Deadwood Liberals?

If conservatives get to claim South Park, I hope their ideological counterparts will consider for self-branding purposes the astonishing HBO series Deadwood, which I finally saw for the first time last night. Sure, it's a little rough around the edges, but that's the point! Out with the mealy-mouthed PC murmuring, in with the ribald & flowery language of the American frontier. Gun ownership is a given, spontaneous order is a daily, peach-gobbling experiment; and the federal government is a meddlesome, land-stealing enemy.

OK, that may be a bit far-fetched. But there is something going on with Democrats and the Mountain Time Zone, as this L.A. Times front-pager suggests. Though the party's gains may be based largely on Latino population growth, there's a promising don't-tread-on-me element at play as well:

If there is an opening for Democrats, several political analysts say, it is in the social issues that animate the Republican Party base but collide with the Western ethos of live and let live.

"The main chance Democrats have is if the Republicans become perceived, even more so than they are now, as the party of morality and not the party of low taxes," said Ted G. Jelen, a political scientist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Arizona, traditionally a Republican state, has a Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, who was elected in 2002 when many GOP voters crossed over rather than support Matt Salmon, a staunch social conservative who campaigned on a pledge to put God back into government.

Here in Colorado, Democrats won control of the Legislature in November in part by presenting themselves as problem solvers who were focused on concerns such as the state budget, while portraying Republicans as extremists obsessed with issues like same-sex marriage. Republicans ascribed most of the Democratic gains to that party's edge in money and machinery, not issues.

The excellent website New West has been all over this interesting if elusive meme.

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  • ||

    Deadwood is a Sunday night ritual with the wife and me.

    Flowery language? You bet.

  • Dev||

    You missed Western Democrat, who've been on this for a while.

  • Dev||

    Also, I've missed my grammars.

  • ||

    Do liberals still have googly eyes for the fantasy world of The West Wing, or is that getting long in the tooth now?

  • ||

    Ahhh... the daydream of every "small-l" libertarian: A Democratic Party not afraid of guns or markets, or a Republican party not afraid of gays or porn.

    Sadly, they re both just that. Daydreams. Both parties know where the money/votes come from and they'll have to play to them or risk losing the power they have so carefully cultivated over the last 150 years.

  • ||

    That pretty much sums it up, Akira. South Park Republicans and Deadwood Democrats could be a potent political force if they united, but for that to happen, their frustration with their own party has to exceed their fear of the other. That's somewhat of a tall order in current political climes, so I suspect the 'small-l' crowd will remain afflicted with battered spouse syndrome for years to come.

  • Peter K.||

    Akira,

    Have you watched Deadwood? Markets in all their wonderous glory are on full display. The Hearst "combine" and its "market power" is beyond the Law and government. All of the characters know the government is mostly predatory as Matt mentioned, so its not a stereotypically liberal show as some might think.

    Anyway, it seems to me porn, gays, markets and guns are all doing well at the moment despite the oppostion they have.

  • ||

    but for that to happen, their frustration with their own party has to exceed their fear of the other

    I agree with Phocion. A merger between the small-l factions in each party would immediately present dilemmas:

    1) Which major party do they sign up behind? Oh, that one? Why not the other one? Why do we have to vote for your guys but you don't vote for our guys?
    2) OK, we'll vote for whichever party runs the lesser evil in any given election. Yeah, well, do you actually think that (insert issue here) is more important than (insert other issue here)? Cuz there's no way I'm voting for anybody who supports (insert yet another issue here), no matter how good he is on (insert other issue here)!
    3) Well, then, we could unite behind the LP. Except I think the LP is a bunch of loons! And, while I agree with them on most issues, I'm a small-l type, and I disagree with them on (insert issue here). If their candidate emphasizes (insert issue here) too much then there's no way I can vote for him!
    4) Not to mention that voting LP could result in the (Democrat/Republican, circle one) winning, and I simply cannot let that guy win! Really, it would be better if all of the small-l types from the (Democrats/Republicans, circle one) just started voting for the small-l types from the (Republicans/Democrats, circle one).

    Yeah, there's a winning coalition!

  • ||

    "A Democratic Party not afraid of guns or markets"? Well, I could see half of that--the gun half. They certainly have not been putting much emphasis on gun control in the past couple of presidential elections--especially the most recent one--and indeed one of their major contenders in 2004 (Howard Dean) had a pro-gun record as governor of Vermont. Even *The Nation* has recently been warning Democrats not to make gun control a litmus test, lest they lose the West.

    No, the Democrats are not going to be a consistently pro-market party, but neither are the Republicans. The debate on Social Security is not a pro- versus anti-market debate; one could argue that a system of "private" accounts with the government regulating which stocks they can invest in would amount to *more* government intervention in the market for capital than the current system.

  • ||

    You gotta love a show where a main character, a ruthless power-broker, goes on a drunken, profane rant while he is getting a BJ from a lady of leisure. He must be a libertarian.

  • ||

    porn, gays, markets and guns

    Throw in a car chase and you've got a hit show, oh wait...

  • ||

    No, the Democrats are not going to be a consistently pro-market party, but neither are the Republicans.

    Markets don't lobby, vote, or contribute. Businesses and unions do. We have a pro-business party and a pro-union party.

    Business tends to like economic freedom more than unions do (the lobbying is usually "let us do this" as opposed to the unions saying "stop business from doing this"), but there are a number of issues where being pro-business and pro-market don't line up.

  • ||

    And Phocion hit the nail on the head again!

  • ||

    You gotta love a show where a main character, a ruthless power-broker, goes on a drunken, profane rant while he is getting a BJ from a lady of leisure. He must be a libertarian.

    C'mon man. What libertarian has power?

  • ||

    libertarians have lots of power, Man! We have power coming out of our ears. We are masters of the universe. We...um...

  • ||

    ..um..

    Ted Nugent is pretty powerful!

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=487&e=8&u=/ap/people_nugent

  • ||

    I think the Motor City Madman would fall cleanly within the "conservative" camp, given those death penalty views.

  • ||

    I'm under the impression that The Nuge is a staunch individualist who is unapologetic about his days of sex, drugs, and R&R, but I could be wrong..

  • ||

    This is a stretch. Nice point but it still doesn't create a tie between Dems and Deadwood.

    Also "South Park conservatives" really describes young conservatives who are non-traditional conservatives because they back some liberal social issues besides also supporting limited government and capitalism.

  • ||

    Nugent is vehemently anti-drug. He's more of the "sex, guns, and rock'n'roll" camp...

  • ||

    The Nuge fits your description, my only point was his "kill 'em all" attitude (expressed recently at a NRA gathering, not sure if that's what you were linking to) doesn't jive in the libertarian crowd, as I'm often reminded, being pro-DP.

    That being said, "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" would probably be better received at a libertarian gathering, as opposed to a CPAC convention.

  • ||

    I gotta give props to Matt for even thinking of jumping on the Deadwood wagon train in mid-stream. Even with the brief recap at the beginning of the show, there's no way to know the background behind half the stuff that's going on---because Milch has created such a complex and living world. Shit, I missed one episode one time, and I felt like I was watching a different show when the next one came on.

  • Matt Welch||

    Evan -- Well, I watched it with a group of 10 close friends, using Tivo (and its miraculous stop button), and they delighted in filling me in on the back-story every 15 seconds or so. A highly recommended way of watching it.

  • ||

    I just got season 1 on DVD. That's an easy way to catch up on the back story.

    I'm not sure I understand this Deadwood liberal concept. South Park, despite the lack of social conservatism, still represents some basic conservative principles. Deadwood has nothing at all to do with liberalism. Half of the profanity involves the use of "cocksucker" as an insult (which the left doesn't particularly like) and although the sexual mores are very loose, many of the women in Deadwood were coerced into prostitution (also not so popular with the left). Deadwood liberalism would be great except that it would be a complete rejection of everything liberalism stands for.

  • Matt Welch||

    Xavier -- They also used "cunt-licker" last night, to which one friend commented "why is that an insult?" ...

    As for the Deadwood-Democrat connection, it was a friendly *suggestion*, more than an actual observation. There is a don't-tread-on-me aspect of Western life, and a celebration of invididualism that is by no means the sole domain of the Republican Party. And there *are* some interesting trends afoot with Schweitzer and Bill Richardson. I'm just encouraging the Donks to go more in that direction, instead of the touchier-feelier government-is-the-solutionism of (say) Los Angeles politics.

  • ||

    BTW, you've been SPLOIDED!

  • ||

  • ||

    The case for a "southwestern strategy" for the Democrats in 2008: If Kerry had carried New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado, he would have won the election, even had Bush still carried Ohio and Iowa (the closest Bush states outside the West). http://www.electoral-vote.com/

    New Mexico and Nevada were both close, and even in Colorado, Bush's margin was down from over eight points in 2000 to less than six in 2004 (admittedly, much of the reason for that was Nader doing much worse in 2004). Even Colorado as well as the other two states might be within reach if, say, Ken Salazar (who could also help with the Hispanic vote outside the Southwest) were on the ticket...

  • ||

    "vehemently anti-drug"? That is a real bummer. I hope he's not the Steve Jones "drugs suck" type. :(

    Conservatives who embrace South Park as their own are ignorant. The show skewers right-wing sacred cows just as much as left-wing, and is deeply cynical of both sides. That's why it's brilliant.

  • ||

    They also used "cunt-licker" last night, to which one friend commented "why is that an insult?"

    It's not, really. Simply put, the man who said it, EB Farnum, is a fucking weasely halfwit masquerading as a man of great thought and power. Yet, aside from his retarded cook, his wits are bested by all he meets. Some of my favorite moments of the show are when Al lambasts him for one reason or another.

    As for the Deadwood-Democrat connection, it was a friendly *suggestion*, more than an actual observation. There is a don't-tread-on-me aspect of Western life, and a celebration of invididualism that is by no means the sole domain of the Republican Party. And there *are* some interesting trends afoot with Schweitzer and Bill Richardson. I'm just encouraging the Donks to go more in that direction, instead of the touchier-feelier government-is-the-solutionism of (say) Los Angeles politics.

    Yes, and that will last until...? Who knows the answer? Yes, yes, that's right: until the very moment their party is back in power. I calls it "fair-weather federalism". Or, put another way, "don't tread on me, unless I happen to agree with the one doing the treading".

    Wasted effort. Reversion is inevitable when their team gets back up to bat. Gridlock is the only help...

  • ||

    A Democratic Party not afraid of guns or markets, or a Republican party not afraid of gays or porn. Sadly, they re both just that. Daydreams.

    I wouldn't be too sure of that. The cultural split over gays and porn is largely a generational split. Anyone under the age of 35 grew up in an America where porn and homosexuality were legal. It is the normal state of affairs for us. For the generation after us, which is growing up in a world where overtly gay people are easy to find in pop culture and porn is a click away on the internet, it is an even *more* normal state of affairs. The Republican Party won't be able to scare people to the polls with sex issues for much longer.

  • ||

    Cunt-licker as an insult? I can understand it, considering the hygiene practices of the day...

  • ||

    The cultural split over gays and porn is largely a generational split. Anyone under the age of 35 grew up in an America where porn and homosexuality were legal.

    True. Too bad the baby boomers are over 35 and many of them are set to live and vote for another 50 years thanks to modern medicine!

  • Matt Welch||

    The interesting thing (to me!) about the gay marriage/35 thing is whether that means a significant number libertarian-leaning under-35s will automatically reject the GOP for as long as they remember the desperate "marriage-protection" scam of '04....

  • ||

    I'd like to see some libertarian-leaning people from "right" and "left" make some compromises and form some sort of coalition. How about this platform: anti-hate-crime-laws, and anti-drug-prohibition-laws?

    Any of you limber-dick cocksuckers or crooked-holed whores who've used a portion of the proceeds of your claim to acquire a subscription to the Comstock (er, Comcast) Digital Cable and HBO can watch any fuckin' episode of Deadwood whenever the feeling fuckin' strikes you.

    Just go to the On Demand menu, select Premium Channels...HBO...HBO Series...Deadwood. All the episodes are there. This was a shockin' fuckin' revelation when it hit me.

  • ||

    Holy shit, Reason's still around? Never forget, taxation=murder!

  • ||

    Not sure if Arizona is moving to a Democrat state, or it is and always will be a thinking Goldwater state. Don't forget that Barry Goldwater was a true conservative - state's rights, individual's rights - whose wife founded the Arizona chapter of Planned Parenthood. He wasn't too fond of what his party became.

    As for Janet Napolitano, she's a disappointment to real Arizona Democrats, kowtowing to special interests and doing nothing for education.

  • ||

    The interesting thing (to me!) about the gay marriage/35 thing is whether that means a significant number libertarian-leaning under-35s will automatically reject the GOP for as long as they remember the desperate "marriage-protection" scam of '04

    I doubt it. The Democratic Party went from being the party of institutionalized anti-black racism to the party of "affirmative action" in less than a single generation. They've even got former Klan officials winning the black vote. If a party can evade the fallout from its past mistakes on a major issue like civil rights, I don't see them suffering any major backlash from a comparatively trivial thing like gay marriage. Especially since the Democratic Party is anti-gay-marriage too, albeit not as vocally so.

  • ||

    Dan, you left out the part where the Democratic Party loudly renounced its racist past, took up the cause of civil rights as its defining, core issue, and remained true to its ideals even after they cost it their long-standing national majority.

    If you are positting a future in which the Republicans loudly and dramatically embrace gay rights, the Democrats spend several elections slamming gay people in a "Red County Strategy" to scare bigots away from the GOP, and the Republicans continue to stand up for gay people even as the cause costs them election after election after election...then yeah, I can see the Republicans not suffering for their behavior among gay voters.

  • ||

    Dan, you left out the part where the Democratic Party loudly renounced its racist past, took up the cause of civil rights as its defining, core issue, and remained true to its ideals even after they cost it their long-standing national majority

    Its racist past? The Democratic Party never stopped being racist; it just switched races. There was never a point in its history when the Democratic Party actually pushed for the idea of treating people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.

    But, ironically, you've hit on exactly the problem the Democrats face: a core defining trait of their party is that of pandering to blacks and Hispanics. The problem is that blacks and Hispanics are, on average, virulently homophobic. So are two other key Democratic voting blocks: union members and poor/uneducated people.

    The Democrats were only able to spin themselves as the party that had "learned its lesson" on civil rights because the Republicans, in recruiting white racists, gave up its century-old status as the party of civil rights. But there IS no party of gay rights. There's just the homophobic party, and the OTHER homophobic party. That's why Clinton signed DOMA, and why Kerry and Edwards flagrantly pandered to homophobes during the '04 debates. That's why Kerry and Bush both opposed gay marriage during the '04 election, and why no major Democrat is willing to mount a serious push to repeal DOMA.

    So the question is: which party is going to end up poaching the other party's homophobes? Personally, I think Christians are a lot more likely to defect to the Democrats (whose 'help the poor' schtick resonates) than blacks, hispanics, and unions are to defect to the Republicans. The Republicans, in turn, will keep doing what they've been doing -- poaching middle-class whites and Asians from the Democrats.

  • ||

    Matt's kidding. "Friends filling him in?" Maybe that works in dentistry but not in art or entertainment, especially since said 'friends' sound like they're spinning faster than a gym full of aerobic trainers. Deadwood, where the only thing appealing to Democrats would be....the potty mouths? Or would that be South Park Republicans? Matt's confused here...and it shows. Deadwood is South Park set in the old west, where capitalism rules unabated, sex is effected without a contract, women are 'harassed' by the minute, big government is mistrusted and survival of the fittest rules. Hmmm. Not exactly 'People for the American Way.' Human Rights Watch would have a collective heart attack trying to annotate the violations that occur per second. Doesn't sound like any Dems I've ever heard about. Purely imaginative fiction for a party that doesn't really have a chance to survive in the Democratic family's small tent.

  • ||

    "Dan, you left out the part where the Democratic Party loudly renounced its racist past, took up the cause of civil rights as its defining, core issue, and remained true to its ideals even after they cost it their long-standing national majority."

    joe, if you can actually say this with a straight face, they should've elected you as the DNC cheerleader instead of that "RRRARRRRGH!" guy.

  • ||

    "The Wire" is better.

  • hsidney||

    the thing i think most of you have missed here is that the raw nature of which government took root in deadwood was completely rebellious. i would certainly not ascribe it to the left head of our two headed beast, aka john kerry dems. but more, libertarian. nice try libs, capitalising on the spirit of their lackluster movement and ridiculously believing it has been capsulated in a program that does not embody their limited values via air america.

    when a dem takes office tomorrow the cons will use an outlaw brand to depict themselves as the defenders of "values". that just wont work anymore. the world knows the john kerry libs would NOT have made a difference in today's washington.

    deadwood was an outlawed town that espoused a slap bang disgust for governmental corruption.

    /"i hate the pinkertons, they represent muscle."
    -Al Swearengen

  • ||

    "The Democratic Party never stopped being racist; it just switched races."

    Ohhhhhh, so THAT explains why there are so few white Democrats in the Senate! Because the majority-white Democratic Party hates white people!

    And Dan, Asians are still an overwhelmingly Democratic voting black, much more so even than Hispanics, who you allege to be a core constituency.

  • ||

    Those of you pointing out that the worldview behind "Deadwood" doesn't describe the current leaders of the Democratic Party are missing the point. "South Park" doesn't describe the worldview of the current leaders of the Republicans, either.

    The point of both theories is that there is a disconnect between the current leaderships, and the people whose loyalties they are trying to capture. The ethos behind "Deadwood" (as I understand it), is one of the little guy joining with others in his position to stand up to wealthy powers-that-be who are eager to grind people up to advance their own self interests. This effectively captures to the worldview of most Democrats - moreso than the general disdain towards social uplifters that defines South Park captures the worldview of most Republicans.

  • drf||

    ""South Park" doesn't describe the worldview of the current leaders of the Republicans, either."

    good call: but remember we have several friends on this forum that continue to believe the bullshit that republicans are pro-liberty, freedom, etc. did you read that fucking walrus's retirement message yesterday? it's full of his anti-individualist blather and ends with "freedom and liberty".

    until the republicans actually get honest with themselves that they're not the group of limited gov't, individual responsibility (what a fucking dumb sentiment), etc., and just another big-goverment, coercive bunch of fucking twaddlenocks, we'll continue to rip them.

    (oh yeah - fuckers - "democrats are much worse")

    sincerely,
    IM Fletcher
    p.s., have a nice day.

  • Eric Deamer||

    I said that you guys should get into this show 4 days before you posted this

  • BUJO||

    I don't mind realistic language if it's representative of the era. I doubt seriously that the frontierspeople peppered their language with the level of profanity served up in "Deadwood". I suspect these people were much more "church-taught" and God-fearin' than we are today, and even the most lowdown, onery sidewinders would think twice before profusin and pronouncin'.

    But, it's a good show so whatthefuck.

  • ||

    joe, if you can actually say this with a straight face, they should've elected you as the DNC cheerleader instead of that "RRRARRRRGH!" guy.

    I especially like how he claims that Democratic support for the civil rights movement "cost them their majority". The Democrats controlled the House of Representatives almost continuously from 1931 to 1995 (the two gaps were 47-49 and 53-54, when Republicans were the civil-rights party and Democrats were burning crosses on people's lawns throughout the South). They also controlled the Senate from 1955-1981 and 1987-1995.

  • ||

    The ethos behind "Deadwood" (as I understand it), is one of the little guy joining with others in his position to stand up to wealthy powers-that-be who are eager to grind people up to advance their own self interests. This effectively captures to the worldview of most Democrats

    Yes, that just screams "George Soros".

  • Eric Deamer||

    Matt:

    Oh, and I'm glad your friends caught you up on what was going on, but you should really try to catch up with at least the episode prior to the one you saw if you can - the one in which Wolcott killed the 3 prostitues. It was one of the most haunting, intense things I've ever seen done in any medium, with an incredible amount of complex plot advancement and subtle charcterization. There's a scene in there between Swearengen and Trixie in which they're discussing her relationship (and using that word in every sense) with Saul (Sol?) that's a masterpiece of acting: "When he fucks me his eyes get all wild and he tells me he loves me." Powerful stuff.

  • ||

    Dan,

    Democratic control of Congress after about 1976 was almost entirely about inertia, the power of incumbancy, and the willingness of the national party to accept serious deviations from the party line from southern Congressmen. Look at the national elections during that period.

    Don, good job reading the part about the split between party leaders and rank-and-file. You should probably just fill in all the "D" bubbles on the Verbal SAT.

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