September 18, 2018

Reason and the State of the Liberal Union

State of the Union, 2018As you know, we have three branches of federal government in the U.S. which are supposed to serve as checks and balances on one another. To the dismay of those of us on the political left, the Republican Party controls the presidency, Congress, and will soon control the Supreme Court (in the sense that it will soon be more conservative than it is now). I think it is becoming increasingly difficult for those on the left to keep claiming, "This is not who we are." It is who roughly half the country is, and far too few of the half insisting otherwise have been willing to vote. So here we are in a country that looks more politically conservative than some of us would like.

In the short term, it seems like the political left would be wise to focus on the 2018 midterm elections, especially the key House races. It seems possible that the Democratic Party could gain control of the House. And if they fail to do so, their prospects for mounting effective opposition to President Trump become even bleaker than they already are. As for the Senate, Democrats probably need to be more oriented toward losing as few seats as possible. Gaining ground there in 2018 seems unlikely; however, that could change for 2020 depending on what happens between now and then.

I think it is important for liberals to periodically remind ourselves that the Republicans control the federal government and that the story is similar in many states. Depending on where one lives and how much of a bubble one has constructed in terms of news, social media, friends, and the like, some liberals may spend significant portions of their lives being blissfully unaware of this reality. Maybe they live in a progressive city where it seems like almost everyone shares their views. And maybe that helps to explain why so few of them saw Trump coming and why they still can't seem to come to terms with his popularity.

If I want a taste of blissfully unaware liberalism and to be around people who seem chronically shocked by the dominance of the Republican Party, I can easily find it online. In fact, I have to work at it a bit on social media to have a different experience. My day-to-day life here in Mississippi is very different. If anything, it can sometimes lead me to be surprised that liberals have any political influence. I recognize that my local experience is every bit as skewed as the experience of some of the liberals I encounter online. And I think that is one of the reasons it is so important to interact with those who have different political views and who live in different areas of the country. We all benefit from checking in with reality every once in a while.
I don't see how any atheist could possibly be a Republican, not when the Republican Party has embraced Christian extremism and often seems to be working toward theocracy.
I do, and I suspect you would too if you listened to them. Most of the atheist Republicans I know don't care for the religious pandering any more than you or I do, but they agree with the Republican platform in other areas and tend to make those a higher priority. If they could strip the Christian dominionism out of the party, they'd do so. But that by itself is not going to make them vote Democratic when they disagree with most of the Democratic platform.
I don't see how any atheist could possibly be a Democrat, not when the Democratic Party has embraced woo, New Age bullshit, and continues to elevate emotion over reason.
I do, and I think you probably would too if you listened to them. Most of the atheist Democrats I know don't like these aspects of the left any more than you or I do, but they agree with the Democratic platform in other areas they consider to be more important. Many would love to strip this stuff out of the party, but that by itself is not going to make them vote Republican when they disagree with most of the Republican platform.

I realize that many people will reject this claim, but I remain convinced that there are some real benefits to interacting with those with whom we have different political views. Reasonable conservatives should seek out reasonable liberals; reasonable liberals should seek out reasonable conservatives. We can learn a great deal from one another, and this may be a valuable way forward for those of us interested in maintaining some sort of union. At the very least, those of us who claim to value reason and wish there was more of it to be found in our politics should be invested in helping to inject some of it.