Monday, July 2, 2012

Come Together. Right now.

Today, the left is in a period of flux and uncertainty. We're balkanized, divided, and conquered, but it's mainly of our own doing. But it doesn't have to be that way. Progressives, occupiers, liberals, leftists, moderates, rational Christian, and disaffected republicans can still come together for reason, decency, and the protection of our nation's most vulnerable. Otherwise, our society's policies--and ideals--will be undone by the far right. 


Come together. 
Progressives, liberals, moderates, and
reasonable people of all kinds who believe
in civil society and protecting the most
vulnerable need to come together to defend
against a hybrid of libertarian and conservative
extremists--at the ballot box. Stop reviling and
start collaborating to elect people who can
make a difference
It reminds me of  of the early days of the environmental movement in the '80s. Back then, the movement was striated, divided, and hyper competitive. There were some larger, institutional players dominating the field with more activist, radical elements. In fact, these divisions continue today, but there's more balance among the middle and activist groups (think Sea Shepherd Conservation Society). Progressives, liberals, and moderates, however, seem to vilify one another and bang their own specific agenda drum, as needed. But they're missing the big picture, to wit, progressives and liberals can unite with people, like Christians, who do not like what's being done by the far right in Jesus' name.


Nuns on the Bus: The Christian Left is trying to tell us something. On the other side of the critical thinking equation, we ignore people who don't believe everything that is "approved" orthodoxy. Take the "nuns on the bus" tour. These are catholic women who are driving around the country pointing out that Paul Ryan's budget is anti-christian because it targets the poor. It's brilliant, and I guarantee you that many on the left have either not heard of it or don't give it much shrift, because "Eeeek! It's religious people! Run away!" Here's what one of the nuns had to say about their tour for compassion:
"As a Catholic nun who lobbies on Capitol Hill for the most vulnerable in our society, I'm shocked by the Vatican's recent scrutiny of many women religious. We've been called radical feminists, criticized for supporting historic health care reform and lectured for not speaking enough against abortion. This trial by fire from our own church leaders has left many Catholic sisters shaken but not discouraged. Inspired by faith and buoyed by supporters from across the country, we remain committed to Gospel values: healing the sick, feeding the hungry, welcoming the immigrant. 
Our two-week trip through cities, small towns and rural communities may call to mind Robert Kennedy's 1968 poverty tour through Appalachia. By shining a spotlight on those living in the shadows of the American dream, we hope to provoke a better debate about values and economic policies in this critical election year. This is especially urgent now that the GOP House budget cuts food stamps and targets health care for the elderly even as it coddles the wealthy with irresponsible tax breaks."
Source: National Catholic Reporter
As many know, the right uses a twisted, apocryphal version of "religion" culled from selective texts in the old testament to revile those they disagree with. (they're not lockstep, as is often believed) to make their arguments--if Jesus were alive today, he'd be reviled by the right wing as a socialist hippie and kicked to the political curb. Whereas the left? They tend to be non-religious, but in fact base their worldview on his teachings. 
Pop Quiz
Who worked to help the vulnerable, the poor, the downtrodden, the sick and the dying? Was it:
A. Jesus. 
B. The Democrats.
C. Nuns on the Bus. 
D. All of the above.
E. The Tea Party Republicans


Lefties need need to tell this simple truth--and tell it over and over to recapture "reasonable religious people." Not all Christians are far right nuts, and we do them and ourselves a great disservice by conflating them as such. 


The Divided Right: An Opportune Time for Common Sense
As it turns out, the right is divided as well. I strongly suggest that people review some Tea Party websites (as painful as that is) because they'll find serious divisions among them. The Tea Partiers support radical far right republicans, and they revile "RINO" republicans (Republicans in Name Only). Take a look at Judson Phillips, the Tea Party Nation leader and rabid watchdog for the extreme right. This guy is so far right that he thinks John Boehner is a liberal spender. He's not a good writer, but he is kinda fun to read--kinda like reading the lettering

The truth? The right is divided, but their fringe elements tea party actually push their "moderates" to do their bidding (see http://www.groobiecat.com/2011/07/scorpion-and-frog-cautionary-political.html). Ironically enough, many conservatives simply accept this division. But not all do. 




But don't take my word for it: Here's Norm Ornstein, Old School Republican... A longtime republican and scholar, Norman Ornstein, no longer recognizes his party. I grew up reading Ornstein and watching him on Sunday talking head shows during the Reagan and Bush years. I used to disagree with everything he said, pretty much, but appreciated his civil, reasoned polemic. He blames today's republican party for the crazy that has descended on Washington, DC and he is not well liked by the far right for it. Here's what he and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institute co-wrote as an Op-Ed in the Washington Post a few months ago:
"Rep. Allen West, a Florida Republican, was recently captured on video asserting that there are “78 to 81” Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party. Of course, it’s not unusual for some renegade lawmaker from either side of the aisle to say something outrageous. What made West’s comment — right out of the McCarthyite playbook of the 1950s — so striking was the almost complete lack of condemnation from Republican congressional leaders or other major party figures, including the remaining presidential candidates. 
It’s not that the GOP leadership agrees with West; it is that such extreme remarks and views are now taken for granted. 
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party. 
When one party moves this far from the mainstream, it makes it nearly impossible for the political system to deal constructively with the country’s challenges. 
It is clear that the center of gravity in the Republican Party has shifted sharply to the right. Its once-legendary moderate and center-right legislators in the House and the Senate — think Bob Michel, Mickey Edwards, John Danforth, Chuck Hagel — are virtually extinct."
...and Read what Professional Radical Rightist Judson Phillips has to say. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Judson Phillips.
"Less than 24 hours have passed since Newt Gingrich convincingly won South Carolina. The RINO establishment has been going nuts since then. 
Every major RINO has been coming unglued this morning at the prospect that Newt Gingrich the scrappy conservative might beat liberal Mitt Romney and become the GOP nominee. 
The formerly conservative and now snotty Ann Coulter got snarky early this morning on Fox and Friends, sniffing that Republicans were throwing away the chance to win just so they could have Gingrich throw zingers out at Obama."
Meanwhile, us folks on the left spend a little too much time aiming careful at our collective foot. Obama supporters ignore reasonable criticisms of their leader, while Obama haters ignore good things he's done and conflate actions of democrats and republicans as the same (they are in some cases, but not on diversity, women's rights, education, healthcare, regulation, research, global warming, or, say, electing neo-nazis to the party). This needs to stop now, please.

Wake up, folks. The vote and associated policy are the key issues, and if you don't elect at least democratic leaders (who are actually fighting for voters' rights, women's rights, gay rights, better healthcare, and lower interest rates for student loans, etc.) we will wake up in mid-November and realize that the klown kar of krazy has veered right into the white house--again. Donate. Activate. Educate. Get out and vote for the only elements that can do something to institute egalitarian humanist interests; even if it's not perfect. There is no perfect and orthodox political party or system--that's an illusion. I'm digressing here, but take support for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Think you're against the war? You're wrong. you're for it. Why? Because you pay taxes; lip service doesn't count when it comes to actual policy. Sucks, but it's the truth.


So progressives, liberals, independents, embrace you some lefty Christians and moderate republicans; we need to align along shared values and ideals--then vote and change policy, because if you don't, Judson the Phillips will do it for you.

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