We could have saved ourselves. But we were too lazy. And too damned cheap.
A few thoughts about "right" and "left."
People don’t want to think in terms of right vs left in the same way that I don’t want to try to grow wheat on land that has been repeatedly sown with salt. Whatever fertility or usefulness those concepts once had has been not so much exhausted as blighted with semantic toxins. The way they are used in politics has destroyed their significance.
So people want to dump the concepts altogether. I understand the impulse, and might agree, if the abandonment of the concepts did not involve allowing malicious lies to establish themselves as received wisdom. In America, the word “left” is, at present, used to refer to people like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden have very few left-wing beliefs and policies. To use the word “left” to describe them is to be the most dishonest kind of rightist. In fact, to use the word “left” in that way effectively eliminates leftism from the political spectrum.
It’s a bit like murdering someone and replacing them with a ringer. A set of people exists who are called “the left,” so clearly we don’t have an abusive, eliminationist, enforced political monoculture. Clearly the right hasn’t taken over our entire politics. We have choices. We get to choose between right and left. How do I know that? Well, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama exist. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have beaten Donald Trump.
It’s instructive to look into the policies supported by the Clintons, Obama, Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, and all the rest of the so-called “left,” much in the same way that it’s instructive to study the difference between edible and deadly mushrooms before you go foraging. To say there are few genuine left-wing ideas amongst the bunch is an understatement (try to find five). Obama’s branch of the Democratic party has this much to say for it: its members apparently don’t want us to have a nuclear war. There seems little doubt that the Iran agreement (for all its flaws and inaccurate presumptions) was a laudable attempt to prevent the wars in the Middle East from devolving into something even worse: a hot war between nuclear superpowers. Further, there seems little chance that the Iran agreement would have happened under a Clinton administration, a Bush administration, or a Trump administration. Obama preferred not to see mushroom clouds on the horizon. It amounts to something rarely seen in American politics: a limit.
My statements should not be taken as an endorsement of Obama’s foreign policy in general, nor a celebration of Obama’s non-existent predilection for peace. He doesn’t support peace. In fact, Obama supports the forever war. He just doesn’t want to burn the world down in nuclear fire. If that is a left-wing idea, it’s one of two that survive in current American politics. The other is, obviously, the idea that bigotry is bad.
“Bigotry is bad” is the hook in the Democratic party’s hit song. It’s their sine qua non. Without the “bigotry is bad” belief, there would be no Democratic party. That’s because it’s the only moral stand they take. Obama’s (and Kerry’s and Lavrov’s) Iran agreement arguably has the underlying principle that humans shouldn’t have a nuclear war. But that principle is not held by the entire Democratic party. Far from it. In fact, Obama clearly had to wait until Hillary Clinton was out of the State Department before even attempting it.
If an angel stretched out her hand over America tonight and removed bigotry from every heart, the Democratic party wouldn't have much to say tomorrow morning. They have nothing helpful or substantive to offer the American people on the subjects of the economy, the wage scale, immigration, the rule of law, the relationship of the public and private sectors, war and peace, energy, climate change, the myriad problems presented by advancing technology, business ethics, the growth of the police state, the corruption and decline of the legal system, the brutal criminal justice system, media consolidation, hunger, poverty, land ownership, pollution, terrorism, or finance. Even their COVID policies are pretty wretched. Apparently, the function of the government during a pandemic is to lecture people incoherently while writing trillion-dollar checks to their rich friends and wondering whether or not everybody else should get unemployment insurance. They should at least get it straight whether or not masking is a good idea. I strongly believe in masking--in fact, I'm relying on masking to keep me and my family alive. But if I relied on guidance from the Democratic side, at this point I'd be completely confused. They've already changed their minds about masking twice.
Of course, most of the issues I listed above have something to do with bigotry. Certainly poverty, the rule of law, immigration, and the terrible criminal justice system have a lot to do with bigotry. But you can only know that if you have an accurate view of the devastating effects of bigotry in our system, and the Democrats don't. The strongest impression their form of "woke" anti-bigotry leaves with me is that it's cheap. Their opposition to bigotry doesn't require them to change the racist criminal justice system, the racist economic system, or the racist financial system. It doesn't require them to burn the current prison system to the ground and replace it with something that isn't a bunch of overseers exploiting a loophole in the 13th amendment. It doesn't require them to invest money into black neighborhoods and small businesses. It doesn't even require reparations.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that most of the Democrats don’t actually believe that bigotry is bad. It’s all show. When your leaders can call black children “superpredators [who] need to be brought to heel,” when they can say that “hard-working Americans, white Americans, won’t vote for Barack Obama,” when they can tell black people “If you don’t vote for me, you’re not black,” and respond to Latinos who question their immigration policies with the rejoinder “Vote for Trump. Vote for Trump. Vote for Trump,” you’re not actually against bigotry. For that matter, if you send a memo around to the House Democratic Caucus instructing them, if approached by Black Lives Matter, to be sympathetic but “don’t offer support for concrete policy positions,” you’re not actually against bigotry. Similarly, if Ferguson, MO is burning because its paramilitary “police” frequently shoot unarmed black teenagers in the head, an anti-bigotry advocate does not invite “youth activists” from the area to DC for lunch and a photo op and subsequently start a task force to study the issue of why white police officers murder black people.
The reason I don't think we should abandon the concept of leftism is that we're abandoning it to thieves and liars intent on tying the concept to a Procrustean bed, lopping off the parts that don't suit them, and turning what's left into a mutilated zombie version of its former self. Then they deploy it against everybody who has a problem with this rotten system. This process basically discredits leftism by making it monstrous, and carves the Hillary vs Trump political paradigm into stone.
I have a bit of a problem with that.
How are you all today?