When did we get to this point?
I mean, look at the Republican Klown Kar for a clue. At some point, when everyone thinking of running actually throws their pointy little hat into the ring, we will have the richest vein of comedic gold in American history, and absolutely no one who can be looked at seriously as a contender for the White House. The closest one is the brother of the worst president in American history, by far, and the son of another president who is undoubtedly in the bottom five. It’s been that way for a while, because what Republicans believe is nothing even close to mainstream.
Consider: Just over just the past few weeks, we’ve seen the following;
- A Republican lawyer in California is collecting signatures on a ballot measure called the Homosexual Suppression Act, which would allow Californians to shoot homosexuals just because they felt like it. Yes, I know it can never pass, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
- First-class Islamophobe Pamela Geller and like-minded bigots set up a “contest” for people who can’t draw to compete to draw the best images of Islamic Prophet Muhammad in Republican-run Texas. While there was a lot of talk about the “First Amendment,” we all know better. Sure enough, a couple of nuts trying to gain brownie points with ISIS showed up to create mayhem, and they were shot dead. (Gee, who could have imagined, right?)
- In Republican-run Florida, a couple had consensual sex on the beach, someone saw them and they’re both facing time in jail. Not a ticket and a few hours of community service, but jail. Plus, they will both clog the sex offender registry.
- Republican leaders in the state of Texas are up in arms – pretty much literally – over an imaginary plot in which they envision President Obama invading their state. For what, no one explains.
- An 18-year-old man who beat up a car during the Baltimore riots received a higher level of bail than any of the six Baltimore Police officers accused of the murder of Freddie Gray while in their care/custody.
- Republican Paul Ryan claimed (out loud, no less) that the reason poor people in Baltimore rioted is because their welfare payments are “too lucrative.”
- Republican presidential “candidate” Mike Huckabee claimed the US Supreme Court can’t possibly “overrule God” when it comes to marriage equality. A few weeks ago, he promised that, if elected, he would “restore God’s law” as the Founders apparently intended. And that was before he announced.
- Republican media icon Laura Ingraham suggested that, if same-sex marriage was okay, next would be polygamy (really, who cares about that, anyway?) and incest.
- In the space of one week, Republicans in Congress voted to fix payment issues with Medicare with a “doc-fix” which was good thing and long overdue, even though it will cost $269 billion, but then these “fiscal conservatives” voted to completely repeal the estate tax, which affects almost no one but would cost us about $259 billion. Then they voted to add an amendment to the NDAA that would repeal protections for military personnel against predatory lending practices.
- The same day he couldn’t find the time to vote for the “doc-fix” bill, Senator Ted Cruz, another Klown in the GOP Kar, managed to find the time to offer up two bills intended to (presumably) make it constitutional for a state to ban same-sex marriage.
There was a time when all of the above would have been seen as outrageous and would not have been tolerated by the American people. So, the question is, why do we put up with it now? Why do we allow our government to be co-opted by a group of people who pretty much everyone else understands are crazy.
I want you to remember a phrase that is very important going forward, especially over the next few columns:
Nature abhors a vacuum.
I want you to think about that phrase every time you read this blog for awhile, because that phrase is the key to everything that we progressives have to do for a while; a long while. The Republican Party has been co-opted by a bunch of crazy people, and we progressives let it happen. And we let it happen because nature abhors a vacuum.
The problem with United States, politically speaking, is breathtakingly simple. One side of the political spectrum is yelling and screaming about everything under the sun for one single solitary purpose; to depress turnout on election day. They know their “base” of crazies will show up every election day without fail; it is rare that Republican turnout in any election is below 80 percent; most of the time it’s upwards of 90 percent.
Nothing the crazy Republican Party says these days has anything to do with the problems this country faces right now. Really, think about it; when is the last time you heard a Republican politician talk about an actual problem we face? For that matter, when’s the last time you heard a Republican politician talk about anything in a positive way? Their entire shtick is all about negativity and how bad their opponents are. Whatever the electorate thinks is bad is the “liberal Democrats'” fault.
This strategy serves several purposes. First, like I said, it depresses turnout; most people want to vote for something, not against everything. Second, it reinforces a notion the Republican base loves, that government doesn’t work. Nothing makes a Republican hotter than the concept that government only screws things up. Thye believe that despite the fact that every economic downturn in history can be traced to their beloved “markets,” and it’s always been government that bails them out or prevents excess. However, the main purpose of Republicans in government these days is to prove that government can’t work.
That there is a third purpose. By not talking about any of the problems that need to be solved in this country, Republicans create an information deficit, or vacuum, if you will. And since, like I said, nature abhors a vacuum, whatever information is out there, even if it’s bad information, will get sucked into and fill that information vacuum. If you doubt that, consider; Fox News Channel.
Our problem, in a nutshell, is that progressives and liberals should be filling that vacuum, but we’re not. We don’t supply any sort of message at all, so we have a situation in which Republicans are creating the vacuum in the first place and then filling it with their own bullshit. This, despite the reality that the beauty of liberalism is that is based in truth; facts are our stock in trade. But we don’t use them these days, so we keep losing to a bunch of reprobates. Instead of creating, honing and propagating a coherent liberal message, we seem far too content to react to everything Republicans do and say, which means the only message that gets out is the one created by the Republican bullshit machine to fill their own vacuum.
We react. We complain. We engage in our now infamous “outrage of the day” exercises. Many on our side seem to think that the proper reaction to Pamela Geller putting together a contest to incite crazy Muslims to violence is to denounce Pamela Geller, and not the mindset that allows such an insulting and degrading activity to gain traction in the first place.
This is the key, folks. We have to stop reacting, and we have to stop focusing on individual people and individual incidents, because we need to change the mindset of the American public; a mindset that is created by the one-sidedness of the overall debate. I mean, think about it; when they throw a message out there like, “Muslims are trying to kill us,” is “No they’re not; you’re a bigot” really the alternate message we want to send? The problem with a reaction like that is twofold; one is, it amplifies their message, which is (again) designed to make people depressed and not want to vote. Also, there is no alternate message for those who are disgusted with the system to hold onto and pull themselves out of the abyss.
Put simply, we live in a democracy, and if we’re not trying to get more votes than everyone else, we’re destined to fail forever.
We used to have momentum on issues like guns and capital punishment and abortion and violence in general. Not that long ago, many of the things that we accept as normalcy now were considered whacko. We used to think that black people having unemployment was too high was wrong and needed to be addressed by the white majority. Now, it seems to be “conventional wisdom” that anyone not working is lazy. If we were making an impact, there is no way such a thing would become part of the societal mindset.
There are simply too many things going on right now that should be seen as completely and absolutely unacceptable, and the fact that they’re not means we liberals have failed to this point. We liberals have to change the way people think, and we need to change what people find to be acceptable in our society. It’s not just about abortion, or gay rights, or the minimum wage, or unions, or welfare, or government spending, or taxes or any other single issue; it’s about the overall mindset. Many of the things Americans think are okay now are not okay, but we won’t change any minds if all we do is complain about everything.
There is a single solitary question that we need to answer as liberals every single time we talk about anything. And I don’t mean that we have to ask the question; we need to provide the answer to this question on every single issue, regardless of what that issue is or what it means to us. That question is;
What do we want our country to be?
That is the most important question of our time, and it’s one that progressives and liberals never answers. We complain about everything the right wing does, but we really don’t offer an alternative for people to think about.
In the next article, I will discuss the insanity of focusing on individual people and individual issues, and why that kills us politically. In the meantime, when you post about politics on Twitter or Facebook, start answering that question every time you talk about something. The subtext always has to be about the answer to that question, because that’s an important question, not whether or not a Republican right-winger is wrong. Nature abhors a vacuum. Our rhetoric has to fill that vacuum, not leave the vacuum to the right wing fart machine to fill.