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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Marshall Schools Brooks

Josh Marshall doesn't support comments on his generally excellent posts, so I have to say that this post is unusually excellent.  In it he notes the factual inaccuracy of a sympathetic portrayal of the Republicans' dilemma by David Brooks.    OK yes refuting David Brooks is close to knocking down a straw man (not because Brooks is dumb or rigidly ideological but because of the clause in his contract which says he has to sugar coat any constructive criticisms of Republicans).

Brooks argues that Republicans have trouble with Hispanics and Asian Americans because Republicans' views derive from the Calvinist Puritan tradition.  Marshal notes that the areas settled by the Puritans are the bluest region of the USA.  The Republican party is based in the ex Anglican South, the South West and the Plains states.  To be blunter than Marshal the Republican party is the descendent of the 1860 Democratic party not the 1960 Republican party.

I just want to pile on.  Marshall summarizes

David Brooks ... finds his way to an interesting observation — new groups entering the American story (he’s speaking specifically about Hispanics and Asians) have many of the values Republicans claim to celebrate — hard work, entrepreneurialism, dedication to family. And yet they’re voting for Democrats by overwhelming proportions. And Brooks says it’s because Republicans ‘Big government is squashing your liberty and economic opportunity’ line just doesn’t make any sense to these people.
Brooks fails to note that Democrats claim to celebrate the values of hard work, entrepreneurialism and dedication to family too.  Evidently this claim made Democrats is, to Brooks, so plainly false that he is puzzled that Hispanic and Asian Americans seem to accept it.

US voters are presented with two options.  Brooks can't explain why they don't vote for Republicans while tacitly accepting the Republicans' caricature of the alternative.  

The true difference is that Republican support for hard work implies opposition to any assistance to the poor as they assume that the poor must be lazy.   Republican support for entrepreneuralism means Republican support for low taxes on the rich, or, as Republicans call them "small businesses."  And Republican support for the family means Republican homophobia, opposition to sex education, ambivalent attitude towards contraception, contempt for atheists and agnostics and opposition to abortion (the last two positions don't hurt them with Hispanics any more than it hurts them with Anglos).    The Republicans' celebration of values differs from the Democrats' celebration of the exact same values, because with Republicans it is to a greater extent code for us vs them for we are good and they are bad.

To be blunter still, the Republican party is the party of white hostility to blacks.  It is not in the slightest surprising that they have trouble with browns and yellows.  Their failure is puzzling only to someone who accepts (or pretends to accept) their lies about what differentiates them from Democrats.

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