“Democracy is the pathetic belief in the wisdom of collective ignorance.”


If you aren’t a fan, or at least lack an appreciation for Roger Abramson, then you are going to hate this post.  His latest essay on his personal politics, the GOP Senate primary and the holier-than-thou attitude of several Tennessee conservatives is one of the best things I’ve read in a while.  If I could be anymore effusive in my praise without bringing the word "Brokeback" to the minds of those who live on the dull edge of pop culture, I would.  (Why is it the only people lame enough to think Brokeback anything isn’t played out, are the same people lame enough to listen to Kenny Chesney?) My only axe to grind with RA is, how can you be a reviewer for Joe Bob Briggs without ever seeing a James Bond movie?  Shouldn’t that be some sort of prerequisite for a damn movie reviewer?

Watching the doctrinaire partisans and theocon watch dogs go after anyone who doesn’t adhere to the religious right groupthink disappoints me.  If they are indeed the future of the Republican party, say hello to President Pelosi.  One of my criticism of the left wing has always been the insistence on all members to believe in the Liberal Articles of Faith.  For the right wing to adopt the same tactic, makes them just as suspect and just as wrong.

Let me put this in terms of a football analogy that everyone will understand.

Next year, let’s say, Bud Adams decides that all Titans players will need to be functionally illiterate and borderline retarded.  He starts drafting sub-morons who each run a 4.3 40-yard dash and can each bench press 500 pounds.  When questioned and criticized about the wisdom of composing a team of the stupidest people they can find, the Titans organization responds by saying "These will be fastest and strongest players in the league.  Evidently, you people don’t understand how important it is to have the fastest and strongest football players in the league.  You must not be real football fans."  Once the season starts, it become obvious that these players are too fucking dumb to run the simplest of plays.  The Titans lose every game in the most embarassing fashion possible. When the fans register their disgust with the bad decisions that the Titans organization, they again respond with "Real football fans support their team no matter what.  If you understood anything about the game you would know that."

Sound familiar? 

 The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are.
H.L. Mencken 


18 Responses to ““Democracy is the pathetic belief in the wisdom of collective ignorance.””

  1. Katherine Coble Says:

    ""Real football fans support their team no matter what. If you understood anything about the game you would know that.""Funnily enough, hasn’t Mark Rose already said exactly that to the Republicans who no longer support Bush? I think he has. At least that was what I took away from the "fair weather Republicans" comment in this post.http://markarose.com/archives/national_politics/index.html#002288To which Roger responded that politics wasn’t a football team. So, yeah. You’re dead on.

  2. Terry Says:

    Funny how you think it’s group think that I don’t agree with your own version of group think.I respect your opinion here. You’re entitled to one, just as I am. What I see in Mr. Ambramson is the arrogant, snobby kind of elitist Republican that has our poll numbers in the tank right now. You say "theocons" will give us Pelosi? What the heck is Frist and Alexander? What is Bush? Moderates and they’ve gotten us nowhere.They pat each other on the back. They appoint each other to boards and commissions. They name each other the heads of campaigns. And their style, their leadership, and their system now has Tennessee ranked as a possible pick up in a race against a quite liberal democrat. And not just any democrat, a democrat with the Ford name.I’m sorry I’m not bowing down to kiss Abramson’s ring. I dont’ have to. I don’t get paid to be involved in the political process or commentary, and even if I did, I wouldn’t.Yeah, we may get President Pelosi. But it won’t be why you think. It will be because conservatives (as well as the religious ones you malign) will stay home. Please rewind the tapes and examine the votes in the Clinton versus Old Man Bush match up.The brie-eating "smarter than thou" crowd really screwed that one up, eh?

  3. Katherine Coble Says:

    <I>What I see in Mr. Ambramson is the arrogant, snobby kind of elitist Republican</I>Having once met Roger, I can tell you that I’m laughing about this assesment right now. He’s far from either. Or at least he was that time we met. Maybe he has his arrogant and snobby days about which I know nothing…<I>What the heck is Frist and Alexander? </I>Not a compound subject in this case, that’s for sure. <I>They pat each other on the back. They appoint each other to boards and commissions. They name each other the heads of campaigns.</I> Sorry, but this is politics. Conservative, MOR or Liberal–this is the reality of political existence. The only solution is to break the two party system, and even that is not much of a solution. <I>And their style, their leadership, and their system now has Tennessee ranked as a possible pick up in a race against a quite liberal democrat.</I>It does? <I>And not just any democrat, a democrat with the Ford name.</I>Oh THAT "liberal" democrat. Ford is many things (including, as I was recently informed, black) but I wouldn’t call him "Liberal". He’s got to pander to too many MORs and Conservatives to win the state. Besides which, this comment of yours actually bolsters Roger’s point. He would rather see a MOR Republican in the position in part (I assume) to hold the (R) majority. That elitist bastard.<I>I’m sorry I’m not bowing down to kiss Abramson’s ring.<I>The EYE commands it!<I>The brie-eating "smarter than thou" crowd really screwed that one up, eh?</I>Wasn’t aware that Perot ate brie.

  4. Chris Wage Says:

    If Harold Ford is "Liberal", I’m America’s Next Top Model."What I see in Mr. Ambramson is the arrogant, snobby kind of elitist Republican that has our poll numbers in the tank right now."This is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. Who needs the Daily show?

  5. Katherine Coble Says:

    Get off my side, Chris! I find that threatening!

  6. Chris Wage Says:

    Hey, you never know — maybe I have a modelling career in the works.

  7. Sarcastro Says:

    Terry, Ask yourself, "Why is a "Liberal Democrat" going to win a statewide race in a predominately conservative state? If your answer is because "the Republican nominee isn’t Conservative enough", you need to get used to being disappointed on election night.As much as I appreciate you commenting here, as well as your strenous defense of your point of view, if the Conservatives in this state are unable to grasp the concept of the importance of the Moderates, then they have no business being in electoral politics.This idea of the Conservatives staying home in a snit on election day because the GOP candidate doesn’t lean quite far enough to the right is absurd on its face. It is a fairy tale that the Far Right tells themselves in order to avoid the painful reality that the electorate doesn’t buy what they are selling. It makes for a nice self-fulfilling prophecy, though. If the hardcore Conservatives stay home because, for example, Corker is the nominee, then of course you will ensure a Ford victory. Much the same way that if Hilleary is the nominee, thousands of moderate voters will vote for Prince Hal because he comes off as competent, and the lesser of two evils.To bring up your Clinton example, he was able to beat Bush the Elder for two reasons, he came off as a moderate New Democrat, thereby gaining a large chunk of the middle and leaving Bush and Perot to fight over the crumbs. Perot wound up with 19% of the vote. No better proof of concept can be found than in the result of your comment here. You have just united a religous conservative/libertarian (K. Coble) and a godless liberal heathen (C. Wage) in their opposition to the points you have made. Congratulations! You are a uniter, not a divider!As far as kissing the ring of Abramson, pretty sure no one said you had to. Pretty sure you opened up with a questioning of his Conservative bona fides. Which implies that independent thought and a separation from the hive mind is somehow antithetical to Conservatism.

  8. Terry Says:

    Sarcastro–First I should apologize for saying that Abramson is a snob. I should have qualified that—I don’t know him personally, just the comments I read on the web. So, based on what I read there, I think he is a snob.But secondly, to address your point: are you advocating that voters surrender their principles for the sake of partisanship? Because I look what you used to link to me, the words "doctrinaire paritsan."Unless I’m misunderstanding your point (which is possible) it seems to me your telling me to leave my beliefs on the table for the sake of party. Is that not the doctrinaire partisanship of which you accuse me?Regarding Clinton: yes, he did run as a moderate. And so is Ford. And conservative republicans did stay home. And some voted for Perot. But we aren’t arguing self-fulfilling prophecy here, Sarcastro. There aren’t that many of us that sit around and have these discussions.I’m assuming our conversations here are in regard to political reality. The political reality of the Bush election is that he ran as conservative. Once the glitz of the election was over, he moderated. He broke his tax pledge, among other things.Now, we can all debate for the sake of partisanship whether it was "productive" for republicans to stay home. But the reality is, when people are disappointed, frustrated, or angry…they just stay home. It may not be smart, or it may be. Neither here nor there…it is reality.Just "doing it" for the party is not a proven seller. Look at the situation in Tennessee.There are many in this state, as well as the country, that have already decided to throw the GOP under the bus in order to "start over." That’s not me talking—tune into some talk shows or ask a neighbor.In my opinion (and I know…in politics, opinions are a dime a dozen) there have to be clear lines drawn between the candidates. Those lines don’t exist between Corker and Ford.Can Corker win? Yes. Can Ford win? Yes. But in my humble opinion, this race just isn’t strictly about the Senate seat. It is a race that perpuates the progress of the party.A good example would be Newt (before the fall). He was a true believer so to speak. He wasn’t just selling election rhetoric, he believed it. He was vocal. He began a revolution, thanks in part, to his passionate belief in the message he was selling. But the revolution fizzled as the "revolutionaries" moderated.If there is no conservative standard bearer in Tennessee, we continue to look to Jimmy Naifeh as the master and commander. To test my theory, how else do you explain how we have Bill Frist as the Senate Majority leader and still maintain the minority status in the legislature?It is so because Frist ran to elect Frist. Frist takes care of Frist. His appointments, his friends, etc. are all built upon a "personal" empire. He does not represent a movement, a cause, a party. He is about accomplishing a goal: being President. That strategy has worked for him personally. But name anything it has done (other than lucrative contracts for buddies) for the Republican Party?Sorry to be wordy, but just some thoughts.

  9. Sarcastro Says:

    Terry,I do know RA, and a nicer, more down-to-earth guy you will never find. Well, you might, but RA would be in the top ten. So much so, that I’m pretty sure he is getting a kick out of all the invoking of his name lately. I’d even go so far to say if he has ever purchased brie, then I owe you a Coke.As to doctrinaire partisanism, your beliefs are how you are defining the party and who "belongs". Looking at your resume, it is clear that you vote the party line. Not that there is anything wrong with that. When you describe the Senate race as, "It is a race that perpuates the progress of the party." It reinforces that characterization.Yes, Bush Sr. made a huge blunder by raising taxes. That coupled with the recession and an aura of being an out of touch country club Republican sealed his fate. However,his defeat contradicts your assertion that "…when people are disappointed, frustrated, or angry…they just stay home." Clearly, they didn’t. They came out and voted for a guy they knew to be a nut (Perot) and a guy they knew to be a silver-tongued prevaricator (Clinton). The irony is that Bush’s tax increase is what helped Clinton get the budget balanced and the reduction of the deficit.I can’t disagree with you about Frist. He came in on the Republican Revolution of 1994. But, I’m not sure moderation is what has caused it to fade from relevance. Newt, who I liked before his fall, was their standard bearer and leader. Without his leadership, it turned into bidness as usual. House Republicans have grown less enamored with term limits. They have reversed some ethics reforms and rules aimed at budget discipline. Their leaders have tightened their grip on power. Not very conservative, but certainly in keeping with the definition of ‘politician’. (See also Delay, Tom; et al.)As far as Tennessee, I’m not sure what Frist could have done to keep Naifeh and Wilder out of power. Blame that jerk-off Chris Newton and his ham-fisted cohorts. When crooked Repubs vote for their crooked buddies to assume leadership positions, we are left with that mess to deal with.What you will see this November is the angry and disaffected voters come out in force to show the incumbents of both parties the door.

  10. Katherine Coble Says:

    I can’t speak for Sarcastro. God Himself knows I don’t want to. But from where I sit as a conservative, I’d like to take a stab at answering one of your questions. This one:"Unless I’m misunderstanding your point (which is possible) it seems to me your telling me to leave my beliefs on the table for the sake of party.Is that not the doctrinaire partisanship of which you accuse me?"—It’s obvious that meaning and tone don’t always carry on the Web, because you’ve come away from reading RA with the impression that he’s a snob. So perhaps the many things I’ve been reading from those like Oatney, Huddleston and yourself aren’t tracking properly with me, and I’m gravely misunderstanding your intentions.Yet I keep seeing this definitive statements about Corker and Corker voters, about how the whole world turns on this race and the fate of Republican Earth hangs in the balance. That’s the "Partisan" part. (Follow the Mark Rose link I posted above for more conversation about sticking with a sinking ship). The "doctrinaire" part comes in with this continued adherance to a strict ideology–Far Right Republicanism–without concern to its translation into electable office. Saying things like "you can’t be a conservative if you support Corker" is the very essence of Doctrinaire.Yes, I’m voting for Bryant. Yes, I think Corker will win the primary. Do I think Bryant can beat Ford? No idea. But I made the choice to vote for Bryant not because I wanted to be in the club but because I find Corker untrustworthy and wasteful. And yet I cross party lines on other key areas. Am I conservative? You bet. Although I have to admit that after statements like yours and the ones repeatedly slung by Huddleston, I have this feeling someone is sitting back with a Cosmo Quiz on Conservatism and ranking me. You once asked me to apologise for mischaracterising a statement of yours. I did so, and in return asked for an apology from you. Did not receive it. That has always struck me as indicitive of where you’re coming from. It seems as though you believe you have sole ownership of the moral high ground, and get to rent it out to whomever you see fit.Then again, this is the internet. I could be completely misreading you.

  11. brittney Says:

    WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH BRIE?If loving brie is wrong, then dammit, I don’t ever want to be right.

  12. Aunt B. Says:

    Yeah, sure, leave it to the hippie liberals to show up defending brie. First they want everyone to enjoy brie and next they want to redefine marriage so that any two committed adults who love brie can go ahead and hook up.It’s a straight line from brie loving to Sodom and Gomorrah.

  13. Huck Says:

    MMMmmmmm… Sodommmm…Er, I mean. MMMMmmmm brie…

  14. Katherine Coble Says:

    I was gonna say that I eat baked brie and cranberry compote a lot, but I’m trying to defend myself as a conservative.Thanks for dragging me out of the cheese closet.

  15. Terry Says:

    Scarasto–thank you for responding. I guess it’s one of those times when we can each just agree to disagree. But I do have to argue with one point regarding my resume. I don’t know if you have ever read my site, but I regularly take fellow Republicans to task for what I believe to be straying from conservative principles. I think that is something that is supposed to happen within a party. Reagan did it with Ford. I’m raising the same questions with Corker. Reagan raised good issues and he later went on to become the modern standard-bearer for Republicans.I’m not likening myself to Reagan. I’m just saying that debate within the party is a good thing. The same thing happens with the Dems.I have indeed done a lot of work for the party. But I’m not blindly faithful. If the Republicans cease to stand for the ideals and principles that I believe in, well, I’ll look for another party.I also must question the allegation that I define who is in the party. A.C.’s original statement was that "conservative Abramson" is endorsing Corker.All I asked was how was Abramson conservative. Just a question. The defensive response said all that needed to be said.Abramson should just stand up and be proud and tell the truth. He’s a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Done. Instead he had to do some Jerry McGuire all-nighter post to tell us the nuances of his positions. Let’s just face it–he was the token at the Scene, now he’s the token for the Corker camp.

  16. Roger Abramson Says:

    <i>"..he had to do some Jerry McGuire all-nighter post to tell us the nuances of his positions."</i>Aw, gee, sorry Ter. Sorry I took your question so seriously and respectfully that I spent a lot of time thinking about it so that I could do my best to give you a well-thought out answer. I’ll try to Campfield-ize the next one for you, since you seem to appreciate that more. I know I will.

  17. Terry Says:

    You’re right Roger. You didn’t have to write up such a long post. We disagree, but I guess I didn’t need to criticize your thoughtfulness. Nuanced and strained, but still thoughtful. See you on the battlefield…

  18. Paul ifutm Says:

    You are the greatest!


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