Intellectual Supremacists

Our greatest fear, on the intellectual right, is that the underlying goal of the intellectual left is the establishment of a rationale for undermining of the rule of law. Evidence for this liberal supremacist vision of governance can be seen in comments like this one (on conservative racism) to my previous article.

The issue here is not really whether the reason there are certain laws, and substantial support for those laws (even among, and perhaps especially among, liberal constituencies), is "conservative" racism and bigotry. It is whether that racism and bigotry is sufficient cause for ignoring the laws thus produced. In writings going back several years I have tried to make a clear case for the rationale of the rule of a form of law founded in the participation of the entire voting populus. Basically it is this: If we allow a person (like the president) or group of people (like the Supreme Court) to decide what laws are valid based on the "Spirit of the Law" we will have established that entity as the definers, even the owners of the country, regardless of the pretense of elections empowering the people.

If laws are established based on racist or bigoted principles, and I'm not in any way suggesting this is not the case, they will have a deleterious effect on society. There will be natural consequences that are bad for us all. This is actually a GOOD thing, because when we live under the bad effects of our own actions that is an opportunity for all of society to learn lessons. There is, for example, ample evidence the housing crisis has been made far worse, and may even have been tipped into crisis mode, by efforts to remove those people the law now defines as illegal immigrants from the American economy.

Liberals claim such things are bad, that such lessons are not learned fast enough, and that is reason to ignore law based on doing the "right" thing. The evidence, however, of what happens when the actions of bigots are suppressed artificially by the government is that those lessons are never learned. They fester and become even more pernicious. As we saw in the example of Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Bloc long-suppressed racial hatred simply explodes into open warfare and genocide once the boot of government is removed.

Contrary to the conception of liberal intellectual supremacists the rule of law is not merely the "right" thing being reflected in the actions of a good government. It is not government restricting the bad impulses of an intellectually deficient people. In our system the rule of law is people acting on what they genuinely believe to be the best interest of all- and sometimes being convinced by the results of their own actions that they were wrong. This has resulted in a tremendous civilizing pressure on Americans, and the many immigrant peoples who have come here.

The current imperfection of American law is not an indication that this conception has failed, because the result of the liberal supremacist viewpoint prevailing elsewhere has, in every case in history, been far, far worse failure.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at November 17, 2008 9:56 AM
Comment #270476

I found it hard to figure out what the bloody hell you are talking about, but it brought to mind this article:

Obama has more threats than other presidents-elect

Seems some lessons are not yet learned.

Posted by: womanmarine at November 17, 2008 10:55 AM
Comment #270477


No surprise that you and folks like phx8 are tone deaf on this.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 17, 2008 11:03 AM
Comment #270478

Tone deaf on what, exactly? Quit bloviating and say it in simple terms that phx8 and I might understand, unintellectuals that we are.

Posted by: womanmarine at November 17, 2008 11:05 AM
Comment #270481


OK, assuming there is racism or bigotry in the public’s intent in the establishment of a law, is that reason to ignore the law (also assuming it is not otherwise literally unconstitutional)?

Secondly, does the Constitution outlaw racism or bigotry?

By the way, since you have the courage to take active part in these discussions you do qualify, at least by my definition, as one of the intellectuals.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 17, 2008 12:05 PM
Comment #270486

womanmarine, I’ve looked forward to your comments and have giggled seriously over some of your zingers here for quite a while.
It would seem that even your patience has been tested and you’ve become more vocal, yet as effective as ever.
This current posting continues to bear the narrow-minded, egotistical spewing of bigotry that earned the comments of “arrogance” and “narcissism” before.
Please exercise some battle savvy….the ranks are dwindling.

Posted by: janedoe at November 17, 2008 1:08 PM
Comment #270487

Jamison, what the hell do you mean by this???

No surprise that you and folks like phx8 are tone deaf on this.

“you and folks like phx8”…….meaning?

Posted by: janedoe at November 17, 2008 1:12 PM
Comment #270490


1. Yes, it is. It is just one way to get the law changed.

2. Without looking to refresh my memory, I believe there is, if not in words, in intent.

3. Why, thank you.

Now for the meat. At first glance your article reads to me that conservative laws that discriminate should be followed until the public outcry because they are discriminatory revokes the law.

In other words, let us be discriminatory until it gets so bad that we are made to change it. By that time maybe we will have learned something.

That says to me two things: that you know you are being discriminatory, and you want to get away with it as long as possible.

These are, of course, very simplified interpretations on my part. I tend to like straightforward as opposed to beating around the bush.

I would ask what particular laws you had in mind with your post. Two come to mind, the defense of marriage thing, and immigration law.


Thanks for the kudos. I tend to pick my battles carefully :)

Posted by: womanmarine at November 17, 2008 1:29 PM
Comment #270492

LEJ: OK, assuming there is racism or bigotry in the public’s intent in the establishment of a law, is
LEJ: that reason to ignore the law (also assuming it is not otherwise literally unconstitutional)?
LEJ: Secondly, does the Constitution outlaw racism or bigotry?

Pheeeww! Stinks like strawman to me. For just this once can you possibly please specify exactly
a) what is the law you’re talking about?
b) who of your opponents has alleged racism or bigotry in the establishment of that specific law?
c) who of your opponents have advocated ignoring the law?

If you’re not able to answer all three questions, I’m done. Let’s move on to something that doesn’t just exist in your mind.

Posted by: cts5678 at November 17, 2008 1:52 PM
Comment #270493

As I’ve had a few Disagreement’s Myself with Phx8 , In my humble opinion you would be hard pressed to Find A smarter or more intelligent person on watchblog than Phx8. I’ll comment on your blog Later Lee.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at November 17, 2008 1:59 PM
Comment #270494

Lee: It seems to me that all you are saying is that republican corporate kool aid has been replaced by democrat corporate latte.

Your side had an opportunity to do something about this problem and did nothing. Knowing how liberals are, did you expect that they would correct the problem. The liberals trashed Bush on every rule of law issue except illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration is the perfect issue for the liberals. They can oppress workers wages while proclaiming to be great humanitarians. You’ll not here liberals trashing their politicians over rule of law issues.

Look at another rule of law issue, the war in Iraq. For years the liberals have chanted end the war, end the war, end the war now! Today, the liberals have no problem with extending the occupation to 2012 and if Obama choses to extend it even further, the liberals will have no complaints.

In today’s America, the rule of law is what wealth and power say’s it is. The politicians are interchangeable.

Posted by: jlw at November 17, 2008 2:07 PM
Comment #270495

Americans have an absolute DUTY to defy unjust laws. That is the principle upon which our Revolutionary War was initiated and our country founded. It is even enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, Lee.

Your article seems oblivious to the very fundamental principles upon which this country was founded, and the ideals to which it has reached to realize.

Unjust laws are to be defied, and the consequences of defying them must be born by those courageous and American enough to defy such laws openly. In such defiance, if the law is truly unjust, those punished for defying it are made heroes and martyrs who rally the people of this democracy to their cause to seek an overturning of that unjust law.

It was the fundamental dynamic of the civil rights movement whose defiance left a trail of great and honored heroes and Americans like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King, and Mrs. Rosa Parks and the 3 girls murdered in the bombing of that Birmingham Church, and the 3 young adult Civil Rights workers murdered and buried in a Dam in Alabama.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 17, 2008 2:07 PM
Comment #270497


I agree with you on defiance of bad law. However, the mechanisms of government should not have that same freedom. George Bush should not have the power to decide what is bad law and ignore it. Nor should the courts have the power to decide a law is “bad”, because such decisions are inevitably subjective, and no less so when the opinions are those of a judge substituted for those of the voters.

My point about immigration law is that it should be seen by the people as their responsibility to make sure the law does not do the country harm.

The arguments should be directed at US. If liberals really respected the people’s right to have their own say in matters of law, and I would submit to you that the answers above prove they do not, their efforts to liberalize law to eliminate racism and bigotry would be placed at OUR feet. Not at the feet of the courts.

The Dred Scott case, prior to the Civil War, proved the Constitution needed to be changed to eliminate the specter of slavery. It took a great cataclysm to convince us of the need to do so but change the Constitution we did. No one seriously wants to go back to the way it was before.

Eastern Europe took the liberal supremacist route to clamping down on ethnic and sectarian rivalries, and when government’s artifice was lifted more than a million people died proving no lesson had been won by their oppression.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 17, 2008 2:58 PM
Comment #270498

LEJ: Nor should the courts have the power to decide a law is “bad”

Except that the role of the Supreme court as defined is the Constitution is to do just that, right? Surely you’re not trying to say the Constitution is incorrect to give that power to the SC…

Again, are you talking in nebulous, theoretical terms about certain unspecified laws or are you talking about specific people and specific laws?

If the former, it’s nearly impossible to have a serious intellectual discussion.

If the latter, name the law or laws you specifically are talking about in your piece.

Posted by: cts5678 at November 17, 2008 3:08 PM
Comment #270499
Pheeeww! Stinks like strawman to me. For just this once can you possibly please specify exactly
a) what is the law you’re talking about?
b) who of your opponents has alleged racism or bigotry in the establishment of that specific law?
c) who of your opponents have advocated ignoring the law?
If you’re not able to answer all three questions, I’m done. Let’s move on to something that doesn’t just exist in your mind.
Posted by: cts5678 at November 17, 2008 01:52 PM
Nice legalistic attempt to escape a philosophical issue. Voters don’t work that way, of course. We don’t get to elect certain people for this law and not for that one. Our representatives take up the whole gamut of laws, so it is entirely germane to deal with the political philosophy of a class of people vis a vis their respect for our right to make laws even if we do badly or act unjustly as a people.

The answers above show a liberal disrespect for the people’s right to insist on the making of laws for the reasons they see fit to invoke.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 17, 2008 3:10 PM
Comment #270500

Lee said: “Nor should the courts have the power to decide a law is “bad”, because such decisions are inevitably subjective, and no less so when the opinions are those of a judge substituted for those of the voters.”


Judges deciding on the constitutionality of a law or lower court ruling is ENTIRELY legal and CALLED FOR by our Constitutional structure. Read your Constitution, Lee.

Or, join FAOVC and seek a Constitutional convention to draft a new Constitution or amendments to prevent judges from interpreting the actions and laws under the purview and for review.

Ultimately, it ALWAYS up to the people to insure that the laws do not do their country and themselves, harm. Hence, the reference in the Declaration of Independence to overthrowing tyrants rendering unjust or harmful law.

Lee, we have a democratic republic, not a direct democracy nor a referendum process for federal law. It is entirely correct for liberals to seek legal change in the courts and the Congress. That is precisely what the Constitution calls for. Liberals are afterall, citizens with rights to appeal and lobby their lawmakers like anyone else.

Are you suggesting that liberals are not part of the people? And if they are, then their voices should be heard by lawmakers and the courts where they have standing. Your argument continues to try to do an end run around our Constitutional rule of law framework, by remanding certain issues near to your heart to the people in a majority, where you think the issue may be decided in your favor. That my friend Lee, is NOT in our Constitutional framework.

Though you are not alone by any means, in this attempt.

Posted by: David R. Remer at November 17, 2008 3:11 PM
Comment #270501


No that is not the Supreme Court’s role. Their’s is to look into the Constitution and find whether that law forbids the government certain powers. Not among the powers granted in that document is the divination of wisdom.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 17, 2008 3:15 PM
Comment #270502

Thank you!

I’m not entirely sure where you’re going with this. I want to throw in the observation that the GOP and conservatives are not one and the same, and conservatism is hardly a monolithic philosophy… That’s about it. I’be been kind of politically decompressing since the election, and trying to understand just how badly Paulson and crew jobbed the country out of $700 billion-

Posted by: phx8 at November 17, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #270504

Lee -

Just an observation and two quick questions -

Throughout the campaign and especially since the election, it seems the vast majority of racial, cultural, and religious invective has come from the Republican/conservative side. Then I see the Republican and Democratic rallies and conventions and McCain’s concession speech and Obama’s acceptance speech - and in every Republican event, the crowd was almost completely white, whereas in the Democratic events, (except in areas (like Iowa) where there were few minorities to begin with) the crowds were truly multi-racial/cultural/religious.

So…do you see a connection between the racial/cultural/religious nature of the Republican crowds (as opposed to the corresponding nature of the Democratic crowds) and the amount of racial/cultural/religious invective coming from the Republican/conservative side? And whether you think yes or no, how did you arrive at your conclusion?

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at November 17, 2008 3:18 PM
Comment #270508

Is somebody trying to “seek legal change” in the courts and Congress by ignoring law? No.
Is it in our “Constitutional rule of law framework” to just ignore laws we find unjust? No.
A society that believes in the rule of law does not succeed if it lets people pick and choose which laws apply themselves.

Asking if it is ok to ignore a law if you believe it to be unjust is an easy question to answer, but Liberals must acknowledge their own hypocricy in order to answer your question honestly. That is why they simply dismiss the question. That is why they ask for you to narrow it down to one issue. That is why they try to change the subject.

Posted by: kctim at November 17, 2008 3:59 PM
Comment #270509

Lee Jamison-
The link concerning the housing crisis leads past the blog author’s insinuation to a New York Times article which essentially talks about mortgages being underwater (that is, the house is worth less than what people will pay for the mortgage)

The lesson to learn there is not to let illegal aliens stick around to buy houses. The lesson to learn there is is that if you let people people hide their leveraged-to-the-eyeballs status through a bunch of financial tricks, you’re going to make the economy too debt-ridden and over-complicated in its workings to avoid a force five ****storm.

Intellectual supremacists. Would you do yourself and the conservative movement a favor and blog something that’s not some screed on how Liberals are being so mean, or how they’re just evil for not taking your particular interpretation of the constitutions?

That’s the thing, you know. You complain about liberal intellectual supremacists (trying to call us something like white supremacists, eh?) But at the basis, your main argument for this is that the Supreme Court and other courts have made decisions and interpretations you don’t like. From here you posit this entirely separate, Lee Emmerich Jamison legal system where the real law of the land actually exists, and call us names and insinuate bad things about it for not agreeing with you.

The sad fact is, I don’t really find much to rebut here. I’d need a real argument and a provable conclusion, not just a personal opinion that seems rather hostile and radical to most people.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 17, 2008 4:45 PM
Comment #270513

SD: The sad fact is, I don’t really find much to rebut here. I’d need a real argument and a provable
SD: conclusion, not just a personal opinion that seems rather hostile and radical to most people.

My thoughts exactly. I’m outta here.

Posted by: cts5678 at November 17, 2008 7:11 PM
Comment #270522
There is, for example, ample evidence the housing crisis has been made far worse, and may even have been tipped into crisis mode, by efforts to remove those people the law now defines as illegal immigrants from the American economy.

Citing Cafe Hayek for anything other than psychotic economic fantasy might be your first problem. The NYT article cites certain zip codes, these zip codes had large housing booms. Surprise!!! They also had large illegal immigrant populations working construction. Therefore they must be the cause of the housing boom bust. Voila!! Magic economics 101.h

Phx8 was citing a political strategy. You jump into rule of law. Huh? Logic doesn’t seem to be a big factor in this post….so I guess were working on the hyper-intellectual plane here. Hoo, Boy!

Posted by: snert at November 18, 2008 8:07 AM
Comment #270524

The sad fact is that you guys won’t answer the question.

If one see’s racism and bigotry in laws, is that sufficient cause for ignoring the laws?

Posted by: kctim at November 18, 2008 10:10 AM
Comment #270526


Snideness about Cafe Hayek aside, the fact of the matter is that was not the link I thought it was, and had thought I’d saved. My apologies for that.
I usually try to avoid citing Michelle Malkin but, in this case her links come closest to the documentation I was thinking of earlier. Malkin, quoting from an article by Nancy Mathis, includes this tid-bit-

Real estate agents say the foreclosure crisis in Prince William has been exacerbated by local authorities’ efforts to crack down on illegal immigrants….

The point I am making here, by the way, is that there is evidence to support the assertion that enforcement of current immigration law is detrimental to the economic interests of the nation. That in no way means I want the law to go unenforced. I have argued here the government must enforce the law, something the Bush Administration had to be dragged kicking and screaming into doing. But if the law hurts us our leaders should lobby us for the support that would allow them to change the law.

The people should be engaged in their governance, not led deceptively down the primrose path to whatever may make politicians more powerful. In these comments liberals have been going a step further even than that by saying that if the people by what liberals believe to be a racist or bigoted choice have chosen to require what they believe in to be reflected in law (say, perhaps, by a referendum outlawing same-sex marriages) the “wiser” powers of government should be able to negate the people’s choice.

If, on the other hand, those “wiser” powers happen to disagree with liberals, (say, they deny Federal funds for stem-cell research) such choices are abominable, interestingly enough.

As for comments on specific cases of courts ignoring the law, a couple of weeks ago we had a discussion of Kelo v. New London, in which the pre-Roberts court, by a process of accretion of marginal decisions transmogrified the Fifth Amendment’s “Takings Clause” from a fairly easy to understand seizure for “public use” to a capacity to enrich the priviledged and connected private business interest with properties seized for “public purpose”. This is not a gray area, save that the court has been able to smudge the bright edge between public and private ownership away to its own satisfaction It is, pure and simple, a dismissal of the meaning of public use- a court inventing law.

We also addressed Roe v. Wade, in which a court defined when a human being would have standing as a person under the law. This was a fiat decision siezing from the people the right to make hard choices states had been making on their own with the work of their own representatives. It is also very clearly an unavoidably religious decision in the eyes of a very large minority of the people in this country. Hence, regardless of the assertions of secularity on the part of supporters of abortion rights it represents the establishment of legally accepted religious principles on the part of the Federal Government. Thus, for the sake of an apallingly weak privacy argument not applicable to any other form of homicide, the decision tramples on both the Tenth and First Amendments.

By the way, snert, politics and the rule of law are inextricably linked. Politics is the perpetual negotiation between the people and those who would lead them.. When the people become too trusting the are enslaved. A friend of mine, a former candidate for state representative here in Texas, uses the following quotation as his signature on all his e-mails- “Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what a people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”—Frederick Douglass August 4, 1857
Douglass’s words are true, as he knew especially well, even in America, regardless of how pretty the words are in our founding documents. We, The People, are the only real guardians of our freedom. And a failure of our own vigilance at the post is the greatest threat we face.

We are suspended today between two philosophies. One believes the government should constrain, and empower us. The other believes we should constrain and empower the government. It is astonishing how difficult it is for people today to understand the crucial difference between those two ideas.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 18, 2008 10:20 AM
Comment #270530

Glenn Contrarian,

Where do you get that the racial invective was coming from the right? Did not Obama’s handlers try to cast any vote against him as a racist statement? Did not Bill Clinton complain that the race card had been played angainst him and Hillary? Were there not articles fearing that Obama could lose the election because of racist Democrats?

When I look at the Democratic Party I see an organization that is wedge-issue, envy, and race-baiting driven all day every day, hence the ridiculous notion that a nation could benefit from a government that can break its own rules when it is convenient to do so.

Glenn, what really appalls us is that race is an issue at all. I would love to have gotten the chance to vote for Condoleeza Rice because her strengths lie whare I percieve our greatest perils to be. Polling does show “Republicans” to be more sensitive about racial issues than Democratic constituencies, but in most areas the differences fall within the margin of error.

The fact of the matter is that conservatives are driven more by anxiety about government while Democrats are more driven by anxiety, period.

In this last election anxiety won.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 18, 2008 10:47 AM
Comment #270534

The problem is that bigots and racists use conservatism as an excuse to propogate their hatred, and at this point, too many decent conservatives are willing to not say anything, thereby going along with it by default. When conservatives reject this approach, and use conservative philosophies to promote positives rather than negatives, to embrace changes and reject & then address past inequalities, at that time charges of bigotry and racism will ring hollow, and become inapproptiate.

It’s a good question- profound even- about when and how a person should change and/or oppose a law when the law is unjust. Gandhi, MLK, and Thoreau have all addressed the topic of non-violent civil disobedience, and I would suggest looking into them. There’s a lot of great reading on this topic if you care to pursue it…

Posted by: phx8 at November 18, 2008 12:17 PM
Comment #270535

The sad fact is that the question’s rhetorical. It’s not meant to be answered, it’s meant to be its own answer.

Laws will always be broken. Some laws will be broken more than others. Leaving aside laws broken for selfish reasons, we come to the legitimate reasons. It’s not a question of what is sufficient cause, asked as if somebody has a universal answer. The question will be, what are your moral imperatives, which would compel you to go beyond the law?

It would be a magnificent topic for a spirited discussion, but that’s not what we’re talking about here, either. What Lee, either by intent or simple unconscious habit of thought is trying to sidestep are questions of equal protection of the law, of methodology in interpretation. There is a long history of precedent and decisions by the court that add up and balance out to the basis of current decisions. Lee considers those invalid, being steeped in the conservative commentary on the subject, but it doesn’t seem he understands why the court doesn’t decide the law his way. So he, like many conservatives, badmouths the courts and their perceived excesses.

I guess that’s what bothers me about the way he argues. I have a lawyer for a brother, and what I know from my own studies and what he’s told me paints a more complex picture than what the Malkins, the Limbaughs and the other pundits paint; the people, unfortunately, that he takes at their word. Judicial activism has become the lazy insult thrown at the court, without any real research or examination of the decision themselves. Never mind the term might not apply. Never mind whether the judges were right on the law. It’s those evil liberals imposing themselves on the law.

What worries me, ultimately, about this approach, is the way it encourages Republicans to become their own breed of judicial activists, only without the benefit of any self-consciousness about the matter. Take the sodomy laws and the gay marriage debate that followed.

I mean, essentially, the Sodomy Laws were struck down because nobody was enforcing them equally. It used to be that heterosexuals would be brought up on charges, just like homosexuals. But over the years, the latter group of people became the exclusive targets. Equal protection of the laws tells you that you can’t have one group singled out so arbitrarily.

Gay Marriage is another issue. The Full Faith and Credit clause tells you that if somebody gets married in one state, you have to honor it in all the others. Reno divorces worked under the same principle. But conservatives have fought gay marriage tooth and nail, with a national law saying you couldn’t honor it, in direct contradiction of the constitution.

This is just one example. How is it that executive privilege, based on a vague separation of powers argument became so absolute that even constitutionally mandated oversight became inpossible? How is it that an interpretation of the President’s constitutional position as CINC leads to him being able to ignore the fourth amendment, or do any number of the other things he did along those lines?

Republicans have adopted their own brand of activism, one which they excuse the same way they excused deficit spending, spending on entitlements, and other things of that kind.

Lee Jamison-
The question of whether government constrains and empowers the people or vice versa is answered with one word: both.

If you want to understand liberals, understand this: people like me see the government as a feedback loop, balanced between different poles of interaction. Government does need to be constrained, but it can’t do us any good if it doesn’t have the ability to to constrain in turn. And government, to do that does need to be empowered, but its no good to us if it doesn’t empower us in turn. The government needs to be an active, useful arm of American society, doing the things that only government can really do.

The Problem of the Republicans is that they neither work the constraining nor the empowering sides of the equation well. They pick the wrong people to empower, the wrong people to constrain.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 18, 2008 12:35 PM
Comment #270569
Our greatest fear, on the intellectual right, is that the underlying goal of the intellectual left is the establishment of a rationale for undermining of the rule of law.
By Lee

Odd statement, considering the amount of time you spend in this post ranting against the rule of laws you disagree with. So either you are being hypocritical or you are endowed with some enlightened thinking. I will bow and expand “womanmarines” opinion, because I agree with her initial opinion. Your initial rant was unintelligible.

The fact of the matter is that conservatives are driven more by anxiety about government while Democrats are more driven by anxiety, period.
By Lee

So instead of your unsupported definition about our differences, consider the following:

From NorthWestern University September 23, 2008

“Political conservatives envision a world without God in which baser human impulses go unchecked, social institutions (marriage, government, family) fall apart and chaos ensues,” says McAdams. Liberals, on the other hand, envision a world without God as barren, lifeless, devoid of color and reasons to live.
“Liberals see their faith as something that fills them up and, without it, they conjure up metaphors of emptiness, depletion and scarcity,” McAdams said. “While conservatives worry about societal collapse, liberals worry about a world without deep feelings and intense experiences.”
The study findings may shed light on why conservatives prefer more authoritarian leaders while liberals do not, he adds.

Science 19 September 2008

Although political views have been thought to arise largely from individuals’ experiences, recent research suggests that they may have a biological basis. We present evidence that variations in political attitudes correlate with physiological traits. In a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs, individuals with measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism, and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism, and the Iraq War. Thus, the degree to which individuals are physiologically responsive to threat appears to indicate the degree to which they advocate policies that protect the existing social structure from both external (outgroup) and internal (norm-violator) threats.
Posted by: Cube at November 19, 2008 12:58 AM
Comment #270576

The second study your cite would seem to indicate people who are less sensitive to experience, period (We might consider them de-sensitized.) are more likely to be liberal. 46, by the way, is obviously a very small sample. Depending on the breakdown of the liberqal/conservative split the margins of error could be well into double digits. It is an interesting result.

I’ll stand by my statement, though, because the campaign strategy of the left is obviously dependent on enhancing generalized anxiety. For a comparison to your study results one could note that the conservative reactions are to very specific, distinct threats, whereas the study fails to address unfocused, generalized anxiety over individual competence to face the difficulties of the world. One can also see this in the occasional expression of liberals wanting the government to “take care” of us, more or less in a parental mode.

This fall directly into the path of my thesis here. Parents have the right to make choices for children without their consent, and to overrule them when the children make deficient choices. They also will be the judges of which decisions are deficient. Liberals, by their concessions to generalized anxiety, trade liberty for the assurance that they are being cared for.

As to the theological study, on that scale I would rate closer to being a liberal myself, but here again you miss a crucial point. Conservatives, by that assessment, see God as both personal and active in the life of the individual. God has real utility, and don’t miss the strong connection between the concepts of the two studies. Why wouldn’t conservatives (with a personal connection to a practical creator God) feel the generalized anxiety and personal impotence of liberals? Why would religious conservatives (feeling a personal connection to a creator God, who holds them accountable to responsibility for his creations, even the ones against whom they are prejudiced) feel the need to intervene evangelically, and even militarily, on their behalf?

Why would liberals (with the more passive, abstract, aesthetic God) intervene to deal with abstract threats to the more anonymous, less real, colored people of different faiths in distant parts of the world?

Glad you brought up these studies!


Of course you discussion mirrors, in this case, the discussions of the founders on the need for the Constitution we have today. The former Articles of Confederation were so weak the states were falling apart. As we have discussed before, though, the reason the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution was that New York would not join the pact unless even more RESTRICTIVE language was added to the document to CONSTRAIN government beyond the simple assumption that powers not specifically granted would not exist.

As to your having a lawyer brother, my condolences. For someone who so frequently rails against for-profit industry, do you not see some irony in the importance you place on a field dominated by for-profit practitioners? How is it that in other for-profit endeavors self-interest mitigates against the integrity of services rendered while in Law we are to take often enormously profitable ventures as paragons of virtue?

As Government becomes more powerful, more bureaucratic, more conveniently legalistic in dealing with the powerless and more clubby in dealing with the well-placed and priviledged does it not greatly benefit the for-profit LEGAL INDUSTRY? As a matter of fact it does.

I’ll give you an example of how this harms us. Years ago when working with a builder for a client in Austin I found out that homebuilding companies in that boom town had an average life span of FOUR years. This particular builder had been able to buck the trend because he had degrees in both engineering and law. The Houston builder for whom I am currently doing some work likewise has a degree in law That this would be a requirement for business success should be disheartening to all of us because it is a clear restriction on opportunity in America.

It begs the question of how long it will be before one must have a law degree to be a plumber (especially is you are foolish enough to ask a presidential candidate the sort of question the news media doesn’t have the guts to ask), a teacher, a lawn-care company owner, or a science fiction writer.

(By the way is anyone going to pay for illegally searching for and revealing dirt on Joe the Plumber? No. Because the people who did the illegal searches and revelations were in the vast corporation known as Ohio government. That, of course, goes to the very heart of conservative fears. Government sought to oppress a private citizen for expressing his right to participate in the political process, and we insignificant, unqualified peons have no power to call them to task for the offense.

There you are, Stephen, your vaunted equal protection (with certain people being, as Aldous Huxley would say, more equal than others) under the boot of the law.

Sounds like a liberal paradise.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 19, 2008 9:46 AM
Comment #270584

“Years ago when working with a builder for a client in Austin I found out that homebuilding companies in that boom town had an average life span of FOUR years. This particular builder had been able to buck the trend because he had degrees in both engineering and law.”

Lee why do you blame this 4 year lifespan on the government? Seems the law degree was useful because of contractual dealings with subcontractors, vendors, architects and consultants, developers, banks and financial institutions,and homeowners as well as insurance companies. None of which are government entities. If you are saying it is due to government regulations on the environment, construction law and building codes then it is more of an engineering issue.
While you may look on it as a clear restriction of opportunity without the laws mentioned above he would also need education in the martial arts and weapons training to conduct business, perhaps Colombia is an example. It has been my experience that most of these disputes are self inflicted by the business themselves.
While government is an easy scapegoat and allows one to pass the buck the rules are made before the game is played when it comes to construction and the lost opportunity claim should be directed at ones shortcoming’s. To believe otherwise, IMHO just shows all of us another flaw in the conservative philosophy you have defended with this example.

Posted by: j2t2 at November 19, 2008 12:23 PM
Comment #272905

This is a completely absurd blog post. It bases its argument on falsehoods and generalizations, The worst of which is that Liberals do not believe in the rule of law. If ever there was a group in our society that firmly held to the idea that we are a nation of laws, it is the left. The left believes in the constitution, and that it is not permissible to change its interpretation for political reasons.
The idea that the Supreme Court should not interpret the laws is unconstitutional. That is what they do, according to the consitution.
I could make a joke about the oxymoron statement about the “intellectual right”, but I’ll refrain. (whoops! I did it again!)

Posted by: Seatech1 at December 28, 2008 11:29 AM
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