A Tale of Two Bases
despite what the ‘mainstream’ media maintain
One of the more annoying characteristics of the mainstream media — Big Media, as I like to term it — is their insistence on false equivalences in our politics as a guise for evenhandedness. They insist on saying things like ‘both sides are at fault for’ and ‘both sides contribute to’ the sad state of our political process and the ongoing dissolution of our Liberal society (i.e., one with democracy and the rule of law with maximum liberty for all as its primary concern).
As part of that process they routinely equate the bases of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party with phrases like ‘both parties must appeal to their bases’. That much is true. What Big Media don’t have the gumption to say is that those bases are entirely different things.
First of all, we must clarify what we mean by a political party’s “base.” I think it is a somewhat misleading word. It would seem to refer to people whose support — votes — the party could count on no matter what, but I would say that in reality it refers to people who support the party, but whose support is contingent, not absolute. That is, a party’s “base” is comprised of people who regularly support the party but would abandon it if the party veered from its present positions by any significant amount, especially in one ideological direction or the other. To count as a ‘base’ it must be a large enough group to be able to determine the party’s electoral success.
The base of the Democratic Party is composed of people who are centrists. They support having society as a whole take measures to protect more vulnerable members of the population and the physical environment, but they most certainly are not Marxists or environmental radicals. They might be willing to pay more taxes, but they are not about to give up their private property to the state. They are in favor of more regulation of businesses for the sake of the environment and they favor public initiatives to encourage individuals to act more responsibly towards the environment, but they are not in favor of having society, through government, dictate personal behavior beyond commonplace laws based on traditional Western morality. They don’t like having to compromise, but they accept that compromise is an inevitable part of having a democratic political process. Most importantly, that base is more forgiving of movement by the party to the ‘right’ than it is to movement to the left.
The base of the Republican Party is composed of people on the cultural fringe of this nation. They appear to be motivated by one thing: an irrational hatred of liberalism. The hate liberalism more than they love anything: our Constitution, rights, democracy, and liberty for all are as noting compared to their hatred of liberalism. They see political compromise as selling their souls — literally. Any hint of any utterance, much less any more substantive action, that suggests any kind of legitimacy for any belief, idea, feeling or thought that can be attributed to liberalism is enough to put their support for the Republican Party at risk.
For the record, I am not a liberal or a Democrat or of any other ideological persuasion.