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The Big Answer


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A Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

a book by Thomas Sowell

(our site's book review)

Similar in thrust to Lakoff's Moral Politics, A Conflict Of Visions is a great book for grasping a comprehensible context for the great chasm separating the conservatives and liberals in America, both the conservative and liberal citizens and the conservative and liberal politicians.

The conservative and liberal politicians—do they really represent different goals?
The conservative and liberal politicians—do they really represent different goals?

Sowell argues that the unconstrained vision relies heavily on the belief that human nature is essentially good. Those with an unconstrained vision distrust decentralized processes and are impatient with large institutions and systemic processes that constrain human action. They believe there is an ideal solution to every problem, and that compromise is never acceptable. Collateral damage is merely the price of moving forward on the road to perfection. Sowell argues that the constrained vision relies heavily on belief that man is inherently and irredeemably selfish, regardless of the best intentions. (See America's Promise for more on selfishness.) Those with a constrained vision prefer the systematic processes of the rule of law and experience of tradition. Compromise is essential because there is no ideal solution and those with a constrained vision favor solid empirical evidence and time-tested structures and processes over innovation and personal experience. Ultimately, the constrained vision demands checks and balances and refuses to accept that any one person could put aside their innate self-interest.

Lakoff's Moral Politics book says that conservatives have a Strict Father morality in which people are made good through self-discipline and hard work, and liberals have a Nurturant Parent morality which sees people as something to be cared for and assisted. Although he makes an airtight case against the negative side of conservative values and for the positive side of liberal ones, he fails to see clearly the negative side of liberal values and the positive side of conservative values. This leads him to a startling and illogical conclusion where he supports only liberal politics and shuns conservative ones. He needed a more synthesizing, integrated, systems approach during the conclusion phase of his otherwise insightful book, rather than the reductionistic and naïve one he conjured up.

Lakoff's book sees the part but not the whole, like the fish who sees the boy but not the water
Lakoff's book sees the part but not the whole, like the fish who sees the boy but not the water

To Lakoff, Liberals' ideal conceptualization follows the model of the "nurturant parent" family, while Conservatives' follow the model of the "strict father" family. Given the importance of these concepts in Moral Politics, it is important to consider their meaning along with how each view suggests and is justified by a corresponding view of the nature of child rearing, morality, and justice. A "nurturant parent" family is one that revolves around every family member caring for and being cared for by every other family member, with open communication between all parties, and with each family member pursuing their own vision of happiness. Americans often metaphorically understand their country as a family, with the government corresponding to the parent(s) of the family and the individual citizens corresponding to the children. Thus, one's understanding of how a family is best organized will have direct implications for how the country should be governed. Hence, the partisan bickering and the Culture War.

Partisan bickering in the U.S. resembles gladiator contests
Partisan bickering in the U.S. resembles gladiator contests


The pushmi-pullyu—a perfect metaphor for the current partisan gridlock where nothing is accomplished but creating divisive sound bites for media to caterwaul about
The pushmi-pullyu—a perfect metaphor for the current partisan gridlock where nothing is accomplished but creating divisive sound bites for media to caterwaul about


Politicians' underlying intentions are to please corporations in order to stay in office, pretending to represent the people while representing only the corporations thereby enriching the oligarchs even more; this drunken party of greed gone mad is NOT the plan our Founders envisioned!
Politicians' underlying intentions are to please corporations in order to stay in office, pretending to represent the people while representing only the corporations thereby enriching the oligarchs even more; this drunken party of greed gone mad is NOT the plan our Founders envisioned!

Sowell says that the Liberals have lost their way—the prospect of changing human beings for the better has been lost and nothing has come along to replace it. Conservatives have lost their way as well—the prospect of keeping government small and social programs to a minimum has been lost and nothing has come along to replace it. However, Republicans in power love pork, war, bankers and the Corporatocracy as much as the Democrats ever did, since the Bushes and Obama arrived on the scene. Goodbye privacy and rights and peace and Constitution. Hello hopeless debt and merciless ISIS. Great job, fellas!

The 2016 election demonstrated that, indeed, the Republicans have lost their way, as well as their conservativism, and possibly their minds. Yes to God and no to abortion is an effective Culture War ethic but a bad and woefully inadequate political platform. Trump was happy to fill in the sucking black hole in the G.O.P. See The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted.

The Democrats' platform promised everything for minorities and women (their strongest suit) but nothing for white people—especially men, so white men felt slighted and insulted and Hillary was seen as Obama 2.0 in a skirt so they went for Trump by the millions. Working people in general wanted to give the greedy elites in power the finger and they pretended that a vote for Trump was like an Occupy Wall Street Movement vote against the establishment—a delusion Trump nurtured as he insulted every liberal-progressive sacred cow in the book which should have knocked him out of the running.

But the public liked him turning the establishment's election farce into a reality show starring guess who. The result: Trump won and shocked the country, the world, the media, the pundits, the Republicans, the Democrats, the pollsters, and even Trump himself!

Given his white supremacist cabinet choices, it would not surprise us if Trump started a movement called White Lives Matter—a group for EQUALITY, NOT SUPERIORITY. (NOT the hate groups or the neo-Nazis group or the racist groups that are trying to monopolize that title, but simply a movement supporting whites, just like the Black Lives Matter group is to promote blacks and be—a group for EQUALITY, NOT SUPERIORITY. If someone believes that white supporting is racist but black supporting is not, they have some serious thinking to do!) Perhaps a White Lives Matter movement wouldn't be a bad idea, since in the OBomb'em presidency, white lives seemed to be the one thing Barack kept overlooking as he implemented several racist policies that benefitted blacks only, which insulted many white people and sewed the seeds for a Trump win. The Democrats may have cursed their party for all times if they do not wrap their heads around dealing with legitimate feelings of whites who feel abandoned.

Perhaps (hopefully) Trump can find a way to wipe out the annoying political correctness obsessions, the microaggressions obsessions, the radical feminist foolishness, the victimized-minorities-on-pedestals-and-the-victimizing-whites-being-left-in-the-dirt-where-they-belong nonsense, and the general whites-are-evil malarkey non-minorities have endured for several decades. He's surely put together the right dream team to pull it off.

But, looking at his history, we can't help but conclude that (we'd love to be proved wrong) Trump will do what all the other politicians have done: go where the money is by pleasing Wall Street and the military industrial complex and the shadow government. Perhaps it's just a dirty rumor, but it is said that such actions will be very handsomely rewarded, as they have been all the way back to Reagan.

In their hearts the white men that elected Donald Trump knew their votes would not prevent establishment elites (especially neocons) from staying in power. We'll just have a more rightwing establishment. But hell, wasn't it worth it to see the useless farce called the U.S. Presidential Election turned into a mean and nasty reality show?! "Nasty woman" or clever politics? Or just good entertainment?

Republicans in power love pork as much as the Democrats ever did
Republicans in power love pork as much as the Democrats ever did