Political culture wars: Contrasting the two major parties
By Carol Devine-Molin
A growing number of Americans are of the belief that the two major political parties are so similar, as to be considered two halves of the same derriere. This accounts for the growing trend of Americans self-identifying as Independents (40 per cent), rather than the traditional party affiliation of Democrat or Republican (now approximately 30 per cent each, down significantly from fifteen years ago). And there is indeed some truth that the parties have grown more alike over time. Both parties have members who exhibit the characteristics of the social elite in this country, an unmistakable resemblance to that of people in the news media, arts, and higher education. These elitists are known by their hypocrisy, (sexual and otherwise), condescending attitudes toward the "masses", and their narcissistic need to draw self-attention and hear themselves blow hot air. Just as gender differences appear to dissipate over time, with the natural aging process giving way to females becoming more aggressive and independent, males becoming more emotional and more adept at reading people, so too have the two major political parties grown more alike.
But on the whole, the differences between the cultures of the Democrats and the Republicans are still significant, making it worthwhile for the citizenry to closely examine. As someone who well knows the ideological and behavioral norms of the parties, acquired through in-depth study, speaking with adherents of both sides, and gaining experiential knowledge during the past ten years as a Republican activist, I thought it important to make this substantive contrast. And it's always important to remember that the liberal and conservative ideological engines drive the Democrat and Republican parties respectively.
But let me first add something else to the mix, which gives this analysis added credibility. I am a neo-conservative, an individual who considered herself a liberal as far back as a teenager in the 1960's, and throughout my college, post-graduate, and even early employment years. I had volunteered manning the phones for a number of Democrat candidates, including the ever socialist Bill Bradley. I cast my first presidential vote for Jimmy Carter. And, it was not until the late 1970's and the start of the 1980's, when I began to pay attention to the words of Ronald Reagan, that I truly began to appreciate the meaning of the conservative Republican philosophy. In fact, due to the emotional, feel good nature of self-identifying as a Democrat, basically being able to pat myself on the back and say "I really care about people, and everyone knows the Democrats are the ones who really care about people", I was not able to make the final break with the Democrats until 1984, when I formally switched parties.
We neo-conservatives know from whence we came and how we thought. That is why we understand Democrats and the liberal mindset better than most Republicans. We are now in the party of the "ankle biters" (Republicans); but we can combat the tough, almost merciless, Democrats more effectively than most Republicans, since we are "weenie kickers" at heart, just as the Democrats. That said, I can offer up my knowledge in the aforesaid context.
The Democrats clearly have the best of intentions for the greater society, as do the Republicans for that matter. The Democrats with their liberal ideology are essentially Utopian Socialists, who believe that if you give government enough authority and enough money, then government can solve any problem. I won't belabor the often-cited notion that Liberalism is almost like a religion. Suffice to say that its zealots are not dedicated to a supreme being, but to big government, which can improve the condition of mankind through tight controls, countless regulations, senseless mandates, and redistribution of wealth. But obviously, they don't see it that way. What liberal Democrats consider "fairness", societal order, and government largesse, is viewed by conservative Republicans as dictatorial, insulting ("don't treat me like an idiot!"), and confiscatory abuse via high tax rates. The Democrats have a vested interest in keeping citizens dependent upon government, and for keeping those tax dollars flowing to the government coffers, so as to enact their many government programs. It's akin to "heroin to a heroin addict", so attempting to wean the Democrats off tax dollars is an onerous undertaking. And they will resist tax dollars being cut off from the government purview in the same manner as an individual habituated to a substance or a behavior. In other words, high levels of manipulation, lying, and attacks on perceived or actual foes, are all-pervasive.
Furthermore, the liberal Democrat mindset, which for all intent and purposes has become very European Socialist in nature, has no inhibitions about utilizes the tactics of the Left, which have been well honed throughout the twentieth century. Although not openly stated, they tacitly adhere to the righteous belief that the "ends justifies the means" in order to enact a liberal agenda, which is ostensibly for the ultimate benefit of society. Therefore, in the political sphere of their lives, it is perfectly acceptable for liberal Democrats to prevaricate, obfuscate the truth, and demonize enemies in the worst possible terms, since a much greater good will be accomplished. Hence, the moniker, "the evil party" is often applied to the Democrat party.
And the sad truth is that many Democrats truly believe that Republicans are evil, selfish people, which make it easy for Democrats to engage in unsavory activity against their perceived enemy. And the Left does this brazenly, knowing that a predominately liberal media will not expose their abhorrent methods. For example, many people are now beginning to realize that the so-called "tough New York press", is in actuality another liberal bastion, and has yet to hold Hillary's feet to the fire for the purpose of demanding answers to the hard policy questions that she should be responding to as a Senate candidate. Furthermore, Democrat politicians are now often masquerading as Republicans, with talk of lowering taxes and providing smaller, more efficient government, since they are aware that the public likes to hear such talk. They will even promise huge tax decreases at the time of campaigning, but they have no fear of being scrutinized by the liberal press at a later date when the tax cut fails to materialize.
In a perverse way, we should admire the Democrats for having become the true masters of spin, manipulators of both the press and the citizenry. We need only to look at the Clinton administration and their ability to skate on all issues related to 1996 campaign fund raising irregularities, the transfer of state-of-the-art technology to China with clear military application, and the possession of over a thousand FBI files by White House operatives, to name just a few of their many transgressions. Yes, the Democrats are the wunderkinds of the art of public relations, and are able to disseminate their message, and parse words to their advantage, better than anyone. The incredibly media savvy Democrats are, in fact, some of the best propagandists that this world has ever seen. And they will tell you that up is down and down is up and likewise spin you on good and evil, in an almost "Bizarro" world as seen in the Superman comic books. And when push comes to shove, the Democrats will say "its for the children" when asking for increases in tax money. But don't you dare ask them, for fear of vicious reprisal, where the $17,000 per student (that's what it is in my school district here in Westchester, NY) went to or how it is being utilized, despite a record of diminishing academic performance of those in attendance.
You ask "How could this be possible, how could the public not realize what the Democrats have been up to?" The simple answer is that most people don't know, and don't care, since the economy has been flourishing during the past six years (actually, since the Republicans took over both houses of Congress). The other part of the answer is that approximately one third of the citizenry is aware of the aforesaid, and are largely Republican. But in deference to the "don't know, don't care" group, if the economy tanked and if their retirement accounts dried up, you would be surprised at how quickly they would become politically savvy. And this prosperity also addresses why the tax cut issue is not really resonating the way it should be, given that the total tax burden of the average citizen now exceeds 50 per cent, taking into consideration all the hidden taxes that we now pay. People are more willing to pay taxes, when the economy is strong and they are making good salaries.
The Republicans, often known as "the stupid party" have been notoriously inept, up until relatively recent times, at communicating their message through the media. Clearly, public relations and the effective use of media is not quantum physics. All anyone has to do is stay on message over a period of time, smile, and be moderately articulate. Notably, the Republicans are often afraid to engage the media since they believe that the media is liberal and out to get them. And, yes it is true, but why be stymied by this? Another difficulty has been that many in the party view the seminal message of small, efficient government with lower taxes to be so pure, so attractive, that it stands on its own without any kind of packaging to the public. This notion is sheer arrogance, especially in this day and age, when everything must be packaged and marketed to the public. That is just a fact of life.
Furthermore, Republicans, usually males, have this very strange way of engaging in brutal warfare against fellow Republicans, even if it means an ultimate loss for the party. Apparently, infighting between Republicans regarding highly nuanced positions demonstrates just how moral and principled each combatant is. Go figure. Often, even we in the party have difficulty understanding the significance of these very minor disagreements on issues. But, when it comes to those outside the party, such as the liberal media and the liberal Democrats, often these same Republicans are reluctant to demonstrate their true fighting spirit. It's a type of decorum shown to the enemy, as if to say "we are civilized, and our proper rules of engagement define who we are."
Let's face it, the majority of people who run the Republican party are older white men, who are in many ways similar, and reinforce each others behavioral code and temperament. And this is not an attack on the conservative Republican core beliefs that remain sound and enduring. But still the Republican party must broaden it's base to survive; in other words, to include more females, minorities, and young people, not only because it requires a pool of new members, but also because it needs to diversify its temperament, talents and use of tactics. The Republicans clearly could benefit from an infusion of lifeblood. On a grassroots level, I can see that it's the women who are actively seeking and acquiring more leadership responsibility in the party, an added dimension to the party, which has been very beneficial. It been my experience that the women are now more willing to engage in out-and-out warfare against the real enemy, the liberal Democrats, and who also say to the men "I expect you to go out and slay the dragon. And don't be a wussie about it."
Here in New York State, Sen. Al D'Amato was one of the first Republicans in recent history, who directly took on the liberal enemy in a tough, no holds bar manner. Everyone would say proudly, "He may be a bastard, but he is our bastard." That shows you how few real bastards there were in the Republican party, and that was a shame. We need courageous leaders, willing to be combative, advocate for our values, and effectively utilize the media. Now things are slowly changing for the better. Don't misunderstand, the Republicans are often still a gutless bunch, especially in Congress, but at least we can see signs of improvement as the party membership slowly diversifies over time. In the interim, while we build up our forces, the Republican male leadership must come to realize that it needs to fight and fight hard for our conservative core beliefs, and it must make every effort to outreach to people that have not been traditionally part of our coalition, such as the Hispanics, now the largest minority group.
Carol Devine-Molin is a Republican District Leader, a community activist, and the host of "On The Right Side", a local program sponsored by the Republicans, and seen throughout most of Westchester County, New York.
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