Friday, November 19, 2010

Bullies at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Watching politics is like going to a high school football game, minus the hot dogs. Two teams vying for the playing field, locked in opposition, with Sarah Palin as the head cheerleader. Rah, Rah, Siss Boom Bah. Rousing cheers that rally the crowds, yet say nothing intelligible. Such is the conversation at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

News reporting focuses more on the scorecard between Reds and Blues than the real qualifications of the candidates. Reds just won one for the House, now the Blues are behind. Team spirit is nice, but don’t we see that the whole game has to change? Team spirit should reflect the best of human cooperation but it’s devolved into mob mentality. Wasting taxpayer money on the stalemate, while the media sells advertising for it, not only halts progress but makes us all look like fools. Meanwhile the average guy who’s in danger of losing his job is petitioned by emails to help pay for the ads. If politicians spent as much time and money solving the issues as they do trying to outwit their opponent, we might actually get somewhere.

The far right plays the archetypal Bully. They’re like that dumb, fat kid who feels intellectually insecure and makes up for it by being tough and mean. He increases his power with numbers, drawing his friends into the drama, and picking on anyone that lets them get away with it – including the President. The Progressive movement, ever on the defensive, ends up placating through compromise, arguing on the other’s terms, and consistently losing the high moral ground. No wonder their political ground is shrinking as well.

What’s the role of a bully in someone’s life? Most of us remember being on one side of the fence or the other in this ancient dynamic. The bully knows they can get you and taunts you again and again, knocking you down, until you finally stand up and fight back. Then the bully’s job is done. We play this out in our movies and novels, and now we see it in our politics, to say nothing of personal relationships.

The fact that the rallying cry mobilizing the Conservative movement can be based on this degree of nonsense is a testament to the poor articulation of the Progressive message. This will continue until the Audacity of Hope becomes, well, audacious enough to wake us up.

Let’s name the real moral ground here. Is it about who’s sleeping with whom and what gender they might be, or the fact that we’re threatening the future of four billion years of evolution with mindless consumerism? Is it about collecting a few stem cells from an unwanted fetus, or polluting the seed stock of the future? Is it about too much government spending on social programs, or ripping off millions of homeowners with foreclosure fraud? Is it about the extension of unemployment benefits or the fact that 59% of our budget goes to the military?

Gandhi based his movement on Satyagraha, which translates as the force of truth. The bullying will continue until there is clear and coherent articulation of the real dangers that threaten us: global warming, toxic waste, economic collapse, to say nothing of the media’s weapons of mass distraction – and our willingness to fall for it.

Anodea Judith
San Rafael, CA
November 2010

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