Saturday, July 23, 2005

For a While Now - A Rambling Rant

I have been beyond fed up with feeling like everything I say here is reactive. There is a part of me that thinks the left in general and me in particular shouldn't be spending so much time engaged in the nonsense of the opposition. If we are going to (although this might not be the best context in which to quote Lyndon Johnson) win their hearts and minds, we have to give them something appealing to move toward. We have to articulate a vision and explain how to get there.

But every time I get ready to begin such an effort, they do something so aggregious that it can't be ignored. So now I am struggling with how to do both. How do we point to their flaws, try to stop them from accomplishing the total destruction of my country and its constitution before right minded people can take back some of the power?

Do we let some folks be like harridans while others rise above the fray? By this model Howard Dean is the attack dog and others, like Harry Reid, gets to be reasonable. The problem with this is that Howard Dean and others like him get rare press coverage. In fact the only time the most outrageous of the current administration's escapades are reported is after bloggers and the rest of the resistance make so much noise that the traditional press can no longer ignore it.

(This is not exactly linear, is it? Well I'm not exactly linear, I suppose.)

The press. So a big part of this problem is not only articulating ideas, but making them heard. And the press, protected by the Constitution and instituted therein as an essential part of a free nation, does not do its job. Katherine Graham is dead and The Washington Post sucks up to the executive in power. Izzy Stone is dead and he has no one to step into his very large shoes. Ramparts Magazine is gone and those who would follow in its footsteps are concerned about being acceptable, being mainstream.

If we are to appear mainstream, we need extremists to make us seem reasonable. We need loud dirty socialists, communists, and utopians, demanding their place at the table. Instead we have accepted the view of the far right, have learned to agree the rightist Bill Clinton, a man the right has managed to paste with the 'liberal' label is our moderate. It wasn't that long ago that the DLC was considered the right wing of the Democratic party.

I don't have answers. However I know some of the pieces that are needed. We need to get back to what we believe. I know that my friend, progressives all, have a set of core beliefs. We know that people struggling to live decent lives and to feed and clothe their children should not be preyed upon by right corporations, especially with the help of government. We know that babies should have immunizations without their parents having to give of meals to provide medical care. We know that government shouldn't take the children of the working class and send them halfway around the world -- it doesn't matter whether they are going eastward or westward -- to die while the children of the rich are protected. We believe that the government should be us, and that it is there to help.

I also know that courage is needed. The right has become a cacophony of squalking, with Ann Coulter inheriting the mantle of Newt Gingrich leading the parade. Next to her, all of these obscene attack dogs seem oh so reasonable. And they have managed to establish ownership over the nature of the discourse, the content of the message. And we must react because they are so outrageous they force us to. But we absolutely must find a way to spend more time and more public voice on what life would be like if progressives ran our country. We must paint a picture that people can see, not write like policy wonks. And we have to be willing to be hit with the accusations that will quickly and violently accrue, dust ourselves off, and go back to the painting. And soon.

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