Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Problem

I believe in Liberalism as a way of life.

John F. Kennedy defined it almost perfectly:

“…if by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people -- their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties -- someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal," then I'm proud to say I'm a Liberal.”

It’s hard for me, sometimes, to refrain from reflecting back at the so-called “conservatives” their own simpleminded, ad hominem rhetoric; if I were to do that, for instance, I could call them selfish, self-centered, inhumane, greedy, murderous and perhaps even evil. But that wouldn’t be right, would it? Never mind that they’ve branded liberalism as some sort of epithet from which to be shied away, as possibly the lowest form of humanity, for god’s sake.

I often wonder, do these so-called “conservatives” truly believe that they can convince anyone but the already converted of anything with their specious arguments and disingenuous tactics? Or are they merely entertaining themselves trying to work up the other side into a lather?

My take on this mockery of a dialogue is simply this: We're on one side, they're on the other side -- and neither of us will switch sides, unless our minds are open enough to consider the possibility that we may be wrong.

The inherent political weakness of liberals is in their very open-mindedness and willingness to consider all sides of an argument before drawing a conclusion. Immovable ideology and dogma are anathema to a liberal, by definition. Which is why the Republicans have succeeded in coercing and coaxing what often seems like the entire population onto their side.

Most people are inherently liberal. Unfortunately, almost half of any given group of people is of below average intelligence (if you subscribe to that simple mathematical paradigm); therefore that large number are, by virtue of their weakened intellectual capacity, extremely susceptible to propaganda – which is an effective tool on even them most intelligent of people.

The right has the better propaganda machine thus far, and the left is averse to the use of propaganda by virtue of... virtue. It looks like a losing battle, doesn't it?

Like “liberal,” the word “propaganda” has been twisted beyond recognition in this modern age. It is simply this:

The systematic propagation of material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause.

Propaganda is not an inherently negative tactic -- it's the only way to reach the masses effectively. Let’s face it, this country has 300 million people in it. In the hands of the right wing (talk about a mixed metaphor), through the use of the vast right wing conspiracy and its puppets -- the media -- propaganda has been used to convince the masses that the word "liberal" is an epithet, that a “liberal” is some kind of un-American namby-pamby hippie dippie draft doger reeking of patchouli stink.

The masses have been convinced by the right wing propaganda machine that, even though the majority of them are not rich, taxes on the rich are unfairly applied. That although most of them would be the beneficiaries of universal healthcare, they must protect the minority (the rich) who would lose money on the deal, because universal healthcare smacks of “Socialism.” That unions are greedy and suspect, what with their roots in the dreaded “Socialism.”

It's ingenious, really. The groundwork was laid by McCarthy himself, back when they first started conflating the “Communism” of the REDS in the Soviet Union with “Socialism,” and made damned sure the masses were afraid of "communism" and "socialism," even though most of them hadn’t a clue then and haven’t a clue now what "communism" or "socialism" means.

People will buy anything if it's repeated often enough and loudly enough by the pretty people on their television screens.

If you accept the premises that the majority of people have their minds made up for them by outside influences (propaganda), that "conservatives" are more adept at using propaganda because they'll say anything they need to say to make their point and that liberals are hampered by misguided principles in the use of propaganda, it stands to reason that there is only one way for the liberal side to win in a contest of this sort:

We must have principles on our side. We can only feel justified in resorting to propaganda if the propaganda is actually true and right.

Well, hallelujah. We are right, what we are saying is true. Now what we need is someone or something akin to the Karl Rove's Good Twin. We need someone driving our propaganda machine whose relentlessness, dedication to the cause and commitment to winning the hearts and minds of the majority matches that of the right wing. We have the message of truth; we need effective messengers.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party is what we’ve got. That wouldn’t be so bad, except for all the Democrats in the party. I’m not alone in designating a good number of them “DINOs” – Democrats in name only. Given the recent filibuster that wasn’t, torpedoed as it was by the votes of 19 Democratic Senators for cloture, given the absurd majority of Democrats who voted for the Patriot Act, the Bankruptcy Bill, the Iraq War Resolution – is it any wonder many of us on the Left feel at times that we don’t even have the LESSER of two evils as an alternative at the polls these days?

The problem is twofold, and can be summed up thusly:

The wretched inclination of many entrenched elected Democrats toward capitulation, pathetic compromise, vacillation, appeasement and outright spinelessness… in the face of the most dishonest, manipulative and outright virulently criminal Administration and controlling Party in the history of the United States of America.

The solution? Well, I wish I could say I have the answer and will now tell you all about it. I do know one thing: The answer lies in We, the People.

God help us all.

Maryscott O'Connor