Thursday, July 24, 2014

On "Othering" Allies

Programing note: This blog is about two months old. In that period, I've often felt I was a lone voice crying in the wilderness. However, as of now, there's two voices crying in the wilderness. Please join me in welcoming Archer, a man with definitely a lot to say!

I had originally hoped that my first post here would be lighter and/or more humorous, but inspiration is a funny thing, and we have to work with what we're given.  So here goes.

We hear constantly - in the mainstream media, in online and face-to-face discussions, everywhere about "The Left" and "The Right," and what each side wants.  And we hear each side demonizing and ridiculing the opposing side in a desperate race-to-the-bottom to out "Other" the opposition.

It makes my brain do a fingernails-on-a-blackboard cringe.

"But, wait" - in the words of the late Billy Mays “there's more!"  Not only does The Left try to portray The Right as the "Other" - and vice versa - but The Right tries and generally succeeds at doing it to themselves.

Perhaps these Gallup poll findings should come as no surprise; the number of claimed Independents is at nearly unprecedented levels, as both the "major" parties succeed in alienating the fence-sitting moderates.

And that brings us around to the topic of this post, and the unexpected events that inspired it.

We were at our County Fair recently, and stopped by the local Republican Party kiosk to chat with the folks working the tent.  Oregon recently held its primary elections, and the strongest Republican contenders were Tea-Party-favorite and Oregon-Firearms-Federation endorsed Jason Conger and GOP-establishment-darling Dr. Monica Wehby -- Wehby won on an entirely anti-Affordable-Care-Act campaign and will face our current sitting Democratic Senator in November.

What surprised me, though, was how incensed the people at the tent got when we hit the topic of who would have been a better candidate, based on their respective platforms.  Everyone working the tent seemed to reflexively oppose Conger and support Wehby, even though nobody could seem to agree where either candidate stood on any non-ACA issue.

(Don't get me wrong, I'd like the ACA repealed as much as the next person, but there are other issues I care about, too.  As you might have noticed, this is a gun blog, and Jason Conger is strongly pro-gun; Wehby hasn't formally taken any position on firearms, but her affiliations in the Portland-area ["gun-control"-central in Oregon] and her active membership/support of the AMA [which sees guns as a "public health issue"] make her views somewhat suspect.)

My final remark before we left the tent was this: "The fact that we're even having a discussion like this means a lot of the message is being lost."  And it is, to our detriment.  Conger -- like most primary challengers -- had already been successfully "Othered" by the GOP establishment long before any primary ballots were cast.

Circular Firing Squad
And that, I think, is why the GOP doesn't seem to win any big elections outside their strongholds.  The Left comes in two main varieties -- we'll call them "Liberal" and "Progressive" -- which march in ideological lock-step, differing mostly in degree and method.  The Right, on the other hand, is more like Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors -- moderates, big-L and small-l libertarians, Constitutionalists, Tea Partiers, generic "conservatives," and the Liberal-Lite variety known as "RINOs" (did I miss anyone?) -- and the differences are anything but subtle.  Like a double-scoop of orange sherbert and mint chocolate chip, yeah, we'll mix, but it'll leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Why would we do this?  Why would we waste so much political and monetary capital fighting amongst ourselves that there's nothing left for the main event?

It's no longer any wonder that every election feels like choosing the lesser of two evils.  It's even less wonder why more Independents lean toward Democratic principles.  The Left presents both a unified front and a synchronized message; The Right is too divided against itself to do either.

1 comment:

  1. I've noted that Conservative Republicans are typically concerned with principals, while Progressive Democrats are focused on power. The Dems will build a broad coalition, which marches lock-step to power and the spoils.Their goals are short-term, so the contradictory nature of their cadre doesn't matter. Every one gets their laws, benefits and money, ignoring the long term impacts.

    Conservatives tend to be concerned about the longer term, so principles and proposed solutions predominate. As does internecine warfare.