Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Right Wingers & The Victim Card

Right-Wingers fancy themselves as hard-nosed realists. Unlike fluffy-headed liberal/progressives, who spend their days dreaming of a perfect world, the right wingers are suspicious of utopian schemes. They know quite well that life is hard, and they disdain few things more than whiners and complainers.
But if right wingers hate victimhood so much, why then does the Republican Party encourage its base to feel so aggrieved, especially at the hands of those snotty "elites"? Whether it's complaining about lipstick on a pig or bashing Washington insiders, the media and those oh-so-condescending Hollywood celebrities, Republicans have turned their own kind of victimhood into a political art form.

In fairness, Republicans didn't invent victim politics, nor do they have the franchise on it. But the form they engage in is particularly troublesome, not least because so many conservatives seem not to even realize they're up to their eyebrows in a game they claim to despise.

When Americans go on the attack against elites, historically we think of economic populism, the kind of class warfare pushed by the left wingers. This is about money, inequality and an agenda to redistribute wealth. Liberal/Progressive activists rail against robber barons and corporate fat cats.

Conservative populism leverages social rather than economic cleavages. The agenda is mobilizing resentful masses that get a vicarious go at thumbing their noses at anyone they feel looks down on them. The enemies list is made up of professors, public intellectuals and entertainers, not captains of industry. And without any real redress in mind, conservative populism is all about emotion and personal grievance, not righting any particular social or economic wrong. You'd think the rise of conservative media, eight years of a conservative administration (2000-2008) and a conservative-leaning Supreme Court would have undermined the GOP's victim strategy.

Right Wingers still behave like a battered minority. That's too bad, because it undermines the conservative critique of the politics of victimization, which is not a bad one. When they aren't practicing victimhood, roght wingers argue that it weakens moral accountability and therefore personal responsibility. To identify yourself as a perpetual victim, they would say, tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy that can undermine an individual's or a group's ability to improve their lot over time.

So what I'm saying is please stop playing the Victim Card! Just stop it!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hollywood, many media outlets, and myriad of college professors actually do dislike conservatives and look down on many of the Republican Party's voting blocs: South, rural areas, and evangelical Christians. And liberal populist action, though not necessarily wrong (this coming from a moderate-conservative) is very emotionally driven, such as Occupy Wall Street. Though I don't condone victimhood, I understand where my fellow conservatives are coming from.

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