Answer: because of liberalism. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Item #1: The blogosphere is abuzz over this ad from Barack Obama’s twitter account:
As many have pointed out, this tells you a lot about this how they see their own followers. I think it’s even more insulting to Obama’s non-followers: the very idea that grown men and women with jobs and families are going to change their opinion of the government taking over health care, just because a spoiled man-child came home from college for the holidays carrying marching orders from the president to harangue his parents with hope, change, and ironic eyebrows.
More on this in a moment, but first, item #2: Americans are sorting themselves into red and blue communities:
Democrats and Republicans are much less likely to live among each other than they were a generation ago.
Back in 1976 — the year of a close presidential election — just over a quarter of the population lived in “landslide counties,” where the winning margin was greater than 20 percentage points. . . Last year, more than half the country lived in landslide counties. . .
States themselves have become more polarized, with most legislatures and governorships controlled entirely by one party. As a result, not only are blue and red states tracking different courses on just about every issue, but some people are seeking to escape their states.
But if Americans are sorting themselves into like-minded communities, are they doing so on purpose? In other words, are people voting with their feet by consciously moving to states or counties that reflect their own partisan preferences?
Researchers at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California suggest that, yes, they may be.
This comes as no surprise to me. The fact is, blue-state liberals are very frequently a pain in the neck to work with. (Or to live with, I would guess, but fortunately I don’t have pajama boy in my family.) Why? Because of the constant political harangues in what ought to be non-political contexts. Exactly the kind of harangues that President Obama is asking ironic pajama-clad children to inflict on their parents this Christmas.
Case in point: Years ago I related the story of how a discussion of candidates for an important position in my department was turned to a nonsensical slam on Sarah Palin, apropos of nothing at all.
Case in point: More recently, at a retirement party for a valued member of our faculty (who happened to be female), another faculty member launched into a speech about how the departing faculty member reminded him of Hillary Clinton who was then leaving her job as Secretary of State. This was intended as a high compliment. In fact, the comparison was absurd and insulting; the two women have nothing at all in common other than their gender, and the departing woman was quite accomplished, in contrast to Clinton’s complete lack of any accomplishments at the State Department (unless you count her courageous stand against security at overseas consulates).
Case in point: More recently still, a colleague sent me an essay he wrote on the government shutdown. It rambled a bit, but I can summarize its key points: (1) Republicans claim to oppose Obamacare. (2) Obamacare is obviously great; no one could honestly oppose it. (3) So why are Republicans really shutting down the government? (4) It must be because they’re racist. He asked me for my comments, which I duly provided him.
I could go on, but I won’t. (Indeed, I’m leaving out the more painful harangues I’ve received.) In short, if blue-state liberals in general are anything like the liberals I know in ultra-blue academia, it’s no wonder conservatives and libertarians prefer nothing to do with them.
For all I know, red-state conservatives are just as insufferable. To some extent, I’d be surprised if they weren’t. Nevertheless, it’s still the fault of liberalism. The phenomenon at work is the intrusion of politics into all aspects of life. To some extent that’s because of the liberal media and the president’s pajama-clad minions, but fundamentally it’s because of the intrusion of government into all aspects of life.
Liberalism is at war with civil society. Civil society is the collection of disparate institutions, independent of the government, that make society work. The problem with civil society, to liberals, is that independence. Liberals can’t control it, so sometimes it does things of which liberals don’t approve. In fact, it often does such unacceptable things, since civil society, being made up of churches, other civic organizations, and individuals, has a strongly conservative character.
As a result, liberals have been very deliberately trying to crowd out civil society with government, by replacing activities that people just did on their own — but sometimes in a fashion that didn’t comport with liberal preferences — with government programs that liberals can control.
For instance, in the Obamacare HHS mandate you see a very deliberate effort to get religious organizations out of the business of charity. For years, Democrats have been trying to raise taxes on charitable donations, since any monies spent by private charities would be better spent by the government.
As the government supplants more and more of civil society, and as it simultaneously takes increasing control of our individual lives, politics — which ought to be a sideshow — is becoming dreadfully relevant. We have to fight over it, because it affects us so much.
And that’s why politics sucks. In part it’s because of liberal jerks like Barack Obama’s pajama-clad harangue brigade, but in greater part it’s because of liberalism itself.