Sunday, September 6, 2009

Why Doth the Heathen Phart?

By the way, I think I've finally figured out why liberal Democrats go batshit crazy at those of us who criticize their President from the left (and don't let's mention Ralph Nader, whose mere name still provokes spittle and accusations that he cost Gore the 2000 election, from people who really know better but just can't help themselves). There's usually a lot of projection involved, of course: the assumption that we either didn't vote at all last November or voted for Nader or some Third Party, that we have never done grunt work in an election campaign, that we're just throwing tantrums because Obama "disappointed" us, we expect him to be perfect, and so on.

For those who haven't been following -- but then, why should you? this blog isn't As the World Turns -- I voted for Obama. Not because I had any illusions about him: in fact I kept butting heads with Obama fans who had illusions by the bushel load, which they'd relinquish only when they were torn from their cold, dead fingers. And now I'm encountering again the phenomenon I encountered in 2000 and 2004: Democrats who think that they can win my vote by telling me how stupid and vicious and elitist I am, how I just want the Republicans to win, etc. Somehow I don't think that's an effective way to win votes for your side, but what do I know? (P.S. As someone else remarked, "After all, a party that's won three of the last ten presidential elections must be doing something right.")

Anyway. I (and quite a number of other people, but evidently not enough of us) am criticizing Obama, not because I'm bothered by a few little niggling mistakes in the vast tide of goodness he has unleashed since January 20, 2009, but because it's the other way around: the few good things he has done don't amount to much against his overwhelming support for America's corporate elites, his blood-soaked and hypocritical foreign policy, his continuation of the Bush administration's assault on civil liberties. I'm objecting because most of what he's done is bad, and indeed amounts to a third Bush term -- just what his partisans warned would transpire if McCain and Palin were elected instead. Even if you disagree with my suggestion that Obama has a mandate from the voters to be a flaming liberal if not an outright socialist, the fact remains that he is at odds with what most of his most ardent fans imagined he'd be like.

Therefore I have to conclude that for Obama's Democratic defenders, most of what he's doing is good -- the bailout, his garbled health "reform" plan, his support for Israel's criminal aggression, his maintenance of the US occupation of Iraq and his escalation of the US invasion of Afghanistan, and his pandering to the Republicans, and so on and on. They might be uneasy about a detail here or there, but they're willing to overlook them in the service of continued violence, terror, and mainlining vast amounts of money to the financial and corporate sectors of the US.

But even there, I'm probably being too kind to them. In a deployment of doublethink that rivals and will probably exceed the Republican streak of the past three decades, they know that something is wrong, but refuse to connect the dots: each time Obama does something that should make them angry, they pretend it's just an isolated blip, an anomaly, nothing to get too upset about. What does make them angry is anyone who points out the pattern. (This is nothing new, of course. Noam Chomsky has often pointed out how apologists for American foreign policy first claim that any upsetting criminal conduct is just an aberration, a few bad apples at work; if you point out the long historical string of such "aberrations," they accuse you of dwelling on the past, dredging up bad stuff about America instead of looking at the good -- and of course, America's virtues outweigh 'her' defects.)

The weirdest thing is that some of the same Democrats who've attacked me in these terms have also asked me why I didn't get involved in the Party and change it from within. I've tried to get involved in local Democratic Party work a time or two, but didn't get much of a welcome even before I became notorious as a Democrat-hater: they just couldn't seem to find any way that someone who didn't have a regular 9-to-5 work schedule could help out. Nowadays I already know how my criticisms of the Party would be received, and I realize that it would be reasonable on their terms to trash anyone who wanders too far from the party line. There's this thing called party discipline, the same discipline that enabled people working for Hillary Clinton who'd been attacking Obama in the harshest terms to execute an about-face and work for the Party's candidate when he won the nomination. It also requires (allows?) them to attack Republicans for doing exactly the same thing in the service of their Party and its candidates. I have my disagreements with Nietzsche, but he was right on the money when he wrote: "Now, this will not to see what one sees, this will not to see it as it is, is almost the first requisite for all who belong to a party of any sort: the party man becomes inevitably a liar."

There's no need, then to answer my earlier question, whether abusing the Party's left critics is the most effective way to win our votes. It doesn't matter. A commenter on one of the blogs I was surfing this weekend pointed out that on one hand, we don't matter, because we can't muster enough votes to make it worth the Party's while to pander to us; on the other hand, we're useful scapegoats with enormous power, who are responsible for all the Party's losses -- we cost Al Gore the 2000 election (the fact that Bush stole that election can be brushed aside as of no importance), so it would be wrong to listen to us or allow us to affect Party policy. The Democratic Party faithful like us just where we are.