Pandering to the Frightened

Analysis by Kyle A. Lohmeier

The official party platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties are philosophically inconsistent. While the preceding sentence doesn’t express a very new or novel thought, it bears repeating; particularly during an election cycle where reporters and pundits are too busy fawning over their favorites and excoriating their counterparts to mention that this is all really just a circus show to keep the serfs amused and convinced they’re involved in governance. That sentence likely came across as exceedingly cynical, so, allow me to elaborate.

The Republican Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, really messed up the GOP’s lip-service payments to the idea of “small government” when he signed the state’s now-infamous “Bathroom Bill” into law, which compels trans-gendered people to use the bathroom of the sex that is indicated on their birth certificate. He has since doubled down on this and is counter-suing the Department of Justice after DOJ threatened to withhold billions in federal spending from the state unless the law was revoked. That the party that claims to support “small government” wants just enough authority to dictate how a tiny percentage of the population relieves themselves outside of their own home is more than a bit contradictory and philosophically inconsistent.

Of course, the Democrat side has their own pet projects that fly in the face of their oft-professed commitment to individual liberty. Chief among those is their rabid desire to enact ever-increasingly draconian gun-control measures. Of course, this same party doesn’t believe humans have a right to the property they’ve earned, so, their commitment to individual liberty is just as serious as the GOP’s commitment to small government, i.e. not at all. However, they are the party that wants individuals to be able to marry whomever they want, pee in whichever restroom best fits their identity and/or terminate a pregnancy if they choose, but private property ownership and self-defense somehow aren’t inherent human rights in the eyes of the DNC. Modern healthcare insurance and related services are to be considered a basic human right, however. And, this all makes perfect sense, as long as you ignore the glaring philosophical inconsistency.

I’m convinced that even calling these seeming anomalies “philosophical inconsistencies” is giving the parties and the politicians too much credit. The party platforms cannot be philosophically inconsistent because the parties and the members thereof are philosophically bankrupt. The planks of each party’s platform don’t represent a core principle, they represent a demographic to be pandered to. At some point in the distant past, the parties seemed to have a demographic draft. Producers and laborers went in the first round to the GOP and democrats respectively. Subsequent rounds saw the religious reich, the pro-gun side and assorted pro-capitalists go to the Republican team while the Democrats filled out their roster with environmentalists, feminists, collectivists and assorted individuals who could be convinced to see themselves as a disadvantaged minority.

It is when we look at the parties’ platforms in this light that they sort of make sense, whereas trying to view them each as a coherent philosophy is impossible. Of course, nothing is static, everything in society moves and changes at its own pace, and government struggles to keep up. Lately, both parties have been able to count on the support of a new and increasingly vast demographic; the perennially terrified. It is this group that both Democrats and Republicans, and their proxy special interest groups, have been courting relentlessly. North Carolina’s “Bathroom Bill” is an example of this; it is nothing more than the GOP pandering to people possessed of irrational fears.

Likewise, groups and media outlets on the left, like the Brady Campaign and Mother Jones magazine are attempting to sell their perennially terrified audience on the idea that there is an epidemic of “gun violence” in the USA; despite the fact that there has been a 20-year downturn in violent crime across the board during the same time that more Americans than ever before are legally carrying concealed handguns on their person on a daily basis.

The fact that perverts aren’t likely to start claiming to be trans-gendered so they can lurk in ladies’ rooms looking for rape victims doesn’t register with the hysterically fearful to whom McCrory is successfully pandering. Likewise, the fact that one is simply unlikely to be shot by anyone, let alone by a “gunsturbating ammosexual” with a carry permit means nothing to the hysterically frightened hoplophobes who consume the lies put out by the Brady Campaign, Salon, Mother Jones etc. uncritically.

I’d hate to quote FDR ever, let alone here, so I won’t. But it really is the irrational, hysterical fear some people possess that ought worry the rest of us. Because, those people vote. In droves. For really, really dumb ideas that were sold to them by really, really cynical career politicians bent on maintaining power. Fear is how we got the Transportation Safety Administration and how the National Security Agency got the power to spy on us all. Fear is how we got the Gun Control Act of 1968. Fear is why no one in America has enjoyed a game of lawn jarts during a family barbecue since the 1980s.

Until we, as a nation and as a society, learn to quit being so damned frightened of everything, and figure out that the government cannot protect us from that which they and the media frightened us over to begin with, we’re going to keep watching millions of our tax dollars being set alight in legal battles over dumb things like who pees in which rooms in which buildings while the NSA sifts through all of our emails just in case one of us is a terrorist with a Hotmail account.

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