Sunday, December 5, 2010

"We Can't Be Just Like Them" - We Might Win

I'm about to give up on my brethren on the left.  There's a disturbing subtext going around among a seeming majority of us even slightly left-of-center - fight the right but don't fight the right too hard.  After all, we don't want to be "just like them." 

Why the hell not?  In case you haven't noticed, "them" are winning again.

The conservative movement's heavy investment in media is paying off more and more while we stick to individual causes - so much so that the con take on any given issue is now the default position of most of the media.  I've essentially stopped watching cable and network TV news because of this.  Most any news show think they're balanced because they have on 2-3 conservative voices and a reporter as if a news reporter was the embodiment of liberalism.  Few actual progressives who could effectively argue against the current wave of rightwing talking points ever get TV facetime. 

If that wasn't bad enough, the media acts like the most important view of any issue is coming from the Republican Party, whether or not they are actually in power.  In a sane and truly balanced news culture, the party in power gets the most attention.  In this one, John McCain is to be found most often on "serious" news programs like "Meet the Press" and Sarah Palin is declared our national obsession.  The LOSERS of the 'o8 election are clearly the ones who matter to the mainstream media, not any of the Democrats who had won.  This has happened because, while we are signing online petitions and complaining amongst ourselves, "them" are complaining directly to media and threatening their sponsors when they see news they don't like and consider it "bias."  "Them" wins again.

The best evidence of how thoroughly the "them" has won is how Americans label themselves.  A stunning majority consider themselves to be conservatives with liberals coming in under 30%.  Look at the polling on individual issues without any labeling attached however and something interesting jumps out - most of those "conservatives" turn out to be very liberal.  Most want the tax cuts to the rich to go away, they support gays openly serving in the military, among those who say they don't like healthcare reform most of them say it's because it didn't go far enough.   And on and on....but don't you dare call them liberals.

And who, besides us brave few who understand what the term actually means and wear it as a badge of honor, would want to be a liberal anyway?  Dislike what they stand for as much as you want but the right has the image of getting it done and we liberal types look like we sure don't like what the right is doing and we'd do something about it if we'd ever get up the energy but it's just too much of a bother.  Oh, we'll yell about things among ourselves and sign a few things online but getting off our asses and computers and raising a real ruckus? 

Well, we sure hope somebody does that.  Someday. 

Besides, we'd rather spend our time going after a much safer target - our own people.  The conservatives just love it when we say how awful our leaders are be they in the House, Senate or White House.  "See?," the righties say, "(fill in the blank) is so bad and incompetent that not even the liberals like them!  Vote for us instead."  Of course, our beef with Democrats in Congress and the White House is completely different than theirs, but they don't have to mention that part - the damage is done and we look "fractured" while they look united and determined.  Then they go on to win 63 seats in the House.

Back to the "we can't be just like them" argument from the left.  There used to be a story making the rounds before progressive talk radio stations came into being about why liberal talk shows wouldn't make it.  The tale went on to say while liberals would hear something outrageous on a radio show, they'd just sadly shake their heads and drive on while a conservative would dive off the highway looking for a phone to call in and express their anger.  A story clearly pre-cell phone too but the point stands - if we show some spine and anger we'll be "just like them." 

I've discussed a few solutions to this in earlier posts and I'm far from alone in suggesting what to do next so I won't rehash them here.  I'll just wrap up by pointing out that unless we're willing to do more than bitch among ourselves and such we're going to be stuck with rightwing crazies setting the national agenda for long past the next election.  We're going to have to do what Harry Truman said to do - take the fight to them and never apologize for it - to turn things around.  We don't have to do that with falsehoods like "them" live on but do it we must.

No time like the present to get that started too.

1 comment:

Muddy Politics said...

I think you might enjoy my latest post, "Obama’s Christmas Gift to America: A Second Stimulus."
I'm not quite a bleeding heart, because sometimes the far left goes so far as to ignore logic, and particularly the game of politics that is required in Washington, and instead act like continuos prattle about utopian idealism will somehow save the day.
If you're interested in cross-posting, let me know. I like your style, insights and focuses. – MP