Friday, September 21, 2012

No, You Hate America!

Back to "tribalism" for a moment.  I don't watch TV, so I haven't seen Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and had no idea what it was even about until it came up in a post at alicublog earlier this week.  As usual, Roy Edroso was discussing a rightblogger who'd been making a fool of himself online, "talking about [the] 'last remaining undecided voters in America,' and bases his characterization on the fact that a reality TV show about hillbillies beat out some reality TV shows about rich politicians making promises to America." Which, as Edroso noted, seems like a reasonable preference. The rightblogger called for an adjustment of Republican rhetoric to appeal to "the Honey Boo Boos": "the headlines need to be as unsubtle as possible, but still hewing to reality — reality through our lens."

Edroso continues:
I'll spare you: It mainly means recreating rightwing talking points like "OBAMA TEAM TWEETS COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA" in oversize red letters. "Even a Honey Boo Boo can get through those headlines," he says; "they’re short enough to survive the three-second attention span."

That someone actually thinks this about his fellow citizens doesn't surprise me, but I am a little surprised that he would say it out loud in a public forum. It suggests to me that Zombie is not actually concerned with influencing those voters. He's like a teenage boy who doesn't have a girlfriend and declares it's because girls prefer jerks, and so he'll be a jerk himself, and then they'll all come running. Having been a teenage boy myself, I recall that such a person is usually not seriously mapping out a seduction strategy, but looking for sympathy from like-minded loners.
Ah, the populist piety of campaign season!  Those whose memories are not properly disciplined may remember how, after the Kenyan usurper's false victory in 2008 and just before his 2010 comeuppance, rightbloggers high and low claimed that conservatives respect ordinary voters, while the liberals despise them.  I suspect this (false) claim had something to do with the fact that the Tea Party was flush with corporate money, and the Democrats were suffering from voter disenchantment, so the Republicans were feeling strong and of course they'd want to justify this by declaring their faith in the wisdom of We The People.  At the moment, however, the shoe is on the other foot: Romney and Ryan are flailing around helplessly, other Republican candidates are in trouble, Obama is confident, and many Democrats are already (and prematurely) proclaiming victory, so Roy can afford to be generous.

Of course I agree that it's not wise politically to say derogatory things about the voters, such as that we must not "underestimate how stupid the voting public is," that the wise elites "are always talking policy but the voters are always choosing on personality," that "the vast majority of voters don't vote on policy or logic or history but rather on tribal loyalties and misunderstood rumors."  However, this is how liberal Democrats talk sometimes.  While Roy Edroso was circumspect in this post, his commenters promptly began laying on the Hee-Haw jokes, obese hilljack couch potato jokes, Cracker jokes, White Trash jokes, etc.  One commenter wondered whether "the Honey Boo Boos (Does he mean the actual mo-rons of the show, or the ninnies who watch, btw? Pretty sure there's a difference.) are registered, let alone 'likely,' voters."  That was the rightblogger's point: that the show's subjects and audience were "undecided" and must be won over to the Romney-Ryan cause.  Evidently some Democrats feel that they'll never convince such people that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.

The difference between this kind of "tribalism" and the kind that many leftbloggers decry is that it's not specifically racial, in the sense of dividing humanity up by skin color or language.  It is, however, related to scientific racism, which divides humanity according to class, years of schooling, IQ and other "cognitive" traits.  Class includes not only income and wealth but class markers, such as the kind of entertainment consumed, or one's religious affiliation: if you must be religious, then join a respectable denomination like the Episcopalians, or be a Reform Jew.  Though some crude forms of Social Darwinism are stereotypically associated with the Right, contempt for the poorer, fatter, and less schooled as a lesser breed is endemic among liberals, progressives and leftists.  Most of the right wingers I know are petit bourgeois, many are college graduates, and judging by their Facebook photos are pretty well-kept -- no doubt the result of many years' feeding from the public trough -- yet too many liberal Democrats stereotype the Right as obese trailer trash gorging themselves on Cheetos in front of the TV.  Not that they'd be justified even if it were true.