Ok, it’s been a week since my last post. I was supposed to take a total break from politics, including commenting on other sites, but…that didn’t really work out. What can I say, I’m an addict.
I’ve been doing some thinking about the great frustration of being a liberal in what feels like an increasingly conservative world. It feels like we’re losing, and losing badly. Especially here in the US, it seems that people have given up on our ideas – protecting the environment, improving the lives of the poor, increased social equality, scientific progress. These once-revered goals are now seen as not only too expensive, but actually bad in themselves. That more equality is more socialist, and socialism is the ultimate form of bad, the one bad that all other kinds of bad – pain, sadness, etc. – lead to.
How did it get like this? How is it that so many people, maybe half the country, maybe more, thinks Obama is too liberal (and way too liberal, according to most of those people)? It’s not because we’re wrong. If you look at ountries that have embraced liberal ideas, they’re doing great. Their people are getting better medical care at a lower overall price, their poor are able to get by, public transportation is widespread and practical, the tax burden is higher – but people gladly pay it, knowing what they’re getting in return, and credit ratings are still in the AAA category. Denmark, Canada, Germany – liberalism has clearly done wonders for these countries.
So if we’re right, why are we losing? Hard to say. But my best guess is that it’s because conservatives have successfully made us liberals into mythically horrible creatures. From the time of the first hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee onward, liberals have steadily moved in the public’s imagination from being well-intentioned but perhaps unrealistic, to the caricature of weak, America-hating, egotistical, elitist, fascistic pussies that is spread far and wide by Republican thought police today. It’s gotten so bad that polls show Americans agreeing with liberal ideas while proudly declaring their conservativeness, supporting Republican candidates that are actively working against what they believe in. They demand tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to programs that help them, NOT because they have been misinformed, but because they have willingly accepted misinformation to protect themselves from their fear that they may in fact be liberals, and lying to themselves about it.
So where am I going with all this? I think we as liberals need a change of strategy and we need to get in conservatives’ turf a bit. But respectfully. We should not look at the tea party as a pack of stupid nutcases, but as misguided people who are liberals at heart, who can and should be guided patiently away from the fear and anger that has corrupted them. But more importantly, we should seek them out in their own hiding places, and make them see that we are not monsters, that we are people who basically believe what they do, but believe it better.