Praising the Platypus.

Conservatism: the holding of political views that favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas.
Liberalism: a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise.
Contrarianism: a practice of opposing or rejecting popular opinion, or more minimally, a practice of always interrogating current practices.
Non-Conformism: practicing behaviors or holding views that do not conform to the prevailing ideas or practices of one’s group.

So I’ve decided I’m a platypus.

No, really. I always knew I didn’t quite fit either major political party, so not an elephant or a donkey (have you ever wondered why Democrats and Republicans have party mascots virtually guaranteed not to be sports mascots anywhere ever?), but I never found any of the minor parties to be really serious, so not a porcupine or anything else.

And I’ve decided that what America needs now more than anything is more platypuses. I’ve come to this conclusion because both major political parties have gone politically insane. How do I know? In 2016, one of the major parties elected a real estate developer and TV celebrity with the political principles of a brick to the highest office in the land. Which promptly drove the other major party insane. Today a majority of both parties think the other party is an existential threat to democracy. Case in point:

“These elections are actually a referendum on whether you favor the continuation of democracy in America.” That’s from Max Boot of The Washington Post, the paper of “Democracy dies in darkness.”

Democracy is on the line. Don’t count on white women to save it.” That’s the title of an opinion article by Renee Graham at the Boston Globe.

Is it? Is it really? Because the evidence on offer is that a majority of Republicans still think Biden stole the 2020 election from Trump. Well a majority of Democrats still think that in 2016 Trump stole the election from Clinton. Which means that for the last six years a sizeable portion of the electorate have believed the country to be led by an illegitimate president. (The accusations of Trump and his followers are different than previous Democratic and Republican bouts of “They stole the election, I tells you!” only in scale, not in kind.)

Russian hackers. Voter fraud. Voter Suppression. Regulatory shenanigans. Media bias. Etc. Both Dems and Repubs have increasingly responded to losing by calling foul. “We was robbed!”

Meanwhile the ranks of voters self-identifying as independents continues to grow from election cycle to election cycle, and personally I’m convinced that the greatest threat to democracy in America is the battle-cry that the other major party is a threat to democracy in America. Max Boot draws a direct line from rejection of the 2020 election results to aspiring authoritarianism. Comparisons to the Wiemar Republic proliferate, with Jan 6 being compared to the Beer Hall Putsch.

Is either party a real threat to democracy? No. At least not in their core values. See the definitions of “conservative” and “liberal” noted above. Conservative favor free enterprise, private ownership, and socially traditional ideas, of which freedom, equality, and democratic government are three big pieces (look up Americanism sometime). Liberals favor individual rights (freedom), civil liberties (equality), democracy, and free enterprise. From the perspective of history (and the rest of the world), American conservatives and American liberals are Siamese twins, joined at the hip.

But a recent Reason article makes this observation;

For more than a decade, Republicans have said that government has too much power, but the intensity of their feelings fluctuates depending on whether they hold the White House. Democrats also vary in their feelings, though they tend to believe the government is too powerful only when the presidency is held by Republicans. Majorities of independents have pretty consistently stuck to their guns in opposing an overpowerful state no matter which party has the edge.

Are Republicans and Democrats more sympathetic to big government in their own hands because they believe in the righteousness of their agendas? Well, maybe. But the evidence suggests that political partisans are less convinced of their own side’s goodness than they are that their enemies are evil, in an expression of what’s called negative partisanship.”

The “negative partisanship” trend is real, with real political consequences. One consequence is that, as time has gone by, both major parties have become more and more hardline and doctrinaire on their “platform issues.” Moderation is increasingly considered cowardice or capitulation, and this despite polls showing that the majority of US voters are moderates on most issues. Another consequence is that platypuses such as myself are less and less welcome in either party. And the most dangerous consequence is that our politics have become increasingly apocalyptic.

It’s dangerous because we’re approaching a point where large portions of the electorate and the party leadership truly believe that a real threat to democracy exists, that they must act. Such action will, by its very nature, be anti-democratic, and if successful, it will completely destroy the credibility of the federal government as a democratic institution. And then . . .

America is and has always been a violent, individualistic, society, and the result will not be an authoritarian police state. We are in no danger of becoming Russia or China. We may be in danger of a second Civil War, with New York or California as likely to attempt to secede as Texas or Georgia, because a continued union of red and blue states will become intolerable to half the country.

Have Democrats and Republicans entered that mutual death-spiral yet? Not yet, but both parties are too under the control of their radical wings and it’s the party radicals that are crying “We must act to save democracy!” the loudest. My hope is that the continued creation of more platypuses, neither one party animal or the other, will act to stabilize our politics as both parties learn to moderate their rhetoric and policies to regain the support of the widening unaffiliated middle.

Because you know what? That’s democracy.

MGH

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12 thoughts on “Praising the Platypus.

  1. One minor point, while the Democrats are claiming that Republicans “are endangering democracy” by claiming fraud, there are Democrats who are claiming that Republicans are “suppressing minority voters”.

    So, if I’m “evil” for thinking Biden won because of Fraud, is a Democrat “evil” for proclaiming that “his” candidate lost because Republicans “suppressed” voters who would have voted for “his” candidate? [Puzzled]

    Oh, if I’m to provide evidence of “Fraud”, shouldn’t the Democrat provide evidence of “suppression of minority voters by Republicans”?

    While I disagree about Trump and disagree about the current Democratic Party, I sincerely hope that your hope comes true.

    Only an idiot wants a Civil War to happen.

  2. The irony is that if the stakes really are that high, why wouldn’t they commit fraud? Wouldn’t you commit crimes to keep fascists out?

  3. I look at Republicans trying to force 10 year old children to carry their rapist’s fetus to term, and I cannot understand how so many people are still huffing the “both parties are equally bad” copium.

    1. Possibly because on the other end of the spectrum, Democrats support unrestricted abortion up to the moment of birth? Which of course is simply legal infanticide. The majority of Americans support abortion bans after the first trimester with limited exceptions, among others for rape and incest. Our polarized politics means it will take quite a lot of strife before majority opinion is translated into law.

      https://news.gallup.com/poll/1576/abortion.aspx

      1. The problem with the “Republicans forcing ten year-olds to bear the rapist’s child”, in the “Big Case” that I heard about, the Republican Attorney General said that the child could have had an abortion in his state under the “emergency” provision in the State Law.

        It is extremely dangerous for the female child for the pregnancy to continue and the State Law covered that situation. IE She did not have to be taken to another state for the abortion.

        Of course, in that case the rapist was an illegal immigrant and the rape appeared to be done with the knowledge of the child’s mother.

        Oh, I suspect that the main reason that the child was taken to another state was to Generate Headlines “damning” Republicans.

  4. https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/feb/27/ted-cruz/do-democrats-support-abortion-until-and-after-birt/
    Fact-checkers have repeatedly disproven the “abortion up to birth” nonsense.

    Additionally, “late” abortions are very rare and basically only happen if a severe birth defect is detected:
    https://www.plannedparenthood.org/blog/theres-no-such-thing-as-a-late-term-abortion
    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/06/health/late-term-abortion-explainer/index.html
    Conti: According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortions after 21 weeks make up less than 1.3% of all abortions in the United States. This means that abortions that occur beyond 24 weeks make up less than 1% of all procedures.
    Conti: There are many reasons why women may need to access abortion later in pregnancy, including maternal health endangerment, diagnosis of fetal abnormalities or restrictive laws delaying earlier access to abortion care. Those exceptionally rare cases that happen after 24 weeks are often because a fetus has a condition that cannot be treated and will never be able to survive – regardless of the gestational age or trimester.
    It’s this exact reason that it’s nonsensical to legislate these cases: Nobody arrives at the decision to have an abortion after 24 weeks carelessly. Rather, it’s the rare case of rapidly decompensating maternal heart disease or a delayed diagnosis of anencephaly, where the fetus forms without a complete brain or skull, that bring people to these decisions.

    1. I am not going to debate abortion policy here. The reality is that voices on one side denounce any restriction on the right to abortion as a human rights violation. Voices on the other side condemn any abortion not medically necessary as murder (also a human rights violation). We are currently caught between these voices as we, as a people, try to work out a middle path that a majority of the country finds acceptable.

      1. Nod, there are fanatics on both sides of the abortion issue and I see no reason to debate them.

  5. I like the duck-billed platypus
    Because it is anomalous.
    I like the way it raises its family
    Partly birdly, partly mammaly.
    I like its independent attitude.
    Let no one call it a duck-billed platitude.

    Ogden Nash

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