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Radical Republicans and Democrats: Whaduhyuhdew?
I have been told by angry siblings that I am the only liberal in the entire family, that I have been fooled by Clinton and Obama camps. I have recently been told that the symbol of the Democratic party is the jackass which is appropriate because all Democrats are jackasses. I have been told that the Democrats opposed freedom for slaves, started the KKK and that all Democrats are racist. Finally, I was told that Martin Luther King Jr. was a conservative Republican. If these allegations had come from anyone other than family I would have dismissed them as the ravings of gnat-brained, whacko lunatics. Since this was from family members I felt obligated to have some interests in where these ideas came from and upon what are their unusual ideas. I know that they do not have any curiosity about the process I’ve used to come to my positions, but I feel obligated to do unto brothers and I would have my brothers do unto me.
I started with the most outrageous allegation, that Martin Luther King Jr. was a conservative Republican, and Googled the phrase, “MLK is a Republican.” To my amazement I found dozens of sites making this claim that Martin Luther King was a conservative Republican.
All of these articles and claims about MLK being a Republican are coming from conservative blogs and zealot pundits and their evidence is selective historical incidents skewed to support what they want supported.
If you read these Googled articles you will eventually come to some denial articles, but I’m a little shocked there are not tens of thousands of countering articles on the wed. On one board I did find some countering responses but they were all filled with obscenities and suggestions that those who believe King was a Republican should seek to reproduce with themselves. There was one quote that I feel should settle this for reasonable people.
After the nomination of Barry Goldwater for the presidency, King wrote in his Autobiography
"The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of good will viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right. The best man at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade."
Now this quote is not from some Republican seeking to lie about the racist tendencies of the Republican Party, this is a quote from the man himself. When Martin Luther King Jr. writes that the Republican Party convention that nominated Senator Goldwater was a “wedding . . . of the KKK and the radical right . . .” and then he states that Senator Goldwater had a “voting record, philosophy, and program. . .” that went against all the hard-won achievements of minorities from the past decade.” Does this sound like King was a conservative Republican? Doesn’t this imply that King believed that the Republican Party was a union between KKK style racism and radical right political believers? Wouldn’t the opinions expressed by Martin Luther King in his autobiography be a better source for what he believed than the outrageous ranting from radical right KKK-like racists spewing this transparent lie about one of the greatest Civil Rights Leaders in history?
Well, if you think like me, the answer is obvious. There is not a shred of credible evidence that King was a conservative Republican, or even a moderate Republican. This will not, however, silence the psycho-talk and I’m curious about this odd little lunatic fact.
Are the people making outrageous and obviously false claims just liars? Perhaps in some cases there are premeditated liars spreading knowingly false allegations in an attempt to keep the uncommitted or weakly committed progressive voters in a state of confusion. But I don’t think this explains all the whacko crap being promulgated by radical true believers. I am talking now about any and all radical true believers, and not just conservative, Libertarian/Republican true believers.
In some cases I feel certain that the true believer so desperately needs something to be true that with very little provocation they can easily accept wildly irrational positions and spread these crazy ideas with gusto and enthusiasm. The more they are contradicted the more certain they become that the opposition is just brainwashed, stupid, fooled and manipulated, or just plain evil people out to destroy them and those that share their ideas.
Rationale is not effective when you are working with irrational people. If you argue with crazy people you will just get angry and depressed and, in the end, they will still be crazy.
Now I must say here that I am aware that there is not just a radical right, there is also a radical left. No opinion or belief is immune from the being picked up by a fan and carried off to the land of the fanatical because the fan becomes a fan-addict.
One thing that gets to me sometimes is when an opinion opponent takes something I believe and labels it with the most extreme and inflammatory label possible. If I support National Health Reform I am labeled a socialist, or communist. The truth is, of course, that the most extreme point on the progressive continuum is Socialism. Being a progressive Democrat is not being a Socialist, but if you become uncompromisingly blind to your political philosophy the most radical position available to you would be Socialism. On the other hand, if you are a conservative, and if you become uncompromisingly blind to your political philosophy, then the most radical position available to you would be fascism. Republicans are no more fascists than Democrats are Socialists, on the furthest ends of the conservative progressive continuum, on the far, far right you have fascism and on the far, far left you have Socialism.
The ability to take a reasonable position and turn it into a radical irrational position is not limited to conservative or progressive politics. Being opposed to abortion because you believe all life is sacred can, has, and will continue to lead to true believers who take life because they support the right to life. Believing in the vegan philosophy can lead to murder and destruction of property by Animal Rights radicals. Belief in the teachings of a major religion can lead to bombings between Irish protestants and Irish Catholics, or the establishments of Theocracies such as existed in Afghanistan and currently exist in Iran.
True Believers, whither they be Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Muslims, or Area 51 proponents seek to, and often succeed in, inspiring mass movements. Mass movements always, always, always generate, among some segment of its adherents, a readiness to die for the cause. All mass movements share in this characteristic:
- they have a proclivity for united action;
- they breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance
- they are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life
- and they all of them demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance
If you are a good true believer then you will do whatever is needed to achieve the goal of your movement. If you feel even the slightest doubt you will be castigated, and either brought back in line, or rejected by the group.
If all mass movements share these tendencies to act as a group, to draw group-think conclusions, to crush all thinking that is less than group orthodox, then we all have a problem, and there is only one way to guard against the negative extremism that tempts true believers and mass movements, and that is to think.
I had a philosophy teacher in college named Doctor Densford who gave me this advice. He said to speak and advocate for my beliefs fully and with every fiber of your being, and the whole time, keep somewhere in the back your mind the idea that you could be wrong, and you must be willing to consider new ideas, even ideas that conflict with the positions you are advocating. He said it better, I should have written it down, but the way I have worded it still, clumsily contains the thought he was trying to convey to me.
I’m a blue dog democrat (use to be called a yellow dog democrat) I am a fervent, liberal progressive thinker and voter. I feel drawn to defending the progressive path for this country, and I intend to support a progressive Democratic Party, to vote Democrat on every election, to be an apologist for all progressive plans, but in my mind I have to hold to the idea that no political party has a monopoly on good ideas, and that it is possible I could be wrong. Since it is possible that I could be wrong, I must build into my life scheduled times when I re-examine my beliefs, that I consider opposing ideas, and I apply a template of pragmatism to my political positions and be willing to abandon positions that are not pragmatic and fail to conform to the goals and values of my life. I should do this, I must do this, and, so far I am doing this. I would encourage all true believers to act similarly.
I’ve been in arguments where, as my opponent talked I did not listen to his or her rationale, I listened for some point I could blast and spend my listening time preparing what I would say next and how to deliver it in a manner that will make my opponent look the most foolish.
This heat of the moment argument mentality is a very human trait, and a trait that all Democrats and Republicans, as well as all contentious true believers share in common.
If we really want to get along, if we really want to avoid a trip to whacko radical believer land then all of us need to stop, from time to time and sincerely consider the opposing point of view, to reassess our own beliefs, and to be willing to tweak or dramatically change our beliefs when the rational demands we change.
Article submitted Thursday, July 09, 2009 & read 842 times.
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