Monday, October 19, 2020

The Dirtbag Left You Will Always Have With You

Someone tweeted this today in reply to the question "Why do Democrats hate democracy so much?"

As you can see, ANTIFA Jeb didn't even bother to answer the original question, just robotically spewed out a typically elitist meme about the American voter.  Significantly, it's one that the establishments of both major parties would agree with.

Not "the average American," I'd say, but elite commentators.  Rich pundits say elections are all about which candidate you'd like to have a beer or dinner with, and they do love the framing of politics as a spectator sport - bread and circuses, without the bread.  Ordinary voters favor M4A and other "left" policies, but there's usually no candidate they can vote for, hence the low turnout we usually see. 

This isn't news, so why do I see nominal leftists claiming falsely that 'the voters' don't care about the issues?  This year we seem to have real alternatives to vote for in many downticket races, and that should be a positive development.  There are already numerous such people in office at all levels in the US, right up to Congress; isn't that grounds for cautious optimism, and further action to get more such people running and elected?  People like ANTIFA Jeb, who are quite common on the left, seem to prefer the status quo.  Maybe they'd like to be put in charge, so they could tell the ignorant rabble what to think.

Then I remembered something I've quoted before, from the economist Amartya Sen.  Sen was arguing against the common claim that people in poor countries don't care about political and democratic rights, a claim made without evidence by ruling elites in those countries.  Of course they ensure that their claim can't be tested, by having elections for example.

It is thus of some interest to note that when the Indian government, under Indira Gandhi’s leadership, tried out a similar argument in India, to justify the “emergency” she had misguidedly declared in the mid-1970s, an election was called that divided the voters precisely on this issue. In that fateful election, fought largely on the acceptability of the “emergency,” the suppression of basic political and civil rights was firmly rejected, and the Indian electorate—one of the poorest in the world—showed itself to be no less keen on protesting against the denial of basic liberties and rights than it was in complaining about economic poverty. To the extent that there has been any testing of the proposition that poor people in general do not care about civil and political rights, the evidence is entirely against that claim. Similar points can be made by observing the struggle for democratic freedoms in South Korea, Thailand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma (or Myanmar) and elsewhere in Asia. Similarly, while political freedom is widely denied in Africa, there have been movements and protests about that fact whenever circumstances have permitted, even though military dictators have given few opportunities in this respect.*

To the countries Sen lists, we can now add the people of Bolivia, who just confirmed in a landslide that they prefer democratic socialism to a coup regime.  If only the average American were offered such a choice!  This year our only alternative to Trump is Obama's hand-picked candidate Joe Biden, who is the most minimal alternative and offers nothing to the average voter.  It appears to me that ANTIFA Jeb likes it that way, which means he or she is much closer to our ruling corporatist elites than he or she pretends.

Of course it's possible that most Americans really don't want that kind of freedom; but we won't know until it has actually been tried, and when anyone sneers about our ignorance and persistence in voting against our interests without acknowledging that our interests are not on the ballot, I know they're pontificating in bad faith.


* In Development as Freedom, Knopf, 1999), page 151.