“I remember once being much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engage in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight, after a long, and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his coat and into that of the other.” (From a “Letter to Henry L. Pierce and others” by Abraham Lincoln, dated April 6, 1859)
It seems Mr. Lincoln observed the pair of toxic masculines engaging in a performance of partisan politics. The two parties are constantly switching sides on matters. Each side of a disagreement is incredibly vehemently enough, arguing for a point that it was arguing against some time ago.
We see this happen with endless bickering over taxes, tax cuts, the debt ceiling, the filibuster, etc., with every turn of the U.S. election cycle. But the very peculiar phenomenon of the parties arguing themselves out of their respective positions and into the opposite pole of a profoundly contentious, difficult moral question has also characterized American politics throughout a generation.
“Right-wing Twitter thinks it’s such a massive own to point out that Democrats used to be the right-wing, racist, pro-KKK party in the South,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid wrote this week.
She scratched back, “like those of us who embrace history don’t know that. The reversal of the two parties is part of history.”
Then Reid indulged in one of my favorite pastimes, spreading around conspiracy theories about politicians. She said the Republican Party was conspiring to foment book-banning to prevent history from being taught in schools:
“This history is easily accessible to anyone who wishes to research it.” Sadly, it is rarely taught in schools. And what passes for the Republican Party today is doing everything it can to keep it that way, including inciting book-banning.”
Ms. Reid could do an episode on her show about it. Cable news audiences love it when they are surprised with an educational program and expect more of the disorientingly fast-paced, short news segments, as Glenn Beck found with his top-rated program on CNN Headline News and Fox News Network.
Beck found to his great success that audiences liked learning, and like a program, they could follow along with to gain understanding, rather than being jolted in turns by a string of disconnected news segments like so many news shows do today.
Joy Reid concludes: ‘“So if you want to “own the libs,” please come up with something more original than “the Democrats were the Klan party.” No sh** Sherlock. That’s why history is interesting.”’
Okay, here goes:
Suppose Republicans are the right-wing party in 2021, and Democrats are the left-wing party. Why do the Republicans cheer a joke-telling television celebrity from New York City (creative) who told some racist jokes to ease the tension, then was a pretty chill dude as president (liberal), and Democrats cheer an Emperor Palpatine-looking career Washington D.C. guy (establishmentarian), who’s Empire Strikes Back handing the American people with a vaccine mandate through OSHA (authoritarian)?
And why is it that creative types like Silicon Valley and universities are becoming establishmentarian and authoritarian? At the same time, your more straight buckle dudes and the wives they voted for Trump are going for the more creative candidates and more relaxed public policies?