Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To Where Do Conservatives Think of Exiling Themselves?

When Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II were elected, I often heard leftward-leaning folks threaten to leave the U.S. Usually this threat was expressed right before the election. "If Reagan gets reelected, I'm moving to Canada"--for example. I don't actually know anyone who ever exiled themselves thusly. I do know one fellow who has insured that he and his family now have dual citizenship in the U.S. and a European nation, just in case self-exile becomes an option.

Someone in class today raised the question of where rightward-leaning folk threaten to move to when elections disappoint them greatly. I owe this person a debt of gratitude because I had never thought about this question before.

As the person and others noted, Canada is probably out because many conservatives like to point to it and its healthcare system as embodying a cautionary tale. Is Dubai a possibility? I have no idea.

I've heard one can stash money in some place called the Cayman Islands, which I think are in the Caribbean, but I don't know if these islands are especially welcoming to conservative Americans.

I presume almost every nation in Europe would be unacceptable. Sweden has a shockingly effective combination of capitalism and socialism. The Swedes have universal healthcare, free college education, generous parental leave, and so on, but they also produce steel and cars, and they have a trade-surplus. They also talk very deliberately, and they listen during conversations, so Sweden is really not a comfortable place for most Americans, who like to talk first and listen later.

I think Swedes make their own jet-fighters, too, so they don't buy a lot of military equipment from us, and ever since the 18th century, they have become positively allergic to going to war--but we must remember that they did quite a lot of raiding for about 200 years way back when, circa 700-900 A.D.E. Maybe they got war out of their system, so to speak. Who knows? And there are only 8 million Swedes total, so with regard to possible invasions, the options are limited. They fought Norway a long time ago, and all the issues were settled. They don't like how Danes speak, but otherwise, I think they're okay with Denmark. They get along fine with Finns. They seem to pretend Russia doesn't exist, except for that terrible Chernobyl thing. They focus like a laser-beam on what to do during the summer. Is that a liberal or a conservative trait?

Conservatives seem to loathe France. Dennis Miller said that "France is dead to me" when the French leader balked at supporting the invasion of Iraq, for example. The French seem to have been unaffected by this announcement. How odd. One would think Dennis Miller's sentiments would hit France like an earthquake. :-)

Alaska is a possibility, I should think, because, well, look who's governor there--and you don't actually have to leave the nation. You just have to take a long flight, and in you're in a state governed by a person who galvanized the Republican base.

Numerous poetic possibilities exist, including "Sailing to Byzantium," in which Yeats dreams of "living" in a kind of permanent world of well wrought art, and Dickinson's poem about dwelling in possibility. Possibility is a very good town indeed.

Probably so-called conservatives and liberals have much in common, including the fact that neither actually exile themselves after a disappointing election, or at least very few of them do so. Also, for a long time, many people have argued that the Democratic and Republican parties are more similar than they pretend to be.

The Republicans may have to work on redefining themselves, however, at least for the purposes of the political spectacle. For a long time, they were very effective at demonizing "liberals" and thereby defining themselves by defining the "Other." They also once at least pretended to stand for fiscal restraint, but Reagan and Bush II pretty much ruined that with massive deficit spending. Ironically, Clinton seemed more economically prudent than they. Also, the Republicans wedded themselves to a particular strain of American Christianity--a mixture of wealth, interest in politics, and fundamentalism, best embodied, arguably, by Pat Robertson, who rails against a women's right to choose abortion, against homosexuality, against liberals, and against feminism, but who has accumulated a great deal of financial wealth (no camel-through-the-eye-of-the-needle stuff for him) and even ran for president once.

I wonder if they could go back to their not-so-distant roots and become Eisenhower Republicans. Eisenhower golfed a lot a balanced the budget, didn't he? Also, he didn't like Nixon. I think Eisenhower would find people like Rove, Gingrich, the writers at The Nation, the people on Fox News, et al., as just too petty and mean--and wound up a bit too tightly. I think that after you've directed a war against Hitler, you get some perspective.

The Democrats, of course, will have to learn how to handle success. They tend not to handle it well. (Nor do the Republicans.) If the Democrats were crafty, they would pursue some items on the Libertarian agenda, especially those connected with restoring civil liberties.

I really like discussing politics and occasionally blogging about politics because I know almost nothing about the subject, so I'm unencumbered by knowledge and experience. I especially like talking politics in the presence of one friend, in particular, who possesses a wealth of theoretical, social-scientific, and practical knowledge of politics. I suspect he simply hums songs in his head while I'm talking, and when I stop opining, he says something like, "That's interesting."

I'm not quite through gas-bagging, unfortunately, although undoubtedly you've stopped reading by now. So I'll just add that it is a well known fact that the Democratic Congress did the Democratic President Carter no favors, and I do wonder if the same will happen with Obama. I also wonder if right-wing radio will lower the temperature of their remarks; it's a genre that seems almost addicted to borderline hate-speech. I'd rather listen to a conservative countepart of the more-or-less liberal Thom Hartman, who engages in calm debates with conservatives. It's conversation-radio.

And who shall run for president in four years? Palin? Gingrich? Romney? I do hope Ron Paul runs again. I liked hearing him bring up going back to the gold standard. No one ever seemed to want to engage him on the issue. Go figure.
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