Monday, October 20, 2014

The New Republic Catches Up

To where I certain dirty hippies were five years ago.

The New Republic today
Teddy Roosevelt Was a Real Independent. Today's Versions Are Poseurs.

By Michael Kazin

In a season marked by sour voters and bitter campaigns, independent candidates hold out the promise of sweet transcendence. South Dakota independent candidate Larry Pressler pledges to break up the “lobbyist-controlled spending and taxing cycle [and] poisonous partisan fights” if elected to the Senate. In Kansas, Senate hopeful Greg Orman styles himself as a “pragmatic, effective problem solver who knows how to bring people together to find common-sense solutions.” In Maine, independent Elliot Cutler stumps for governor with a “plan” which he says “needs to be smart and to stand on the facts. It needs to protect and to create opportunities for each Maine citizen to reach his or her greatest potential.” But what all these candidates are offering is closer to the political equivalent of empty calories. This is the politics of “none-of-the-above,” an alternative that is no more than a jumble of well-meaning clich├ęs.

There is no shortage of elite groups, like Third Way and the Peterson Foundation, that yearn to advance a “moderate” platform. Not to mention Michael Bloomberg, who is spending up to $25 million on TV ads to elect a handful of candidates from both parties whom, according to his spokesman, he deems “are open and actually inclined to work with people across the aisle.” Skillful at pleasing pundits and raising funds, these groups have no clue and little real interest in inspiring activists or voters. Unless that changes, today’s independent candidates will be able, at most, to nudge the discourse of the two parties a bit further toward some muddled middle than to become the prophets of a new era of reform.
Well and good for them for printing this.

Still, being a Liberal cursed with a long memory, it is hard for me to forget that your very own 'umble scrivener was writing stuff like this back in November of 2009, just as Fox News and Frank Luntz were in the early stages of teaching 40 million Bush-Loving Republicans how to wear tricorn hats, wave Gadsden flags and correctly pronounce the word "independent" every time someone shoved a microphone in their face.
Nobody knows what “independents” want, because “independent” as a modern political category is a textbook example of what Kurt Vonnegut defined in "Cat's Cradle" as a "granfalloon":
"...a proud and meaningless association of human beings"
Because “independent” can mean any-damn-thing, or nothing at all.

Consider that if you defined “independent” as someone who, broadly speaking, supported a Liberal agenda (not the imaginary, shadow-puppets-made-out-of-Rush-Limbaugh-stool-samples “Liberal agenda” that Conservatives have been using to scare stupid people into committing economic suicide for 30 years, but the real Liberal agenda) but was not welded to a particular candidate, or even to a particular party, then that would describe me pretty well.

But I'm also quite sure that a fair chunk of the the 5% of the voting public which -- just 24 hours before the 2004 Presidential elections -- still couldn't quite make up their minds whether to vote for Kerry/Edwards, or the lying, feeble-minded frat boy (and his homicidal regent) who had fucked up everything he had ever touched ...consider themselves "independents".

Rebel nuns who might just think that letting a rape victim have access to abortion services would not be the end of the world?


Snake-handling queer-hating Leviticans who think the GOP is too gutless because it won’t advocate rounding up Teh Gay and putting them in camps?


Bunker-dwelling survivalists?


Pimple-faced 30-something John Galt wannabees who masturbate themselves blind to “Atlas Shrugged” because that hot chick in accounting won’t give them a second look, but won’t she be sorry when Objectivists stop the engine of the world and people like her will have to stand in line to offer their vajay-jays to the alpha studs wealth producers!


Klansmen who want to smoke a little weed?


America's compulsive political middle-children who have been taught so thoroughly to compromise their way out of any conflict that they will travel a 1,000 miles just to find a fence to straddle?

The opinionless little ciphers who just want to make sure they line up with a winner?

The moral cowards wouldn’t pick a side with a gun pressed to their heads, because of the terror of then being committed to actually doing something instead of snarking their way through life declaring "Well, ya know, bote sides are juss a buncha crooks anyway!" about every situation regardless of context and circumstances?

If asked, I guarantee you all virtually of those people would tell you that they think of themselves as “independent”.

And based on simple observation, guess who appears to be the largest group of late-blooming independents?

Those fucknozzles who, after giving Dubya the longest tongue bath in modern political history while calling everyone else a traitor, started gagging on the sheer tonnage of bullshit their creepy idolatry of George W. Bush was requiring them to swallow and obediently regurgitate every fucking day, that's who.
Hell, in September of 2010, I even wrote a pretty fair Seussian parody to explain "independents" to the kiddies. As a piece of writing, I am still very pleased with it: it stands the test of time, scans perfectly and it was well-received in some of the comment sections of some of the more disreputable precincts of Lesser Leftblogistan.  However I don't have a byline at the New Republic or anyplace else, and so like my other 5,700 posts it never broke out of the Liberal blogger ghetto and into the conversational universe of the wider world. And as my 54th birthday nears and my tenth blogiversary begins to peek over the horizon and my bank account continues to give me the stink-eye, it is probably time to think about whether this game is still worth the candle.


steeve said...

If anyone in "the club" is five years behind with an insight, it'd be revolutionary. But of course they didn't make the truly relevant point with any directness or clarity - it was as muddled and safe and pointless as the middle they're attacking.

This is cousin to the tired plea for "new ideas", which we manifestly don't need. We need to get rid of the republican party so we can start implementing decades-old ideas, like socialized medicine and taxing the rich at 70%.

Gib Primeau said...

Don't quit DG!

ssj said...

I find that straddling the fence is hard on the balls.