On finding common ground

DJ comments

As long as we let the talking heads put words in our mouths, we will perceive the two “sides” to be diametrically opposed, when it fact we are on the same side and it is the talking heads (both politicians and media) who are our opposition.

It’s time to sit down, face to face, and find that we agree. Sure, we have differences on abortion, immigration, gun ownership, religion, and such. The truth is, these are not the deal-killing issues the talking heads make them out to be (unless you seek a single national answer imposed on everyone, in which case one side or the other has a reason to opt out)– and they are not the most important issues.

Let the most divisive issues be locally solved. And let the most important issues– democracy, responsive government, fiscal responsibility, the repeal of corporate personhood– come to the forefront where they belong!

Watching our government become hollowed out as a parasite banking class loots at will, well, such things are infinitely important than whether someone should be able to own an AK. But don’t just listen to me.

Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people. From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare they have become the tools of corrupt interests, which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes.

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics, is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.

— Teddy Roosevelt

Ray Stevens. We The People. Anthem of the Teabaggers

As I’ve been saying until I’m hoarse, the teabagger movement is real and growing. This is is their apparent anthem. Rather than sitting on the sidelines snidely guffawing about what a bunch of goobers teabaggers are, I suggest liberals, progressives, and the hard left get off their self-satisfied butts and get involved in the growing populist movements. There is common ground. Is Ray Stevens right-wing? Absolutely. He’s also talking about an unresponsive government that ignores the populace, something many on the left will agree with too.

Because that’s what populism is about – the many allied together against an exploiting few. If we don’t get involved in this process then the right will own it by default.

Teabaggers are not the enemy. Common ground does exist

Crooks and Liars says teabaggers are a construct of right-wing operatives, dangerous loonies, and any talk of engaging them or joining together on common issues is idiotic.

They want jobs for sure, but they think that any government which is led by a Democratic politician wants to destroy their freedoms and as we see, take away their guns. The tea party crowds are a FOX News/corporatist-led movement. What comes out of their mouths is mostly gibberish promoted by right wing talkies and not based in reality.

I disagree with this. Here’s why.

1) The media always focuses on the most nutcase of protesters. This happened constantly when I was helping organize Iraq antiwar protests. You could have a crowd of thousands and the photos were of the craziest protesters with the most deranged signs. DJ, who posts here, lives in rural Utah and says most the teabaggers he knows are Democrats and not racists. That hardly fits the media stereotype – and that’s exactly my point.

2) The teabaggers are a real phenomenon. Sure, they are egged along by right-wing operatives. But they don’t like big government, don’t like the bailouts, and most especially really get really pissed when urban liberals piously lecture to them about their lifestyles and react in horror when they carry guns.

3) Guns are an part of rural southern / western culture and have been for generations. This is an issue they will go to the barricades on. For C&L to be aghast because protesters legally carried guns to a protest in New Mexico means they really don’t get it about a large part of US culture. (And let’s not forget the Black Panthers legally carried guns to the California capital in 1968, freaking out a bunch of people too.)

4) There is a populist upsurge happening in this country now. It will continue to grow. Populism has a long history here, it’s red, white and blue American, and ignores traditional political party boundaries focusing instead on the theft by a few from the rest of us.

5) The left must become involved in this resurgence of populism or the right will have it for their own. C&L does an extraordinary job of exposing the most rabid and deranged of the right. But they err in thinking that fringe represents all the right.

There is common ground. We need to find it, then work together on changing our current system of theftocracy with its plunder by a few.

Liberals alternately scared of and mocking teabaggers

AmericaBlog, who I often admire, like other liberal blogs just can’t decide whether to ridicule, ignore, or be scared of teabaggers. So they hyperventilate instead.

This is an actual trailer for a new documentary about the Teabaggers. This isn’t a joke. It’s an actual serious documentary taking the Teabaggers seriously. The trailer is bizarre. These people are insane. And dangerous.

The trailer says teabaggers are, among other things, mobilizing against too much governmental control. Seems to me that AmericaBlog has more than once railed against that too. Maybe there’s common ground here (among the obvious many differences.)

If we want to take back control of the country from the banksters and end their death grip on DC, then we need a broad-based coalition based on common goals across all political lines. By definition, coalitions are groups joined on common interests who are agreeing to not let their differences get in the way of organizing towards their shared goals.

Yes, I do think such coalitions are possible. And needed.

If the left does not make an effort to organize populist anger then the right will grab it by default

The Blue Voice ponders Jerry Brown, radical politics on both sides of the spectrum, civil liberties, and more in a thoughtful post.

They quote from an interview Jerry Brown did with The Progressive in 1995. Brown makes a crucial point, that militia anger is based on real grievances. The Blue Voice thinks Brown misses the dangerous far-right implications of militias (substitute “teabaggers” for “militias” and you’re in 2009, not 1995) but I think they miss that the militia anger and rage is based authentic, grassroots issues.

Q: Do you fear the far-right agenda?

Brown: I don’t know about the far-right agenda. It’s the survival agenda of the incumbents that I’m most concerned about. The militias are going in there and calling attention to the dangerous power-grab of the state. What do you have? You have the ACLU and the NRA, two groups that are not viewed by the establishment very seriously. So The New York Times did a piece comparing the militias to the Black Panthers, not ever drawing the conclusion that they both were talking about excess oppressive practices by the government. They drew the conclusion that, well, the Panthers were wacky, and now the militias are wacky. The Panthers committed crimes, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t speaking from an authentic community and speaking heroically in many, many instances. And all these militia people are marching around because they think the state has been taken over. If you really look at it, the United States has certainly been submerged in a transnational system where one-person-one-vote or the checks-and-balances as envisioned by the founders in the Federalist Papers barely exist.

Here’s one place where I wonder if Brown was taking the problem of far-right extremist politics seriously enough. But in the context, he was pointing to the civil-liberties concerns that concerned him and citing the diversity of criticisms in the same way that Glenn Greenwald often does. I would prefer to see these kinds of analyses be more specific about the distinctive and limited nature of far-right arguments that momentarily overlap with civil-liberties concerns.

I’m a whole lot more concerned about liberals and progressives standing mute as Obama’s policies consistently favor the banking elite to the detriment of the rest of us than about whether some teabaggers are racist. The left needs to make a concerted effort to listen to the issues teabaggers are talking about (rather than insult them and think they’re clever for doing so) then present a coherent and genuine plan to move them away from the right. Otherwise they will stay on the right. And the left will continue to dwindle in power and influence.

Someone, probably fairly soon, will harness all that growing populist anger. Currently, liberals especially are siding with and defending Obama while populist rage at the banksters grows. This is shortsighted and delusional. If we on the left want to win, we need to harness that growing anger and make it ours. And to find common ground with those on the right who we agree with on specific issues.