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Thread: A note for fellow liberals and Democratic supporters at Sciforums

  1. #1
    Let us not launch the boat ... Tiassa's Avatar
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    Cool A note for fellow liberals and Democratic supporters at Sciforums

    The general point can be easily stated in three words: Stop it. Now.

    The specifics are simple enough; we'll get to those in a moment. And the principle ought to be clear enough to understand. The Democrats are supposed to be the liberal party. Historically, liberalism strives for enlightenment. We generally believe ourselves, as supporters of the Democratic Party, or as liberals, to be seeking a better way for our society. While the opposition seeks to cling to the tattered and decaying shreds of what worked well enough to get us this far—and just look where it has gotten us—a significant marker of the difference between us and our conservative neighbors is that we hope to elevate society as a whole instead merely exploit it for our friends.

    We proclaim a better way. We ought to act like it.

    And guess what? This time around, we're winning.

    Admittedly, political cycles suggest that our victory in November will be offset at some point in the future by a right-wing triumph. This is usually how it goes. Indeed, when Democrats come to power on the merit of progressive ideas, those ideas are usually the first thing to go. Bill Clinton conceded the Reagan economy and won the office. The Democratic Party rolled so hard to the right in order to preserve their newfound power that it looked like a game of crack the whip, and sure enough, some of the weakest followers were snapped off the end of the chain—enough to bring the Republicans to power in 1994 with their ill-fated "Contract For America". And unlike the Democrats, when the Republicans roll in protection of their power, it is deeper into their base: the rise of right-wing talk radio, the Drudge era—as the so-called "liberal media bias" continues to give credibility and airtime to ridiculous muckraking and scandalmongering, the Grand Ol' Party has experienced their greatest empowerment since McCarthy.

    So I do sympathize with your concerns about what our victory in November will bring. While Republicans still ridiculously complain that the Democrats are "liberal", and have stoked among their base a fear of the Democratic Party and its candidate that is verging toward the lethal, the rest of us wonder what a President Obama would actually do. Will he blossom into proper and progressive liberalism? Will he do what Democrats have done for the last sixteen years, and roll to the right in order to accommodate disgruntled Republican supporters?

    Nonetheless, we are winning. As the Democrats creep toward a possible cloture majority in the Senate, we ought to be prepared, as of November 5, to turn our attention to the party we have supported; instead of complaining about the cheap, two-dimensional animus of the opposition, we ought to work to hold the Democrats accountable according to the progress they claim to advocate—a turn to the right once in power may well lead us to disaster. Throughout these last eight years, the left has seethed in impotent fury; where are the protests, the masses in the street? We have seen where this country is headed, and while some are more than perfectly willing to use words like "Nazi" and "Kool-Aid drinker", we don't seem to be doing anything more than complaining in what is, ultimately, an undignified manner that will be recorded in history as just another two-bit political hack routine.

    And it is these childish outbursts that need to stop. Let us consider, then, three points of argument gaining popularity among Democratic Party supporters and liberals at Sciforums:

    Nazi — Can it. Shelve it. Save it for a day when we actually need it. Enough is enough, already. Two points remind of the impotence of the GOP's authoritarian streak: In the first place, the People aren't eating it up. While they may have, in their fear, allowed and even encouraged some of the more egregious violations of the Constitution that have taken effect under the Bush presidency; indeed the rise of the Blue Dog Democrats reminds us that fear makes great demands of its victims. But the People have long been annoyed at increasing security measures, and seem to generally reject the proposition that invasive searches and warrantless paranoia have stopped any terror attacks. Take heart, then. The People are not buying what the GOP has to sell, else Democrats would not be postured for victory. The election would not be Obama's to lose, and the whispers of a cloture majority in the Senate to stave off further Republican histrionics would be merely ridiculous rumors. To the other—and this is important—we still have the courts. Think about it: it is becoming a regular habit that the courts are serving as the final check against the insidious. Whether it is a conservative-majority Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts rebuking the Bush administration's weak claims about terror suspects and executive privilege, or state courts saying we cannot execute juvenile offenders and standing firmly behind the principle of equal protection, we see that the judiciary, when pressed, will side with the People and their constitutions. The threat of the GOP as Nazis is still a figment of angry and unrealistic rhetoric that, much like the Bush administration's denunciation of a Stalinist as a Nazi, devalues the comparison. Much like Chicken Little, or the Boy Who Cried Wolf, abuse of the word may well strip its vitality so that it means nothing to the ears of the public when and if we finally reach the eve of tyranny. This is not rhetorical currency to be spent lightly; save the Nazi comparisons for when we actually need it.

    Kool-Aid Drinkers — I am actually curious how many of my fellow liberals actually know what the phrase means. And, no, I don't care how many of my conservative neighbors know, because it generally doesn't matter to them. And while American conservatism often does seem that strange and even frightening, we must remember that this is an impotent fear; they can only hurt us if we let them. In the meantime, a hint: There are two meanings to the phrase, and as I recall, the one invoked against the Democrats during the primaries is in fact the lesser, more obscure meaning. And that definition, over time, will recede back into the counterculture. If only people were drinking that Kool-Aid. The more prominent spectre invoked by the phrase, however, is a frightening one, and much like the Nazi comparison, ought to be reserved for a day when we truly need it. As it is, the phrase is being slung around as if it has a third meaning, that of a red-lipped hyperactive child that has no clue what is taking place around him. And that makes its constant repetition even more juvenile. Let it go.

    Declaring Victory for Yourself — Of late some have taken up the habit of proclaiming themselves the victor in arguments. This is just stupid. If your victory is that clear, let it speak for itself. Really, it is cocky in the most obvious sense. I never lived on a farm, but I have seen a rooster (e.g., cock) strut. And it's hilarious. All puffed-up and beady-eyed, it is not the kind of confidence anyone should wish to fashion about themselves. So stop it.

    Metaphors and buzzwords are, by nature, more accessible in popular culture than obscure, proper words. Sure, words like pusillanimous, supercilious, and flatulent sound elitist to small minds, but they're fair words, and it is harder to drive them into cliché than the latest buzzword. Indeed, some of our neighbors might tire of being called supercilious, just as they weary of being called dishonest. But in either case, if it's true, it's true. Playing to the gallery in order to reinforce a point about which you expect there should be no question is not a wise maneuver; it suggests either that your argument is so weak that it requires such direct reinforcement, or else tells observers that they are not smart enough to get it, and need to be told what is going on.

    As an example, we have among us one person that I describe as a jingo jihadi. I would never have used the term, except that this person's behavior so clearly fits the description and, well, the irony of the point is damn near lethal. It would only weaken the point to turn around and start slinging the phrase at every conservative hack we can find. In the first place, the irony would be absent, essentially sterilizing the point. This is because, to the other, not all of our conservative hacks behave so unmistakably accordingly.

    Indeed, we have in our lexicon no short supply of fighting words. We have no need to descend into the gutter and try to steal theirs. While, certainly, in doing so we help work these stupid clichés to death, the petty cruelty of the spectacle is unquestionably undignified. And this is the cornerstone.

    After all, our candidate for the presidency promotes the notion of change, inspires with a vision of a different way to go about the usual business of politics. Have we not all wondered when Sen. Obama will "take the gloves off" and absolutely flatten McCain? Once again, the Democratic candidate is gambling on a route intended to be more dignified. And while this notion has proven dangerous in the past—indeed, when Sen. Kerry initially refused to even dignify the Swift Boat attack advertisements, the public perceived this as a weakness, so when he finally did respond, voters perceived desperation. However, this time it seems to be working, as voters are very much aware that the stakes are higher than usual: our nation is at war on three fronts; our economy is crumbling; our Constitution lies desecrated and defiled at the hands of what history will record as the most notorious executive administration to date. Despite the performance of Congressional Democrats, which might at its most redeeming be described as flaccid, it is somehow not beyond realistic hope that they will be empowered with a sufficient majority to actually promote a progressive agenda. We are winning; it is time to put away the tools of weak opposition and conduct ourselves according to the hope and dignity we proclaim. We must work to secure the fruits of our victory, to demonstrate the merit of our platform. We must protect the progress we make, else watch it fall away entirely when the cycle inevitably turns against us. We've lost nearly everything progressive that we won under Clinton, and also a tremendous lot more. Progress should not mean reclaiming the virtue and glory of a former era; that is conservatism.

    Let us leave the opposition to its vile hatred; this should never be our way, even in those times that it seems to be what the voters want. When they're ready to haul themselves up from the sewage, we ought to be there, waiting, welcoming, and offering them a hot bath and change of clothes. We claim enlightenment and dignity; it ought not be a trial to enjoy those fruits where we can find them.

    So stop embarrassing yourselves. Hold your heads high; make the rhetoric something more than mere words.

  2. #2
    I disagree with you Tiassa. There is nothing wrong with using words which accurately describe the situation. I will not be constrained by being politically correct. I will call the shots as I see them.

    This country has been led into a dark place. And those that enabled that leadership followed blindly as if in a trance. Many are now awaking finally waking...thank God! The country and the world had to come close to the brink of a global meltdown before these folks opened their eyes. But thank God they appear to be finally opening their eyes.

    When Republican hold rallies and their leaders spew lies to their followers and those lies are greeted with jeers of hate and calls for violence and murder as has occured...things have gone too far. That is scary. When mobs of Republicans yell demonstrate in front of the vice presidents residence threatening violence in a contested election...that is scary. Calling a spade a spade is only scary for those trying to cover things up.

    I will never be constrained so long as their is an ounce of breath in my body. I am an American...not a Democrat or a Republican. I am an American and I will die an American and I will call it as I see it. And never before have I been so scared as I have been these last 14 years. For the last fourteen years, this country has not been the country I used to know.

  3. #3
    tiassa, can i point out one thing which you touched on but not its implications. Its disillusionment and its a fact of life in any two party state.

    People who can sit in the middle and have no idiological ajender can swing from the libs to labor with no worries. They just pick the most compitant person or vote against the person who is least trustworth (hence the saying that elections are lost, not won) but who do you turn to when the "left" wing party abandons you?

    for instance if we take gay marriage in australia. Marriage comes under the marriage act and thats a federal law (which one change to. ironically enough would remove all discrimination period). Now kevin rudd (the current LABOR PM) has said catogorically that he belives marriage is between a man and a women which is just shear IDIOCY ethically but politically i can see his point. Then we have people like tony abott on the other side who should never be alowed a shaddow minstry let alone a goverment one.

    So what does a person like me do?
    i can stress my opinion but no matter how strong the lobbying is there is only one party currently in parliment (after the democrats anilation) who surport it and there isnt a chance in hell of them winning 5 seats (they ALMOST won 1) let alone a majority in the house of reps nessary for goverment.

    Even then i wouldnt actually WANT the greens to control the goverment because there other policy areas are very much lacking.

    So concidering that i could not vote for the libs with abott and tucky in there party and labor wont go far enough for fear of losing office you cant help but be disillusioned by the political proccess

  4. #4
    I applaud and second what joepistole has to say: We have not been exaggerating the threat of fascism in the USA around here- if we have learned anything about that political virus, we should understand that it is most dangerous when cornered.

    We can easily maintain the higher ground without backing down. We're comporting ourselves well, especially in comparison with McCain's rabble.

    This isn't over: We haven't even gotten to the voting booths yet, and anything can happen between now and then. So up yours, Nazi KoolAid drinkers! /strut

  5. #5
    Let us not launch the boat ... Tiassa's Avatar
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    Cool Is it ever about anything bigger than yourself?

    Quote Originally Posted by Joepistole

    There is nothing wrong with using words which accurately describe the situation.
    Did I object to using words which accurately describe the situation?

    Metaphors and buzzwords are, by nature, more accessible in popular culture than seemingly obscure, proper words. Sure, words like pusillanimous, supercilious, and flatulent sound elitist to small minds, but they're fair words, and it is harder to drive them into cliché than the latest buzzword.

    At present, we are nowhere near fair denunciation of conservatives as Nazis. If you disagree with that assessment—

    In the first place, the People aren't eating it up. While they may have, in their fear, allowed and even encouraged some of the more egregious violations of the Constitution that have taken effect under the Bush presidency; indeed the rise of the Blue Dog Democrats reminds us that fear makes great demands of its victims. But the People have long been annoyed at increasing security measures, and seem to generally reject the proposition that invasive searches and warrantless paranoia have stopped any terror attacks. Take heart, then. The People are not buying what the GOP has to sell, else Democrats would not be postured for victory. The election would not be Obama's to lose, and the whispers of a cloture majority in the Senate to stave off further Republican histrionics would be merely ridiculous rumors. To the other—and this is important—we still have the courts. Think about it: it is becoming a regular habit that the courts are serving as the final check against the insidious. Whether it is a conservative-majority Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roberts rebuking the Bush administration's weak claims about terror suspects and executive privilege, or state courts saying we cannot execute juvenile offenders and standing firmly behind the principle of equal protection, we see that the judiciary, when pressed, will side with the People and their constitutions.

    —then by all means do so.

    Do you think vapid clichés are honest and accurate descriptions of the situation? Fine, then. Whatever you think works.

    I will not be constrained by being politically correct. I will call the shots as I see them.
    Does that make you a maverick or a libertarian? What, specifically, is your objection, then? That one ought to be able to use a bunch of stupid catch-phrases like "Kool-Aid drinkers" and expect people to pretend such pandering is dignified?

    Is it politically incorrect, then, to point out that when perfectly legitimate, longstanding words with well-established definitions are too hard for someone to figure out, they're simply taking the cheap and easy route?

    This isn't about political correctness, Joe. It's about integrity.

    And never before have I been so scared as I have been these last 14 years. For the last fourteen years, this country has not been the country I used to know.
    Welcome to the twenty-first century. We can never go back to what was; it's too late for that. But the one hope we have left over from the Clinton years is that when he conceded the fact of the Reagan economy, he hoped to exploit it for more useful and beneficial purposes than consolidation of wealth and expansion of class separation. What would you like? 1992? How about 1988, when Democrats still actually fought against the economic policies that have led us to this bust? Maybe 1976, when a smart and decent man was elected to the White House?

    The country we used to know is over. What emerges from the current fear-spun cocoon has yet to be determined. We have no choice but to look forward.

    What shall we do, then? Poison wells with territorial pissings? Or maybe do what we can—even seemingly small things like arguing the point with our neighbors—to establish something better?

  6. #6
    tiassa i hate to say this but
    welcome to 1984 (hope i got the that right)

  7. #7
    RE: Kool-Aid Drinkers

    I haven't heard of "Kool-Aid Drinkers" but I do say "drank the kool-aid". Only this is of course in reference to Jim Jones and James Town. Used to point out the blind acceptance theists place in their faith of Mohammad or Ron Hubbard or Allah or Xenu or whomever etc...

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