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Liberals Ruining America: How They Can Change It

by John on 06/13/2012

Before I get into a great article, let’s review the goals of Informed Not Inflamed:

  1. A stronger economic and political America
  2. Civil and enlightening conversations between you and your family and friends
  3. Show how the established media is helping to undermine our nation
  4. Show how you as the new media can help find solutions.

Here’s a brilliant piece, Liberals Ruining America, in the New York Times magazine.


Steve Almond

Steve Almond is a liberal author and essayist.  He correctly analyzes how he – and many others – fell prey to the goals and successes of the right-wing whackos and the right-wing media.

As you will see here, Almond gives liberals – and smart conservatives and moderates – a blueprint to end the media nonsense and to start solving our problems.

In short, he writes:

My personal goal is simple: to go cold turkey on conservative wing nuts and instead take up the hard work of genuine political action. It’s time for all of us — liberal, conservative and otherwise — to define ourselves as Americans not by who we hate but by what we can do to strengthen our communities and country.

Some Informed Not Inflamed Takes on this must-read:

  1. Almond is in tune with what we’re trying to do here.
  2. Stop paying attention to all the cable news channels and talk radio
  3. Conservatives and liberals have good things to say on individual issues.  As monolithic groups, they become myopic and simplistic.
  4. Think for yourself.

Let’s go into some highlights of this piece.

Complaining about Fox News and talk radio is what the media extremists want:

This slavish coverage of conservative scoundrels does nothing to illuminate policy or challenge our assumptions. On the contrary, its central goal mirrors that of the pundits it reviles: to boost ratings by reinforcing easy prejudices. These ratings come courtesy of dolts like me: liberals who choose, every day, to click on their links and to watch their shows.

Liberals, moderates, and Democrats come across as elites.  They stand on high platitudes because it is so easy when the right-wing has wing-nuts.  But those wing-nuts are passionate and they do things. 

Rather than taking up the banner and the burden of the causes I believe in, or questioning my own consumptive habits, I’ve come to rely on private moments of indignation for moral vindication. I fume at the iniquity of Pundit A and laugh at the hypocrisy of Candidate B and feel absolved — without ever having left my couch. It’s a closed system of scorn and self-congratulation.

Conservatives also thrive thanks to simplicity in their message.  They take advantage of two things: 1.) the lack of time the news consuming public has to understand nuance or refute the right-wing silliness; 2.) the majority of us fail to educate ourselves at our own detriment.

My fixation on conservative demagogues also includes a share of covert envy. The truth is that I feel overrun by moral uncertainty, bewildered by the complexity of our planetary crises. Wouldn’t it be nice, I ask myself, to feel entirely sure of my beliefs? To shout down anyone who disagrees with me? To dismiss peak oil and global warming as fairy tales? To accept capitalism as a catechism?

But what’s really happening when I scoff at Sarah Palin’s latest tweet amounts to a mimetic indulgence: I’m bleeding the world of nuance, surrendering to the seduction of binary thinking.

This pattern of defensive grievance, writ large, has derailed the liberal agenda and crippled the nation’s moral progress.

Liberals and Moderates seem to think of conservatives as a monolithic group.  They’re not.  Some of them are angry over budget issues since too many politicians have failed to look at the economic future.  Many conservatives really do have overlapping values with moderates and liberals.

The most insidious effect of our addiction to right-wing misanthropy has been the erosion of our more generous instincts. At least for me. I’ve come to regard all conservatives as extremists, a mob of useful idiots plied by profiteers, rather than a diverse spectrum of citizens, many of whom share my values, anxieties and goals. When I hear the crowd at a Republican presidential debate cheer for capital punishment, I write them off as sadists, rather than accepting them as citizens seeking a means of keeping themselves safe. Slagging conservatism has become my one acceptable form of bigotry.

Liberals and Moderates should actually offer specific plans and ideas for politics and the economy because too many Republicans are recipients of legal campaign bribes.

I’m not trying to soft-pedal the very real pathologies of the modern conservative movement. The rich and powerful have clearly found in the Republican Party a willing collaborator. They’ve spent billions peddling Americans a failed theology of deregulation and lower taxes that is designed to foster and protect obscene wealth, not to serve the vast majority of our citizens. Thanks to the Supreme Court, the coming election will mark an unprecedented infusion of corporate propaganda into the political bloodstream.

It’s for this exact reason that the left can no longer afford to squander time and energy engaging the childish arguments of paid provocateurs. We have to seek out those on the right willing to engage in genuine dialogue and ignore the rest.

Almond thinks this might happen if we ignored Fox and talk radio.  I am not so certain.  I still think money trumps it all for the media.

Rush Limbaugh would be a radio host catering to a few million angry commuters, not the alpha male of conservatism. Fox News would be a popular fringe network, not the reliable conduit by which paranoid hogwash infects our mainstream media.

In this world, it would be much harder to mislead people because media outlets would shift their resources to covering the content of proposed legislation, the exploding role of corporate influence in our affairs of state and the scientifically confirmed predicaments we face as a species.

Almond closes with some Informed Not Inflamed idealism/wishful thinking.  We have the ability and the technology for all of us to thrive with our own businesses, but the entrenched special interests in both political parties are trying to stop this new economy because it will end their power and profits.

I’m as heartbroken as the next liberal at the cynicism of the Republican Party and the inability of Democrats to confront them in blunt moral terms. But as Americans, we are endowed with the freedom to vote for the sort of democracy we want — not just at the ballot booth, but with our attention and energy. The more we devote to amplifying conflict, the less we listen to each other. Which is precisely what those special interests want: a nation too distracted by wrath to follow the money.

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