Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bill O'Reilly and conservative reaction to the election

I don't usually take to criticizing pundits directly. For the most part I think it gives them more credibility than they're worth (which is none) by addressing them. But I'm making an exception for Bill O'Reilly for a few reasons. First off, I used to like Bill when I was a young conservative. When he isn't being an asshole, he has a certain charm to him. And he's effective at what he does, which is argue in a very controlled environment. He's good at giving a quick and concise argument that takes more time than he gives you to refute.

Another reason is that Bill isn't always blind to reality. Sometimes he is able to see through the made up reality that many conservatives live in and give decent analyses. But it appears he is living in that made up reality:

If you look at the exit polling, you’ll see that a coalition of voters put the President back into the oval office. That coalition was non-tradition, which means it veered away from things like traditional marriage, robust capitalism, and self reliance. Instead, each constituency that voted for the President — whether it be single women, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, whatever — had very specific reasons for doing so. [...]

Traditional American voters generally want a smaller government in Washington, more local control, some oversight on abortion, and believe in American exceptionalism.

This is the same basic narrative that many conservatives have been giving since the election. I haven't posted about it since so many of the people I read have refuted the arguments so well. But this one made me think about where the racism comes from.

This idea that minorities (mainly black people) are in large, dependent on the state is just wrong. True, a higher % of the black population relies on welfare programs like food stamps than other races (which is due to centuries of slavery and segregation). But the biggest benefactor of those programs are white people. Most welfare recipients are white. So why, according to Bill, do white people believe in self-reliance and American exceptionalism while black people don't? It's because the use of welfare and related programs are always framed as primarily helping black people. The media overwhelming uses black people as the narrative when they talk about welfare programs. Because of that, and bullshit stories like Reagan's welfare queen, people associate welfare with black people.

Bill and his fellow conservatives are working under that framing, and also one in which all the white people they know and see aren't poor and all the minorities they know and see are poor. So the media framing and their limited worldview mean that must be how the rest of the world works. And since Bill isn't getting the benefits those poor people are getting while he works "hard" at being a pundit he sees it as unjust. That shows an ignorance of not only black people and the poor in general, but of basically our whole gov't and society.

This idea that conservatives and rich people don't benefit from the gov't is ridiculous and wrong. If anything, they benefit more from the taxes we all pay and the "gifts" that Democrats give to people from those taxes. They wouldn't be able to enjoy the wealth and safety they do without the infrastructure the gov't provides. Wall Street would probably look different right now if not for a bailout from the gov't. The list goes on. The rich can complain all they like. But not one of them is going to trade the "stuff" the gov't gives them for what the gov't gives the poor and everyone else.

Bill isn't even right about his own "traditional American voters", which means white men. Even white men want the gov't to give them things. They like social security and medicare. They really like having the biggest military in the world. They like tax deductions, being able to get treated at an ER if they happen to not have insurance, being able to get out of a "traditional marriage" and the ability to have an abortion for the women in their lives (Bill actually gets the abortion thing correct).

These "traditional American voters" just don't like to know that the same benefits they get from gov't also go to people who don't look like them. They also don't like that women can control their own bodies since their religions tell them they aren't supposed to. It's as simple as basic tribal instincts; both the racial tribe that has dominated the country for centuries and the religious tribe that greatly coincides with the racial one.

Bill and his fellow conservatives aren't mad that these new "non-traditional" voters disagree with the conservative ideology of small gov't, more local control and American exceptionalism (This is bullshit. Ask any of these non-traditional voters if they want to liv anywhere but in the US, especially Hispanic immigrants). They are mad because they get "gifts" and "stuff" from the gov't too. And some of it doesn't go to rich white men like Bill.

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