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Chapter 6: Popular Religion in the Nineteenth Century Chapter 7: The Best Schools

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Trust Us, We Care

by Christopher Chantrill
March 16, 2005 at 3:22 am

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REMEMBER the stolen gubernatorial election of November 2004 in Washington State? Seattle blogger Stephan Sharkansky (www.soundpolitics.com) got a look last week at some poll books in Democratic King County. At the Denny Terrace polling station (a public housing project) the records show that a total of 30 machine-readable provisional ballots were illegally inserted into the AccuVote counting machine. That is 30 out of 869 ballots cast at the polling station. How could this happen in squeaky clean progressive Seattle?

But that is the whole idea behind the modern Democratic Party. It fronts the party of patronage and go-along-to-get-along with the scrubbed faces of earnest high-born experts, and nowhere better than in Seattle. Democrats believe in passing out benefits and pensions to its supporters not because they can but because it is right. And if we can help the little people, they lecture us, why bother with a few pettifogging rules about provisional ballots?

Democrats almost had us all convinced. Should Democratic journalists pay for their libels? Certainly not! Should Democratic teachers be held responsible for actual educational results? What an idea! Should Democratic city governments check up on people scamming the system? Why pick on the little guy when Enron is getting away with murder? Democrats are the good guys, and their hearts are in the right place. How dare you suggest otherwise! But counting provisional ballots without even checking? Are you sure?

Democrats are the good gays; for them the rules need not apply. But woe unto evil corporations, Republicans, and Christian fundamentalists if they break the rules! There can be no wiggle room for them. They are crooks, racists, and bigots, and deserve what is coming to them. And thus emerged the great American tradition that whenever a Democrat was caught in flagrante delicto a Republican should resign.

The idea that we should trust the Democrats because they are the good guys is what the postmodernists call a narrative, the myth that a ruling elite tells to justify its power. Don’t believe a word of such discourse, the professors of English Literature tell us. OK, we won’t. We understand now that the Democratic narrative about helping the little guy is just a naked bid for power.

And the facts seem to back up the postmodernists. Here are three stories about government and the little guy that came in over the transom the last month.

A friend was worried about his aging mother, and her ability to look after herself at home. Unfortunately she had substantial assets that made her ineligible to receive government “chore” services. But he and his siblings had gradually relieved her of her assets, and now a relative that worked in for social services had shown them how to get her the taxpayer-paid services she needed.

He also spoke wryly about a neighbor who had “retired” on government industrial insurance in his forties and was now developing a number of businesses.

Another friend has a son working as an apartment building manager. He had been working to restore electricity and plumbing in his building after a fire, and had foolishly allowed a couple of troublesome friends to live there rent free. After he had kicked them out one of them went to the City of Seattle’s Department of Design, Construction and Land Use (DCLU) and applied for relocation assistance. It was only after they had given him a few thousand dollars that DCLU found out that the applicant had been living rent-free and was therefore not eligible to receive the assistance.

It’s a great concept, and it has worked so well for so many years. Democrats set up programs like chore services, industrial insurance, and relocation assistance as noble, compassionate initiatives that help people. Of course, stripped of their hegemonic discourse, they are merely handing out free money to their supporters, that too often turn out to be small-time hustlers that live by scamming the system. But everyone benefits: the recipients, their families, the government workers that hand out the benefits, the enforcement officers that cluck around looking for violators, and the Democratic politicians who gather in the provisional ballots of their loyal servitors at election time.

But should Senator Clinton (D-NY) be co-sponsoring the Democrats’ Count Every Vote Act in Congress to further loosen the rules for voting? The bill would impose Election Day voter registration on the states so that anyone could turn up at a polling station (social security number, drivers license, proof of citizenship not required) and cast a provisional ballot to be “counted in the same manner as a vote cast by an eligible voter who properly registered during the regular registration period.”

Does this really work? A Clinton as poster-girl for “Trust Us, We Care” voter registration?

One day middle-class America is going to wake up and say: Enough already. Maybe it already did.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


presented by Christopher Chantrill

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