Only persons afflicted with an optimism of the clinical variety found in DSM-IV would expect modifications of any kind in the thinking of America’s Republican right, any response to reason, facts or an occurrence in material reality out of the question, in the latter case, up to and even beyond a hunk of plywood against the side of the head one imagines. Economists, scientists, theologians or mere election results are no match for this implacability.
The first sobering lesson to be taken from this realization is that the behavior of one segment of the American polity is set in concrete for the foreseeable future (in other words, some period between the end of the Mayan calendar and the death of the sun). This leads to the second sobering lesson, which is that successful appeals to a tiny, still malleable segment of voters will be critical to empowering Democrats, Democrats’ political muscle all that stands between a modern, ideologically eclectic welfare state and altogether housebroken American society, and the full calamity of a right-wing cultural revolution.
The ‘revolutionary vanguard’ already is present in the House of Representatives, to a lesser extent in the United States Senate, as well as in governors’ mansions and state legislatures across the nation. With its harsh ideological strictures, rigid conservative political correctness, economic feudalism and banana republic economic structures, and not least, regime of oppressively draconian social policies enunciated with arrogant pseudo-pieties, this radicalism should strike even the semi-conscious as a clear and present danger. To be benevolent, some of our fellow voting citizens may not always be, let’s say, fully conscious. This remains the Mother of All Built-in Political Advantages to the right wing.
I retain affection for my fellow Democrats; and while there are many capable and battle-ready Democratic politicians and operatives, I would be frankly negligent if I failed to disclose that I am not entirely confident of the combat-readiness of the party in general, tendencies toward defensiveness, crippling cautiousness and a lack of philosophical and ideological sure-footedness a real concern. In some cases this is simply a lack of aggressiveness, and in others it is the absence of an instinctive feel for the urgency of the requirement to take the political and philosophical offensive.
In some cases, as pointed out by cognitive linguist George Lakoff who tirelessly reminds progressives of the necessity for and instructs them in the how-to of effective framing in political communication (and I somewhat tirelessly or tiresomely recommend Lakoff on this blog) the fault lies in an inability to penetrate the miasma of falsehood, distortion, misinformation and screaming inanity spewed into the political atmosphere by the right’s vast and efficient and ungodly-funded propaganda arsenal in a compelling and impactful way. What Democrats can’t do instinctively in this regard they had better learn. Even with its undeniable and abundantly remarked flaws, for all its amorphousness, quirkiness and oddities Occupy Wall Street drove income inequality, financialization and the bamboozling and maceration of the middle class to a salient place in the American consciousness, and with a very Lakoff-like adeptness and effectiveness at moral framing.
The public at large (in other words voters) is hardly oblivious, nor are they resigned when the right brusquely transforms their states into laboratories of anti-democracy in places like Wisconsin, Ohio or Florida for instance, turning them into something reminiscent of Khmer Rouge reeducation camps, as the uprisings by citizens in those states have demonstrated with various levels of success at polls. Citizens, when they actually find out, whether by a now nearly miraculous transmission of bare truth through the mainstream media, or via organs of progressive activism, that radical Republicans intend to subject them to something akin to prison sex they are neither receptive nor are they resigned.
When it comes to informing the electorate, if the quaint connotation of inform is to communicate credible, truthful and factual information and distinguish it from that which is none of those, then in large part the mainstream press does a great deal more harm than good. With Big Media’s two sides to everything model strongly in force, the public is left with a muddle, more confused than enlightened by what they get. Given the massiveness of the right’s alternate reality apparatus and the timorous waywardness of our current media, disabusing facts and truthful correctives must be all but forced into the media’s narratives, which naturally means Democrats and liberals must be resourceful, ingenious, indefatigable and aggressive…did I mention aggressive?…in forcing them in.
At this point anything less is a concession to Republicans’ remarkable marriage of dogmatism and cynicism, their renunciation of modern realities and their malevolently dishonest propaganda. In other words all but appeasement of an intractableness and vehemence that is a declaration of civil war in all but its public designation.