Moving Aside and Moving Forward: The Rot vs. The Circular Firing Squad

Today’s one screed is brought to you by multiple editorials in the WaPo, NYT, etc., all inspired by Righties embarrassed but not enough by being Republicans. They are still wrong. The Left, meh. Not a winner. You needn’t read further if you just came for the 411.

As a kid I thought the best version of the Star Spangled Banner was Hendrix, the best version of a politician was Bobby Kennedy and Shirley Chisholm, that a judge should think like Thurgood Marshall, and then much later than that Presidents could look like Barack Obama. Everything, and I mean everything, that those leaders thought should be the future is under threat, being rolled back, or destroyed.

As soon as we stereotype we lose the difference between a likely demographic, which has documentable features that can point to expected patterns of behavior, and incipient bigotries, blanket condemnations. I submit that the Left is just as likely to fail to make this distinction as the Right. Substitute the stereotype for the demographic and there’s any easy choice that is, in truth, not going to prove helpful. (Let’s use “Left” and “Right” rather loosely enough, okay?)

On the Left there are substantive differences in viewpoints and policies. Or are there? There are certainly other kinds of real difference in terms of age, culture, ethnicity, etc. There are substantive differences no matter what leadership thinks or what people want. The Left is likely to shoot its dissenters. On the Right there is in both substance and fact no important differences— I will return to this point. The Right in America is white, older, and almost all members of the same religion (or that weird other thing that makes evangelicals put Israeli flags next to their Confederate flags— I have -seen- this where I live.)

But first, Lefties might have some spectrum of economics and different priorities based on ideological, even ethical views. For example, on the death penalty or 2nd Amendment rights, people inclined to vote for the Left may have substantive differences. Lefty leadership might want to think twice or more about imposing litmus and purity tests or it can be happy to stay in the powerless wilderness with their principles intact. I am not sanguine about any Left leadership. I am an anachronism. Bobby, Thurgood, and Hendrix are dead. Obama can’t help us because the Right had an effective plan to render him largely ineffective. They succeeded, for the most part, because he failed to rally the Left and the Left failed to make its case. Left leadership coming up the ranks seems to me, well, just as lost but I am willing to concede any role to them. Let them try. Personally, I’m on to do the last 15 years of my own work.

Much of the criticism of the Right about Lefties silencing and censorship, purity tests and branding whole groups as enemies has at least some merit. What they say about academia may be exaggerated, often silly, but it is not entirely wrong. I work there and there’s plenty of ideological loyalty standards for someone to be in or out. It’s not a friendly place unless you’re on one and the same bus. Righties are, however, far, far worse hypocrites. I choose the lesser of two weevils.

When David Brooks, Scarborough, Gerson, Rubin, Wehner, along with Flake and Corker and Collins lament the fate of the Republican Party’s turn to Trumpism, they all fail to acknowledge their complicity and hypocrisy. They did this. They cheered the Tea Party and the white nationalists until it just got to be too ugly. If the faces of those fanatics were just slightly less ugly, they would still be cheering. The real issue is that they are not _substantively_ different. All Alabama had to do was put up one of their candidates —whose Senate votes would be just as regressive, driven by oligarchs, and proven failed policies– and they would have won in a landslide. There is no _effective_ difference between Roy Moore and Luther Strange and Mitch McConnell and the rest of them know this.

Right policies are anachronistic, failed (think e.g., trickledown), and worst of all willingly and shamelessly imposed on the majority. They are also racist and sexist and that will eventually hurt them more than it does now. They have created non-majoritarian rule, not governance based on compromise, and there is nothing about any revision to the Republican Party that will change that. How many pro-choice Republicans are there?

In contrast there actually are on the Left views about abortion that offer some shades of difference. Interestingly, the Left is more libertarian than the Right, move live and let live. Or is it? But that’s another argument. I’m not trying to argue a position here, I’m merely pointing out that Republican/Right _rot_ is entire, that there is nothing _at all_ about the Right that allows the rest of us, the majority, any room. The question is: will the Left make room for difference, the difference it claims to represent?

The issue I see is twofold. Democrats are the only hope for the republic’s _survival_ since Republicans seek the End Times. Lefties who fail to acknowledge how the system works will, as usual, fail. Will they lead with shades of ideological difference? A real inclusive that means a “middle”? This means the Left has to find room for more points of view _or_ it can just become the Not The Right party. Divided we stand? That could work for now. I think the Right might force this position and they will still lose because they are extremists and the majority knows this.

But for Democrats to win and be _for_ something, they are going to have to take that big tent of their coalitions and try to avoid the circular firing squad routine. So far, they have not shown me they can do that. So I am not yet for Democrats, I am just wholly opposed to Republicans. That might be enough to get me through the bonus period of life. The future is up for grabs.

Leave a Reply