Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tea, anyone?

I ran across this little rant that sums up nicely the frustrations felt by many on the left toward the recent climate of public discourse.

From Christian Struzan via Facebook:
YOU WANT TO GET MAD? We had eight years of Bush and Cheney, but now you get mad! You didn’t get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President. You didn’t get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate energy policy. You didn’t get mad when a covert CIA operative got ousted. You didn’t get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.. You didn’t get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us. You didn’t get mad when we spent over 600 billion(and counting) on said illegal war. You didn’t get mad when over 10 billion dollars just disappeared in Iraq. You didn’t get mad when you found out we were torturing people. You didn’t get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans. You didn’t get mad when we didn’t catch Bin Laden. You didn’t get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed. You didn’t get mad when we let a major US city drown. You didn’t get mad when we gave a 900 billion tax break to the rich. You didn’t get mad when, using reconciliation; a trillion dollars of our tax dollars were redirected to insurance companies for Medicare Advantage which cost over 20 percent more for basically the same services that Medicare provides. You didn’t get mad when the deficit hit the trillion dollar mark, and our debt hit the thirteen trillion dollar mark. You finally got mad when the government decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick. Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, are all okay with you, but helping other Americans… oh hell no. AND NOW YOU’RE MAD !

So let me come at it from a different angle. Many of us on the left can sympathize with conservatives' anger. We too want a system that is more fair, efficient, and accountable to the citizenry. We too feel marginalized by the power structure in Washington and get frustrated by what we see as institutional corruption and injustice.

It would be great if we could have civil dialog on these things. Let me then share some thoughts.

The problems in our country didn't start with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, or with the 2008 election. They in fact helped the Democrats take control, because the majority of voters saw that as the best avenue for change. Like it or not, that's how the cookies crumbled.

The Republican Party is not the party of the little people. Both Republicans and Democrats are funded by large organizations and corporations that have a stake in government policy. They are both interested in attaining and holding on to political power.

Many on the left are wary of being played by the Democratic Party. Maybe more of those on the right should ask if the Republicans are playing them. Why do you think Republican politicians are demonizing Wall Street?

I think I understand why conservatives didn't speak up during the GWB years. When the only likely alternative to the party in power looks even worse to you, you tend to fall in line. The same thing happened with liberals and progressives during the Clinton years, and is happening now.

Barack Obama's record as president hasn't exactly been a progressive's dream, despite accusations like "socialist" and "government takeover." He may have been a progressive on the campaign trail, but he's been a pragmatist in the White House, in both foreign and domestic policy.

The bank loans were started by Bush. The health and financial reform bills were the results of months of bipartisan debate and horse trading. By blocking debate and making it look like bills were being rushed through by Democrats, Republicans were playing a parliamentary game. Fair enough, but politically risky for them.

I like to assume that most politicians have at least some desire to serve the public good. But they are all subject to pressures and influences that they must navigate in order to play the game and stay in power. This doesn't necessarily mean that politicians are completely bought and paid-for by special interests, but it raises doubts about their integrity and independence.

Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are entertainers. They tell their audience what it wants to hear. They incorporate fact, fiction, and opinion in an apparently seamless way to promote a particular agenda and make the opposition look ridiculous. That is what they are paid to do, and they do it well. Fox is an entertainment company. (The same can be said of Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, and MSNBC. Jon Stewart is the first to admit that he is a comedian.)

If it is fair to claim a liberal bias in the media, it is also fair to claim a conservative bias in sponsorship. This dynamic, the old tension between the news and sales departments, exists in mass media of all types, sizes, and political stripes.

Everyone has agendas, delusions, and preconceptions. Everything you read, hear, or watch that is produced by humans has a point of view. But if you think the New York Times is a radical left-wing newspaper, your perspective may be a little skewed.

Everyone needs to use their brains to interpret the information they receive, regardless of left right red blue whatever labels may be attached to it. It's important to seek opinions and ideas that challenge your point of view, and share your views in a civil way with those who might disagree with you. At least it's important if you are really interested in improving things. Otherwise we'll just carry on with the shouts and slogans, and the rich will keeping laughing all the way to the bank. At least until the oil runs out...

1 comment:

  1. It would be nice if this were possible. My own experience with folks on the right is that, rather than dialogue on areas of common interest - accepting the general idea that no one is interested in uncontrolled government power, arbitrary acts without authority or mandate, or shackling individual or business interest in pursuit of legitimate ends - they want only to shout loud enough and long enough to make sure everyone thinks they are far more numerous than they actually are.