Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do you even know what that means?


The problem with this analysis is that he thinks all this has something to do with how people self-identify, as if the people who identify as "conservative" are all really conservative or the moderates and liberals are truly moderate and liberal. I don't know that that's the case. Sure it's true in some cases, but I don't think people necessarily identify with these ideological labels out of ideology. It's more of a tribal ID or a social designation.

And I think it's fairly clear that a huge propaganda campaign to demonize the word liberal that has lasted nearly 30 years has taken its toll on the willingness of people to wear it. Even I, old time lib that I am, have found myself in large social and business situations in which self-identifying as a liberal is uncomfortable. So I'm fairly sure that there are plenty of people who call themselves moderates or centrists who are actually ideologically liberal. (And conversely, I suspect there are more than few "conservatives" who would more likely fall into the moderate camp. They identify as conservative because its adherents embrace it proudly, which makes it the default "popular" ideology regardless of its content.


Right, well, I don't have any problem publicly identifying as liberal because, apparently, I've always liked pissing people off. Actually, that's true. A few years back, my old pal Matt, who has known me since I was twelve, remarked, regarding my blogging, how my old urge to start shit with people had morphed from aimless authority-baiting into something with purpose. I had to think for a moment before I agreed with him because I had forgotten how often I would verbally cross people who I thought had it coming, but he was definitely right: my need to tangle with people is very ideologically driven these days.

I'm glad I finally found a purpose for my destructiveness. But that's all something of a digression.

I think that Digby, Hullabaloo's main blogging voice, is very likely right in her assertion that for most people ideological self-identification is much more about tribalism than it is about ideology. I think this because most people don't really have an ideology, or even know a damned thing about politics at all, for that matter. And when I say "politics," I mean in the mainstream conventional sense, rather than the odd tangential perspective from which I view politics.

We've joked a lot about the Tea Party woman at the Congressional town hall thingy who said to keep the government out of health care and away from Medicare, which is a government program. Funny, yes, but also frightening. This woman is a political activist on a very specific issue, but obviously knows absolutely nothing about it. Same thing with all the right-wing pundits who call Obama both a Nazi and a socialist. Sure, Nazi means "national socialist" in plain English, but fascism is all about a cozy arrangement between big business and the government, while socialism is about government ownership of business for the benefit of the people. That is, fascism and socialism are mutually exclusive of one another. Fascism is far right; socialism is far left. Nobody can be both fascist and socialist. But you have "experts" on television insisting that's what the President is. It's like calling him gay and straight, or male and female.

You get similar bullshit from self-identified liberals. (Not me, of course.)

The long and short of all this is that there really is no culture of politics in the United States. I mean, we have something we call "politics," and people get really worked up about it, but it's meaningless in any real sense. We might as well be rooting for professional sports teams, or asserting that Pepsi is better than Coke, or preferring Law and Order over NCIS. It's my tribe versus their tribe, and that's what really gets people going.

Meanwhile, sort of behind the scenes, the people with the real power, who are coincidentally the people with real money, do whatever they want because the country's so caught up in pointless bullshit that it doesn't really consider the issues or even pay attention to what's going on.

Just more evidence that the US is no longer a democracy. I continue to grieve for my country.