And then what? (aka, "the deluge comes after")


Posted at 22:13 by The Hon. Dr. St. Rev. Bradley S. Rocket, Esq, PhD, MD"
(...)While the Netroots have been very good at transforming anger at the Republican establishment into money for Democratic candidates, I don’t think we’ve been nearly as good at discussing the kind of country we want to be. The right’s most significant accomplishment over the past 40 years hasn’t been getting Republicans elected, but rather influencing the way people think, and more importantly, setting the parameters of “serious” debate. People who argue against free trade and against an imperial foreign policy, for instance, are considered deeply unserious. Meanwhile, people who contend that eliminating the inheritance tax is the greatest populist cause of our time are given prime seats at the Acceptable Discourse Galla.

The result is that America has become a deeply unequal society, and class mobility is increasingly seen as a thing of the past. This is a massive problem that will require tremendous intellectual energy- and what’s more, it’s going to take a lot more than simply electing Democrats. It’s going to require that people change their minds about what America should be.
It's been said before, I guess, but it's a point worth making again. It seems Congress, the media to a large extent - "the elite", I suppose - have managed to make themselves shielded so much from the public in general, that most do not vote on particular issues or their beliefs - but instead on specifically accepted constructions, where no meaningful debate may exist.

There are two things to blame for that. For one thing, people go along with it to some extent, or else become purely reactionary. Second, the political elite seeks out this type of voters, those who will become engaged in "the game", but who do not ask questions or have any clear views on their own.

The result is, of course, general apathy. Very low voter- turnout generally, and strategies are developed that does absolutely nothing to actually further some form of debate. But instead punish it, by making those who do ask questions into threats to the nation. Or bearers of depressive news that concerns the people's way of life, which is even worse. At any rate, they will be a threat at least to that very convenient system that keeps getting the people now in power elected. And in the process, reinforcing that protective shell through which all government business will happen behind.

So, what can you do? In some respects the last election was a resounding success, for instance, in that it moved enough people to support not only different candidates, but also - to a limited degree - specific issues ahead of the election. Making the politicians dependent on carrying through with their promises in order to keep their jobs. Instead of relying exclusively on regurgitated talking points offered up by well- meaning lobbyists. And yet, the most depressing feature of the current american political discourse is that people on "both sides" have the view that they elect mini- despots for a couple of years at a time, and then hold them accountable for their "conduct" at the next election. Dependent on whether the colour of their tie, and the whiteness of their teeth is still radiant.

But that doesn't develop any debate, now does it. Nor does it wrest control from the "elite" when it comes to their ability to shape the message. And therefore also the national debate.

And I wonder - and have wondered for some time - if there really are enough people who wish a change from this in the US. And if those who do wish that change, have any ideas about what can be done. About that protective shell that seems to exist between the politicians and the beltway media on one hand, and the general population on the other.

(Other thoughts on the issue:
Is there life after Bush? |

Also, don't miss Bill Moyer's journal on PBS.)