Monday, October 25, 2010

Meeting the Mad Half-Way?

Today, "Dradeeus," commenting on a blog over at Niceguy Eddie's great "In My Humble Opinion," wrote about the difficulty of constructive political discourse with what passes for "conservatives" these days:
"You can't debate between your position of what health care should be, budgetary issues, and foreign policy, with people who say 'death panels' and think their taxes are higher than they've ever been, and think Obama is a Kenyan usurper.

"There's no debate there. You can't cross the fields and hope to meet in a no man's land between sane and insane"
It's a familiar point to the three people who read this blog. A significant portion of the "conservative" base in the U.S. has, in blunt language, simply gone insane. They're what I, in the past, have called the Bubble People,", a large portion of the American right that "has increasingly opted to seal itself in what amounts to an alternate universe, and never have any more than superficial commerce with reality."

Today, for example, I open my email and I have yet another fundraising ad from yet another of the many right-wing outfits giving away (in exchange for a donation) a copy of the newest collection of right-wing garbage posing as a book. "The Roots of Obama's Rage," by Dinesh D'Souza.

If one knew absolutely nothing of the book or of the author, the title alone has to make any sane person who follows public affairs stop and scratch his head in complete bewilderment. "Obama's rage"? Obama is probably the most self-controlled, disciplined, least angry national politician in the lifetime of anyone reading these words. What passes for contemporary American political discourse is little more than a collection of professional Perpetually Angry Ranters; the Obama is so non-angry, he seems almost comatose by comparison, yet here's an entire book that begins with the premise that he's filled with rage, then purports to proceed to explain from whence it all came.

If that bewilderment by this theoretical neophyte on first encountering the book borders on incredulity, he'd be deep inside posted land when he got to D'Souza's "theory" that Obama is possessed of anti-colonialist radicalism he genetically inherited from his father. That's what passes for "theory" in what passes for "conservatism" today. Look for D'Souza's book to become a best-seller.

The Bubble People are a serious concern, for anyone who has serious concerns. The obvious problem everyone else has in dealing with such creatures on anything resembling a constructive basis is the one "Dradeeus" outlined in psychological terms: there's simply no possible compromise to be found between sanity and insanity. The insane have absolutely no interest in finding any, and, even if they did, the sane would have to become less sane in order to meet them half-way. The problem of the "conservative" base treating reality itself as entirely optional is one about which every responsible citizen should be concerned. It will continue to plague us for the forseeable future, particularly given the party system in the U.S., which makes the party of the mad the only option for expressing frustration when the other party rules.



'Niceguy' Eddie said...

Hey... watch the nose, WATCH THE NOSE!

You got it. "Reality optional." That's how they "think."

They say we'll "lose the debate" unless we dismiss them as racists (you know, to salve our own egos) but the "debate" is with someone who says the sky green, the earth is flat, the moon is cheese, Obama's a communist and Palin is qualified.

You can't debate with someone who clearly does not live on the same planet as you do! And while they can SAY the same about us?

As usual: We have that completely liberal thing they always seem to be lacking: E-V-I-D-E-N-C-E.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Well, the left seems to want gays to be allowed to marry. On the other hand, the right thinks that teachers will teach kids in school how to be gay. Let's debate! Let's meet in the middle of those two points.

So maybe they'll stop making gay marriage illegal as long as we agree to stop teaching kids to be gay in school.

...Really? ...Really??

These are our opponents? This is the debate, we're supposed to enter? We're talking about the cost of tax cuts, and they're talking about DNA tests on Obama?

But so far, it's working! After all, they have their designated media, that also goes as far as to demonize all other media, just in case those conservatives decides to read a newspaper once in awhile.

If there's an idea that you'd have to be insane to be against, they have to come up with an argument that's twice as terrible. This is why there are people that not only feared health care reform, they held up signs that actually said "I LOVE MY HEALTH INSURANCE CO."

Let's enter into a mock debate with the right. This might contain some educated "strawmen" arguments based on their recent past behavior.

There is an intersection in the middle of town. It has a common stop sign, which is not enough to prevent it's share of car accidents. The intersection has become a great concern.

The left would propose putting a street light up. The right, not wanting to grant the left a victory, says that's not only a bad idea, we should take the signs down anyways, as they infringe on people's liberties to go as fast as they want through the intersection.

"Alright," the left says, we'll compromise. We'll keep the stop sign.

It has become so crazy that anything that prevents the right from doing damage is seen as a victory.

Repealing the Patriot Act would've been seen as a victory, even though it was simply a negation of an illegal bill in the first place.

This has become the perpetual defensive position I've been talking about. It's like if Obama comes out and says "I have good news, we've stopped the right from signing a bill that would've made a new tax that funnels your money directly into the pockets of the wealthy! Yay, Liberalism!"

And that's ALL we'll get when we continue to debate them, to pretend like their opinions are valid.

classicliberal2 said...

@Dradeeus: It's worse than just perpetually playing defense, though. Most of what the Obama has pressed the congress to pass are Republican legislative proposals he has adopted as his own. The Obama adopts them in a foolish effort to attract the votes of Republicans--the mad--and, of course, as soon as he adopts them as his own, they become radioactive for all Republicans. The "Obama" health care bill had been a Republican proposal for nearly 20 years, and had even been enacted in Massachusetts by the Republican governor. When the Obama pressed for it, though, it suddenly became Example #1 of why Obama is a power-mad socialist and should be crushed and defeated, if not crucified (while the liberal option--single payer--was never even allowed a place at the table).

It's more than just playing defense all the time; there aren't even any real reform proposals on the table anymore. Everything is either of a conservative Republican character or of a bat-shit-crazy reactionary Republican one, and the batshit crazy reactionaries react to even the conservative Republican ones in exactly the same way they'd react to actual liberal reform proposals. The rhetoric used against the health care bill was exactly the same as if it was single payer on the table. The same rhetoric, the same lies, the same misrepresentations.

How do you argue against phantoms?