Friday, July 15, 2005

Politics and Passion - A Liberal Confession


Reading Eric's fine post below, it occurred to me that some of the political polarization in this country about prisoner/detainee policy in the so-called GWOT is more apparent than real - just like most of the other humiliatingly fake political polarizations we continue to endure year after year. After the recent London bombings, and not for the first time, I immediately felt what any Powerline dittohead did: overwhelming anger, rage. I stamped around with red in my eyes, gritted my teeth, shook my fists, and imagined horrible deaths for the deluded fanatics who would kill innocent people. I wished for all of them to be instantly poofed out of exsistence - both for the preservation of civilization and for revenge. It's a natural, visceral reaction. In your larger mind, you know that these kinds of revenge fantasies and rage are basically pointless, but you still truly feel them, however briefly. We are all more/less the same, at some level. Some people are calmer and wiser than others, but few of us are Buddahs. The difference between the two camps is that most liberals feel this stuff and let it pass - gone but not forgotten; whereas the 'conservatives' (the wrong word, but, alas, the operative one at the moment) hang onto that feeling for dear life. Anger fuels them. Liberals (and true conservatives) want to ultimately talk on a policy level - what to actually do about the problem - while the dittoheads want a shortcut, a direct-from-the-gut, emotionally satisfying, Hollywood ending. Of course they are tragically mistaken, tactically, strategically and morally (three things which usually turn out to be pretty confluent). However, this political polarization being what it is, some liberals (present company excluded) can sometimes - usually by default - seem coy and holier-than-thou about the issue: 'how can you feel such a thing, you animals!' I actually don't blame most liberals for this; we have been shoved into this position against our wills. But somebody is going to have to begin acting like adults here, and it's NEVER going to be the 'Fuck You Boys'. So, on our road to Nirvana, fair or not, we are going to have to be the ones to climb down, to remember - and admit that we remember - that we're all basically the same, that we 'all breathe the same air' . It's not so much a political opportunity as a political imperative - not a matter of 'want to' (political ambition), but 'must' (patriotism).

The effective way to sublimate our fighting spirit is surely via politics. That's what the current regime does, and we need to fight fire with fire. I know a few 'dittohead' types who - vis a vis terror attacks - have asked me incredulously, and quite sincerely: 'Aren't you angry?!!'. I say that of course I am, but I know they don't quite believe me. That impression of liberalism is reinforced by the way Dems often do politics - perfectly exemplified by Kerry's refusal to immediately counter-attack the Swift Boat Horseshit during the election. A lot of these wingers know full well that their slime attacks are unfair and unfactual - it's 'just politics'; but what's really at issue is not what's factual, but a larger fact: whether their 'enemies' are willing to hit back. They - and, I suspect, large chunks of the voting public - don't respect someone who won't defend themselves. And of course it all fits neatly into their narrative of an appeasing, French 3rd Republic, weak liberalism.

Like a muscle spasm, extreme political polarization takes on a life of its own, and doesn't start to heal just because you've stopped putting strain on it. Polarization is also a dead end - it can get only so bad, and then it's just ugly stasis. The country is ready, or will be shortly, to be united again - there's nowhere else to go. If liberals don't seize the opportunity, Republicans like McCain or Romney will. It's gut-check time for liberalism, in more ways than one. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

[UPDATE: I realize that the above seems to be more rant than prescriptive finely wrought argument. Tough-minded smart liberals like Eric, Praktike and others really exemplify the attitude I'm arguing for. I'm concerned here with politics rather than commentary. Where are the national Democratic leaders who frame rational, intelligent policy around anything other than mere boilerplate language of outrage and resolve? Pretty much absent, so far. Democrats react; they cede 'resolve' to Bush as 'his issue'. VERP! (thanks Oyster ). So I guess my ultimate rantees are people who will never see this post - politicos; it's certainly not the people who will read it. Oh well. FWIW.]

[UPDATE 2: From a blog in (liberal, socialistic, effete) London called Clagnut . This post ('St Paul's') is dated 07/07/05:

So thanks then, terrorists. You’ve just succeeded in bringing the families of millions of Londoners that bit closer together, giving them an increased love of their city and an enhanced appreciation of their way of life. You might have destroyed the lives of several hundred people, but – and this is stating the bloody obvious you fuckwits – you’ve achieved nothing.

My train goes through Kings Cross and my office is less than half a mile from three of the bombs, and how did it affect me and thousands like me? I had a longer walk to the station on the way home; it was an otherwise beautiful evening and I needed the exercise anyway, so big deal. Oh, and I got a bit angry, a mood tempered by St Paul’s Cathedral, still a symbol of London’s resilience, gleaming proudly in the evening sun with a huge Make Poverty History banner wrapped around its dome.

Get it into your thick skulls that this kind of shit just doesn’t work. Never did and never will. Right now, my thoughts go out to those who’ve been more directly affected by this morning.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?