Member since: Wed Jan 18, 2012, 10:29 PM
Number of posts: 1,653
Number of posts: 1,653
My late maternal grandfather was a Republican 'til the day he died. However, he wasn't like my paternal grandfather, who is conservative in a more traditional, pragmatic, doesn't-want-to-change-too-much-but-maybe-a-little sense, and who was also a lifelong Republican, but changed his registration to Independent after being totally disillusioned and disgusted (like so many were) by the Presidency of George W. Bush.
No, my maternal grandfather was one of those individuals who thought President Obama was a "radical", a "socialist", and who packed his administration with "Communists" who were "ruining the country." His problem with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney was that they were too moderate. It should come as no surprise, then, that my grandfather was enamored with the Tea Party, and repeated many of the exact same talking points, word for word, in conversations that I had with him in his last few years.
What drew a man like my grandfather to rigid, dogmatic right-wing ideology? I have a few good guesses, but no one reason.
First, I am fairly certain that his father-my great-grandfather, who died before I was born-was also a super-conservative Republican. Born in Chicago to an upper-middle class family, my great-grandfather actually left school in the ninth or tenth grade (can't remember which) and immediately started working, eventually getting his license to sell insurance. I am told by family members that he was a natural salesman and possessed of a strong work ethic, traits which clearly served him well, since he eventually became a very wealthy man. I think that these traits rubbed off on my grandfather to some extent. Born to a Yankee Protestant family, he converted to Catholicism when he married my grandfather's mother, an Irish Catholic. My grandfather was the fifth of six children-five boys and one girl.
My grandfather's family background provides a clue for why he turned out the way he did politically. First, neither of his parents were close to their kids, especially my great-grandmother. They actually were wealthy enough to have a butler and a maid, who looked after the kids. Second, my grandfather was bullied mercilessly by one of his older brothers. The coldness of his parents, combined with living in fear of his older brother, must have impacted my grandfather in profound ways.
This was in the 1930s and 1940s. Being pretty wealthy, my grandfather's parents were relatively insulated from the effects of the Great Depression. By the late 1940s, they had moved from Chicago to Southern California, buying a new house similar to their extravagant house back in Illinois. However, their lavish lifestyle did not last, for my great-grandparents, like so many rich people, gambled a lot, eventually losing much of their money betting on race horses.
Another significant thing to consider-my great-grandparents did not value education highly, for themselves or their kids. In fact, my grandfather was the only one of his six siblings to complete his Bachelor's degree, and that was with the help of a basketball scholarship. Furthermore, it is my belief that if his friends from high school weren't all going to college as well, my grandfather may never had gotten his degree. Therefore, it seems like he was, in some sense, the most accomplished of his family in academics.
This was in the 1950s, during the height of the Cold War. I am sure my grandfather, having Republican parents, grew up hearing his father grumble about the New Deal, or curse the godless, foreign Communists who seemed to be infiltrating his beloved America. There were heated political arguments in their house about JFK (being a Catholic household in addition to being Republican), or so I am told, so perhaps not everyone was a right-wing Republican. Nevertheless, my grandfather's right-wing political views were definitely-at least, to some extent- shaped in the context of the Cold War hysteria of the late 1940s, 1950s, and early 1960s.
However, my grandfather, conservative as he was, actually admitted to me that he voted for Lydon Johnson in 1964! Of course, he also told me that he soon regretted that vote, seeing as how expansive LBJ's liberal domestic policy was, in addition to his misadventure in Vietnam. The 1960s may well have been the turning point for my grandfather, and many more like him, who were fearful of urban crime, radical activists, disrespectful students, spoiled hippies, and the ever-looming threat of the Soviet Union. They associated all of these social problems with the liberal administration of Lyndon Johnson, a Democratic Congress, an "activist" Supreme Court, and other institutions dominated by mainstream liberalism at the time.
By the time the 1970s rolled around, it is likely that my grandfather was incredibly disillusioned with the political Establishment, both Democratic (LBJ) and Republican (Nixon and Ford). And he wasn't about to vote for Jimmy Carter, who seemed to make the U.S. look weaker still on the international stage with every move he made. Watergate, the energy crises, inflation, and the Iran Hostage crisis, not to mention the rising crime rates in major cities and the broad perception that the United States was losing the Cold War because it was in national decline....well, it would take someone bold, daring, optimistic, and without the baggage of being a Washington insider. Someone idealistic and conservative. Someone who was willing to remake the United States into the conservative ideal.
That someone, of course, was Ronald Reagan. Familiar to my grandfather and millions of others, particularly Californians like my grandfather, as an actor, conservative ideological spokesman, and two-term Governor of the Golden State. Here was a man who men and women of my grandfather's background and personality could identify with. A Midwestern transplant to California and a former Democrat (unlike my grandfather in that regard, yet that served to broaden Reagan's appeal), possessed of a sunny disposition and a can-do spirit, and having a remarkably simple faith in the idea that the private sector, the 'free market", will solve domestic problems, and that federal government infringement on the rights of private individuals and families was the real cause of those domestic and social ills. The problem wasn't a mismanaged government, or a government that wasn't prioritizing the right things-it was the government itself, and the idea that it should be a tool of social reform. My grandfather probably thought Reagan was the best thing that happened to American politics in his lifetime, and so for him, he became the standard by which all politicians would be judged.
However, as we on DU know, it wasn't really Reagan's actual policies that the Tea Party has fallen in love with (though there is some of that too, no doubt). It was what Reagan represented-a uniquely American right-wing idealism. Nobody-not even Reagan himself-could possibly live up to this ideal. Yet in the case of the Gipper, the Tea Party has deliberately whitewashed his record and distorted it to a few slogans. And people like my grandfather willingly bought into the propaganda.
I loved my grandfather, and I still love him-always will. Yet he was very bull-headed and misinformed when it came to politics. Partly because of his life experiences shaping his personality, which in turn, made him that much more receptive to the right-wing "bubble" of bad information and lies. In debating politics with him, I knew he would never change his mind about anything substantial, so I eventually stopped talking about politics altogether when he was around.
Let this be a lesson, then: Even your loved ones can and will fall for things that are so far from the truth, it hurts. In my grandfather's case, it was the right-wing ideological universe that he inhabited to the day he died. Yet I still loved him, despite all of that; that's one of the true tests of love, when you love someone in spite of the things you can't change about them, but you wish you could.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Wed Oct 9, 2013, 05:43 PM (5 replies)
Right-wingers are recognized by their rigid adherence to policies that maintain and worsen political, social, and economic inequality, support for "tradition" (however vaguely defined), and by their ostracizing or punishing of dissident voices. We are compelled by the Right to uncritically accept the way the world is, and defend the social hierarchies and traditional authorities/institutions from any threats, real or perceived.
"Uncritical acceptance" is the key phrase here-intellectual laziness, apathy or worse, cynicism toward any notion of the common good, confusion and misinformation (or disinformation, at times)-all of these help strengthen the Right's power.
Critical thinking is not encouraged in contemporary American society, on balance-certainly not from most of the people in power, or people with influence, or public figures. Why would they? They're getting a pretty sweet deal out of the system as it is. They don't give a shit that most of us suffer, or that poverty is increasing rapidly, as is inequality-in fact, I begin to suspect that some of them like it this way.
Americans need to start questioning more, and not taking anything people in power say at face value, if there is ever to be a reversal of the disturbing trends we see today. Sadly, the current political environment is utterly antithetical to critical thinking, or to notions of the common good, or to antiquated notions like empathy and compassion for the poor and downtrodden (I know, how old-fashioned of me!).
I just don't know how to get there from here.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Sun Sep 22, 2013, 10:24 PM (2 replies)
"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people."
This begs the question-who are "the people"? Are all people equal in their opportunities, knowledge, resources, and ability to influence the process?
Consider the modern American economy in 2013. Economic inequality is at a historical peak not seen since the eve of the Great Depression. Social mobility has become harder and harder for much of the population. Much of America is barely getting by. Many families are in poverty, and many more are dangerously close to poverty.
On the other end, wealthy individuals and corporations enjoy a greater share of national wealth and resources than ever. They have the time, money, inclination, and education to influence the process. They have a hugely disproportionate share of political power. Their concerns are paramount in practice.
I don't see any easy way out of this situation.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Wed Jul 24, 2013, 07:50 PM (1 replies)
The study focused on mothers ages 18 to 54 with household income between $30,000 and $49,000 – an amount that generally does not qualify for government assistance. Research included a survey, focus groups, in-home interviews, shop-alongs and analysis of secondary research.
Regardless of profession, as a group the demographic has been hit hard in recent years, C-K said, experiencing significant changes in employment during the last five years:
Posted by YoungDemCA | Fri May 17, 2013, 09:36 PM (34 replies)
And now they're coming for your Social Security money. They want your fuckin' retirement money. They want it back so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later 'cause they own this fuckin' place. It’s a big club and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club. ...
Executives from a number of international investment firms are quietly raising a $20 million war chest for a major ad campaign this fall to push for privatizing the Social Security system, according to an article in the June 12 Wall Street Journal.
Notice the date: 2001.
12 years later: a Daily Kos article about the "Third Way"...
Let me attempt again to make the basic facts clear. Third Way is not a “liberal think tank.” It does not take “a centrist approach.” It is not run by “fellow progressives.” It is not concerned with “protecting entitlements.” It is not even a “think tank.” Third Way is a creature of Wall Street. It’s version of “protecting” the safety net was made infamous during the Tet offensive in Viet Nam when the American officer explained that “it became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it.” Third Way is the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, which seeks to defeat Democratic candidates like Elizabeth Warren running against Wall Street sycophants like Senator Scott Brown and seeks to unravel the safety net programs that are the crown jewels of the Democratic Party. Wall Street’s “natural” party is certainly the Republican Party, but Wall Street has no permanent party or ideology, only permanent interests Third Way serves its financial interests and the personal interests of its senior executives. Wall Street has always been the enemy of Social Security and its greatest dream is to privatize Social Security. Wall Street’s senior executives live in terror of being held accountable under the criminal laws for their crimes. They became wealthy by leading the “control frauds” that drove the financial crisis and the Great Recession. This is why Wall Street made defeating Warren a top priority.
Meanwhile, the current Treasury Secretary pushes Wall Street's agenda:
In written responses during his Senate confirmation hearing, Lew said both he and the Obama administration oppose a similar tax in the U.S. Now it appears that Lew doesn’t just oppose the tax here in the U.S., but is using his bully pulpit to trash talk the tax among our trading partners. Particularly egregious is that he is traveling on the U.S. taxpayers’ dime to attempt to defeat a tax that the majority of Americans support.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course. There's plenty more to make your blood boil. Just Google "Social Security and Wall Street", for example, to find some history. Be warned, though: the Democrat (as in, Party of the People) in you may go into a rage...
Posted by YoungDemCA | Wed Apr 17, 2013, 12:56 PM (17 replies)
Especially considering that urban/metropolitan counties are, on average, wealthier than rural counties.
Is there a difference between the way each individual economic class votes in urban and rural areas? In other words, are rich people in rural areas more conservative, on average, than rich people in urban areas, and likewise with middle-class and poor people in rural areas?
This is something that I kind of scratch my head about. Is it reflective of a broader cultural divide? What are some of the real reasons? I mean, it's easy to say "rural people are less educated/ignorant so they vote Republican" but that's a crass stereotype (not to mention really, really condescending to rural Americans).
So what do you think the reasons are? Any insights from rural DU'ers, past or present?
Please no bashing of rural (or urban) areas here.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Sun Mar 31, 2013, 03:32 PM (121 replies)
Far too often, in discussions both online and IRL ("in real life"), I have observed the following:
Somebody makes the (well-documented, well-supported) observation that, for example, on average, white people are wealthier than people of color, or that men have many social and economic privileges that women don't, or that straight people have a lot privileges through marriage laws that LGBT people do not have...
And inevitably, somebody else becomes very defensive, saying that they are straight, white, and/or male, and THEY do not "feel" privileged, or have been treated like shit by their employer, or that THEY "earned" everything they have, without any kind of preferential treatment due to broader social factors. In other words, this defensive person assumes that they are personally being blamed for the plight of under-privileged and disadvantaged social groups, and so get angry at that perceived implication.
Or even worse, I see people denying that male privilege, straight privilege, or white privilege exist at all in American society (and other societies, as well). They say that one of the hallmarks of privilege is being able to deny that it's real...
The problem is, some people have this underlying, implicit belief that when the social definitions of whiteness, maleness, and straightness (to name just three good examples) are scrutinized, questioned, and criticized, they themselves are being criticized on an individual, personal basis for being white, straight, or male. In other words, these people attach their personal self-worth to the social categories that they are in. I really don't think that the intention of any of those who wish to call attention to the problems of privilege in society is to denigrate every man, every white person, or every straight person for being male, white, and/or straight. If that is the intention, that person isn't worth talking to.
We're trying to make the world a better place, but we can't just do it by singing "Kumbaya" together-at least, that isn't the first step, nor is it the second or third. The first step to dealing with privilege is recognizing that it exists (and I'm willing to bet that most of us here on DU have some form of privilege, relatively speaking, whether we admit it or not), acknowledging the impact it has in society, and learning from and listening to those who are most negatively affected by it. I readily admit that I myself have blind spots, that I myself do not know everything or even close to everything (an impossible task), and that I can learn from others, regardless of who they are.
This discussion, BTW, is very, very controversial...which is what makes it so important to have. Those who would do their best to shut down discussion, any discussion, would rather us not talk about this subject, because privileged (whoops-don't call them privileged!) people get "offended" and "outraged" by it. If DU doesn't talk about it, though-who will? Free Republic? Some "centrist" website? A Libertarian/Ron Paul forum? Please.
This discussion is by no means over. I, and many others here, will not stop bringing it up, because we are under no illusions that social, economic, and political privileges will just disappear overnight. The discussion is only the beginning.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Sun Mar 31, 2013, 01:56 PM (84 replies)
My moral conscience is not offended by gay people who want to have the same rights and benefits of marriage that straight people enjoy.
My moral conscience is not offended by the activism for the rights of women, which include (but are by no means limited to) the right to have control over her own body.
My moral conscience is not offended by ethnic and racial minorities demanding equal rights.
My moral conscience is not offended by atheists, non-Christian religions, or the separation of church and state.
My moral conscience is not offended by social welfare programs, like unemployment insurance, or TANF, or food stamps, nor is it offended by Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
My moral conscience is not offended by a highly progressive tax system.
My moral conscience is offended by Corporate America, who in their ruthless quest for quick profits, "externalize" their costs to the public, a steep price to pay for greed.
My moral conscience is offended by wars for profit and resources.
My moral conscience is offended by the desire and urge to dominate, oppress, and subjugate people, whether it be based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, or religious background.
My moral conscience is offended by policies that steal from the poor and middle class to reward the rich.
My moral conscience is offended by "divide-and-conquer" politics and tactics that pit lower and middle class people against each other, all for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful in society.
Most of all, my moral conscience is offended when good people do not take action to stop injustices.
We have a lot of work to do, my friends, and it won't be easy, by any means. But I believe we can rise to the occasion, meet the challenge head on, and leave a better world for our children and grandchildren, and for everybody after.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Thu Mar 28, 2013, 04:33 PM (25 replies)
...but I'll try my best. This has been weighing heavily on my heart for a long time, figure I might as well share now.
I had a psychological "breakdown" of sorts about five years ago, in the form of what then became a prolonged depression. I was mad at the world, but most of all-I was mad at myself. I felt like a failure, that my life was horrible, and that things would never get better. And worse, I had "secondary" emotions of guilt and shame about my depression-feeling about feeling bad, in essence.
Part of it, I think, came from my social anxiety-which, in turn, stemmed from a lack of confidence in myself as a person of value. I also felt resentment towards family members, friends, and other people who seemed to have an "easier" life in that regard, who didn't worry so much, who didn't feel like they were not really worth loving. That resentment, that feeling of injustice and unfairness,has really hurt my self-esteem even more. And so the cycle continued to devolve...
That being said, I do have hope. I am seeing a therapist who has really been helpful, in the sense that she's helped me understand where my negative thoughts and emotions are coming from and suggested some concrete, actionable steps for me to take (some of which I have taken). And I have definitely seen an improvement with my mood and my feelings toward myself. Additionally, I have a large and growing support system of friends and family who have all helped me through this, and for that, I am incredibly thankful.
For those of you who have ever felt lost, felt unloved, felt worthless, felt insignificant-know this. You are worthy of love, worthy of being valued, and you can take comfort in the fact that things do get better, if you open yourself to that possibility. Every day that I wake up is a great day, a day worth living. No, life isn't easy, by any means. It can be extraordinary difficult. But it's worth living, and it's never too late to change your life-if you really want to.
Posted by YoungDemCA | Sun Feb 17, 2013, 10:55 PM (52 replies)
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