Still Waiting for Republicans to ‘Be the Mom’

Last week, Kevin Drum argued that the culture wars should largely be laid at the feet of Democratic voters who have moved farther to the left than Republicans have moved to the right (“If you hate the culture wars, blame liberals“). Over at No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. points out the obvious–Republican policy is far more polarizing than Democratic beliefs (boldface mine):

But why are we measuring polarization this way? Democratic politicians haven’t radically expanded abortion access, even in blue states, while Republican politicians have radically restricted access, and nearly every D.C. Republican calls for a total or near-total ban on abortion. How are we stoking a culture war when Republicans are the ones who continually upend the status quo?

On guns, Republican states are rapidly expanding access, and the federal ban on assault weapons expired during the period Drum covers. Democrats have introduced a few restrictions in blue states that make firearm ownership marginally more difficult, but the tilt is in Republicans’ favor, based on what Republican politicians have done with their power. So why argue that Democrats are responsible for the culture war?

Polls showing that Republican voters are right-centrist don’t matter much when those voters don’t vote right-centrist.

After reading this, some asshole with a blog Twitter feed noted:

[W]hat bothers me about Drum’s post is that it removes agency from Republicans, which occurs all the time in political analysis. Despite the shift to the left, they’ve decided to move to the right in concrete policy terms. That’s on them.

Only to discover that Yastreblyansky had made that point far more eloquently (boldface mine):

Drum’s mistake is a prime example, I think, of Murc’s Law, the celebrated dictum of the Lawyers, Guns & Money commenter known as Murc identifying the belief among the punditry that Republicans never actually do anything:

the widespread assumption that only Democrats have any agency or causal influence over American politics.

When some voter says he had to vote for Trump because Clinton was so mean to the White Working Class, for instance (“She said ‘deplorable’!”), he’s taken completely seriously, and the punditry is out demanding that Democrats be more understanding and empathetic. But when we see the longstanding and pervasive pattern in which religiously bigoted Republicans work to make life difficult for everybody who deviates from their theocratic line, Drum scratches his head and wonders why liberals are polarizing the country. Really?

I don’t think I really do hate culture wars, to be honest, as long as my side is winning, as it certainly is, over the long term, as the past 30 years have shown. I hate being continually asked to feel compassion and attempt to compromise with my enemies when nobody ever asks anything of them, though. And I hate the political war in which the enemies are allowed to cheat to compensate for the fact that they’re in the minority, like a political golf handicap—what kind of war is that, for fuck’s sake?—and I’m still supposed to feel sorry for them. Why don’t you invite them to compromise?

Shortly after the election was (finally) called for Biden, some asshole with a Twitter feed blog observed:

When Democrats lost in 2016, they were told they had to reach out to Republican voters–fair enough, Democrats did lose. But when they win, they’re also told… to reach out to Republican voters. Yet no one is saying Republicans, who lost both the electoral college and the popular vote, need to reach out to Democrats. That never happens.

It’s all the more ridiculous when you look at how many, if not most, major metro areas reacted Saturday after hearing that Biden had been declared the victor. When Democratic areas are rejoicing like we had just blown up the Death Star, that’s a sign that Republicans have a lot of work to do. If we weren’t in a pandemic, strangers would have been spontaneously hugging and high-fiving each other. If the reaction to your candidate losing is similar to that of a dictator being toppled, let’s just say you have some more reaching out to do.

And then there’s the healing. For the first two years of Trump’s term, Republicans controlled it all: Congress, the White House, and the courts. While they lost the House in the midterms, they were still running things for the most part. To the extent there is damage that needs healing, it is they who inflicted it.

This time around, Republicans should be the ones who moderate, and who manage the emotions–because ours are a little raw right now. So what do they give up? And, no, “well, we won’t be overtly bigoted or support assholes like Trump” doesn’t cut it. That doesn’t even get you in the door. So what do they do? Support a $15/hour minimum wage? Let Democrats appoint the next Supreme Court justice, or a bunch of federal court justices? What’s their give(s) here?

Our discourse, such as it is, needs to put the burden on Republicans–who were rejected nationally–to do the work. Anytime, a Democrat is asked about this, they should turn it around and ask, “How many Republicans have you asked this question? What should you expect Republicans to do?”

Democrats having ‘to be the mom’ is getting really old. And it allows Republicans to avoid responsibility.

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2 Responses to Still Waiting for Republicans to ‘Be the Mom’

  1. Also … nobody likes the Mom. Oh, you LOVE your Mom. But you don’t often like her. She’s got the thankless job of telling you what to do, how to do it, when to do & you’d better get it done NOW. Dads are usually the fun parent … when & if they’re around.

    • Barbara Piper says:

      I assume the ‘mom” reference was to Lakoff’s model, from his book Moral Politics. For Lakoff, the “strict father model” is embraced by conservatives — the dad is not the fun parent, but the disciplinarian. You might also consider Basil Bernstein’s ideas about language codes, which shares a good deal with Lakoff’s model: the strict father uses “restricted” codes — “Because I’m the father and I say so!” — as opposed to the “elaborated” codes that explain.

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