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Politics, as usual

A friend of mine took a cursory look at my LJ the other day. I had sent her the link to take a look at the header I made (of which I am kind of proud actually since 1)it required a lot of layers and hence a good deal of time and energy and 2)all of the pictures are pictures I have taken myself from various trips).

Before commenting on the header she said:

Her: (mumbling as she skimmed the entries) ugh, you don't have a political journal do you?
Me: (defensive I, uh, well, no, I mean not really, I mean, I occasionally post interesting political or sociological stuff but it is mostly quizzes and stuff, nothing insightful or anything (this is very true).
Her: Sure looks like a lot of political stuff to me...
Me: Ummm. Okay. What do you think of the header?

It was weird because I like posting about politics. I don't like to post things that are offensive, though I am sure that on occasion what I post might offend someone, I don't do it to acheive that purpose. I do it because these are issues near and dear to me. I wonder if that is useless in today's world.

Why is that? People claim all the time that liberal has become the dirtiest word in Washington, but I think that is untrue. The dirtiest word in Washington or Waco, or Wilmington, or Wabash, or whatever, is this: politics.


From "Why I Write":
It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.

What I have most wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an art. My starting point is always a feeling of partisanship, a sense of injustice. When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. But I could not do the work of writing a book, or even a long magazine article, if it were not also an aesthetic experience. Anyone who cares to examine my work will see that even when it is downright propaganda it contains much that a full-time politician would consider irrelevant. I am not able, and do not want, completely to abandon the world view that I acquired in childhood. So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take a pleasure in solid objects and scraps of useless information. It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.

From "Politics and the English Language":
Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

These two peices, both by George Orwell were cited by the speaker introducing speakers at a Journalism Conference, including "liberal" commentators Helen Thomas and Eric Alterman. (see below)

At a student journalism conference hosted by the Center for American Progress on June 2, 2006, Thomas lambasted journalists whom she said initially did not give accurate, critical reports on the Iraq War. She said she hopes for the return of hard reporting and that the student audience should be "out on the street" in protest instead of sitting in the conference room.

I actually saw that part of the conference (it was near the beginning) and it made me wonder, why with so many people up in arms about Bush we haven't seen even more people taking to the street? I suppose there are myriad reasons, among them, the sentiment that the left has already "lost the war" or at least the battle and that it is best to simply ride it out. Another potential reason is that rallies and marches have been used so long to protest it now feels as if "oh, they're just having another protest..." but WHAT is being protested, few people know, is it immigration reform? abortion? civil rights violations in general?... sometimes it seems that no one really does know and even fewer still care.

This is what angers and concerns me about the current political climate. Real dialogue is being stifled in favor of character attacks and lame half-interested protests without any weight behind them.

Is this the legacy we want to leave to the next generation? A bunch of people who sat around fiddling while Rome burned? And, make no mistake, it will be as much our fault as the leaders we've elected.

I ask this not of the liberals on my f-list but the conservatives too. Why aren't we outraged, not at Bush or Cheney or the liberal media... why aren't we outraged in general that we have given up our government to people on both sides of the aisle, who we consistently say we don't trust???

Would any of you hand over the steering wheel or your car to a drunkard or even someone you think is a bad driver? In most cases, no. It is a matter of self-preservation one would argue, so how is something this large not even more vital?

I'm as guilty as anyone else, and I'm beginning to recognize that no amount of education or concern or pensiveness will, in itself, suffice. Action is what is needed, by each of us.


“Eager souls, mystics and revolutionaries, may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams; but evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart, utopia is only the shadow of a dream”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions.”
Thomas Jefferson

“Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
Thomas Jefferson


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
Liberal media?? Where??

oh... Air America and The Daily Show, I remember now. :)


I think the most frustrating part of paying attention is that most people don't want to know.
Jul. 6th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
So we'd rather bury our head in the sand?

Thinking people on both sides of the political spectrum know many things they wish they didn't... why is it we are unwilling to act on them?
Jul. 6th, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC)
Well, yes, most people would rather bury thier heaqds in the sand and not even know what's happening. Most eligible Americans don't even vote!

As for action, I think we're rather lost. I think liberals for the most part are biding our time till the next election. It's either that or a civil war, cause you're right, the protests don't seem to do a thing. So aside from voting, trying to convince other people to vote our way, keeping up as much as we can stand and supporting organizations like the ACLU or what not... what options short of violence, do we have? What is action?

Jul. 6th, 2006 06:01 pm (UTC)
With regard to the first part of what you said, yes, I am aware of that and I wonder why?

And with regaard to the second part. I too am lost, WHAT is ACTION? I don't know, but I am going to make it my mission to find out and do something.

Jul. 6th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
It's hard huh? I mean, I marched in a peace march a few months ago, I put my money where my mouth is, I recycle and cloth diaper and buy organic and from sustainable companies, I work to get people to vote out this leadership... beyond that, I'm lost too.

Jul. 6th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Please don't get me wrong I have done that. I try to support local merchants and I march and I write letters to my Congresspersons about issues I am passionate about. I was a cloth diaper baby and I would definitely do that if I ever intended to have kids. I just wish that there was something that could be done to encourage people who don't do these things to at least, well, pay attention to their utility. I am not suggesting that everyone should share my/your views, but that if we could move people to care more about these issues I think a great deal of difference could be made.
Jul. 6th, 2006 04:31 pm (UTC)

Also, I'm not sure I know where the liberal media can be found, not outside of the Daily Show, anyway. Most of the media in our neck of the woods think that liberals should be drawn and quartered, and if you breathe one word of dissatisfaction with El Presidente, you are thoroughly unamerican. It's creepy.
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
Perhaps I should have been more clear, I don't necesarily buy the whole "liberal media" thing. I used to feel that was the case, but it is a rarity now.

As for the cheers, I am not sure they are warranted. I haven't done anything about it, yet...
Jul. 6th, 2006 05:35 pm (UTC)
I tried to get into this argument with my husband once; I just wanted to know what he thought of the use of force, but he refused to debate it. He said that use of force (in America, I should specify--it is a strange dichotomy in his thinking that he is wholly supportive of the war in Iraq and Afghanistand and North Korea if need be; scary, yes?) is unnecessary because we can talk things out civilly. This would be true, I think, if everyone were comfortable with discussion. But there are many who just would rather not know what's going on, would rather not think about it at all. They are more concerned with seeing that their daily lives are uninterrupted than with considering the welfare of future generations.

On the flip side, I often feel extremely helpless when I see problem of such magnitude, and I wonder how on earth little ol' me can even effect change in this fallen world. I'm not saying that one shouldn't do or act; I often don't know how.

(P.S. I like your header.)
Jul. 6th, 2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
First, thank you!

Second, I would hate to see us resort to violence, but one wonders that if the political dialogue is in sufficient or so stifled as to be un/counter-productive what options avail themselves. I am for sure not advocating taking up arms, but some more effect means of active political dialogue.
Jul. 6th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
From a wandering conservative type...
On the flist of the flist, does that count? :-)

As far as "posting about politics" goes, I'm tentatively with your friend on that; it's not that I mind talking about politics, it's just that the vast majority of the time when I see a politically-flavored post on LJ, it's going to be 1) "dumb Bush"; 2) "evil Bush", or 3) "dumb stupid evil stinky ICKY Bush, and oh yeah, everybody who voted for him is just as stupid and horrible". I don't read political posts from people in fandom, because most of the time it's going to be an indirect insult to me or a direct one to things that I value and believe in.

WRT The Liberal Media...well, I read a study by an independent think tank in which journalists self-identified along the lines of 5 percent conservative, 90 percent liberal, and 5 percent "progressive". When you have things like Republican Trent Lott getting pilloried for comments that read to me as a simple case of "schmooze the old dude at his retirement party", while nobody ever mentions that Democrat Robert Byrd was in the KKK, I do tend to see a little bit of bias. (Don't get me wrong. Bias is easy. And enjoyable. I had a bit of the save-the-world complex going on in my high school journalism class, and can only imagine it gets more intense when you're doing it as your full-time job.)

Why aren't we outraged, not at Bush or Cheney or the liberal media... why aren't we outraged in general that we have given up our government to people on both sides of the aisle, who we consistently say we don't trust???

So who was the last politician that you trusted? I mean, I'm a conservative largely because I don't trust the government, and the bigger it is, the less I trust it. (Not the black-helicopter sort of distrust. Just healthy wariness of something that, the bigger it gets, the less likely it is for me to be able to impact it.) And I'm not particularly outraged because I have a low opinion of politicians to start with; I've never seen anybody come along that I could vote for and approve of across-the-board. So I concentrate on the things that matter most to me, and save whatever outrage I've got for dealing with anything outrageous that actually happens.

I'm as guilty as anyone else, and I'm beginning to recognize that no amount of education or concern or pensiveness will, in itself, suffice. Action is what is needed, by each of us.

Problem being, what kind of action? Protests don't work, for whatever reason (having been to one counterprotest, I'd say that it's because the Left is stuck in the 60s and the Right is stuck in the 80s and neither one of them is getting much traction). And I've seen a fair amount of people who take the "battle" metaphor MUCH less metaphorically than I'd like. (Including a guy on Daily Kos who was calling, in so many words, for Molotov cocktails and rioting in the streets. Among the cheering responses was one to the effect of "Yeah, and now the repubs are gonna see that and say we're crazy and want to kill them." Ummm, yeah, actually, that's about what I did say.)

(Disclaimer: the above was hammered out during a particularly stormy baby nap, and may or may not make sense. But I figured I'd put my two cents in while I can.)
Jul. 7th, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)
Re: From a wandering conservative type...
See that is the issue, I am as much a wandering conservative type as you are. :)

I will tentatively say that I am one of the stuck in the 1980's conservatives and while I adored Ronald Reagan, I think his greatest contribution was his attempt to unify rather than polarize people.

With respect to the when was the last government official I trusted. I don't really know. Most of the politicians that I admire I know have made bad choices, and in some cases horrible ones, either to get things they ultimately felt were right or would get them reelected.

As a conservative myself, I notice that some distrust of the governement is unhealthy but too much is definitely a bad thing. If we so distrust the government that we stop taking action because it won't help then we allow them to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

My biggest worry is that many more centrist representatives are being replaced by either "I hate Bush and everything he stands for so I am voting for some incompetent or whacko replacement on the basis of the fact that they aren't (like) him" or "I swallow everything the current administration has told me hook line and sinker and will do anything possible to see that they continue to be elected and reelected" I worry that both camps lead us further and further from the common ground we need to make our teetering procedural democracy work.

I am not saying I buy or don't buy the liberal media, perhaps that should have been in quotes... because of Fox News and the like I would say the media in this country is becoming more like the media in other countries only sans recognition that this is what is happening. In many countries there are differently biased media outlets and each "advertises" its bias, so you know what flavor news you're getting. Media. like indiiduals will likely always contain bias, so I think it is good to know what flavor you're getting before you pour your cup, not have to distinguish it after...

With regard to action I am not talking at all about taking up arms, but more rigorous grass roots mobilization, more involvement in local level politics, more pressure on the folks in Washington to respond to the needs of an often drowning constituency, many of whom haven't traditionally had a voice. Again, I don't know the answer, I only wish more people were interested in finding out and that together we could do something.

*Disclaimer, I haven't yet had my morning coffee, this may not make any sense after I have...


Thanks for taking the time to comment!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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