May 4, 2010

IOKIYAR: A Case Study

Much has been reported in recent months about the deep distrust rock-ribbed, red-meat conservatives feel  for the government, and there have been no better poster children for the Tea Party movement than the states of Arizona and Oklahoma.  In the Sooner State, in fact, there are efforts underway to create a militia specifically tasked with resisting what is apparently perceived by some residents as tyranny on the part of the federal government in mandating health care coverage. What to make then, of recently passed laws in these two conservative strongholds that focus on, respectively, immigration and abortion?

In John McCain's home state, the most draconian anti-immigration law in modern history was signed into law last month, and anyone merely suspected of being an illegal immigrant must - not can, must - now be stopped and required to show documentation proving that they are in the country legally.  Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, direct intervention by the state into not just birth decisions by pregnant women, but medical testing and the doctor-patient relationship, has been taken to unprecedented heights.  New laws there allow doctors to withhold test results showing foetal defects, require women considering abortion to answer intrusive questions (the answers to which are posted online), mandate a vaginal ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy, and dictate that the mother listen to a detailed description of the foetus.

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, a moderate Democrat, vetoed two of these bills - the ultrasound and test results provisions - but was immediately overridden by the Oklahoma Legislature on the former.  Only the intervention of Judge Noma Gurich, who signed an agreement stopping the law in order to provide time to hold a hearing on complaints about the new requirements, prevented it from going into effect immediately.

So, here we have two deeply red states, out of which has spouted considerable vitriol about government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, effectively legalizing unreasonable searches and doing everything possible to impose what amount to conservative religious beliefs on women.  How does one reconcile a belief in individual liberty with support for laws that directly assault personal freedom?

As it happens, the non-partisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press released the results of a study on attitudes among Americans toward government.  Compiled using data from decades of surveys, it is very interesting reading, but one point in particular stands out in stark relief:
Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge. 
In other words, Democrats have a somewhat more favorable view of government when "their guy" is in the White House; Republicans, meanwhile, who espouse a core belief in limited government and personal liberty, demonstrate a veritable swoon of approval when the President is from the GOP.  To illustrate the disparity further, consider that  Democrats trusted Ronald Reagan every bit as much as they did Bill Clinton, but there isn't a single modern Democratic chief executive whom Republicans accord the trust they shower on their own.

Out in the wilds of the web is a shorthand expression:  IOKIYAR  - "It's OK If You're A Republican."  Previously, this could be dismissed as mere internet snark, but what the new laws in Arizona and Oklahoma demonstrate - and which the Pew Research data supports - is that the GOP only dislikes government as an intrusive institution when someone else is in charge.  When they hold the reins of power, Republicans appear  more than happy to support state intervention into the lives of others.


Esteev said...

Great post. May want to darken the lettering a bit. My head hurts.

PBI said...


Thanks for stopping by - glad you liked the post!

Interesting feedback on the color scheme - it's a complaint I haven't had before. I'll see what I can do...


Linda said...

Don't any of these Tea-Party, lunatic fringe have jobs?? OH Yeah, they all love and except their Government assistance that they love to hate.

Shade Tail said...

Have to agree with esteev. I already had an incipient migraine, and the color-scheme has made it slightly worse. Particularly the graphic containing the trust in government poll results; scrolling down and seeing that was like a sudden strobe light. I can handle black-text-on-white easily, but white-on-black hurts.

Kpomeroy said...

Actually, persons with limited sight have a much easier time with the white-on-black scheme than vice versa.

Anyway, IOKYAR is certainly in full bloom everywhere - and I think it is just a genetic trait of the Republicans. Even when they are confronted with their hypocrisy they claim that the situations are different even when they are essentially identical. (Shoe bomber vs Underpants bomber !)

I read a discussion blog once where it was postulated that Republicans are actually born that way - fearful, dogmatic, etc. Babies that have a pronounced "startle" reaction - they cry loudly and long after a new sound or something - generally grow up to be Republicans. Babies without this response - they may jerk back, cry for a moment, but then start wanting to look around and explore - generally grow up to be Dems/Progressives.

This goes a long way to explain why you really cannot talk to the Repubs about anything - they are really from a different planet.

PBI said...

Sounds like I need to take a serious look at my color scheme - will definitely do so.

Kpomeroy - That's a really intriguing subject for a study, although it strikes me as difficult to track over the necessary time and in enough volume to make the results statistically significant. Would love to read it if you happen to come across a link to it!

Grip said...

PBI - seriously? You really buy into the 'born that way' idea that was 'postulated on a discussion blog' has any merit? I continue to be amazed at the complete lack of ability to dig deeper into the ideas/concerns of the 'other side' - and this goes both ways. 100% right/100% wrong approaches are EXACTLY what prohibits our ability to solve anything.

Continuing to name-call and degrade your opponents may be loads of fun, but only drives the wedge in even further. BTW - I fail to understand why exactly I am a racist because I believe government spending is out of control, particularly since I have felt this way for many, many years.


PBI said...


Easy big fella! Please re-read my comment; I said it’s an intriguing idea that there might be a genetic predisposition but also that I think there are some obvious pitfalls with trying to substantiate such a proposition. I’d still very much like to read it, with an eye toward being able to speak to the idea when it comes up, as I’m almost certain it will again. Please don’t attribute the opinions of comenters here to me!

I’m definitely not hanging my hat on the nature versus nurture argument, and I am more concerned with actions today. The Pew Research Center is pretty well respected, and the data they have accumulated around trust in government is based on self-reported survey information. I certainly don’t believe either side is 100% correct or incorrect. I can tick off several things about the Obama Administration that I think are completely wrong, off the top of my head: Continuing to award offshore drilling waivers in the wake of the BP Gulf spill; continuing and extending Bush Administration infringements on civil liberties; failing to push for a public health care option; not repealing DADT, etc.

I also am not sure who I have called names, and I have certainly never called you a racist. No one is a racist because they want lower government spending, but there is certainly grounds for deep suspicion that race plays a role in the Tea Party movement when Bush was funding two entire wars off budget - while cutting taxes no less – and there wasn’t a single, solitary peep from anyone on the Republican side, except for maybe Ron Paul. Suddenly, there’s a black man in the Oval Office, and not only are there frothingly angry protests, complete with some people showing up at Obama events carrying guns, but signs like these prominently displayed. I agree that government spending is too high, and that we should be cutting back, but I also think that military spending ought to be every bit the target that social, education and environmental programs are.

I don’t believe that all or probably even most Tea Partiers are racist, but the fact is that it’s a movement that is about 90% white (see here) and there is a very noticable racist element within it. Further, a stunning lack of comprehension about actual current tax status (cuts for about 95% of all Americans) as well as who actually drove the deficit (see here from the Libertarian Cato Institute, no less) is rife within the Tea Party movement. As a result, it’s difficult for me to take Teabaggers seriously on a lot of issues when there is an obviously significant – or at least vocal – element that clearly doesn’t know what it’s talking about, and is just taking marching orders from Glenn Beck.

Finally, I apologize if this comes across as harsh, but the politics of division’s modern era certainly didn’t originate with me or with Democrats, and I have very vivid memories of being ridiculed (not by you) when I worked in Kansas City for stating that the PATRIOT Act went too far, that warrantless government surveillance was a problem, and that the invasion of Iraq was both illegal and a huge mistake. So you’re correct – two wrongs don’t make a right, but neither does one. Be that as it may, however, my purpose in writing posts here is to point out hypocisy where I see it with an aim toward getting people to talk facts on a level playing field.

I would hope that I have personally demonstrated my worldview and approach to you on a number of occasions – I believe I have called you “a reasonable conservative” in the past – but you have my sincere apologies if you feel that I have personally insulted you. That was not, and never will be, my intent.