Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Dumbing Down of America

Last night on the PBS News Hour during the discussion with Mark Shields, the conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks stated that in America 40% of people were conservative, 20% were liberal, and the remaining 40% were swing voters. He said this twice, but he didn't cite sources where those numbers came from.

On the surface this seems to indicate a severe dumbing down is taking place in America. But when looked at a little closer, I am not so sure. Most people simply cannot be adequately described by one word. This approach is far too simplistic to have any validity in the real world.

For example I would describe myself as liberal-progressive on most issues, but conservative on a few, including economic issues. This means that I cannot possibly support most Republican positions on economics issues because they have a proven track record of almost bankrupting the American economy. The Republicans keep cutting taxes on rich people thinking that this will energize the economy. It doesn't, and yet they don't cut spending, in fact they radically increase spending on the military, so their demonstrated history of running up huge deficits is well documented.

On the issues of civil rights, basic human rights like universal health care, and continuous aggression, militarism, and warfare I fall out on the liberal side of the equation. I support equal pay for equal work for females which is a progressive-liberal position, and although I do not like the idea of abortions, I find back alley illegal abortions to be far worse. So on this issue too I side with other liberals. I adamantly believe in separation of church and state, and the rights of freedom to worship, and especially the right to not worship or believe in any of that God or religion malarkey.

Global warming caused by human pollution is most certainly real, and I consider myself to be an environmentalist. I drive a Toyota Prius, I support wilderness, and I am opposed to both nuclear energy and off shore oil drilling. I support conservation, and renewable energy.

On at least 85% of the hot button issues I am solidly progressive-liberal. On comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty for illegals) I am more in the middle, but I'm not at all supportive of the hard core racist and ethnocentric right wingers who hate foreigners and dark skinned people.

Gays, lesbians, and cross dressers are not at all important to me. The idea of legalized same-sex marriage seems quite absurd to me. I believe in each individual person's right to have a loaded firearm(s) in your home for self protection, and also the right to carry a concealed weapon or even open carry a firearm for self protection when you are outside your home.

It is clear that David Brooks' point about Liberals and Conservatives was absurd and simplistic. This is a typical “dumbed-down” concept. Brooks is usually bright and fairly honest, so this surprises me a bit.

If one looks at what percentage of people consistently vote Democratic vs. those who vote Republican, you probably have a number that holds some weight. In general I find most Republican politicians to be corrupt, ignorant, and racist. In almost all cases, I will choose a Democrat above a Republican when I am standing there in the voting booth.

Does this mean that I really like or admire the Democrats? No, not at all. In general they are almost as power hungry and corrupt as the Republicans, and most of these Democratic politicians don't impress me much either. It is only when they are directly compared with the Republican candidate that the Democratic ideas and campaign rhetoric seem so vastly superior.