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Objectively pro-

By Michael J. Smith on Friday March 17, 2006 12:26 PM

The lengthy and lively discussion of a recent post got me musing,in my airy, metaphysical way, about the thought processes of liberal Democrats. One thingthat struck me forcibly in the recent donnybrook was the insistence, on the pro-Democrat side, that any opposition to the Democrats was "objectively pro-Bush."

Now in one sense it's easy to see the flaw in this logic. To use my favorite analogy, it's as if you were fighting off two thugs who are trying to mug you and also trying to do each other out of the spoils. It would be silly to reproach you, every time you land a punch on one of them, by saying you're helping the other one.

But that's hardly the end of the story. What's interesting to me is why people would choose to live under conditions of such sharp intellectual confinement -- a mental walnut shell in which the entire infinite space of political possibilities reduces to a modulo-two remainder, For The Democrats or For The Republicans.

In fact the larger space is not only uninhabitable, it's un-mappable. The structural symbiosis of the two parties in keeping the rich rich and the poor poor, can't be discussed, because that might suggest that one ought to do something other than just sing one's appointed part in the Decani or Cantoris choir -- bray like a donkey or bellow like an elephant, da capo ad infinitum.

It's an end-of-history theory, in a way: there are Republicans and there are Democrats, there is nothing else and there can never be anything else. No end to this state of affairs can be envisioned, because no steps that might end it can be entertained. You can put your chips on Red or Black. You can't kick over the table or even walk away from it, and you certainly can't keep your chips in your pocket. Change is ruled out of order and historical contingency has become immanent necessity.

Now I can imagine why a person might fail to realize that things could be different than they are. But what I can't quite grasp is how a person could be uncomfortable with things as they are and yet indignantly reject the idea that they could be otherwise.

Comments (10)

J. Alva Scruggs:

Ironically, the objectively pro-Bush argument is itself objectively pro-Bush. The anti-rational style is the stock in trade of binary thinking reactionaries. Adopting it gives them a boost. Once the arguing is confined to a box with no decent solutions, a choice of miseries is all that's left. That's where the oligarchs excel. Nothing substantive gets discussed and the game goes to whoever plays perception management best.

The mugging metaphor is perfect for this. I suppose I could study up on which is a worse: a broken leg from a baseball bat or one from a tire iron. But isn't a choice of no broken leg even better?



Who is rejecting other possibilities?

I ask and I ask and I ask: show me what they are. Show me how you are working for them. Show me how, for example, you are working for IRV (which I would support very strongly), or building up local alternative party structures, winning local elections to build name recognition and credibility. I've voted for Green Party candidates.

Landing punches on the group you agree is the Lesser Evil, in the meantime, demonstrably helps the Greater Evil. Show me how helping the Greater Evil would (could) pay off in the long run, and why the sacrifice of other people's well-being NOW is worth it.


Yes, J. Alvah, no broken leg is Even Better.

Show me how voting for a doomed candidate accomplishes this.

The deep problem with 3rd-Party voting on the Nader model is its very American "We Want It Now" mode. Sure, we want it now, everybody wants it now. But that's not how it works.

You say you want a 3rd Party, then build it. Run credible candidates in winnable local races, build credibility, and move up from there.

If you have a different model, I'm still waiting to hear it.

J. Alva Scruggs:
Who is rejecting other possibilities?

You are. You also move the goalposts just like wingnut flibbertigibbet. Why not ask MJS to prove the earth is in orbit around the sun while you're at it? You argue in bad faith and you use psychic powers to detect your interlocutor's position. In some ways, you're worse than wingnut. They at least don't call themselves the left. You've gone past the point where you can be considered anything other than a troll, IMO.


If being a troll is answering questions and asking them in return, then yes, I am a troll.

If being a troll is name-calling and refusing to answer questions put repeatedly, in good faith, while ignoring what your interlocutor has written, then, no, I am not a troll, but I am afraid that this is a trollsite!

All this start-small party-building talk I'm talking about is Stuff I Have Supported With Votes. It is in the category of Just a Suggestion. Always with the appended, If You Have Another Idea, Please Do Share.

Thank you.


the last time
this nation really busted up one head
of the two party system
by smashing the whigs

the subsquent dynamics

lead to civil war

my goal is at least that ambitious

John, if you favor IRV, what is to stop you from proposing it at your local DP outpost ? Have you tried ?

I think IRV is an important step in the right direction, though I've also been reading up on Concordet, which some folks feel is better. At any rate, given the corruption in the local DP, embodied by that asshole Bill Bradbury, I don't exactly expect us to have it anytime soon. The local GP is too frequently fragmented and nearly invisible. In CA, where the population is larger and more diverse, they seem to be having more tangible successes when it comes to harrying the DP and making it pay attention. (ie-- Gonzales' challenge to Newsome a couple of years back;Chretien's current challenge to Feinstein.)

It may well be that if I want a GP with teeth, the best bet would be to move to CA. Alas, I am masochistically in love with the Pacific NW, so I am concentrating what resources I have on local measures like the Clean Money Campaign and local non-partisan City/County council candidates. At least some of those folks (one is a current Green officeholder in the Soil and Water Dept.) have concrete proposals for reining in the excesses of payday loan companies and --gasp !-- proposing that the local corporate bigwigs who drag the current Council around by the nose actually pony up their fair share of taxes.

If that's not signifigant enough reform, it will do for a start. The great thing about being at the bottom is that there's really nowhere to go but up.


Thanks alsis.


john here is an answer any one of ..."us"

might give you to an earlier question

we are not trying to elect republicans we are trying to defeat blue dog democrats

if a blue dog dem is a lesser evil then the run of the zoo elephant boy
i wouldn't want anyone to try living on the difference


Great reading, keep up the great posts.
Peace, JiggaDigga

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