20 November 2013
Drugs and Republican hypocrisy
Whenever a Republican is caught in any sort of morals scandal, Democrats gloat. It's true the other way around, too, but while a morals scandal involving a Democrat tends to confirm the Republican view of Democrats, a Republican morals scandal always provokes cries of hypocrisy, as if Democrats and their sympathizers really expect Republicans to conform to the stereotype that portrays them as joyless, bible-bound ascetics. It might be argued that each new scandal, like Rep. Radel of Florida's arrest for buying cocaine, confirms a view of Republicans as essentially hypocritical instead of fanatically moralistic, but hypocrisy is nearly universal in politics. Marxist-Leninists vow to liberate the working class, but have tended historically to subject them to forced labor. Democrats claim the champion the little guy but curry favor with Wall Street. It comes with politics and the difference between what you have to say to win popular support and what you have (if not want) to do when you have power. With the North American right wing -- counting Rob Ford of Toronto in the discussion -- it's arguably more a case of double standards than one of hypocrisy. Drugs are bad if you're a damn lazy hippie or a ghetto welfare cheat, but if you're a hard-charging go-getter, as Republicans (and their Canadian counterparts) presume themselves to be, then neither drugs nor booze should be a problem. A case often made against drugs is that they turn people into losers, but a Republican may not be deterred by that rhetoric because they know they aren't losers. There's something almost antinomian about this attitude, if it exists; if you're of the elect, you can get away with things that mere sinners can't. Rep. Radel isn't going to say any such thing right now, though you never know what Ford might assert, but I suspect that, at bottom, people like them feel they've earned a right, or have a justified need to indulge that others, who might call them hypocrites, haven't. That mentality doesn't automatically make you a Republican or a right-winger, but you can see why those groups may find that attitude agreeable. The fact that other forms of hypocrisy exist elsewhere doesn't excuse this particular kind. If Republicans want to cry double standards today, that's fine. Let's criticize everybody, and maybe we can work toward a single standard by which we can judge everyone equally without ideology or ego getting in the way.