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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, August 24, 2004

 


I haven't completely absorbed the implications of this article yet (thanks to Davis X Machina for the tip) but it is fascinating and everyone should read it. This guy has the most original view of the Republican mystique I've ever read and something about it tells me he is right on the money. Frank Wilhoit, if you're out there, this one's for you:
This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really's and uh-huhs to show that they're listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

The left won't accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix "if only the people knew the Truth."

But what if the Truth is that Americans don't want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance—and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left's wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America's rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it's not so much Goering's famous "bigger lie" that works here, but the dumber the lie, the more they want to hear it repeated.

And this leads to another truth that the left still has trouble understanding: Millions of Americans, particularly white males, don't vote for what's in their so-called best interests. Thomas Frank recently attacked this riddle in his new book What's the Matter with Kansas? but he fails to answer his own question. He can't, in fact, because his is a flawed premise. Frank, who is at his best when he's just vicious, still clings to the comforting theory that Middle Americans are being duped by an evil corporate-political machine that subtly but masterfully manipulates the psychological levers of cultural backlash, implying that if average Americans were left to their own devices, they would somehow make entirely rational, enlightened choices and elect sensible New Deal Democrats every time. This puts Frank in a bind he never quite gets out of. Like all lefties, he is incapable of taking his ruthless analysis beyond a certain point.

The reason is simple. The underlying major premise of humanist-leftist ideology states that people are intrinsically sympathetic. If people are defiantly mean and craven, the humanist-left structure falters. "Why the fuck should I bother fighting for Middle Americans," they ask, "if they're just as loathsome, in their own petty way, as their exploiters, with whom they actively collaborate?"

Rather than grapple with that dilemma, the left pretends it doesn't exist. This is why they will forever struggle to understand the one overriding mystery of why so many working- and middle-class white males vote against their own best interests.

I CAN TELL YOU WHY. They do so out of spite.


I urge you to read the whole thing. It is the most entertaining piece of political analysis I've read in quite a long time. And, really, what other explanation can there be for Rush Limbaugh?





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