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There is Nothing Wrong With Kansas:
A Review of The Next American Civil War: The Populist Revolt Against the Liberal Elite by DeMarquis.

While the title may sound like another Glenn Beck-style rant, this book is actually written from a fairly objective viewpoint. Reading between the lines, one gets the definite impression that author Lee Harris is a left-leaning writer trying to be as fair as possible to the conservative populist views he is discussing. Also, Harris isn’t concerned with the more ideological or doctrinaire attacks against the left, which is what most of us are most familiar with; instead, Harris wants to understand the more visceral “man or woman in the street” reaction against the “liberal elite”, the kind of people who make up the rank and file members of the tea-party movement, which makes for a more interesting and ultimately more important analysis.

Harris opens with a description of two events that he believes exemplifies a trend in contemporary politics: Republican Scott Brown’s upset victory over Democrat Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, and the disruptions that occurred at town-hall meetings across America in 2009. In both cases, the really interesting point is the level of paranoia and simplistic propaganda that conservative supporters were endorsing. We are all familiar with the litany of such conspiracies: “Death Panels”, “Birthers”, “Socialism” and the sudden increase in purchases of guns and ammunition that year.

Harris also personally knows people in this movement. He writes: “The easiest answer to why so much paranoia persisted after the election would be to conclude that people like those I had talked with were merely hopeless basket cases and crackpots… But these people are my friends, neighbors and acquaintances. They are not lunatics or nutcases. They don’t want to blow up anything. They are thoroughly decent and law abiding people, many of whom would happily go far out of their way to lend both friends and strangers a helping hand” (5).

That being the case, what is Harris’ explanation of why these people, these conservative stalwarts and tea-party members, are so extreme in some of their views? “But they all have one highly conspicuous quality in common. They don’t like other people telling them what to do… These are people that might be best dubbed “natural libertarians”. They may never have read a single piece of the classic libertarian literature. They may never have even heard of John Locke or John Stuart Mill, but they have instinctively adopted Thomas Paine’s maxim that “government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” To such people, there is nothing so odious or obnoxious than a government whose attitude is “Don’t worry, we know what is best for you”” (6).

This is one of the two main themes that Harris makes, the other being that these fears and anxieties are, historically speaking, and once the hyperbole has been stripped away, actually rather well founded. “Talk of death panels, for example, is sheer collective paranoia- and yet, it is a paranoia that must be seen in perspective. It is rooted in the average American’s healthy fear that concentrations of power will be used to rob them of control over their own lives and destinies… In fact, if the state is called upon to ration health care, then it will inevitably be forced to decide who gets care and who doesn’t… an impersonal mechanism that would operate without the need for real human beings to agonize over the death sentences that they pass down on real human beings standing in front of them” (7).

These arguments are important because of what they imply regarding how best to respond to such anxiety-fueled paranoia. Facts and logical arguments are unlikely to make much of a difference. “The Obama death panel is a myth- but it is a myth that expresses a genuine anxiety that decisions over our lives and deaths could one day end up being made for us and not by us. It is not enough to simply discredit the myth, which is relatively easy; it is necessary to address the underlying anxiety, which is much more difficult, since the source of this anxiety is the well founded fear of the little guy that those who wield power over him will not be inclined to use it for his benefit. Those who dismiss this anxiety as shrill or alarmist are also misguided. For history has repeatedly shown that the little guy is right to entertain these fears. Power breeds arrogance… Power must always be watched and feared, and when necessary, resisted” (7)

Harris argues that the most common form that this resistance takes in America is populist revolt. Thus, Harris sees this style of populism as both necessary and beneficial- because no one else is in a position to protect the liberty uniquely enjoyed by the relatively powerless in America than the mass populace itself. This in spite of the very well recognized dangers inherent in popular and populist-based movement and rebellions. “Most Americans will agree that our home grown populism has played an invaluable role in shaping our nation precisely because it has made ordinary men and women wary of allowing any single group to amass too much power over them. Yet all too frequently American populists have undermined the strength of their case by espousing an overly simplistic understanding of how the world works. They turn to populists and demagogues and charlatans… They may rebel for reasons that others find bizarre and incomprehensible, and their resistance can take on forms that others see as grossly disproportionate to the real threat to their freedom. Yet both this paranoia and this quickness to rebel have played an indispensable role in the creation of those rare and exceptional societies that provide liberty for all, not just the lucky few” (8). In other words, the paranoia is simply the unavoidable price we pay for a society of ordinary people who are willing to push back against the more powerful. For “liberal elitists” do exist (in the form of expert technocrats and their supporters) and they are a danger, just as dangerous in their own way as the populist demagogues who oppose them.

All this is presented in the introduction. The rest of the book is spent supporting these key arguments. Speaking now in my own voice, I can agree with most of what Harris is proposing here. I, too, and personally acquainted with the type of people he wants to understand. As a left-leaning member of the Occupy Movement, I can attest that one hasn’t really lived until one is suddenly and unexpectedly called out to defend your views in front of an audience of Michigan Militia members, over a camp-fire in the woods miles from any other people. Some of those militia members were friends of mine, others were strangers, some of them were thoughtful and well-meaning, others were uneducated racists, but all of them shared the basic mental attitudes that Harris describes here.

The problem with Harris analysis isn’t his account of the right-wing populist masses, which seems basically accurate, but he seems unaware of recent trends in political culture that have greatly undermined this role. Once, it may have been true that “natural libertarians” were the strongest bulwark against elitist power, but in the last thirty years or so this has changed. Now they are prey to a small group of highly professional and very skilled political propagandists using persuasion techniques based on the latest scientific research. The rich have a new weapon- marketing tactics that were developed and tested in the consumer sector, and now find application as political “attitude engineering.”

Not that such social engineering is solely an artifact of the right- the left is happy to make use of them when it appears convenient (it just doesn’t appear convenient as often). This actually comes out in Harris’ book in chapter two when he discusses Thaler and Sustein’s recent book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, which he describes as ‘soft paternalism’: “arguing… that the government should play the role of the savvy parent who is well versed in the psychological techniques of subtle persuasion… the government could nudge citizens into making better choices in their lifestyles… These methods, according to Thaler and Sunstein, could be carefully designed by psychologists to give citizens the illusion of free choice while subtly and subliminally directing them to make the “right” decision” (30). Harris uses this as an example of why populist fears of a “liberal elite” are not necessarily wholly unfounded. Given unrestricted control over federal policy, the kind of technical experts that Thaler and Sunstein represent might actually feel tempted to regulate peoples’ lives in ways they do not fully understand nor approve of.

“Nudge” is a recent popular work in what has become known as “behavioral economics”- the study of the biases and pre-dispositions in human decision making, esp. when the involve perceptions of risk. Thaler and Sustein really do recommend that the government utilize subtle and subliminal methods of persuasion to influence citizen decision making, but whether that constitutes an advance in policy implementation or a threat to individual liberty is likely going to be a matter of individual opinion. One example they use to illustrate what they mean is the City of Chicago, which has marked a dangerous section of road not only with the standard sign (“S-Curve ahead”) but also with a series of white parallel lines, which appear progressively closer together as the driver nears the dangerous bend. That’s ‘nudging.’ This appears to be an attempt to provide drivers with additional information, designed to take advantage of our perceptual biases. This seems relatively benign because the result of making a bad decision- losing ones life- are so undesirable it is hard to imagine someone objecting to the method used to warn drivers. Other examples give more pause. As one reviewer put it “Thaler and Sunstein adopt the deliberately oxymoronic label “libertarian paternalism” to describe their general approach. It’s libertarian in that people retain the right to make their own choices: they’re free to select the savings plan with the lowest projected return if that’s what they really want. But the govern¬ment — or an employer, or the person in charge of laying out the food in the cafeteria — is nonetheless nudging people in the direction that somebody thinks will make them better off” (http://www.nytimes.com/...).

It’s not hard to imagine such tactics being used less responsibly and more to protect the interest of the people who control the means of the nudging. Even policy makers dedicated to the public good could find excuses to use nudging in less acceptable ways- depending on the ideology involved, one could imagine the government ‘nudging’ people to do everything from investing their life savings in the stock market to informing on their neighbors. Libertarians, either of the ‘natural’ or ideological kind, have good reason to be suspicious of these methods and techniques.

Chapter three provides some historical background for this line of argument. One of the anxieties driving conservative populism is the idea that America is losing it’s exceptionalism. Different versions of American exceptionalism exist along a kind of spectrum, ranging from conceptions of “manifest destiny” to America as a democratic role model among nations. According to Harris “The populist revolt underway in today’s America, symbolized by, but not restricted to, the Tea Party movement, is based on the deeply held conviction that the United States is rapidly losing it’s exceptional status as the land of the free… what is being demanded is a restoration of those liberties our forefathers once enjoyed, but which are now under attack by a central government that has obtained a degree of power over our lives that our Founding Fathers never envisioned” (43). This is, at its root, basically a critique of the regulatory state. Starting with FDR and the newly named “Liberal Movement”, so the story is told, the Federal Government began to use policy as a means of taking care of people, solving social problems for them, while all the while passing more and more restrictions on individual freedoms. The policies of the Obama administration, such as the infamous “Obamacare,”  are perceived as just more of the same.

This is not wrong. Contemporary “liberals” are those who are content to sacrifice certain individual liberties so that more of us can be free from such ills as poverty, poor health, and prejudice. “Conservatives” today are those who are not so content, who feel that the price we have paid is too high. They harken back to the ‘yeoman farmer’ of Jefferson’s day, and not without some reason, given who they are. “Jefferson’s yeoman farmer still has spiritual descendents living in America… they don’t work for Big Business or Big Government or Big Universities. Instead they are individuals who own and operate small businesses, and are justified in thinking of themselves as their own boss… to the self-made man of today… the American tradition of rugged individualism is not a quaint myth- it is the realization of his dreams and aspirations” (46-47). It is this way of life, in the face of Big Government’s bailout of Businesses “too big to fail” in the wake of the banking crisis, that the Tea Party and others are afraid is being lost. And of course it would go without saying that once lost in America, it would be lost for good, since no other country in the world exemplifies the value of the self-made man like America does.

The point is not whether this view of things is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- the degree of historical revisionism involved here is obvious. The right-wing populist revolt is clearly much more a product of the feelings of ordinary people in response to traumatic social changes rather than driven by an ideology.

Should America strive to fulfill a unique role among the nations? It is undeniable that we are uniquely different, a difference that derives from our culture. Research clearly documents that in terms of it’s extreme individualism, and the very low degree to which Americans accept differences in power as legitimate, America is an outlier (http://geert-hofstede.com/...). America may very well be unique in the way that people here value and encourage individual initiative, innovation and self-expression. There are definite costs in the form of allowing people to languish who cannot support themselves, and a tolerance for discrimination based on group membership, and a spirit of competition that can seem ruthless and even corrupting, but by and large, Americans are true to their belief that individuals should be allowed to take advantage of what opportunities they can.

This is an important point as it highlights the difference between an ‘entreprenurial’ approach toward solving problems versus a more systematic ‘scientific’ one. America appears to operate according to a mass ‘trial and error’ approach- a willingness to experiment, and then to reward whatever seems to work. This approach relies upon, and produces, a wide diversity of ideas, a large ‘solution pool’ which can then be tapped into by ordinary people who communicate results to each other but otherwise work independently. It sets an ‘organic growth’ approach to social progress, rather than a reliance on centralized planning based on research or specialized expertise. And it can be argued that for certain kinds of problems, one’s that do not necessarily have one objective correct answer but are more creative in nature, this type of ‘random walk through the solution space’ represents the most effective approach. America seems to uniquely value this kind of social strategy. And that is what today’s populists are trying to preserve.

They just happen to be ornery about it. They tend to look for evidence that confirms their presumption that someone is trying to oppress them, and they over-react to the slightest hint of oppression, but the underlying motivation in not misguided. It is very important to preserve this conservative American tradition of ‘ornery independence’ because it acts as a ‘countervailing force’ to large institutions that might otherwise capture national policy and use it against the interests of less powerful. And if these people are currently being manipulated by professional ‘attitude engineers’ then the most effective response on the part of our society as a whole, and for those of us who lean left, is to encourage and strengthen their propensity for resistance, rather than attack them for it, or try to undermine it.

Someone should step up and explain to everyone what the real threat to individual liberty really is: concentrations of wealth and political connections that are currently engaged in a struggle to capture elections and direct policy toward the interests of a tiny segment of our society. Someone has been lying to all of us- and it is in confronting those lies that we find the common ground between the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, between the extreme left and the extreme right- the interests of all populists everywhere. It’s not hard to demonstrate this claim: why does so much government subsidy go to large agri-businesses and not family farmers? Why did so much of the TARP funds go to big banks and not home owners? Why did so much of the benefits of Obama’s health care package go to the pharmaceutical industry and not, say, senior citizens? It’s almost trivially easy to show that it wasn’t the anarchist left that supported any of that. And it certainly wasn’t the libertarian right. So who?

It’s in the seeking for an answer to that question that the way forward for America will be found.

Originally posted to DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:28 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Visit Me (0+ / 0-)

    ...at the following sites:

    http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

    See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

    by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:34:49 PM PDT

  •  Keep thinking we may have a FR style revolution (0+ / 0-)

    butrevolution, but we love evil rich people. The problem is the same kind of people  (evil rotten rich) created this nation are still in charge.  

    Evil in America is winning.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:41:01 PM PDT

  •  You need an editor (4+ / 0-)

    I think you've written a really important diary, but I'm not going to read through it three or four times to really grok what you're trying to impart.

    I may or may not disagree with you, but you've gone all "libertarian intellectual" in a forum that doesn't lend itself to analysis and action without specifics.

    Please take this constructive criticism in the spirit that was intended.

    The test of whether we're willing to stand up to the thugs that wrote voter suppression laws is this: Are you willing to hold hands with someone that needs hand holding in order to qualify to vote?

    by Richard Cranium on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:47:52 PM PDT

  •  Excellent review (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yoduuuh do or do not

    I'd like to read this book. It sounds like the author has put his finger on some very important issues. I don't think you'll get a lot of good discussion here about it. People here with a few significant exceptions here and there are basically content to dismiss the "bitter clingers" as such.

  •  There Is Not a Popular Revolt. (10+ / 0-)

    There is a trillion dollars and counting of rightwing propaganda over 40 some years especially counting the rightwing mobilization of the once apolitical evangelicals.

    From some of these commentaries you'd think we spend the last 2 generations at the parks and movie theaters and gradually concluded from looking around that the government is too big.

    It started by blaming the early 1970's stall of the rise of the middle class on librulls giving away everyone's money and opportunity to the blacks, and then accelerated with Roe vs Wade. And it's been a "vast rightwing conspiracy" of disinformation ever since, compounded and accelerated by dismantling media public service requirements and anti trust regulations.

    This is pure astroturf. These revolting people have been voting down policies they consistently say they approve for 2 generations.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:04:34 PM PDT

    •  I dont disagree but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Urizen

      ...there has been a populist underclass in America for over 200 years. Lets not overlook the possibility that we might peel them away...

      See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

      by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:11:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  we should be trying to peel them away (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tardis10

        I personally believe our party has failed to engage with them for more than a generation and we've lost touch with a lot of blue collar rural people as a result.  There are plenty who would never be with us as we don't offer them enough red meat hatred, but I think there are also plenty who would come around if they felt like we cared about them.  When campaigns like Gore's and Kerry's write them off they take offense (whether they were always gonna vote for Bush or not).

        •  If by "our party" (0+ / 0-)

          you mean the Democrats, then yes, but that wasn't by chance. It's a deliberate choice. The two parties are having a choreographed confrontation with each other, because that keeps the core supporters in line.

          See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

          by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:39:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No, but (0+ / 0-)

          I will definitely take a look. The Scotch-Irish are fascinating. I remember reading an article on the history of dueling, which demonstrated that by far the greatest number of duels and feuds took place within SI communities.

          See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

          by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:41:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Eric Hoffer (1951) "The True Believer" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DeMarquis

          I did a lengthy review of the  Eric Hoffer 1951 book "The True Believer: Thoughts on the nature of mass movements"  Hoffer looks at various mass movements, religious and secular, good and bad, from Christianity through WW2.  I compared OWS and The Tea Party to his paradigm.

          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

          by bernardpliers on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:26:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I thing Gooserock is right. (4+ / 0-)

        The Tea-Party are not the spiritual heirs of the Sons of Liberty or the Homestead strikers. They are the manufactured, brainwashed result of corporate-controlled media.

        Consider Nudge, the book you cited. I agree that it is possible to:

        "...utilize subtle and subliminal methods of persuasion to influence citizen decision making..."
        But the Nudging hasn't been done by the government. It's been done over the past 60 years by the Corporate Owned Media.  The typical Tea-Partier is the result.

        I also don't buy the author's idea that:

        But they all have one highly conspicuous quality in common. They don’t like other people telling them what to do… These are people that might be best dubbed “natural libertarians”..
        If this were true, why are they against Gay Marriage? Why don't they want me and my friends to join a Union?

        Doctors have a saying, "If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras".

        I say, if we have a bunch of guys yelling pro-Corporate, racist, anti-worker slogans, then they are probably a bunch of pro-Corporate, racist, anti-worker people. Not the second coming of Thomas Paine.

        •  Your overgeneralizing... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pilkington

          ...we aren't really members of a liberal elitist conspiracy to take away Americans freedoms and replace it with socialism, and they aren't really brainwashed sheeple parroting the Republican party talking points they heard on Glenn Beck.

          Actually, some of them are. And some of us are elitists too. Somebody is lying to them, but I think it's at least worth trying to help some of them see that.

          See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

          by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:48:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Exceptional arrogance and incompetence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeMarquis

    One factor liberals don't like to admit is how the arrogance and incompetence of today's federal government contributes to the divide.  Federal government really isn't working all that well.  Few reforms have made it more effective or efficient and neither party seems to care very much about providing Americans with 21st century capabilities.  So when Americans perceive we are no longer exceptional they aren't wrong.

    Outdated procedures, systems that are not integrated, departments that seem to never have encountered a relational database, waits of over a year to get the smallest of contracts executed, waits of over a year to get position descriptions, vacancies through middle management leading to paralysis ..

    I am liberal as anyone here but whoever said liberal means wanting to do government badly!

  •  You don't have to imagine... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash
    It’s not hard to imagine such tactics being used less responsibly and more to protect the interest of the people who control the means of the nudging.
    Such tactics are employed by a massive industrial complex nudging people into bad choices for the sake of profit.  Consider the fast food and snack industry, or many frivolous luxury goods.  My manipultaing sugar, salt and fat levels, companies get very rich from creating things that "nudge" peoplle into making choices that are bad for them.  The advertising industry is all about"nudging" people into choices through the creation of wants.  Consider deceptive credit card advertising.  Same deal.   Consider the car industry opposing walkable neighborhoods or mass trasit or bike lanes.  That's using policy to "nudge" people into harmful but profitable ends.

    It'd be nice if for once, the nudging actually helped people.

  •  populist....no , it's just the fucking radio.... (0+ / 0-)

    they live in a radio reality, which largely only exists as is, as basis for the new republican party,because the left has nearly completely ignored it. the teabaggers, previously referred to as dittoheads, are the talk radio base- that's  it.

    'liberal elite' is a long time RW radio talking point. and the only reason it can be the subject of a 'serious' book is because of the  long time disconnect that allows this to waste our time continuously. romney  the equestrian is their leading candidate and these 1% ers and their talk radio minions and racists will go after the 'liberal elite' because they have their marching orders and talking points and coordination channeled through the local talk radio station and then reinforced by fox. they will rally behind the elite romney in time for the election to make it close enough to steal.

    what they were screaming in the town halls was pure limbaugh hannity, coming from the think tanks,  and the left had no clue because they haven't been listening and have been getting the asses kicked because of it for the last 20 years.

    they use 1000 plus coordinated RW radio stations to yell think tank talking points to 50 mil a week and create fake well-misinformed made-to-order pro-corporate constituencies that are then called populist movements/elements by the corporate media to enable their moving of the perception of the center to the right, while the idiot left continues to believe it because they get headaches listening to the local radio stations that are dominating politics in many states.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Thu May 03, 2012 at 07:11:36 PM PDT

    •  PS - sorry, i mean ignorant left, not idiot left (0+ / 0-)

      This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

      by certainot on Thu May 03, 2012 at 07:14:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I think they have a point (0+ / 0-)

        not to say the stereotypes the RW radio talking heads use are correct, they arent, but the most effective propaganda is based on a kernal of truth

        See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

        by DeMarquis on Thu May 03, 2012 at 07:53:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  'liberal elite' has been defined by rush limbaugh (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          figbash

          yes there is a liberal 'elite' but context is important. for that 'populist movement' the term 'liberal elite' has been defined for years by rush limbaugh and sons.  it is a term for someone who thinks we need single payer and sex education and education for everyone.

          the notion that their impact in US society is so significant that it could mobilize a backlash 'populist movement' trying to 'take back' america (a movement that relies on marching orders and coordination and think tanks provided by the 1%) misses what has been happening the last 20 years.

          these are things that a real democracy would adjust to if there wasn't a dominating RW media, with the talk radio monopoly doing the groundwork, short circuiting the normal feedback mechanisms a healthy democracy relies on.

          This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

          by certainot on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:17:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I haven't read the book you are agreeing with (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource, figbash

    but I can say I don't agree with what you are saying.

    You are claiming that there is a certain credibility to the Tea Party and their fear of government control.

    That claim cannot be valid in any way.  The Conservative political view isn't anti-government.  It is anti-any-government-not-my-own-government.

    They don't like people telling them what to do?  No, they don't like people disagreeing with their view of the world.

    Conservatives make laws based on their own private views regardless of what is best for everyone while liberals make laws based on what is best for everyone regardless of their own private views.

    That is the difference that no one speaks about.

  •  Watering Tree Of Liberty With The Blood Of Idiots (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enemy of the people, DeMarquis

    Jefferson was actually describing Shays' Rebellion, which was on the minds of the folks at the Constitutional Convention. Although Jefferson saw the short-lived uprising as ignorant people being whipped up, he still regarded them as patriotic, if not very bright.

    I say nothing of it's motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all and always well-informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive..... Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon, and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
    Jefferson said rebellion sprouts among the ignorant, and the death of the occasional rebellious dingbat was also the price of liberty. He and several of the Founders also emphasized pardoning the rebels.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Thu May 03, 2012 at 08:22:55 PM PDT

  •  They don't like people telling them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sagesource

    what to do, but they choose leaders who demand they conform to their wishes.

    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

    by CFAmick on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:21:52 PM PDT

    •  They are descendants of yeoman farmers.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....who owned slaves or at the very least tolerated slavery, and who considered women natural inferiors undeserving of the vote or economic independence.

      They're true to their roots, all right.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Thu May 03, 2012 at 09:32:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  technically no (0+ / 0-)

      they choose leaders who demand that someone else conforms to their wishes.

      See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

      by DeMarquis on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:03:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a subtle distinction (0+ / 0-)

        As someone who's not an authoritarian follower, I don't readily see the hierarchy of how that works. You're not receiving power because you're in favor of eliminating food stamps, for example, you giving your power to the person who told you that "you" are different from the people who receive food stamps.

        Authoritarian followers instinctively side with whomever has the most perceived power.

        "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

        by CFAmick on Fri May 04, 2012 at 11:47:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Maybe, but (0+ / 0-)

          not everyone who is against food stamps is an authoritarian follower, and not all authoritarians are against food stamps (or any similar program). People who vote that way would likely argue that they are opposing authoritarianism in the form of big government.

          By the way, I happen to support food stamps.

          See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

          by DeMarquis on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:10:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Writing review of your own book is strange to (0+ / 0-)

    say the least.

  •  Dems lost the South in a divorce. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeMarquis

    Same with the loss of the working class and midwest populists. Two hundred years of Jefferson, Jackson, Bryan and FDR must stay forgotten. Race and religion help suppress the memories, but it takes an enormous investment  in GOP disparagement against Dems to keep the old constituencies wedded to the Wall Street-Pentagon axis. Citizens United armed the GOP to win a war of negative propaganda, trampling any non-disparagement requirements necessary to the unity of the nation. All this was warned about by Washington and Jefferson. The Dems, no longer Dems, have morphed more than the GOP, and are now attempting to be the second favorite party of Wall Street and its big government. Dems would win back their natural constituencies by driving their two hundred year old wedge against big banks, corporations and big government, now the military industrial complex. The electorate that wants there to be a Democratic Party again must launch a counter-attack by demanding legislation that big money in politics is abolished, and CU be overturned. This single issue in the forefront is matched to a background of extreme reduction of military spending and class warfare demanding high taxation of the rich and funding of government jobs. The Dems will not do it unless their base threatens to stay at home on the basis of this single issue of democracy itself.

    •  QFT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial

      "...The electorate that wants there to be a Democratic Party again must launch a counter-attack by demanding legislation that big money in politics is abolished, and CU be overturned..."

      See my web page at http://dmarkkey.weebly.com/

      by DeMarquis on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:07:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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