for the economically disadvantaged, to a more defensive attitude toward the coalition of recipients of benefits from prior responses to economic disadvantage, and that this is part of what has caused the "losing touch" phenomenon. For example, there are a lot of working black parents who have just *had* it with the quality of public education, and who therefore become receptive to the voucher idea. A Democrat who came out charging and said "obviously the whole local funding, local control approach has failed you, and we care. We want to federalize the funding of public K-12 radically. No longer will one group of people have advantages over another group because of class, because of what neighborhood they live in." But this sort of more aggressive line somehow gets lost; instead we get the perception that the Democrats primarily care about pleasing the teacher's unions, and ordinary black voters need not be appeased because where will they go with their votes anyway?

I think the combination of trying to hold together the existing beneficiaries in the coalition, coupled with an overemphasis on "cultural" issues to the detriment of a serious concern with economic equality, has really hurt the Democrats with working class people. It created the notorious "Reagan Democrat." Give it another decade and it will create a real political novelty: the Black "Bush Democrat."

Posted by: Untenured Republican | Jan 14, 2005 4:24:45 PM

Posted by: oliver

Pandering simplistic notions to the masses can win you a lot of supporters in a democracy, such that it can be beyond the creative capacity of the opposition campaign strategists to get a more complex argument across. That's my take on the absence of effective rhetorical countermeasures. I imagine that a lot of "working black parents who have just *had* it with the quality of public education" might benefit from a more sophisticated understanding of taxation. Or perhaps it's pragmatic of them to pursue desperate measures regarding schools, given that their overwhelming support for Democrats can't seem to keep the tax-cutting Republicans short of a majority.

Posted by: oliver | Jan 14, 2005 4:43:10 PM

Posted by: Untenured Republican

Right. "I'm not too stupid to communicate; the voters are too stupid to understand." A very appealing notion... for us Republicans! Keep going! It's working wonders for us!

Posted by: Untenured Republican | Jan 14, 2005 7:52:27 PM

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely

And no doubt pandering simplistic notions to the masses isn't at all how the Democrats ascended to power in the first place either. Right?

Posted by: D.A. Ridgely | Jan 14, 2005 7:59:21 PM

Posted by: oliver

My point was simply that popularity does not prove righteousness, and though we all know that's true and though we all can think of reasons why, for some reason popularity was being offered to me in evidence, and so in response I felt it necessary to state the obvious. If you think the shoe of simplisticity fits your personal views, you're more than welcome to wear it. But I was talking about the political messages that go out to and move the masses, not whatever the right-wing intelligencia or the plutocrats believe. Does our eloquent president accurately articulate your position regarding the motivations of Iraqi insurgents when he says they hate freedom? I wouldn't have thought so.

Posted by: oliver | Jan 14, 2005 10:00:47 PM

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