Frankly, being sixty years old gives one perspective. I’m not sure it hasn’t been this bad before. I certainly thought it so during the Johnson years when war, ugly war, oozed from every pore, and we fought so vainly it felt, to end the madness.
It was marginally worse under Nixon. He assisted in that by being a president who was dark and foreboding himself.
But there seemed people of integrity, and oh, I guess we blamed ourselves for not working hard enough. By Nixon, most of us had finished college and were about the business of making a way for our own projected lives.
But today? Today America seems old and lumbering, drunkenly staggering ever closer to the abyss. Jill, at Brilliant at Breakfast, has a great piece today, contemplating the Rally for Sanity. She terms it, America, that is, as “a nation of willfully ignorant people ruled by their prejudices.” She is right.
A few moments later, I read this at Psychology Today: those with the greatest intelligence drink more alcohol. I mean, isn’t that obvious? Can you blame us? The truth is not that hard to ferret out, yet millions work as hard as beavers to remain purely childlike in their knowledge of current affairs, knowing not much beyond the box scores or how many paid sick days they have left to use this year. Again, I ask? Can you blame us?
Take a look at these stats and weep away: In a Public Policy Poll, 39% thought that the government should stay out of Medicare! Yes, you read that correctly. Another 15% were “unsure.” That was in mid-August. A majority of these empty-heads believe that their taxes have gone up, and not down, as they actually have. People who have no better knowledge of their own finances, can’t be expected to know much.
What is the point of these sad numbers? Simply this. These folks are empty vats. They are only socially on the lower rung of things and feel left out and powerless. People like this used to go into law enforcement as a means to gain personal feelings of power. They probably still do, but most just plod along in their interchangeable jobs and feel that life dictates to them, and they don’t like it.
So they are susceptible to ANYBODY who spouts ANYTHING that tells them they are smart, savvy, and otherwise the bedrock of America. Anybody who makes them FEEL smart. Did you hear that? That’s why Sarah (there are corpses smarter than that woman) Palin gains leverage with “common sense” conservative principles. Time and again people when asked why they like her refer to her “down-to-earth-just-like-us” appearance.
What we as liberals have failed at miserably is the capture and control of the dialogue. We have allowed the GOPers and their message of screwy hate and fear to set the agenda. The 4th estate has been the willing dupe, sticking a microphone in the loudest angry voice.
And where is our leader?
I’m not usually of a mind to tell those I consider my intellectual superior what they are doing wrong. But one thing glares out at me here.
Our golden-tongued orator, our Cicero, has failed to not only not claim the dialogue, he has failed to respond effectively. I recognize the moral and intellectual superiority of keeping to the high ground–of reaching out in sincere bipartisanship. That appeals to, well intellectuals–to people who are educated in the finer arts of discussion, debate and compromise as the “way things work” in civil society.
It doesn’t appeal to folks whose pass times include NASCAR-crashing races, and World Federation Wrestling. It does not appeal to those who love “action” films for the pretence of violence. They see compromise and civility as weak and sissy behavior. They are but a hairy knuckle away from being arrested for assault themselves. They watch violence as a way to “let off steam” for all the affronteries that life throws at them.
These people are not dullards, they are lazy! You appeal to them by hitting them over the head day in and day out with truth. A president is perfectly poised to speak as often as he wishes. He commands the airways at will. And Mr. Obama you have failed to take advantage of that.
You cannot go from the “Fireside Chat” to the Internet Chat. The weekender working stiff is not using the Internet for news. He uses it for games and porn. You use the TELEVISION as much as you can.
Screw the laughable GOP talking points. Do the same! It works! Yes, it’s beneath people like ourselves to act like marionettes, but good God, look at what is at stake!
The Rally begins. I see sanity everywhere expressing. There is a crowd that is amazing, far far above the pathetic old white people’s picnic hosted by Glenn (if it’s a proven lie, I’ll utter it) Beck. And yet, Foxy will spin this, and every Rethuglian from DeMint to Michele Bachmann will claim it to be something it is not. And we will wonder why, since it is so obvious to anyone who bothered to watch. They believe that 2,000,000 attended Beck’s thing. They “heard” it.
But they are NOT watching. They need to be TOLD. Speak truth to power. Speak truth to lies. Speak, speak, speak. God help us all if we don’t.
Cicero the great Orator didn’t survive Caesar, even with his beautiful logic and words. We cannot depend on logic and truth. We must remember we are a nation of sound bites. We do not go and sit at the feet of the great speakers, we barely hear as we rush through the parking lot on our way to Wal-Mart.
Speak, speak, speak. As if your life depended upon it. It well may. And then go have a few drinks. It’s what we do.
- Carol Smaldino: Rally to Restore Sanity is Political. So is Our National Insanity. (huffingtonpost.com)
- Jon Stewart, Barack Obama and the Rally to Restore Sanity (newstatesman.com)
- Arianna Huffington: HuffPost Readers Weigh In on How to Restore Sanity to America (huffingtonpost.com)
- Seattle’s ‘Rally to Restore Sanity’ may be one of nation’s largest (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Political Fatigue: Or, America’s Trash Problem (nowpublic.com)