The third explanation for how so many of our compatriots can hear the Ol’ Pussy Grabber confess to treason, bribery, high crimes, and misdemeanors and still belief him the great corruption fighter come to deliver us from Ukrainian interference in elections past, present, and future and totally unworthy of impeachment and removal from office is about the beating black heart of our deep culture.
Over at Vox, Sean Illing interviewed Suzanne Metzler of the Government Department at Cornell University about her views on how Americans view government and the great disconnect between them as expressed in her recent book, The Government-Citizen Disconnect. The more I read the interview, the more I realized that Illing, Metzler, and Ye Olde Blogge were having the exact same thoughts only saying them in slightly different ways.
Seriously, there are only so many excuses for why anyone within retching distance of the Ol’ Pussy Grabber puts up with his bullshit: (a) You really are just that stupid — Okay, Louis Gohmert, we gotcha covered. I know, son, you can’t help it, you were just born that way. (b) You wanna retch and kick the SOB to the curb, but garsh darnit some combination of dollars and rubles is holding you back — amirite, or amirite, Rude Giuliani and so many of the other hangers on? (c) You are twisting yourself all Houdini-like into some kinda yoga guru inhumane pretzel using all the cognitive Tom Fuckery known to human kind so that you can believe that you is a patriot and the Ol’ Pussy Grabber is being good fer ‘Mer’ca. Or (d) you see him as a tool to be used towards some end he is working you towards, ain’t that right #MoscowMitch and your dreams of a single-party pseudo-democratic authoritarian regime where the Repubes never lose another election, a judge never over turns another law, and we transfer the nation’s wealth as fast as we can to the 1%. Seriously, can there be any other reason you’d put up with this horse carcass of a human being and spout Russian propaganda?
So, in psysplainer number 1, we looked at the polling that showed e’er’body believed the Ol’ Pussy Grabber did it, pert near e’er’body believed it was wrong, but only a few thought he should be held accountable for it. The take away from that was that in not holding Reagan, Poppy, and W accountable for their impeachable offenses (Iran-Contra and war crimes, do I really have to spell it out for you?), the Repubes figgered they could get away with anything as long as they kept up making up their own facts and accusing Dems of all the wrong doing.
In psysplainer number 2, we looked at all the gyrating cognitive gyrations that the rank and foul Repubes had to go through to accept that it was okay to play patty-cake with our mortal enemies, the Russians, in interfering with our elections so that a complete self-serving moron could be elected and sell us and the western alliance system down the river, and then believe that Clinton conspired with the Ukrainians to get the Ol’ Pussy Grabber elected in 2016, so we could impeach him in 2019. Those is some grab a yoga guru by the pussy cognitive gyrations right there.
The Culture of Democracy
And, now in psysplainer number 3, we is about to put on the hazmat suits and visit the foul pit at the center of white America’s deep cultural heart. Spoiler: we ain’t finding unicorns, heart-shaped cupcakes, and rainbow bridges, we is finding authoritarian jack-booted thugs bent on grinding the rest of us into dust under their heels.
Let’s start with definitions of culture and deep culture, then we’ll move into Metzler’s explanation of the government-citizen disconnect, and we’ll end with me tying them all together with one big purty pussy bow. Okay?
Culture is the unspoken connections between people who belong to the same group. It is the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that we share. It helps us recognize who belongs to our group and who does not. Part of American culture should be democratic ideals and principles. After Black Friday in 1929, people were apprehensive that a revolt would occur. As the Depression deepened, people continued to worry that socialists or communists would take over. Instead, the American people waited patiently for the election in 1932. This is because of the deeply ingrained democratic principle that we change governments through elections, not violence. It is an example of deep culture.
Deep culture is the practices of a society that govern many aspects of behavior and mental processes. These include our beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. For example, all most anyone in the world will recognize a restaurant and know the basic procedure: you order, the food is delivered, you eat, you pay, and you leave. There are many variations: Where do you order? When do you pay? Should you tip? If so, how much? And, other slight changes from situation to situation. However, deep culture will govern your attitude towards the wait staff. Do you treat them kindly or brusquely. Do you have a chatty interaction with them or perfunctory?
What other aspects of deep culture reflect our democratic ideals? The idea that the three branches of government are equal should be part of our deep culture. The idea that no one is above the law should be part of our deep culture. The idea that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies follow investigative rules and will tell us the truth should be part of our deep culture. Let’s see what Metzler says is part of our deep culture, though.
Metzlet and the Government-Citizen Disconnect
We’re in this weird situation in which people have to come to rely on government more and more, and at the same time government has required less and less of people. Now, you’d expect this to mean that people’s attitudes toward government have become favorable, but the opposite is true. And this is the paradox I’m grappling with in the book.Suzanne Metzler in Why so many people who need the government hate it
You know it is that very familiar refrain that red states take more from the federal government than they put in and there are more people on our various and sundry welfare systems than anyone else, but they all believe it is the PoC’s who are taking more than their fair share. It don’t stop there, though.
As it turns out, you can predict a person’s views of government by their views on welfare. About 44% of Americans hate them some welfare and guess what? The Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s approval rating is around 44% on good days. Funny how that works, hunh?
Which brings us to race. Why does everything in America come back to race? Because us whitey-white meats never coped to slavery as a whole, that’s why. As long as it is only white progressives sticking their toe in the overcoming racism pool and talking about really making amends for slavery, we ain’t ever gonna be past it. It ain’t just race, though.
It is also income. It turns out that middle class-types have a harsher view of welfare and government than the poors or the riches. It doesn’t matter what race you are neither. Black and white middle class don’t like them no welfare and are suspicious that those folks on welfare is cheatin’!
As it turns out, the middle class really does have a legitimate beef with welfare, but it ain’t just with the poors because the riches get just as much if not more welfare from the government! Only it ain’t as clear. The government hands poor people benefits in kind, food stamps, Medicaid, housing subsidies. Those are visible. Literally. You get vouchers and cards and shit. It says here take this benefit from your US government. The riches get theirs through tax breaks and write offs. You don’t see it. Even the riches don’t see it as welfare, but it is. It is a government benefit that helps them directly.
Who votes? The riches vote. The poors don’t vote. And the middle class is a crap shoot. Hunh, go figger. The people who might vote their interest in maintaining welfare benefits — that actually do benefit everybody through economic stimulus — don’t vote. When they do vote, they often vote for conservative governments that will cut their benefits at the state and federal level. That’s because of the work of the Koch Bros and the like.
There is a deliberate orchestrated attempt to keep the middle class and poors distracted from the real machinations by arguing endlessly about abortion and immigration and welfare.
As a political scientist, I would have thought that people’s personal experiences might interfere with that. If the government helped you afford college or health care or prevented your grandmother from falling into poverty when she was a citizen, you would think that would overcome the messages people are getting from the special interests.
But I’ve found that those personal experiences don’t matter much, unless somebody is connecting the dots, unless someone is pointing out these connections.Suzanne Metzler in Why so many people who need the government hate it
See? Now we’re back to psysplainer 2, thinking is hard. If you have to connect the dots, you ain’t gonna do it. And, these ain’t easy dots to connect especially with all the screaming about abortion, immigration, and socialism going on.
I think information can help, but I think we shouldn’t exaggerate how much it helps. New information only helps those who are actually open to it, and the truth is that many people aren’t. We’re in this very partisan environment where it matters to people who is conveying a message, and there isn’t a lot of trust.Suzanne Metzler in Why so many people who need the government hate it
A Deep Culture of Democracy
From the 1940’s to the 1970’s people trusted government. After Viet Nam and Watergate, trust in government eroded a good bit. Now, we’re down to one in five trusting government. This is an erosion of the fundamental democratic ideal: government of the people, by the people, by the people. We no longer connect our vote to government outcomes. We no longer see ourselves as the driver of the government.
At the beginning of the Great Depression many people feared that the socialists and communists would revolt and overthrow the government, but we didn’t. We waited three long years until the election in 1932 and elected FDR. That’s because part of our deep cultural belief was that governments changed through elections not through violence.
A democratic government is about all of us. If we are anti-government in a democracy, then we’re anti-the-people. We are against ourselves. If that sounds fundamentally crazy, that’s because it is.
So, if you wonder why people support the Ol’ Pussy Grabber and don’t support impeachment and removal, look no further than the changes that have occurred in our deep cultural beliefs about democracy and government. As a people, we no longer believe in democracy. That’s the sad truth of it.