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Radically Inept
Saturday, July 17, 2004
  Why are the Democrats pursuing irrelevancy?

I posted about catching Thomas Frank discussing his new book What's the Matter with Kansas? : How Conservatives Won the Heart of America on BOOK TV before.

Now the latest TomDispatch includes this Red-State America Against Itself
By Thomas Frank
. It's an excellent article, though I may be biased as I agree w/ his overall analysis; especially this:
Democratic political strategy simply assumes that people know where their economic interest lies and that they will act on it by instinct. There is no need for any business-bumming class-war rhetoric on the part of candidates or party spokesmen, and there is certainly no need for a liberal to actually get his hands dirty fraternizing with the disgruntled. Let them look at the record and see for themselves: Democrats are slightly more generous with Social Security benefits, slightly stricter on environmental regulations, and do less union-busting than Republicans.
This is exactly what I came away with when I attended a couple of local democratic functions, including hearing DNC chair McAwffle.

All they kept talking about was how 'we' were going to beat the republicans. How this seat was vulnerable, or the strategy for winning various seats. And I kept repeating the same question in various forms:
"But why should I vote for you? Why should "I" care if you win? What is the party's goal? What are 'we' going to do, when 'we' win?
They just sort of stared at me blank faced, like I was a little slow child and didn't understand adult politics.

Okay. Maybe I'm not as astute as I think I am, but I do know sales. You don't get sales or market share by saying 'Buy Me, So My Competitors Lose'. The customer has no dog in the fight. They'll buy on something, and now you've lost the ability to influence that decision.

What is the democratic party offering me? Pretty much nothing, as far as I can tell. In fact, I happen to have come to the belief that the democrats are an irrelevant party. It's the party of soft corporatists vs the party of strong corporate owners, the average American isn't even represented in the fight. As Thomas says
The true lesson for liberals in the Kansas story is the utter and final repudiation of their historical decision to remake themselves as the other pro-business party. By all rights the people of Wichita and Shawnee should today be flocking to the party of Roosevelt, not deserting it. Culturally speaking, however, that option is simply not available to them anymore. Democrats no longer speak to the people on the losing end of a free-market system that is becoming more brutal and more arrogant by the day.

The problem is not that Democrats are monolithically pro-choice or anti-school-prayer; it's that by dropping the class language that once distinguished them sharply from Republicans they have left themselves vulnerable to cultural wedge issues like guns and abortion and the sneers of Hollywood whose hallucinatory appeal would ordinarily be far overshadowed by material concerns. We are in an environment where Republicans talk constantly about class -- in a coded way, to be sure -- but where Democrats are afraid to bring it up.
Yeah. It often does seem to be the party of pussies vs the party of bullies. Geez.

But I kind of think that if the dems were smart, they'd let Edwards bring his a fairly effective populist appeal to the campaign, and more importantly, to the party platform. Then I might have some reason to vote democratic this year.

Otherwise, I'm writing in one of my favorite atheists, Ted Turner for the shot at the presidency. Feel free to join me, if by November the dems are still totally, Radically Inept and still haven't addressed the issues that count. We can all write in Ted.

As those great philosophers once said:
Otter: Bluto's right. Psychotic, but absolutely right. We gotta take these bastards. Now we could do it with conventional weapons. But that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
Bluto: We're just the guys to do it.
Vote Ted Turner in 2004.

When the parties fail, populism wins out. The hard part is making sure the populist agenda isn't something ridicules like fascism or the equivalent.

As Thomas conclues:
"Sociologists often warn against letting the nation's distribution of wealth become too polarized, as it clearly has in the last few decades. Societies that turn their backs on equality, the professors insist, inevitably meet with a terrible comeuppance. But those sociologists were thinking of an old world in which class anger was a phenomenon of the left. They weren't reckoning with Kansas, with the world we are becoming.

Behold the political alignment that Kansas is pioneering for us all. The corporate world -- for reasons having a great deal to do with its corporateness -- blankets the nation with a cultural style designed to offend and to pretend-subvert: sassy teens in Skechers flout the Man; hipsters dressed in T-shirts reading 'FCUK' snicker at the suits who just don't get it. It's meant to be offensive, and Kansas is duly offended. The state watches impotently as its culture, beamed in from the coasts, becomes coarser and more offensive by the year. Kansas aches for revenge. Kansas gloats when celebrities say stupid things; it cheers when movie stars go to jail. And when two female rock stars exchange a lascivious kiss on national TV, Kansas goes haywire. Kansas screams for the heads of the liberal elite. Kansas comes running to the polling place. And Kansas cuts those rock stars' taxes.

As a social system, the backlash works. The two adversaries feed off of each other in a kind of inverted symbiosis: one mocks the other, and the other heaps even more power on the one. This arrangement should be the envy of every ruling class in the world. Not only can it be pushed much, much farther, but it is fairly certain that it will be so pushed. All the incentives point that way, as do the never-examined cultural requirements of modern capitalism. Why shouldn't our culture just get worse and worse, if making it worse will only cause the people who worsen it to grow wealthier and wealthier?"
You know, I am wondering who will eventually rise and become the voice of the masses. It will happen if the parties fail to address the problems. I see neither party offering hope. I see neither party offering a goal, a vision for how our society should look in four years (unless it's supposed look like war torn Beirut or something), much less ten or twenty years down the road, unless it's global corporate feudalism.

Personally, I have nothing against our government. It's the people running it that are the problem. The problem isn't with a federal system, the problem is the corruption of the people. And sadly, it's a corruption of our culture that everyone sees, but no one seems to be able to lead the resistance.

I thought "Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life"and apparently made into a film, by Sissela Bok, deeply disturbing. We've come to a point in our culture where we can't imagine a society w/o lies, and we've given up on the truth as an even 'ideal' worth pursuing. People wonder why so much of the world tries to resist our culture? I think 'cause it's about bankrupt.

Quick example: I don't remember the specific product/service (I made a point not to), but there's this commercial where you are supposed to infer that it's a father teaching his obviously scare son, whose wearing water wings, to swim or dive into the pool or something. Then the kid points and says, 'Dad, look a quarter', and the dad pushes the kid into the pool in his greedy haste to get the 'quarter'. There's also a version where a guy steals peanuts from the guy next to him on the plane. The slogan is something like, 'That's our kind of customer'.

Well it also means, you're not my kind of company. If you figure your best customers are greedy and deceitful, than I'm going to guess it's reflected in your corporate culture. I can see no reason why the rest of the world would even want anything to do w/ a culture that will ultimately destroy their integrity. Personally, I refuse to buy products or brands that promote lying, stealing and greed in their marketing campaigns. Sort of another futile gesture, but...

On more positive note, one partially successful venue for marginalizing the corporate influence, and possibly retaking our government, appears to be single issue advocacy campaigns like MADD or NRA.org, and multi-issue organizations like MoveOn.org. We'll see how far it evolves.

Remember, if they offer you nothing, vote anyway.

Vote Ted Turner For President in 2004
 
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