I used to think the American Left’s problem was a lack of a right proper orator. For ages, the Republicans were winning the battle of shallow, persuasive rhetoric.
And then we voted in Barack Obama, orator of the century and absolute master of shallow, persuasive rhetoric.
At which point it became clear that American progressivism was more bent on self-righteous division than ever before.
No, our problem is not a lack of shallow, persuasive oration. It’s our lip-service to consensus, which in reality we treat like an act of treason.
Think of it. Somehow the American Right can encompass people from Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel to Andrew Sullivan.
A major criticism of Socialism is the naïveté necessary to believe that enlightenment of self-interest is enough to create change. This used to piss me off. But I don’t have the luxury of blind devotion to a bookish system of beliefs anymore.
In search of a progressive ideal, the American left is hemorrhaging numbers into apathy and so-called libertarianism. The best minds of my generation are willing to listen to the one or two half-intelligent things Ron Paul has to say at the expense of the racist heteropatriarchal wealth-preserving system everything else he says represents.
The American Right somehow draws strength in numbers from its idiotic one-issue/narrow-platform voters, while the American Left is dissolving into individuals who are looking for vulnerable spots in each other’s armor by the minute.
But it’s not magic or voodoo the Right is using. It’s compromise. Do you know the insane series of compromises it takes for one party to represent evangelical Christians, gun enthusiasts, pot growers and oil barons? Anyone with a political memory longer than 30 years knows it wasn’t always this way.
The American Right’s ability to swallow unrelated constituencies whole just further demonstrates what we’re doing wrong. Billionaires who couldn’t give a shit less about Jesus, gay marriage, gun control or abortion rights were willing to subsume these issues to consolidate Rightist power.
Meanwhile, we are stuck yelling at each other about whether these particular organic fair-trade wheatgrass shots adequately express the concerns of Palestinian dolphins.
Instead of believing in a mass of people who could somehow simultaneously work for sustainable agriculture, fair third-world economic policies, Palestinian statehood and ecological concerns, the American left has settled for a divisive issue-by-issue academic stalwart orthodox policy that lets conservatives pass bills to kill us off.
A wise woman once told me that if everyone who didn’t have missionary position sex with a married heterosexual cisgender partner were all to acknowledge what we had in common, there would be way more queers than not.
But it’s almost as though we’re not interested in unity. Maybe the revolution is your boyfriend, but we’re going to have to share. The revolution is my boyfriend and her girlfriend and hir asexual panromantic dinner date. And if we can’t figure that out, ze’s going to dump us all.