emotion and politics
One of the things that attracted me to the Republican Party, or at least the right side of the debate early on was that the right tends to base its arguments on logic, what works in a practical sense even if they don't like it; whereas the left tends to react more emotionally and bases its arguments on how they feel about a given topic.
Several examples: War. Republicans say, "I don't want people to die, but because of x, y, and z we have to do what we have to do"; where as leftists say "I don't want people to die, therefore war is evil and we shouldn't do it." This comes in alot also in fiscal policy; where righties can outline a series of steps why lower taxes and such make sense, lefties say "Rich people are living and luxory while the homeless starve, so we should take money from rich people and give it to poor people" without ever examining it from a practical, logical, realistic viewpoint. This mindset is the driving force behind political correctness, smoking bans, and dozens of other lefty talking-points.
Rush Limbaugh, hated as he can be and as much as I disagree with him sometimes, is a good example of the type of rightie I'm talking about. He takes facts, and makes them into arguments. He highlights the facts that support his argument, have no doubt, but rarely does he simply rail against a position with with he disagrees. He dosen't get emotional, he takes in everything that is known and lays out a plan or opinion that makes sense in a realistic way.
But lately, this focus seems to have been shifting. Part of it probably comes from a long-surpressed emotional drive, and alot of it seems to come from suddenly finding Republicans in power for a while after years of somewhat repressive minority in which right-leaning thoughts were ridiculed and protested.
I don't think I like this shift. The power of sensible argument is what got us the majority in the first place; forgoing it in favor of emotional appeal is great for applause lines but is not a strategy for lasting sucess.
There's two forces driving this new, emotion-based movement: the much-feared Christian right and what I like to call the "Michael Savage Movement".
The first has been discussed over and over and over, but what it comes down to is this: I don't care what your religion is, If you can't give me a reason why you think a certain way other than because God tells you so, I don't want to hear about it. Protesting abortion centers with signs that read "God says abortion is murder" isn't convincing me or anyone else. I am somewhat pro-life, and am open to the (many) reasons why current abortion laws are wrongheaded. "Abortion makes the baby Jesus cry" isn't one of them. Similarly, Leviticus is not an argument against Gay Marriage. There's alot of reasons why gay marriage (which I generally support) is a bad thing, but if the best you can come up with is "God hates fags", you are doing more damage than help to your movement.
The other, and more troubling, half of this movement is the true emotional right. I characterize this as the "Michael Savage" wing because, even though Savage criticizes the right on several points, the primary thrust of his arguments is not argumentation but rather viceral. A leftie says "Rich people are evil and their money should be given to the poor", Savage says "Poor people are stupid/lazy/whatever and are destroying this country with their whining". It's "We should understand the terrorists" vs. "We should kill 'em all". Often accompanied by yelling and passionate rhetoric on each side. Passionate rhetoric is compelling, it is not a rational argument. It is not a good reason to act or think a certain way.
There are a good many subjects that have an emotional component, and most have sensible arguments on both sides: gun control, Terri Schiavo, taxes, social security, and war are but a few that I can think of. Historically speaking, the left has always been the party of emotional respnse: carrying signs and screaming slogans without bothering to examine their positions realistically or making rational sense. Again, historically speaking, the right has been the party of "That's nice, but this is what will actually work". We're moving away from that, and I don't want to lose it.
On the political spectrum, I generally land pretty far right. There is exceptions to this, but every one of my political views can be backed up by a serious thought process and a realistic analysis. There are arguments opposite mine that also can be backed up, and that I enjoy arguing against.
But yelling and screaming gets no one anywhere. Railing against the opponent is fun, but it dosen't do anybody any good. The Republicans built a majority on sensible politics, and I would like to see them keep it the same way they won it.