The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Perhaps a look back would be prudent

There has been much analysis of how Romney lost the election. Of course, it isn't presented that way, it's presented as "What the Republicans did wrong." I thought I might join in.

The Republicans went wrong maybe 50 years ago. They began allowing themselves to be pictured as mean, heartless, uncaring, hate-filled, and opposed to equality. I don't think there was much they could do about it. I have known Republicans (as well as Democrats) all my life and there are no more of these types in that party as in the Democratic Party.

When I was a young man and had just moved to south Florida, there was still segregation in law and society in the south. There was segregation in the north, too, but it wasn't by law, just by custom. The south was quite different to what I had been used to. It was blatant inequality. In the north, it was subtle. The southern states were solidly controlled by Democrats.

In 1954, things began to change in the south. It was in that year that Brown v. The Board of Education was decided by the US Supreme Court. 

As a boy growing up on Long Island, I knew nothing about segregation. All of my neighbors were white, my school was predominately white (I only saw one black child in kindergarten and never saw her again), my town was white. Blacks lived somewhere else, another town nearby, I suppose. It wasn't because of laws, it was because of social custom.

All of a sudden, I found myself in a place where this wasn't subtle; again my school was white, my neighbors were white, and Blacks lived elsewhere. But where they lived wasn't hidden from me, it was right there in front of me. I would pass by a black neighborhood each day as I walked to school. Black kids would be waiting for a bus to take them to a school maybe 7-10 miles away while my school was 7 or 8 blocks from where I lived.

As time went on, as I grew older, I began to notice something of politics. The southern states had mostly Democratic governors. The few that had Republican governors started to change, or tried to... the strong Democratic legislators fought the governors. Republicans were the "progressives" and the Democrats were the "conservatives."  The opposite of the political images of today.

Things began to change in the south after Brown v. Board of Education. The Civil Rights movement began gaining strength in the south. The inequality could no longer be ignored. The media stepped in to expose it, college students (and many others) came to the south to push for change, and there were many confrontations. The old bigotry was firmly in place, though, and it was a tough and bloody fight.

In the mid-sixties, the concepts of "segregation de jure" (by law) and "segregation de facto" (by custom and practice) became well known. I realized that the latter was what prevailed in the north and, certainly, what I saw in my own hometown in my younger years.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. This was allegedly made possible only by the support of the Republican Party; Democrats, especially southern Democrats, showed strong opposition. The northern factions of both parties were really the defining forces.

In the years following, many southern Democrats switched political allegiance to become Republicans. I believe this is the period where the image of Republicans went from a party favoring business to a party opposing equality.  An image created not by fact but by campaign strategies.

We can look back and say the Republicans should have rejected the former Democrats but that just wasn't done at the time (and is not done today). There are no restrictions on party affiliations in this country. Anyone can join any political party. And much is made of politicians switching sides.

Personally, I see politicians as amoral. Few have such strong core values that they would not throw them out the window to gain office. And, today, it is all about image and not about substance. 

And, all too often, that image is created by political opponents.


Tom Sightings said...

Can't disagree with your basic analysis, but I wouldn't blame the entire image problem of the Republicans on old-line Southerners, After all, Paul Ryan's not a southerner; Sarah Palin's not a southerner; Michelle Bachman's not a southerner; Rick Santorum's not a southerner.

Also, I do agree that most politicians are mostly concerned with keeping their job, or getting a better job. But in that respect, are they so different from the rest of us?

Douglas said...

Tom, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with Paul Ryan. Yes, America was not ready for an outspoken female vice-president, in spite of Nancy Pelosi, in spite of Barbara Boxer, in spite of Sheila Jackson Lee, America was just not ready for a woman who spoke her mind and made a few gaffs. This might explain why Michelle Bachmann is reviled also.

It's simply a matter of perspective. I see a bunch of extremists in the Democratic Party but I do not see the extremist image of the party.

I could be wrong.

I also agree with you about how politicians are no different than us in wanting to keep their jobs. Except our jobs do not run up the national debt, do not involve selling our core values in order to get hired, and do not involve keeping other people out of power. But we, you and I, when we worked did have to compromise from time to time and never had to face a vote to keep the job. We kept our jobs because we did it at least sufficiently well, did not cause disruption in the workplace, and did not imply our peers were racists, bigots, or anti-immigrant.

You may be right and I may be wrong. But you haven't convinced me.