John Walker's Electronic House

Goodies And Baddies – Why Republicans Should Embrace The Dark Side

by on Sep.01, 2012, under The Rest

I’ve been joking on Twitter today about certain people being baddies, and how much easier life would be if we’d all accept this and commit to our roles. It’s obviously a massively over-simplified and silly idea, but it’s the parodic distillation of the thought I keep having every time the news reports that Russia and China have vetoed yet another UN attempt at intervention in Syria. That it’s been left up to the likes of William Hague to have to call out these governments, while the news outlets report it with their delusion of “balance”, is a pretty worrying sign. I really do think it would be a lot better if the media just acknowledged what we all know is true – that the Russian and Chinese governments are baddies, and the Syrian regime are baddies, so of course they’re going to stick together.

The obvious flaw with such a comment is that it implies that the other side therefore must be “goodies”. If only it were true, and it’s obviously not the case. But I think we can say quite unequivocally that, for instance, Putin’s regime are proper baddies, and we need to stop pretending otherwise. Surely we’d get a lot further a lot more quickly.

What’s perhaps more peculiar is the Republican party in the United States. The USA is a deeply, deeply weird nation, over 300,000,000 people somehow almost exactly split down the middle in terms of which of two sides they’re on. There are two parties who offer presidential candidates with a realistic chance of winning, and you have to pick one of them. There’s no nuance, there’s no middle ground. You either pick the man in the centre, or the man on the extreme right. (Even more so than in the UK, there’s no notion of a left wing option, with one side calling the other side “socialist” as an insult while the other side desperately protests that they’re not.) And with this bisecting of the country and its politics, it’s become deeply tribal. Not North/South as it once was, but Outside/Inside. When there’s one side or the other to pick, and nothing offering a position that sits between the two, both sides are inevitably going to become caricatures of themselves, and part of that has been to quite defiantly choose between being a Goodie or a Baddie.

My concern is that Republicans just aren’t willing to acknowledge they’ve chosen the position of Baddie. But it’s not ambiguous! Using the increasingly feeble excuse of a Bible they simply cannot have read (or understood), they are about exclusion and hate. Sure, sure, they don’t like those terms. But it’s now reached the point where it’s silly not to just embrace the reality. They hate gay people (“Oh no, we don’t hate gay people, we just hate what they do and how they live and what they say!”), they hate poor people, they hate foreign people. Of course they do! This isn’t a party that tries to hush these aspects up, like the Conservative party does in the UK. In the UK Cameron and his toffs like to pretend they think the homo-gentlemens and ladies are simply spiffy, and the poor people just need a bit of help pulling their socks up, while doing everything they can to ignore it all. But the Republicans paint it right on their banners, and shout it from their podiums. They won’t allow the evils of committed gay couples to damage the institution of marriage! They won’t let 14 year old rape victims have abortions! They’ll scrap any effort to provide free healthcare to the poor! They’ll kick out all the “illegals” who mow their lawns and plump their pillows! That they stop short of staring into the camera as their eyes turn red is something of a surprise. These messages of hate, hate for people who aren’t them, are at the forefront of their campaigning, their policies, and their dialogue.

And of course I say all this with the luxury of also not being a Democrat. I’m British! I don’t have to pick a side in the pantomime jousting match. I don’t believe that the Democrats are great, nor that they have all the answers, nor that they will make everything right. Of course they won’t – they’re a political party rife with corruption and criminality, nudging ever further into the Centre-Right to win over small-c conservatives, too afraid to actually oppose the worst of the Republican evil. They don’t loudly campaign on equal rights for LGBT Americans, and they don’t admit that American infrastructure would collapse without illegal immigration. But at least they don’t boast about hating everyone involved in their manifestos. I mean, that’s something.

But right now the Republicans are in this increasingly farcical position of utter denial, and it’s just making the discussions unproductive, and hugely decreasing the chances of actual political discourse. Today I’ve been receiving a few of the most incredibly tepid responses from Republicans, objecting to my tweet in which I suggested it was rather sad to watch Clint Eastwood losing an argument with an empty chair. Rather than just telling me they hate me, which is only ever left implied, instead it’s peculiar attempts at condescension, assuring me that it was actually very funny and clever, and I just didn’t get it. This is a skit in which Eastwood suggests, without irony, that Obama made a stupid decision when he chose to invade Afghanistan.

Of course study after study shows that Republican voters, on average, have a lower IQ than Democrats. And, as is devastatingly often noticed, the poorest people tend to be far more likely to vote for the party that most hates them, and most wants them to remain poor. I’m not suggesting that everyone who supports the Republicans is bad – of course not. Some are misinformed, ill-educated, or grow up in states where no other worldview is ever offered. Others are rich, and want to stay rich, or simply want to get rich, and they actually are pretty bad. But when you side with baddies, you are a baddie. And I’m saying, just embrace that. Take it on board. It’s silly to pretend otherwise, and once we can get that cleared up, we can start having much more productive discourse.


10 Comments for this entry

  • Dylan

    John –

    I’m a big fan of your writings (games and otherwise) and quite enjoyed this piece. That said, I was a little confused about you trotting out the “Republicans have lower IQ than Democrats” factoid. From reading the abstracts, neither of your linked studies seem to confirm this (they’re behind a paywall, so I can’t read the full thing), and I haven’t elsewhere encountered a solid one that did.

    Even if it was true, I’m not sure how valuable that would be, given that I think we as a society have moved on from IQ (which essentially measures processing speed and certain types of task-completion) as some sort of ultimate measure of intelligence. It certainly doesn’t measure critical thinking (however one defines that term), which it seems to me is the more relevant metric when dealing with political ideology. Just because I’m a math wiz doesn’t me I can easily sort bad information from good information.

    I’m not trying to take measly potshots in an attempt to undermine your article (as I said, I quite enjoyed it) but this did leap out at me.

  • Ian

    First off I know that this is tongue in cheek and I enjoyed it a lot. That said, it may be interesting to run with the ‘baddies’ thing and see where it takes us.

    There are, as I see it, two areas of republican policy. One is that which you highlighted – the gay hating, xenophobic, bible-misquoting, moron side. That it definitely the domain of the baddies. However the other side is much less clear. They seem to earnestly believe that if you slash tax rates for the richest, cut the minimum wage, gut pensions and healthcare, and basically do everything you can to consolidate money into a tiny few people and corporations then it will ‘trickle down’ and make everything better somehow. Now without commenting on whether this is true, total fantasy or actual evil deception, these are individually the moves of the baddies but in order to try and be a goody.

    This is, I suspect, why your call will go unheeded. Gay hating aside, they think they are the goodies!

  • km

    What gets me lately is the new news phrase of “factual shortcuts” or misrepresentations or misspeaking. I would prefer we just go back to calling these “lies” or “incorrect statements” or “damn, he just said something really stupid/hateful.”

  • Jambe

    This is a pedantic response to your nice article, but I find it interesting, and you may as well:

    In the 2008 election, 132,645,504 voted from a voting-age population of 231,229,580 (the total US population is some 314 million).

    Anyway, I realize you’re more-or-less caricaturing America, but many centrist Democrats and Republicans share like 90% or more of their views, and we’ve a significant portion of moderates (reds, blues, independents, greens, etc) who are all over the map. Even the two dominant parties are fractious; e.g. there are loads of anti-subsidized healthcare, pro-war, anti-gay Democrats in the south and there are many pro-gay, anti-war, pro-health Republicans in the northeast.

    The commonest failing point of people (especially Americans, funnily enough) critiquing American politics is the notion that it was ever better, fairer, more straightforward, more earnest, etc in the past. It really wasn’t. It was always shitty, and in fact, it’s been far shittier in the recent past than it is now. That our politics (especially at the federal level) is a gross melange of nuts dancing around a conservative (in Euro terms), Bible-quoting, individualism-centered standard is merely a reflection of the fact that the average American is all of those things. We have a wide and varied enough population, though, that the (numerous) people at the edges of this continuum can be pretty far from it indeed, so national politics necessarily involves an absurd level of pandering and bs.

    tbh, if I had the power to change one thing about our politics, it would be to erase the “gay marriage” issue entirely. In fact, erase government recognition of “marriage” altogether. Let the government issue “civil unions” to any adult couples and associate that union with all the rights and benefits currently shared by “married couples” in whatever jurisdiction, and let religious institutions (or any random schmoe or dog or my left buttcheek) deal with “marriage”. What a boring waste of time. That we have the First Amendment and this whole stupid debate is infuriating. Ugh.

  • Novack

    I follow your writings with interest.

    But this one… did you really called Russia, China and Syria “baddies” from trying to stop US & UK from invading YET ANOTHER country?

    I cant recognize any particular sarcastic tone, so Im afraid Im lost.

  • Nick Mailer

    Novack: I shudder at your simplistic idiocy. I actually shudder. I hope John does too.

  • mister k

    Novak.. Russia has vetoed the UN imposing economic sanctions, not millitary intervention, which neither the US or the UK are particularly enthusiastic about for reasonably pragmatic reasons.

    When Russia and China veto putting sanctions against a regime which has demonstrably commited horrendous crimes against its own citizens I’m not quite sure what you do call them.

  • John Walker

    Yes, they are baddies for trying to prevent the rest of the UN from intervening as a dictator attempts to slaughter his own people. I hope that’s clear now.

  • Fast Eddie

    Novak’s question is a good one. Regardless of the actual arguments regarding Syria, there is at least a discussion to be had on the subject. Breaking things down into Goodies v Baddies is a way of censuring discussion… particularly because everyone sees themselves as the Goodies

    (John touched on this last bit when he acknowledged the inherent silliness of considering Hague and the Tories to be the Goodies)

    So when Nick Mailer “shudders” at the “simplistic idiocy” of even questioning where Western media/politicians have drawn the Good/Bad line… well, it’s just another example of shutting down a discussion through caricaturisation. When your ‘opponent’ (and in a Good/Bad dichotomy they are opponents) is inherently Bad then it relieves you from having to engage with, or at the very least appreciate the nuances of, their position

    It’s a dead end. I disagree with almost all the Republican positions but to write them off as some sort of Hollywood villains – the equivalent of Captain Planet baddies who hijack an oil-tanker simply to crash it onto a beach – ignores that the positions exist and are popular. Understanding why that is the case involves far more than dismissing them as ‘baddies in disguise’ or, bizarrely, the product of low voter IQ

    Denying the possibility of an alternative vision that conflicts with your own worldview isn’t just silly, it’s arrogant. Almost like something the Bad Guys would do…

  • Novack


    But I see a lack of context in the answers that is more scary than anything else.

    They are bad as they veto sanctions. WHAT?! Isnt the purpose of the UN to avail other positions, opinions and perspectives other than yours?

    And what are your standards? US and UK invaded Irak after the UN pronounced against it!

    And the dictatorship slaughters… Oh my! Don’t you see, after so many years, the clear patterns? They want to invade a country. Sure. All it takes is a year or so of media propaganda of the “baddies” killing people.

    They are baddies. The pain of the people who suffer the sanctions, and the killing that comes with the wars… oh, thats acceptable. After all you’re there to “liberate” them.

    Yeah, go ahead guys. The whole world is black and white. And you’re the obviously morally superior western cowboys that will make the world a better place. And better for the world not to resist.

    @Fast Eddie, thanks very much for coming in. Glad to see someone looking at it from a wider angle.

    I actually went pretty demotivated by staying argumenting here after the insults.

    I can wait for argument derailing, trolling and insults on gaming forums, but didnt expected them here, much less to be suported by John. I guess is his blog, he does whatever he wants, but Im not expecting to pass around that much anymore :)