November 01, 2002
culture war

On 10/31/2002, The Philadelphia Daily News published a letter/opinion by a presumed citizen of Philadelphia, Abe Krieger entitled GOP world / Democratic world. Although Mr Krieger is clearly less slick and perhaps also less intelligent (while more simplistic) than many of his more well-known colleagues in the conservative movement, I felt that his letter contained a number of points that are widespread enough among conservatives that it merited an analysis and response.

"First and foremost, Republican is the party of life's winners - Democrat of life's losers. Those who work hard and become wealthy as a result are almost always Republicans; those who have neither the mental capability or the determination to succeed are almost always Democrats."
To wit: "If a man is young and a republican, he has no heart. If he is old and a democrat, he has no money." (A. Whitney Browne)

Mr. Krieger's opening salvo is the central self-congratulating pat on the back of society's "winners" that make up the Republican Party. It would be easy to make crass remarks about our current president's C- GPA at Yale, his multiple failed oil business or the remarkable wealth and privilege that he has enjoyed all of his life, but that's too easy...and it only speaks to one of them.

Frankly, the Republican Party is about money and power. Period. This obviously will attract many of society's "winners" (which I note in Mr. Krieger's definintion are "those who work hard and become wealthy as a result"), while alienating those who are shut out of the game....those who are born poor or as members of minority groups (or worse, both) and the members of the middle class who realize that their choice of vocation will shut them out of the upper tiers of the middle class (for example, the scum bag teachers Mr Krieger talks about later).

However, I see much evidence that the "winners" we are speaking about are republican only because they wish to hang on to as much of their money as possible, even when if it violates the public good. The wealthy are never so solely because of their own labor...any position or vocation that creates great wealth rests upon a huge economic system that it needs in order to perpetuate itself.


What I mean is, if you are a sports figure making $10 Million a year, you need a huge sports organization, a stadium and related industries to sustain and justify your salary. The question "losers" like myself ask is, is it fair that a sports star has 5 homes and 10 cars when the people who sweep the stadium as the lights go down don't have access to acceptable medical care? This is not to question that the sports star not be fabulously compensated...but rather if those who must work to keep their heads above water (supporting the infrastructure that supports us all) deserve a base standard of living.

Of course, I don't really define myself as a "loser." As a well educated professional who is relatively self-actualized, I feel like a "winner" if anything. But in general, I try not to think in terms like that, because it's easy to grind yourself down when you see yourself in competition with everyone.

"Interestingly, blacks and Hispanics - notably Cubans - who ascend from poverty to success tend to move from the Democratic to Republican party; those left in poverty stay Democratic. Those who would rather be right than good tend to be Republican; good than right, Democrat. Most Reform Jews are Democrats; the more dedicated Orthodox Jews [emphasis added] are Republican."
This is an interesting ploy, using mostly what I suspect is his own anecdotal evidence to support his base, self-congratulatory assumption: those minorities who are winners aka willing to "work hard and become wealthy as a result " (and by extension I assume, more like Mr. Krieger) are good, and also by his self-reflexive definitions, more likely to be republican, while the rest of them are not good, and by extension more likely to be democrat.

He offers no evidence to back his claim up, and most evidence that speaks clearly to respond to his point that I have access to is also anecdotal. A recent study suggests that latino voting patterns are more complex than Mr. Krieger believes... and if actual research matters at all:

"Nevertheless, Mollyann Brodie, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation says the the Pew Hispanic Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation study released Thursday found strong support for positions generally identified with the Democratic party. "You'll note that Latinos are considerably more likely to say that they prefer a larger government that provides more services even if it means paying higher taxes, than they are to say they prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services," she said.

Not surprisingly then, researchers found that about half of the 1,300 Latinos surveyed identified themselves as Democrats. Only 20 percent claimed to be Republican."

Additionally, I find his views on Jews to be laughable, being a member of a community in the Philadelphia suburbs that boast a large and diverse Jewish population. Mr. Krieger's assertion that "Orthodox Jews" are "the more dedicated" of Jews (and of course, being more dedicated, more likely to be republican) is a slap in the face to reform and conservative Jews. I can't comment on the likelyhood of any group belonging to any particular party. I can only mention that the Orthodox Jews I was sitting near at the Daylin Leech/Wallis Brooks debate I attended seemed on the democrat side of the isle. But hey, I'm willing to admit that I have no statistics to back me up.
The Republican Party offers opportunity; Democrats offer handouts in return for votes. Republicans preach peace through strength and honor; Democrats preach peace through capitulation and payoffs. The "special interest" groups all have a home in the Democratic Party because the Republicans have no use for them. The vast majority of both teachers and criminals are Democratic (hmm)[emphasis added]. Republicans love America because they understand that America is special; Democrats, at their core, loathe America because they loathe themselves.[emphasis added].

This is where Mr. Krieger goes for broke and in the process reveals himself for the bigot he is, and expresses the new sentiment among conservatives that I feel is so dangerous to so-called liberals and really anyone outside of the Right's circle of comfort--the idea that Democrats/Liberals/Those who dissent from the conservative "majority" loathe America.

I fear that the "culture war" often ranted about by Buchannan and his ilk is fast approaching out society, but not quite the one Mr. Buchannan originally identified in the past.

In my view: We, the people live in two Americas. One America is an ideal democracy, where all people are equal under law, the constitution and bill of rights are among the highest achievements of humanity, and the people individually and collectively decide their own destinies.

The other is the remnant of the monarchy that we freed ourselves from so long ago... where the flag is a holy relic, the President unquestionable and rights a convenience that can be given and taken at the government's convenience. This is the america of oil barons and company stores and strike breaking goon squads, the america of slavery and indentured servitude. This is the america none of us remember, because our great-grandparents and grandparents abolished it, partly through determination, and partly with luck.

But it's coming back, and people like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the esteemed Mr Krieger are it's standard bearers.

I'm not going to lie to you and tell you to vote democrat, because sadly the democrats are just bearely more palatable representatives...and like the republicans they are more beholden to the rich who fund their campaigns than to the people who they should be representing. I don't know what it's going to come to...sometimes I think we can fix the situation as a nation, sometimes I fear that we will simply devolve into an plutocratic police state, others that we will simply slowly wind into deeper and more dismal stages of civic corruption.

But what you should keep in mind are the battle lines that are being drawn in the culture war. Unfortunately, the conservatives are drawing most of the lines. Liberals must stop playing a defensive game, or prepare to put their armbands and be marched into camps.

And when someone tells you that liberals hate America, remind them who it is that's currently shredding the soul of the USA...the Constituion and the Bill of Rights. Not liberals. I myself love america, but I don't care about the flag or the pledge of allegiance or any of that ritualistic crap...that's serf mentality. An American doesn't kneel to the flag, or pledge anything to the flag. The flag is a piece of fabric that never did anything for you. If you're an American, you owe your freedom and rights to the constitution and the bill of rights... and my view is that the people who want to tear those documents up to trade up for a little extra security are the people who really hate america. The people who want you to have to carry a national id card are the ones who really hate america. Anyone who wants to role back your civil liberties really hates america. At least, they hate the America that I live in, but they love the other America, the one that they are building at a breakneck pace right now.

Choose a side. And keep your eyes open. And don't be afraid to shout down any knucklehead who says you hate America.

Posted by illovich at November 01, 2002 06:05 PM

Yes, it's me. I'm amazed that you would give so much attention to my simple letter. But you are right on one thing - in my own simplistic way I speak for many, many.

And what on earth is MY SO-CALLED BLOG?

Posted by: abe krieger on November 4, 2002 3:07 PM
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