Friday, September 03, 2004

The Children’s Hour

A recent article in the Boston Globe reported White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card saying that Bush thinks of America as a 10-year old child in need of a father figure. The remark is both hopelessly condescending and absolutely backwards. Today’s Republican party, represented by George W. Bush, is not the party of father figures, but of 10-year olds.

It doesn’t take a psychologist to analyze the beliefs of many Republicans, just hang around with a 10-year old and you’ll gain all the understanding you need. Children see themselves as the center of the universe. What they want is paramount. The needs of others are secondary, sometimes ignored all together. They feel persecuted—teachers don’t like them, parents are more like police, siblings exist only to torment them. It’s an egocentric world-view where rationality and self-reflection are absent.

The “me first” attitude of conservatives is most apparent when it comes to taxes. Although the income tax rate in the U.S. is among the lowest of industrialized nations, the “cut taxes” mantra is chanted at every Republican gathering from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. Republicans have convinced themselves that those in need are lazy, those who seek services are frauds and those who are poor deserve it. It’s a very comforting illusion that positions taxpayers as victims. The underlying theme, however, is plain old selfishness. The 10-year old doesn’t see the benefit to herself of helping others. What’s in it for me? She wonders. Although she may grudgingly help around the house, it doesn’t occur to her that the household runs smoothest when there is a team/family effort. Doing the dishes isn’t just for her, but for the good of the family. Adults don’t necessarily enjoy doing dishes, but, with the benefit of maturity, they realize that it is part of the sacrifice necessary for the family to function. This isn’t communist ideology, but a simple fact of life. Still, children don’t appreciate it.

Children also don’t appreciate “difference.” A 10-year old would rather die than be seen as “different” from her peers, and will join with others to ridicule kids who actually are different. Geek. Dork. Wuss. Teacher’s Pet. Homo—these just some of insults hurled to set others apart and easily classify people. Conservatives, although they use more sophisticated code words, indulge in the same practice. For a period of years, “Liberal” became virtually a curse word, so much so that even liberals were afraid of it. Other words in the Republican lexicon used to classify undesirables include “immigrants,” “welfare moms,” “America haters,” “socialists” and “elitists.”

Then there's the smart kid in class. You know, the kid who has all the answers, gets “As” and reads baseball novels instead of playing baseball. Generally not Miss or Mr. Popularity. Likewise, grown up Conservatives loathe intellectuals, those smarty-pants Ivory-tower types who waste tax money on worthless research when they’re not spouting Marxist philosophy in the classroom. It doesn’t seem to matter that without learned women and men we wouldn’t have reached the moon, found cures for diseases or enjoyed great works of art and literature.

Like children, Conservatives as represented by Bush see the world in black and white, good and evil. It’s a world of high emotion and low reflection, where dogmatic belief and wishful thinking supplant rationale thought, and where infatuation and hero-worship are mistaken for mature love.

As long as Bush remains in office, it continues to be the children’s hour in America. If we truly want a father figure or simply more mature leadership, we’re going to have to turn elsewhere this November.

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