How we see both ourselves and others can be pretty revealing. The same also holds true for political parties.
In almost any heated political argument these days, at some point you will hear liberals depicting Trump voters, and conservatives generally, as the ignorant, uneducated rabble, or, in the words of Hillary Clinton, the "deplorables." Conversely, liberals like to depict themselves as the educated, sophisticated elite. Let's examine those assumptions.
It is an article of faith among the left that anyone who would vote for Trump must be an ignorant, uneducated, impoverished, trailer-dwelling, toothless, mouth-breathing dimwit. And they supported Trump because they are either racist/misogynistic/xenophobic/homophobic, etc., troglodytes who found an ideological refuge with Trump, or because they are television-beguiled rubes who are dazzled by his flashy celebrity.
Of course, the other caricature that liberals like is that conservatives are the 1 percent oligarchs who control and exploit society. This rarely gets mentioned at the same time, as it is kind of hard to reconcile the two. Relatively few billionaire oligarchs live in shabby trailers in Appalachia.
When you assign characteristics and traits based upon political affiliation, you have to first look at the political platforms and agendas that draw people to their respective parties. What is the agenda of the Democratic Party that appeals to these supposedly educated, sophisticated, affluent liberals, and what is the agenda of the Republicans that appeals to such deplorables?
Well, first of all, the Democrats promise their voters lots of "free stuff." Free college, free medical care, free child care, paid family leave, loan forgiveness, a guaranteed income, etc., all of which will be paid for by the detested "rich." We've had most of the Democratic presidential candidates engaged in a sort of frenzied bidding war, trying to see who can seduce their voter base with promises of the most goodies.
Predictably, the high-minded Democrats heatedly reject any sort of suggestion that this is just buying votes. They offer as the moral justification for this generosity the fact that their voters are wretched "victims," who are too helpless and inept to support themselves and thus need government help in order to survive.
Now, I personally have difficulty reconciling the image of wretched supplicants living in a state of dependency, with that of a sophisticated, educated elite. When I think of "elite," I tend to think of people who are, at the least, self-supporting and who don't need to be taken care of.
And when I think of "educated," I tend to think of someone with the ability to at least do simple math, and to be aware of how long it will take to pay off the $150,000 they borrowed for a pricey private college and Caribbean spring breaks. And I would assume that an educated person would grasp the principles of cause and effect and linear thinking, and have some awareness that a degree in art history, philosophy, or gender studies is unlikely to provide them with the high-paying career needed to pay off their loans.
What other groups do the Democrats claim as a natural part of their educated, high-functioning constituency? How about felons, a group which Democrats strongly believe should be allowed to vote? Myself, I would be a bit embarrassed to be associated with a party that assumes that felons, the people who murder, assault, rob, and generally prey upon the rest of society, are a natural part of my affinity group, and can be counted upon to vote a reliably Democratic ticket.
Who else do the Democrats claim as part of their constituency? Well, remember the 2000 election, and the famous "butterfly" ballots? Well, Democrats claimed that the voters who were "too confused" to figure out those ballot must have been Democrats, while the brainiacs who did manage to understand them must have been Republicans.
Recall Bill Clinton and his mandate that voter registration materials be made available in welfare offices. Obviously, Clinton figured that few Republicans frequent the welfare offices, while plenty of potential Democrats do. Impressive.
Currently, Democrats are arguing that the voters who can't be bothered to regularly vote, or to return cards verifying their address, are also obviously Democrats, as are those who are so far "off the grid" that they can't even produce an ID to vote.
So, if we conservatives disregard the unkind, ignorant, and uneducated "deplorable" caricatures that Democrats assign to us and instead look to the obvious assumptions that they make about us, it is really quite flattering. While they see their own voters as helplessly dependent, criminally inclined, unengaged, and hopelessly confused, they see conservatives as the self-supporting taxpayers who don't need to be cared for by government. They see us as law-abiding. And they see us as somehow being intelligent enough to successfully negotiate all the obstacles to voting that their own voters seem to find so insurmountable.
Hey, and they also even occasionally see us as the all-powerful oligarchs from whom they must wrest control of society!
Pretty good for a bunch of deplorable, uneducated, trailer-trash, eh? Δ
John Donegan is a retired attorney in Pismo Beach, who always gets a little pissy around tax time. Send comments through the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.