I was really planning to make an intelligent, insightful post today, to carry the momentum from my post yesterday, which I thought was really good. I am very proud of that post, and grateful to my friend Kristin for igniting that spark, as well as my friend Kim for inadvertently providing me with a lot of quotable content to build on.
I was all ready to dig deep into my brain and come up with another thought-provoking subject to talk about, just as soon as I finished running through all the latest poop on my facebook page. I follow a few different bloggers, political and social pages and sometimes I'll run across an article or comment thread that inspires me to post something here. Many times, though, I find myself getting into pointless ideological debates with conservatives who's opinions I will never change, and somewhere in the middle of it, when I have stated the exact same point for the 5th or 6th time, only to have them reply as if they never once read it at all, and do so with a level of smug condescension that would make Bill Mahr say "Damn, you really think you know everything, don't you?" I just want to beat my head against a wall, because I feel like it would be more productive and give me less of a headache than continuing this debate.
But that's what I always notice about arguing with conservatives. They don't just think they know everything, they think they know everything and that it's so simple that anyone who disagrees with them is a complete fucking moron. They're constantly on the defensive about getting called on some of their ridiculous and outright hypocritical ideologies, always ready to flip out on anyone who dares to impugn their intellect, but at the same time they lay on that self-righteous, holier than thou attitude like it's extra nacho cheese on their chili fries.
For example, the other day I found myself locked in a completely pointless debate about the debt ceiling with one of those "soccer mom conservatives". You know the kind I'm talking about - women who were liberal Democrats their whole lives, all through school and college or whatever, then they married a guy with ultra-right wing conservative views, had a couple kids and now they're a walking Fox News ticker? The kind who talk about their liberal past like it was a drug habit they kicked, "Oh, I used to be a liberal, but then I saw the light!" Yeah, whatever. Until your husband comes home a Democrat and starts out-arguing you there too because when it comes down to it, you'd still be a Democrat if you were a better debater than your husband, or if you just had the balls to have opinions different from the man who makes the house payment for you.
Sorry, did that sound condescending? Well, when a woman who's political views are dictated to her by her husband, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News decides she wants to talk down to me about my political opinion as if I'm a complete idiot, when I can literally run circles around her mentally without even trying, it tends to get my dander up. That's not me being holier-than-thou, that's just me being honest. I'm not saying all women who are conservatives fall into this category, I'm just saying I can tell the ones who are from the ones who aren't, and when someone who doesn't even have the intellectual honesty to come up with their own personally vetted views decides to throw the Fox News talking points at me, as if I have no idea what a television or the internet is and haven't already heard them a dozen times that day, and then has the gall to accuse me of being the dummy... well... that's when I have to ask, why are conservatives such condescending dick heads?
Don't give me a completely spoon-fed Fox News explanation of how the debt ceiling is directly tied to the future budget talks, when anyone who knows the first thing about this topic is aware that they are two, completely unrelated things, and then tell me it's "simple math" like I'm the idiot. Just because you are too lazy to do the research and actually educate yourself about the subject upon which you're grousing, and instead choose to let the Fox News political panel explain it to you through their narrow cast, conservative filter, doesn't mean you're right. That organization exists for the sole purpose of distorting information, dumbing it down for the undereducated masses and then feeding it to them while telling them all how much smarter they are than everyone else because they get what all those "poor dumb liberals" just don't seem to understand. Congratulations on taking the bait - hook, line and sinker, aren't you so fucking smart?
When I debate people about political and social issues, I have been told that I am "Cordial to a fault", that I give people way too much leeway and tolerate a level of rudeness and condescension from them that would have set them off into "Yeah, well FUCK YOU!" land about 2 replies in. Well, I am cordial. When I am debating someone, I'm not trying to bully them with my viewpoint or stonewall them with my stubbornness. I'm trying to give my opinion, challenge theirs and basically vet the strength of my convictions against the strength of their arguments to the contrary. I welcome a good, healthy debate - and I have made many conservative friends through places like facebook who I have very spirited debates with, because they're always done with civility and I can respect a person immensely who I disagree with vehemently, as long as we can have a civil, intelligent debate.
The problem I have is with the people who aren't civil. The people who, the minute anyone dares to challenge their absolutions, they start with the snarky personal attacks, the little digs at my intelligence, the marginalization, the condescending attitude. It's the mental equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "LALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Because, at that point, any attempt at a rational, intelligent discourse is over. It's just going to be a battle of who can be the biggest asshole to the other person and make the meanest personal attacks to get the other guy to lose their cool and have a meltdown. The irony of it is, THAT is what's really stupid.
So, ok, it's just people arguing on the internet, talking big from behind their computers and pretending to be know-it-alls because they learned something new on their favorite political talking head show or from their favorite ideology-affirming website, right? No big deal, just let it slide. Keep fighting the good fight, cast your votes with a clear conscience, tomorrow is another day, yeah? Except, they're learning it from the conservatives in office, and that's the problem.
When Michele Bachmann and other Republican congressmen and women go on camera and talk about the debt ceiling and intentionally distort the facts, and then speak to their adoring base like they're the only intelligent people in a country full of morons, it resounds and it resounds with a ripple of reinforced ignorance that fuels those people who make asinine arguments with smug self-righteousness.
When Bachmann and other Republican politicians pander to the working class by making stupid comments like "American families stick to budgets all the time, they learn to spend within their means, why can't their government do the same thing?" Who do they think they're talking to?
The only thing more ignorant than the conservative politician who thinks that the "average American household" can actually stick to a budget and live within their means are the intellectually dishonest people who run around repeating that nonsense as if it's how they actually live their lives at all.
Here's the facts:
The national savings rate before the market collapse in 2008 was -5%. That means the average American household spent 5% more money than it brought in every month. And this was before unemployment doubled, wages declined by 10%, food and gas prices rose by 25% and foreclosures skyrocketed. It wouldn't be beyond reason to speculate that the current national savings rate is somewhere between -5 and -10% right now as a result of all those factors, and that's being conservative.
But hey, don't take my word for it. The average American household has at least $5,000 worth of credit card debt. The average American household has at least one monthly car payment and, for those who are still in their homes after the bubble burst, the average American household has a monthly mortgage payment as well.
That's not "living within your means". Sorry, but buying things you can't afford on credit is no different than what our government is doing right now. Buying a house you couldn't pay off all at once if you had to, a car you couldn't pay off all at once if you had to, stuff for you home you couldn't pay off all at once if you had to... that's the exact same thing as our government passing spending bills that they can't pay off all at once if they had to. Yet, for some reason, conservatives continue to insist that the average American family is able to live within it's means, so why can't their government?
If "living within your means" means being able to make the monthly payments on all the stuff you bought on credit because you couldn't afford to pay for it outright in cash, then yes, I suppose a lot of Americans are living "within their means". By that logic, though, so is our government. They have the credit to keep buying stuff, and the revenue to eventually pay for it, so what's the problem?
It's that condescending attitude, that notion that, somehow, simply by virtue of calling yourself "conservative" that you're automatically smarter than everyone else, that you can easily comprehend complex fiscal and social conundrums that baffle the minds of mere liberals, all the while saying some of the dumbest, most hypocritical, contradictory and outright false shit, that's what burns my ass.
How can you pander to the "average American" and talk about how they live "within their means" when it's impossible for the average, working-class family to do so unless they never buy a house, never get a credit card, only pay cash for new cars, never incur any expenses they can't immediately pay for, in cash, on the spot and basically never purchase anything on an installment plan?
How can you call on these people to rise up and be critical of a government that is up to it's ears in debt, when they, too, are up to their ears in debt? As a working-class conservative, how can you pretend like you're any better than the government you criticize when you're juggling bills, "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" and mired in credit card, auto loan and mortgage debt your damn self? Who do you think you are to then turn around and talk down to someone else for pointing out the fact that, clearly, you don't know the first thing about what you claim to be so knowledgeable about? If you're living in debt and criticizing our government for being in debt, then you're a hypocrite. If you're saying "I can do it, why can't they?" while figuring out how to juggle around your bills and deciding which half you're going to ignore paying this month so you can cover the ones that are already past due, then you're a hypocrite. And if you're a politician, pandering to those very people, by telling them that they are smarter and better with their money than the government, when they're clearly no better at avoiding debt and living beyond their means, then you're not only a hypocrite and a liar, but you are distorting reality and manipulating a group of people who are clearly in denial in order to carry out your misguided agenda to wreck the financial stability of our country just to make sure the president doesn't get re-elected.
Yeah, you might think you're so smart, but you're not. Anyone who isn't "drinking the kool-aid" can see that this whole debt ceiling issue is just a political power play to hold the stability of our economy hostage and risk a financial catastrophe while we're already mired in recession, just so Obama doesn't get a second term.
You showed your hand when Boehner went on all the conservative outlets and made that bullshit argument about Obama caring about getting re-elected more than he cares about the country. The only one talking about re-election right now is your side. It's obvious that you're obsessed with defeating Obama in 2012, it was clear when Mitch McConnell stated it just after the mid-term elections. It's obvious when you insist on spinning everything Obama says into some desperate attempt by him to make sure he wins re-election. Here's a guy who is literally taking his case to the American people and calling on them to contact their congressmen and senators and make our opinions heard and all you can say is that he's trying to put winning the election over the country? Really? Obama is staking his entire presidency on this budget debate, that doesn't look like the actions of a guy who's trying to win re-election. If all he cared about was getting re-elected, he would have compromised with you weeks ago and put this whole thing to rest so he could bask in the glory of the inevitably rising economy that you conservatives keep insisting would result of only Obama would do whatever you tell him to.
I mean, I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but it seems to me that if a guy wants to win re-election, how would deliberately wrecking the economy help him do that, exactly? I'm not the only guy who sees it that way, either. According to the latest poll I checked, somewhere around 65% of the country blames the Republicans in congress for this whole budget and debt ceiling fiasco. 2/3 of the country is looking at this whole thing and thinking that Obama has done everything that a reasonable person would expect of him to try and reach a compromise, but Republicans are having none of it. 2/3 of the country believes the Republicans are willing to wreck our economy just to play politics. 2/3 of the country is tired of being talked down to by Republicans who think we're too stupid to recognize a load of horse shit when it's served to us on a dinner plate.
So I wonder, why are conservatives such condescending dick heads? Why do conservative politicians marginalize everyone who disagrees with them, calling them ignorant, incapable of understanding basic arithmetic, or intentionally misguided? Why are they incapable of having a civil debate on the issues and working together, like mature and reasonable adults, to come up with solutions that work and are good for the country?
Is it the conservative leaders who influence that self-righteous condescension among their base, or the base who influences the leaders? When I see working-class conservatives, talking down to me like I'm a fucking idiot, because I dare challenge their completely inaccurate and mathematically flawed fiscal ideology, I wonder sometimes, are they this arrogant and blissfully ignorant because they're being lead by arrogant and blissfully ignorant politicians in Washington, or has the arrogant, blissful ignorance of the average, working-class conservative finally polluted the political discourse in Washington, courtesy of the Tea Party? Frankly, it's getting harder and harder to tell anymore. With the Tea Party holding the Republican leadership hostage and forcing them to run this car off the road to make sure Obama doesn't win in 2012, and the Republican leadership completely unwilling to upset these maniacs by telling them to shut the fuck up and take a basic economics class before they come barging in to the discussion with their overly-simplified, completely flawed fiscal ideology, it's hard to tell who's influencing who anymore.
All I know is, 95% of the Americans in this country are living beyond their means right now. The entire working class is living beyond their means. The entire lower-middle class is definitely living beyond their means and I don't even see how in the hell the working poor and ever-growing segment of the population living at or below the poverty level lives at all. Most of the voters in this country are in debt to some degree. Most of the voters in this country don't have the revenue to completely cover their expenses. Most of the voters in this country have to borrow money from someone else to pay their obligations. So, what makes our government any different? It's of the people, by the people and for the people, is it not? Well, those people are in debt, and their debt is growing more and more each day, so why are we acting so surprised that the government is mirroring it's people?
Stop condescending to us. Stop pretending like we're financial wizards when you know you're calling us idiots and suckers behind our backs. Stop pandering to people who are in denial about the fact that they don't know anymore about managing their money than the average politician. Most of all, stop playing politics with our economy. Stop holding the security of our finances and what little economic stability the middle class still has to cling to in this recession just to make sure Obama doesn't win re-election, and quit pretending like he's the one obsessed with it. Most of all, stop letting the kinds of people who can't even have a civilized political debate on fucking facebook tell you how to run the country.
The stupidest thing the Republican party has ever done is to convince the Tea Partiers that they know the first fucking thing about how this country should be run. Legitimizing them, giving them far more credit than the deserved or had done a single thing to earn, simply to pander for their backlash votes in the mid-terms has created this whole group of fiscally, constitutionally and historically ignorant rebel-rousers who have hijacked the Republican party and are forcing them down this ridiculous path of misguided ideology and anti-government ruination. The Koch brothers are laughing all the way to the bank at you fucking morons, and you have the balls to talk down to guys like me? Learn who the founding fathers were, learn who Paul Revere was, learn what the constitutional amendments actually say, learn basic economics, learn how to make a budget for an organization larger than a family of four, learn how to recognize that debt is debt and you're no better than the people you criticize, learn your Republican history for fucks sakes! Learn that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 18 times, that Bush Jr. raised it 7 times, all without incident. Learn that it was the REPUBLICANS who voted for over 80% of the items in the last budget that have us in the mess we're in now. Learn how to fucking spell on all of your Tea Party protest signs. Learn how to hide the fact that race isn't at least part of the issue to every one of you idiots by not including pictures of Obama dressed like an African bushman with a bone through his nose, or mocked up like Adolph Hitler when you send around your ignorant emails about how he's spending our country into financial ruin and killing jobs, in spite of the fact that job numbers have improved every month he's been in office.
Just fucking learn something before you start acting like you know everything.