Monday, February 13, 2012

Sand Trap

One of the main reasons I've stayed relatively quite about politics lately -- aside from the fact that I've been incredibly busy -- has a lot to do with a pervading feeling of powerlessness. I realize this may sound like a cop out, but there are times when I've wondered whether I should just give up discussing politics altogether, choosing to keep my head down and live my life rather than letting the chaotic, perpetual drone of left-vs-right turn a good portion of my day into the figurative beating of my head against a computer keyboard. But really, let's be honest: It has less to do with not wanting to add to the noise than it does with that unshakable belief that there's nothing I can say that'll change a goddamned thing -- not in a political climate that allows one party to get away with operating completely divorced from empirical reality.

Seriously, how do you even begin to call out a movement which has made itself nearly bulletproof by virtue of its unwillingness to subscribe to facts -- facts that anybody not currently tied to a bed at Bellevue accepts as a jumping off point for his or her opinions? It's no secret that conservatism as a political ideal is a shadow of its former, somewhat respectable self, having long ago been hijacked from within by its most lunatic fringe. All that remains now is that fringe and those who cater to it, and to extend the metaphor, you just can't argue with a crazy person -- nor with the person who will do or say anything to inexplicably appeal to that person. The American political right, at this point in our history, is so thoroughly shameless and hypocritical -- and so detached from the world that everyone else on the planet inhabits -- that attempting to refute its nonsense with logic and reason is a fool's errand. And while I've been a hell of a lot of questionable things throughout my lifetime, I hope a fool was never one of them.

So I've just kept my mouth shut around here, choosing instead to outsource the outrage to people apparently far more able -- and infinitely more tolerant -- than I am.

But at some point you have to get off your ass and get back into the fight, I suppose. And for me, that time is now. Yeah, I've still got quite a bit on my plate at the moment, particularly when it comes to work. But this site matters to me and I can't deny that it's been neglected of late. So I'm gonna try my damndest to get things back on track around here -- and that means talking not just politics but hopefully anything else that comes to mind, all while attempting to balance my business and personal life.

With that in mind, though, I wanted to give you an example of what I'm talking about when it comes to both the insanity on the right and the entirely calculated and opportunistic pandering to that insanity that's become a staple of conservatism's standard bearers. Listen to this little diatribe from Bill Maher because he's right on the money: the Republicans purport to love America but they really seem to hate Americans, at least a vast swath of them anyway.

Seriously, how do you argue with this kind of horseshit thinking from a smug, morally bankrupt little asshole like Gingrich?


robyurkowski said...

I've been in the same spot before too, Chez. It seems futile sometimes to keep fighting the right when their only acceptable terms are 'total capitulation'.

But here's the secret: winning isn't beating the right into seeing reason. The people who are so entrenched in their beliefs that they refuse to see compromise (and this could be applied on the left, too—think Greenwald) aren't, or shouldn't be the target of progressive blogging.

The fight has always been for 'soft voters'. Something like 50% of the voting population has no idea who they're going to vote for during any given election. They don't have any notion of who they're going to vote for, sometimes right up to the time they mark their ballots. These people are sometimes single-issue voters, but plenty of times they're people who are convinced by soft values like the personality, gravity, morality, or popularity of a candidate. The job of any politically active leftist has to be, first and foremost, to convince these people to show up to vote progressive, but secondly to continue voting progressive.

As an example: I once worked with a young Asian guy who was politically active but not politically interested. He was going to vote for our Conservative party, he told me, but he had no real solid reason for doing so beyond the fact that he self-identified as a cautious person. We sat down, had a drink, and I made him take a political alignment quiz on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's website, which revealed that he was socially centre-left and pretty fiscally centrist. We talked about each of the parties, reviewed the issues, and he made up his mind to vote for the NDP (our left-wing party). Come election day, I drove him to the polls, too.

We can't turn those who won't be turned, but there are a host of people out there who are making up their minds about stuff still. We have to reach them, make sure they know what is truth and what is misinformation, and then help them come to their own decisions regarding what's best for them and their interests. 99% of the time, this will coincide with what we agree about.

President Obama is doing this astoundingly well right now. He knows he's not getting hard-left progressive votes, but he's made huge ground in the soft middle — in spots where people value fair play, compromise, and the Golden Rule, in spots where people prefer a man with a stable family, in spots where people can say 'I'd like to have a beer with him.'

"May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping."

namron said...

All is not lost, Chez. Right now, there is so much more happening locally than what shows up in the shit sandwiches the media serves up each day. The adaptation going on in communities all over the country is profound, but largely unreported. Behavior and attitude changes initiated by the 2008 economic may take a few election cycles to maifest in national political contests. Commentators with a broader take than just national politics will be the earliest reporters of theses changes. I am confident you will be one of them.

Ducky said...

How would I argue against Newt?
I would put him out with my facts.

By put him out, I mean hit him in the face.

And by facts I mean claw hammer.

I lack your compassion.

hilz said...

The reason why you mainly only see me comment on your music posts is because I lost my will to fight during the health care debate. I couldn't handle any more conversations with close friends who would cut me off and say "you know, it's just easier for me to keep my head in the sand about these things". It felt like talking to a brick wall, and that's exactly what it was. So now for the most part I do my best to stay informed and keep my opinions to myself (except for the one time this 'head-in-the-sand' friend asked my opinion about Ron Paul, I let that one fly).

I don't blame you for burning out. I'm gobsmacked on the regular by the fact that people just cannot see what is in front of them; that somehow facts are debatable. Fucking kills me.

I appreciate you jumping back into the fray Chez, we need you :)

Chez said...

I get it, Hilz. You're the coolest, by the way. Just sayin'.

hilz said...

Bahah thanks. I have my moments ;)