..why in God’s name am I seeing interview clips that involve your spokespeople beginning sentences by stuttering, looking nonplussed, and saying things like “I believe” and “That’s not entirely correct”?
I don’t know, maybe you’re hiring your favorite nieces or the neighbor children to be your spokespeople, but whatever it is, it ain’t gonna cut it my friends. Anyone who goes in front of a camera with the imprimatur of the campaign and is blindsided by quotes, allegations, or outright lies that I have already heard needs to be fired immediately. There’s a lot of dirt gonna be thrown your way in the next few months, and the time to pattycake with this bullshit is over.
…is it ever thus? That the Repubs claim the terrain of family values and morally righteous living, and then come out swinging, using every rhetorical trick as a club. They have managed to make liberals ashamed of liberal values. Ashamed of advocating health insurance for all, of unions, of community support services for needy families, and on and on.
I heard David Brooks on the radio the other day and he was the model of civility. His certitude seems to come from his faith in the decency of the people he is representing, those new suburbanites seeking ‘safe streets and good schools’, those soccer moms in SUV’s who see Bush as the man with the swift sword against ‘terror’.
I grew up in a seed bed of those new suburbanites, in the south side of chicago. In high school I had to do a project in the community and I thought, hey, white flight, that’s happening only a mile or two south! So my little band of mates trooped down to those blocks of broken American apartheid and it was amazing… It took six months for all the whites on a block to sell out, once a single black family moved in. The real estate agents whipped the fear up to a frenzy. One neighborhood newspaper reported real estage agents hiring a black family on welfare and dressing them up in ‘native garb’ (feathers!) to walk slowly around the block, so the homeowners would panic sell. Dirty american secret: the racism at the heart of white flight is deeply implicated in the dominance of the republican party today.
One problem with conservatives is that they claim for their own values which don’t belong to them. Safe streets, strong families and good schools have been undermined by their anti-social policies. Now the chickens are really coming home to roost! The white middle class is finally learning that it’s not welcome at the table of their betters. The fantasies of the ‘ownership society’ are crumbling under the weight of debt, soaring costs not of expendables like dvd players but essentials like housing, college, health care, and worse of all, most terrible — the collapsing job market. This is an evil situation.
I like to list what makes me hopeful, since it is easy to despair. I am hopeful because one of the late breaks in this presidential race is youth for Kerry. A large margin. The economic & political (not social) conservatism of youth has appalled me. Perhaps these gloomy prospects are opening them up to a change.
One more thing. Perhaps it is the Chicagoan in me, though I’ve lived in California for a long time. I believe that a tough fight is a good thing. You’ve got to get dirty. You’ve got to give it all you’ve got. The wimpy Democrats have had a roll-over mentality. The apologies need to get tossed, to be replaced by challenges, issued one after another. In domestic policy the Repubs have been a party with one primary value: Americans treat Americans like sh*t. These people should never, ever be allowed to walk away from the table with the chips that represent strong values. Furthermore: they need to be shamed. People talk about the issues of economic policy as if it were a parlor argument but in fact increasing social inequality, declining health care coverage & pension benefits — these should be shoved in their faces as causes of shame. These policies are anti-social. That means they are anti-community & anti-family (duh!).
Is it any wonder that there is so much sociopathic rhetoric (& behavior) on the right? They are defending policies that hurt people — even their own family members. There are a lot of white men who are living from paycheck to paycheck who identify with the Repubs. What to say about that? One way is to point out that they are being disloyal to the welfare of their own families and communities. The mantra: health insurance, pensions, social security. The party that guts the safety net is shafting your kids. The nasty way to argue this is that they’ve joined the party of ‘Kiss the ass of the Ruling class’. I haven’t used this line yet. I haven’t had to, but I’m keeping it in my pocket. Better not to go there, but best of all, be prepared.