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The Year We Were Left Right Out Of Our Minds

October 19, 2010

If you don’t do politics, politics gets done to you. So let’s do some together right now.

And if you don’t see how a post about the mid-term elections belongs in a Joy Project blog, bear with me. We’ll get there.

Two years ago many here in the Lefty Tribe had decided we’d had enough. The result was an historical election. This year, it’s the Tea Party people who’ve had enough, and they seem poised to shift things back their way.

These folks can best be described as The Scared And The Scary. Comprised mostly of white boomer males, they have recently seen a left-of-center black man come out of nowhere to win the presidency. Further, he also has the balls to actually change things like he said he would. Since for the past 35 years this has been an ability exhibited only by Republicans, the Right finds itself freaked, frightened and furious.

And scared witless. To wit:

A few months after assuming office, a wave of alarm spreads when Obama plans to visit an elementary school and address the students. Fox News and the Right declare the president is going to brainwash our children! It was as if  his office had announced his intention to hand out condoms and needles.

During the health care debate, the Right actually believes the government is moving to take over health care, setting up “death panels” to kill yo mama if she gets too sick.

Fox’s Glenn Beck addresses the N.R.A. and informes them that “Marxist revolutionaries” have taken over the White House. What’s a patriot with a rifle to do?

Many from the same end of the political spectrum are currently frightening themselves into believing Muslims (who many on the Right believe Obama to be) are in the process of taking over the country and intending to impose Islamic Sharia Law like the Taliban did in Afghanistan. 

And Muslims aren’t the only ones being “othered”. One of my Right Wing friends, who’s worried about immigration, warned that one day “the illegals” could start an Intifada here.

Many on the right are now global warming deniers and believe liberals are part of a push for a New World Order of internationalists who will steal our sovereignty and force everyone to ride bicycles.

On the surface, these angry people seem motivated by a greedy self-interest, ignorance and fear.

But I personally believe that if you look deeper, one driving force behind this mostly male rebellion is their sneaking suspicion that they’re being phased out. When you consider who it was that overwhelmingly got laid off these past few years (men); and who, for the first time, comprises the majority of workers in this country (women); along with the majority of law school students (women) and medical school students and PhD earners (women), you can begin to see why these guys are so susceptible to fear mongering. The future is female…and also multi-racial. And though this is good for the human race as a whole, there are millions of white men in America who have been around long enough to find that the tables have been turned and now it is they who are being marginalized. 

But the fact remains that, understandably frightened or not, The Scared And The Scary need to be confronted, exposed, and opposed. However, we need to do it without  catching the Afraids Virus they’re spreading. And we should also get off our high horse. Because the Left has its own illnesses.

If you’re a progressive as I am, you may want to consider a recent Columbia and Stanford study that found that 25% of Americans surveyed blame “the Jews” for the financial crisis we’ve been in. And within that 25%, there were twice as many Democrats as Republicans. (Yes you read that right).

And when it comes to paranoia, if you talk to those in The-Government-Orchestrated-9/11 crowd, you’d be talking to Lefties, not Righties.

My point is, things ain’t simple. Tea Partiers may be largely motivated by ignorance, fear and bigotry, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been hoarding all of it.

So, you might ask, where’s the Joy in all this?

To begin with, I suspect we’re all taking this Right/Left seesaw that we’re on far too seriously. Seesaws get nowhere, and a bird needs both a left and a right wing, otherwise it flies in circles. Or something like that. Let me put it another way. When I really stop to think about the Tea Party movement, I begin to wonder…

Can a libertarian, idealistic, anti-authoritarian movement —  that’s pro Constitution and Bill of Rights and is against big government and bailouts of banks — be all bad?

Can an aroused electorate, full of outraged people who are standing up to fight against what they can’t stand anymore, have no potential for doing good?

Perhaps there’s something as yet undefined and unnamed that is trying to emerge. Perhaps there are coalitions waiting to happen. (Diversity, if you truly believe in it, means including people who don’t). Both sides contain millions of alienated and justifiably angry voters who feel helpless over huge forces that seem to be controlling our lives. So I see opportunity in this partisan crisis…if we only open our minds. The Right is anti-big-government; the Left anti-big-business. Seems to me we both share an anti-big sentiment that has great possibility once we get off the see saw.

Perhaps something within us all is trying to shake us awake from our us/them trance dance. 

“I think people are smart enough now to know the world we are living in is going wrong.” This was said to a reporter recently at a Tea Party gathering. Can you honestly say you disagree with her?

We’re here to wake each other up, even if it’s a rude awakening. Maybe we all share more in common than we realize.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2010 2:40 pm

    <>

    Wait a second, what does getting laid have to do with any of this?

    • October 19, 2010 2:41 pm

      I was responding to your line:

      “When you consider who it was that overwhelmingly got laid off these past few years (men);”

  2. October 19, 2010 5:41 pm

    I like the way you wind this up by trying to overcome the dualism of the typical left-right political distinctions. The Left in the USA is no more ideologicaly coherent, in my opinion, than the Right. They’re both a jumble of contradictory beliefs that became established for political and historical reasons, not logical reasons. Therefore, it makes no sense to bash the Right (or the Left) and hold the Left (or the Right) blameless. I agree, too, that what we want is more personal freedom, autonomy, and dignity, via smaller, more local communities rather than big business and big government.

    I could do without the white male bashing that you started this with, however. The ideological basis of the Left is the class struggle. It just so happens that in the USA many people were driven down the social ladder by racial oppression, hence class struggle in the USA is also racial struggle. Early on, the women’s movement formed alongside the abolitionist movement, and every other identity movement has been formed on the basis of the racial struggle as a template.

    But it’s important to remember that the primary struggle is about class. When the racial or gender struggle supplants class struggle, to the point where it becomes acceptable to bash white men just for being white men, regardless of their class, then the Left is turning its guns on itself.

    Of course, this problem goes back to the 1960s when the New Left failed so miserably to engage the white male working class. And we have been living with the consequences since then. The decline of the American middle income working class–no so heavily documented–is surely a result of the decline of the traditional class struggle Left.

  3. Beow permalink
    October 23, 2010 11:37 pm

    Hey Charley,

    I’ve had your article on my mind most of the week, so I thought of you when I came across this:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/nader10222010.html

    It’s a good list of thought-provoking questions that aims to do exactly what you suggest: redirect the vitriol of the tea-partiers towards the real enemies who do the most to attack the values that they (and we) hold as our foundation.

    And if you want to poke around a bit, there are some other great articles on that site that take a non-knee-jerk look at the deeper politics of the tea party beneath all the well-publicized batshit stuff they do for the cameras.

    -Bill

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