Conservative Bullying: The US as a dysfunctional family

In Conservative Bullying Has Made America Into a Broken, Dysfunctional...Sara Robinson convincingly compares the far right to an abusive husband.

... like all marriages, all democratic governments are founded -- first and foremost, above all else -- on an essential bedrock of trust and shared vision.

On one hand, you've got most of the country -- center-right, center, center-left, and progressive -- which sees us as a family in trouble, but which also believes that if we return to our bedrock agreements, focus on solving our shared problems and fall back on our basic goodwill and common sense, we should be able to sort things out. This is the two-thirds of America that poll after poll shows is ready to move forward...

On the other hand, there's another group that has entirely checked out on us, and turned ugly and abusive. The conservative minority is acting like Lakoff's canonical Strict Father scorned: When the family rejects his leadership and his attempts at authoritarian control, he sinks into a punitive, bullying rage, lashing out at the rest of us for what he's come to believe is irredeemable broken faith because we won't let him be the boss.By his behavior, he is telling us in no uncertain terms that he wants a scorched-earth divorce -- the kind that leaves the rest of us broke, ruined, miserable, and utterly at his mercy.

Most conservatives now openly reject the very idea of democracy. Whether it's corporatists seeking to own every branch of government and privatize every public institution, security and intelligence types cracking down on our civil liberties, or Christian nationalists out to turn the country into a theocracy, conservatives are increasingly united by the conviction that Americans cannot be trusted to govern ourselves.

They're actively hostile to the idea of E pluribus unum -- out of the many, one. Anybody who's not white, straight, Christian, conservative, and male is inherently not-American. And the only acceptable function of government is to keep those Others -- both here, and abroad -- firmly in their place. 

[emphasis mine]

Perhaps this comparison will finally help the majority of well intentioned US citizens realize the depth of betrayal of the far right.

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This is the Party of "NO" in a nutshell, sad to say.

Nah, the Party has two wings, the Santorum wing (black hats with buckles), and the Limbaugh wing (clubs).



I like it Ruth, very accurate. And it doesn't bode well for what's to come. What happens to the authoritarian ex-husband when he's no longer wanted? Does he fade cooperatively and complacently into the background? Or do we end up having to get a restraining order against him? All signs point to a messy post-divorce... but let's get the divorce already!

One of my fears is that the far right will orchestrate a coup, if not an outright military coup then some emergency declaration to justify a pro-theocracy police state to serve the 1%, or as Robinson says the .10%.

I don't think it's too likely that there would be any successful right-wing coup, for two reasons. First, why would they, when they are already controlling the issues, at least on the economic side? Second, I'd actually expect something more like a blunder from the social conservatives, like a really poorly-planned coup or, more likely, some terrorist plot to blow up the Democrats in our national government, as sort of a souped-up version of blowing up abortion clinics. The American people are dumb, plenty dumb enough to be taken in by the fiscal conservatives and their right-wing agenda to destroy government and privatize everything (to the vast benefit of the vastly wealthy), but I don't think they are dumb enough to fall for a theocratic agenda. Our history has been strong, relatively speaking, against church-controlled government, but on the other hand, it has been hugely pro-capitalism. Perhaps if we were stronger against Christian control over our government we'd be better at fighting against corporate greed and monopolization of power for the wealthy.

If there is an attempt at a coup, I have two words for you:

Civil. War.

Don't bet against it.

I keep wondering where all the moderates are when some of these people talk and try to force their ideas on others. Is it apathy?

The media have been cowed or bought outright. Many of us have been disenfranchised. I think the vast majority don't pay attention to the erosion of democracy, because they're busy being entertained or worrying about paying the mortgage. Publicly there's still a facade of democratic government, which fools most.

I agree with that, it's just terrifying listening to someone like Rick Santorum spout his nonsense and nobody is there to keep him in check. And what is even more terrifying is that there are people who are cheering for this man and wanting him to become the next president.  I can't fathom why these people are against the ideas of our Constitution, and not only that, but also the pursuit of science that has brought us and our world to where we are now. Faith is truly blind.

Santorum has not fully gotten away with it.  He's being noticed and not just by us.  Maureen Dowd of the NY Times did a piece on him and his BS, so it's not as though the major media has ignored his Religious Reich crap entirely.  And if by some chance he actually gets the nomination, there will be a considerable focus on him.

Oh, and someone see if they can "cow" Bob Schieffer.  Somehow, I don't think so.  Santorum has been on his show at least once, and I don't see Bob toeing anyone's line as it comes to the kind of puke Ricky spews.

The premise of this story is ridiculous.

If, as George Lakoff says, we tend to think of the nation as a family, then my friend's approach for identifying salvageable marriages may apply just as well to salvaging our democracy. Because, like all marriages, all democratic governments are founded -- first and foremost, above all else -- on an essential bedrock of trust and shared vision.


No, democratic governments are not based on trust and shared vision. A democratic government is a system of government based on the principle of majority decision-making.

They are not like a family. A family is created when two people are in love and decide to marry and have children. That would fit your definition of trust and share vision. Both of those are needed to have a successful marriage, as is shared responsibility. The analogy doesn’t fit in this case.

The proper analogy would be a team. We (representatives) are on a team created by the people. The representatives don’t decide who is one the team, but they have to work together to do the people’s business. When the people disagree with the way the representatives are governing, they elect someone else. Majority rules.

Sorry Bill, I disagree and I think you've completely missed the point. The analogy works because a family is like a team. Whether it is two people teaming up or two billion, in order to work together successfully as a team they have to trust each other and share each other's values and vision of what a good world to live in would be like. This is why we have a justice system and laws, to ensure the proper functioning of the team. In a family, the laws are not necessarily written down (though they can be, as in a pre-nup), but they are still enforced. If you discovered your wife was cheating on you, for example, you would 1. no longer trust her, 2. no longer believe you shared the same vision for the future of the team, and 3. you would take action against this breach of trust. Same thing goes for a country. If one part of the country does something which another part of the country doesn't like, they act on it, either through legal action or, if all else fails, they can in the worst case scenario go to war (think the Civil War).


It's called "organismic behavior". The parts of the group/team are the individual cells and organs, and the whole thing together is the greater organism. If the organism functions properly, there is internal harmony. If some parts of the organism are harmful or outright hostile to other parts, the organism seeks to regain internal harmony by either restoring the balance or else excising the offending parts. And, in a family as a society, restoring organismic health is not always a simple matter. I could easily continue with this explanation, but the consequences of thinking organismically are obvious and stand in need of no further explanation.




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