As long as people will accept crap, it will be financially profitable to dispense it.- Dick Cavett

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Progressivism Is Failing Itself

We're still talking about birthers. Articles about them continually pop up on HuffPo, along with any number of other progressive websites. They are so tenacious in their delusion that the black guy is from Africa, that the state of Hawaii is considering a law that would charge them for a peek at Obama's (clearly forged) birth certificate. Just to blunt the constant stream of the birthers dogged sleuthing.

That we're still obligated to discuss the comings and goings of this group of people who find the present so unacceptable they've created a shadow world, is bad enough. But if you read past the articles themselves you find something much worse in the comment sections: We're still debating the birthers.

Oh sure, we're kicking their asses. We've got logic and fact on our side, and we know just what to say, because we've been having this debate for two years now. We damn well ought to be able to win that argument. So why in the world are we still having the argument at all?

Since George W. Bush ran for the office of President of the United States of America, a position he was comically unqualified to hold, progressives have been losing ground in America. That this preppie fool, this faux cowboy who was an abject failure at every single thing he ever attempted, was allowed to be battering-rammed through the doors of the oval office, should have been a massive red flag to progressives everywhere. How much clearer an indication could we have been given that we were being shouldered out of the process?

We were sneering, amused; more than prepared to debate the issues with this fumbling boob and his followers. And that's when they had us cold.

Because the G.O.P. couldn't have cared less about the facts. They had become a product, and they were no longer interested in winning debates, they only cared about winning elections. How often over the last decade have you heard a Republican strategist or pundit use the word 'branding'?

The Powers-That-Be stopped looking for politicians they could groom and began choosing mascots; amiable-seeming characters vetted by focus groups and taught to read the script. Bush wasn't a politician as much as he was a logo, or a corporate image. He, and most subsequent high-profile Repubs have little more substance than Aunt Jemima, Twinkie the Kid, or Ronald McDonald.

They are little more than a representation of some ideals that corporations believe enough Americans will embrace to 'further the brand'. Bush was a product of prep-schools and the Ivy league, born a billionaire and raised on the east coast, he was given the trappings and persona of a cowboy.

It's tempting to digress (even more) here, and compare all the other similarities between W. and Twinkie the Kid, but you get the point.

Republicans are successfully supplanting imagery for actual politicians. Sarah Palin, for example, is such a carefully crafted and obsessively managed creation, there should be a five note jingle that plays every time she appears on-screen.

Facts, even obvious realities, are meaningless in this context. Like the CEO's of the corporations that are now very much in charge could tell you; perception IS reality.

McDonald's is a hamburger restaurant that has 169 franchise stores in India. They just don't sell beef in those stores. And that's good enough. News Corp. spends money, time, and effort frightening their base about the dangers of communism, but they have massive dealings with the government of China...They even have partnered with North Korea in the development of video games.

It no longer matters what you know, at least regarding political debate. Facts are obsolete in the current conversation.

That's why you can spend two years winning the birther debate, and still lose the mid-terms. The G.O.P. isn't creating new ideas. Everything they bring to public discourse has already been proven wrong, even dangerous to democracy. They're still selling Reagonomics, even as the crater the economy is in, is still smoking from the free ride we've allowed corporate America.

But mainly what they are doing is keeping the left engaged in culture wars, that have no place in 21st century dialogue at all, and unquestionably does not belong in current political discussion.

Abortion, religious freedom, basic human rights for American citizens, have somehow found their way back into the conversation. It's a calculated effort on the part of the right to otherwise engage us, while they ransack and embezzle what little remains of the U.S. economy.

And we're buying into it; it's been a successful strategy. We're liberals, for the most part, on the left. We're empathetic and we really believe in the ideals we were taught; All Men Are Created Equal.

That's why when they use 'christian values' to discriminate against the LBGT community, we rush into the debate. That's why when they try to portray schoolteachers as greedy government cheats, we respond with outrage.

It's the reason we google NBC/Universal and ABC/Disney's holdings, when someone tells us about liberal bias in the media. We arm ourselves with facts, and history, and we stop what we're doing to prove that the things we are saying are right.

And we continue to lose ground.

Because we are progressives; we progress. At any given moment, if we are not progressing we are surely losing ground. When we engage in debate over civil rights, or the importance of education, or healthcare, or over the existence of the birth cretificate of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR GOD'S SAKE, we are losing.

I once spent a good deal of time debating conservatives on a political website. For far too long, I answered the same arguments with the same answers, over and over. Often, to the same people. Finally it struck me that, no matter how witty my responses were, regardless of how urbane, or stark, or easily provable my points were, I was losing every argument.

Because these people don't give a hoot in hell about facts. They are either the same people who believe that W. was a cowboy, and that their cookies are made by elves in a hollow tree, or else they're the people who make their money by convincing your fellow Americans of those things.

They are speedbumps. They have been put in your pathway, for the sole purpose of slowing your progress. If you are against progressivism as a philosophy, or a political force, every speedbump is a victory. Every impediment they can throw up, is a win.

The right is now made up almost entirely of people who believe in the 'American Dream', that carrot on a stick that says that they too, can have it all. So don't let the left steal the fortune you're surely going to have, to pay for the things you need right now.

I haven't watched a lot of American Idol, but I've seen enough to realize that every single person who auditions, truly believes they're going to be the winner. Like dickensian orphans, they're waiting for their benevolant, wealthy , real family to recognize them and whisk them away to their opulent birthright. It doesn't matter how off-key or jolting their voice may be, they know in their heart they deserve a title.

Like those hopeful crooners, much of the American right is blithely waiting their turn to become millionaires and they don't want the socialist left ruining it for them, when it happens. Or else they are cultural warriors, sad dreamers and zealots who have been hypnotized into believing in an idyllic past that never was, but could be again, if only gays don't marry and no black people are better off then they are. And if every fetus grows up to believe that Jesus wants to destroy all Muslims

But we already know that's all bullshit. We've already fought, and won these wars. Americans have fought and died for decades to win those rights that we accept as the very minimum standard of what if means to be 'free'.

It profanes the memory of the human beings who fought and died to procure those rights to debate their value now. We have overcome.

America stands on the brink of a plutocracy. Billionaires have filled our government with silly insincere spokescreatures, to take away any of the money we may have retained after they have cheated us into wars and personal bankruptcies. Now more than ever we need to find solutions to break the starnglehold they have on our democracy, and right the ship of state.

We can no longer waste valuable time squabbling with fools and imposters over birth certificates and teachers paychecks. Progressives have to sweep these strawmen, these 'issues' off the table once and for all. We have allowed the least of us to air their thoughts and we have learned again they have no ideas to offer.

We need to meet the real problems, address the real enemies. Time is too precious now, to continue the conceit that every voice is valuable. Every time you repeat an argument to someone on the right, they have taken you off course. We waste our resources and we waste our breath too often answering echoes.


  1. Were you trying for irony with the "progressives are being forced to relive past arguments" and "Bush sucks"? If so, well done. If not, very well done.

    One thing, you lost the midterms because you think it has something to do with birthers, not because of birthers. Small but incredibly important difference.

    BTW, I really hate white text on black backgrounds. It looks cool right up until it blinds you.

  2. Ah Frank, it's such a joy watching you tailor other people's words to suit you. I can't help feeling you're not too stupid to understand, but too dependent on your anger-crippled world view to read anything without reshaping it to fit your self-congratulatory response.

    I don't know that either are truly preferable.