Saturday, July 10, 2010

While We're On The Subject

posted by Armadillo Joe

I'm working on a series of posts that expand upon my previous dissertation on the overlapping system failures we are currently experiencing as a nation, as a civilization and as a species. My next one will expound upon the concept of money and how our perversion of the basic concept has brought us to the illogical, disintegrating world we find ourselves in today.

But that's for a little later. For now, I've found two posts that sum up as succinctly as I have ever seen, exactly why left versus right in this country is not an even match.

I have this argument all the time with my squishy centrist friends. And those of you who think of yourselves as centrists, I mean you... with all due respect of course, but nevertheless squishy.

These squishy centrists (and their patron saint David F. Brooks) seem to view the American political spectrum as a fairly evenly balanced see-saw with a red team (the "R"s) and a blue team (the "D"s) each ideally working upon a level playing field with a set of agreed-upon rules (as with all sports - including the contact variety), acting in good faith as citizens to make for a better America for all Americans, merely with different views on how best to do that within the bounds of those agreed-upon rules; thus making the pursuit of some kind of balance between the two sides something of an ideal for the good of the nation, an ideal frequently thwarted by extremist ideologues on each side who are too far out on the fringe of the see-saw (and reinforced by their equally-matched and thoroughly mirror-image echo chambers) to participate in the Grand Balancing Act which the vast middle of American society craves. Thus when we on The Left take a side on an issue that seems to this squishy middle to be stereotypically "doctrinaire left" and thus paralyzing to this give-and-take, they feel justified in characterizing it as just another impediment (100% equally as bad and 100% one-to-one comparable to anything coming from The Right) to achieving that magical balance because a nation founded on compromise requires give-and-take from both sides to make progress.

I think that is as fair an assessment as I can give their viewpoint, free of snark and condescension. And Matthew Yglesias sums up why this is naive:
the 2006 and 2008 elections haven’t changed the structural imbalance between left and right in American politics.

[...] I would characterize this (imbalance) [...] like this: Fox is much more conservative than MSNBC is liberal, and it has a much larger audience. Conservative talk radio continues to dwarf anything that exists on the left. Business has a “privileged position” in America’s version of interest-group pluralism, and labor unions are weaker than ever. A large proportion of poor people are non-citizens who can’t vote, and those who can vote have not only less money but much less social and cultural capital and thus the political system is almost entirely unresponsive to their needs.

These aren’t “excuses” for bad behavior by elected officials, but they’re reasons that progressives don’t get what we want out of the political system.
And then, of course, driftglass knocks it out of the park as to the real causes:
Over in the Better Universe, people have multiple, distinctive ideologies that both compete and cooperate with each other (in business, this is called "cooptition") and from which they can form governing coalitions to solve problems.

Here, we have a Democratic Party that can be budged incrementally in the direction of rational and humane problem-solving as long the crisis is immediate and scary and then only as long as we Constantly Scream At Them and beat them on the soles of their feet. Even then, after they get our nickels and dimes and sweat and votes, we get 1/4 of a loaf, a lot of chin music, and the back of Rahm Emanuel's hand.

On the Right we have American Fascism, right out in the open, being energetically championed by people who are unhinged, despicable, impervious to reason and ridiculously well-funded.
Those are the choices: A Democratic Party which depends on us for everything they have, which is still shot through with decent, honorable, hard-working men and women, and which nonetheless still treats us like a smelly hobo to whom they occasionally feel obliged to toss a bone...and a Republican Party now wholly captive to outright psychotics and which sees us as internal enemies to be wiped out.
To me, the reasons for this are simple, and a certain Mr. Lincoln summed it up in the darkening days before the Civil War:
The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. [...]

[...] what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right.
Does that attitude seem familiar to any readers? Please, do read the whole speech. Our national discourse (and one party in particular) has been so thoroughly Dixie-fied, particularly since LBJ gave black people the vote in The South, that it could have been written last week.

Back soon...

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