Thursday, November 07, 2013

Love Your Government

Love is in the air. There are plush teddy bears in the Capitol Hill gift shop and romantic songs playing on Air Force One. Listening tours are planned and every begging email asking for another five, ten or forty bucks to stop the Republican onslaught is addressed personally to you. To you.

Love makes the world go round, or so singers have crooned for the last hundred years. And what other emotion could it be but that which makes the iron wheels of the state turn.

With everything at stake, voters keep picking the candidates they think love them the most. The exit polls keep showing that voters choose unqualified radicals like Barack Obama or Bill de Blasio because they're "likable", "share their values" and "care about them."

Experience came in dead last in the New York election, both literally in Lhota's case, and in the exit polls, which showed voters ranking experience somewhere between a dead zebra and a mugger on the C train. 34 percent wanted someone who shared their values. 30 percent wanted change. And an unspecified number of right-wing lunatics wanted experience.

Voting is starting to look a lot like dating. A big chunk of the electorate doesn't just want someone to manage a government. They want someone who will make them feel special, share their values and love them back.

Government is becoming more personal, even as it's becoming more impersonal. Newly hatched ducks develop an attachment to their wire mothers. Children neglected by their parents fixate on their nannies. And what of a generation of broken families?

What else is there for all the Julias to do but turn to the man whom Indian chiefs used to call the Great White Father in Washington. And what is there for all the Chads to do but look for love from the bureaucratic wire mother of the Nanny State?

The great ambition of the social reformers was to replace the unscientific and selfish family with the progressive programs of the state. And their dream has been realized.

Within a few generations of government growth, a nation once noted for its strong nuclear family has replaced it with a cradle-to-grave state that abstractly pats all the Julias and Chads on the head, telling them they can be anything they want and then sending them the bill for its services.

Is it any wonder that Chad and Julia just want a government that loves them and are a bit fuzzy about the differences between a politician, their father and their significant other?

Past generations wanted to be inspired by leaders, but the definitions of inspiration and leadership have changed. In the past it meant urging others to rise to new challenges. Today it means making Chad and Julia feel good about themselves by telling them that they have great potential so that they feel like someone out there understands and cares about them without having to actually do anything.

The reelection of Bush Sr. was sunk in part because the World War II veteran was unable to field a question about how the National Debt had affected him personally. The question was senseless, but Bill Clinton understood that the questioner, who seemed to have stepped in from the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, wanted to be reassured that he cared. And so the Clinton Presidency was born.

The National Debt is bigger than ever and politicians have gotten better than ever at reassuring the people that they care about the national debt, they feel the national debt's pain, share its values and want it to grow up to be the best national debt that it can be in a country where every national debt has equal opportunities to achieve regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or national bankruptcy.

Conservatives struggling to convince the rest of the country that Obama is the worst thing since sliced bread that had been left out for three years in the sun face the same problem as anyone trying to convince a friend that the charming sociopath that they're dating is bad for them. They can assemble an artillery of facts, hurling them one by one, waiting for the BOOM, but only hearing faint thumps, and then resort to frustrated outrages of common sense only to get nowhere.

After all that, all it takes is a single "I care about you, share your values and promise never to take away your health plan again... period" teleprompter call to convince them that it truly is true love.

And even if the voters who only want to care about a politician who cares about them first eventually realize that they've been had, that while Obama was pretending to care about their anger at Wall Street, he was also pretending to care at least as much about the concerns of Wall Street executives, and so on for every one of their values, they'll just wait for the next charmer to come along.

Those who have been deprived of love will go on looking for it in all the wrong government places. And the Julias and Chads who associate government with love will press every politicians to tell them how the National Debt makes them feel and show them that they really truly care about them. That process will helpfully winnow most decent and competent leaders leaving behind sociopaths, car salesmen, community organizers, con men and anyone who can fake a relationship on a dime.

Emotion is more malleable than reason. And a relationship calls forth the most self-rationalizing emotional states that can exist in the human mind.

A politician who promises something tangible to voters and fails to deliver can be held accountable, but one who offers the intangible assurance that he cares and understands will persist until the love spell is broken and the emotional relationship is exposed as a sham beyond the ability of his victims to rationalize.

And that's not politics. It's deprogramming.

There is no question that most of us are in a relationship with government. It's a non-consensual relationship and an abusive one, but those are the kind most likely to lead to a bout of Stockholm Syndrome. Hostages fall in love with their hostage-takers, captives fall in love with their captors and Democratic voters fall in love with their elected officials.

With the traditional family in bad shape, romanticizing the even more dysfunctional relationship with the state transforms an abusive relationship into a caring one. Voters search for politicians who can humanize the detached impersonal power of the bureaucracy and make them feel like they aren't living in a George Orwell or Frank Kafka novel.

Likability counts more than ethics, experience, competence and actual knowledge because
government, like everything else, has become subjective.

There are no more clear truths. What is the definition of "sex"? What is the definition of "If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan period?"

Every crime has an explanation and every lie is turned on its head. And when you're living in spin city, the only thing you can believe in is love because personal relationships feel more real than millions of words of federal regulations or piles and piles of government forms.

Karl Rove understood that Republicans suffer from a "Caring Gap". It may be stupid, but in each race, George W. Bush managed to be a caring candidate going up against a stiff and out of touch Democrat. And then Obama was lucky enough to get John McCain and Mitt Romney, two men whose credentials and manners perfectly suited the old America, but who wouldn't be able to explain how the National Debt made them feel nearly as well as Obama or Bill Clinton could.

A sizable portion of the country doesn't just want someone good or someone who has the right ideas, they want someone to love them, to care about them and to make their relationship with government feel meaningful so that they can believe that it is love, rather than dirty money, favor-trading, vote-swapping, fanatical devotion to 19th century ideologies and humanitarianism that makes the fax machines, the hard drive platters , cars and cabinet meetings of government go round and round.


Edward Cline said...

Excellent post. It caused me to remember that line in those old Starkist Tuna commercials? "Sorry, Charlie. Sunkist doesn't want tuna that has good taste, it wants tuna that tastes good!" Obama voters don’t want "leaders" who have experience and intelligence and are connected to a causo-connected universe. They want "leaders" who make them feel comfortable in their mindlessness.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. It explains a lot.

Servo1969 said...

The United States is slowly being destroyed by fatherless blacks, socialist immigrants and single mothers. These people will happily choose Socialism every chance they get. They will end up with Marxism. Maybe even Communism when all is said and done. And they will never blame themselves.

Anonymous said...

Which is why I think that a constant Ted Cruz approach will work better than a Romney approach. Kicking sand in the face of dreamboat makes dreamboat look less desirable. Unfortunately a lot of rich Julia types have abusive boyfriends. It is what they respond to. They want to be protected as much as they want to be loved. If they can't have both they'll take the thug. We might as well be the thugs.

Viktor said...

Inspired, Daniel.

DADvocate said...

Why is it, whether it's rock stars, celebrities, or politicians, the people standing around them, looking agog and screaming, are almost always females?

Anonymous said...

Love Your Government

I wish I could love my government, or at least tolerate my government. But I don't have a government that in any way be considered to be "mine". It is a hostile entity that intends nothing but ill for me and mine.

Subotai Bahadur

Aguila2011 said...

Quite a divide when it comes to my own desires which simply put are "Just leave me the f**k alone!" I support the TEA party goals of lower taxes, smaller government, and reduced spending. How does anyone disagree with those goals and demonize that group given today's out of control environment? Well, I guess as was said before, "Common sense is not so common."

For Servo1969, please study up on economics and history before you blame any "group" for our problems. Your comments display your ignorance of the causality of many problems and their complexity. I would recommend reading books by Mark Levin as a start.

Servo1969 said...

I have read Mark Levin's books. I enjoyed them very much.

I don't see how I am mistaken.
Fatherless children tend to end up looking towards the government to take the place of Daddy. Blacks as a group especially seeing as how the illegitimacy rate in American blacks is over 70%.
Socialist immigrants come to America, some illegally, and will vote for what feels good to them. That would be an all powerful government that can give them the things they desire.
Single mothers are not helping their children by having babies out of wedlock.

My comment was not intended to delve into the "causality of many problems and their complexity." It's simply an observation I have made over all the years I have been alive.

Let me put it another way;
Wherever there are fatherless children there will be misery.
Wherever there is Socialism there will be fatherless children.

No, it's not all-encompassing. It's just an observation.

Bill said...

This essay goes far to explain why a majority of Canadians like the inexperienced, know-nothing, winsome leader of the Liberal party much more than the successful, clever, free marketer and sensible Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is credited with good economic management, creator of jobs, staunch supporter of Israel and a strong West.

Bill said...

"There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother." George Orwell.

Is it coming to this?

Anonymous said...

My grandfathter told me that a Democrat is someone that doesn't let facts or logic interfere with his opinion. At the time, over 30 years ago, I thought it was funny. I just didn't realize he was also right.

David Foster said...

Sebastian Haffner, who grew up in Germany between the wars, says that "A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions." During the stability (temporary, as we now know) of the Stresemann era, "Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk."


"To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis."

There is much of this "delivery of emotions by the public sphere" among today's American Left.

Anonymous said...

When it became obvious in 2008 that 0bama was "it", I flashed back to the movie "The Candidate", starring Robert Redford.

If you haven't seen it, rent it. It's worthwhile to watch the entire movie as a setup for the last scene.

Redford, the good-looking, smooth-talking empty suit gets backed to run for national office even though his intelligence is slightly north of cornflakes and his experience non-existent.

He agrees to run on a lark, but he's obedient; does what he's told. Women love him. Men want to be him.

He wins, confounding everyone.

As he's leaving his victory celebration, in the back seat of the limo with his chief backer, he turns to him and says (with an air of fear in his voice), "What do we do now?"

Isn't this exactly where we are?

Elections are about winning and the best at winning, once elected, have no idea how to govern.

Anonymous said...

Obama as America's abusive boyfriend. "Sorry", followed by "it's not you, it's me", and finally by "well work it out, somehow", meanwhile not changing his abusive behavior one bit. Ultimately, say about three years from now, it comes to "I never liked you all that much anyway, you aren't all that hot, you know".


Anonymous said...

Elections are about winning and the best at winning, once elected, have no idea how to govern.

certainly terry mcaufle springs to mind

lemon lime moon said...

"Love your government", No.

Anonymous said...

Time to be afraid, very afraid. That middle photo with the gals looking beside themselves with joy and ecstacy, I've a similar photo before; the rallies for Hitler. Their leader was gracing their lives with his presence. The look like they are having a religous experience and orgasm at the same time.

Anonymous said...

"Newly hatched ducks develop an attachment to their wire mothers."

A minor note - you've got your species crossed. It was rhesus monkeys
who developed an attachment to wire mothers. The ducks went for Konrad
Lorenz (and sometimes colored blocks).

Aeolus said...

David, thank you so much for referencing Sebastian Haffner. Though I've read quite a lot on 20th century events (it seems too recent to call it history), I somehow missed Haffner. His oeuvre looks fascinating and I'm looking forward to reading him.

David Foster said...

Aeolis & others...I reviewed Haffner's memoir here:

This is largely a book of social/psychological history, based on the experiences of one man. I agree with what Haffner says when he argues for the importance of social history, as opposed to purely political and military history:

"If you read ordinary history books…you get the impression that no more than a few dozen people have are involved…According to this view, the history of the present decade is a kind of chess game between Hitler, Mussolini, Chiang Kai-Shek, Roosevelt, Chamberlain, Daladier, and a number of other men whose names are on everybody’s lips. We anonymous others seem at best to be the objects of history, pawns in the chess game…It may seem a paradox, but it is none the less a simple truth, to say that on the contrary, the decisive historical events take place among us, the anonymous masses. The most powerful dictators, ministers, and generals are powerless against the simultaneous mass decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large…Decisions that influence the course of history arise out of the individual experiences of thousands or millions of individuals.

This is not an airy abstract construction, but indisputably real and tangible. For instance, what was it that caused Germany to lose the Great War of 1918 and the Allies to win it? An advance in the leadership of Foch and Haig, or a decline in Ludendorff’s? Not at all. It was the fact that the ‘German soldier’, that is the majority of an anonymous mass of ten million individuals, was no longer willing, as he had been until then, to risk his life in any attack, or hold his position to the last man."

Turning to his own subject–the question of why the Germans allowed Naziism to happen–Haffner continues:

"Indeed, behind these questions are some very peculiar, very revealing, mental processes and experiences, whose historical significance cannot yet be fully gauged These are what I want to write about. You cannot get to grips with them if you do not track them down to the place where they happen: the private lives, emotions, and thoughts of individual Germans…There, in private, the fight is taking place in Germany. You will search for it in vain in the political landscape, even with the most powerful telescope. Today the political struggle is expressed by the choice of what a person eats and drinks, whom he loves, what he does in his spare time, whose company he seeks, whether he smiles or frowns, what pictures he hangs on his walls. It is here that the battles of the next world war are being decided in advance. That may sound grotesque, but it is the truth."

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