Monday, December 7, 2009

God damnit, Harry!

This post will probably be the first in a series of posts describing exactly why Democrats suck at politics and how this country's dispossessed are being fucked because of it. Any reader of the liberal blogosphere during the past five or so years already has a few ideas of their own about why the Democrats can't serve their traditional constituencies, including the trivial answer, which is that their constituencies are often not the dispossessed but the monied elites. Of course, this trivial answer holds in many cases, but sometimes liberals within the Democratic Party cannot be ignored, and incremental reform is forced through. This post is a short analysis of one of those cases in which a Democrat takes a short break from whoring themselves out, and instead tries to advance a liberal cause. I will try to explain how a relatively simple exercise in describing an injustice and what you plan to do about it turns into a shitstorm:

This morning, Senate majority leader Harry Reid got up in front of a Senate microphone to speak about the opposition to health care reform and this happened:
"You think you've heard these same excuses before? You're right," [Reid] continued. "In this country...there were those who dug in their heels and said, 'Slow down, it's too early. Let's wait. Things aren't bad enough' " - about slavery.
When women wanted to vote, he went on, opponents said, " 'Slow down, there will be a better day to do that -- the day isn't quite right.' "
He finished with: "When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone, regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today."
There are those who would say that Harry Reid was simply describing conservatism, that he was simply drawing historical parallels, not comparing degrees of wrongness. They are right of course. Conservatism is, by definition, always on the wrong side of history in every single matter of importance in American society. Conservatism is not a set of principles. It is defined by the defense of the status quo, whatever that may be. The American Revolution was liberal because it resulted in freedom from a monarchy. Unions are liberal because they result in freedom from economic exploitaition. Universal health care, Medicare for all, or the more limited public option are liberal because they will result in freedom from corporate abuse and corporate "death panels".

However, what Harry Reid said was incredibly stupid because the American people do not learn political history in school. That is, they do not learn about politics in the context of society. They do not learn the various ways in which power is controlled and abused in a democracy. Instead, they are taught that democracy is simply government by the people. So what the American people heard in Harry Reid's above quote was not a reminder of the history of American reactionary politics and how it has manifested itself today, but simple hyperbole.

The Democratic Party can't or won't teach the people about the role of the elite in democracy, so the public is not prepared to hear strong condemnations of power coming from the powerful. Instead, the public has been dicked around so much from thirty years of entrenched conservative governance that they fail to notice when their interests are being advanced. Instead, they think that everything their government does is an abuse of power. Right now, Jeffrey Dommer could convince people that health insurance companies are villains. Harry Reid can't. Why is this? Maybe it has to do with the fact that deep down, under all of the centrist whoredom is a pissed-off liberal fighter. Sometimes that liberal fighter is let out screaming, but unfortunately the political context into which the fighting words are loosed is devoid of understanding. I would advise Democrats to shut up about history. Americans don't understand it. What Americans do understand is being fucked around with, and I suggest the Democrats learn how to tell it to people straight.

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