Democratic Underground

The Daily Whopper
A Little Fireside Chat
December 18, 2001
by Jeremiah Bourque

This column is in celebration of my first ever published DU hate mail. I'm so proud!

I wasn't sure I'd ever achieve this level of notoriety. It's truly an honor to know that I've pissed off conservatives so much that they'd actually take out the time and the effort to mail DU to call me a commie bastard with my head up my ass. I'm telling you, this is when you know you've hit the big time. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in the core of my heart.

Not, mind you, that the mail included in the so-called hate mail section actually is worthy, in and of itself, of a reply. If it had been about something specific, like some sort of flaw in my arguments, then I might have at least taken some mild notice. As it is, my arguments seem to be so well-crafted that the only response is to demonize me. That is a compliment to my efforts.

Anyway, let me go back in time with you just a little to point something out to you conservatives out there. Listening? Okay.

You made me.

I was on your side, very firmly, for a very long time, and I had a lot of reasons for that. When I heard Rush Limbaugh saying that Liberals do not want people to succeed, do not want the poor getting richer, do not want the middle class getting more money and prosperity, and want to perpetuate misery to get more votes, I listened to you.

When you Freepers told me that California deserved to suffer, and furthermore, that you had to make California suffer during its power crisis, with your hero, Enron, leading the way, driving PG&E and Edison into bankrupcy, because you needed to create a lot of mean, nasty Californians who would riot, protest, and vote Republican to get the mess solved, I listened to you, and I remembered.

When you said that Bill Clinton was undermining the Constitution, I listened. I heard your arguments. I saw the undermining of the principle of telling the truth in court, particularly by an officer of the court, as a dangerous precedent. I saw the squeezing of witnesses using the power and privilege of the White House as bending the limits placed on the Executive Branch by the law. I heard, and I openly sympathized.

When you said that the concentration of power in the Executive Branch by the creation of a parallel justice system forged solely by the Department of Defense, with (by his own admission) absolutely zero input from the Attorney General of the United States of America, is okay, because it's meant to be used against only the bad people, I remembered your pious objections, and laughed in your face.

When you said that Gore's people were manufacturing votes, by taking challenged ballots and arm-twisting the "neutral" rep to go along with the declaring of a vote to be for Gore, instead of a non-vote, over the objections of the Republican rep, I was outraged, and hoped that the Supreme Court would stop the theft of an election at the ground level.

When I watched Olson give a limp argument before the Supreme Court, my heart sank. When I heard the split decision, I wondered. When I re-read the decision, when I had more input months later to look the decision over a third time, I saw the flaws that were there for all to see: No case law cited. No precedents. An order to say that the ruling shall not apply to future cases. The citing of the "equal protection" clause which I knew was the weakest leg the argument could stand on. I read these things, and remembered my support of Bush against what I believed to be a creeping coup.

When I heard how Republican representatives had challenged vast numbers of ballots indiscriminately, including many that were difficult to argue against being clear votes for Al Gore, so that Republican reps could then claim that Democrats were doctoring the votes during the re-count, I became sickened and disgusted.

Oh yes, you made me. You created me. You're why I chose to come here in search of something different. I debated. I reasoned. I did not curse, nor did I humiliate. I did not personally attack. I stared in disbelief as my questioning of what others were taking as dogma as an evil attack and evidence of my own lack of worth as a human being, as a Commie fascist. (Funny, I would think that a real Commie fascist would support military tribunals, secret evidence, no civilian appeals, swift excecutions, and the sealing of records related to them. Funny world, isn't it?)

Do I hold bitterness?

Actually, not at all. That's the funny part. I'm so happy a guy that I really see my days on Free Republic as a guerilla intellectual warrior as a mistake of my youth. I was probing, you see, for something that wasn't there: depth. I wanted to find some sort of deeper intellectual core, the desire to help the weak and the needy, the urge to build a more successful nation, the essence of building and not simply destroying alone.

I dug, and dug, and dug. Instead of finding diamonds in the rough, what I found was simply more coal.

The creators of the theories of supply-side economics are genuinely optimistic, caring people who believe in the greatest good for as many people as possible, in particular, aiding the fortunes of the less fortunate through benign economic policy. The practitioners of these theories do not carry the same desires.

What I learnt in the bowels of the conservative Internet was something I did not know, and did not enjoy finding out.

It is that those who practice these economic theories, to provide as little as possible to the poor and the unwealthy and to provide as much as possible to the wealthy, do not do so because they believe it contributes to the ultimate greater good of the poor and unwealthy, in terms of worldly wealth.

It is because the suffering of the poor is not simply necessary, but desirable.

A cold, calculated decision is made deep in the hearts of those who view the rich man as the key to prosperity: Suffering brings conversion. Suffering drives people to the Republican Party so that they, too, may join the winning side. If this suffering were to end, the prospects for conversion would dissipate. Consequently, the suffering must be made to be more acute by any means politically possible.

Although the forms of this endeavour take many forms, using income borrowed from future payments to Social Security recipients to underwrite the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax for corporations, as well as the retroactive refund of money paid to the government because of this tax, is a particularly glaring form of it.

So to put it bluntly, what I learnt is that Republicans desire to take from the poor and give to the rich because it creates more Republicans.

I am not a Utopian. I do not believe that human suffering will ever cease in this world. However, I draw a heavy distinction between those who accept misery, and those who seek to inflict misery as a means of gaining opportunities for themselves.

There is a common theme in this kind of action. Both economic and social conservatives can back it; economic conservatives can take solace in the rewarding of success (and the corresponding punishing of failures, as in, failed human beings) as a form of societal justice. Social conservatives can cheer the withering of the state and the misery inflicted upon the least wealthy of American society as a golden opportunity to save more souls for the glory of God. It is not at all surprising that the deliberate infliction of economic and other misery is a never-ending quest for the Republican Party. There is simply a sincere belief in the rationality and the justice of hoarding society's resources for "those who truly deserve them".

However, it is this loss of faith in the common good that was the death blow for my faith in conservatism. Hypocrisy is common to all causes; it did not drive me from conservatism. Extemism was not the reason either; all movements have extremists. Rather, it was that in the end, my search for something greater than myself ended up uncovering that in conservatism, there is nothing greater than oneself, except God. The good of the many is routinely disparaged in favor of the good of the few, so long as the few are the correct people.

There is no principle, nor honor, in this.

It is a coward's choice to seek a society that will protect one's selfish concerns above those of the common individual. It underlies a complete lack of faith in humanity, but also, a complete lack of sympathy for the suffering of humanity. Indeed, this soon morphs into a hatred of all humanity that is not part of one's tribe. As most any American is the member of many "tribes" at once, this is at once a complex and a simple phenomenon. However, ultimately, it is simply that I cannot accept the common "sheeple" as the Enemy. I refuse to accept them as my Enemy. They are not my adversaries. They are those who should be aided by those who have the power to do so, and that most certainly includes helping them to help themselves.

It certainly has not helped my love of conservatism that I have come to distance myself from religion. To put it simply, others need God more than I do, and feel the need to create a God in THEIR own image. Given this rather depressing example of human psychology, I'd rather not be bothered with it. If there is a God, I will stand firmly before him at the appropriate time, with absolutely no regrets in my heart. I have aided others as was my responsibility for having worked to achieve the means to help, or hurt, my fellow human beings. If that's not good enough, then it'll be an interesting conversation.

What makes me so confident in my own decisions is really quite simple. I'm not in this for myself. Sure, I have my dreams, but they don't revolve around politics at all. I could walk away from this tomorrow and not shed a tear. Not that I will... I have work to do, work that exists for the benefit of others. I'm not the one trying to weasel pork through Congress for my district or a tax cut for my social circle. I'm here because of principle.

Today, principles are being stretched heavily. These are the days of frontier justice, secret trials, and cries of "the Enemy!" accompanied by charges of alarmism. By the time that today's alarmists are tomorrow's concensus, it will be too late. Perhaps it already is. However, a few people need to actually stand up for certain principles.

The whole point of the Constitution, you see, was so that morons could not simply throw away the freedoms that better men than they died to earn. Nowadays, everyone says, "We need the tools to fight terror." The tools are neutral. They can be used to inflict terror as well as to fight it. Next comes the argument, "Trust them. They're good, God-fearing people." Jesus is not the President of the United States. Were he, he would still have to answer to Congress and the Supreme Court, and stand for free and fair elections: There are no kings in America.

But, of course, a lot of you people are going to go ahead and continue to argue these things anyway. A lot of you simply haven't thought of what happens when a Democrat takes over the tools that you will leave behind. What if Bush doesn't get 8 years? What then? Will some Democrat expand the powers of government even further than these precedents? Or will Bush cite national security to stay on in power? These things shouldn't be thinkable, but Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Ashcroft have made them thinkable. These are dangerous times, for all of us, and for our decendants.

I do see what is going on in the world right now. Bad things are being justified as necessities for the greater good. The justifications may make us feel like part of the tribe for supporting them, but the details are devilish.

Someone has to point out not what we are winning, but what we are losing.


For the cost of inflicting misery upon others for one's own convenience is one's own soul.

It is a price I will not pay.

I will be true to myself.

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article

Previous Editions of The Daily Whopper