Spent the first part of morning searching around on-line for anything to remind me why Rod Dreher and I used to fight.
No luck, really. When he was here working on The Dallas Morning News editorial board, he lived on my old street in East Dallas, and I think we used to argue in print about East Dallas stuff. But, you know, East Dallas is the big Jewish family dinner of Dallas: We argue at the table as an expression of love.
Dunno. Can't remember exactly what it was he and I fought about. Stumbled on his name this morning reading the papers. Dreher, an erstwhile pen-wielder on the Morning News' op-ed page, receives mention in this morning's New York Times column by David Brooks about new conservative voices in America. When I read Brooks' piece, I thought, "Yeah, Dreher is a good example of all the things that were not sorted out properly in this election."
He left town a couple years ago for a job with the John Templeton Foundation, a very conservative outfit that believes, I think, in religion, self-reliance, smallness and then some other things I can't quite make out (my fault, not theirs). When he was here he self-promoted himself as the "crunchy con," a reference to granola.
He and my wife were occasional email pals talking about backyard chickens. For some reason whenever I do get into a good knockdown with somebody, I always seem to find out later that the person and my wife have become best buddies, and it's usually about chickens.
What about the Obama re-election? Well, all of my fellow libtards want to read it as a red carpet for traditional liberalism in the next half century, which I very seriously doubt. After black people and Hispanics got done being angry over the racism of the Republican/Tea Party, after women got done being furious over the crude misogyny, after the rest of us got done being scared shitless by the march of the war-mongering, anti-civilization, Ayn Rand-quoting, batshit-crazy billionaires, who even had time to think about philosophy? I think for most of us Obama voters, it was a case of dashing out of our psychological bomb shelters, inking the ballot and then hauling ass back to the shelter hoping Romney wouldn't win and ship us all off on trains to Connecticut to do stoop labor on the estates of the gods.
But this morning, more or less secure in the sense that I can venture out of the house again and be semi-safe from capture and enslavement, I looked at Brooks' piece, saw Dreher's name, and thought, "You know, Dreher is a hell of a lot closer to the cultural revolution I see going on in this city than I am."
All of the people in Dallas today that I associate with the city's better future -- the preservationists in the Angela Hunt constituency in East Dallas, the new-urban Scott Griggs people in Oak Cliff, the civic responsibility folks who vote for Sandy Greyson in North Dallas and the pull-up-your-damn-pants-and-get-a-job people who vote for Dwaine Caraway in southern Dallas -- they all operate out of what could and maybe should be viewed as a very conservative moral base.
They all have this in common: They don't trust big government to give them good lives, nor do they trust Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers. What they share is a kind of retro faith in personal and mutual civic responsibility. I assume the Ayn Rand crazies scare them as much as they scare me.
All of that is still on the table to be sorted out. It's a philosophical nexus no better resolved in the Democratic Party than in the Republican Party. So Mitt Romney Republicans used big money and big debt to Bain the guts out of companies like Sensata. As Andrew Ross Sorkin reports in the Times today, it was Dick Gephardt liberals who used big money and big debt to Bain the guts out of Hostess Brands, the company America has depended on for its Twinkies since I think like colonial days or something.
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Here's a thing that occurred to me after the election. Most of the upwardly mobile black people, Hispanics and women entrepreneurs I know all remind me of my immigrant grandfather. They are all bootstraps people: They know that nobody was ever going to hand them their success. They had to fight for it and work for it themselves. There is something inherent in the process of making it in America that turns people into bootstrap conservatives.
All of those votes could have been Republican if it hadn't been for the racism and the misogyny. Or as I might alternatively put it, none of those votes would have been Democratic had it not been for the Tea Party animus in the Republican camp.
It's really almost as if those voters were outside the Republican tent trying to get in when the old white dudes in the tricorn hats came out and started firing buckshot at them. So they ran over to the Democratic tent for cover. But that's hardly an endorsement of Democrats, is it?
It's all still a big jumble waiting to be arranged properly. Much of it is good, like Dreher. There was something about Dreher that wasn't good, but I can't remember what it was. Now I'm wondering if it was a chicken issue. Nah. It'll come to me. Did he just smile too much?