Thursday, May 26, 2011

Left of the So-Called-Left

I want to be evenhanded in my opinions. I want to imagine that I've given a fair chance to the opposition before settling on my eventual position. Some bias is expected, but I like to think that I've been generally open minded. So it bothers me when I find myself dismissing positions and policies and ideas put forth by Republicans without even evaluating them. I hear that they're from Senator (R) of State and I immediately tune out.

When I go back to review a bill or statement by a Republican, I inevitably find that my knee-jerk reaction was correct. It bothered me tremendously until I figured it out; I don't take Republicans seriously because I've been buying into the false dichotomy of American politics. We have two political parties, one conservative, one ostensibly liberal. But that isn't necessarily the reality. In truth, one is conservative and the other is super-conservative. Republican and Democrat are our only real choices, but it isn't a real choice. It's a choice between Oligarchs; Kang v. Kodos.

By all measures that matter, Reagan - hell, Nixon - was more liberal than Obama. And yet we are still faced with decisions. In 2012 will it be Obama v. Bachman? Obama v. Huckabee? Obama v. Pawlenty? These are ridiculous choices. If conservatives (not the insane ones, to be clear) are clear-headed enough, they'll vote for Obama. Republican contenders (not yet chosen, to be fair) are, so far, fascist lunatics. Without them for contrast, Obama would appear to appeal to the conservative base. Sure, he's pro-choice and not homophobic, but is that really the only measure we can use to judge legitimate candidates? He's proven to be pro-war and pro-big business, he's failed to follow up on most of his 2008 campaign promises (closing Guantanamo, scaling back the wars, reforming health care in any real sense, adding oversight to industry, etc, etc). Only by modern political standards is he liberal.

So my problem is not that I can't take conservatives seriously or entertain their ideas. My problem is that the Democratic party of 2011 is as conservative as I am willing to go and there isn't really a real liberal party. Sorry if this is too "Godwin's law," but the Republican party had may as well be fascists or the Taliban for all the respect I feel that I owe them. I seriously disagree with many, if not most, Democratic policies, but I feel as though I can have a conversation with them and see their point of view.

Once I realized that, I felt relieved because I knew that I could have some legitimate and intellectually honest political discourse. I also was profoundly depressed because I saw that our country was completely fucked, because choosing between Republicans and Democrats is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea.


Granite-M said...

You might want to take a quick look at this:

I'm not saying that Obama isn't much more of a pro-business centrist than his campaign led us to believe. But withdrawals are happening.

Also, try the Sex Party!

Caitlin @ Clutter Cubed said...

You could always move to Canada! We are lib..., er... have... um...
Nevermind, we just elected our version of W. Bush to office. :(
But! NDP got the official opposition, so that's cool.

Also, I thought you guys weren't able to do any heath care reforms, because everyone freaked out because it was "socialist! Oh noes!"?

nathaniel wallace said...

Yes, troop withdrawals are happening. But the withdrawal from Iraq was already scheduled before Obama took office. What wasn't planned before Obama was a troop increase in Afghanistan, drone strikes in Pakistan, a third war in Libya, etc, etc, etc.

I'm not saying that he's a bad president so much as I'm saying that he's a bad liberal. Policy for policy, Obama is more conservative than Reagan.

It's simply the state of American (and Canadian, apparently) politics.

And yes, Americans freaked out that health care was socialist. Because Americans are dumb. Americans don't realize that fire departments and highway management and public schools are essentially socialist institutions. The problem I had with Obama is that he never seemed to really try to get any kind of real reform through. The same is true with the financial reforms. In both cases the so-called liberals started from a right-of-center position, adopting - sometimes word for word - language from bills previously proposed by Republicans. And then the Republicans took the opportunity to call that the liberal position and drag the debate further to the right.

Evan Scott said...

I haven't read it yet, but you might want to take a look at Chris Hedges' new book, The Death of the Liberal Class . You'll likely find at least a sympathetic, if not a very well-reasoned voice in Hedges.