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I have a brother.  This may not seem like an accomplishment - unless you met him, at which point you would probably give me a medal... and a hug.  Luckily I'm all grown up and wear my big-girl panties and whatnot so I rarely have to deal with his fart-wrinkle of a personality; however, I've come to realize that getting to know my brother just might be the key to learning what is happening in this country.  

I have struggled for the last 12 years (recently a more desperate struggle) attempting to understand what is motivating this type of hatred we are seeing even more often.  What causes this selfishness, and brazen willingness to link one's selfishness with religions primarily based on selflessness.  All of this done openly, in the face of the public with a smile and and a cocky shrug because hey, I'm better than you.

Join me after the squidge to learn why I think my douche-kin may be a case study in "Smart Gone Wrong".  

I grew up in the middle of Missouri, and yes, I know... all you dirty little liberals out there have backwoods redneck fantasies and totes wish you were me.  My mother is a naked-in-the-mud hippie (she just does that kinda stuff in private now) and my dad is the kindest, most gentle and loving, redneck grease monkey you ever laid eyes on, my sister is 11 years older, and the aforementioned brother-that-smells-of-elderberries is 10 years my senior.  I'll spare you the specifics of my genealogy, I don't know any, but we were a family of 5 (pieced together like most families, of course), on the bottom of the middle income or the top of the poor stack depending on what year it was.  Both parents always had full-time jobs on the lower levels that kept us in electricity (usually) and food (gardens help).  

Where I grew up specifically is a little tricky, but it is pertinent so work with me, folks.  Interstate 70 runs through, more or less, the middle of Missouri.  It connects St. Louis and Kansas City, the two obvious metropolitan areas in the Show Me State.  This interstate acts very much like a modern day Mason-Dixon line, south of I-70 is where you start hearing Toby Keith and dirt track engines.  I grew up 80 miles south of there in a bizarre little tourist pocket built around a very large man-made lake.  Surrounded by farm land and tiny rural towns, the total, year-round population of the "lake" area is probably around 30,000 and that's being generous. But from Memorial Day to Labor Day it is quite a different story, boasting about 400,000 on a crowded weekend.  The Lake of the Ozarks is the summer home to many of the almost-rich and suburban-sidewalk-famous champions from Kansas City, St. Louis and other bored Midwestern cities.  This is not a place for the faint of heart.  This is where the city folk bust out of their Oxford shirts, Superman style, and play hard until rain or their bill at the gas dock causes them to pack it home.  The tourism motto of my charming little area was once "Where beautiful people come to get ugly!"  Golf is for drinking, giant boats are for playing, and no one cares if you get naked.  They have attempted many times to make it a more family-friendly place, but it always ends in water cannons and party coves full of thousands of 46' cruisers and cigarette boats tied together with coeds sporting nothing but tan lines throwing jello shots across the bows.

So it's a strange area.  It's where the city-dwellers and the rednecks clash every summer, all summer long.  For those three months this place has every ethnicity/nationality/income level/disposition and the locals get a good reminder of why they live somewhere that sleeps for 9 months a year.  Working for the tourists is also an interesting experience that I think many don't understand.  A lot of the people who have their second homes/condos in the area and who spend their dollhairs there every summer feel entitled to it, in fact many even exude this feeling of "ownership" when speaking to locals.  I was once told by a patron where I was waiting tables that "If people like me don't come down here and spend money, you don't exist, so you'll bring me what I want."  Many will say this is one anecdote but I can assure you it is an oft-expressed sentiment.  

So what does this all mean?  Why is it relevant?  Because this is a cross-section of south and north, this is where purple used to be and where a whole lot of red and blue splattering happens now.  And this demographic change has also effected my brother, the guest of honor in this diary.  

Ben, or Bunjamin, Bunji (clearly his favorite pet name from me) is 38 years old.  He is white, has two children, lives in this area still in a section of about 5,000 people.  Ben has the same friends he had in high school, married a woman who is pretty (thank god for her) and works as a manager at a pawn shop making around $35,000/year, which in the area is a decent job.  Ben has no college degree, left after the first year; however, it isn't because he lacks intelligence.  Due to excellent breeding (I may have bias) his IQ is quite high, this is easily proved by his manipulation of any subject to piss you off in record time and an ability to bend logic to fit his needs in an argument.  He is clever, he is an adept conversationalist, he is also funny... which pisses me off too.  (Ignore my immaturity, please.)  

Ben grew up in the same functional-ish family as I did, so I have an accurate view of his childhood.  Very liberal teachings, never a religious household, church was attended if you felt like it and it was never about the morality or the dogma, it was because my mom likes singing and stories... I like grape juice and crackers though I've started buying those myself now that I have my own kitchen (and communion trays for snack time, because it just feels right!).  We did grow up on politics, my mother was the county chair for the local "Democrat Club" for many years and we were always allowed to go if we wanted.  We talked about politics at the dinner table but it was always with an open mind, my mom did a very good job at making sure we had perspective, a broad worldview to ensure we never took how fortunate we were for granted.  It was also a strong lesson that you take care of others.  If someone's car is broken down you pull over.  If someone needs a place to stay, you put clean sheets on the bed.  If someone is being mistreated you stand in front of them, literally or figuratively.  

It would be so easy to tell you my brother is a bad guy.  It would be so easy to paint him with the same brush as the rest of these card-carrying toddlers of the "MINE!" club.  But he's my brother, and I keep hearing myself say, over and over as his views become more extreme, "How did this happen?!  How did we grow up with the same slap of the screen door in the background?  What changed in your life that made you this way?"  And I imagine there are stories like mine across the country -  People Who Love a Republican (support group information in the comments), people who are watching someone they know and love morph into this hateful, bigoted, angry person that can't possibly be able to reconcile the venom and contradictions coming out of their mouths with the humanity and love they were born with.   Ben isn't some guy who grew up in a racist, abusive, or even troublesome environment.  He was nurtured and loved very much and was given every opportunity possible but also cemented with a good foundation in what community means and service to those less fortunate as not a duty, but a necessity to fill your soul.  

And now he "likes" Paul Ryan and listens to Rush Limbaugh and genuinely wanted Rick Santorum to win the republican primary?  How did this happen?!  He and his wife have used Medicaid and WIC with both of their children, Planned Parenthood for birth control to keep from having to use those awesome services I mentioned above for a third fetus, unemployment benefits, their kids have watched PBS, both attend public schools, and in the very near future due to another job loss - they may have to look into SNAP or TANF.  Yet, this man of above-average IQ has managed to convince himself that Paul Ryan (spumepocket) and Mitt Romney (scumweasel) are what's best for this country.  That to preserve his family and his way of life, Mitt Romney is the right choice.  

If he was stupid, I could justify it.  If he was even of moderate intelligence, with moderate skill levels of deduction, logic, and reasoning, I could probably say that the propaganda has just gotten to him and as a busy lower class guy he doesn't have time to read all the news and really decipher the truth for himself.  In fact, that is a poor example of the exact rebuttal I've given to many democrats who immediately call someone insane or awful for being a republican.  I've defended many by saying they were ignorant or over-burdened.  "You cannot make thieves and then punish them..." and all that.  But this is someone I know has the ability and in theory, due to his background, it is more plausible that he would think similarly to me, and yet I'm here writing this stink-pickle of a diary.

I probably should've made it more clear in the beginning of this diary that I don't have an answer to these questions.  I only have theories.  I have things I think might be part of the cause and then he says something else that jumbles my feeble girlbrain and I'm back just standing there with my mouth hanging open in that "duh" look my mom always threatens to "slap right off" my face.  

Theory #1 - Lobotomy
This was proven to be inaccurate, though I'm still listing it as a possibility because I am not convinced.

Theory #2 - Conviction of Righteousness
To me, the only key to actually being righteous is to be humble and unaware of your righteousness, but apparently there is 30% of the population that disagrees.  This theory supposes that my brother decided, at some point, that his morality was more true than others and after a period of time believing that sentiment, he became convinced that he was superior to others in many ways and is therefore more deserving of the opportunities he has/had and has now decided that others aren't worthy.  

Theory #3 - Beyond the Pale
This supposes that due to Ben spending his entire life in an area where 95% of the demographics fall somewhere between "chalky" and "bloodless" he has come to believe - through media portrayals, political propaganda, and the plethora of prejudicial peacocks that pollute this area - that anyone who is not white is worth less than he is.  That non-white people are lazy freeloaders that have iPads and would rather shoot people than get a job.  

Part of me believes this is because he has several close friends who work for the state prison system, all of whom are disgusting racists that I can't believe the State of Missouri sees fit to employ, and I have to wonder if their subjective rubbish has tinted his glasses.  Also, I question if living in an area where you don't discuss race often because it wasn't applicable at the time may have kept him from learning some valuable lesson that I caught somewhere else along my journey.

Theory #4 - Willful Ignorance
This one is the most simple explanation and yet the most difficult, I find, to accept.  To accept this theory I have to say that these are things he wants to believe and chooses to believe them regardless of contradiction or fact:
I am God's chosen people and Christianity should be law and everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to hell anyway, so screw 'em.
I am intelligent and my ideas and experiences are the only "true" ones.
I am hard-working and everything I have is because I am hard-working and those who have less are lazy.
I am more deserving than other people.
I am more righteous and therefore have already done more for the world than I need to by simply existing and owe nothing in the way of service to others unless I deem them worthy of my service.
I believe women are lesser than men, and don't ask me a just is.
I am not a part of a community and I owe nothing to anyone but myself, my chosen partner and my spawn.
I need no one but myself to survive.
I will be rich one day and will obviously want to keep all of my wealth, therefore I believe rich people now should keep their wealth.
I believe children and the elderly should be punished for their poverty and should starve to death or work demeaning jobs to make up for their deficiencies of birth.
I. Am. Better. Than. You.

It's really hard to accept Theory #4 as the explanation.

Even among all of these changes, he's still a nice guy.  For someone he likes he'd go out of his way to help you out.  His children are intelligent and charming, loving and curious.  Day-to-day just observing him like he was on the National Geographic channel, you wouldn't assume that this is who he has become inside.  I'm shocked with each new splurt of drivel that shoots from his mouth, parroting those blatant LIES we all know and hear.

This guy has the ability, the resources, and the time to learn the truth and chooses not to.  How did this happen?  

Looking for insight... loan me your theories.  

Originally posted to LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (218+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ontheleftcoast, pat of butter in a sea of grits, BitterEnvy, Oaktown Girl, regis, Tonedevil, postmodernista, cassandracarolina, gfv6800, bluedust, Sassy, bnasley, Vetwife, NWTerriD, xaxnar, deeproots, CorinaR, magnetics, mskitty, revsue, steelman, Dardezael, Emerson, evelette, Thestral, Vatexia, ER Doc, rasbobbo, Frisbeetarian, ladybug53, Bud Fields, Nowhere Man, bibble, Brian76239, jdld, lunachickie, JVolvo, cwsmoke, Unknown Quantity, Debby, Jinkoa, enhydra lutris, peregrine kate, high uintas, mumtaznepal, kumaneko, DianeNYS, Nebraskablue, TKO333, JDWolverton, worldlotus, joynow, Joe Bob, MaryinHammondsport, OllieGarkey, BlackSheep1, Matilda, 207wickedgood, mariva, kurt, samoashark, Gingersnap77, smrichmond, ellenbee, Duccio, NoMoreLies, WheninRome, thomask, weinerschnauzer, blueoasis, retLT, Late Again, splashy, lazybum, magicsister, vahana, OleHippieChick, Terri, stlsophos, mint julep, mindara, missLotus, GenXangster, SaraBeth, Carol in San Antonio, marina, Anne was here, ChemBob, sngmama, hlsmlane, pioneer111, DRo, spooks51, A Mad Mad World, wasatch, dalfireplug, revbludge, redcedar, Hill Jill, Statusquomustgo, kestrel9000, lurkyloo, litoralis, sawgrass727, Pat K California, durrati, wuod kwatch, kerflooey, MRA NY, hazey, MartyM, dmd76, SneakySnu, deha, Its a New Day, shortgirl, PurpleThistles, Gowrie Gal, MKSinSA, marykk, commonmass, dmhlt 66, rgjdmls, Only Needs a Beat, Kingsmeg, CherryTheTart, tundraman, niteskolar, bluesteel, basquebob, StellaRay, Stein, middleagedhousewife, Tillie630, pvasileff, Tam in CA, Sun Tzu, Youffraita, MadRuth, zerelda, science nerd, gloriana, avsp, polecat, wintergreen8694, RainyDay, doct, Recovering Southern Baptist, 88kathy, ms badger, Wee Mama, housesella, I am a Patriot, totallynext, jared the bassplayer, batchick, annrose, ammaloy, Mayfly, enufisenuf, BachFan, sodalis, stevenwag, TracieLynn, pixxer, Prairie D, NapaJulie, Tinfoil Hat, Eric Twocents, lissablack, jalbert, JosephK74, TAH from SLC, side pocket, Teknocore, JeffW, tofumagoo, dejavu, llbear, Invictus88, prfb, Anjana, dubbelzout, jck, palantir, Babsnc, mali muso, marleycat, livingthedream, Calvino Partigiani, DBunn, renaissance grrrl, Rhysling, ksp, Liberal Mole, fhcec, RO45, asterkitty, twigg, Ice Blue, stormicats, sow hat, jhb90277, haremoor, IL clb, emidesu, cosette, Sharoney, also mom of 5, burana, john07801, linkage, FrY10cK, bluebloodedlib, kefauver, wvtrailerdweller, Dauphin, Ohkwai

    Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

    by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:38:17 PM PDT

  •  Never underestimate the power of fear (89+ / 0-)

    People are afraid of lots of things. Spiders. High places. Failure. Lots of things. On that last one, failure, I place a lot of the blame. We compete in society and globally for a limited amount of resources. Food, water, land, etc. and if you feel that someone else is getting more than you it nags at you. You start to worry they've got an unfair advantage or somehow aren't worthy of what they've got. And you get to resent them for it. That resentment breeds a form of hate over time. And when someone comes along that promises, however ludicrous that promise is, to "correct" the problem you'll latch on to it because it feels like a form of safety.

    Romney's religion is only an issue because he's a high priest in the Church of Mammon.

    by ontheleftcoast on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 01:45:31 PM PDT

  •  My younger brother... (27+ / 0-)

    is the Republican in our family. Our parents were both pretty liberal when we were growing up and I would say that in the main my brother is smart and capable. My mother and sister saw the Woody Allen movie "Everyone Says I Love You" in the theater and when they returned they told me the movie provided the answer to what happened to my brother. Turns out there was a Republican character in the move and his affliction was fixed after it was discovered he had a brain tumor. That's my theory and you are welcome to share it.

    This makes about as much sense as Mike Huckabee on mescaline. - Prodigal 2-6-2008

    by Tonedevil on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 03:53:34 PM PDT

  •  As a religious Catholic, I have a problem (0+ / 0-)

    with this:

    I like grape juice and crackers though I've started buying those myself now that I have my own kitchen (and communion trays for snack time, because it just feels right!).
    This is extremely offensive, to the point where I can hardly believe it is accurate.

    This is not something to joke about.  Maybe you should read about the meaning of blasphemy.  Maybe you should show more respect for other Christians.

  •  By the way, you should apply (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Duccio, revbludge, MKSinSA

    Occam's Razor.  You missed the most obvious explanation.  He's a Republican.

    •  Yes, but WHY is he a Republican? eom (7+ / 0-)

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:38:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because it gives him big rewards. (10+ / 0-)

        People join groups and adopt their ideologies because there are rewards for so doing: pleasure and power.

         Certainty and a simple worldview (no matter how unfounded in logic or unsupported by fact) give the average inintellectual person pleasure, whereas doubt and complexity cause dysphoria. There is also pleasure in the society of people who give you positive feedback for being one of them and internalizing the group's ideology.

        Then there is the a feeling of power you get from being part of a large group. Having a designated enemy at whom you can direct anger and hostile action also empowers people. being a Republican gives big double-dip rewards to other-directed people who need a lot of rewards and oputside affirmation to feel good. They get the sense of empowerment from belonging to a large group that is connected with real wealth and power, but they also get to feel morally pure and justified because their ideology allows them to play the constant victim. It's not entirely unjustified--these people actually are the economic victims of their rich powerful controllers, but their ideology displaces the source of their victimization onto homeless people, minorities, welfare rcipients, imaginary Socialists, Obama, Democrats, Godless Liberals, et al.

        Being a Democrat, a progressive, a Liberal is hard work, and one doesn't get the certainty and simplicity that is so attractive to people who don't like to think and need constant pleasure rewards from a group.

        I must say that the pleasure rewards I get from posting & reading on DKos are very much mitigated by the uncertainty of facts and outcomes as well as the jerkiness of other people, not necessarily Republicans. I wish everything were simple, that truth always prevailed, and that we could all get along but taint so.

  •  when have GOP policies worked? (32+ / 0-)

    This is what I come back to: show me a place that cuts to government services and a fat military budget make life better. Any example. Just one. In the Reagan years - he ended up raising taxes and spent us into massive deficit. Bush 1? Clinton hiked some taxes, got us financially sound. W blew it to hell, cutting taxes and unfunded wars and Medicare giveaway to Big Pharma.Look at Europe: austerity just ends up with fewer and fewer jobs, more suicides in the streets of Athens.
    I am liberal for reasons of compassion but I am not stupid. I look for policies that work, benefit all. Ask him what works, and why? And demand proof from that smartass.(I am married to a Missourian but educated and liberal but know the area.)

    George W. Bush: the worst Republican president SO FAR.

    by Chun Yang on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 04:15:36 PM PDT

    •  Appeals to the Lizard Brain aspect of the (14+ / 0-)

      "intellect" continue to work. You can talk all day about tangible outcomes and facts and what really works to benefit working people. What do you get? A collective yawn.

      -OR-  You can talk about welfare Queens rolling up to get their welfare check in Cadillacs, and scary Black men being let out of jail to rape and kill White people. Lizard Brain appeals win every time.

      If doesn't help that Democratic politicians and the Dem "Leadership" continue to have some of the world's worst communication skills. They always  (and I do mean always) allow Rethuglicans to set the terms of the debate, thus keeping Dems in a defensive position back on their heels. I think they never learn because they don't care enough to learn. They talk a good talk, but they themselves aren't personally hurting, so they don't really care about doing what it really takes to make the genuine change in this country that they claim they care about oh-so-much. Otherwise, they'd learn from their mistakes, but they never do.

      If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist! - David Rees from "Get Your War On".

      by Oaktown Girl on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 05:13:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not even sure if it's the fault (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        litoralis, Tam in CA, LucyMO, fhcec

        of the Democratic Party that they have the world's worst communication skills. If you have to communicate anything about racism, everyone shuts down. Nobody can deal with it. Eric Holder was so right about us being cowards.

        I deliberately talk about race. I can "feel" people cringe who are within earshot. It's ridiculous that a nation that once had people in chains can't talk about race issues.

        As long as we're like that, we'll never get anywhere. As long as we can't communicate about that giant pink elephant in the room and point out the people who brought the damn thing into the room in the first place, how do we expect the Dems to do it? As soon as people like us start to point to the obvious, that "Cadillac Welfare Queens" and "Put the Work Back Into Welfare" is deliberately cued to appeal to their RACISM, how can we really get down to business? All they're gonna do is start saying "race card" and muddying up the conversation by talking about Dixiecrats (who are now part of the Republican Party).

        As long as our national conversation about racism is controlled by white people who feel accused or blamed every time we have to talk about American history and Black history, the Dems will always find it hard to fight back against the dogwhistles of racism.

        "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

        by GenXangster on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:41:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  May I ask for an example (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          of how you would start a peaceful discussion about race?  I want to discuss these things with my brother, but it is the one issue that makes me want to puke when I think about the things that might come out of his mouth.  

          I would love to have the conversation, I'm just not sure how to start it.

          Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

          by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:47:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ohhhh, that's gonna be tough. lol (0+ / 0-)

            It's about knowing him personally. There's a trick bag of deflection and talking points to get around like "race card" and "you're talking about race and I'm not so YOU'RE the racist".

            Sometimes nuance and personal relationship factors can get you around that or else the whole convo just goes right down the toilet at that point.

            "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

            by GenXangster on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 12:15:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  in response to a global statement (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Leslie in KY, GenXangster

              about a topic where you think your brother is way off base, you might say in the beginning...

              "mmm. it doesn't seem like that to me." or "My experience has been different" and offer a short counter example. (Judging from your writing which is engaging, down to earth, and amusing, you'd be skilled at this approach.)  

              Then, you can drop your "correction" and return to the essence of the original conversation and recast it, if possible, minus the misplaced perception.

              Above all, avoid counter attacks. (You handled the discussion with T effectively, IMHO.)

              IMHO, it's important not to start with an argument. Based on what I've learned thru hard experience, small comments can begin to open eyes that were previously closed, while a fight or snark can stiffen attitudes and create distance that becomes harder to bridge.

              Another suggestion based on observing my daughter in action. Her work which is devoted to racial and social justice can be contentious. She often knits or does stitchery while she's part of a conversation and looks for places to redirect the conversation firmly and gently in a more productive direction.

              Hope this helps. I guess it would help to "practice" these kinds of conversations with someone other than your brother. I know from personal experience that those are often more difficult because of the relationship.

              "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

              by fhcec on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 03:38:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  knitting (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                She sometimes has to rip out what she's knit because the stitches become too tight... But in general, her conversation remains on a pretty even keel.

                "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

                by fhcec on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 03:42:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I absolutely agree with you about trying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          to have a national discussion about racism:

          As long as our national conversation about racism is controlled by white people who feel accused or blamed every time we have to talk about American history and Black history,
          But  even tho I gave racism as examples of Lizard Brain appeals, I wasn't talking specifically about the Dems addressing race issues. I was talking about the Dems communicating about working class issues OVERALL, and how horrible they are at it. And it is totally their fault because they keep making the same mistakes over and over and never learning from it.

          It's absolutely possible to reach working class Whites on economic issues without having to talk about race. But for reasons I already stated above (as well as our sold-out corrupt pay-for-play electoral system), the Dems don't do it.

          If "elitist" just means "not the dumbest motherfucker in the room", I'll be an elitist! - David Rees from "Get Your War On".

          by Oaktown Girl on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 01:56:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  these conversations can be extra hard (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GenXangster, Oaktown Girl

            because many of us (white people) don't know the real history of our country.

            I haven't seen the current crop of history books, but I now know, as a child in the South, that mine were incredibly biased and limited in their descriptions and discussions.

            Since then, I've read a lot, but not in a systematic, overarching presentation. I realize, in writing this, that I should do that - so much has been written since I've last read in this field.

            "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

            by fhcec on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 03:53:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Rec'ing in the hope (20+ / 0-)

    that if enough people join the discussion we will come up with some answers. In my family, everyone has at least one college degree, and 5 of the 7 of us have more than one, but there are only two of us who aren't dyed-in-the-wool Rs. Some of the 5 are more rabid than others, but they are all red, not pink. (The good news is, it really does seem to be about economics and not race.)

    I attribute it in part to the fact it's in the very air they breathe out there in the middle of the country; it's culturally taken for granted that the government should leave everyone alone, and it takes a powerful mental leap to reach escape velocity from that worldview. It helps to physically remove yourself; the two of us who are no longer in conservatism's thrall are the two who moved away to the two coasts. When I moved back to that part of the country for a few years, I found myself getting sucked back in.

    There's one sister in particular, though, that I just don't understand how she got to be so determinedly set on the idea that government helping those in need is evil. I'm sure there are stories there that if were just around her enough to know all of them, the picture would untangle itself in my mind and I'd be able to see the reasons for her beliefs more clearly.

    "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

    by NWTerriD on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:26:57 PM PDT

    •  That's what I always think too, (15+ / 0-)

      at some point I'll find some experience in his life that planted this seed but I just can't find it.  Maybe he's just programmed to be selfish like all of the psychological reports on political personalities is presenting.

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:35:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It could be something "before your time" (25+ / 0-)

        My siblings and I are older than you and yours, and we grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. However, I'm the youngest of 4 children, and there is a significant age gap. I'm 46, my sister is 56, and my brothers are 61 and 63.

        The older we get, the more I realize that we were not raised in the "same" family. How could we be? We weren't even raised in the same generation.

        We have the same biological parents (married until death), lived in the same house, attended the same schools, belonged to the same church ...  but that doesn't mean what I used to think it meant.

        I did not exist for the first 18 years of my nuclear family's history. I don't want to derail your diary with the minutia of our dysfunctions. But I am learning that a lot can go down in that length of time. Your time frame is 10 years, but the answers to your questions could be in there somewhere.

        Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

        by susanala on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:59:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's absolutely relevant to the discussion (14+ / 0-)

          and I have thought it myself.  I suppose what makes me ignore it is because my sister is only one year apart from him and is the most kind-hearted of all of us.  Obviously that isn't science but it's my very weak rationale.  

          I hope I keep learning the older I get and if the age difference is a part of it, I hope I find tolerance in that.

          Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

          by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:11:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Plus sexism, don't discount that. (23+ / 0-)

            What sort of bennies did he--or didn't he--get for being the only boy?

            I am not asking that from my own experience; my older brother is the only boy and is relatively egalitarian. Sort of (long story). But at least he's not a rabid Republican. I'm wondering whether your brother gets some ego needs fulfilled from the BS he hears about white men's superiority.

            I also am not trying to be classist here in any direction, but I wonder if he also feels some class resentment given his lack of college education and his current job. He coulda done better, maybe, but why didn't he? His fault, or those mysterious others who got in his way? I'd go back to that stage of his life to check things out if you're inclined. Plus I think you're right, his friends being workers in the prison system are not likely to encourage him to be open-minded.

            Yet people (unlike Mitt Romney that is) are not machines; no telling what particular backgrounds and upbringings will produce. Those age gaps in sibs you have are big; mine are similar (12 & 8 years older than me). Somehow I'm the most liberal, and my oldest sib the most conservative. She has a generous spirit, but she too is willing to believe the garbage that the current GOP puts out. She just doesn't question it.

            In short, I wish I knew how to answer your question better! But I'm still glad you asked it, and with wit too.

          •  What is his wife like? (4+ / 0-)

            Often, men follow their wives' lead in religion and politics.

            My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

            by adigal on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:07:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  She is empty-headed in every way, (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dhcallahan, adigal

              partly why I think he married her.  She parrots whatever is coming out of his mouth that day with added fervor and complete ignorance.

              Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

              by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:48:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  That age gap can be hugely important (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cosette, peregrine kate

            I'm the eldest of four -- my youngest brother is only 8 years younger than I am.  

            But that means I was out of the house, at college and working summers, before he was 12.

            When he was going through the agonies of junior high school, both my sister and I were in other states.

            When his older brother, 4 years my junior, was becoming an NJROTC officer, and drum major, and winning meets on the high school swim team, I was worrying about term papers and projects at the other end of the country.  Don't ask me what his ROTC rank was, or if he got any awards in swimming, because quite frankly, I  don't know.

            My brothers spent 4 years in a household with no sisters.  Just the two of them and our parents.

            By the time my youngest brother was 14, the elder had graduated high school and was on his way to a degree and a career in the Navy.  He worked his way through college as a bouncer, and didn't come home much.

            So my youngest brother spent his high school years as an only child.  He and our parents got to be very close -- it was easy.  There wasn't anyone else in the way.

            Don't discount position in the family as a big source of differences in personalities.  For instance, were your older sister and your brother often compared to each other? How do her accomplishments stack up to his?  What were the expectations for him, as opposed to her?  Was he the rebel?  Was she?  Is he a follower who always has to have a crowd to be a part of?  Or the guy who wants to be the leader and never quite had the skills for it?  

            Once you understand what insecurity, or weakness (we all have them) or misunderstanding they are playing on, you can understand how they got to him.  Then you have to figure out how to use that SAME point to bring him back out.

            Maybe life doesn't suck because brown people use up resources that they don't deserve.  Maybe it's because rich white people are acting like Scrooge McDuck, and just have to have your dollar even though they have a vault of 'em at home.

            I've always loved the analogy of the cookies:  Imagine three people and a plate of a dozen cookies.  One guy takes eleven cookies, then takes the second guy aside and says, "You better be careful, or that jerk over there is going to take your cookie -- and you know he doesn't deserve it."

            Why does the second guy fall for this, instead of banding with the third guy to get at least a cookie for each of them?  Why is it the default assumption that the first guy deserves 11/12ths of the cookies?

            "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

            by stormicats on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 03:45:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  well, there's always genetics... (0+ / 0-)

            my grandchildren (two) are so different from one another, in temperament and physical appearance, the boy much like his Grandfather on his Father's side, and the girl, much like her Grandmother on her Mother's side.

            It's hard to believe they are from the same parents, except for the connections to the family lineages.

            Neither one is likely to be racist, tho' surely they will be very different in their careers and interests when they grow up.

            "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

            by fhcec on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 04:00:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I have a brother who is much like yours (42+ / 0-)

    but somewhat worse, I think.  He is going to turn 69 this month and is four years older than me.  We grew up in a solid, two-parent, stay-at-home-mom, small-business-owning father home.  And we lived in very liberal Eugene, Oregon.  We were definitely middle class by local definition.  We lived in a good safe neighborhood and attended good public schools.  Dad was a Democrat, Mom was a Republican by registration but I think mostly voted Democrat (although Oregon had some good liberal Republicans in those days, too.)  

    We are both college graduates.  He started out with a good job, married a nice woman, had two great kids.  Somewhere along in there, things began to go awry.  He was always too interested in "get rich quick" ventures, and they virtually never succeeded.  He seemed to grow more and more insecure.  I think he began to drink too much.  After 15 years of marriage, his wife left him and took the kids.  He began to sink lower and lower in the employment market--he began as a successful real estate broker and ended his working days as a driver of a gravel truck.  

    He began to live in the past, bitter and resentful.  Everything that had gone wrong in his life had to be someone else's fault.  He began to listen to Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly, and of course they told him that women were to blame, black people were to blame, immigrants were to blame, etc., etc.  And gradually, he began to believe this.  Because, after all, it was easier to believe this than to acknowledge that he--a privileged white man-- had squandered his good family background, his education, the values he was raised with.  

    He's now a total Republican right-wing angry old man.  He thinks Sarah Palin would make the best US president.  He uses the n-word to describe Barack Obama.  He can't really articulate why he would be better off if Republicans were in charge, but he's sure he would be.  All attempts at reasoning with him are futile.  I seldom see him, and when I do, we don't talk much.  When I'm not angry and disgusted with him, I feel sorry for him.  What a waste of a life that started out so well.    I don't know if I've offered anything here that helps you make sense of your brother.  But please know you're not alone.  

    We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? --Wendell Berry

    by deeproots on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:36:17 PM PDT

  •  I'd go with #3 and #4 (23+ / 0-)

    You can't pick your family, but you can pick your friends. That he chooses to hang out with racists says there is something he gets from that relationship that works for him. Maybe it's peer approval, maybe it's something darker - but you swim in filth, you're not going to come out smelling like a rose.

    Willful ignorance has one incredible advantage as a lifestyle. Nothing is ever your fault, and you don't have to give a damn about anyone else if you don't feel like it.

    At the risk of psychoanalysis at a distance, does anything in this description of narcissism sound like it might apply to your brother?

    You said he is bright, but left college after one year. I'd make a wild guess that college is the first time he ran up against some personal limits, and he didn't handle it well.  His descent into jerkitude may well be a defensive reaction to that failure.

    Just a theory - good luck.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 06:52:17 PM PDT

  •  Theory # 5: Karma. (11+ / 0-)

    You can make of that what you will; for me it is a multi-functional term, encompassing (for those who believe in the cycle of death and re-birth) the summed experience of former lives; or for those who do not subscribe to the doctrine of reincarnation, simply the utter, inexplicable weirdness of things.

    On the other hand, hatred is the most potent political force in modern American politics; and being surrounded by it means to be (in some degree) tarred with the brush of it (if I may verge into mixture of metaphors.)

    I have seen (in my lifetime) children vex their parents in ways that made no rational sense; my only take was that it was as if the kid had been born with a grudge against the parent, and was searching for a way to express it.  Some people speak of 'collecting on a karmic debt.'

    I don't know if my ramblings make sense or not, but thanks in any case for your thorough telling of a story which possesses -- in addition to its compelling human interest -- as well a fascinating cultural perspective.

    The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine.

    by magnetics on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:01:13 PM PDT

  •  Last place aversion. (19+ / 0-)

        You haven't mentioned last place aversion.  That's the mental condition where you bypass all forms of rationality in order to ensure that someone is "lower" or "getting it worse" than you are.  Here's a fairly good piece on it.
         From what I've seen in my own life, it's my belief that this drives far more in society and the policy making process than most realize.

  •  Theory #6 - Alien anal probing (9+ / 0-)

    Everyone knows that rural red states are hot beds of alien abduction, and in order to further the Grey Agenda they use implants on subjects to weaken their sense of self-preservation, causing them to think irrationally and be more susceptible to brainwashing. It has long been the plan of the aliens to make humans teh stupid, and easier to manipulate - far less trouble than eradicating us, they want us as easily led cattle. Ergo - Republicans.

    Moo I say to you! Moooooooooooooooooo.

    (romney)/RYAN 2012 - REPEAL OBAMACHAIR!!!

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:28:32 PM PDT

  •  I'm inclined to go with #4, "willfull ignorance." (3+ / 0-)

    I think it was Dan Jenkins who coined the phrase, "pride in ignorance."

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:34:18 PM PDT

  •  I think I know what it is... (31+ / 0-)

    Or actually, I should give credit to Michael Lewis, a social psychologist, who wrote an amazing book all the way back in 1978, called The Culture of Inequality, which I think provides the most logical and profound answer to why otherwise intelligent and even decent people come to rationalize inequality, justify it, even NEED it…

    According to Lewis -- and I'm simplifying here, so I highly recommend the book itself, which was updated in 93 but is frankly timeless -- because this country relies on the notion of meritocracy, or what he calls the "individual-as-central sensibility," those who manage to do OK, but not achieve as much as they expected, are confronted with a dilemma.

    On the one hand, the operative ideology of the nation says: wherever you end up is all about you. So the person who leads a rather mediocre life (and no offense to your brother, but operating a pawn shop in Southern Missouri might just qualify), might be initially inclined to blame themselves; to say, "wow, I should have worked harder." But psychologically admitting that we fell short is hard for anyone, so we project that inadequacy outward, in this case saying, "well, I might not have achieved all I hoped, but by God, I did better than THOSE people," where those people are black folks, Latinos, poor folks generally, whatever…in other words, people like your brother end up NEEDING the failure of others, a) so as to make their own failures seem smaller by comparison, and b) so as to allow them to maintain their sense of moral superiority relative to those greater relative failures below them.

    Of course, there is another alternative: such people could rethink the nonsense of meritocracy and question the system, but that is tough for most people, and so…we capitulate to the culture of inequality and cling to what W.E.B. DuBois called the "psychological wage" of whiteness…sadly, psychological wages don't pay the bills...

    Guilt is what you feel because of the kinds of things you've done. Responsibility is what you take because of the kind of person you are...

    by tim wise on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:35:18 PM PDT

    •  That is an incredibly compelling idea, (5+ / 0-)

      and I will definitely check out the book.

      Thank you!

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:53:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nicely presented, t w; I concur that this (6+ / 0-)

      is a very plausible motivation. That damn "psychological wage" of whiteness still does carry weight.

    •  Excellent. I was going to say exactly (3+ / 0-)

      that in far less eloquent terms.  It is identity politics. They want to be told they are a success, not that they need help.
      The democrats do not do a good enough job relating to people like the writer's brother other than telling them they are struggling.

      Do you know what people like "the brother" in my area of MN are most concerned about? People who takie drugs that  get welfare benefits. This issue really bothers them, and local democrats do not have good responses.

      •  They want to be told that it's not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        their fault that they're not a success.  So life didn't turn out as expected.  That's probably true for most people, but they can't face up to it.  If they can divert the blame, then they can get all self-righteous about it.

      •  You're so right. He always brings up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        welfare recipients that take drugs.  I try to remind him for a high level of benefits the client typically has children, so who do you punish by not giving food stamps if the parent is an addict?  By withholding them are you punishing the addict or the children that would eat that food?

        Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

        by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:50:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't use his argument (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Leslie in KY, cosette, kkjohnson

          Say, yeah, maybe they exist, but more than half the people on assistance are white, many of them work at jobs that don't pay a living wage or provide enough hours, and many of them qualify for assistance even with both parents working.

          Some of them are disabled.  Some of them have disabled kids at home and no one to take care of them.

          They are people JUST LIKE YOU.

          Do you hear about the people who got up, got the kids off to school with minimal fuss, didn't fight with their spouses, got into their cars and drove to work, did their jobs, went to the store and came home without any problems?  Dinner was made, homework was done, baths were taken and bed was achieved at a reasonable hour.  Maybe a glass of wine, a beer, or a martini was even drunk.

          Without incident.

          Millions of people's days are like that.  Every single day.  But what we HEAR about is the shooting, the car crash, the robbery, the fight, the whatever leads-that-bleed.

          When you hear about druggie welfare cheats, think car crash.  Rare, tragic, and usually pretty obvious.  They'll get caught by what the system already has in place.  

          Now, what about those working families who need assistance just to survive?

          "There isn't a way things should be. There's just what happens, and what we do." — Terry Pratchett (A Hat Full of Sky)

          by stormicats on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 03:58:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this (11+ / 0-)

    I have just such a relative - a female though - and by financial criteria both secure and successful.  When she was young she was about as liberal as the rest of the family - we vary across the cousinship lines, but not by a great deal, and in general we are sort of very liberal old Republicans or moderate Democrats.  

    What happened?  I don't know either.  I do know that at some point she became convinced she had been cheated of some part of life. And she found comfort in talk radio(!)  She can't sleep without it.  

    And yet and yet.  She goes to church but really does so as a social commitment, not a religious one - and to a church that is hardly conservative - she is definitely science minded and is deep into conservation recycling and small footprint living - and she is a dear and much loved member of our family. We don't talk politics with her.

    She's also the funny one.  Like your brother.  Why is that?  A sense of humor always comes from a sense of what is skewed in life, a sense of proportion which sees the funny oddities.  

    I don't have the answer either, except maybe this is the way we make sure our society doesn't fracture completely. We know we love and are loved across even these deep gulfs.  It is important to hang on to that because it is the long term future.  

    That's all I can think of, anyhow. Thank you for writing this.

  •  stunning. just stunning. (17+ / 0-)

    Thank you sooooo much for this, Lucy.  Beautiful and accessible writing and your basic humanity and decency just leak out all over.


    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 07:42:59 PM PDT

  •  Beautiful writing (14+ / 0-)

    Writing at this level has become all too rare.  Thank you for this piece.

    My sense is that your brother is reaching for simple answers because, in his own eyes, intelligence and subtlety have failed him.  He's hurting from the inevitable wounds of life and reaching for the patent medicines of the day.  My own response (because I can - I'm comfortably retired), has been to crawl into a cocoon of esoteric cooking and food, too much wine and ganja, and a contemptuous dismissal of people like your brother.  As different as he and I are, though, at some level we are probably not dissimilar.

  •  Scumweasel/Spumepocket 2012! (8+ / 0-)

    Where can I get the bumper sticker?

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:10:15 PM PDT

  •  I Used to know people like that (6+ / 0-)

    I Don't Know anyone like that Anymore.

    I don't know how much of my Life I WASTED trying
    to talk to them.  Facts apparently don't Matter.

    I gave Up. Teh Stupid wore me out.

    I STILL work at the Phonebank and I try to spend
    time doing volunteer work for Voter Registration.

    That is as Close as I can Get.

    If I get any closer, trying to make a Personal
    connection, I end up getting SICK.  Literally.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 08:17:43 PM PDT

  •  A well-written screed (9+ / 0-)

    I have a brother like that too.

    I'm pretty sure it's your #3: who he has hung out with. That was certainly true for my brother. That and listening to RW talk radio, etc., all day long.

  •  Mother's (3+ / 0-)

    cause this.I'm sure your mom had much higher standards for her daughters, then for her son.. If mommy lets their kids think they can do no wrong, Then the kids are always right.Lack of empathy..There can only be one person in his world....In other words, he knows what he knows, and will NOT let facts get in the way...A lot of his thoughts from # 4 are really immature, teenage thoughts...I'll bet he has no long-term close friends....Sounds like my late father...who passed all alone...and no one found him for a week...

  •  I'm the opposite (7+ / 0-)

    I'm the only liberal Democrat hippie in a family of very uptight (and somewhat racist and arrogant) Republicans.

    I think it comes down to personality type, though I don't know that I'd correlate it to the Briggs-Meyers function.  The others are very confident that they analyze situations accurately and come to the correct conclusion.  They then look for programs and stories that confirm their rightness (and become rather self-satisfied.)

    I was never that self-confident and never saw my solutions or views as the only true one.  I was also able to accept that not everyone from the same family/race/tribe/country has the same views and same personality and same traits.  It's easy for them to "lump" (allowing for the occasional wonderful exception -- I listened to them slam Obama (for basically being Black) and then turn around and laud Colin Powell.)

    Interesting diary.

  •  How about...deep self-loathing? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LucyMO, SneakySnu, Dirtandiron, blueoasis

    Your brother thinks the GOP is the winner party: it is of, by and for rich white guys. The thing is, your brother is white and male, but he's not rich, and he hates himself for that. Grasping on to the Republican party is a way of making himself feel he's better than everything he sees around him, but deep down he knows he is what he loathes.

    What makes your brother so angry is that reality is slapping him in the face every day and, in spite of his intelligence and identification with rich white people, reality is telling him, "You're a loser.". And the sad truth is, reality is right!

    Let's tally it up: college dropout, food stamp & Medicaid recipient, lost a job, about to lose another one (not clear if it's him or his wife). If it were any single one of those things you could chalk it up to bad things happen to good people and hold him harmless.

    However, taken in totality? It sure looks like he has problems of his own making. He's had some good opportunities in life: a stable home, a chance at higher education...and didn't make much of it. It probably didn't help that he grew up with everyone telling him how smart he is because it just fuels his resentment with where he is in life and leads him to blame other people for his failures.

    Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

    by Joe Bob on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 09:52:33 PM PDT

  •  I'm a generation ahead of you (10+ / 0-)

    but I grew up in the same general area, Lebanon, MO in my case. I'm guessing you're from near Camdenton or perhaps Eldon. My father was born in that area, so I have lots of relatives there but I haven't lived there since college.

    I also have a brother who is pretty conservative, but in his case it's all about money--he doesn't want the government to have any of his because he needs it and they just spend it on things he doesn't like. I think he and your brother lack one essential quality that I see in lots of liberals and progressives--empathy. We tend to put ourselves in others' shoes, to see the world from their point of view, to see the other side of the issue. For people like my brother and possibly yours, it's all about them, what they need and want. Sure, we have to think that way too at times, but caring about others is more likely something we would do. Maybe you can suggest to your brother that he think about how others feel sometimes.

    As for how he got that way, the lack of empathy was probably there from the beginning to some extent, but by being around certain people or in certain situations, it was supported and he let it grow. My brother is serious and hard-working but he has a strong sense of right/wrong and black/white. I think progressives are less authoritarian and more comfortable with fuzzy than with dichotomies, at least I am.

    Nice writing as well, humorous and honest, the best kind.

  •  Good ol brain washing...when you listen or watch (6+ / 0-)

    often are transformed!   I know someone who had to watch Fox News for her job for a while and felt herself starting to be swayed!  The formula works.

    ...if Ben is to be saved he needs counterconditioning FAST....must go cold turkey off of the haters and builders of the hate society. And start listening to pundits who actually are fact based and point out the lies of the evil ones.  

    "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

    by leema on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 10:30:32 PM PDT

  •  When did he show the signs of being republican? (15+ / 0-)

    I clearly recall my junior high age son, dressed in a suit and tie, carrying a Bush for President flag, on his way to a rally.
    "Where have I failed" I asked him, laughing.

    What a perfect rebellion it was, the conservative son of a liberal mom. Read news magazines, read either books about or by Nixon, don't recall, and other such heroes. Debated liberal adults.

    But he grew out of it by his mid teens. Did your brother rebel and then not grow out of it?
    Or did it come after high school when harder things started like dropping out and some financial pressures (eased by the government)
    After 9/11? Some people reacted to the fearful uncertainty by seeking the illusion of certainty in the more structured dogmatic world of conservative politics and fundamental religions.
    Was it limbaugh exposure? That is was he exposed to shows like that before he changed and they just resonated or was he already of that mindset.

    Back in 2004 I tried to understand the mindset. Getting people use to be my strength. It was my profession and came naturally but it turns out I don't have the talent I might have thought. I'd gently turn discussions to the reasons they were voting bush and go from there.
    I knew how to be non-confrontational about these things and really just wanted to get it, wasn't trying to change their minds. I know how to suspend judgement, see through their eyes and so on... or so I thought.

    As it turns out I might be able to smooth out tense, almost broken down negotiations and bring resolution, gain the trust of a paranoid client and get where a delusional person is coming from
    but I could not "get" the republican mind, I could not reach them, I could not converse
    soon a follow up question would lead to muttering or vacant stares or a tense closing especially if their answer brought out a contradictory thing being true from what just said
    It was strange. They were bright, "normal" people I knew and I thought it could help me understand how these (once) really nice people could go bush.

    I don't have answers either, can you tell?

    I'll go country-ish. From Kristofferson's  "Jesus was a Capricorn"

    Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
    He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
    Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
    Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again.

    'Cos everybody's got to have somebody to look down on.
    Who they can feel better than at anytime they please.
    Someone doin' somethin' dirty, decent folks can frown on.
    If you can't find nobody else, then help yourself to me.

    Egg Heads cussing Red Neck's cussing hippies for their hair.
    Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.
    Some folks hate the whites who hate the blacks who hate the clan.
    Most of us hate anything that we don't understand.

    and so on.
    We want some other to blame for our problems and insecurities

    btw my younger sister is a right winger... who is a teacher's union representative. How does she do that? She advocates for everyone to contact their rep when there is a vote affecting them...
    does she see who votes the way that helps?

    •  I am so grateful for your comment (10+ / 0-)

      because I think you have just given me some incredible insight, which is exactly what I knew I'd find on DKos.  

      Thinking about the time period of when I could see the very beginning of his changes, when he started posing questions I'd never imagined he would consider without playing devil's advocate was around 9/11.  Normally I would discount this immediately for anyone else in my family, but my brother as this proud, alpha male has a few very strange fears/vulnerabilities that if you told anyone that knew him they would call you a liar.  That is the kind of event I can absolutely see shaking his comfort level... his wife was also pregnant at the time with his first child.  

      Also, yes, some of it I think is just for the attention that it pisses the rest of us off.  That has always been his favorite sport.  

      And I LOVE Kristofferson and it's the perfect song.  

      Thank you, sincerely.

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:07:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I never heard that Kristofferson song (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I love those lyrics.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 07:36:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rebellion (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is one factor that HAS to be part of this.  Becoming a crazy right winger after growing up in a loving liberal home is a sure sign of someone who has either never grown up or has regressed.

      Of course this like any mental issue has lots of parts.  And I do think that in many of these cases it really is a mental health issue.  This is why as a caring liberal I feel sympathy for a lot of these people.

      Good luck and don't let his issues poison your life.

      •  Regarding mental health.. (0+ / 0-)

        it has crossed my mind that this has something to do with some stressful incident in his life that I may not have been privy to, we are both private people.  And it very well could be for a heaping dose of attention from all of us when he starts in on some crazy rant.  

        Thank you :)

        Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

        by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:54:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sex? (3+ / 0-)

    Theory 1: I think guys like this suffer from issues of sexual identity and insecurity. Rush and ilk know how to whip up this righteous woman-hating, race baiting, targeted hate and anger--that I think gives their followers the um, rush, of power they need to feel to be reassured that they are manly enough, given all their secret doubts.

    Theory 2: He may be genetically wired to lack the empathy gene and/or connections in the brain. More and more research is coming out about this. Look into it.

    Theory 3: He's smart but maybe really not capable of the meta-analysis and critical thinking  that is needed to understand  a complex situation. The rightwing gives him simple answers to things and dresses 'em up to look smart. (Think of Glenn Beck University. Or Gingrich.) I'd test out his analysis skills on some neutral subject---a movie maybe---and sort of work him around into a critical gloss of its deeper meanings or it power dynamics etc. See what you come away with. Short version: I mean smart is not necessarily the same as critical thinking skills.

    The fact that he's smart, not ignorant and grew up liberal makes him all the more frightening to me. I feel for you.

    •  I think gender probably does (2+ / 0-)

      play an issue.  And a masculine insecurity is totally possible... (putting on my totally bullshit psycho-analysis hat)... I have a feeling his wife makes him feel insecure in that area.  You may be onto something.

      And his critical thinking skills are honed.  I would LOVE nothing more to say that he lacks in any area of intelligence, but I don't believe he does.  That's why I find it so appalling.  

      Thanks for the sympathy and the insight!

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Fri Aug 31, 2012 at 11:14:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Two speculations (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Only Needs a Beat, LucyMO

    Perhaps born with those tendencies. It can be a genetic trait.

    Has he had any major issue that he couldn't do anything about in his life? If not, he may not realize just how lucky he has been, being a white apparently heterosexual male in a very white area.

    No hardships can equal a bit of arrogance, thinking that his hard work and other good qualities have been the only factors in what success he has had.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 12:33:57 AM PDT

  •  I had a winger-conservative client once. (10+ / 0-)

    We helped him set-up and start his own business.  He grew up in a conservative family but not a hateful one.   He married an african american woman, had a child with her and had a successful life in real estate as a landlord (owned and rented out a few condos and flipped houses).  All that came crashing down in 2008.  He and his wife divorced over financial issues, now their relationship is thoroughly hostile.  He lost a lot of his net-worth in the divorce and but later was supported by his new girlfriend who became his new wife (and still supports him.)

    We had many conversations about politics and I successfully convinced him to stop watching/listening to Rush and Beck and to read multiple sources of information and decide what seemed the most likely to true and accurate.   He made a lot of progress, but every now and then he would just flip out.

    I started to notice some patterns.  His business relied on having relationships with musicians and creative people which can often be difficult because they often don't understand the needs of the business they're agreeing to be associated with.  Whenever one of these associations asked for too much, which was often not much at all, he would go ballistic and start calling these people (who he truly needed to help sell his products ) freeloaders or lazy.

    One time at a convention, he had a booth and had equipment and instruments set-up to show of his products.  A 10 year old kid was there with his dad and the kid asked if he could play the electric guitar.  My client didn't like the idea of the kid playing it, but my with my vigorous nodding he acquiesced.  Then the kid asked if he could plug the electric guitar into an amp somewhere.  My client went ballistic again and took the guitar from the kid.

    After he calmed down I asked him why the hell did he do that?  The purpose of setting up a booth at a convention is to connect on a personal level with your customers and potential customers and LET THEM TRY YOUR PRODUCTS!

    What he said was basically the general theme for this guy: he felt taken advantage of.  He felt taken advantage of by his ex, by Wall St. and lazy, lying people who bought houses they couldn't afford that burst the housing bubble, by the musicians endorsing his product who loved it so much and wanted more,  by the kid at the convention who he assumed couldn't actually buy his product and was wasting his time (even though he was clearly there with his dad who was very enthusiastic about finding a great instrument for his son.

    See the pattern?  Can't miss it.  He resented all these "others".  He couldn't see past his resentment enough to see that these actions were hurting his business opportunities.  He listened to people who reinforced that idea with an outrage a day.  Our society has been very afraid of "the other" for a long time and for white male americans especially, they are the cause of all their problems.

    There's a great book called The Other that a brilliant friend of mine actually used to help teach military leaders at the pentagon about how to create programs to help soldiers get over their fears of "the others" and come to know them, empathize with them and hopefully improve relations with them.    

    The book does have one major flaw in that it completely ignores women as a class of "the other."  But it is well worth the read.

    Back to my client.  In a political discussion, I once commented that it's hard for people who spend little time with people different from them to really know that at the most fundamental level we are all very similar and want similar things.  I said the always taboo statement that urban environments were better at providing opportunities to live and work with "the other" and therefore learn (if you're open to it) that we aren't that different at all.

    He immediately asked me that didn't I realize that his ex was an african american?   Of course I did.  And I wasn't talking about him.  But he took it as a personal attack.  So I asked him how he could say such things about these "other" people in such broad strokes when his own daughter was one of them?  He thought that because he fell in love with one african america, that that meant he couldn't be racist towards the rest.  

    In the end, he felt like he failed and for years he heard non-stop everyday from winger radio and fox news that is wasn't his fault, it was the others fault.  But really, it was his fault and admitting it was much more difficult than blaming someone else.

    That bowled him over.  I didn't hear anything about politics from him for over 6 months.   But then it started to trickle in again.  Eventually, he closed his business (for which he blamed everyone else but himself) and is no longer my client.  But I do hear from him every now and then.  When we talk about music and music gear we have great conversations.  But as soon as it turns to politics is just goes right down the gutter.  

    In the end, your brother seems a lot like my client.

    "Wall Street expertise, an industry in which anything not explicitly illegal is fair game, and the illegal things are fair game too if you think you won't get caught." — Hunter

    by Back In Blue on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 01:25:08 AM PDT

    •  Instruments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Only Needs a Beat, LucyMO
      he purpose of setting up a booth at a convention is to connect on a personal level with your customers and potential customers and LET THEM TRY YOUR PRODUCTS!
      Especially guitars and basses. (I would assume any other stringed instruments as well) Two guitars, same make and model from the same factory can feel completely different depending on, action (i.e. string height), truss rod adjustment, string gauge, and so on. You have to play a guitar at least a little while to know if it's really for you.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 07:42:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, yes the do sound similar. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, Back In Blue

      And I think feeling used or taken advantage of is something Ben does feel, but in truth the only evidence he has to support that response is the snot he licks up from the rightwing talkshows and those that lie for sport.  

      I hope your client can crawl out of his hole and see the world the way it really is, just like my brother.

      Thank you :)

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:00:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My cousin, a Tea Partier, has a Downs Syndrome (4+ / 0-)

    Child who has gotten government assistance since she was born. She acts rational and calm - but there is something misfiring in her brain, for sure.

    My dog is a member of Dogs Against Romney: He rides inside.

    by adigal on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:12:03 AM PDT

  •  I enjoyed your diary immensely (8+ / 0-)

    It showed humor, empathy, self awareness and self deprecation (in a good way), a knack for telling description in a few words, humanity, and good storytelling skills.

    If you don't write professionally you should try, you never know where it might take you.

    And I have a Republican sister, she got that way by marrying a Republican. Never underestimate the influence of people you spend lots of time with.

    A definition is the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a wall of words -- Samuel Butler

    by A Mad Mad World on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:53:06 AM PDT

  •  I just think your brother is a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    privileged white male who would prefer the easy route of doing nothing but letting himself be taken in by propaganda. If his mind were to suggest to him that things were wrong with the world around him and it aint the fault of the poor and the dark skinned, that would mean he'd have to DO SOMETHING about it.

    He'd have to fight. It's hard to convince the privileged to fight for the underprivileged. He doesn't see the world the way it really is and he doesn't want to. Being privileged, he has a choice. It's easier to go with the flow than to resist so he chooses to go along with it.

    Women, blacks and other minority groups have a choice but it's harder to convince them to go along with the status quo because it's not always benefiting them. Not impossible, just harder.

    And maybe that's why it was harder for the propaganda to reach you as the female sibling. It could have happened to you, too but you just happened to be harder to sell on bullshit.

    That's just my theory. :-)

    "It's not enough to acknowledge privilege. You have to resist." -soothsayer

    by GenXangster on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:10:02 AM PDT

    •  Excellent point. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GenXangster, blueoasis

      My sister often says exactly what you have, that he doesn't even recognize his own privilege and is lazy on top of it.

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:02:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My sister (5+ / 0-)

    religious,rightwing hater. I have no idea what makes her tick or what made her change! I think that is the only reason I still associate with her.

    We grew up in the same family, she is the oldest, then my brother one year later and 5 years later me.
    I do believe the age difference has a lot to do with it ,also her position in the hack order might contribute to the differences. She does have very different memories of our life, of our parents.
    My father, air force lifer, was/is a very controlling presence in her life  ( she's still afraid of him) and she married at 18yo a control freak who reminds me more and more of my father. She has a lot of insecurities, thanks to our mother who didn't think she was pretty enough or smart enough.
    For sisters we couldn't be more different. I was born challenging authority and questioning everything, but her and I had one thing in common: our political views

    And then everything changed when she had the need to join a church, a lutheran one at that, and slowly but surely she turned into this racist, hypocritical rightwing, creationist nut job.
    Why did she have the need to join a church? We didn't grow up in the church. Why hate people of other racial backgrounds? We're Roma, people hated us for that reason.
    With her nothing makes sense.

    El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. The people united will never be defeated

    by mint julep on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:10:39 AM PDT

    •  Good grief, if I could (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mint julep, blueoasis

      hug you from here I would.  I feel exactly what you're saying.  It almost hurts because you can't stop loving them and you just want to fix whatever broke inside them.  

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:04:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  All exacerbated by the yearly influx of (3+ / 0-)

    boorish entitled vacationing rich white folk.

    All of the elements of self-loathing, the need to focus on and blame the inferior races, are reinforced every year by having to deal with the yearly infestation by tourists who obviously look at him (if they notice him at all) with dismissal and disdain.

  •  What a diary! (4+ / 0-)

    An example of fantastic writing that brings out what makes us all human.

    I loved it

    •  Thank you :) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I never know how to take compliments on my writing, I just hope I could get across what I'm trying to say.  With all the excellent responses and shared stories I must have succeeded.  

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:06:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, Camdenton.... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Only Needs a Beat, LucyMO, blueoasis

    and the stunted rednecks it encompasses, only to be challenged in the state by Noel and it's storied Shadow Lake Club....

    Naked on waters' edge should be the Missouri motto.

    Sorry about your stunted brother, I'll explain yours when you've explained mine....


    "Fascism is attracting the dregs of humanity- people with a slovenly biography - sadists, mental freaks, traitors." - ILYA EHRENBURG

    by durrati on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:31:39 AM PDT

    •  Haha... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, durrati

      we grew up actually right outside of Osage Beach and with to Osage and all that, but he lives in Eldon now which I guess suits his ideals even more.  

      And isn't "naked on the waters' edge" the motto?  I know at the lake it's the Show Me Your Tits state. :)

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:08:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Same problem except with (6+ / 0-)

    a cousin, not a brother.

    I come from a large extended Italian American family (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding when she introduced him to her cousins).   Thirty of us.  Five now deceased.

    Most of us except for one branch in CA grew up in the same town, went to the same schools.   The largest grouping of us (about 24 of the thirty) are within a ten year period.  My sister was first (she's one of the six outside the ten year bubble).  I am three years younger then her and within the next ten years 24 for us were born (so when I was a senior in high school I had cousins in nearly every grade from first to 12th in the same school system).   We spent weekends together, played with each other, saw each other at school, and the older ones babysat the younger ones.

    So now this group ranges from 56 to 66 years old.  MOST are moderate/centrist republicans/democrats.  A few of us (myself included are left wing activist liberals).  Some of the outliers agewise seem to be republicans.....but two seem to be fiscal types.  Maybe one or two religious.
    My dad had 11 siblings.  Of them, most were pretty apolitical.   But one uncle and two aunts were vocal republicans back in the 1960s while the rest were more democratic leaning.   This is a working class family, first generation in the USA.   The republican ones either were diehard religious or worked in our very republican county in "public sector appointee" jobs.     We had many a loud and passionate discussion in the 1960s, with most of my cousins being anti war, marching for segregation, working for liberal causes.

    We all admired, despite our rebellion against some of our parents' beliefs, that we had been raised to be critical thinkers.

    Jump ahead to now.  I have one cousin and his sister who are so right wing, so red state mentality it shocks me.   Their dad was the republican committee man, worked for the county and his job was a political appointee.  OK maybe they followed their dad's lead despite him being deceased for two decades.  But the female I get.  She is a self centered, selfish, self serving jerk.   She's a wealthy lawyer, no kids (hates kids in fact, and hates animals).  She and her husband have a really nice house with a pool where the rest of us are never invited except for one cousin.  Her mother is ready to turn 95, and still lives alone.  Daughter does zilch for her.  Lives 20 minutes away, is retired, and makes it to her mother's once a week and thinks she is a dutiful daughter.  My family and another cousin have for years done things for this aunt, transporting her when needed, take her shopping.     My aunt consistently makes excuses for why her daughter is not doing it.  "She's so busy, she's a lawyer you know..."   So I get that she enables her daughter's selfishness....but still, the woman is 94 years old now.  Oh well.
    This cousin not particularly religious so I think for her it's all about HER money and her selfishness.  

    Her brother lives in another state.   He's funny and nice and was always one of my favorites.  He became sort of a Jesus freak in the 60s.   He married, has six kids and four grandchildren, one of whom is biracial.   He has wonderful kids...I have met them.  They are not rich but have done Ok since his wife's family had some money and helped them.    When we are together, we cannot talk about religion or politics.  He freaking listens to Rush, to Glen Beck, and hates Obama.  I am dumbfounded.   I used to think it was his extreme religious bend, but he listens to bigots and haters.  

    I so do not get it.  I wish I had an answer.  I would share it with you if I did.  But I remain stunned and get upset just thinking about how this wonderful father, good husband, funny, sociable cousin can be a Rush/Glen listener.  If anyone can help me understand I would appreciate it.

    •  Good gravy! 30 of you?! (0+ / 0-)

      I feel your frustration completely.  And regarding your witch that won't invite you over... my momma would say if people don't invite you over it's because they don't want you to know the truth about how they live.  :)  Maybe she's trying to keep the lid on what all her money and selfishness have brought her.  

      Thank you for the empathy and good luick!

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:11:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Just noticed (cause I was in a hurry and did not edit well) I said marching for segregation and I left off the words "to end".  I surely do not want anyone to think I was ever for segregation.   My typing never quite keeps up with my thoughts and my eyes often read what's in my head and not what's on paper/computer.

      I really wish this site allowed editing after one posts.

  •  Great writing... (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the great piece... very funny/sad and written with great style and energy.  As to your question... it comes down to the "Christian" thing.  Jesus would deplore everything your brother thinks and says.  Once you've managed that "disconnect"... once you claim to be Christian, and yet repudiate every word of the sermon on the mount, you are functionally insane and beyond help.  Best you stop worrying about him and just accept that he's mad as a hatter.   That, or force him to sit down and every so slowly and carefully read the beatitudes.  I've tried that with folks like this.  At around "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." they start to froth at the mouth.

    Anything in life that ain't a mystery, is sheer guesswork.

    by MysteriousEast on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 06:43:00 AM PDT

    •  I know the Bible better than anyone (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      in my family, believe it or not I went to one of the top seminaries in the country for school with the intent, of course, of becoming a minister.  I've tried the angle of using the scriptures, attempting peacefully, to show the contradictions of his ideals vs. the faith he claims.  But with him and many other fundamentalists I've come across it just seems to make them angry and they lash out personally.  It's something I'm now more timid approaching now, but maybe I can challenge him to a write-off.  That way the heat is typed and you can erase something nasty before you send it.

      Thank you!

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:14:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Religion isn't for faith. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate

        Belonging to a church is about the belonging a la level three of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  

        It's important to remember that when you think you're having a reasoned conversation about theological philosophy, the other person might feel like it's a conversation about their right to have a place in society.  It's a personal attack that's only one step removed from physical assault (according to one developmental psychologist, anyway).

        The fundamentalists doesn't just lash out as a result of these conversations.  They're also end up clinging tighter to what they fear they might lose.

        I doubt any level of dispassion in the conversation would work because both parties aren't having the same conversation.

        •  When you put it that way (0+ / 0-)

          it seems you're exactly right.  It's attacking something I apparently don't understand and it IS a personal attack to him.  I think perhaps I will continue to avoid the religious conversations and attempt to keep it on practical and logical policy discussions.   Though we can see how well that's worked ;)  

          Thanks for the participation in this diary, it's been a really fun experience.  

          Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

          by LucyMO on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:47:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I have family members and non-family members (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, LucyMO

    in my life that display honor and dishonor in a repeating cycle.  I have come to the conclusion that that is why religions say to hate the sin but love the sinner.

    I find the argument one has with oneself over whether a person is Doctor Jekyll or Mr Hyde  because you see them alternate is best resolved by thinking Mr Hyde and then just keeping yourself from hating them for it.  If something seems off it is.

    Where this problem becomes treacherous is when we go all out hating the person for their Mr Hyde and then turn that on ourselves when they display the Doctor Jekyll.

    •  You're so right. I often (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      find myself just avoiding him and then when I need him he's always there or when he is kind out of the blue I feel SO guilty for holding all of this against him.  

      I do love the sinner, it has just become so difficult to separate all of those emotions.  Thank you.  :)

      Be still when you have nothing to say; when geniune passion moves you, say what you've got to say... and say it hot. - D. H. Lawrence

      by LucyMO on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:17:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think this is a small thing. Alice Miller (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peregrine kate

        the author and psychiatrist has written about the lengths people will go to to avoid the guilty feelings of "holding it against" our family members who are offenders.  She thinks that people who can't acknowledge the pain their loved ones have caused them (you do acknowledge it so don't worry) become tremendous bullies themselves.  Their anger never gets satiated because they aren't retaliating against the real offender.  

  •  Nature. And nuture. But mostly nature. (5+ / 0-)

    My parents always voted Republican without fail. They also were devout Catholics and tended to vote the way the priests advised them.  (Grrr...the Church supposedly as an apolitical, tax-exempt, non-profit organization.)

    In my immediate family of six siblings, we are about 50/50 split on our politics.  For about 30 years, I've wondered this question about why such a split exists, and my data has increased as we've had children, and now we have grandchildren coming into adulthood.

    Within siblings families, there are splits.  But I think there is a tendency for most of the children to follow

    Everyone has maintained their political tendencies since reaching adulthood. One exception is a niece who used to side with me on arguments, but went to the dark side after she got married.  It's no coincidence I supposed that her husband is the most overt racist in the family.  (Why the heck did she ever choose him is beyond me...other than that the guy reminded her of her own father I suppose.)

    From years of observation, my hypothesis is that DNA affects our political outlook mostly.  But it's a complex formula; not that there's a DNA gene for Democrat or Republican, but the genes create the profile that match the Democratic or Republican 'values' and psychology.

    For example, there's also a strong correlation in my family between the level of anger and resentment towards others and political party affiliation.   You can guess what that relationship is.

    Anger is by far the most dominant factor which seems to affect many other family outlooks and political beliefs. Like the degree of self-centeredness, climate change denial, sarcasm, etc.  This probably accounts for why Republicans ate up Eastwood's anger and the rest of us thought he was beyond the pale of respectability.

    Also, those of us who lean left quit the Catholic church, and those who are Republicans remain devout Catholics.

    There is no correlation between raw intelligence and political party, but those of us with broader intellectual horizons are Democrats.

    Anger levels, religious bias, and curiosity seem to be the three most prominent factors in a family that otherwise is fairly homogeneous.

  •  ................................. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:



    "A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and me?" - Don Van Vliet

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 07:50:36 AM PDT

  •  You should ask your brother what frightens him. . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    . . .My take on conservatism is that it stems from fear.  If you can get your brother to tell you what he is afraid of, you might understand why he believes as he does. Fear, as you well know, starts in the Reptilian (Reptillipublican) section of the brain and trumps intelligence every time.

    If you would like to anger him, tell him his belief system is based on fear.  That ought to rile him. Facing fear can cause an emotional response.

    Romney/Ryan I guess two wrongs make the right!

    by waztec on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:36:08 AM PDT

  •  I have a brother like that -- he liked Cain. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ammaloy, LucyMO, blueoasis

    A huge racist -- classic example of a "Know-Nothing" from the 1800's transplanted to an outlying Virginia bedroom community in a lesser McMansion.

    Somewhere around the time he married into a die-hard Republican family he became one of them.  Probably because they basically paid for said McMansion.

    Funny because he was protesting Apartheid back when he was in High School.  Somewhere in there he flipped (out).

    In his case it is definitely #4, with a side serving of #1.

    But he has that Republican disease of projection -- I'm this way, so your motives MUST be.

    Precious d*mn few things we can talk about without it devolving.


    I feel for you.  +4/Rec'd/Followed

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 08:41:57 AM PDT

  •  Similar to my Kansas Family (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LucyMO, missquested, mali muso

    I wanted to give my answer before reading the comments, fwiw.

    I think it's likely a mix of 3 & 4, say 60/40 or so ...

    I see the same thing with family and friends and have the same questions.

    I try very hard to get in their minds and see things from their perspective (sometimes well enough my wife yells at me til she realizes what I've done.)

    But lately (since Obama) I've not been able to do it any longer. I just can't make my mind work in the right way to think like they do.

    In my heart I know the answer. It's racism. Not overt hateful racism. No, it's the "I can't be racist" I'm a nice guy, subconscious racism.

    If that is the case, I'm still stuck on what one could say or do to move the dial.

  •  No real answer, but my policy is (4+ / 0-)

    never to think as well of Republicans as they do of themselves, because they're always overcompensating for something with moral vanity.  Always.  I have yet to really dig into motivations with a GOPer, even the ones I've liked, without stumbling into a swamp of 'why shouldn't I expect X?' and 'they should Y or Z!'  The one quote I always remember (although there are many great observations out there) is Jane Austen's reference to the vain & condescending Bingley sisters, who "felt perfectly entitled to think well of themselves, and meanly of others."

    Sometimes it's a tribal impulse & general lack of broader empathy; often it's a means of denying & rationalizing away  one's own failures (like, say dropping out of college when clearly intelligent).  I imagine your brother also enjoys holding the pawn customers in contempt... I worked at a pawnshop for a few weeks once, and it's demoralizing as hell.

    Anyway, it's rough.  Conservatives can be sweet and generous, but it all seems to come from a self-serving and sentimental place; by the same token, liberals can be complete asshats (social skills aren't always our strongest suit, after all), but usually operate under much more forbearing assumptions.  I prefer the types who look for their own beams rather than screaming about their neighbors' motes, to put it scriptural terms.


    "Conservative principles" are marketing props used by the Conservative Movement to achieve political power, not actual beliefs. -Glenn Greenwald

    by latts on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:27:16 AM PDT

  •  Narcissism (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And that's a professional opinion. It's all about him. WIC and Planned Parenthood were OK when he needed it. But he doesn't "need" to give back. He's right, you're stupid.

    That is all, the common thread.

  •  I knew I had to read this diary from the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    first two sentences. Wonderfully written. I have no solutions - fortunately having no Republican relatives to practice on. Some colleagues, but that is a bit more touchy. Interestingly, both the repubs I work with (yes, only two out of about 17 of us) have alluded to being borderline Asberger's. I don't know a lot about Asberger's... is there a need for order and rigidity, no toleration of nuance, that sort of thing?

    "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

    by pixxer on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 09:43:12 AM PDT

  •  Ask him a question for me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, blueoasis

    Does he think that if the government eliminated all the benefits that he receives that he would no longer need those benefits?

    If he says yes please write another diary with his explanation on how that would work.

    Watching Mitt's strategy is what it looks like when you try to put an etch a sketch in a centrifuge.

    by AppleP on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:01:09 AM PDT

  •  "Whites Only" Socialism Of Weimar Germany (0+ / 0-)

    Germany became a hellish slave state dependent entirely on a feudal class system, but during the Depression benefits were actually pretty good for "Aryan" people only.  Jews were denied employment, medical care, public accomadations.

    Discuss among yourselves.

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:02:21 AM PDT

  •  I wish I had time to read the whole comment stream (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    because this such an awesome diary. It's beautifully written, and asks important questions to which it seems no one can find satisfactory answers.

    So many of us are dealing with similar situations, and can't even discuss the issues of the day for fear of alienating someone close to us.

    By way of example, the father of my nephew's wife is a diehard republican and Romney supporter. He is an evidently smart, educated business man who raised a strong, progressive daughter. My nephew's parents are a retired firefighter and retired teacher (both union).

    Imagine the amount if bile that needs to be swallowed for this group to sit and share a dinner table, which it does on a regular basis.

    I know there is faint hope of understanding a lot of these people, and by extension, converting them. I think all we can do is try to keep the family peace and vote to defeat them.

    I share your hope that someone has a better answer and will share it with us. Thanks for a great diary.

    Trickle-down theory; the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows. - J.K. Galbraith

    by Eric Twocents on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 10:40:38 AM PDT

  •  Your Intuitions are Correct (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    at least as far as theories 2,3 and 4 go. I highly recommend a Bill Moyers interview from this June, with Jonathan Haight, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. If your library has a copy of the book, I suggest you read it, but the interview will let you get a basic understanding of why your brother has the views he does.
    Paraphrasing Haight, he says that evolution (whether or not you brother accepts it) enabled our brains to make snap judgements so we could decide if that noise in the bush was a threat or not. So, gut reactions come first and our logical left brains work like crazy to defend those instincts, selectively choosing facts that support them. This is reinforced by tribal groups, i.e. his friends who are prison guards.
    Haight's analysis will also let you see why you value what you do, and you might find it worthwhile to participate in his ongoing study at You might not be able to get him to come around to your way of seeing the world, but you might better be able to find some common moral ground with your brother.

  •  wonder if i used to live near you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, peregrine kate

    I spent my final two years of high school in a small-ish tourist town on "the Lake" (Camdenton).  I have distinct memories of a weird combination of cliques in school from the rural FFA kids in their cowboy boots and jeans, to the preppy trust-fund kids driving the Porshe daddy gave them for their 16th birthday, to the white middle class cool kids rocking saggy hip-hop pants, and the complete and utter lack of minorities whatsoever.  After graduation, I decided that there would be no future for me there and headed up to the Twin Cities for college.  

    The few friends I still have from that time of my life seem to have drifted into increasingly bizarre Tea Party-esque delusions as demonstrated by their wretched Facebook postings.  I've taken to either un-friending them or just blocking their posts from my news stream.

    From my own experience of growing up in a conservative Christian environment, I think that they are suffering from a form of cognitive dissonance so strong as to be almost impossible to challenge.  I remember my first baby steps towards allowing myself to question.  It was terrifying.  Questioning one thing and realizing you were wrong, leads to another and all these ideas are interwoven into a complete fabric.  It's extremely unnerving to realize that possibly EVERYTHING you've been told and trusted in is a lie.  Rather than re-evaluate, it's easier to hunker down and ignore.

  •  You forgot threatened angry white man who feels he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, blueoasis

    is due more than life has given him.  This is mostly the explanation in my family.

    Corporations are driven by the bottom line, not by concerns for health, safety or the environment. This is why we need government regulations.

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 12:23:51 PM PDT

  •  Fear!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    I'd recommend the comment by Ontheleftcoast, but the recommend button is missing.

    Instead of war and terrorism played since 9/11, it is now the financial crisis and that man who is 'different' in the WH.

  •  Curious about what you think of this (0+ / 0-)

    attempt to address your question. At best, it would be a piece of the answer.

    As an old Missourian, I appreciate your thoughtful essay. Sounds like you had the misfortune to come from Missourah instead.

    Michael Weissman UID 197542

    by docmidwest on Sat Sep 01, 2012 at 05:41:27 PM PDT

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