February 26, 2003

That Big Post-Sept. 11 Poli...

That Big Post-Sept. 11 Political Shift: Matthew Yglesias writes:

At any rate, over the past two years Glenn Reynolds has managed to turn me from an enthusiastic supporter of gun control to a confused skeptic and in the meantime Paul Begala and Howard Dean have convinced me that this is a losing political issue, so I've really lost my interest.
Though some friends, and editors for certain political magazines, are convinced my politics have changed strongly since the Sept. 11 massacre, I would say that after the shock & my subsequent exposure to the libertoid/conservative/iconoclastic wing of American life, there are exactly three things I feel differently about: 1) I won't soon again vote for a president with goofy-ass ideas about foreign policy, 2) I don't really know what to think about gun control, though I hardly ever obsessed about it previously, and 3) I am no longer a feverish supporter for campaign finance reform, on those free-speech and regulation-creates-loopholes grounds that the devious InstantMan has successfully hammered into my skull. OK, there's a fourth -- I am worried about the expansion of American power and responsibility. How have you all changed, if at all?

Posted by at February 26, 2003 11:28 PM
Comments

I also have rethought my previous pro-gun control beliefs, although I still believe registration and background checks should be mandatory.
I also have lost faith in the credibility of such organizations as Amnesty International and other human rights organization mostly because of their more recognizable bias against Israel and America.
I also have begun leaning toward those who oppose affirmative action and hate crime legislation (but I'm torn).
While I am pro-war in Iraq, which puts me more on the side of the Republicans (even though I have always been a lifelong Dem), I have little doubt that opposition politics remains the primary driver of our government officials. If some Dem were president and pushing for war in Iraq, the GOP would probably be arguing against it.
But I think the greatest change since 9/11 has been my discovery of blogs and their links to stories and commentary in the worldwide media. The ability to easily read a wide variety of opinions and reporting on so many different issues (in addition to the views of the bloggers living in that country) instead of being forcefed the AP, Knight Ridder or NYT's view is a great eye-opener.

Posted by: Anne at February 27, 2003 07:22 AM

I've rethought my preference for Republicans in control during times of war. I've voiced my support for the "smash em!" ideology of the right that seems to work well in a wartime world, but I honestly never felt Bush would pervert 9.11 as quickly or as terribly as he had - in both domestic and international affairs. But I should have known better. We didn't need Republican presidents to win WWII either.

Posted by: Oliver at February 27, 2003 08:15 AM

I don't know what the proprietor classifies as a "goofy ass" foreign policy idea; I think most wouldn't vote for anyone who has goofyassed ideas about the economy or civil rights, either.

For what it's worth, the primary change 9/11 has made in my life is a sense of fatalism. During the Cold War, I never had the nightmares that the nuclear freeze movement claimed I should have, because I felt that the small group of people who controlled the Bomb were rational actors; perhaps that was because of M.A.D.

On September 11, 2001, a small group of well-organized thugs were able to simultaneously attach the Pentagon and destroy the WTC. Their goals were partly symbolic, but were mostly aimed at killing as many people as they could. The reaction of our government has been to half-heartedly pursue the thugs who did that, while exploiting the murders to focus on secondary goals, like hitting Saddam, or abridging our civil liberties. It's going to happen again and again, and our government will do nothing to stop it.

Posted by: Steve Smith at February 27, 2003 08:44 AM

I have worked for the past 17 years in a very left-wing, pro-feminist, pro-Gay, anti-Republican culture. Most of the time it was like wearing a pair of sneakers that didn't quite fit, but as long as I wasn't running anywhere, I didn't have any real objections. Post 9/11, I found those liberal ghetto responses inadequate to my understanding of what was happening in the world. I began to be very annoyed by comfort-seeking petty bureaucrats dismissing the President as being inferior to them intellectually simply because he is syntax challenged and speaks with a Texas accent. I began to notice that it didn't matter what he did, they were against it. I just don't see life as being that simple.

If I were to try to define my feelings about war with Iraq, I would say I'm hawkishly ambivalent. I have never been convinced that there is a real connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. I think it was a conscious decision by the administration to put a face on a faceless enemy. How does one make war against an idea (Islamic extremism) that doesn't recognize nor respect borders? One doesn't. You just pick on the weakest target in that general direction. I believe we are making war on Saddam Hussein based on a lie, even if he deserves to be taken out. God, I just hope those hawks in the administration are as smart as they think they are.

My ambivalency towards the war has crystalized my thinking in another area: Bush is a horendous president, and not because of his Texas accent. Those people in Washington are giving away the store and lying about it: No budget line for rebuilding Afghanistan, no budget line for the war with Iraq, no budget line for post-war reconstruction in Iraq, star wars, tax cuts, and they're ready to throw some important bones to the religious fanatics in this country to keep them steady in the Republican column. I'm just afraid I may be one of the bones tossed. God bless America, but God save us from John Ashcroft and his ilk.

As for gun control, it's just not my issue. As a friend of Michael Bellesilles' family, I am as afraid of criticizing the gun folks as I would be afraid to criticize Islam in a fundamentalist country. I don't need a fatwa issued against me by extremists of any idea.

Posted by: Ray Bridges at February 27, 2003 10:14 AM

No more "goofy-ass" foreign policy. OK then, let's stick with the incredibly intelligent foreign policy which has brought us to this point. USA USA USA. Good call, Matt. The status quo in foreign policy is definitely the way to go.

Posted by: Fred at February 27, 2003 12:34 PM

I've become much more sweet-tempered and reasonable.

Posted by: Max Sawicky at February 27, 2003 12:56 PM

I'm not sure to what extent it's 9-11 and to what extent it's the big 4-0 (which were quite close in time for me). I feel like I've become identified as more conservative without actually changing, which must not be strictly true, but probably does have some roots in exterior events changing which fault lines get exposed. I've long referred to myself as a "bleeding heart libertarian," which I think hints at how contradictory, and far from rigidly partisan, my impulses are. (Of course, as soon as I said the "L" word on Max Sawicky's site once, 14 people accused me of wanting to, I don't know, force women into burqas and nuke Chirac, or something, thus demonstrating that the right has neither a monopoly on preposterous generalizations nor one on offensive ignorance of other political philosophies. There's one thing that's changed since 9-11-- I may or may not BE more conservative, but I sure as hell READ more conservatives, for a reason purely rooted in the pleasure-pain ratio offered by, say, Jonah Goldberg or Victor Davis Hanson compared to Eric Alterman or Robert Kuttner.)

I still, most days, hope that Bush wins his war with enough time left that his disastrous economic policies will lead him to electoral doom. But my enthusiasm for a Democrat retaking the White House is rote rather than felt. Is there much that the Democratic party has fought for in recent years that I think was worth the effort? No. Did they roll over on the very things (all those tax cuts, the Patriotism is the Last Refuge of Scoundrels Act) that they should have fought? Yes. On too many other issues, I can't help but feel that the Republicans have been right time and again, even if nearly always for the wrong reasons. Welfare reform? Yes, in bad times it could turn out to be terrible-- but why not try it in the midst of a boom? When else would you try it? School choice-- yes, the Republicans just want to do it to screw a key Democratic donor group (teacher's unions), but holy L. Ron, the state of urban schools is so terrible that isn't anything short of a neutron bomb worth a try even if for venal reasons? If all the Democrats are going to stand for is being the party of the biggest prescription drug giveaway to rich seniors, then they can't really blame me, at 40 with two kids, for shopping around for someone interested in my intesan advantage. I suppose I'd now classify myself as an Internationalist Whig. If the status quo is Left, push Right. If it's Right, push Left. I'm more Havelian than either Wilsonian or Jacksonian, which is one reason I really like this blog.

Posted by: Joel at February 27, 2003 10:22 PM

I had started to before 9/11 to call liberals in America left-wingers, now I completely refer to people in that arena by that label. The reason is that I have come to value the concept, more than ever, of liberal democracy and don't want to confuse people with my intentions. I had read Matt's website before 9/11 and had found it interesting even though I knew it had come from somebody with an alternative view. Post 9/11, it was my reading of Matt's and Ken's Blogs which gave me my first inkling what that event( and now the events conserning Iraq) meant. I wasn't surprised over our mutual mourning of that day, but, by the how much I shared their philosophy even though we arrived at different ends when it came to political party and policy. Our concepts of liberal and conservative are meaningless in this environment. I wonder how to classify myself a classic liberal or an American conservative? I say both.

Posted by: Bob at February 27, 2003 11:45 PM

I had started to before 9/11 to call liberals in America left-wingers, now I completely refer to people in that arena by that label. The reason is that I have come to value the concept, more than ever, of liberal democracy and don't want to confuse people with my intentions. I had read Matt's website before 9/11 and had found it interesting even though I knew it had come from somebody with an alternative view. Post 9/11, it was my reading of Matt's and Ken's Blogs which gave me my first inkling what that event( and now the events conserning Iraq) meant. I wasn't surprised over our mutual mourning of that day, but, by the how much I shared their philosophy even though we arrived at different ends when it came to political party and policy. Our current concepts of liberal and conservative are meaningless in this environment.

I wonder whether to classify myself a classic liberal or an American conservative? I say both. Would I have challenged California Republicans among friends and in Matt's comments section before the last year? No. Would Republicans have challenged Trent Lott? Maybe not.

Posted by: Bob at February 27, 2003 11:57 PM

"But seeing the flako level of hatred directed at Mr. Bush has convinced me that something has to be done to redirect the way we discuss the Presidency."

This brings up an interesting point-- maybe I just find myself pushed onto the side of whoever's president by how God-damned unpleasant and asinine his enemies are. I doubt I'll ever be or call myself Republican just because of the memory of Gingrich, Hyde, Barr, Starr, the WSJ editorial page et al. during impeachment. Of course, now I'm getting calls for impeachment from my leftie friends....

Posted by: Mike G at February 28, 2003 07:41 AM

My views haven't changed so much as my priorities. I still believe in broad personal liberty, conservative economics, strong defense and assertive foreign policy. Before, I mostly voted Libertarian because I considered the lifestyle issues (especially opposing the War on Drugs) most important. Now I favor Republicans, because foreign policy and defense policy are paramount. I have voted for Ron Paul and Harry Browne in the past, and they've both made me regret it; I won't vote Libertarian again until their candidates stop saying such stupid things about foreign policy.

Posted by: Kevin Shaum at February 28, 2003 11:54 AM

I second Kevin up there. Harry Browne was the best candidate out there in 2000, or so I thought. The thought of him in charge after Sept. 11th after the dumbass things he said sends a chill up my spine. If only I could combine Browne and Bush and take all the bad stuff out of both, I'd be happy.

Posted by: HH at February 28, 2003 03:22 PM

Kevin Shaum's description, above, applies in its entirety to me as well (Browne-voting and all).

Another major change is that, before 9/11, I had contempt for the Indymedia/Chomsky crowd. Now I have a deep, seething hatred for them.

Also, I discovered I'm actually patriotic. I'd always just sort of thought of myself as someone who only lived in America because that's where Southern California was.

Posted by: Dan at February 28, 2003 03:57 PM

I've spent the last 20 years watching the American left slowly and surely decline in relevancy. I thought Bill Clinton marked a new epoch in liberal thought, but he turned out to be more Reagan than Reagan.

I voted for Nader in the hopes that some intellectual muscle could be put back into liberalism.

The aftermath of 9/11 has exposed the American Left as intellectually exhausted. I've been looking for insightful critique of Bush's actions; but all we get from my former colleagues is boiler-plate ad-hominem attacks on the President as well as broad 'America Sucks' sentiment.

Thus the biggest change for me in the last 18 months is that I no longer hold any hope for the Democratic Party in the immediate future.

Posted by: Michael at March 1, 2003 04:14 PM

Well, let's see. First my opinion of the American left took a dive. Then my opinion of the American right took a dive. Some of the same bloggers who so ably punctured leftist balloons in the months after 9/11 went on to stick their heads even further up their own asses than Michael Moore did in 2001, which is quite a feat given how big Moore's ass is. Turns out there's even more self-satisfied foolishness out there, in every political quarter, than I thought before 9/11. Or maybe it just bothers me more now that politics seems to matter again.

Beyond that, I'm a lot less optimistic, a lot more fatalistic, and a lot less fond of traveling. And sometimes I find myself scrambling to write some friend a meaningless e-mail before I leave the house, because you never know when the big one's gonna drop and I don't want the last thing I write in my life to be a repost">Posted by: Jesse Walker at March 2, 2003 10:55 PM

Jesse -- More proof that you and I think similarly. Not alike, but similarly. (I, for instance, have barely felt an ounce of true dread & fear since about October 2001. Also, I don't write rejection slips for a living, though I *do* ignore a good amount of e-mail inquiries about working for the Riordan paper...)

Posted by: Matt Welch at March 3, 2003 11:54 AM
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, 2003 03:57 PM

I've spent the last 20 years watching the American left sagan than Reagan.

I voted for Nader in the hopes that some intellectual muscle could be put back into liberalism.

The aftermath of 9/11 has exposed the American Left as intellectually exhausted. I've been looking for insightful critique of Bush's actions; but all we get from my former colleagues is boiler-plate ad-hominem attacks on the President as well as broad 'America Sucks' sentiment.

Thus the biggest change for me in the last 18 months is that I no longer hold any hope for the Democratic Party in the immediate future.

Posted by: Michael at March 1, 2003 04:14 PM

Well, let's see. First my opinion of the American left took a dive. Then my opinion of the American right took a dive. Some of the same bloggers who so ably punctured leftist balloons in the months after 9/11 went on to stick their heads even further up their own asses than Michael Moore did in 2001, which is quite a feat given how big Moore's ass is. Turns out there's even more self-satisfied foolishness out there, in every political quarter, than I thought before 9/11. Or maybe it just bothers me more now that politics seems to matter again.

Beyond that, I'm a lot less optimistic, a lot more fatalistic, and a lot less fond of traveling. And sometimes I find myself scrambling to write some friend a meaningless e-mail before I leave the house, because you never know when the big one's gonna drop and I don't want the last thing I write in my life to be a rejection slip. (My job requires me to write a lot of rejection slips.) Do those count as political shifts?

Posted by: Jesse Walker at March 2, 2003 10:55 PM

Jesse -- More proof that you and I think similarly. Not alike, but similarly. (I, for instance, have barely felt an ounce of true dread & fear since about October 2001. Also, I don't write rejection slips for a living, though I *do* ignore a good amount of e-mail inquiries about working for the Riordan paper...)

Posted by: Matt Welch at March 3, 2003 11:54 AM
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