Friday, July 23, 2010

Which side are you on? #3

"It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than it is to vote for what you don't want and get it." - Eugene V. Debs

Updated Another thing that brought forth the issue of Which side are you on? was something I expect you heard about: the Politico article that claimed that
[i]n private conversations, White House officials are contemptuous of what they see as liberal lamentations unhinged from historical context or contemporary political realities.
That was taken as a slap against anyone, especially among lefty bloggers, claiming the description of progressive who was critical of Obama's performance in office. It was greeted in some such quarters with a loud harrumph.

In case anyone missed the White House message, earlier in the same Politico piece, in a less-noted reference, was found the assertion by "a top Obama adviser" that progressive dissatisfaction with Obama is driven in part by "the culture of immediate gratification."

Or, to put it more bluntly, if you are not prepared to just shut up except to celebrate everything Obama, you're to be dismissed as an impatient child who just doesn't understand the real world. After all, Daddy knows best.

That is how they think of us. In their minds, we are not citizens to be engaged or commentators to be considered, we are troops to be deployed on behalf of their agenda and, failing that, unimportant know-nothings to be ignored - except, occasionally, to be the selective target of sneers deployed in a woebegone attempt to prove their conservative bona fides to the reactionaries they are perpetually trying to flatter.

Breathlessly eager to be done with the darkness of George Bush, too many of us put our faith in the good intentions of - and to that same degree our futures in the hands of - the cockamamie idea that if only we'd get a few more "good Democrats" in office, all would be well. When our collective ego got stroked by being told "We are the change we've been waiting for," we took the bait.

And they set the hook.

Yet still, now, there are so many, so many loyalists still welcoming the digging in of the barb, so many who are as eager as adoring puppies to take whatever they are offered, no matter how little it is or how much that little by its nature is actually destructive of future progress: So many even now have failed to learn that something is not always better than nothing. The times are still dark.

Hillary Clinton. Timothy Geithner. Robert Gates. Rahm Emanuel. Ken Salazar. Tom Vilsack. The Obama team is peppered with old faces with old agendas and regulators carrying briefcases full of connections to industries and interests they are supposed to regulate and oversee but whose friends they actually are.

These people are not on our side, the side of the underdogs, the victims, the outsiders, the have-nots, the oppressed hungry landless. And they never will be.

Can they - at least some of them - be useful allies on particular limited causes at particular times? Yes, surely. So they still should be lobbied, petitioned, pressured. But do it knowing that when those causes are pushed to the point where they really impact the prerogatives of the powerful, you will perhaps suddenly find that your assistance no longer required, your counsel is no longer desired, your opinions are no longer regarded as having merit.

Can sufficient political and social pressure move them beyond that point, move in ways and to extents they would prefer to avoid? Absolutely. But again, know going in what will be required. Because they are not on our side.

Updated with a Footnote: In comments, JayV points to this highly-relevant commentary from December by Chris Hedges.

2 comments:

JayV said...

We're screwed. This still holds (from Chris Hedges last December)
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/07

LarryE said...

Thanks for the link! From the time I read War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning on I have found Chris Hedges to be someone a little too convinced of his own purity, but that trait does not itself invalidate the things he says.

 
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