Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Anger On the Left?

By MARC McDONALD

The past three decades have been a Right-Wing wet dream for America. The Republicans have gotten their way on virtually every single issue while the Democrats have meekly rolled over.

Which raises a question. Why are the Republicans so angry these days? And why are the Democrats so goddamn happy?

What do the Republicans have to be angry about, anyway? During most of the past three decades, they've controlled all the levers of power. And even when they didn't control the White House, they might as well as have, with Bill Clinton's "Republican Lite" policies.

The Republicans have gotten pretty much everything they've wanted: their tax cuts for the rich, their sweeping deregulation, their dismantling of the social safety net, their gutting of labor unions, their blood-for-oil wars, their shredding of the Constitution: you name it.

What's more, they blatantly stole the past two presidential elections (and got away with it). And they're the one who are seething with anger these days?

And yet if you tune into Fox News or talk radio or the Right-Wing blogs these days, you encounter the most incredible seething anger and passion. Tune into just the first five minutes of unhinged Right-Wing nutcase Mark Levin's radio program sometime and you'll encounter more anger than a year's worth of reading Mother Jones or The Nation.

All I've got to say is: where can we on the Left get some of that anger to fire up our base?

After being screwed for 30 years by the New Right, you'd think the Left in this country would finally have built up some anger and passion. But instead, there seems to be way too much humor, fun and frivolity on our side these days. Even Mike Malloy's once-incendiary radio program has mellowed out in recent months.

The Left could really use a few lessons from the the Republicans these days. The GOP is a master of rallying the troops by adopting a "take-no-prisoners" hard-line approach to politics. They're also good at rallying the base with a constant "siege mentality" that would have their supporters believe that the Left is on the verge of destroying America (ironic, when you consider who's really done all the damage to our nation in recent decades).

Democrats ought to enter a street fight with the GOP with the appropriate tools: a switchblade, a .38-caliber pistol, and a pair of brass knuckles. Instead, they bring nothing to the fight but good manners and a promise to fight fairly and by the rules. In a street fight, that approach loses every f*cking time---but the Dems appear to be incapable of grasping this basic fact.

Take Obama's current campaign strategy. He's vowed to take the high road and run a polite, dignified, no-slime campaign. McCain, on the other hand, is throwing everything he has at Obama. Day after day, McCain essentially calls Obama a traitor.

And McCain's slime is working. Obama's lead in the polls is now dangerously thin. And if recent U.S. election history repeats itself, Obama looks to be in real trouble by November.

Aren't Democrats angry about all this? Nope. While the GOP is using angry fire-and-brimstone "All Liberals Are Traitors" rhetoric to fire up the troops, we're once again acting polite, sipping our tea, and minding our manners, smug in the belief that the nation couldn't possibly be so stupid as to vote for a third term of George W. Bush.

One thing I will give the Republicans credit for: they are angry, passionate and willing to fight tooth-and-claw for what they believe in. They fight dirty and even steal elections if they have to. And do you think they lose one second's worth of sleep over it? Don't bet on it.

And meanwhile, the Dems are smug, arrogant, and way, way too goddamn polite these days. We need to get angry for a change and start fighting fire with fire.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"(Dems are) smug in the belief that the nation couldn't possibly be so stupid as to vote for a third term of George W. Bush"

Seems like we've been down this road before. In 2004, I recall a lot of Dems who very confidently believed that the nation would never be so stupid as to vote for a second term of George W. Bush.
I recall how it was quite stunning when Bush "won" the election. It took me a couple of days to recover from the shock.

Anonymous said...

I think it is more along the lines of; for example, 'anti-war' people have to learn to be able to fight 'pro-war' people in order to win their cause. But their cause is not to fight in the first place.
Hence, the catch 22.

In order to fight the republicans on their terms, we have to turn into people we would rather not be.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the Chinese opium war. Britain wanted tea from China, yet China didn't want anything produced from the empire. Instead they demanded payment in silver. Britain didn't have any significant silver inputs and concerned about the outflow of silver they devised a new plan. They shipped opium to China to get the funds they needed. When China protested they beat it up and took Hong Kong.

All the gold would stack up in the oil states. This would mean the amounts left in the US would become ever more valuable. The only way to prevent it is to hand the gold back for US goods. This happens now except the Saudis recycle the dollars by agreeing to buy US munitions. They must have deserts full of rotting fighter jets and tanks by now. Yet they have to do it to keep the flow going. If they didn't the US would eventually be unable to buy any oil.

Russia has lots of everything. Its one weakness is lack of people with 140 million it does not campare with the other big powers.

Chris said...

I think that it is a fundamental flaw in the Democratic party. It is too corrupt.

Robert Reich, the 22nd Secretary of Labor (during the Clinton admin) fears that the Democratic party has lost its connection with the middle class. I am convinced that he is correct.

The Left these days is not as confrontational as the Right. Perhaps this is because the right is much more aggressive, and utterly unwilling to accept anything that deviates from their ideology ... including common sense. To be Liberal is to accept new ideas, and I am afraid that the left seems to have tolerated the intolerable.

I am also concerned that Obama is not the great man that you have portrayed him as. He voted to give the telecommunications industry immunity for spying, has shifted his Israel policy just to capture the Jewish vote here, and has abandoned public financing. He has also ignored issues like the growing water crisis (not just worldwide but in America), climate change, and has no major foreign policy plans (maybe why he choose Biden).

Marc McDonald said...

re:
>>I am also concerned that Obama
>>is not the great man that you
>>have portrayed him as.

Actually, I have not portrayed Obama as a "great man." I do support him over McSame---but I would have much, much rather have had a Dem candidate (and true progressive) like Kucinich.

re:
"(Obama) has no major foreign policy plans."

Hold on a minute. He has vowed to end the Iraq War fiasco. That's about as major (and important) a foreign policy plan as any candidate could possibly have in this election. In fact, in the area of foreign policy, everything else is trivial, compared to that.

Marc McDonald said...

re:
>>>Russia has lots of everything.
>>>Its one weakness is lack of
>>>people with 140 million it does
>>>not campare with the other big
>>>powers.

Well, 140 million is more than Japan has (and the latter has the world's second-largest economy).
And Russia these days does have the world's third largest (after China and Japan) foreign exchange reserves: an eye-popping $600 billion. This gives Russia a great deal of clout over debtor nations like the U.S. (even if most Americans are too ignorant and uninformed to grasp this).

Chris said...

Given the list of candidates for the White House, I am forced to agree with you on this one, Iraq is a major foreign policy plan. Hopefully the Democrats will prove more decisive if they get the White House.

The alternative, Hillary Clinton, does not appeal to me. McCain agrees with Bush about 95% of the time.

I am glad that Obama has not lived the elitist life that some of his colleagues in Senate have (at least not in his youth anyways), and I do hope the Obama will fight for the common citizen. It remains to be seen whether the Democrat hopeful will deliver or become another lame duck.

As for the national debt, I am convinced that the way things are going, the US is going to have to default on payment someday. The Bush administration insists that the deficits are temporary and manageable (of course, Bush also officially believes that the current recession is not a very severe problem). I think that this is a very serious problem for our children, and that Americans are in a psychological state of denial over the magnitude of the problem.

As I said, at the heart of the problem with the left not fighting is, to be liberal is to be open minded and flexible (versus the meaning of conservative). Even when those ideas contradict what is generally accepted as reason.