Saturday, March 6, 2010

If You're a Liberal, Show Me!

Has the left withdrawn from all feeling and holed up in dry, polite, measured discourse as this article and others would argue? Is the elected Democrat a mere husk mouthing policy jargon? Are liberal commentators imprisoned in soft restraints of gentility that preclude a good, rousing disapproval of Republicans?

In two words: hell, no.

With a few exceptions, the liberals got the creative people. We are passionate, heartfelt, and moving. We argue forcefully, sympathize easily, and tell the most inspirational stories. If you're a regular patron of liberal thought, I'll bet that without trying too hard, you can name five people who write or televise passionate content. They are everywhere.

We also got the best arguments: equality, fairness, quality of life, and the love and transcendence side of any major religion. We know that fear and greed are man's strongest motivators, but we choose not to bring out the worst in people in order to manipulate them.

Liberal passion did not die out in the 1960s. What did die out was inane followers chanting slogans they didn't understand, people going to protests they didn't care about just to get laid, and belligerent mobs using radicalism as an excuse for vandalism. All this only gave liberalism a bad name.

Who yells? Who threatens and carries out physical violence and vandalism? Bullies. People who have run out of things to say or never had anything to say in the first place. If you want to call me an elitist because I don't want to recruit stupid and violent people, I'll wear that label proudly.

Liberals also stand up to bullies, whether they are harrassing us or someone else. Whether it's one passive-aggressive person on the street or the Attorney General of Virginia. Just because we choose not to act like thugs and manipulators does not mean we are wimps.

If anything, liberals bow under the weight of decision. We feel responsibility too much. We need to remember that even a misstep lends momentum for the next step. Inaction is entropy. We need to move past Yes We Can into Yes We Are and then Oh, Yes We Did (gestures optional).

What liberals don't have is the money to create a media network to deliver our message. It's not elected officials on the right like John Boehner and Jim DeMint delivering angry, rousing, inspiring speeches to their electorate. It's Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and the Armey of tea party astroturfers. That is where we are outmatched on the left: the dissemination muscle.

And those teabaggers? They are not yelling to support you, Mr. Trickledown.

Astroturfers are hired--one way to create jobs, eh? But real grassrooters have to come in their free time. The most politically active are seniors (helped by AARP) and college students. Why don't we hear from the mainstream of the middle class, those who have lost so much under Republican rule?

During the 1970s, the average individual workweek was around 35 hours, and the average family workweek was around 40. Today, the average individual workweek is still around 35 hours, but the average family workweek has jumped to 65-70 (BLS). That's a lot of potential volunteer time stripped away.

Did your father teach you to be quiet and detached? Mine taught me to be suspicious of anyone who urged me to feel instead of think. Like Glenn Beck. And like Clancy Sigal, who argues in favor of an atmosphere where "everyone had an opinion and voiced it full-throttle." Yeah, that's the way to get things resolved.

I am also suspicious of people who argue that we must sacrifice our ideals to succeed. The way forward is not giving up on reason and logic. It is not embracing shouting, rage, tea-party anger, or emotional manipulation. And it is definitely not a return to the days of burning down the Bank of America.

So from now on, if you consider yourself a good liberal, quit whining about how ineffectual the left is. Show us how it ought to be done. Show us what a passionate, reasoned argument looks like. Because if you persist in painting us as effete, weak-minded, and depleted, I will have to assume that you want to harm, not help, the left.

And then you'll really see some liberal anger.

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