"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wSunday, December 21, 2003

TRIBAL POLITICS: Had another Spectator cover Friday but I wasn't able to post it here because of getting ready to fly back to the good Washington. This one was written in such a dizzying burst that, at 1,700 plus words, it only hints at a few very important thoughts (well, important to me, anyway) that I'll develop in one or more essays in the new year:

VIRGINIA -- "Polarization" is one of those words that creep into the language because they promise to describe something better, but do so with their fingers crossed. America is now more polarized than ever, we are told. People in red states are rural and conservative. They polish their guns for kicks and take their coffee black. Blue staters are more urbane, refined, in a word: liberal. They order double tall lattes with a shot of mint and two creams, read books, and appreciate the finer things in life, like the musical stylings of Marshall Mathers.

The two parties, also, are said to be charging toward opposite poles. The GOP is the party of war, big business, and a virulent strain of Christian fundamentalism. NAACP Chair Julian Bond said, at that organization's 2001 national convention, that president Bush belongs the "Taliban wing of American politics."

Conversely, the groups that make up the constituency of the Democratic Party -- left-wing pressure groups, teachers unions, feminists, the media -- constitute a "Godless party," charged National Review alum Rod Dreher in a cover story for Touchstone earlier this year. Democrats were tarred in 1972 as being the party of "amnesty, abortion, and acid" -- and to that modern critics might add graft, gays, and groupthink. This next election, some pundits pontificate, will be like 1972, except more so. It will be an ideological tussle of Titans, with free popcorn thrown in.

This is a rough sketch of how left and right want to see this election, themselves, and their ideological opposites in the Year of Our Lord 2003. Call me a cynic, but before the political machines roll through the primaries, I believe it's worth asking to what extent these observations accurately reflect the facts on the ground. Put another way: How much of what left and right think about each other is real, and to what extent are they railing against, and defending, Platonic ideals -- ideals so far removed from reality that they have ceased to be useful? [more]

posted by Jeremy at 12:24 PM