Multiple Reasons for Romney’s Loss

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Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today (Photo credit: tvnewsbadge)

Mr. Romney lost the 2012 presidential election for multiple reasons, not just one. The rapid secularization of the United States is one reason, in which the 19% of the population that consider themselves secular vote overwhelmingly Democratic. They also populate the media and Hollywood, institutions that have an exaggerated effect on American thoughts and opinions. The same media adoration of Obama as a god continued during this election cycle. The leftward trend of Americans educated by liberal college and university faculty has accelerated. Even Evangelical Christians have sharply moved to the political left over the past ten years.

The government as an open source of welfare benefits helps a growing number of citizens and immigrants, both legal and illegal. U. S. demographics reveal an increasing minority population dependent on federal benefits rather than doing productive work in order to survive. Such minorities vote overwhelmingly  for the Democratic Party candidates. Now when I turned 18 and voted for the first time, I knew that a vote for Mr. Reagan would mean a reduction in student Pell Grants and students loans, which would hurt the chances of me getting loans or grants. I voted for Ronald Reagan because I believed him to be better for the country if worse for me. Most people are not that way, and if they are welfare-dependent tax consumers, they are more likely to vote for whom they believe will continue or increase their welfare income.As Hayek stated, a socialistic system will inevitably run the characters of people who are under it. Federal entitlements have ruined the character of the American people, and other than older people (over 65) who supported Mr. Romney +11, most people on entitlements voted what was good for them. They do not give a d..m about what is best for the United States of America.

Moral relativism is another reason Mr. Romney lost. Many Americans do not believe in moral absolutes and support unlimited abortion, physician-assisted suicide, active euthanasia, aggressive wars against nations that have not attacked nor harmed the United States, and homosexual marriage. Such a “transvaluation of values,” to use Nietzsche’s term, is more compatible with Mr. Obama rather than with Mr. Romney.

Race-based politics, in which minorities vote for other minorities (at least when such minorities are politically liberal) remains a problem due to the poison of identity politics that college and university professors as well as the NAACP buy into. Obama easily swept up the minority vote.
Changing demographics make it highly unlikely that any Republican candidate will be able to defeat a Democratic candidate, at least for the foreseeable future.

The cultural divide between rural/suburban and urban was clear from the county maps of the votes. Since many more people live in cities, and these inner city voters have been effectively mobilized by the Democratic Party, states with large urban centers are more likely to vote Democratic.

If the culture war is a popularity contest, the Right has lost. Its lingering influence may be seen in a Republican House of Representatives for a few more Congresses, but such a situation is not likely to continue long-term. The economic battles is also lost since Mr. Obama exploits class divisions effectively for his benefit.

I do not find hope for the United States to remain a major world leader in the future. Its course is downward, toward a third-world status. Even if defense suffers large-scale cuts, entitlements will continue to cost more than the country can afford. Defaulting on Chinese loans would be disastrous for the economy. Obama Care will create another massive federal bureaucracy that will further increase the deficit. I know doctors and PAs who are serious about moving to anther country if Obama Care continues—thus weakening an already downsized system overloaded with patients.

The Obama Cult is the final reason I will mention for people voting for Mr. Obama. That cult has gone to nauseating heights–from children signing a “hymn” to Mr. Obama in schools . Obama has replaced MLK as the Great Neo-God of America. The situation is as disturbing at Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book and the hymns Chinese schoolchildren sang to honor him. People who worship like this will vote for him.

Mr. Romney ran a good campaign. It was not enough to stop many converging factors that any Republican will have to overcome to win the White House. I do not see how these factors can be overcome by a future GOP candidate.

The United States and “Evil Enemy States”

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Deutsch: Philip George Zimbardo in Warschau, P...

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There has always been a strand of Puritanism in American thought that survives in part as a Manichean division between good and evil. Rather than seeing the United States as a mixture of good and evil, many Americans see it as “the good guy” in the world with no major faults. Individuals who disagree are labeled as “unpatriotic,” told to “go to Russia,” or are called “America-haters.” Although I do not deny that there are individuals and groups of people who hate their country, not every critic of American practices hates the United States. Nor is someone who points out that there is much good in countries considered to be enemies of the United States, such as Iran. Many Americans want an overpowering, evil enemy state because many Americans are more Manichean, believing in sharp lines between good and evil, than they are Christian. Christianity recognizes that no being created by God is totally evil–traditionally, since evil is a lack of good, and thus a lack of being, a totally evil being could not exist. If Americans of all stripes are honest with themselves, they will see that they are capable of great evil. Philip Zimbardo, the Stanford psychologist who ran the Stanford Prison Experiment, showed how “good” people can turn evil when they have great power (as prison guards) over others (in this case, students who played the “prisoner” role). He notes the power of situational factors that can lead to a good person torturing and even killing innocent human beings.

Reinhold Niebuhr recognized that groups are capable of great evil just as individuals are, and Zimbardo’s work showed this to be the case. Nation-states are groups of people, and in any group unethical practices can arise that lead to people doing things that are evil under group pressure. No nation is immune to this. Was the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” as President Reagan affirmed? I would say “Yes,” with the qualification that there was good even in the old Soviet Union, and evil in the United States of America. In the War between the States, Generals Sherman and Sheridan engaged in the first modern war (with Lincoln’s endorsement)–both these generals and President Lincoln believed that war should be engaged against the civilian population. The brutality with which federal troops put down the anti-draft riots in New York as well as Sherman’s March to the Sea are evidence of the results. The United States Army was brutal in the Philippines war in the early part of the twentieth century, mowing down men, women, and children. The United States Army Air Corps engaged in the saturation bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, and of course Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bombs. President Roosevelt placed thousands of Japanese-American citizens in internment camps. In the Vietnam War, the United States dropped more tonnage of bombs than it did in the whole of World War II. The atrocities and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan (and in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba) are well known–torture has not been totally eschewed as the official policy of the United States, and the U.S. still sends prisoners to other countries to be tortured. Civil liberties, from the genocide of the American Indians to the mistreatment of the Irish, the Chinese, and of African-Americans, have not been uniformly honored in the United States. Does this mean the United States is an evil country? I do not think it is as evil as a totalitarian society such as the old Soviet Union or China under Chairman Mao, but it does mean that the notion of the United States as the paragon of virtue and (during the Cold War) the Soviet Union as the epitome of evil is a Manichean view that does not reflect the good and evil mixture found in all nation-states.

President George W. Bush held a simplistic, Manichean view of the world that many Americans eagerly followed. Saddam’s Iraq was an evil state, and the good United States was obligated to attack the evil state (at first for the alleged but missing “weapons of mass destruction” and then to “save the Iraqi people from Saddam”). Americans’ hubris was expanded by its view that it was the hero country liberating the Iraqi people from a Satanic dictator. Now Iran is the enemy, and the Neoconservative war cries are loud–and Americans are buying into the new lie as well. Yes, Iran’s president holds an evil position in his denial of the Holocaust. Nothing can justify his views, nor his support of the radical religious groups that have held the country hostage since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. However, Iran also has a working democracy, unlike many other states in the region, including states the United States supports. Israel has a vital interest in what Iraq does, and if Israel wants to defend its vital interests militarily, that is Israel’s task, not that of the United States. However, the Neoconservatives are appealing to American Manicheanism and demonizing Iran as the new “evil empire.” Hopefully Americans will see that all people are “fallen,” as well as all nation-states, and any positing of “We good, they bad” is misleading and leads to unnecessary wars and bad foreign policy decisions.

Denying Manicheanism Does not Mean Denying the Reality of Evil

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Clarence S. Darrow

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Some people are evil. They are not totally evil, for anything totally evil would not exist–Manicheanism, the view that evil is an equal and opposite reality to good, is flawed. To accept that evil is real does not imply that evil is positive; it remains an absence of good. Yet evil is a real lack (and here I’m focusing on moral evil) that results in murders, theft, broken promises, manipulation for one’s own selfish ends, and the list goes on. Some psychologists, sociologists, and social workers deny that evil is real in any sense, and deny that there are predominately evil in the world. Yet I have found that if I question the deniers in detail, they almost always have met one person so twisted that they had to admit that person was evil.

The United States is often Manichean in its view of evil, particularly in holding that America is good and America’s enemies are totally evil. But that does not mean that when President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” that he was wrong. It was predominately evil. To say that the Soviet system was predominately evil is not to say that it was totally evil, nor does it claim that the Soviet leaders were totally evil–even Stalin, by sharing in existence, was “metaphysically good,” even though he was morally twisted and predominately evil. He was not subhuman or a demon; he was a very bad human being.

However a person’s background influences him, this does not excuse him from moral responsibility–one way to dehumanize people is to say that they are totally determined by their background, since denying them free will to make moral decisions denies them a fundamental human capacity. Loeb and Leopold‘s background (wealthy, pampered) did not force them to murder Bobby Franks, despite Clarence Darrow‘s dehumanizing denial of Loeb and Leopold’s moral freedom. They had the free will to decide whether or not to murder Bobby Franks, and their action was twisted and evil. Although it may be difficult for someone in a violent urban area to make the right decisions, the person remains responsible for the moral choices he makes. To deny him moral choice is to deny him humanity. Liberal social reformers who say that instead of making evil moral choices that a person is determined by his environment are the true dehumanizers. Traditionalists may need to admit the importance of social background in corrupting character, but at least they recognize the humanity of people from violent and poverty stricken neighborhoods.  Neither does a rough rural upbringing make bad choices inevitable.

Some people are simply “meaner than hell.” A sociologist may claim that this “evil theory” is naive, but I would say that the sociologist has a twisted and flawed view of human nature. Some people have made so many bad choices that they have ruined their characters, and others have no conscience. With psychopaths, it seems that the only goodness in them is metaphysical goodness, that they exist, and as products of God’s continuing creation, they are good insofar as they exist. But  morally they seem to be utterly twisted to the point of having very little if any moral goodness left. We don’t have to go to the usual examples of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or child murderers and serial killers to know that some people with whom we are in contact are evil. Some people love to create strife–they encourage friends to turn on each other, split and destroy organizations such as churches and clubs, and split up families–all for a kind of evil and selfish spite and glee. Their hearts are rotten; as Solzhenitsyn said, “The battle of good and evil is fought within each human heart.”

That means that as fallen creatures, we all have the capacity for evil. Any of us can start on a slippery slope that leads down the road to evil. So we should watch our own spiteful and selfish thoughts (for selfishness and pride are the ultimate roots of evil) and try to follow Jesus’ advice to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” We should never be complacent in fighting the darkness of pride in our own hearts so that we may overcome temptations to evil acts and develop into virtuous human beings.

American Manichaeism

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Mani

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Why do Americans of all religious and political stripes, traditionalist or “progressive,” conservative or liberal, tend to demonize individuals with which they disagree? Conservatives label their opponents as “evil” or “un-American,” while liberals label their opponents as “haters” or worse. Political and religious debate degenerates to emotion and name calling; rational arguments are at a minimum. I believe that the answer is found in the fact that many Americans are really Manichaens.

Manichaenism is an ancient religion begun by the Persian prophet Mani in the third century. It holds that there are opposite principles, good and evil, that are both necessary for the universe. Thus, it is a strongly dualistic religion, holding to the existence of absolute good and absolute evil. As such, Manichaenism clashed with Christianity, which holds that everything created by God is good, and even if a human being does evil things, that person is never absolutely evil.

Many of my students claim to be Christian but are really Manichaens. They say, for example, that the existence of evil is necessary in order that we may know good. This is not a Christian position; in Christianity, man could have remained wholly good, but when he sinned, part of that goodness was lost–not all of it But man did not have to sin, and evil is not a necessity in the universe.

A more dangerous version of Manichaemism in the United States is the tendency of Americans to label their moral, political, and religious opponents as “evil” without any redeeming qualities. Such polarizing views probably arose from the influence of New England Puritanism, which emphasized the separation of the redeemed from the evil world without. Today that Puritanism is secular in form, but it still polarizes people into “us” and “them,” into “wholly good” and “utterly evil.” Religious fundamentalists openly call those who disagree with their views “evil” and say that those individuals are going to a literal hell fire. Liberals who disagree with conservatives on moral issues such as abortion or practicing homosexuality will label conservatives as “haters” or “full of hate.” In this way, both liberals and conservative both dehumanize their opponents and avoid the difficult task of argumentation. It is always easier to name-call than to argue rationally for one’s position.

The idea of the 1960s radicals that “the politics is the personal” is also a byproduct of American Manichaeanism. It allows an individual to take as a personal insult any views contrary to his or her own. “I’m outraged” becomes a new mantra for individuals too lazy to argue for their position. Plus, this mantra gives someone a sense of moral superiority over opponents. Moral smugness, an arrogant sense of moral superiority, is found among people of every political and religious persuasion.

Manichaenism also encourages people to pigeonhole those who disagree with an opinion the Manichaean considers crucial. Thus, opponents of the death penalty are grouped together as “liberals” even though many hold “conservative” opinions such as opposition to abortion. I am a conservative on most issues, but some people might assume that I automatically support the Iraq and Afghanistan wars because of my conservative position on other issues. But I do oppose and always have opposed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and I oppose any extension of war to Iran. People are more complicated than our pigeonholes. And if people stopped demonizing their opponents and get to know them as people, they may find that they share some beliefs in common.

A final reason for Manichaenism in American life is that Americans really are deeply polarized on social issues, such as abortion and sexual ethics. Such issues cut to the core of who we are both as individuals and as members of the larger society. It is natural that they bring out strong emotions.

If someone is a Manichaen, he or she might miss out on some surprising agreements between people who are quite different from one another. Christopher Lasch was a Marxist, but many conservatives admired him. If I had read about him being a Marxist and said to myself, “I’m not going to read some atheistic communist” I would have missed out on some top-notch social critique.

People are rarely as simple as Manichaenism believes. Good people do bad things at times, and bad people do good things from time to time. We are all mixtures of good and evil. As long as we recognize that fact, we can avoid falling into Manichaeism.