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View Diary: Cars Cause Republicanism (338 comments)

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  •  Mostly silly (4.00)
    This is a classic case of poetry being mistaken for argument.  Just because something sounds good doesn't mean it's true.

    At best there is correlation and "cause" could easily run in the opposite direction.

    Many of the red states have "car cultures" because their land uses require sparse living and public transit isn't economical.  You just can't live on top of each other if you want to farm.

    Just as likely, those who live in suburbs might want to have a yard or a little space.  I'm not defending suburbia.  My point is that a car might be a Side-Effect of a different value, not a cause.

    Also, some might want cars because they don't want to follow a public transit schedule.  The car is once again a response, not a cause.

    I'm not saying that it doesn't sound good or reflect a sentiment about those who drive cars.  I just don't see how this holds as an argument for it being a significant cause of conservatism.

    •  Addition (none)
      I'm not saying that it isn't meaningful as metaphor, but its weak on mechanism.

      I think this is a fair critique as the title of the diary is "Cars Cause Republicanism".

    •  farmers (4.00)
      acuity suggests:

      You just can't live on top of each other if you want to farm.

      But isn't that what is done in Europe?  My understanding is that in some European countries farmers live in small towns and travel outside the twon to their farmland.  That's different than here in the U.S., where farmers tend to live in isolation on their farms.  

      Isn't it more a traditional choice, rather than a requirement?

      Not to mention large, corporate farms, which rely on employees rather than family farmers.

      I don't know - anyone here engaged in farming in the U.S. and Europe have any thoughts on this?

      •  Somewhat true (none)
        Let's say that you live in Marshalltown, IA, and you want to get to go to a big mall.  How are you going to get to Des Moines or even Ames?  In a car.  Let's say you want to travel to Boston.  You are going to have to drive to Des Moines, then take a connecting flight on.

        Iowa also does crazy things like finance universities.  Let's say you work or study at one of these universities and want to go to Chicago or Kansas City.  How are you going to get there?

        The fact is that with our current infrastructure, those who live in sparce areas, need to drive.

        How would a farmer living in the "big city" get to his farm?  . . .

        •  Oh come on (4.00)
          That's not what I meant.  

          I didn't mean "no driving."

          I didn't mean "no daily driving."

          Of course a car would be used to get back and forth to the farm, to venture into the city, and so on.  What - you were implying that these guys walk or ride draft horses everywhere?

          Give me a break.

          What I was referring to, which was apparently poorly communicated, was that by living in a town and going to the farm, rather than living on the farm and going to the town, the number of automobile trips made by the farmer and his family to the bank, the store, the church, the grocery, the post office, to visit friends, and so on would be reduced.

          •  I saw that point (none)
            and probably should have tried to incorporate it.

            Instead I just kept on plugging on with my original point.  

            There obviously is some ratio between how much commuting would be done to the farm from the city versus how much is currently done from the farm to the city.  It might even be a positive result in most cases.

            My point was only to show how necessary that car travel is in the Midwest and to try and make an emotional appeal to people.  I wanted to show them that even good University Liberals might find themselves behind the wheel of a car.  And that car usage was a cause of conservatism.

            I didn't mean to attack your point.

    •  The title is silly, but.... (4.00)
      Okay....his title isn't perfect.  But I must admit the absurdity of that cause and effect relationship got me to read his diary.  

      I think it is fair to say the car culture has contributed to isolationist tendencies that are growing in the US and apprently elsewhere.  The 'me me me' mentality does get magnified once a person gets in their car and drives. I do feel we need to go back to building community and cooperation in order to deal with the growing economic and social probems in the US and in the world.

      •  I agree (4.00)
        that aspects of our current culture have horrible outcomes on community building, the environment, and our outlook on the world.

        I would maybe even cede that if no one had cars, we would be more dependent on one another.

        I just think that cars are mostly a technology that facilitates some people's behavior, but that the reason for the behavior hardly falls on cars.  

        Plenty of other technologies like flying, computers, telephones, the wheel, etc. also facilitate isolationism.

        Our current economy allows us to buy everything we need at supermarket or discount store from people who we don't know, and the products are made by people far away who we will never meet.

        People like to bash on cars because they harm the environment cause congestion, and some people have the luxury not to use them.

        I won't argue against the need for infrastructure change, but to attribute so much significance to the car . . . .

    •  Disagree. (4.00)
      I mean, I don't disagree that the initial argument may be a little overstated.  But I think your counter-arguments are extremely weak.

      The rise of suburbia because people might want a yard or a little space?  Small towns have had yards and space for hundreds of years, well pre-dating the rise of the car.  They've also had sidewalks and downtown areas that you can walk in - things suburbs don't have.  Suburbs are attributable to cars, as they are areas in which you actually have to have a car to do anything.

      Some might want cars because they don't want to follow a public transit schedule?  Well, I don't want to go to work this afternoon.  I still have to do it.  If we didn't have the car culture we do, "I don't want to wait 10 minutes for the bus" would not be seen as a valid reason to drive under most circumstances.  You'd sound like a whining brat!  

      So yes, at this point the things you cite are reasons people drive.  But they are attitudes that are only possible in a car culture, where the reasons one can take driving for granted as a reasonable thing to do have been extended incredibly far.  And that extension of course is based on a whole boatload of conservative policies with regard to road construction, oil wars, gas subsidies, etc.

      •  This I can't deny (4.00)
        Of course the individual points I made are weak.  They are weak for the exact same reasons why the arguments in the original post are weak: cars are used by many different people for many different reasons and don't "cause" Republicanism.

        Cars can empower people to act upon their values, as any other technology can, but I don't see a primary roll in how they "cause" Republicanism.

        I, and many of my friends, regularly drive cars.  I can tell you with certainty that this has never caused me to want to use the military instead of diplomacy, cut social programs, cut education, reduce environmental standards for industry, give corporate welfare, torture people, attack abortion, ban flag burning hate homosexuals, or make a public display of the 10 Commandments in my county courthouse.

        Selfishness and short-sightedness are probably the biggest causes of Republicanism.

        Not knowing , not caring, or trying to deceive oneself of the impact of one's actions is a cause of Republicanism.  

        I think you can find how those values underlie most of the offensive use of cars that are cited in the diary and comments.

        •  Revision (none)
          I got to thinking about the stated causes I have listed for Republicanism, and they only satisfy a certain group Republicans very well.

          The other ones simply don't understand how societies work.  When they live in their relative luxury, they don't understand that they arern't full responsible for that position.

          They also might believe that in the long run, protecting property rights really does create the maximum happiness.  They would grant that it causes some misery but are pragmatic in how that misery would compare to an alternate system.

          They also don't understand democracy.  They think that by invading a country and deposing a dictator and holding some elections that a democracy is born.  They don't understand how many institutions are necessary for a functioning democracy.

          Some of it has to do with selfishness and shortsightedness, but a lot of it has to do with a an inaccurate understanding of social organization, and at some level, how the universe works.

          I see the car as a minor player.

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