Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


"Bipolar America"

That was the collective title of two reviews of three books in yesterday’s New York Times. All deal with the rightward shift of the Republican party and the destruction of its moderate wing. Michael Kinsley’s review of Thomas Frank’s Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right asks: what causes so many working-class people to vote against their own interests? The same thing that always has, I thought: big money and the race card. But Timothy Noah’s review of Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson’s The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, rattled my self-satisfied mind. Tea Partiers, it seems, want to do away with all entitlements . . . except their own. The reflexively oppose all new taxes . . . except those levied on other people. How unconscionably selfish, I thought, until I realized they weren’t so different from me. I know we need entitlement reform . . . but Medicare is the best health insurance policy I have ever had (of course, I’ve never been in Congress), and social security is a safety net. We need reform . . . but this was a promise. These are not isolated thoughts. As a committed environmentalist, I have reduced my footprint . . . but not quite to the point of inconvenience. I abhor what is happening in our inner cities . . . but I lock my car doors when I drive through them. I am not as self-sufficient as I think I am. I need more inconvenience . . . and to unlock the doors.