Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dem's Fighting Words

I've just read a column on Alternet by John Dolan which I think is spot on. Dolan writes that liberals need to stop policing the language we use when engaging the other side and start getting confrontational, in order to gain support from the constituencies which Dolan thinks we need to start flaming.

This may seem counter intuitive, but Dolan's explanation makes sense when given due consideration. By way of example, Dolan singles out the 2004 race which he believes was the perfect example in which a Democrat could have gained real traction by responding with fighting words, rather than trying to rise above the fray. John Kerry is a decorated war hero, and he was running against George Bush, who was an awol party kid even as Kerry was serving with distinction and honor. Yet it was Kerry who found himself trying to remain dignified even as he was slimed by the same old set of GOP bullies who crawl out from under their rocks every election cycle. Here is the narrative which should have consumed the news when Kerry was initially swiftboated as related by Dolan:
Would he defend himself when called out by the gang of disgusting bullies Bush had gathered around himself? It would have been so simple, so glorious, if he'd just turned on his accusers and reacted like a human being: "You're questioning my record on behalf of a skunk like Bush who spent the war with the Alabama National Guard, and then went AWOL from the Guard?"

Millions of American voters were waiting, hoping Kerry would react like any sane person would have. He never did. I don't know why not; I assume he was in the hands of some Clinton gurus who babbled about "rising above the fray." Well, that sure worked well.
But the call for lefties to start getting confrontational goes beyond just defending ourselves when attacked by the GOP mudslingers. Dolan writes, and I agree, that we need to start going on the offense with blunt language which will probably offend various groups at some point. Liberals need to stop worrying about sanitizing our approach in such a way as to not offend this group or that cause, because it is the milktoast approach of Kerry, Dukakis, and Carter which gave liberalism a bad name. This explains how the conservatives won election after election even though they held positions which the majority of the electorate do not agree with. That held true until 2006 when Allen of Virginia, Tester of Montana and a whole slough of Democratic candidates stood up, fought back and were swept into power. Bush ran around the country using the same old canards that if Democrats won the terrorists won, and we responded with derision rather than meekly letting him say it because we did not want to offend.

The white men which fled the party in droves during the Reagan years know full well that they are voting against their own interests. They just want us liberals to stop being such pantywaists when we tell them whats up. They want to fight for the cause they believe in, and if we give them the impression that fighting for that cause is verboten then they'll go where they are welcome.

Besides, as Dolan notes, the history of actual violence in the cause of American liberalism is a glorious one. Liberal movements and armies fighting for the cause of liberalism have killed British Redcoats, Confederates and Nazis by the hundreds of thousands, and we as a nation take pride in this. Which is not to say that we lefties should start a fist fight with the next Republican we come across. We should recognize that Americans honor a liberal heritage of confrontation against many of the same interests we are afraid to even honestly debate today. Modern liberals must find a way to rid ourselves of the reputation for being milktoast fuddy duddys who are afraid of saying this or that because someone listening might take offense.

Anyone who has read my rantings for any amount of time knows full well that I would whole heartedly agree with Dolan on this. I've never shied away from letting the other side know in no uncertain terms exactly where I'm coming from and what makes them so freaking wrong headed. The only stricture which I place upon myself in these rants is that I will not use gratuitous profanity. This is simply because of the way I was raised and the people I am surrounded by who have occasion to read this blog every so often. But that doesn't stop me from applying plenty of strong terms for the other side, like koolaid drinking dunderheaded administration toady... well you get the point I'm sure. So I would encourage anyone reading this blog who knows what is up with the state of American politics, but can not bring themselves to side with the effete left to switch parties, and do your part to give the verbiage used by the left a bit more of an edge. Take my word for it: There are plenty of opportunities to take shots at the right, and it can be quite a bit of fun actually.

All this might be moot in very short order anyway. If Barack Obama manages to change the political landscape we may move beyond the need to rip the other side a new one every so often. But I just know that the general election is going to see more than a few unfair and scummy eruptions directed from the right at Obama, so I'll be doing my small part to give it right back at them as we progress.

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