BuzzFlash Reader Commentary
November 18, 2002
BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
As the various talking heads have dissected the Nov. 5th election many have come to the conclusion that the Democrats "didn't have a message".
I take issue with this characterization. We have always had a message. The problem in recent years has been the carefully crafted distortions of that message by media, political operatives and moneyed interests. The resulting noise has either kept that message from an honest airing and discussion, or so profoundly changed it's meaning as to eliminate the Democratic position from the public discourse.
It was amusing on election night to hear Tucker Carlson, that poster boy for the neo-cons, proposing that the Democrats must move to the Left to be competitive in a political race. Fine advice from a spokesman who seems dedicated to keeping the mass of Americans bamboozled by a stream of misrepresentations about the Left!
Any such move would provide unlimited opportunities for the flacks and pundits to continue to destroy the two-party system by vilifying honest disagreement on the role of government. This strategy has successfully buried the fact that the Liberal left is not only the traditional party of millions of working men and women, it has until recently been an honorable and thoughtful political philosophy.
This position started to tarnish in the minds of voters when the power brokers could no longer terrify US citizens with the Communist Threat. Back in the 1980's, as the Soviet system started to come unglued and the national media was still offering a modicum of thoughtful comment on public affairs, there was extended discussion of what the Conservatives would do to retain power if they could no longer wave the Red Star at every idea with which they disagreed.
The Conservatives moved quickly to a solution. Taint Liberal political philosophy with every real or imagined failure that confronts society. Supplant the Red Menace with the Liberal menace. The basic idea had already emerged during the McCarthy hearings and only need updating.
This strategy first took shape, when those who care more about wining than democracy, co-opted a tiny group of religious zealots and provided them with a national stage to espouse a medieval world view. That view denies 500 years of science and progress. Progress is complex, and difficult for many to understand. Get around this complexity by telling them they don't have to understand. They just have to do what they are told, and listen to their preacher, who will tell them what God wants. This technique calms the fears of every lazy, superstitious, ill-educated citizen who is terrified by the pace of world events.
Next, use that platform to create a divided citizenry. Define and marginalize on racial, religious, and sexual orientation. And, be sure to throw in a dollop of good old-fashioned paternalism for all those insecure, latent adolescent men who are terrified of women. A well-informed citizenry is the basis of a functioning democracy. Keep 'em stupid. And keep reminding them that Liberals are the cause of all of this confusion.
Then, promise that total freedom for corporate expansion and resource consumption, unhindered by regulation or oversight, will lead to the "Golden Road of You Too Can Be a Millionaire". Be sure and explain why the population explosion is not a problem, since these new mouths expand business growth, keep a large workforce under control by limiting jobs and wages, and support a growing service industry in healthcare, entertainment and sports. Tell them that Liberals want to destroy their jobs and lifestyles by enforcing environmental and antitrust regulations.
Make abortion a religious issue. Declare that the union of two cells is God's Will and anything that interferes with that will is the Devil's Work. Be sure and never discuss the need for a continually growing consumer base (The New Republican Mantra? Breed and Shop!). Never discuss the need to keep women out of the work force, providing employers with the means to control wages through high unemployment, and determine the fate of every family in a one income household. This is the Family Values platform.
When reducing millions of those families to unemployment becomes the right economic strategy to increase the wealth of the business owners, blame the employees for "low-productivity". Then, having made it their fault that their jobs evaporated, make sure that they are demonized for being unproductive members of society, not worth tax dollar support. Remind everyone that Liberals favor giving your tax dollars to the lazy, good for nothing, slackers you just fired.
Convince every citizen that social welfare programs steal from them by redistributing their taxes to the unworthy. Eliminate welfare and food programs as well as medical and social security. That will free up trillions of tax dollars to redistribute to the corporate folks who can then pay for a continuation of the big lie. Tell the people that if corporate growth is not supported by tax breaks they may well find themselves out of work.
Be sure that there are a least a million CEOs in every generation that will benefit from the tax loop holes and unregulated consumption of minerals, water and land. These folks will then provide economic support for a political dialogue in which the discussion, conducted by a wealthy, compliant media, will become instrumental in insuring that the electorate only hears what the powerbrokers want them to hear. Use this media to convince every citizen that the collection of wealth in the hands of 1% of the population will be good for them. After all, these mega-billionaires are "just folks", getting on with their business. It's the Liberals that think a free, unrestricted political dialogue, and some regulation on greed, is good for America, and we all know what they are like.
Gather a few hundred thousand males, suffering from penis envy, and sell them guns. Tell them that their guns are a Constitutional right. Charge dues for a group founded by gun manufacturers whose sole purpose is to convince those men that shooting guns is a demonstration of real manhood. Hire well heeled PR men to live in the pocket of government officials, throwing around cash, to insure that no restrictions are placed on the "right" to shoot things. Tell these cases of arrested development that Liberals are sissies, girlie-men who want to turn everyone into wimps like themselves. Liberals want to take away their freedoms.
Use polling data to determine that the Fourth Estate will bring in more money by concentrating on rape, kidnappings, murders, shoplifting and fires. Manufacture, or pretend, that there is a least common denominator in the intellectual life of the citizens. Pander to that LCD.
Make sure every stupid thing done by every dimwit "entertainer" is given pride of place in the leads. Mention the resignation of the Speaker of the House, but quickly revert to an in depth discussion of an actress on trial for vandalism. Spend eight minutes on the "breath- taking implications" of that trial, parading a stand-by crew of legal experts, psychologists, retail merchants and other entertainers to offer their 'opinion" on this insignificant moment in US history.
Tell information starved citizens that you are just giving them what the ratings say they want. (I have a question - has anyone in power at these "news" organizations noticed how viewers are peeling away from the cable news channels as they all become either a Paula Zahn Morning Show, a talk show "with attitude" or a weak version of "Entertainment Tonight"?)
Be sure and mention the Liberal media at least four times a day to imply that this failure of responsibility, this bastardization of news, is the fault of Godless, left-wing intellectuals. This has the effect of pushing even the most egregious far-right screed to the center of the public debate.
Convince working reporters that people are too stupid to understand complex ideas. Let sound bites, produced by power hungry political organizations, become a substitute for informed discourse. Reduce every issue to the sex, glamour, and fashion components of an imaginary public interest. Ignore or belittle the need for an honest evaluation of policy, politics, and foreign affairs. Turn everything into a black and white issue, with none of the complexity that modern life demands. After all, if those preachers are doing THEIR jobs, people will have given up on trying to understand the hard stuff and just want to be told what to do, think and feel.
Make sure a glitzy, warm, fuzzy, aura permeates every bit of information on the tele-prompter, which is then presented with the breathless, wide-eyed authority of the typical nursery school teacher. Tell those viewers that Liberals are making things just to darn complex. Chose your adjectives carefully to belittle the Liberal and support the conservative.
Don't let the government develop programs to retrain, or restrain, the fishermen that have destroyed the breeding stocks in the coastal waters. As long as the fish lasts, somebody is making money. When the fish are gone, let them eat cake. The same thing can work with the timber industry. Tell those working men and women that Liberals care more about spotted owls and fish than people's jobs.
Sell the rights to control the water supply. Let everyone pay for bathing, drinking and flushing. After all, in a capitalist economy there is no free lunch, or drink. Pollute that water supply with heavy metals, petroleum distillates, and chemicals by ignoring the sensible environmental regulations designed to protect a precious commodity. Then you can justify creating yet another business, as the costs of reclaiming potable water sky rockets, after all, somebody has to pay. Tell everyone that those Liberals are trying to interfere in the free market economy.
For everyone who has wondered why in the world the average citizen would support a Conservative agenda, look again at the example given above. Liberals have been marginalized by one of the most skillful political attacks in the history of our country. We have been made to seem the enemy of prosperity, God and freedom. Complex ideas are bad because complexity is bad. Questioning is bad, because questions expose the complexity. The concentration of enormous wealth under the control of a small number of people is not to be questioned. The acceptance of differences among people, the belief in balancing nature and need, the concept of a broader public good, are all characterized as bad.
After wading through all of the misrepresentation, and down right lying, that the power brokers have used to distort and confuse voters about the political philosophy of liberalism, is it any wonder that even those who know better have been seduced into believing that the Democrats have no message?
M. Barnes, Ph.D.
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