Tag Archives: conservative

In the UK, the Left Has Other-ized the Rest

Following the British general election, in which the center-right in the form of the Conservatives and UKIP parties completely outperformed the predictions of every pollster, pundit and media outlet, those same pollsters and pundits are earnestly exercized with trying to understand how they got it all so utterly, consistently and massively wrong.

Two dominant explanations have been offered: first, that the British electorate changed their political preferences in the last couple of days before casting their votes; and second, that people who vote Conservative (by far the largest party in England by representatives in parliament and by popular votes) were too “ashamed” to be honest about their intentions to those who ask.

As a Brit who has maintained a strong interest in British politics, but lives abroad, I am pleased to be able to save these navel-gazing pundits a great deal of time.

Let me start with a thought experiment.

Consider the statement, “Some of my best friends are UKIPpers.”

Now replace UKIP in that sentence with any easily identifiable group in society like “black”, “gays”, “women”, or (for the sake of being politically current,) “Scots”. The statement immediately becomes an unpleasant attempt to proclaim one’s progressive disposition while actually demonstrating its opposite – since the very fact of needing to say such a thing admits a regressive, chauvinistic paradigm from which the speaker feels the need to distance himself (in the spirit of “the lady doth protest too much”.)

But as written, with the word “UKIPpers”, that sentence could be said at almost any dinner party in England (assuming that no UKIP voter is invited, of course,) and would likely get a genuinely curious, “Really?” from well-meaning Labor-voters and Liberals, as the start of a conversation about just how shocking people’s views can be … and how genuinely fascinating it is that humanity can include people who maintain such obviously unjustifiable or misguided views.

In other words, many young, educated, middle-class adults (I am one of those) would respond to the statement “some of my best friends are UKIPpers”, not with the horrified silence that the statement, “some of my best friends are gay” would elicit, but more the wondrous curiosity of a person contemplating an exotic and perhaps somewhat dangerous animal.

Why? Fortunately, as a regular listener to the British media who doesn’t live in Britain, I can easily explain.

Although the United States, my adopted country, gives me most of what I need to be very happy, there are some things from Blighty that I can’t do without, like good tea and Marmite. Chief among them is the BBC, and specifically those great Radio 4 comedies that I often play at the end of a busy day as I wind down to sleep… sketch shows, quiz shows, stand-up shows… Many of them are brilliant. The writing is invariably witty; the comedians are invariably talented; and I am always grateful for (and a little bit proud of) this export from my native land.

But all of these shows – all of them – have something else in common. Whereas they would never, ever make jokes at the expense of any of the groups I identified above (with the occasional exception of the Scots – but watch that change now that they have identified themselves as a victim group), they all play off the unstated but unhidden understanding that the Tories are mean or callous or evil, and UKIPpers are all of those things or perhaps just too stupid to know better.

The same is true of comedy and other entertainment on TV in the UK. Shows that do not purport a political point of view but are written with mass appeal for reasonably educated people nevertheless include politically motivated comedy that always comes from the same overtly Left-wing direction. It’s utterly predictable. I still love the shows, but with a recurrent disappointment that well-meaning, clever and funny writers and performers, whose work both arises from, and determines, Britain’s “cultural normal”, do not even care to understand that what they take for granted is not so obvious to a large part of the culture that thinks differently. And worse, the part of British political culture that our mainstream performers, entertainers and comedians don’t get and can’t write jokes for (rather than against) is actually the majority of British political culture.

Most political tribes sacralize something, and the Left tends to sacralize victim groups. Believing their politics to be the only reasonable political manifestation of inclusiveness and compassion, many self-identified left-wingers look down on Tories and Ukippers for other-izing (treating as essentially “other than themselves”) victim groups, such as welfare recipients and immigrants, respectively (just to pick a couple of examples).

The obvious irony is that in so doing, the British Left, through the mainstream and alternative culture, other-ize those they perceive as guilty of the unconscionable offence of other-izing. Left-wing other-ization always manifests as a kind of condescension – a soft shaming that pervades British popular culture in the form of both jokes and serious accusations that go unremarked, about the meanness of Tory voters and the ignorance of Ukippers etc. They always get a laugh and no one thinks anything of it, even though the very same jokes about gays, blacks, women, foreigners would be utterly anathema.

Just as progressives are quite right to point out the meanness and ignorance on which other-izing always depends, they surely display their own meanness and ignorance when they other-ize those who vote differently or have different ideas about what social and economic justice mean, or what social structures make for a happy society over time.

And before I am accused of other-izing the Left, I should say, with my tongue only half in my check, that “most of my British friends are Labor voters”, and I don’t other-ize them at all. I don’t think worse of them. I don’t assume moral superiority that allows me to lump them altogether and then make jokes about them. I understand that decent people have different views – even if I believe to my very core that those views would be extremely damaging if fully implemented – just as I expect some of those friends think likewise about some of my views. And that is absolutely fine.

So, then, without other-izing, I offer the following just as a cultural observation and a large part of the answer to the question that is currently exercising British political pundits.

A Leftish in-crowd culture pervades the UK, and especially its airwaves.

Here’s another thought experiment: can you name a few mainstream British comedians who take an explicitly Tory, classical liberal or (God forbid), populist UKIP-like perspective from which they make jokes about icons of the modern Left in the same way every Radio 4 comedy or TV quiz show naturally takes pot-shots not just at Cameron and Farage (who are fair game because they chose to seek power) but at entire swathes of the public who support them? Not only can such comedians not be named (because they don’t exist): it’s almost impossible to imagine what their acts would even consist of.

Sure, the News Quiz or Have I Got News For You make jokes at Miliband’s expense, but when did you last hear a put-down of “Labor voters” or “Labor politicians” as a block like the ones you’ve hear repeatedly made at the expense of all Tories or Ukip voters and politicians?

Our mainstream culture not longer allows moral condescension based on sexual orientation, skin color, gender, place of birth etc. But condescension based on political disposition is fair game – if and only if the disposition is perceived to be to the right.

If the post-mortem of the elections is anything to go by, the bulk of both Britain’s media establishment and its providers of alternative culture are so saturated in the soft tyranny of pseudo-intellectual condescension against those they perceive as the other-izers, that they cannot see the self-contradiction inherent in their chauvinistic other-izing millions – literally millions – of people.

I am sure there are mean Tories, but all the ones who I know vote conservative because they believe there is more compassion in a hand up than a hand out if the hand out becomes a destroyer of dignity, aspiration or basic fair play. I am sure there are racist UKIPpers, but all the ones I know vote UKIP because they believe that the EU is undemocratic and that freedom of thought and speech (and therefore the ability to determine one’s own destiny) depend on being able to talk about the causes of social and economic problems without being immediately marginalized because they are talking about a sacralized group or issue.

Sneering at the chauvinism of entire groups of people who differ politically, without knowing their stories and reasons, is chauvinistic. Yet, that particular chauvinism saturates British popular culture – whether represented by Russell Brand’s aggressive populism or by Radio 4’s more decent intellectualism – or anything in between. (Murdoch’s papers are just about the exception that proves the rule.)

In other words, under the banner of “We Know Better Than to Other-ize”, the British Left, has other-ized the Rest.

In 1969, American President Nixon was the first to talk about the silent majority.

In 2015, the UK today has something a little different – a silenced majority.

So the real question is not, “Why were the polls and media wrong?”: it is, “why did you expect them not to be?”.

Answer that question and you’ll really understand British political culture.

CPAC Straw Poll Winner Rand Paul Battles The Bush Machine—Goldwater Style

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2015—As the winner of the past three Conservative Political Action Committee’s (CPAC) Straw Polls, Senator Rand Paul excels at generating meaningful political and economic discussions among college students and young professionals. The same generation that is known for speaking in bewildering acronyms continues to gather in force to ask and to answer difficult questions that are essential to the life and liberty of all Americans. Their answers will ultimately determine the future of the nation.

The Senator’s most recent economic stand will endear him to anyone who has ever interfaced with the Internal Revenue Service. He promised to introduce the largest tax cut in American history. In his speech to attendees of CPAC, he mentioned that he is poised to propose a tax plan “that would get the IRS out of our lives.” He indicated his intention to cut taxes “for everyone from the richest to the poorest.”

“It’s time for a new way predicated on opportunity and freedom!” said Paul to a wildly supportive crowd. The Senator attacked America’s indiscriminate foreign aid policies, especially the large sums of money sent without the permission of taxpayers to countries that consider The United States an enemy. “Not one penny more to these haters of America!” said Paul.

His speech had the tenor of a well-run, focused campaign and was eerily similar to comments made by Senator Barry Goldwater exactly 50 years ago on the campaign trail leading up to his landmark GOP presidential nomination. “You cannot stop a man who has vowed to bury you by handing him a shovel,” said Goldwater, “By feeding and clothing his friends, while denying your friends the means to help protect you!” Goldwater believed that removing foreign aid would ultimately prevent wars.

Several members of the Young Jewish Conservatives attending CPAC this year specifically mentioned the foreign aid issue as a driving force behind their support for Rand Paul for president. Paul’s straight talk appeals to countless concerned Americans who are fed up with politics as usual, feel betrayed by the Party Machine, and fear that the United States is on an irreversible course similar to that of the Titanic—or Greece.

Two weeks prior to CPAC, the Students for Liberty (SFL) held its national conference in Washington, D.C. More than 1,700 students from across the world attended. The group was largely inspired by the ideas presented to them by Senator Paul’s father, Congressman Ron Paul. Now it is the fastest-growing political group on college campuses globally, and is surpassing both the College Democrats and College Republicans groups on American campuses.

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is another group inspired by the Paul family’s articulation of limited government principles. Many YAL members were active in the GOP for years before they understood the liberty message, realized how well it resonates, and committed to passionately fight to preserve it. The large presence of both SFL and YAL at CPAC is telling, and has seemingly eliminated the establishment hostilities doled out to them by fellow attendees when they were the minority at previous conferences. The young libertarians gladly swap testimonies of political enlightenment with a fervor nostalgic of a tent revival meeting. They are also getting elected to offices across the land, a clear sign that they are not going away anytime soon.

Freedom is popular, it seems, and the Bill of Rights is back en vogue with a new generation of American rebels. This energy threatens to change the go-along-to-get-along, aging Republican establishment, which is why the party profiteers are so quick to strike back at the resurgence of old school conservatism.

The same Rockefeller Republicans who sandbagged Goldwater after he won the GOP nomination from the floor are currently working financial and legal channels on behalf of Jeb Bush. The 2016 Republican nomination is seemingly fixed for the top fundraiser and his delegate-donors, a complete violation of the nominating process. Sources say Jeb Bush bussed hundreds of people to CPAC from their Washington offices just to fill seats during his speech and to presumably raise his standing in the straw poll. This effort did not succeed in preventing him from being handily booed every time his name was mentioned, including while he addressed the attendees who remained after a protest/walkout. His temporary seat-filling strategy was met with disdain by attendees who saved and spent their own money to attend the duration of the event and cast their ballots.

One of Paul’s leading critics is fellow Senator and former GOP nominee John McCain, a man who praises Goldwater with his lips while shunning everything he stood for by his actions.  Just two years ago, the 80-year-old McCain called Senators Paul and Cruz, as well as Congressman Justin Amash, “wacko birds.” He called their supporters, the Under 40 crowd that supports Paul’s limited government principles, “impressionable libertarian kids.”

Yet, the vibrant, liberty-leaning younger crowd that has wrestled its way into the GOP is the only fresh blood coursing through the Party’s very old veins. Perhaps the current Republican Party leadership is not the right body from which to expect kind words of “big tent” gratitude. The crowds who now stand with Rand don’t seem to care. Their vision is clear, and they know they will eventually outlive the generation that got the country into this mess in the first place. They seem to be ready to get to work.

VIDEO: Former NSA Director Heckled for Calling Himself a “Libertarian”

Gen. Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency, was called out on Friday by audience members, after he called himself a “libertarian” at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Hayden attended the conference for a debate with Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News. Hayden’s comments followed comments by Napolitano saying that the audience should be “outraged” by the NSA’s massive surveillance program.

In reply, Hayden said, “If NSA were even capable of doing what the judge has just outlined for you, we wouldn’t be having a debate here today. There would be nothing to argue about.

Hayden continued, “Let’s talk about reality. Let’s talk about factsThe judge is an unrelenting libertarian.”

Hayden’s comment about Napolitano was met with applause and cheers from the crowd.

So am I,” Hayden said. “I’m an unrelenting libertarian who’s also responsible for four decades of his life for another important part of that document, the part that says ‘provide for the common defense.’”

The tone of the audience quickly changed, following Hayden’s second comment, and members booed, and shouted out,”No, you’re not!

18-year-old Saira Blair Becomes America’s Youngest Lawmaker

On Tuesday, 18-year-old Republican Saira Blair became the youngest lawmaker in the United States, when she was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Blair, who is currently a freshman, majoring in Economics at West Virginia University, defeated her democratic opponent, Layne Diehl, by receiving 63 percent of the vote in West Virginia’s 59th delegate district.

POLITICO reported that Blair “launched her campaign earlier this year and unseated a two-term incumbent in a May primary ­– the first time she could vote herself.”

I’d been involved with politics since I was about 6 years old, when my father first ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates,” said Blair, who explained that she had spent the last 10 years watching and shadowing her father, Craig Blair, as he made his way to becoming a state Senator.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Blair contributed nearly $4,000 to her own campaign. “Candidates should have some skin in the game,” said Blair. “I wanted voters to know I was serious.

After becoming involved with student government, Blair became passionate about individuals her age taking part in politics, and making a difference.

When I saw how capable the students were of creating such progressive legislation and really getting work done, it really made me realize that we really didn’t need to wait,” Blair said.

Newsweek reported that Blair’s main goals include creating jobs, repealing the Unfair Trade Practice Act that keeps West Virginia’s gas prices from competing with bordering states, and making West Virginia a right-to-work state, which allows employees to “make their own decision about whether to join or support a union.

According to POLITICO, Blair “pushed back against criticism that young people are apathetic and Democratic claims that the GOP has a war on women.”

The most negativity that I get for my age and for my gender is from the Democratic Party, not from my own,” Blair said.

Blair announced that after the fall semester, she will not be returning to school in the spring, but will instead work as a delegate for a semester, before returning to school in the summer and fall.

For far too long, West Virginians have been burdened by high unemployment, a sluggish economy, and a government unwilling to listen to the needs of its citizens,” said Blair, in a statement on her Facebook page.

Today, the voters of the 59th District in the great state of West Virginia sent a clear message that the path to prosperity and success is rooted in conservative values and principles,” said Blair. “When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation’s voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state’s most challenging issues.”

Tea Party lawsuits against the IRS thrown out of court

The courts have ruled in favor of the IRS Thursday after federal courts in DC threw-out lawsuits being brought against the agency by more than 40 conservative groups seeking compensation for the delays and scrutiny of their tax-exempt forms and applications.

Two cases involving the groups True the Vote and Linchpins of Liberty were deemed moot by Judge Reggie Walton of the US District Court of the District of Columbia, after it was made clear the IRS had granted the groups their desired tax-exempt status.  The case involving Linchpins of Liberty also involved the other 40 conservative groups who had banded together and polled their efforts for the case.

“After the plaintiff initiated this case, its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS,” said Judge Walton, according to Politico.  “The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff.”

True the Vote founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, said she was very upset by the decision and feels the targeting and her and her group’s political views is a “reprehensible” act.  “The court acknowledges in its opinion that the IRS did in fact target True the Vote for our perceived political beliefs, but then it holds that neither the agency nor the individual IRS agents or officers are responsible for this unconstitutional conduct,” said Engelbrecht. 

“It’s a disappointing ruling,” Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told the Daily Signal.  “It basically leaves targets of bad behavior by the IRS without a remedy.”

The IRS has admitted it used inappropriate measures and criteria to single-out conservative groups, starting in 2010, in order to slow the process of holding the status of tax-exempt groups.  Two House committees are still carrying out their own investigations into the IRS on these claims, according to the Washington Times, and many top IRS officials, such as Louis Lerner, have already resigned from their positions.