Thoughts on "The Other"

Over at Montana Netroots, there are a couple of decent discussions going on (here and here) about why 'left-wing bloggers' post more or differently than 'right-wing bloggers.'

In these posts, various comments make various statements about the "other" side. Can it really all be summed up so neatly, or do comments like these tell us more about the author than the other?

"If you can look at our landscape, see miles and miles of right wing trash, with every small town having its own Rush Limbaugh, with people silently boiling inside as they are filled with hate." I know an awful lot of people who listen to talk radio. I am not sure who is doing more "boiling" though, those who listen to talk radio or the guy who wrote those words describing their hatred.

Part of the problem, too, is in the language. A great example is the overuse of the word hatred. Someone who states a policy preference against gay marriage is said to "hate" gays. Likewise someone who disagrees with the political proposition of affirmative action will occasionally be said to "hate" blacks.

How about these "tendencies" on the part of liberals? According to the writer, the average liberal "believes in helping the weak in a relatively unconditional fashion, is willing to sacrifice personally to support the whole, and is concerned with the abuse of authority." With due respect to the author of those words, I think he is wrong on two fronts.

First, his tendencies could be said to be spin. Let's rephrase his comments from a different point of view: The average liberal believes in using financial incentives to encourage poor choices by individuals, believes that all of society (or at least a majority) should band together and take property from individuals in order to support their desire to use financial incentives to encourage poor choices, is concerned with the abuse of authority by those with whom he disagrees politically, and feels he has or should have the right to ignore rules and order imposed by those with whom he disagrees politically.

Are my statements true? Probably not; they're spin. But people, get over yourselves. There are many fine people I disagree with politically. But please, let's stop trying to equate our political beliefs with moral superiority.

Which leads me to the second problem I have. This type of talk necessarily implies that the other point of view lacks the righteousness of the person doing the talking. I am frankly tired of being called greedy by people who donate no more time or money to charity than I do. I am sick of being lectured about paying my taxes by people whose annual income is less than what I pay in taxes. I am bored with being called stupid by people whose vast intellect has allowed them a $12.00 an hour job.

I do not support various liberal ideas for various reasons. If you want to talk about them, great. Let's talk. I really don't think the policies I support or disagree with really say all that much about me, other than, perhaps, how I analyze certain issues in our society. I don't think they say all that much about who I am as a person, or whether I have honesty, integrity, or compassion.

Or, as this fellow wrote in the Tribune not too long ago, maybe I am wrong. Maybe my affiliation with the 'right-wing' does say something about me:

For the most however, Bush has done what his party wants and expects: tax breaks for the rich, sky-high deficits, dismem­ber Medicare and Social Securi­ty, Iraqi invasion/quagmire, tor­ture, warrentless [sic] searches, throwing money at religion, incompetent but loyal appointees.

I had no idea I wanted those things. Who knew...?


Anonymous said...

The one thing that would truly help the have-nots is a full length mirror.


WolfPack said...

Geeguy- After reading the Netroots links I have to agree with them in general. I think there are typical lefties and righties. Now I agree with you that pre-judging someone based on their political leanings can lead you to the wrong answer, in general though the right vs. left tendencies do exist. I think some of your problem with the topic is wrapped up with your personal enigma of being a right leaning, wild child, attorney schooled in Missoula. You’ve been an outcast in your own circles your entire life. I loved all the references to conservatives being stupid or Nazi’s and the bewilderment over a lack of conservative participation. How dumb is that?

How did you like the guest editorial in the Trib from the chairman of the econ dept at UM? An academia economist who is against deregulation and free market solutions to me underscores the left vs. right tendencies. Clearly his political tendencies prevailed over his educational training as many conservatives might have anticipated on a college campus.

Allan said...

Now I guess I have to find a new subject to write about for the offline edition, eh? ;)

Anonymous said...

"The word orthodoxy, from the Greek ortho ('right', 'correct') and doxa ('thought', 'teaching'), is typically used to refer to the correct theological or doctrinal observance of religion, as determined by some overseeing body."

The left has thoughts and teachings that differ from the right. Often those thoughts are hostile to traditional, Judeo-Christian values.

The left has its own orthodoxy that, in an ironic violation of the U.S. Constitution, seeks to regulate and silence unbelievers.

The Bill of Rights plainly states in the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, ”

And yet this Left-wing-de facto religion of secularism seems to have little purpose except self-interest.

Wulfgar said...

Briefly put, I think everybody gets tired and angry at being "the other". And you have to admit, there's been a fairly concentrated effort since the Reagan years to make 'liberals' that other. That's why most of us tend to be pissed off; many folks are willing to dismiss us based on arguments and beliefs they've never heard or encountered except through sound-bite. And now you have a new generation of those more left leaning who find much of their wisdom through the same sound-bite kind of rational. Ain't pretty, is it?

For what little it's worth, Geeguy, I agree and understand what you're driving at. Good luck in all your efforts, but it's likely to be a bumpy ride.

Anonymous said...


What do you mean by ... there's been a fairly concentrated effort since the Reagan years to make 'liberals' that other?

Wulfgar said...

Exactly what i wrote. Why do you ask?

Anonymous said...

Concentrated effort by whom since the Reagan years?