Sunday, September 19, 2010

Open Thread Sunday: On Christine O'Donnell, Values Voters, Anti-Americanism, and The Ruling Class



A little break from football (go Pats! by the way).

Christine O'Donnell, Tea Party darling, anti-masturbation advocate, former witch, and feminist fan of Lord of the Rings gave a stirring speech to the true believers at the "Values Voters" summit where she railed against anti-Americanism and "the ruling class." As you know, I am transparent in my feelings towards O'Donnell/Palin/Beck and their cabal of Know-nothings: The New Right and its faux populism are a cancer in the blood, bone, and marrow of the American body politic that must be excised.

Nevertheless, one must still try to understand the terms of engagement that govern their political rivals. It is prima facie that Beck, Palin, and O'Donnell are pulling a page out of Pat Buchanan's Culture War speech from the 1992 Republican Convention (who would have thought that Buchanan's screed would be the reactionary Right's Gettysburg Address?). For Conservatives of a certain stripe, the war--as it has been for decades--is between "us" and "them." Here the us are the "real Americans," "the heartland," "Christians," and "the silent majority." The them are "the gays," "the liberals," "the feminists," and "the minorities."

I am now unsettled. Because for decades I had gotten used to being a perpetual outsider, someone who by definition could never be part of the "ruling class elite." After listening to the mouth-breathing exhalations of the tea baggers and watching Christine O'Donnell's speech I find myself more than a little confused about my orbit in the political universe. Thus the following questions:

1. Who exactly is the "ruling class?" I thought they were the corporations, a narrow two party system, and the forces pulling the strings of neo-liberalism and globalization. I guess I am mistaken. Are you part of the ruling class small elite? How do you know? What does it feel like?

2. What the hell is anti-Americanism? Will I know it when I see it? Is it the same thing that Joe McCarthy was railing against in the 1950's or is it a new/old bogeyman? Is there a membership form or dues to join this exclusive club? Do the anti-Americans hang out with The Legion of Doom?

3. Who are these "values voters?" What exactly are their values? And where do these values come from? Don't all people, all villages, all communities have values? What makes the values voters' values so special?... (how can you not love that Oscar Wilde-like word play?)

6 comments:

Jon said...

Concerning my membership in the ruling class: I'm a retired bus driver. I live in a trailer. Recently an acquaintance who supports the Tea Party approached me to let me know that "When the Class War comes you guys are going down." I asked him what he meant and he really didn't have an answer but it came out that he considers me part of some kind of elite that is oppressing him. I didn't press him on the subject, but I found myself thinking, "When the class war comes, we'll be shooting traitors like you."
As a life long trade unionist I would welcome a class war. Right now we're living through a one sided class massacre. Unfortunately, should a class war come, I think a lot of white workers would happily sell out their class. I came across a quote from Janeane Garofollo that I really like, "The Republican/Conservative movement has crystallized into the White Power movement."
There it is.

CareyCarey said...

Well Chauncey, you know how this goes, birds of a feather seem to flock together, and one has to be a fool to think like one, so I am going let most of those questions simmer a while.

And, you did a great job of plugging all the holes. However, since I dropped by, I do have a few words that I borrowed from a comment at my blog. I think it's a very good point.

"There are people who see the big picture and have been paying attention to what the 'white wing' has been up to since 1964. Actually the 'white wing' has been running this game for centuries. Working class and poor whites keep allowing themselves to be bamboozled into voting against their own economic and political interests in favor of wealthier whites who will NEVER let them in their exclusive club, but play the 'white solidarity' card to the hilt"

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

Since others have addressed points one and two, I'll take a shot at #3. There are people in my family who I would describe as "values voters." What that means mostly is that they think abortion is the moral equivalent of genocide, and therefore will vote solely on that issue. This is even the case for one relative who is active in her union, but apparently unaware that her vote is denying her own interests. Values voters see their ballot as an extension of their morality, but of course, only a limited morality. They are fine protecting fetuses, but once those babies are born, fuck 'em.

chaunceydevega said...

@Jon--aren't the wages of whiteness something? How folks can be put against their own class interests by the illusion of skin color, political orientation, or the like? Great story though!

@Carey--You must believe in false consciousness ;)

@Werner--You sound like cranky bear. Again, do you believe in false consciousness? Do these folks know what they do or are they just confused souls?

Oh Crap said...

I think it's a lot worse than not knowing, or being that way on purpose: they require their leaders, Beck, Palin, Newt, etc., to lie to them. The only "value" is being reassured that they are indeed the better-thans they want to believe they are (yet, they label US the "elitists".)

Demagogues cannot flourish in any other environment.

Werner Herzog's Bear said...

@Chauncey
I think we are too quick to claim false consciousness. A lot of the things that "values voters" believe hinge on assumptions that I don't hold, but which, if believed, lead to certain conclusions that logically follow. To wit: if someone truly believes a fetus is a person and homosexuality is an abomination, then abortion and gay marriage become truly evil things that trump any mere economic concerns.

Those assumptions require leaps of faith, but plenty of people are willing to make the jump. If that's what they really believe, it's hard to get them to care about anything else. My fear is that as church membership dwindles, the various religious denominations are increasingly made up only of the hard core radicals, which makes their political agenda more powerful due to the passion behind it.