Monday, April 9, 2012

The War on ...

I tweeted about this a few minutes ago but I wanted to explain my thinking a bit more. It seems that liberals have grown fond of using the, what I thought was a conservative rhetorical ploy (think the War on Christmas), to describe many ridiculous conservative policies. The most popular of which is probably the conservative 'War on Women'. Granted, conservatives are proposing some terrible policies that will hurt women and thus the nation as a whole. I'm just as completely against those policies as every other liberal. But I don't think it helps to use this type of rhetoric.

While the policies are terrible, they aren't acts of war. I know politics involves a lot of rhetoric and people don't mean it literally. But if we think about where this phrase came from we can see the problem. I've been reading about the War of 1812 and how Madison and Jefferson viewed it as a war to prove the "Manlihood" of the young nation. They wanted to use the war as a signal to the rest of the world not to screw with us, especially pertaining to trade on the Atlantic. That sense of national pride is important to conservatives. And one of the best ways they think the nation shows itself off is through military power. And you prove your military might by fighting and winning wars. Conservatives (or at least their politicians) seem to buy this type of thinking. As a liberal this should make you uneasy.

Their war rhetoric also comes from their fear of outsiders. They invoke it so strongly when talking about things like Christmas because they feel threatened by people who don't share their same views. If you aren't part of their tribe then your very existence means you are at war with them. And when you are at war there is no compromising or mercy. There is simply us vs. them. And violence is the only way to prove that you and your tribe are superior.

So when us liberals invoke war as a way to describe conservative policies I think we are reinforcing this attitude that conservatives have about conflict and violence. And it probably only makes them buckle down more and refuse to compromise. Though honestly, most of them aren't compromising at this point anyway. Still, I also worry about the effect on liberals. It's important that we take action against these policies. But we don't need to take war-like action. We just have to explain why the policies are bad and while ours are good. And you can use colorful rhetoric when doing so. Though I'm sure the facts are colorful enough. So while it's important to be mindful of conservative rhetoric, I don't think we should adopt the more ridiculous pieces they use.

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