Robert Parry at Consortium News posted his analysis of how the US got to the sorry state it finds itself in today. Parry has a lot of the history correct as he spells out how the right planned, financed and engineered their dream of one party rule in the US, but I think he has it somewhat wrong when he chooses to blame progressives and liberals for making poor choices like working on grass-roots organizing instead of matching the right in taking over the media and trying to control the national messaging apparatus.
I think there are simple human personality processes at work that make it difficult for
- The Left – a disparate group of folks with strong independent and iconoclastic impulses (relatively hard to organize and unlikely to maintain party discipline)
to compete with
- The Right – a disparate group of folks with strong impulses to want to define the world in simple black and white terms that support their individual need for stability and conformity (quite a bit easier to organize and to persuade to march on orders)
Moneyed interests will naturally find it much easier to subvert The Right to do its bidding and feed the greed. The Left may occasionally succeed at coordinating on a message and a political zeitgeist to elect a democratic president and congress, as happened in 2008, but the Democratic Party is not The Left. The Democratic Party is strongly beholden to the same moneyed interests who usually work through the Republican Party, so in the rare instances when Dem are in control as they have been since 2008, they have few choices. Enacting a Leftist agenda is one, but in the last two instances of Democratic ascendancy – Clinton 1988 and Obama 2008 – they chose instead to bash their heads against the wall of healthcare reform by nibbling at the problem. The leftist agenda is simple on healthcare – Medicare for Everyone – single payer. Allow the health insurance industry to complete for Medigap Insurance for Everyone. Both Clinton and Obama failed to come out strongly and on message for Medicare for Everyone and that was the end of any leftist legislative legacy in their terms.
That simple analysis limits the discussion to health care as an example of the failure of the Dems to embrace a leftist agenda because both Obama and Clinton chose health care reform as the lead off issue. You could look for and find similarities between Clinton and Obama on other important progressive issues like protecting all the rights that should be available to the GLBT community including marriage and the right to serve openly in the military.
In the Obama administration it certainly would have been a better choice to lead with a focus on jobs with a focus on manufacturing jobs that produce solid goods. And I mean GOODS in multiple meanings – especially in the sense of material that serve a good purpose – like clean energy, a move away from the petro-chemical age, and not just pumping more money into the defense industries that produce weapons of mass destruction. There may be an argument that maintaining our military arms industries keeps us safe, but that argument starts to unravel when you look at how we sell state of the art military weaponry to so many folks around the world. That may be good for the stock prices of General Dynamics but it is not Good for the people who live between our borders.
So, Robert Parry thinks the Left should have chosen to match the Right in its media control. Maybe that would have helped, but I doubt it. I suspect that a leftist media would have experienced all the success that Wikileaks is enjoying today.
Wikileaks challenges today:
- Assange is under indictment
- Wikileaks is having to jump around to find servers to host their website and work
- Paypal has pulled their ubiquitous funding system from the organization
- The website itself is under well-organized (which is to say Non-Leftist) denial of service attacks
An unethical, dishonest attack campaign is a little difficult to counter. Even attacking the dishonest message means you repeat the message and probably give the lie legs. Like don’t think of elephants, that kind of unfortunate linguistic programming occurs. Maybe you can attack the messenger as a liar, maybe that needs to be the primary counter with a dishonest campaign, but we could dream that a positive, and true message could carry the day. Don’t know if that is likely or not, but we could dream that dream.
For an example of how a dishonest attack campaign works, think back on how Dan Rather fared when he tried to get George Bush’s military service or lack thereof in the political discussion. This is the stuff that Lee Atwater and Karl Rover have built campaigns around (the tactic, not any particular message).
I like a lot of what Parry has to say about how we got here, but he needs to make more concrete proposals about how we can make things better. Lack of media control and message discipline is not the whole answer or the whole problem imho.
I see the looming global climate crisis as a reasonable lever to move the US economy away from the militarism and imperialism that is so destructive to our democracy and our constitutional legacy of freedoms. I dream of a democratic president and congress that would make a bold choice to pursue a progressive legislative agenda.