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This blog used to be about politics. Not so much anymore as I have worked through my fascination with that subject. It now seems appropriate that with a new president and the end of the Bush nightmare that I move on to new subjects that are more in line with my current interests. I may still occasionally express an opinion about political matters but for the most part I will be commenting on music, photography and personal observations. Thank you for reading.

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The Ravings of a Madman
Not since Mein Kampf have we heard such insane ideas... Whacko indeed. Read and be amazed at the heights of human lunacy!

Brad Carson:

After the morning rituals, the pastor called me to the stage, and we engaged in a lengthy discussion about abortion, homosexuality, "liberal judges," and other controversial matters. After leaving the stage, I rejoined the congregation, and the pastor launched into an attack on the "pro-choice terrorists," who were, to his mind, far more dangerous than Al Qaeda. Yes, he acknowledged, thousands had died on September 11, but abortion was killing millions and millions. This was a holocaust, he continued, and we must all vote righteously. Vote righteously! In 13 months of campaigning across the vast state of Oklahoma, I must have seen or heard this phrase a thousand times, often on the marquees of churches, where, outside of election season, one finds only clever and uplifting biblical bromides. But it was not until that September Sunday in Sallisaw, one of the most Democratic towns in Oklahoma, that I first understood that the seemingly innocuous phrase "vote righteously" was the slogan not of a few politicized churches, but the cri de coeur of millions--millions who fervently believe that their most deeply held values are under assault and who further see this assault as at least tolerated by the Democratic Party, if not actually led by it.

As a defeated Senate candidate in the most red of red states, many people have asked me for insights into the Democratic Party's failure to connect with culturally conservative voters. Much has already been written on this topic, and scholars will add more. But I do know this: The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact of no more significance than what hospital one was born in or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only "tolerance." These are questions not for politicians but for philosophers, and, in the end, it is the failure of liberal philosophy that we saw on November 2.

For the vast majority of Oklahomans--and, I would suspect, voters in other red states--these transcendent cultural concerns are more important than universal health care or raising the minimum wage or preserving farm subsidies. Pace Thomas Frank, the voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones. The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a "false consciousness" or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be. But the truth is quite simple: Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it.

That is what Antonin Scalia famously called the Kulturkampf. And there can be no doubt either that this is a fundamental dynamic in American politics or on which side of this conflict the electorate rests. Last Tuesday, I ran 7 percent ahead of John Kerry, and my opponent ran a full 13 percent behind President Bush. In most states, this would have been more than sufficient to ensure my victory. But not in Oklahoma. At least not last Tuesday. And, while the defeat was all my own, the failure was of the party to which I swear allegiance, which uncritically embraces a modernity that so many others reject.

While I disagree with Carson about the failure of the Liberal Philosophy and the Democratic party I do agree with his general assessment of the state of politics in middle America. The elections were a referendum on the cultural direction of America. Rural and Urban parts of the country were split on their opinions. Rural parts of the country, where some people are just now starting to feel the latest wave of cultural change very much voted to preserve the world of their parents before them.

We all seem to agree that late term abortions in particular are nasty and hardly something that we want to make a commonplace occurance in our society. It is a red herring to think that even the most ardent pro-choice advocate really want to kill babies.

The common ground is easy to find. Provide better care for pregnant mothers, provide more ways for that mother to carry that baby to full term by offering more support before and after that child is born (health care for all children should be a no brainer) and more ways for that child to be put in a more welcome home if its not wanted by the birth mother. We DO have people out there who want kids but can't have them, it seems like a solution in search of a problem. We can reduce the incidence of abortion down to ONLY the cases that are of medical neccesity and in those cases it should be at the discretion of the doctor and the mother, not the ferderal government.

These solutions would mean a larger role by the federal government and new beauracracy, but if they were successful in reducing abortions you would think that they would welcomed with open arms by those that feel abortion is the most important issue of our time.

Its called offering a real solution and doing so by means of the collective will of the country, i.e. the government. Make your choice, which is worse, more government or abortions? Outlawing abortion is not an option, we went there already, it got us to here. We would just be going back to the days where women would sneak off to have abortions in foreign countries (for the rich) and back rooms (for the poor).

It might be fair to say "The courts ruled, you lost, get over it". But I know that only pisses people off. I don't see jiggering the courts as a viable solution.

Here's the kicker, and how I tie it back into what Carson wrote.

Abortion is a symbolic issue. I have shown above how there is lots of room for a compromise solution, but that is not where we go. Why?

The reason is that abortion has become the symbol for what has gone wrong with the world. The graphic depiction of babies with crushed skulls act as a warning sign of what coming society offers for traditional instiutions. It says "Look what they will do to babies, do you think they will spare us!"

Modernity has shown that it has the power to wipe away traditional. We see that educated city dwellers have less taste for religion and "old fashioned" notions of courtship and "morals" prefering instead to rely on their own judgement instead of rules of conduct. We have people running around "doing whatever they damn well please!".

Indeed, and people get used to it. They like it.

Our world becomes more and more driven by technology. Understanding this new hi-tech work environment requires a greater understanding of science and reason. You can't fix a network outage without being able to deduce the problem, hypothesize a solution and trying differnt methods of solving the problem. These are also the tools of self-liberation, if you are willing to apply them to your own life. You look at the connect-the-dots world offered to you by tradition and you start to ask "Why can't I be trusted to pick my own path through life?" You now have the tools.

That's really how a liberal is born. People begin to put themselves and their own individual interests above those of tradition and authority. A person begins to believe in their own judgement regarding their own lives.

Once people decide they can do whatever they want they find that they need institutions like religion less than before. Abortion has become THE ISSUE that has kept religion relevant as a social force in our society. A distant second might be the gay marriage issue. But without these issues the church is destined to become just a meeting hall where people go to play bingo and socialize with their neighbors. I've seen this happen with a few Catholic Churches. In fact I grew up in a church like that. I can see it with many American Jews as well. Religion becomes relegated to a cultural identity rather than a social force. You identify with a religious group but you put your own judgements above its doctrine when you make life decision.

The cultural war, as seen through this perspective, becomes one in which the old cultural institutions, mainly religion, are using a charged issue like abortion to protect its own relevancy in the face of an inevitable modernity. So, this election can be seen as "traditional America's" way of saying "We like things the way things are, and we want to stick with them a little longer."; abortion and gay marriage were the issues that identified whether you are "with" them or not.

So those "values" voters did indeed reject the liberal philosophy of self determination. But, I can't see how, other than rejecting technology like global communications and the newest medical technology that we can continue to put traditional institutions above modern society.

We don't really want to become a society that is surrounded by technology that we neither understand or like. We would lose our status as global superpower and we could even reject Democracy altogether.

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About Me

35 yr old
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Voted for Kerry
Voted for Obama
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