A Little Perspective, Please

Liberals tend to be very good at portraying the historical and current evils in our society, and they tend to focus on what hasn’t been accomplished, as opposed to what has. They’re also very good at influencing mainstream media and more “elite” institutions of higher education. The problem with this is that it suggests greater political strength than actually exists. The far-left liberal media and organizations are also incredibly good at disgusting and angering much of middle America, all too often unnecessarily and against their own interests.

Police reform is an absolute necessity, but screaming “defund the police” undermines realistic and necessary reform. For example, the Baltimore police department has a bad reputation for dealing with minorities, but almost half the department is black, which suggests that the problem lies not primarily with racism, but with the “police culture.”

Beating people over the head with incessant shrieks of “white privilege” just alienates people rather than educating and persuading them that, in our culture, those who are white and male don’t get the same unthinking skepticism and doubt that minorities and women do.

The conservatives are always screaming about the domination of “liberal “higher education, but all that rhetoric ignores the fact that there are thousands of colleges and universities that are not “bastions of liberalism.” Those universities just don’t get the press – unless one of their presidents has a personal scandal – but they’re still there, and they’re not going away. Neither is the less visible and often semi-underground conservative media.

Keep in mind that despite an overall performance by Trump as President that was substandard at best, and pretty much a botch of the COVID crisis [except for vaccine development], liberals actually lost ground in terms of the number of U.S. House seats and only picked up a few Senate seats despite the fact that the Republicans had far more potentially vulnerable Senators up for re-election and that Democrats outspent Republicans in most races. Liberals also did poorly in state level elections.

Because I live in a non-liberal state and media market, I can see that conservatives and even ultra-conservatives are not about to dry up and blow away. In fact, if Democrats don’t get their act together and deliver results for the entire country and not just measures backed by the so-called “progressives,” they’ll have their heads and their asses handed to them in the next election.

President Biden seems to recognize this. He’s opposed a number of “progressive” demands and appears to be focusing on the baseline problems facing working Americans, but the so-called progressives are already showing dissatisfaction, and the conservatives have never stopped being dissatisfied.

In the end, we’d all be better off if we toned down the screaming, identified and worked out solutions for the basic problems, and stopped agitating for political correctness – and despite what the far-right says, there’s far too much political correctness in the extremes of both parties, not just the left. The left is just better at pissing people off.

14 thoughts on “A Little Perspective, Please”

  1. Shannon says:

    I keep wondering where the moderate center went. There are elements of both the traditional Republican and Democrat platforms that I like but the extremes are just just off-putting if not downright scary. I don’t want to live in an evangelical theocracy but I also don’t think much of the progressive left thought police either.

  2. Hanneke says:

    I do hope you realise that hardly any Democratic politicians, not even the really progressive ones like Bernie Sanders, use that activist slogan of “defund the police”; though they do talk about shifting some of the money to other first responders like addiction and mental health professionals for non-police emergencies, and they want to do something about “police culture” where that has gone off the rails, by better training e.g. on de-escalation tactics; more accountability and oversight; limiting how police unions can protect bad cops from the consequences of their brutality by keeping it off their records, so another department won’t hire them unknowingly; and limiting the use of much-misused powers like no-knock raids for a small suspicion of a minor crime, and the highway robbery funding some departments that is the present system of asset forfeiture on the spot, without a conviction or trial.

    All that ‘shrieking’ you talk about tends to be the way the right-wing media presents the arguments of the progressives, either by reformulating them into extremist absurdity, or by finding an extremist to represent those views, and sometimes by taking small soundbites out of context and blowing them up. If someone like AOC has once used that slogan as shorthand for the above arguments, that will be the clip that gets replayed often on Fox, accompanied by arguments that that means she wants to take away all the police protections everywhere.
    It’s as if MSNBC would ask David Duke on to defend the conservative point of view, and then ascribe anything he said to all conservatives in America – though some of the lunatic fringe on social media may do so (I don’t know, that’s not a place I hang out) that’s not something I’ve seen any of those “Democratic” media doing; while calling any Democratic candidate (even those who are very centrist/ corporatist) a socialist intent on the destruction of the American way of life seems to be routine in the conservative media.

    Like the ‘thought police’ mentioned above, which is a conservative media slant based on the actions of a social media fringe. In general, Democratics tend to want to increase people’s options, while limiting the harm they can do to others. Now limiting harm may reduce your options to own AR15s, or to actively discriminate against people, but it tends not to be concerned with whatever you want to think or believe. You can think being gay or muslim is against your religion, and not socialise with gay or muslim people, but you cannot deny gay or muslim people access to healthcare as the local doctor or dentist or hospital – what they do and believe in their private lives is none of your business. “Do not, in your professional actions, concern yourself with other people’s private lives” does not sound very thought-policing to me – you can think and believe whatever you like, just don’t harm others!
    Meanwhile the evangelical conservatives appear to be very concerned about what other people are thinking, doing and believing in their private lives, from ordering doctors to perform unneccessary invasive procedures and misinform or refrain from informing their patients, to letting employers and landlords inquire into your private life and then discriminate against you on the basis of that, to requiring employees to conform to their employers beliefs. Some of the Republican-proposed laws are getting very close to that thought-policing line implicit in the theocracy-idea.
    There appears to have been a very strong tendency in the conservative side over the last years not just to consider themselves the greatest victims (even though the system is clearly biased towards giving them a disproportionate amount of power: that’s been going on a lot longer), but also to project anything they do onto their opponents (Trump did this constantly).

    Second point: why do you call the conservative media less visible, when Fox News is the largest of the big television networks, and the other two are corporatist/centrist, not progressive? They too have viciously attacked Bernie Sanders in both of the last primary campaigns, as have most of the so-called Democratic-siding newspapers; not a very progressive stance.

    Third point: losing house and/or senate seats while getting more votes does not exactly point to more voters being in favor of Republican rule and Republican ideas… just to the voting system being biased to weigh some votes more than others.

    1. I think you’re making many of my points. Yes, Fox News is the largest and most visible conservative media outlet, but there are also quite a few far less visible conservative news outlets, and my point was that there’s a far larger conservative news base than most liberals realize. You mention the conservative thought police; I essentially pointed out the same thing. I’ve been very clear about the problems of “police culture” and the need for reform.

      As for your downplaying the “shrieking,” my impressions are gained from non-Fox and non-conservative news media. I never watch Fox News or the far right media… and when my impressions are gained from “liberal” and mainstream news sources, Democrats and liberals have an image problem. The problem isn’t that the problems don’t exist. They do. The problem is that, like it or not, outside of the Democratic fold, Democrats currently have a lousy image… and in politics image is power… or lack of it.

      What changes power is gritty grassroots organizing. In the Georgia runoff elections, Democrats proved that they could do that. The problem is that Republicans have a two-decade head start in most states, and most of that effort has been in ways designed to disenfranchise or minimize the impact of black and minority voters.

      1. Hanneke says:

        I agree with almost all that you say.
        It’s why I enumerated the police changes I heard them advocate for – considering your remark about police culture I thought that might lead to the conclusion that what both sides really want is not so different.

        The one thing where I see things a bit differently, is that to my view the not-conservative media is quite clearly also not progressive: they are in favor of the centrist, corporatist Democrats, like the money and power to stay with big business, the billionaires and the bankers, and tend to view progressives within the Democratic party as a worse danger than the conservatives. Real progressives are attacked and vilified by the ‘Democrat’ media almost as much as by the Republican media, hence they amplify the view that progressives are irrational shriekers.

        I’ve watched progressive news from the USA as delivered by the Young Turks and the Damage Report on YouTube for years, and didn’t see much shrieking going on – except when they showed snippets from Fox, or sometimes from MSNBC or CBS; I did see lots of vocal and argued indignation at injustices and some proposals for solutions but not so much entitled yelling.
        I had to stop following any kind of news a month ago to let myself calm down and de-stress, so maybe things have changed, or maybe I just saw things through a ‘too-socialist’ lens, accepting that it is necessary to call for political changes (but not violence!) when things are so badly out of equilibrium.

        I don’t know how any proposal that might really better the lives of most Americans can be brought out by any progressive politician, if everything they propose that might diminish the hold the present rich people and big business has over the power in the USA, is immediately ridiculed and shouted down as stupid shrieking by all the mainstream media, whether conservative or not.

        So I see what you say about their image problem, but if they get plastered with that image by all the billionaire-owned media regardless of what they say and do, I don’t think that is entirely on them.

        Grassroots organising is the solution, I agree, but the Democratic organisation has for decades concentrated on the races the top level, and often actively works against progressive candidates who do try to set up a grassroots movement. The centrist Democrats are too much in line with the fiscal/ financial policies of the Republicans, they often seem not to want to substantially change the balance of power back towards the individual voters and the working poor and middle-class people.
        I have no idea how to break that impasse, except by getting more progressives elected.

      2. Hanneke says:

        If you’ld like to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, Bernie Sanders has his own YouTube channel. Though he’s the most well-known and longest-serving consistently progressive politician, who has been ridiculed for his ideas right and left, when I hear what he himself really has to say it doesn’t sound ridiculous to me.

  3. Jeff says:

    The fraility of the human race–it’s always the other guy’s problem. Thanks for your attempt to be balanced in your reporting.

  4. Clayton says:

    I’m always amused that people think the American press is left wing. It’s mostly center to center-right in comparison to the rest of the world. Same with Democrats, they would be center-right in pretty much the rest of the western world. The Canadian conservative party (our right of center party) is basically democrats.

  5. William F McKissack says:

    I am concerned that we are following the labels handed out by the players and not looking at the players. The truly rich and powerful are behind the scenes but the players are out there working to get money and voters to follow them based on the stories they tell and not the lives they lead. There are some true believers in all the camps but most of the players are about gaining power and money. They have stopped compromising because it doesn’t increase their power or their wealth especially in the short term. The people at the top are continuing to make money at the expense of everyone else. They have found that getting people angry and/or afraid works better than actually making meaningful change. It is also quicker. They can incite a crowd in an hour, but it takes years to improves people’s lives. Plus, people who are angry and afraid don’t stop to think about the hypocrisy and their self-interest. They just want a focus for their pain. In many ways they want the fast food equivalent of therapy and politics – addictive, seemingly cheap, but not very good for you.

    1. Wine Guy says:

      There is nothing new under the sun:

      Juvenal, in his Satire X (approx. CE 100):

      “… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” (J. P. Toner transl.)

      1. Tom says:

        … The poem, sometimes known by the title “The Vanity of Human Wishes”, is couched in brilliant and caustic language, and takes as its subject the vanity of human desires, … Juvenal begins by pointing out that, in all the world, there are but few who can tell good from evil, and that paradoxically we always seem to desire what will most hurt us.

        Ain’t that the truth!

  6. Postagoras says:

    At least the Democrats look like they’re not letting the Republicans give them the “Lucy’s football” treatment. I agree that they need to get stuff done, but we’ve gotten to the point where getting stuff done does not necessarily lead to popularity.
    The Republicans have had a tremendous amount of success with the message that “the Government is the problem.” It plays well to a desire for rugged individualism that exists in the USA.
    I guess “rugged individualists” like to drive over crappy roads and bridges, and like to short-change public schools and day care so that kids get as poor as start as possible. Much better to spend 1000 dollars to incarcerate someone, rather than 1 dollar when they’re in pre-school.
    From a legislative point of view, the Republicans are simply the Party Of No. They have no suggestions for how to solve any local, state-wide, or country-wide issues, except to lower taxes for rich people. Again, the Rugged Individualists love the idea that they elect people to do nothing.
    Oh wait, I forgot about Building The Wall- a solution so simple, so easy to imagine, and Mexico would pay for it! Hahahahahahahaha, it’s hard to believe that this is real.

  7. Shannon says:

    Postagoras, you are spot on! The Republicans appear to have no desire to accomplish anything to make people’s lives better. But I also agree with the contention that Left wing progressive Democrats hurt their own cause by shrieking about injustice and lack of progress. We need police, immigration,and other reform but that needs to be balanced with the reality, whether fiscal or the idea that massive change does not appeal to a majority of the electorate. My preferred news sources, The Economist and NPR, mostly seem to recognize this.

    As always, I appreciate LEM’s posts that provoke discussion.

  8. Alan Naylor says:

    I’ve recently had this discussion with a friend of mine concerning many areas of current politics. Be it racial issues, police issues, or what have you.

    An item of firm belief for me is that people are really unaware of how bad things were to how they are now. We are still in living memory of almost all these issues being far far worse. When pushing for change you must give time for people to adjust and adapt.

    The amount of change that people can accept varies greatly from person to person! And the more you try to force the change on them the more that they tend to dig in their heels. This is not to say that change is bad, or that somethings must change. Simply that it takes time.

    Continue to work toward that ideal state and be grateful for what has been accomplished. But some things are going to take decades or lifetimes to change. The living memory of events must fade in order for successive generations to accept the new reality of things.

    1. As I’ve said before, it’s all well and good to say that you must give time for people to adjust, but when you’ve been oppressed for four hundred years, as blacks have been, saying that you have to give people time to adjust rings more than a little hollow, especially when Republicans are working not for change, gradual or otherwise, but to roll back recent progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.