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News & Politics News & Politics

The Tragic Flaw of the American Liberal

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You can read the entire thing here.  I gave the best summary I could below.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/10/magazine/liberals-are-ruining-america-i-know-because-i-am-one.html?pagewanted=all

This, to be blunt, is the tragic flaw of the modern liberal. We choose to see ourselves as innocent victims of an escalating right-wing fanaticism. But too often we serve as willing accomplices to this escalation and to the resulting degradation of our civic discourse. We do this, without even meaning to, by consuming conservative folly as mass entertainment.

If this sounds like a harsh assessment, trust me, I’m among the worst offenders. Yes, I’m one of those enlightened masochists who tune in to conservative talk radio when driving alone. I recognize this as pathological behavior, and I always make sure to switch the station back to NPR before returning the car to my wife. But I can’t help myself. I take a perverse and complicated pleasure in listening to all the mean, manipulative things those people say.

Of course, not all right-wing pundits spew hate. But the ones who do are the ones we liberals dependably aggrandize. Consider the recent debate over whether employers must cover contraception in their health plans. The underlying question — should American women receive help in protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancies? — is part of a serious and necessary national conversation.

Any hope of that conversation happening was dashed the moment Rush Limbaugh began his attacks on Sandra Fluke, the young contraceptive advocate. The left took enormous pleasure in seeing Limbaugh pilloried. To what end, though? Industry experts noted that his ratings actually went up during the flap. In effect, the firestorm helped Limbaugh do his job, at least in the short term.

But the real problem isn’t Limbaugh. He’s just a businessman who is paid to reduce complex cultural issues to ad hominem assaults. The real problem is that liberals, both on an institutional and a personal level, have chosen to treat for-profit propaganda as news. In so doing, we have helped redefine liberalism as an essentially reactionary movement. Rather than initiating discussion, or advocating for more humane policy, we react to the most vile and nihilistic voices on the right.

Media outlets like MSNBC and The Huffington Post often justify their coverage of these voices by claiming to serve as watchdogs. It would be more accurate to think of them as de facto loudspeakers for conservative agitprop. The demagogues of the world, after all, derive power solely from their ability to provoke reaction. Those liberals (like me) who take the bait, are to blame for their outsize influence.

The most insidious effect of our addiction to right-wing misanthropy has been the erosion of our more generous instincts. At least for me. I’ve come to regard all conservatives as extremists, a mob of useful idiots plied by profiteers, rather than a diverse spectrum of citizens, many of whom share my values, anxieties and goals. When I hear the crowd at a Republican presidential debate cheer for capital punishment, I write them off as sadists, rather than accepting them as citizens seeking a means of keeping themselves safe. Slagging conservatism has become my one acceptable form of bigotry.

Imagine, if you will, the domino effect that would ensue if liberals and moderates simply tuned out the demagogues. Yes, they would still be able to manipulate their legions into endorsing cruel and self-defeating policies. But their voices would be sealed within the echo chamber of extremism and sealed off from the majority of Americans who honestly just want our common problems solved. They would be marginalized in the same way as activists who rant about racial purity or anarchy.

Rush Limbaugh would be a radio host catering to a few million angry commuters, not the alpha male of conservatism. Fox News would be a popular fringe network, not the reliable conduit by which paranoid hogwash infects our mainstream media.

In this world, it would be much harder to mislead people because media outlets would shift their resources to covering the content of proposed legislation, the exploding role of corporate influence in our affairs of state and the scientifically confirmed predicaments we face as a species.

Liberals and moderates would no longer be able to mollify themselves by watching Jon Stewart mock conservative wack jobs. They would be forced to consider their own values and the sort of actions necessary to reify those values in the world. They might even consider breaching our artificially inflated partisan divide.

This last measure, I realize, hasn’t worked for President Obama. But he’s up against a cohort of politicians underwritten by special interests. We citizens can’t use that excuse. We all have the same basic interests: to provide for our families, to worship as we see fit, to pursue happiness. We live in a country of unimaginable abundance. It shouldn’t be so hard to find common ground.

I’m as heartbroken as the next liberal at the cynicism of the Republican Party and the inability of Democrats to confront them in blunt moral terms. But as Americans, we are endowed with the freedom to vote for the sort of democracy we want — not just at the ballot booth, but with our attention and energy. The more we devote to amplifying conflict, the less we listen to each other. Which is precisely what those special interests want: a nation too distracted by wrath to follow the money.

My personal goal is simple: to go cold turkey on conservative wing nuts and instead take up the hard work of genuine political action. It’s time for all of us — liberal, conservative and otherwise — to define ourselves as Americans not by who we hate but by what we can do to strengthen our communities and country.

by on Nov. 14, 2012 at 2:30 PM
Replies (41-46):
Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Nov. 17, 2012 at 3:44 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Clairwil:

Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Billiejeens:
Quoting Clairwil:
Quoting Billiejeens:

no more shows such as Will and Grace who's whole existence was to mainstream homosexuality, if homosexuality deserves to be mainstreamed, then the people can can do, without the money spent on that show, no more money in politics.  No movies such as Wall Street demonizing the rich

If people prefer to spend their time and money watching Will and Grace rather than whatever the right-wing equivalent show is (24 with Jack Bauer?), isn't that their choice not something imposed upon them?  If there were a demand for more right wing TV, why hasn't the market led people to step into that gap to supply it?

You should pay more attention, Why so you think Fox destroyed their competition?  Everytime a show with decent moralistic views is on, the rating are insane, whereas Good Christian Bitches lasted about 2 weeks.

Most all of the TV executives live in a bubble, they have never been through fly-over country, the only people that they talk to are exactly like them, how can they program to me, when they don't know that I exist.

If that's so, why are you advocating censorship?   Why not let the market fix the situation?

I am not advocating censorship, you have it exactly backwards.

I simply want your side to see how much "in kind" contributions that you receive for your views and they politely say "never mind" on the money thing, and lets get to work solving the problem.

Is that really too much to ask?

As an American, I thought you were meant to believe in "government of the people, by the people, for the people" (as Lincoln put it, in his Gettysburg Address) ?

If economic forces mean the media will tend in the direction of reflecting what the people want to watch, then that's ok, that's in line with rule by the people.

Whereas if special interests have direct access to purchasing legislation which, in turn, means they will have more money to purchase further legislation, that's not self-correcting, that's not tending to align with the interests of the people.

 

I really don't think you can say "Hey, it is all ok, the system works, because on one side views want to watch films like 'Wall Street' while, on the other side, actual Wall Street bankers can win massive tax breaks by funding the re-election of sympathetic representatives to the legislature."


Completely missed the point, thanks for trying though.

blues_pagan
by on Nov. 17, 2012 at 7:07 PM

You know, only you and maybe 2 others actually found it insulting.  I take it that you consider yourself one of those wing nuts and I actually would agree with that.

Quoting imamomzilla:

 SIGHS. Tragic, indeed.

There's no point in reading the drivel when you bold and underline your insulting "summary".

You say you're intent is to make peace and then you post crap like this...calling your opposition "wing nuts".

Disingenuous, at best.

 


imamomzilla
by on Nov. 17, 2012 at 7:19 PM

*smh

 I suspect that others who found it insulting didn't bother to respond at all. That would make sense.

But you keep on doing what you do...just don't act all butt hurt when you get a taste of your own medicine.

wink mini

 

Quoting blues_pagan:

You know, only you and maybe 2 others actually found it insulting.  I take it that you consider yourself one of those wing nuts and I actually would agree with that.

Quoting imamomzilla:

 SIGHS. Tragic, indeed.

There's no point in reading the drivel when you bold and underline your insulting "summary".

You say you're intent is to make peace and then you post crap like this...calling your opposition "wing nuts".

Disingenuous, at best.

 


 

itsmesteph11
by Silver Member on Nov. 17, 2012 at 9:50 PM
2 moms liked this

I use social issues because this one is mentioned in the article.  Social issues should not be addressed in Presidential elections. Those issues are always emotional and ALWAYS used to drive a wedge between people.  Period. If we had no social issue being thrown at us we would only have the issues that really matter at the time (like a country going down the toilet) to talk about.   Face it, Liberals and Conservatives are different in thinking. Where this guy says Contraception is a serious and necessary national issue a Conservative laughs.  Seriously? If you can't pay for your own bc don't have sex. If you want it to be an issue, take it to your state. The fact is you don't have the right to ask all of America to pay for your bc and others don't have the right to deny bc.  States can vote and make that decision.  If you don't like it then you can take it to court or MOVE. The vitreol on the left will never allow Americans to be bipartisan sweeties working together for a common goal that will never be.

Friday
by Platinum Member on Nov. 17, 2012 at 11:18 PM


Quoting imamomzilla:

 SIGHS. Tragic, indeed.

There's no point in reading the drivel when you bold and underline your insulting "summary".

You say you're intent is to make peace and then you post crap like this...calling your opposition "wing nuts".

Disingenuous, at best.

 

I don't think 'wing nuts' was meant to include all Republicans or Conservatives, just the extremists. That's how it read to me. Just like in your post about 'lunatic lefties' or whatever it was. I didn't take that to mean all Dem/Libs just the nutters, like Pelosi.


Church of The Invisible Pink Unicorn (blessed be her holy hooves)

blues_pagan
by on Nov. 18, 2012 at 9:18 AM

Just commenting on the portion underlined and in red.

This type of thinking is why America can never be bipartisan.  When you blame only one side for a two sided problem, well then progress will never be made.

Quoting itsmesteph11:

I use social issues because this one is mentioned in the article.  Social issues should not be addressed in Presidential elections. Those issues are always emotional and ALWAYS used to drive a wedge between people.  Period. If we had no social issue being thrown at us we would only have the issues that really matter at the time (like a country going down the toilet) to talk about.   Face it, Liberals and Conservatives are different in thinking. Where this guy says Contraception is a serious and necessary national issue a Conservative laughs.  Seriously? If you can't pay for your own bc don't have sex. If you want it to be an issue, take it to your state. The fact is you don't have the right to ask all of America to pay for your bc and others don't have the right to deny bc.  States can vote and make that decision.  If you don't like it then you can take it to court or MOVE. The vitreol on the left will never allow Americans to be bipartisan sweeties working together for a common goal that will never be.


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