In today's modern atmosphere of political correctness, people who use stereotypes are attacked and disparaged every day. People forget, however, that stereotypes are almost always based on a kernel of truth, either real or perceived.
For example, blondes may not in actual fact be stupider than anyone else, but Western popular culture views blondes as more sexy than brunettes. Anyone who's ever been to high school knows of some blonde babe who is actually perfectly intelligent but finds it to her advantage to act ditzy so as to make herself even more attractive to men, thus giving rise to the stereotype of the dumb blonde. Indeed, men often do find that attractive - giving rise to quite another, different stereotype.
As ubiquitous as they are, stereotypes are not fixed in stone for all time. We may think of the French as being "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" today, but two hundred years ago that was only half true: cheese-eating they may have been, but surrender monkeys the armies of Napoleon most definitely were not. Even as recently as 1914, French General Ferdinand Foch could say with all seriousness in a military report:
Hard pressed on my right. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver. Situation excellent. I am attacking.
The end result: glorious victory on the Marne and the salvation of France from ignominious and abrupt defeat.
What has happened to that spirit of elan? Wherever it may be found, it's not in modern France.
An out-of-date stereotype can be extremely dangerous. In 1941, most Westerners thought of Japanese as funny little yellow men in odd clothes, more amusing than anything else. Shortly thereafter, our astounded soldiers found them instead to be inhumanly disciplined, determined, and brutal warriors, who planned meticulously and were equipped with technology far superior to our own. A little more respect and realism beforehand would have saved countless American lives in the early days of the war in the Pacific.
For at least a hundred years, the Democratic Party has managed to establish stereotypes favorable to themselves: the Republican Party as the party of the wealthy and of big business versus the Democratic Party as the party of the working man and "little guy."
This stereotype is so thoroughly ingrained as to no longer even be defended; it's assumed, and appealed to by reference. Of course we the Democrats are "the people vs. the powerful." Of course we the Democrats can be trusted to enable a leg up, rather than grind you back down into the mud. It's those Republican tycoons in their limousines that want you to work for pennies in harsh conditions!
Nothing could be further from the truth; in fact, the truth is more nearly opposite.
According to USA Today, a historic change in reality has taken place:
Democratic members of the House of Representatives now represent most of the nation's wealthiest people, a sharp turnaround from the long-standing dominance that Republicans have held over affluent districts... The Democratic-controlled House is now an unusual combination of the richest and poorest districts, the best and least educated, and the best and the worst insured.
Far from the beloved lefty trope of "Billionaires for Bush," the reality is that billionaires preferred Barack! This was somewhat visible in the last election, with George Soros, Warren Buffet, and of course the Hollywood elites all coming out on the Democratic side. Now USA Today has given us proof that this trend is more widespread than a few big names; it is a real and substantive phenomenon.
What, though, do the very rich and the very poor have in common? The answer is a strange one: they are both not moving. They are the exact opposite of "progressive," that favorite word of what most people know as liberals.
Think about it: America's welfare-captivated underclass is trapped in an ongoing, multi-generational cycle of poverty. The best indicator of being a single mother on welfare is yourself having had a mother who was single and on welfare.
Government's replacement of fathers by an official check has made it both difficult and rare for individuals to lift themselves and their families into the ranks of the middle, or even working classes. Being on welfare may not be a luxurious existence, but it's a perfectly viable way of life for those who would rather not take responsibility for their own well-being.
The poor aren't going anywhere in life except to the mailbox once a month. In a strange way, the rich are similar: they don't want to go anywhere. They have already arrived!
If you're Bill Gates, how exactly could life be improved for you? Well, OK, to be appointed Emperor for Life of the World maybe. But realistically, he has everything he could possibly ever want. Same for Warren Buffett, most of Hollywood, and on down the list quite a ways.
Most people can live a perfectly comfortable, satisfying life in possession of a fortune of $10 million. Sure, there's the occasionally super-aggressive sort who really wants to become a billionaire, but past a certain point, the vast majority of human beings will figure, what's the need to keep working hard? I'll enjoy what I've already got!
When you make that decision, when you are no longer concerned with increasing your holdings, you now have a new concern: that of not losing what you already have. That is not at all the same thing as wanting more.
Someone who wants to better themselves is going to get education, get experience, work hard, and if at all possible, come up with something new and profitable: a new product, a new business method, a new trend or fad.
Someone who is already rich wants none of that: anything new will, more likely than not, destroy the value that already belongs to them. The coming of the Internet was not good for rich people who owned shares in AT&T. The coming of online shopping was not good for rich people who owned shares in Sears, nor was the rise of Wal-Mart.
What unifies both ends of the Democratic party - the rich as well as the poor - is a desire for, or at least acceptance of, a stagnant economy. For a lazy person who gets an adequate welfare check and doesn't want to have to work, and for a rich man who is already all set, any change is more likely to harm than to help.
Life and economics is all about change, so the problem is, how can change be stopped? Simple: by the force of an all-powerful and all-intrusive government.
Is that not exactly what we've seen from Obama's economic team, who saved the existing and incompetent banks, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, et cetera ad nauseum? A proper capitalistic system would have let these failed companies die in bankruptcy to be replaced by newer entrants who do things a different, more successful way. That would have harmed those already in power, though, so it could not be permitted.
If Democrats are mostly the very rich and very poor, who is left? The vast middle classes, and the one thing that most characterizes the American middle class is a desire to improve themselves: to gain more wealth, more property, more toys, a better education for their children than they themselves had, and so on. They want change; they want new opportunities and new ideas ideas.
If America's economy is locked in place, these people will be frustrated and imprisoned even if their standards of life are better than those of the welfare class - because in their hearts they want more, and they know they're capable of it.
Someone who believes that their future should hold better things, who wants to be rewarded for the efforts they are making and have yet to make, does not want a government locking things down. They want the maximum freedom for themselves, economically and politically; they do not want a world where only the well-connected can get ahead. They become an entrepreneur and found a small business, which has been the root of America's economy as long as we've been a nation.
The Republican party is the party of business, true, but not the party of big business. Big businesses don't want change, and as we've seen over the last year, will gladly and voluntarily imprison themselves in a golden governmental cage.
Small businesses want government out of the way so they can compete on their own merits; the last thing an incompetent and unwieldy bureaucracy like General Motors, Bank of America, or you-name-the phone company wants to do is have to fight against smaller, more nimble and imaginative rivals. All business is not equal: actually, big businesses have more in common with government bureaucracies than with small startups.
In contrast to both the ambitious go-getters and the lazy welfare leeches, there are very deeply risk-averse people who do want to work, but are satisfied with the minimum comforts of a dead-end job and who would exchange the possibility of advancement for the security of never being fired. These people go into government employment or join a union.
A union member or civil servant cannot advance faster than anyone else no matter how good they are or how hard they work, but also can't easily be fired no matter how lazy or incompetent they might be. Once ensconced in a union or government job, you can just gently slide right along through life, collecting an adequate but not lavish paycheck, right on into a comfortable retirement, mostly undisturbed by any potential disruptions.
Except, that is, if your employer goes bankrupt or a crusading politician decides to downsize the bureaucracy. Is it any wonder that union members and government employees vote overwhelmingly for Democrats who vow to prevent either of those unhappy circumstances?
The mantra of the 2008 election was "Change"! The nice thing about that word is it can mean anything at all.
For the vast American middle classes, the Change they were looking for was an end to the recession which always comes eventually anyway. For the far left, their preferred Change was an end to the shakeups and changes of the Bush administration. Really, what they wanted was a return to the liberal, statist consensus of LBJ and the 1960s, minus the war. Change, yes, in a way, but not really Progress.
That's precisely what we're getting from the Obama administration - as last fall's amusing radio ad put it, "failed policies of a bygone era." LBJ and the 1960s led inevitably to Jimmy Carter, malaise and 1970s stagflation; we are now trodding precisely the same well-worn path, only more quickly this time.
Barack Obama's opinion ratings have been plummeting faster than any previously recorded president's, despite the unanimous and incessant applause of the entire elite and mainstream media structure.
Why? Because middle America is beginning to realize that the Change they voted for is not the Change they're getting - and the final result will be an end to positive changes entirely.