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Everything I Need to Know About the Regressive Right I Learned in Junior High

By       Message David Michael Green       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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Regressive conservatives aren’t really so hard to figure out. You just need to know the key.

It’s junior high.

Remember those delightful years of comity and enlightenment, comradeship, maturity and social inclusiveness?

Yeah, me neither.

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For most folks, those junior high years might as well have been a Wes Craven movie, full of Freddies and Jasons and metaphorical (not to mention the occasional actual) chain-saw murderers. And why wouldn’t they be? Throw a bunch of incredibly immature kids together into a big building, pump them up full of raging hormones and self-centered, consumer-driven, amped-up, self-absorbed me-ism, and see what happens. No need to even light a match.

I suspect that for most of us, these were the nightmare years of awkwardness, emotional pinball, and deep wounds over small slights. Oh, and zits, too – just in case you were somehow feeling too good about yourself on any given day.

But for those of you who have for some reason been wishing that you could return to those golden years, I’ve got news for you: You already have! That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Courtesy of the regressive right and its Grand Old Party (and isn’t it just grand?), we’re reliving all those many joys again and again.

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But here’s the good news: Once you understand this, there’s no longer any mystery to figuring out these clowns.

That’s ‘cause everything you need to know about the regressive right you already learned in junior high.

For instance:

Elitism Is For Elites! What’s wrong with some people having all the goodies and most everybody else having little or none? That whole egalitarianism critique is for tenth-graders, man! When you’re in junior high, though, it all just makes perfect sense. Certain golden children were born to rule, and the rest were born to have it lauded over us, when we weren’t being laughed at, that is! You can certainly see that today in regressive policies on war and taxes, to name just two. Rich people paying taxes or Republicans going to Vietnam? Pshaw! Why do you think they keep us hoi polloi around, anyhow, other than to fight their wars and pay their tax bills?!?!

Personal Destruction Is Cool! Have you ever looked at guy like Karl Rove or Tom DeLay and wondered how any human could be capable of such incredible meanness, such personal savagery? The answer is simple: Only somebody who is permanently stuck in junior high mode could do such things. Remember how they called us traitors – even those of us who had given up three of our four limbs in Vietnam – because we opposed their war of lies? Remember how they made up vicious lies about even their own people in order to win elections? Does that ring any bells from your own experience? If there’s anything meaner than a junior high kid, I don’t know what it is. Screw the Manhattan Project. Heck, we already had the world’s nastiest weapons of mass destruction at our disposal!

It’s A Really Scary World Out There. When you’re in junior high, things happen to you, not the other way around. You aren’t exactly very much in control of your own life, other than by being willing to play the one card you’ve got: non-cooperative self-destruction. It isn’t exactly a moment replete with high quantities of personal agency. But I’m struck by how many regressives seem stuck in that crouch of reactionary fear and militant defensiveness, well beyond their adolescence. Sure, we’re all still subjected to the whims of nature and the exigencies of other people’s actions to a considerable extent. But, as adults, we also get the option of controlling our own destiny to an equally considerable extent. There’s no longer any reason to continually feel like frightened, mistrusting, targeted, cornered victims anymore, nor to act selfishly and aggressively in every situation because of those fears. Humans can mature and learn to cooperate. That’s one of the key lessons you’re supposed to learn as you move toward adulthood.

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Lying, Cheating, Secretiveness and Hypocrisy Will Get You What You Want. Junior high kids aren’t exactly the paragons of virtue. Not that anyone who even occasionally reads the news these days could continue to suffer under the illusion that even paragons of virtue are paragons of virtue. Can you say ‘Catholic Church’? ‘Closeted Republicans’? ‘Major League Baseball’? ‘Bush administration’? But I digress. The point is just this. We expect a certain degree of moral impropriety from adolescents, don’t we? That’s their job, and ours is to set them straight so that they’ll be good citizens and cooperative campers for the rest of their lives. Take a look at Dick Cheney, though. Here’s a guy who figures that he should be able to do and say anything he wants to, anytime he wants to, and get away with it. Including even having a few stiff belts then blasting you in the face with a shotgun! Or dropping the American military into your neighborhood to deliver some white phosphorous. And there’s just a whole bunch of folks like that running around these days, I regret to say. They’re called the Republican Party.

Tantrums Will Get You What You Want. Did you know that the GOP minority in the Senate has already filibustered to death more legislation in less than half a term than the hapless Democrats did during the entire previous term? Not that it particularly matters. Even if the Congress chosen by the people was actually allowed to do its job by the likes of Mitch McConnell, Young Bushenstein in the White House has already threatened to veto anything they might do, not that any of it is even remotely progressive, anyhow.

There was a telling article in the New York Times last week about how when the Republicans were in the majority they war-gamed out all the tactics the Dems might have used in order to block the GOP from accomplishing their legislative agenda. Turns out almost none of them got used. Till now, that is. Now that they are in the minority, the GOP is wielding every trick in the book. As far as I’m concerned, you could stop right there and you’d know just about everything there is to know about both parties.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)

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