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    I could move out to the left for a while

    Or I could slide to the right for a while

    You’d think I’d be sick of this subject. Actually, I am sick of it, but it’s an important subject. When I first clicked through and started reading, I was like, Wow, this guy’s parodies are a laugh riot. I wonder how closely he’s hewing to what people actually said when he’s making up those fake quotations. Think I’ll look at the original WaPo article and see. [snarfs Pimms and ginger] SUFFERIN’ SUCCOTASH, THAT’S WHAT THE DEMOCRATS ACTUALLY SAID ARE THEY OUT OF THEIR MINDS HAVE THEY ALL BEEN SMOKING CRACK OHMAHGAWD OHMAHGAWD?!

    Of course, I shouldn’t have been so surprised–a few months ago, I finally gave in and changed my party registration because I was so sick of looking at the latest repellant Democrat gasbag on television and thinking, There are no words to express how happy I am that I’ve found a way to live on the OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE GLOBE from YOU. I’ve always voted more Republican than Democrat and been on the right-ish libertarian side of most arguments, but I liked being able to vote in Democratic primaries and figured that voting GOP without being registered or contributing at least allowed me to send a small, individual signal that it didn’t have my unqualified support (especially when it came to wasteful spending). Not that I was expecting this to give Haley Barbour insomnia, or anything–it just struck me as the right balance.

    But eventually, enough is enough. My beliefs haven’t changed one bit, and I don’t plan to become a party hack, but at least the Republican leadership is usually broadcasting from the same planet as the rest of us.

    Michael Reynolds of The Mighty Middle is to the left of me, and he’s clearly not about to bolt from the Dems, but he very clearly sees what I think is the major strategic problem with the DNC leadership. I’m quoting at length because, although the message he delivers is not new, he delivers it with clarity and point:

    The moral center of the GOP is in big business, small business and churches. The moral core of the Democratic Party is in academia, unions and the groups – the NARALS et al. The unions are disintegrating, the academy is the very definition of “out of touch,” and the groups are hermetically sealed parallel universes inhabited by lawyers, flacks and giant, bloated Senators.

    If you want to talk to people — people who do not already agree with everything you have to say, professor — you have to actually know some people. Some of those people you need to know will drive SUV’s. Some will own jet skis. Many will attend churches where people sing a lot. They will not necessarily dine on a small green salad with lo-fat dressing on the side. They will not know or care who Noam Chomsky is. And here is what is vitally important for Democrats to understand: although these people will not necessarily be part of your all-Angelou book club, they will be at least as smart as you are.

    To communicate with people, understand people. To understand people, listen to people. Fire the consultants. Fire the gurus. Fire the pollsters. Fire the lawyers. Get back into the real world. Send forth your minions, Democrats, scatter them to the winds with instructions to go forth into the McDonalds and the Wal-Marts and the churches, to boldly engage fat women in spandex, and skinny guys in pick-up trucks, to speak without sneering to the local businessman, to talk on equal terms with the minister and the insurance salesman and the cook and the fisherman and the clerk. Watch TV. (No, not PBS. Not HBO, either.) Read bestsellers. Shoot a gun. Ride a speedboat. Drive a big old gas hog across west Texas at ninety miles an hour. (It’s fun. Even more fun than composing briefs or conducting a focus group.) Smile at other people’s kids. Talk to teachers – not their union reps. And by the way, when I say “talk to” I mean, “shut the f**k up and listen.”

    I’m not always happy with the Republican politicians and talking heads, but I will say this: even when they’re driving me nuts with their hyper-spending and their footdragging on border and air security and their selective opposition to entitlement programs and their preachy allegiance to the War on Drugs, they at least are rarely guilty of talking about Americans en masse as if we were as dumb as a box of rocks and depended on them to run our lives properly.

    After all, every Red State town has doctors, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents, just like places in the big coastal population belts. Additionally–you know, my father was graduated from high school on shop courses, and my mother dropped out of ninth grade, then went back in her 40s for her GED and a certificate in data entry. Most adult friends of our family had similar backgrounds. None of them was an idiot. Most of them read the newspaper and a handful of news magazines, and even those who were otherwise unlettered read the Bible daily. My own interest in politics was nurtured by listening to them discuss the Iran hostage crisis; why they hated Carter; why they loved Reagan; the Grenada invasion; Yasser Arafat; and Gloria Steinem. I’m a passionate supporter of education with stringently-enforced standards, but it simply is not the case that being undercertified dooms you to ignorance.

    What does doom you to ignorance is going into every discussion assuming that you have lots to teach people and little to learn from them. That attitude really isn’t such a problem with everyday people who happen to be registered Democrats. At least, in my experience, it isn’t. It is a huge, huge, huge problem among those who set the priorities and public image for the DNC. Reynolds’s message is the one they need, but given the statements that he’s responding to, it’s hard to imagine they’d know what to do with it.

    (Via Joanne Jacobs)

    4 Responses to “I could move out to the left for a while”

    1. John says:

      “it simply is not the case that being undercertified dooms you to ignorance”

      Amen to that. It’s worse than that, though. I see a lot of the posturing on the left as the result of people being educated beyond their intelligence and experience. Their heads were filled with crap before they developed critical thinking skills. Some people are born thinking critically, some people need a few whacks with the rod of experience first. Before the mid 1960s, colleges were so selective that there were a lot fewer non-critical thinking freshmen matriculating. The downside was that a lot of critical thinkers didn’t get to matriculate either.

      What we have now is a higher education system that expanded to incorporate the Baby Boom. X and Y are smaller generations, so standards got relaxed in order to fill seats. At the same time, the high schools have been declining in their standards. The practical upshot is that kids who were kept as pets by their teachers and parents until college are completely unaware of the mechanics of the real world. That coupled with lower and lower admissions standards (did you see my rant “Letter from a TA”?) fosters a lot of elitism, because some of these folks know they are not that smart, but the degree is the only thing they can cling to, and others think they are smart because they can play the word games that are so rewarded in Academia.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, the word-game thing really has to stop. Being able to write a formulaic five-paragraph essay is an important skill, but it’s a point of departure you should be pushed beyond by, like, junior year of high school. Internally sound logic that flies apart when it’s tested against reality is of little use after you’re 17.

    3. Janis Gore says:

      I suppose I shouldn’t be so tacky, but I have no tolerance at all for Chris Lehane or Paul Begala. They remind me of yappy toy dogs. I want to kick them.

    4. Sean Kinsell says:

      Not tacky at all. I despise them both myself, though not even Lehane is horrid enough to displace Terry McAuliffe as my least favorite DNC player on Earth. And while we don’t want to fixate on people’s demeanor to the extent of not paying attention to their policy positions, presentation does matter, for reasons that aren’t just reducible to the Hollywoodization of journalism. Confident, secure, knowledgeable people may not always come off as magisterial, but they can be relied upon not to do that spasmodic-yappy-chihuahua thing.

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