I always associated terms of abuse with the Left. In fact, that’s one of the things that turned me off to the Left, years ago. They could not speak without generalization, categorization, and denunciation. The “rich,” the “bourgeoisie,” and all that.
These days, I’m associating terms of abuse with the Right. The right-wing lexicon of abuse has grown exponentially in recent times. “Establishment,” “RINO,” “K Street,” “Chamber of Commerce,” “Wall Street,” “cuck,” “donor class,” “consultant class,” etc.
I have long been wary of “class.” The Left wielded this word constantly, and I was more inclined to think of people as individuals.
I thought of this the other day, because, in this election cycle, I’ve met a few donors. And, you know? They tend to be lovely, earnest, patriotic people. People who are deeply concerned about the direction of the country. People who have decided to spend some of their money supporting a candidate they think can do good.
Years ago, I heard George Will say that Americans spend all too little on politics. This startled me, because the general line was that there was far too much money in politics. Will said, “No, we spend more on yogurt than we do on politics.” I’ve never forgotten that example: yogurt.
At some point, “donor” acquired an odor. I guess you like the donors to the candidate you like, and hate the donors to a candidate you don’t like. Anyway, donors are individuals. And they may be spending their money for darn good reason.
Let me say this, as a rightie: What’s more admirable? To spend money to reverse the Obama nightmare and save America or to spend it on a new kitchen or something? I’m all for new kitchens. I’m also for the election of conservatives to office.
I’m a donor — I’ve given to Ted Cruz (an old friend and, obviously, my candidate for prez). Am I part of the despicable “donor class”? Well, so be it. Come and get me, copper.
More and more, I return to the fundamentals. (“The fundamental things apply,” goes an old song.) How did I arrive at my views in the first place? I hated the thoughtless, mean categorization of people — “donors” — and preferred to think of them as individuals. For good or ill.
“Consultant class.” I guess you hate the consultants to the candidates you don’t like, and don’t mind the consultants to the candidate you like. Very human.
It goes without saying that we must have labels and generalizations. (I wrote an essay about this once, here. Come to think of it, here’s another one.) We could not speak without labels and generalizations. We would be mute or sputtering. But we can try to curb promiscuity in the use of these things.
One more observation — about “Wall Street” and “the banks” and “Goldman Sachs.” For reasons I could explain, I sat down with a bigwig from Goldman Sachs about a month ago. It was obvious that he was a man of exceptional decency, intelligence, and patriotism.
When I was in college, I just hated the scalding, dehumanizing talk of the Left. I don’t like it from the Right much either. Between “Occupy” and some of our own — there’s not much difference.