A post from ‘Niceguy’ Eddie got me thinking:
Since I don’t let an ideology do my thinking for me, I don’t really care what positions fall under which label. I really, just DON’T CARE. I’m not trying to Liberal here, I’m just trying to be RIGHT. (As in “correct,” not “wing.”) And the way I see our modern discourse going, there are really only two groups that matter:
One is very strictly and narrowly defined, … And to be in this crowd, you must accept EVERY bit of Dogma, even the ones that contradict other ones; you must swallow every lie, accepting every bit of obviously questionable evidence, and utterly reject ANY evidence or argument to the contrary of ANY point. What’s more you must accuse your opponents of committing all of the sins that you do, and you must HATE them, because they are “out to destroy this country.” You must believe in your own perfection and the perfection of your positions and that you have a mandate from God that justifies this belief. At worst, the weakest in this camp merely keep quiet, fail to criticise the big-talkers, and silently tell themselves that it will all, somehow be OK, since at least the OTHER GUY’S not winning.
Then there are the people who simply can’t abide this kind of insanity. And almost regardless of what positions they actually hold, the people in the first camp call them “Liberals” and demonize them.
So, from my POV, there are really only two schools of thought: Radical, Right-Wing Reactionary Authoritarianism…
…and those who reject it.
It seems obvious that the labels liberal and conservative have lost their meaning, if they ever had any meaning. If I support both abortion rights and gun rights, am I a liberal or a conservative? If I am pro-business but also in favor of single-payer health care, am I a liberal or a conservative?
“Niceguy” Eddie wants to divide us instead into authoritarian and those who are anti-authoritarian. There is some truth to this, since it helps explain things like how the right wing claims to love the constitution while repeatedly tearing it to shreads (and hating the ACLU, whose only purpose is to defend the constitution).
I like to think of these two categories as the “thinkers” and the “believers”. The believers accept dogma (even when it contradicts itself). They like people like Sarah Palin, and believe what she says even when she contradicts herself. They tend to be people of faith, so they believe other people of faith, even when those people are shown to be charlatans. The believers take things on faith, or base their opinions on how things make them feel.
The thinkers, obviously, are more intellectual. They like evidence. They are willing to change their minds based on new evidence. Their positions tend to be more nuanced, which makes them appear wishy-washy, or at least, not “strong”. Dubya was not a thinker, he was “the decider” and wasn’t particularly interested in evidence. He certainly didn’t like to read.
But there is another categorical division that might be even more important, based on greed. There are people who automatically have respect for those people with money or power, no matter how they got it. They are people like Joe the Plumber, who argued against taxing the rich, even though he was not rich. After all, the rich must be good, because they are rich! Interestingly, not all rich are greedy (i.e., George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet), and many greedies are not rich. The greedies hate all taxes — except of course that they love the military and are willing to spend lots of taxes on war, because they believe that war will give them more money and power.
The opposite of the greedies don’t have a name, but I’ll call them the “fairies”. They are more concerned with fairness and making the world a better place, than with making money. The fairies are in favor of social security because it provides a safety net for everyone (the greedies are in favor of social security because they want the money — they are the ones who tell the government to keep their hands off their social security). The fairies are in favor of single-payer health care (thinkers are in favor of single-payer health care, but because it provides better outcomes for less money). It bothers the fairies that the rich can buy justice. The fairies want the government to spend more money on public education, while the greedies want private schools, and they want the government to pay for them.
Greedies tend to associate with believers, although greedies often take advantage of believers (e.g., Fox News and the Tea Party). Fairies tend to associate with thinkers.