Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Extremist Kabuki Theater (Or: What to Do in America When You're Bored)

It's a well-known meme among those on the far left that there is no real difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties, and the whole feud between them is some made up event used as an excuse for why both parties support the elite and never get anything real done.

And their evidence of this is that most Democratic politicians don't do more to attack Republicans, but rather, compromise with them in order to get tepid liberal policies. And they're confident that we could get strong liberal policies, if only we attacked Republicans more, refused to compromise on anything, and stopped accepting "minor" liberal policies, like helping the unemployed, improving healthcare, and repealing egregious practices like DADT. 

And we see something similar on the right. Of course, their conspiracy theory is slightly different, as they support the status quo and don't accuse the two parties of collusion.  Rather, they prefer to see moderate conservatives as "weak," as they're not strong enough to sit around, repeating bold cliches on their computers or barstools.  The way they see things, there's a vast liberal conspiracy perpetrated by a small but powerful liberal cabal that uses the liberal media and bribes to minorities in order to prevent America from regaining the glory days that only exists in their minds.

And oddly, this cabal is both rich and anti-rich, establishment and anti-establishment, led by minorities while wanting to keep them down, and wants to destroy America by weakening it so they can continue their dominance in order to help the Chinese, Mexicans, Muslims, Blacks, and any other dirty critter who hates America and wants to see the liberal cabal lose power.  Or...something like that.

Creating Reality In Our Own Image

Naturally, of these two groups, I've certainly got to side with those on the left. Not only do we share many of the same goals, but there is quite a bit of truth to the idea of powerful corporate interests preventing us from creating the policies we need.  And of course, the rightwing side is so entirely nonsensical that it's utterly impossible for one to wrap one's mind around it.

It basically amounts to them being victims besieged from all sides, which can be the only explanation for why things aren't working out better for them. After all, they had been promised that they would be wealthy crime-fighting astronaut cowboys when they grew up, but instead, they're stuck working for a living and wallowing in troubles like everyone else. Clearly, there can only be one explanation for this: George Soros and the Brown People.

But all the same, even the liberals are overstating the problem, as they cherrypick certain undeniable truths in order to simplify the answer. And that answer can only require one thing: Attacking anyone who doesn't agree with them and holding out until they get what they want. And in that aspect, they're identical to far-righties, who also insist upon attacking anyone who doesn't agree with them and holding out until they get what they want.

And that includes disavowing any halfsteps and compromises, while fighting the good fight until the end.  Both sides insist that it's better to get none of what you want than part of it, and if your opponent is willing to compromise, it can only mean you're getting screwed.

Creating Enemies for Fun & Profit

And in that regard, we start to see the real cabal of like-minded interests who pose a kabuki dance of fake fighting in order to get what they want. It's the folks on the far right and left, who insist on standing so firmly on their principles that nothing can possibly get done and they can wage an eternal struggle of good v. evil.  And while they insist that good policies are at the root of their agenda, in practice, attaining such policies is impossible; as it's intended to be.

If they get any good policies at all, it's a side-effect of this struggle, not the purpose. And they'll insist that any policy is an abomination unless it was done in their desired way. And so they continue with their eternal struggle, because their real struggle is with moderation and compromise.  They know that if they're ever allowed to have a real dogfight with their foe, they'll win.  And so they blame anyone who doesn't allow that to happen.

And until the traitors on their own side stop getting in the way, they'll be forced to fight the good fight against people they consider foolish heretics or enemy spies. And to the far-left's chagrin, they have so many people on their side that it's been "watered down" with moderates, while their counterparts on the far-right wield great power within their party and seem to be having all the fun; but only because the party already shed off all the moderates who were watering it down.

And so ironically, righties bask in the glory of a popular movement that's only extreme because it's so small, while lefties gnash their teeth at the weakness caused by their popularity.  But since the ones on the left prefer seeing themselves as a small band of experts fighting for justice, while those on the right cast themselves as part of a large group of Real Americans fighting for America; this is probably for the best on both sides. And the bigger the left gets and the smaller the right gets only pushes them further into their chosen direction, confident that they're doing what is right and holy.

And the end result is that they have a great war to fight, with goals which are as big and bold as they are impossible to attain. And if any victory is won by their side, it will be immdiately forgotten, as the goalposts move further into their intended direction. For them, it's not about winning the war, but having a war to win in the first place. They all know there's a war to fight. They just have to figure out where it is.

Reality Sux

And of course, the truth is far more mundane: Politicians are human and democracy is a popularity contest too often won by selfish, shallow idiots who know how to impress people with money. And because our Founding Fathers wanted to make it difficult for a minority to make drastic changes to our nation, we end up with halfway policies and compromises which reflect a rough average of America's populace as a whole.

And that's a feature, not a bug.  It's good that people disagree.  It's not healthy for a species if we all think alike and move in the same direction.  Herd logic should always be questioned, and we should always be careful about moving too fast at once.  But that's just not something these people like to acknowledge, as it removes evil from the equation and makes the solution too difficult for them to solve on their own.  So they're forced to invent a secret cabal keeping them down, while ignoring any fact that refutes that theory.

And so all-important goals like ending rescission and repealing DADT disappear from the scorecard the very moment we achieve them. Not because they weren't important, but because they undermine the theory of the evil cabal. And they only started believing in this cabal because modern life is incredibly dull and they'd rather see some Grand Scheme pitting their good against their enemy's evil than admit that there really isn't much reason to wake up in the morning other than to pay their bills and feed their pets.

And that's what outrages them most of all. These people don't need an ideologically perfect America. They just need a hobby.  I hope some day they get one, so the grown-ups can focus on getting shit done.  Sorry, people, but it's not about you.  Believe it or not, fixing problems is more important than your ideological purity.  Deal with it.


mahakal said...

A sad impression of David Fucking Brooks.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Sorry Mahakal, I'd really like to respond to what you wrote. But since you once deceived me regarding your lie about Obama defunding Social Security, I'm afraid I can't participate in this discussion. Sorry.

But seriously, I know that you don't care much about gay rights or helping the poor, but some of us do. That's no reason to insult us. Amazingly, every comment you write at my blog only confirms what I'm writing. Like comparing me to David Brooks because I want liberal policies that help people, while you only want to feel self-righteous in your purity that helps only yourself.

If you didn't come here to prove my point, I might have had to invent you.

Doctor Biobrain said...

And just so it's clear, as I'm now thinking I failed to write this (as if my post wasn't already long enough), is that I have absolutely no problem with Democrats fighting Republicans or liberals fighting conservatives. That's to be expected and I want strong liberals who fight.

But at the end of it all needs to be liberal policies that help people. And if the demands for fighting prevent us from getting liberal policies, as it would have had we not agreed to extend the stupid Bush taxcuts for the rich, then we need to set the fighting aside and do what's right.

Compromise for the sake of compromise is dumb. But so is fighting for the sake of fighting. Obama got us real liberal policies that helped real people. That counts for something.

Betsy said...

Dear Dr. B,
I have so much stress in my life right now that I have vowed to cut politics out as much as possible. I frankly, do NOT want to hear non-stop about the 1012 elections. I have kept a few websites--but it is yours that I go to first every morning. I know you don't have time to post every day, but when you do, your intelligent and moderate (is that a bad word?) discussions make me feel much better. I am always thanking you, but here I am doing it again. If more people talked this way it would help us stay saner than we feel we are right now.

mahakal said...

Followed by sad sock puppet theater. :)

Doctor Biobrain said...

Thanks, Betsy. Believe it or not, you're probably the only reason I blog anymore. Sure, I've got a lot to say, but it doesn't seem like it's worth the effort because it takes so long to say it. But then I feel guilty to let you down and use that as my excuse to keep writing.

Geez, if you didn't post here, I'd probably have to invent you, too.

Davis X. Machina said...

Let's get this straight -- politics isn't primarily a form of self-expression?

It's not supposed to be a form of social signaling by choice of consumer goods-slash-candidates?

Day-um. Someone better tell Democraticunderground.com.

mahakal said...

Oh look,

This year alone, Social Security will pay out $45 billion more in retirement, disability and survivors' benefits than it collects in payroll taxes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said. That figure nearly triples — to $130 billion — when the new one-year cut in payroll taxes is included.

Congress has promised to replenish any lost revenue from the tax cut, but that's hardly good news, either, adding to the federal budget deficit. In another sobering estimate, the congressional office said government red ink this year will increase to $1.5 trillion, the most in U.S. history.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Uh, Mahakal? We're liberals. That means that we support deficit spending when it's being used to stimulate the economy during economic downturns. And so allowing workers to keep 2% of their paychecks so they can spend is a GOOD thing, even if it adds to the deficit. That's been standard economic theory since the Great Depression and is still what they teach in economic classes. Or at least the good ones, anyway.

And yes, the deficit is getting worse this year, largely due to the idiotic extension of the Bush tax cuts, which don't even have the benefit of being good for the economy. But seeing as how we had no other choice, I fail to understand your point.

Yeah, it'd have been great if Republicans hadn't held us hostage like this and added to the deficit. It'd also be great if I won the lottery and never had to work again. But you've got to deal with the reality that surrounds you and not the one you prefer. And that means we had to extend the stupid taxcuts, if we wanted to pass liberal policies. Why do you keep ignoring this point?

BTW, it's not that Congress "promised" to replenish the lost revenue. They MUST replenish it, just as they MUST replenish the funds they've been borrowing from it since the 80's.

mahakal said...

You aren't a liberal. I'm just demonstrating your dishonesty.

Doctor Biobrain said...

But, if I'm not a liberal, then why do I support liberal policies and oppose conservative ones? And if you are a liberal, then why do you oppose liberal policies and support conservative ones?

For example, running deficits in order to give more money to working Americans is a liberal policy. Yet you oppose it because you don't want to add to the debt. And that's the conservative position.

These are basic distinctions that go back to the 1930's, when liberals supported deficit spending and conservatives opposed them, and they haven't changed since. Yet you argue in support of the conservative position all the same.

Now mind you, I don't actually think you're a conservative. I think you're a hardcore partisan who'd rather "win" than help people; and "winning" means denying Republicans any victories. And that not only makes you a partisan, but a diehard Democrat who puts party before policy.

In your thinking, Obama and Democrats would have more strength if they stood up to Republicans, even if that meant we were denied liberal policies like helping the unemployed, helping workers, and repealing DADT.

You're no ideologue. You're a straight-up partisan Democrat who sees liberal policies as a side-effect of your partisanship; not the point of it.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oh, and now that you've admitted that Obama didn't defund Social Security, are you going to retract your lie saying he had? Or will you continue with that bit of dishonesty and insult me for reminding you about it?

While lying is often bad, self-deception is far worse. And you suffer from it in spades, which is why you can't defend anything you write.

I'd love to hear why you oppose the liberal policies Obama gave us, but you can't. You're so angry that he gave Republicans something they wanted that you refuse to acknowledge the good it gave us.

mahakal said...

Keep writing to yourself. I only discredit you for the benefit of others now.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Look, I keep explaining why I support liberal policies, while you keep claiming to be a liberal, yet oppose liberal policies. Sure, you'd LIKE to help people, but not if it means Republicans can score a victory.

And of course, the reason I'm only writing to myself is because you're so delusional that you refuse to understand what I'm saying and imagine that you're a liberal, even though you keep repeating conservative policies. Hell, you not only oppose deficit spending, but even believe the insurance mandate was unconstitutional. That makes you far more conservative than myself.

Look, the reason you can't defend your own policies is because you think you're a liberal, but you're not. You're a partisan who opposes anyone who doesn't hate Republicans as much as you do. You can blame me for this, or you can acknowledge the truth. Self-denial is not a virtue.

mahakal said...

You've simply lost your mind.

Betsy said...

Dr. B, I don't read the comments usually because I don't need arguments and fussing any more than is available in the air around me like gnats buzzing in the politisphere (is that a word?) I just read you, and comment now and then. If you like, I will acknowedge your posts so you know I am here. I know it is a problem to keep up (Hell, I can't even find time to write my daughter sometimes) but you are the most sensible "talk me down" (I am sorry Rachael abandoned that) person I have found in the blogosphere. I really value your opinion. By that way did that guy think I was a sock puppet. I didn't really pay any attention, but if he did, I look like a sock monkey with a big smile and button eyes---just so he'll know.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Yes Mahakal, I've lost my mind because I know what liberalism is and you don't. You think deficit spending that gives more money to workers is bad, and think the insurance mandate is unconstitutional. Yet those are both conservative positions.

To you, I'm a conservative because I supported a compromise with conservatives and have used phrases that conservatives use. And that makes sense to you because you're a partisan who thinks that liberalism is about fighting conservatives instead of helping people.

And again, if you could somehow defend your brand of liberalism, I'd love to hear it. But you can't, because you're not a liberal.