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One of my flaws is the subconscious assumption that other people see things the way I see them. Believing (I hope correctly!) myself to be a reasonable, compassionate, intelligent person, it's too easy for me to associate the opinions I hold, the experiences I've had and the conclusions I've drawn from them, the responses I have to people, with those qualities.
But people who have different opinions than I do, who've had other experiences and drawn other conclusions from them, are also reasonable, compassionate, intelligent people. If I don't understand those differences, it's harder for me to connect, harder for me to find common ground. We get locked in our separate compounds of otherness and fear, that way.
Which works out all too serendipitously for Our Beloved Oligarchs.
I found myself having a conversation with a woman a bit older than my daughter-- probably in her late forties. Struggling financially, just getting by. She's bitter about being "forced" to pay for health insurance, which "doesn't do her any good because she can't afford to use it anyway." She liked Obama when he was elected but has been disappointed in him since, mostly because the economy has been so punitive on her family, especially her son, who came back from a tour in the Middle East with a lot of health issues, about which "the damn VA are doing nothing." She volunteers at the local animal shelter, and she helps other veterans' families with transportation, home care, figuring out paperwork, and getting to/from support group meetings.
She has a college education, and had good jobs in management up until 2009, when the collapsing economy caught up with her employers. Now she's shift manager at a franchise restaurant and going to community college classes (on student loans) to get a real estate license. She considers herself "entrepreneurial," having done some multi-level marketing in the past. She's pro-choice and considers herself a 'non-strident feminist' (her term, I have no idea what it means.)
She should be a Hillary supporter, by the demographics, but she "doesn't like Hillary."
"So who are you supporting?" I asked her, curious.
"I like Donald Trump."
My jaw must have dropped, because she got defensive. "I do! I know he's kind of a sexist, but I don't think he really means a lot of the campaign-trail bullshit. He's just saying what will get media attention, mostly."
I really wanted to understand why she likes Donald Trump. It's completely impossible for me to imagine anyone but knuckle-dragging morons 'liking' him, but obviously a lot of people do.
It was a long conversation, but here's what I took away.
Sure, Donald Trump is a rich guy.
But "he's not like other rich people."
As far as I could make out, "other rich people" are snobs and selfish and don't want to let anyone else into their exclusive clubs or allow anyone else to enjoy the kinds of things they enjoy. Even if an ordinary person like her was to get rich, or win the lottery or something, they'd never 'let her into their places.'
Trump, apparently, is perfectly willing to 'share the good stuff' with anyone who can pay for it. If she won the lottery he'd welcome her to his fancy private jet and let her use the gold-plated plumbing fixtures without making her feel like she didn't belong.
Or something like that.
Pointing out that her chances of winning the lottery are effectively the same as my chance of sprouting functional wings would not have been helpful, so I didn't.
I did ask whether she thought he'd do much for people who aren't going to win the lottery, etcetera, and she said he was more likely to pay attention to 'ordinary people who support him' than to the Establishment political string-pullers.
As far as I can tell, the things that creep me out about Trump- the crassness, the ignorance, the qualities I read as bullying and egotistical bombast- she sees as a weird kind of not-caring-what-snobs-think integrity, and she likes that.
She likes him.
I can't like him, he gives me the willies.
But I like her. Even knowing that she thinks this way, I can still recognize that she's a good person, compassionate, intelligent, and with her own reasons and experiences behind her opinions.
Here's what I didn't do: I didn't insult her, I didn't laugh at her, I didn't tell her she's delusional.
I did tell her I couldn't agree with her about Trump, but at least I had a better understanding of why she likes him. And I told her a little bit about why I like Bernie Sanders, trying to emphasize some of the same things about him that she says she likes about Trump- particularly the bit about him being more influenced by what ordinary people need and want, than by the string-pullers in the political establishments.
It wasn't exactly the time or the setting for a discussion about the complexity of the political environment, the many powerful factors and forces that influence how effective an elected Chief Executive can be, etcetera. I don't believe I "made her think," although she for sure made ME think.
But I didn't turn her off. I didn't build a wall of otherness between us.
Maybe it was the best I could manage.
Posted by TygrBright | Sat Mar 12, 2016, 03:18 AM (6 replies)
"Hey, folks: Don't be alarmed if you've gone to the polls at the Community Center to vote and you see a bunch of cops next door outside McBrien School with guns drawn and storming the building. It is only a training exercise!"
You can't make this shit up, can you?
Someone thought that on election day, next to a polling place, was a GREAT time/place to schedule this!
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Mar 2, 2016, 03:03 PM (5 replies)
Background, where I stand on the Primaries in general
If I were Hillary Clinton, I'd be looking at the large numbers of Democrats and others who are deeply engaged with Bernie Sanders as a candidate, and the substantial numbers who are committing donations to the Sanders campaign.
And I would be considering the possible outcomes for the primary, and how they will play out.
Senator Sanders' past actions show that he's a person of integrity as well as vision. And even if I didn't completely agree with that vision (having a vision of my own, after all,) I would look at the many places where we DO have overlap.
There are a number of such places and they are important, both to my (Hillary's) campaign and to a broad segment of voters.
I would anticipate winning the primary (because, after all, that's what candidates do) and I would be thinking, "in the general election, the passion, engagement, and support of those Sanders voters could be a real asset."
And I would certainly acknowledge that, based on the current levels of passion connected to those areas where I (Hillary) and Senator Sanders differ, in vision, experience, and approach, there's a realistic likelihood that some of Senator Sanders' supporters will never, ever, no matter what, put the same level of passion and engagement into my campaign. Indeed, some might not vote Democratic at all, and it wouldn't necessarily be a good use of time, resources, and political capital to attempt to change their minds.
On the other hand, once the disappointment over a Sanders loss/Hillary win primary outcome works its way through the feelings and hearts of those passionate Sanders supporters, it might be possible to engage some of them in my general campaign.
How, then, could what I (Hillary) do now, maximize my chances of both picking up broad support among disappointed Sanders supporters, and making enough of a case to them to engage them with a level of real commitment to a Democratic win in November?
Right now, many of the decisions my (Hillary's) campaign is making, much of the language and the focus, seems to be explicitly targeted to MINIMIZING those chances, alienating Sanders supporters by trash-talking the supporters themselves, rather than addressing the differences between candidates.
The only real explanation for such a short-sighted strategy would be if I thought that a) the possibility of a Sanders primary win is much greater than DNC punditry and mainstream polls assert; or b) the Sanders support phenomenon is not as deep and powerful and passionate a sea change in Democratic politics as they assert. In the case of b), then, I (Hillary) would sail on to victory in the general election because as "the only choice" many or most Sanders supporters would "hold their noses."
That scenario (it doesn't matter if we trash-talk the whole Sanders phenomenon because the ostensibly 'democratic' Business As Usual of elections in our increasingly oligarchic body politic will play out as it always does) is first of all, profoundly disrespectful, and secondly, profoundly short-sighted.
Why play that game? Granted, I (Hillary) would be unlikely to win the hard core of Sanders-or-no-one supporters, no matter what. But knowing Bernie himself, and the power of the passion he evokes, and the strength of popular support behind him, why not put some serious thought and effort into keeping bridges intact and doors open? The Sanders constituency is more substantial, more passionate, more engaged than any leftward-aligned anti-establishment populist movement since 1972.
Hard choices, but important. The lessons of history are before us.
Of course, Senator Sanders still might win the primary...
Posted by TygrBright | Mon Feb 29, 2016, 03:08 PM (16 replies)
The first Presidential Campaign I participated in was 1964, when I carried a sign that said "Bury Goldwater" to a Lyndon Johnson rally at the University of Minnesota, with my older sisters carrying a larger "LBJ for the USA!" banner.
The first Presidential Caucus I attended (still too young to vote, though) was 1972. My stepfather took me, even though he knew I was a McGovern supporter, and he supported Humphrey.
Significantly, that was also one year after the House of Representatives approved the Equal Rights Amendment 354-24, and the Senate approved it 84-8. Think about those numbers for a minute.
It was also the last Minnesota DFL caucus before the 1973 Supreme Court handed down Roe V. Wade, and everyone sensed that was coming.
The first Democratic Presidential candidate I got the chance to vote for was Jimmy Carter, in 1976. The DFL District Convention that year (yes, I was a delegate from my Precinct,) was a shitnado of chaos and conflict, thanks to the MCCL delegates attempting to derail the platform process with their multiple anti-abortion planks. (MCCL = Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. Google it. Long and revolting history, and I was there from the beginning. Got its momentum in the district that would one day be represented by none other than ol' Crazy-Eyes Bachman herself.)
By that time, too, Phyllis Schlafly and the other helots of the patriarchy had fluttered down and swooped out of their cave to land on the necks of any number of former supporters and fence-sitters on ERA. Within two years, state ratifications would grind to a halt, and in 1979 the recission bills started popping up in states that had already ratified.
1980 was the year of "The Patriarchy Strikes Back." We watched the progress already made begin to erode, faster and faster with every year.
Even so, women kept pushing. The list of inspirational leaders who kept on in the face of the growing backlash is long, and their work many times salvaged measures of victory from tidal waves of intended defeat.
Hillary is one of those women. She went to law school, became a Congressional counsel, determinedly pursuing a self-charted course to a political career, negotiating her personal life on her own terms, and standing up with intelligence and determination to more than FOUR DECADES of vicious, calculated, sexist opposition from the patriarchy. She modeled grace under fire uncountable times. She beat the establishment at its own game, again and again. She used the tools at hand: negotiation, leverage, compromise, deal-making, horse-trading.
She has always been her own woman and steadfastly lived her own vision of feminism and the success possible for women in a patriarchal culture. Others who claim feminist ideological leadership, with differing visions, have tried to co-opt her to their version of "what is a feminist" and reviled her with "no true Scotsman" attacks when she kept steering her course based on HER vision.
I met Hillary in 1992 when she swung through Minnesota with Ira Magaziner to do some policy work with the Clinton campaign. I was a Harkin supporter, but she impressed the hell outta me. I wished SHE were the one running for President. She understood how government functions, and, more importantly, how those functions affect the real lives of real people, especially the vulnerable and marginalized. She "got" all of the policy goals our Jobs Now Coalition group and its allies were pushing, and promised to take them back to the campaign.
It's always hard to tell, once ideas get fed into the sausage-making hopper, where their traces are in the eventual product, but I had then, and still have, good reason to believe she kept that promise.
If Hillary Clinton becomes the nominee, I will work my ass off for her. I believe she would be a good Chief Executive, and so many light-years better than the toxic clowns in the GOP car that it would become a matter of life or death to elect her rather than any of them.
If she becomes President, I believe she will work hard to stave off the worst depredations of the ideological nutbags, overcome the obstructionism of Congress (with, probably, just slightly less success than Obama has had in that area,) and make small increments of progress toward a more equitable, functional, sustainable America. Small increments are not to be despised, they tend to be less vulnerable to backlash, more sustainable, and often have surprising cumulative impact down the road. Another Clinton presidency would be anything but a disaster for America.
And as "America's first woman President," I would cry tears of joy at her inauguration, too. Say what you like about symbolism, it has power, and this one is long, long, LONG overdue.
But I'm still voting for Bernie in the NM Primary, and hoping to vote for him in November.
Sustainable as small increments of change are, there is also an important role and a strong effect to be had from scaring the hell outta the Oligarchy. (See: Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, 1932-1945) That, too, is long, long, LONG overdue.
And as much as I respect Hillary's integrity to her own vision of feminism, and her assessment of what it's possible to achieve in the arena of government in pursuit of equity, function, and sustainability, I have my own vision, my own priorities, and my own beliefs about what is possible.
Bernie Sanders better aligns with a broader array of those beliefs, and better represents my vision, as a Democrat who grew up in the 1960s and came of age in the early 1970s. Yes, even the "feminism" part of those beliefs, because MY vision of feminism is grounded in awareness of the interlocking agendas of patriarchy and oligarchy.
I am not going to participate in any discussions that bash either candidate. I believe such discussions, well-intended, sincere and passionate though they may be, are counter-productive at best, to both candidates. In the short term, during the primary process, and certainly in the longer term when we go up against the money of the machine, they will weaken us.
I believe it is possible to contest this primary as a fight of ideas and vision, and WIN, no matter who the nominee is. I also believe it's possible to contest this primary as a fight of memes and mud, and LOSE, no matter who the nominee is.
I have no illusions that this post will change anything on DU. I'm putting it in my Journal because when I acknowledge gratitude, I benefit from that acknowledgment.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Feb 10, 2016, 02:09 PM (16 replies)
Toronto Star closes commenting on thestar.com
They give lots of good reasons in the article announcing this decision, although they don't mention what is probably the most powerful incentive to give up on online community management: Court dismisses appeal of Warman libel judgment against website (the Ontario Court of Appeal made a ruling that the owner of a website can be held liable for libel if it does not act to remove libellous statements made in comments on its website in a timely manner.)
The issue of website and blog "comment" functions' potential to nurture raging Internet cesspools of unbridled reptile-cortex feculosity isn't a new one. It's long been known as a vulnerability in the whole "online community" concept. Discussion fora, such as this one, are a next-step-up in intensity on the same problem, enhanced by the assumption that in fora there will usually be some form of moderation. And the corresponding disappointment when that moderation fails to meet user wishes and expectations.
And so has the solution to the problem been long known:
Bad Comments Are a System Failure: So Why Can't You Fix Them Like Any Other Bug?
If Your Website's Full of Assholes, It's Your Fault
I was interested, in reading both of the above-linked blogs, to see that most of the identified remedies for the issue have been implemented, (and well-implemented indeed,) right here on Democratic Underground, for some time.
Although we're almost all here on DU based on a common interest in politics and public policy, the "Context Collapse" referred to by West in "System Failure" applies here, too. We have a really, really diverse community, and we naturally fracture into passionate and often vehemently opposed sub-communities, a phenomenon exacerbated during primary seasons.
Do I wish people wouldn't be quite so vicious to one another, here? Do I avoid reading some threads simply because I know they're going to be full of the least-admirable side of human nature? Of course.
Do I think I could "do better" making DU a place of intelligent, interesting, mostly-civil, usually-adult discourse that reflects liberal values and the will to honor diversity?
Frankly, no, I don't.
If I were appointed dictator, I could for sure turn this place into an echo chamber of MY values and opinions, and a tight little self-congratulatory cabal of like-minded individuals.
Key word there being "little." Because by the time you start turfing out everyone who agrees with you on 90% of what you like but not the other 10%, or 80% of what you like but not the other 20%, or wherever I'd draw the line today (and I didn't get much sleep last night and the coffee was too strong this morning and the weather sucks and my favorite team lost last night, etcetera) it would, indeed, be a small group.
And probably not that interesting, either.
KUDOS and gratitude, and BEST HOLIDAY WISHES to our esteemed Site Admins, to the fine and dedicated volunteers on the MIRT, and to every DUer who's ever thoughtfully wrinkled a brow over a thread as a jury member, trying their best to interpret the Terms of Service with an eye to fairness and maturity.
Posted by TygrBright | Thu Dec 17, 2015, 05:28 PM (4 replies)
When elected, most pols try to show appreciation to those whose money and/or effort helped them get elected.
That's simple enough, and generally true.
But that's only a beginning. When people tell me who to vote for, or not to vote for, based on campaign funding, I think about a lot of other factors, too.
For one thing, I try to think like a donor attempting to ensure I'll be able to protect my interests after the election. And the simplicity vanishes in some tough complexities, including (in no particular order):
If I'm trying to see who *else* is buying a piece of this pol, it's not so easy. A straight-out "donation" may be the smallest tip of an iceberg that includes PACs and dedicated "nonpartisan research and education" organizations, issue-based groups, and other clever fellow-travelers, not to mention unreported (and unreportable) ratfucking projects designed to scuttle primary opponents, etc.
Then I have to face the reality that a lot of punters hedge their bets both ways, throwing money at those on the left and the right, trying to reserve a place at the eventual winner's table, no matter who it may be. Some of that money will be less effective simply because the recipients are perfectly well aware it's a "hedge."
And then there's the reality that just about every major viable candidate gets some funding from donors on BOTH sides of any controversial issue. To "stay bought" by a donor on one side of the issue, they'll have to disappoint donors on the other side. And since it's impossible to know the sum total of whose money on which side tipped what balance for what reason, saying that any one donor "owns" any one candidate/elected official is chancy, at best.
Of course, the nature, reputation, and ethics of the donor might become an issue- a candidate might well decide they can get more campaign mileage out of self-righteously and ostentatiously refusing a donation from someone with a really tainted public reputation, but the larger the number of donors, the bigger the campaign, the higher the stakes, the more likely it is that some real sleazemeisters will end up in everyone's donor rolls.
And finally there's the character of the candidate. For me, that comes down to a perhaps-surprising bit of calculus: How- and how well- does this candidate do "compromise?"
Because for all the passion I may bring to the particular issues that I believe in, a successful democratic government runs on the art of compromise: How can those passionately and obdurately divided by experience, understanding, and ideology find ways to make terms with one another, ensuring that everyone in a diverse electorate is both disappointed in some things and pleased in others-- all of them of critical, life-or-death importance to someone.
Reviewing a candidate's ability to get people of differing beliefs and ideologies together, parse through the options, do the horse-trading, give and take credit and responsibility for the inevitably imperfect results-- THAT might be the final decider as far as where to invest money, time, and passion, regardless of donor lists touted by those hoping to convince me that this or that candidate is "bought" by this or that interest.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Dec 16, 2015, 07:15 PM (0 replies)
Based on this article referred to in this LBN post. Thanks, AP.
Cleanup crews still have yet to start work in Congress and the Supreme Court after a power-grabbing storm of bought elections, corruption, and deregulation killed thousands of people, cut power to more than 300,000,000 Americans and flooded the 99%.
The corporate influence since 2000 has exceeded all previous measures in legislative areas of national and local governments, where brutal, terrorism-spawning wars, environmental degradation leading to catastrophic climate change, and the demolition of social safety nets were blamed for the deaths.
Thousands of patriotic young Americans were killed when Mideast countries were invaded to protect corporate oil interests. Thousands more have died in hurricanes, floods, landslides, forest fires and other inadequately prepared-for and responded-to climate disasters, and many thousands more died from lack of health care, homelessness, hunger, and gun violence, authorities said.
The identities of the thousands killed are known but apparently inconsequential to anyone but other peons and serfs.
Crews in disparate community movements have been working to turn over more than 175 Congressional seats and local elected offices that blocked economic justice and slowed the progress of human evolution.
Meanwhile, gigantic corporations are trying to reduce tax burdens for more than 142,000 oligarchs, most in offshore locations and gated communities. They are expected to work around the clock until all tax burdens are devolved to the middle class.
Public schools have been closed or rendered completely ineffective in nearly all districts. Also rendered inaccessible or unaffordable were any universities attempting to provide viable creative and intellectual education to anyone but Skull and Bones members and other "legacy" students.
National Wealth Surveillance said the unusually ferocious power-grabbing was enabled by the Republican Party interacting with the fundamentalist Christian, ignorant racist xenophobe, and anti-authoritarian Libertarian factions. Power grabs reached unprecedented intensity on Wall Street as well as K Street.
The international community reported a top power/wealth grab intensity equal with the late 19th Century. Developing countries and continents saw nascent democracies and economies collapse.
National Wealth Surveillance said the oligarchic income redistribution would give way to worldwide communicable disease epidemics, mass starvation, and violent revolution.
Alice Brock, with National Wealth Surveillance in upstate New York, said electronic voting machines and voter suppression laws may have saturated democracy, making it easier for the capitalists to purchase elections.
Elsewhere, propaganda mudslides successfully blocked the viability of nominees unaffiliated with or not beholden to the oligarchy, the Department of Obfuscation said.
Viable electoral contests were prevented in many districts and redistricting referendums were delayed or blocked due to pervasive gerrymandering throughout the system.
Discredited and ridiculed progressives said more than 30 major public safety net programs were badly damaged and hundreds of thousands of Americans were still without basic necessities early Wednesday. Disregarded online activists tweeted that more than 300,000,000 citizens lacked power.
The power grabs and extended looting of the economy caused fewer problems for upper class white people, but roughly 99 percent of poor and middle class whites lost economic power in America.
Propaganda gusts of enormous power rattled the electorate in widely scattered areas, blowing racism and xenophobia from Friday's tragedy across airwaves and social media and knocking out decency in several states.
The storm dumped several metric kilotonnes of cash into closely-held SuperPACS and power grabs created astroturf organizations and ideological think-tanks with no accountability or transparency.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Nov 18, 2015, 06:28 PM (1 replies)
'scuse me a minute... "GET OFF MY LAWN, you kids!"
Alrighty, then. Let granny, who's also a history student, tell you about the rise of mass OTR transport in America, 'way back when.
See, once upon a time, we didn't HAVE OTR transport. We didn't even have much in terms of roads. Serious! I kid you not! Transport of goods and people over distances longer than from one side of town to the other? That was handled by railroad. And railroads had a long, ugly history of oligarchy, monopolistic ownership, collusion, price fixing, and generally extracting every dime into their owners' bank accounts they possibly could.
All this, of course, at the expense of the greater economy and the middle class. When Teddy Roosevelt, the Progressive Movement (the late 19th/early 20th Century iteration thereof) threatened their hold on America's financial throat, they smashed the economy to smithereens, attempting to put us in our places.
Didn't work out the way they hoped, for two reasons: One being, we don't give up easy. But the other one was this new technology: The "motorcar," based on a gadget, the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine.
At first, our Beloved Oligarchs didn't think it was much of a threat, really. A rich man's toy. Tracks were built for racing, of course. They certainly bought their own, found them useful on the estate, and in town, where the streets were increasingly being paved. Gas-fueled delivery vans started to replace horse-drawn wagons, but for long distance movement of goods and people the rails were still the only real option.
But we kept fighting back and the internal combustion tech kept evolving-- it evolved enough for a few of the Oligarchs to see it as a potential profit center, maybe even a replacement for the rails in terms of controlling the economy, should that be necessary. They invested. The railroads continued to decline. The automobile became cheaper, faster to produce, more powerful.
And in the wake of the second of the 20th Century's major wars, the nation realized that OTR transport was not only a viable replacement for long-distance rail transit, it was a superior option for an economy that was experiencing the biggest growth surge in its history. If the economy was to keep up with the population, it was THE option.
But an infrastructure would be needed.
Here's where the Alternate History version kicks in:
So a few Oligarchs went to the government and got massive welfare subsidies to start building the roads needed for mass OTR transit. At first, they colluded with one another and established territorial lines-- an East Coast corridor controlled by this Oligarch, a mid-Cross Country highway under the control of another, with the lesser players grabbing various regional and inter-city routes, extorting subsidies for building from state and local governments, etc.
And the bigger players achieved vertical integration with their own trucking lines, and worked out deals with one another for inter-system transit tolls and fees and charges. And they started snapping up the smaller and regional companies, and increasing local tolls and road fees to private drivers, to cover the costs of the acquisitions, of course.
At first, local governments attempted to keep up publicly-operated and subsidized omnibus, tram, and other local mass-transit options, but it became more "cost effective" to outsource them to the big OTR transit providers, and they gave up, paying "operation fees" from tax dollars for local transit. But costs kept going up, and up, and required fees and surcharges for people trying to commute to work outside their "zones."
Initially it was more cost-effective, if you COULD afford your own vehicle, to sign up for a monthly or annual road use plan with your local OTR provider, but as more and more of those got gobbled up by the big players, the fees increased, as did superfees for inter-system access, and eventually most people gave up private cars.
The economy began to gasp, and strangle. A massive depression set in...
Of course, that isn't what actually happened. Instead, we engaged in a massive post-WWII public works project to create the infrastructure needed to enable OTR technology to far surpass railroads in volume and efficiency of moving goods and people. This public investment and public control and public maintenance ended up fueling (you should excuse the pun!) one of the longest surges of middle-class prosperity our nation has ever known.
Any similarities to the Internet in this bit of alternate history fantasy are, well... yes, totally intentional.
Posted by TygrBright | Thu Nov 5, 2015, 02:25 PM (3 replies)
This post about the Koch brothers' dismay over the unintended consequences of their diligent attempts to hijack the democratic process prompted another DUer to weigh in with the assessment that "the turn to the dark side" actually dated back to the Nixon era.
I won't argue against the premise that Nixon opened some nasty cans of corrupt and conniving worms and poured them into the American political stew. But while virtually all politicians (and particularly, since Nixon's own Southern Strategy, GOPpie politicians) have at some point faced the electoral necessity to pander to reactionary populism, I saw Nixon as more your back-room boyo.
He certainly exploited racist fault lines in the electorate, and did a modest amount of pandering to the reactionary anti-hippie sentiment. But Nixon and his owners, like most political machines of the Cold War era, understood that the nature of the Cold War itself required them to refrain from upsetting the propaganda applecart. Proxy wars aside, the Cold War required a facade depicting the universal social and economic beneficence of Capitalism to contrast with their carefully-depicted authoritarian collectivist "nightmare of Communism."
The "Western World" led by the USA regularly capped Soviet "5-year plan" reports of boot production per capita with our own version of boot production reports-- except that ours were white vinyl go-go boots on working class dolly birds advertising Pepsi.
Their ham-handed management of opposition to Civil Rights revealed their priorities: A form of "what would the neighbors think?" that focused on painting it as a "States Rights" issue of Democracy in Action, and downplaying, wherever possible, the ugly underbelly of racist and reactionary populism in the South. The nature of mass media helped to subvert that, just as it aided the anti-war movement: Structural constraints embedded by the last vestiges of Rooseveltian progressivism were still in place to inhibit Oligarchic control. Occasionally some unpleasant and motivational realities were plastered into the consciousness of the electorate.
One of the Cold War's only real benefits was its (temporary) inhibition on exploiting toxic, reactionary forms of populism to oppose both the remaining vestiges of socialist/labor populism and the burgeoning progressive anti-war and pro-equity versions of the 1960s and 70s.
It may seem bizarre to those who didn't live through the Taft machine's dominance of the GOP, but back then, their strategy was strongly invested in anti-populism. They worked hard to portray the GOP as the Party of Moderation, the "cool heads" with the broad view and the long-term perspective who could be trusted to counter the passion of emotional fervor with the cold water of facts, science, technology, and Realpolitik.
"The Monster" of toxic reactionary populism-- the varieties based in nativist, racist, fundamentalist, and other fear-based, exclusionary resistance to change-- has been embedded in our species all along. It's been part of our body politic from the very beginning. It never really sleeps, and the best we can do is starve it of oxygen, repudiate it as publicly as possible, and keep it grumbling and holding tinfoil hat fashion shows in its own version of the "No <pejorative epithet of your choice> aloud" tree house. But its power never dies and is abundantly fed by the fertile soil of economic hardship and fast-moving social and technological change.
Democrats are no stranger to tapping that power-- ask anyone who grew up in "the Solid South." But always fairly sub-rosa, with a veneer of respectable moderation figleafing the ugliness that fed the Party machine's power.
No, Nixon didn't create the Monster. Politicians are like Satan in some versions of Christian theology-- they cannot create, they can only destroy, distort, and exploit the damage. Even Reagan didn't "create" the current version of the reactionary populism now dismaying our elite Oligarchs.
I would, however, argue that Reagan and his owners can be fairly and squarely fingered for letting it out of the tree house this go-round, and making the devil's bargain that put the reactionary power behind their re-engineered political machine. By the time Reagan was elected, they could see the end of the Cold War coming, and decades of foundational work by the Birchers combined with their growing sophistication in absorbing and controlling the power of the mass media. Why else select an actor of Reagan's experience with presenting "amiable, reasonable and engaging"? He provided the perfect cover.
The first long, low howls began with the anti-abortion movement whipping the fundamentalist populists into a misogynist fervor in reaction to Roe v. Wade and the ERA. One by one, they've emptied the nativist treehouse, the anti-science, anti-change treehouse, the "you're not the boss of me" libertarian treehouse, the homophobic treehouse, and, with the election of a melanin-advantaged president, the racist super-treehouse. They've invited them all to the Party: Frothing, pounding, spittle-flecked cylinders of passion to be welded to the GOP electoral engine.
Now they're discovering that cylinders that refuse to be synchronized and tuned and adjusted to work effectively together under the "higher control" of the cool-headed, greed driven Oligarchs in the driver's seat might not just leave the GOPpie bus smoking with its hood up by the side of the electoral road-- they might take it over the cliff altogether.
History doesn't so much repeat itself as rhyme, but politicians have tin ears for poetry.
Posted by TygrBright | Wed Oct 28, 2015, 01:07 PM (7 replies)
There are things I very definitely prefer, about Bernie.
There are things I very definitely prefer, about Hillary.
There are things I dislike about Hillary.
There are things I dislike about Bernie.
However, both Bernie and Hillary are so infinitely superior to anyone the GOPpies might nominate, that I sleep soundly.
The only thing that bothers me, really, is the incredibly emotional, sometimes cynical, occasionally vicious, often strident attacks on one another by those who seem to support one so strongly that they believe it's worthwhile to vituperate, trash, character-assassinate the other and their supporters.
Who will I vote for, during the primary? I'll know for sure on that day. Whichever it is, the other will have my heartfelt gratitude and support as well. It is possible to appreciate the worthy public service and common ground held with someone even while deploring other things about them. In the case of our Democratic Presidential candidates, that's a lot of common ground, actually. Especially when it comes to the mess we'll be having to clean up in Congress, a Supreme Court that will have key openings in the next 4 years, and ongoing tension between many types of change forces worldwide.
Those who believe the only good Hillary supporter is one driven over by the Bernie bus which then backs up, drives over again, repeats that 3-4 times, then everyone piles out and jumps on the flattened remains may begin that process, now.
Those who believe the only good Bernie supporter is one stabbed repeatedly, bludgeoned with sacks of quarters, stoned with large rocks, and then held underwater until the bubbles stop coming up may begin that process now, as well.
Posted by TygrBright | Mon Oct 26, 2015, 11:58 AM (27 replies)