How to Convince the Hippie-Haters

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New Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, poster boy for the Democrats' would-be Western Strategy, is interviewed at Salon today (sitting through an ad req'd). Not the most inspiring of exchanges (I have now heard enough about his "heart" to last a lifetime), but he does show trace amounts of libertarianism (as you might expect from a Montana governor), and though the following two exchanges contain more than a whiff of condescension toward his constituents, I still found them funny:

Howard Dean has a record that's not at all unlike what you're trying to pull off in Montana, but it's hard to imagine Dean as the kind of national candidate who would do well here.

The first time people heard of Howard Dean, they heard of him as some guy from Vermont—and people vaguely know where that is, but it sounds like it's where lots of hippies live—and that he was against the war. So even before they saw him on TV, they figured he had a ponytail and a nose ring. […]

John Kerry opposes gay marriage, too. But if you took a poll of Montanans today, I'll bet 85 percent of them would say that he supports it.

Oh, they'd probably think that he married some guy.

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  1. Yeah, I was surpised to see him repeatedly refer to his constituents as Joe and Mary Sixpack and then there was this comment where he imagined their thinking process vis a vis policy:

    “If I wasn’t so busy bowling and working and fishing, and if I had time to spend on these issues, I bet I’d come to the same conclusions that that guy would. But it’s a good thing that he’s doing all that studying and stuff, because I’m busy fishing and bowling.”

    I wonder if he said this stuff because he doesn’t think anyone in Montana is the sort of person who would read Salon.

  2. Those comments are both pretty funny.

  3. Schweitzer earned a few bonus points in my book with this little stunt last month.

  4. Montana has a surprising mix of people (including Salon readers)… and the great thing is that there are not many of them.

  5. “You spend all your time fishing and bowling, not studying and reading.” It’s very blue state of E. Steven to think of that as a put-down.

  6. This guy is amazing. His comments reprinted here and his stunt with the liquor license are great. Finally a politician who doesn’t think he has the most important job in the universe.

  7. alkali —

    Took the words right out of my mouth.

    Not that I approve, however. This idea of abstract knowledge as instrumental and modular — we hire you thinking guys to get us the stuff we already know is good — isn’t exclusively red-state by any means, but it sure shows up to a frightening degree in red-state rhetoric. From my vantage point, somewhere between People’s Park and gold rush ghost town, this guy looks rather frightening. Apparently, he doesn’t care to think about reasons for opposing gay marriage (wake up call: there just aren’t any that pass the bullshit test), and he doesn’t understand why the standard disclaimer about “a sensitive decision between a woman and her doctor” doesn’t settle the abortion conversation. Helping hard-working rural families get their smart children a leg up with good college education seems like a great idea (a sure sign of moderation in my libertarianism), but does he expect such children to grow up surrounded by the casual dismissal of well-rounded intelligence as a value?

  8. Oh, they’d probably think that he married some guy.

    Only if they saw pictures of Teraysa after the meds wore off.

  9. It’s very blue state of Ken to think that calling someone a possum pie eating hillbilly is a put down.

  10. Apparently, he doesn’t care to think about reasons for opposing gay marriage (wake up call: there just aren’t any that pass the bullshit test)

    You mean, besides “a large majority of voters oppose gay marriage”? This is a democratic republic. Politicians don’t need a reason to follow the will of the majority — they need a reason NOT to follow the will of the majority. Otherwise they don’t stay in office long.

  11. I learned in Government class that the job is part represent, part lead. They are not necessarily supposed to be mere empty vessels for the majority’s will.

    Of course, if a politician goes against that will and is not vindicated before the next election, that’s a problem.

  12. If Schweizter believes that Kerry’s “opposition” to same sex “marriage” ran any deeper than election year pandering to the electorate, then he’s a bigger rube than he believes his constituents to be.

  13. You mean Teresa’s really a chick?

  14. First two times I read through this, couldn’t stop wondering what kind of fringe independence group New Montana was.

  15. If Schweizter believes that Kerry’s “opposition” to same sex “marriage” ran any deeper than election year pandering to the electorate, then he’s a bigger rube than he believes his constituents to be.

    What was Schweizter supposed to say? “Kerry was just lying about his beliefs in order to get elected”? “He’d rather be President than be principled”? Not a smart way to earn brownie points within his party.

  16. Schweitzer strikes me as somewhat condescending toward the average voter. I hope he’s wrong.

  17. Whoops, I misunderstood the quote. The 85% line is not from Schweitzer, but the interviewer. Schweizter does not explicitly agree or disagree with the premise of the question but answers with a flippant remark about the presumptions of his state’s residence. This is better than what I thought he said, but a little less than I would expect from someone who thinks of himself as a “stand up guy”.

  18. You mean, besides “a large majority of voters oppose gay marriage”?

    The paradox being that a portion of the majority of voters who oppose gay marriage also elect the “thinkers” to do the thinking for them. As a rural red stater myself, I often see this is the case when I head down to the VFW watering hole.

  19. “You mean, besides “a large majority of voters oppose gay marriage”?”

    Too bad they don’t try to teach basic logic in Red State schools, lest they find out what an ad populum fallacy is.

  20. You could use a refresher course yourself, Akira. The ad populum fallacy has nothing to do with this at all. The ad populum fallacy is when you claim that something is correct because lots of people believe it. Nobody in this thread is making such a claim.

    The claim I did make was that majority opinion was a “non-bullshit” reason for politicians to act (or, in this case, not act). That is perfectly logical and reasonable, provided you accept the axioms “politicians want to be reelected” and “voters don’t like politicians who ignore their wishes”.

    I’m also not sure why people think that deep thought and reflection will make a person more likely to support gay marriage. There is no objective, rational case for taking one position over the other; it depends entirely on your underlying moral assumptions, your valuation of tradition, and your personal self-interest.

  21. What Dan said!

  22. I hear he also wants to promote subsidies for dental floss farmers.

    Mmmm, possum pie. Breakfast of champions.

  23. So all of you slagging Schweitzer for being “condescending” – how many votes do you think you could pull from Montana shitkickers?

  24. You condescending Bostonian.

  25. Based on your espoused politics, joe, I’m guessing that most of the folks who post on this board would pull more votes than you… Condescending or not. Probably not a lot of voters from Montana would check a box for a guy who is anti-logging but for city planning, eminent domain and gun control.

  26. True, Rob. On the other hand, I never presumed to criticize Gov. Schweitzer on his ability to relate to Montanans.

  27. joe, C’mon… You know that slagging politicians of ALL stripes is the right of all US citizens! Here at H&R it’s our bread and butter! (And I LIKE bread with butter…) Seriously, even if it’s slightly off-base, it’s usually acceptable.

    But yeah, I suspect the guy relates to Montanans pretty well. There are plenty of folks in this country who don’t object to being referred to as Joe & Mary Sixpack any more than they’d be embarassed if someone accused them of not listening to NPR.

  28. Joe would do well in Missoula, a university town to left of Beijing and in Bozeman, another “deep green” college town. He would pull a few votes in the affluent communities like Whitefish. The rich people who have bought into Montana are classic NIMBYs. They have their piece of Big Sky Country; everyone else can stay the hell out. Planners are useful for that sort of thing. Joe would do OK until he blurted something about gay marriage, gun control or public transit.

    On a more serious note, Montana has always had a balanced electorate. Mining towns like Butte and Anaconda were heavily unionized and democrat. Montana farmers vote for whoever will give them the most government money, usually democrats. The new wave of Montanans include a large number of environmentalists whose politics are dominated by the worship of the earth. The election of Schweitzer should come as no surprise in a state that elected Mike Mansfield and Jeanette Rankin. Of course, I suppose I am the only person on this thread to have eaten the famous pork chop sandwich at John’s in Butte.

  29. Opening that bar will get him far more votes than his mild condescenion on Salon will lose.

  30. Too bad they don’t try to teach basic logic in Red State schools, lest they find out what an ad populum fallacy is.

    Well, if most people don’t even know what an “ad populum fallacy” is, then it must not be very important to know about, eh? 🙂

  31. Too bad they don’t teach government in blue state schools, or they’d realize democracy is ad populum

  32. “There is no objective, rational case for taking one position over the other; it depends entirely on your underlying moral assumptions, your valuation of tradition, and your personal self-interest.”

    I doubt anyone is still paying attention to this thread, but I couldn’t let this go by. I disagree- I think the burden of explaining a rational reason is on the side of *not* allowing gay marriage, based on a presumption of liberty.

  33. “On a more serious note, Montana has always had a balanced electorate.”

    And, scarily enough, I seem to recall that Montana had the highest Constitution Party support in the last election.

  34. I doubt anyone is still paying attention to this thread, but I couldn’t let this go by. I disagree- I think the burden of explaining a rational reason is on the side of *not* allowing gay marriage, based on a presumption of liberty.

    Logically, I don’t see why either side has a “burden”, and it isn’t really clear what liberty has to do with gay marriage, but from a practical perspective the burden is on the side that wants to change the status quo.

  35. I think the burden of explaining a rational reason is on the side of *not* allowing gay marriage, based on a presumption of liberty.

    First of all, the presumption of liberty is one of the “underlying moral assumptions” I mentioned above.

    Secondly, virtually nobody in this country or any other truly adheres to that principle. For example, there is no argument for legal recognition of gay marriage that does not also apply to making it legal for a (sterile) brother and sister to marry. Yet virtually nobody on either side of the marriage debate, aside from libertarians, is willing to push for legalized incest. And the reason for that is that almost everybody has some point at which the presumption of liberty bumps up against the voice of tradition inside them that says “Ew! That shit ain’t right.”

    Thirdly, right now gay married people have the same rights and privledges as single people, but fewer rights and privledges than hetero married people. The gay marriage debate is about changing that so that gay couples have more rights than single people, and the same as hetero couples. You can’t justify that with a presumption-of-liberty argument. If all people are to be treated equally, then a married man — whether his “wife” is a man or a woman — should not enjoy rights and privledges that a single man does not.

    And that’s just it. The USA already allows gay marriage. There are plenty of gay people in America who have had a wedding ceremony and married each other. What the USA *doesn’t* do is grant them the special government benefits given to heterosexual married couples. There is a presumption of liberty. There is no presumption of entitlement. You can freely form social arrangements with whomever you please, but it does not automatically follow that you’re entitled to a place at the trough. The argument “heterosexual married couples get special treatment, so homosexual married couples should get special treatment too” is akin to saying “orange growers get government subsidies, so apple growers should too”.

  36. “For example, there is no argument for legal recognition of gay marriage that does not also apply to making it legal for a (sterile) brother and sister to marry.”

    It is understood by most people that family members have emotional and social power of each other. Allowing incestuous marriage invites abuses of power, and should be forbidden for the same reason that the government and private companies have conflict of interest rules.

    “What the USA *doesn’t* do is grant them the special government benefits given to heterosexual married couples. There is a presumption of liberty. There is no presumption of entitlement.”

    The right to marry is considered a fundamental human right by the United States government. You could just as well be saying that inter-racial couples could “marry” in the Jim Crow South, because they could have a ceremony and shack up, despite the complete lack of legal protection.

  37. The “right to marry”? Never heard of it. Must be somewhere in that list of unenumerated rights like the non-existent “right to sodomy” we discussed on the Scalia thread. There are a lot of male & female spinsters who obviously never heard of this “right to marry”…

    Isn’t it interesting how even joe succumbs to the “Ew! No WAY!” routine at some point. He dresses it up in a bunch of bogus rationalizations and pseudo-feminist rhetoric about power imbalances and potential for abuse and then wraps some Marxist theory soft-shoe around it about “government and private companies have conflict of interest rules.”

    None of that has any bearing on the fact that if two guys want to get married and there’s no coercion between them it shouldn’t be exactly the same routine for a brother and sister. But gay marriage is a “rights issue” and incestuous marriage is an “abuse issue.”

    It’s amazing how much joe sounds like all of a sudden. While Don draws the “Ewwww…” line at gay marriage, joe draws it at incestuous marriage. Frankly, I think Don’s got a stronger argument against gay marriage than joe does against incestuous marriage – but neither of them truly hold water.

    For the record, I still hold the position that regardless of whether I think something qualifies as “Ewww” I don’t think that what people do in their bedrooms or who they do it with is anyone else’s business. So is who you marry. But there’s plenty of it I find disgusting – for example, if my preferences were law Roseanne and Tom Arnold would never have been allowed to marry.

  38. rob

    You must be a RoseanneTomophobe then.

  39. While Don draws the “Ewwww…” line at gay marriage

    Actually, I tend to draw the “Ewwww…” line at gay adoption of unrelated minors (amplified if they are same sex minors). Keep it to the two adults, and I really don’t care. And you can even throw in more than two adults it you want . . .

  40. sick,

    Hey, at least I’m not a hypocrite! I’m willing to admit upfront that the thought of those 2 doing the dirty boogie horizontal mambo makes my skin crawl. But I still don’t think that gives me the right to stop them from getting married or whatever other consensual weirdness they want to do with/to one another.

  41. Don,

    I stand corrected regarding your position. My bad.

  42. rob,

    That’s quite OK. Given most of my arguments, it is understandable that you reached that conclusion. I’m not inclined to back gay marriage as long as adoption of unrelated children is part of the deal, and I don’t really see marriage as a “right” in any case (we seem to agree on the second point, which I think you made very well).

    My opinion on this does seem to label me as a homophobic reactionary, I’ve noticed. Is this really a libertarian site?

  43. That is one of Joe’s worst arguments. What about a brother and sister who were separated at birth and have never met? Or what of a mother who gives up a male child for adoption and then decides to marry him later as part of a May-December romance? Incest is not about “emotional or social power.” Incest involves genetics and culture. As noted in the following discussion, it just makes most people’s skin crawl.

    The right to reproduce is a basic “right,” but I don’t have to go to County courthouse to make a woman pregnant. Government should get out of the marriage business and stay out of the procreation business. If marriage is really a basic right, government should do nothing but avoid interfering with it.

  44. Don,

    I suspect that the “homophobic reactionary” thing comes more from how your arguments over the course of several threads were characterized rather than your actual arguments. I got suckered by that, I admit.

    I feel pretty bad about it, because it’s happened to me. I argued against affirmative action in one of my classes and the instructor tried to insinuate in the classroom that I held this position because I was a racist. I later introduced my girlfriend to the instructor (who was amongst a group of faculty I actually respected) at a party. The instructor then tried to corral my girlfriend into a corner so she could get her to dump me because I was “racist.”

    My girlfriend (who became my fiance) basically told my instructor that not only was I not a racist but that she agreed with my position on affirmative action. The instructor was AGHAST, and actually told her she must be “one of those self-hating blacks.”

    I thought for a second my girlfriend was going to ask her to step outside. Instead, my girlfriend told her that if she ever said anything that small-minded, racist and insulting in her presence again she was going to take it up with the EO folks. Just desserts indeed…

    And JOyG, I don’t know if that’s one of joe’s WORST arguments – He’s been taking some pretty severe rhetorical and logical beatings lately. (Yeah, I’m unashamedly taking every opportunity to enjoy it!) I think joe makes a decent sparring partner for several folks here when he’s not being snippy, tho…

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