It’s a funny thing: I taught political science for 17 years and have a Ph.D. in the field, but that doesn’t seem to matter much. Among liberal progressives, a group that generally values education and expertise, if you are on the “wrong” side of the issue, clearly your credentials were either mistakenly granted or suspiciously purloined.
Many of my former colleagues, liberal progressives and socialists, all would simply say when questioned by non-professionals, “You have Fox, I have a Ph.D. I win.” I always thought that was quite arrogant, but like any group of experts, there was always a sense that they knew better than the common man or woman. I never felt that way.
I have been struck for some time now by a growing chasm between the right and the left of American politics that has very little to do with policy or any understanding of civic duty or anything else we taught in class. It has to do with attitude. The left seems to be overwhelmingly characterized by a negativity about everything: the climate, the economy, COVID, fairness — you name it and they are down about it and looking to the government and “experts” (not me of course) to come up with solutions and a plan for them.
People on the right of American politics tend toward optimism and self-reliance. Many of the poorest places in America are now “red” and the left gets frustrated by the rubes who don’t know well enough to vote in their own self-interest. They fundamentally misunderstand.
These people don’t want a D.C. generated plan or a paternalistic government deciding what they should get, they want government to get out of their way. They want a chance at achieving a better life for themselves and their children even if “experts” tell them that the American dream is a mirage. They still believe. That belief is, in my opinion, priceless. It helps us to get out of bed in the morning after a succession of bad days. It gets us to tell our children to try harder and they will achieve, not that the deck is stacked against them. It tells us not to rely on a government that is “systemically racist” to solve our problems for us. It tells us, in a word, not to give up hope. It tells us to remain eternally optimistic. It is a fundamental difference between the right and the left in American politics and it makes me thank God daily that I switched sides almost 20 years ago.
Evidence of this divide is not hard to find. Turn on the TV and you will see it among the “journalists” who long ago stopped reporting and started editorializing. I turn on MSNBC and CNN and am met with constant negativity and scowls. The only time the “reporters” smile is when they are mocking someone on the right as a simpleton. COVID, which has tragically killed 2.75 percent of the people who have tested positively, not those who have contracted it, (according to the CNN ghoulishly updated death clock 0.06 percent of Americans have died of this plague) is discussed as if it is the new Black Death, which killed almost 50 percent of Europe. I believe life is sacred, but to talk about this pandemic as if it was a national crisis deserving the lockdown (in America, surely you jest!) of the entire economy, the closure of schools and government mandates on Americans’ behaviors? Please.
According to a recent Gallup poll (not a pro-Trump organization) 56 percent of Americans said they were better off now than they were four years ago. This poll was conducted in mid-September after the economy had been closed for six months and unemployment had gone from near zero to 8 percent. Imagine what the poll would have reported had it been done in February.
If Joe Biden wins and the Democrats take the Senate, I fear our country will be unrecognizable by next May. We will have two new states (D.C. and Puerto Rico) the end of the filibuster and the Electoral College, the end of energy independence (remember “no blood for oil?” Neither does the left), the normalization and acceptance as “mostly peaceful protests” of violence against law enforcement and public institutions, an assault on the stock market (there is only so much that can be squeezed from the top 10 percent of earners who already pay 70 percent of federal taxes), Truth and Reconciliation commissions (seriously, MSNBC has suggested it) and a packed and fully politicized Supreme Court. It is doubtful the left will ever be voted out in such a system. Why the answer to those who cry “systemic racism” at every turn, is even more government, I’ll never understand.
As the father of three biracial children, I do not want a world where the government decides what they can have based on a race-based quota system. I want my children to be judged, if they must be judged here on Earth, based on their abilities and their goodness; not judged by an unelected bureaucrat inside the beltway. This is why, on Nov. 3, it’ll be a momentous vote.
David E. Staveley, Ph.D. writes from Monrovia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.