Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Almost time to clean the "Progressive/Liberal" house

I can't wait for the election to be over, I really can't. Come November 7th, which just happens to be my birthday, I am going to have one hell of a hangover. Hopefully it will be from celebrating. Then, once I recover, I am going to start cleaning house. It won't be just cleaning up the empty beer bottles, it will also be rethinking a lot of the groups and individuals I have found myself inadvertently aligned with in the coalition of people who are trying to make sure Mitt Romney never sets foot inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In order to accomplish things politically, you have to sometimes get in bed with people you normally would rather never have to even be in the same room with. Every election, it is that way. You find yourself having to hold your nose, and biting your tongue every time you see the same old tired cliche political memes with a slightly different twist and page's name on it. It gets even more annoying seeing the same controversially titled, tabloid-esque link to a rewritten version of a story that you've already known about for a week 10 times in one morning on 10 different Facebook pages, all owned or controlled by the same person(s). It is really hard to keep your mouth shut when you see "writers" take an old news story and blow it out of proportion in order to drive traffic to their website where they're more interested in making money than changing minds or creating original content when it comes to politics. My belief that selfishness, greed, pettiness, narcissism and general douchebaggery (yes, that's not a real word) aren't inherent to just one political world view hase been reaffirmed on almost a daily basis.

I've also watched people with many of the same views as I share stoop to the same levels that the worst of the opposition groups are notorious for. I understand that politics is very similar to war and the side that uses the worst and inhuman tactics often wins. It still doesn't make it right. It explains some of the actions but it doesn't make me any less queasy when seeing it. This is especially true when I see some of the stuff that is supposed to pass as political humor which is rude and crude for no other reason than to be rude and crude or articles that rely on untruths and statements taken out of context. It directly contradicts the notion that "we can win with facts and intellect" and instead panders to intellectual laziness, group think and everything else that we should be fighting against. I want to say "we're better than that" and crucify them in front of the digital world but like the opposition, I have to bite my tongue in the name of the greater good, the overall goal.

As the owner of a moderately successful Facebook page, it is even harder to walk the tightrope of dealing with competing egos and demands while trying not to get sucked into the orbit of the personal agendas of others. I have no problem with going lowbrow or outright crass when, like art, it serves to illustrate a greater point but not when it is for no other reason than to drive page traffic and sell articles. I don't mind fighting fire with fire but some people think it is perfectly OK to make fun of a politician's family, whose only fault is sharing the same last name or DNA. Others think it is fine to engage in the same tactics of repeating the same lie or half truth over and over again until people accept it as the truth. As much as possible, my page admins and I avoid that. Other pages may engage in that, but we won't.

Unlike previous election cycles, the liberal/progressive/moderate/independent coalition that has assembled behind the mission to reelect the President has managed not to engage in the traditional "circular firing squad", at least not yet. Just a few more weeks...let's hold it together.


  1. Well stated. Some 'occupy' pages come to mind.

    1. well, arrogance isn't the worst thing in the world. Check out what Occupy Sandy is doing around New York.
      What people say online is one thing, and what they do when they get out of bed in the morning is another.

  2. Agree with all of this. My personal litmus test for sharing and commenting is... would I be insulted if someone said it about me. I think it is eminently possible to critique and converse and debate without being ugly or even just crass.

    I love your page/blog. As we say to the youngers in the family, 'you do good jobs!'

  3. Fantastically done. A few typos (nothing so big it detracts from the piece), but outside of that? Extremely well-written and well-stated.

    You are completely correct. This election has caused a great deal of "innovations" among the Liberal Wing. The rise of Political Trolls, once a Conservative-dominated thing, the rise of profit-motivated groups (A few Facebook pages come to mind, and many will know exactly which page I'm talking about), the rise of organizations that are pushing an agenda and will spread complete misinformation to do so.

    Some of these can be good. The Political Trolls do help, at least those that have actual substance and are not actually throwing insults like a stereotypical cartoon monkey throws feces. There is nothing inherently wrong with for-profit organizations, but the most (in)famous ones are the ones that do it "wrong" (Or right, from their perspective).

    The spread of misinformation is damning though. Absolutely damning. We are becoming more like the Conservative propaganda machine, and we have fallen from our old standards. And? That hurts us as a whole.

  4. I noticed the typos. You can thank a slight hangover and no coffee for that. ;-)

  5. You do realize we can't JUST win on facts and reason, right? Why do you think they keep losing? Because emotion plays a part as well. And as the Philosophs in France were instrumental in setting the stage for the revolution, the new jesters, crude or not, are using mockery as a weapon against those who use hate and fear. Sorry you have a problem with that. Maybe you're just not used to having a winning strategy. For the past few decades we've had to tolerate them or their designated mouthpieces calling Liberals everything from "communists" to "demonic." We've taken the high road again and again and it hasn't helped any of us. We're in WORSE shape than we've ever been in, politically speaking. Without someone to stand up and say "No, that's bullshit!" they continue to spread it to the low information side, who think to themselves upon hearing convincing bullshit, "hey, that makes sense."

    No it doesn't. It's bullshit. There's a reason the Daily Show is so popular.

    Are some people more crude than funny? Are some things taken out of context and used like a bludgeon? Yes. But who made such a statement the centerpiece of the RNC? It wasn't us. We'll allow Obama to remain mostly above the fray. We're not afraid to climb down into the sewers and fight the battles. At least we don't have to LIVE there.

  6. It is a quandary. Progressives like to think of themselves as the party of reason, the party of fact-based decision making, the party that can speak to the issues honestly. So we find using Republican tactics distasteful.

    The problem is, and I hate to say it but I feel there are plenty of studies to back me up, there are a lot of people who can't be reasoned with, who are unswayed by facts, who despise intelligence, and who respond only to emotional appeals. There are a lot of these people, and they can, and do, vote. And they won't vote for that smart candidate who gives them facts and shows them the logical strengths of his position, they'll vote for that candidate that makes them scared of the other candidate.

    So yeah, personal attacks, half-truths and out-of-context statements, misrepresentations, they are terrible, but frighteningly effective. And if one side uses them and the other side doesn't, it's like taking a flower to a knife fight; you bleed to death on the moral high road.

    Of course, the problem is at some point you become indistinguishable from the other side, because much of what makes conservatives terrible is not their politics but their grubby lies and pandering to the public's worst instincts, and if we stoop to those same grubby lies, we have taken on the worst of our opponents.

    The truth is, the world would probably be a better place if we were concerned less with ideology than with basic honesty and human decency; if we voted for the candidate who was most ethical, and most reasonable, and most intelligent, even if we didn't agree with all his positions. But I don't see that happening.

    1. Charles, I find your response to be very honest and reasonable. I think it's pretty scary what we have to do to win, and I find it even more frightening that those who spout the lies and half-truths usually believe what they are attempting to sell. I've repeatedly called Romney a Snake Oil Salesman because he is slick, he says what people want to hear when they want to hear it. And you cannot fight that salesman with data proving the ineffectual response to Snake Oil, instead, you must fight him with a bigger, brighter, more showy display of facts, and sometimes half-truths, as to why your own medicine, treatment, etc., is better....

  7. So I was going to link to this on fb, but I noticed that it comes up with one of the early comments as the description of the post. (And while it's an OK comment, it's not what I was meaning to share.) It looks like you're not setting some of the description tags that let Facebook give a better summary of your Blogger posts. If you're interested in tweaking that to improve the fb summary when folks link to you, here's some how to:

    The following pages give a how-to on some of the settings for passing better descriptions from Blogger to Facebook:



  8. You do realize that your ads on this site are for Romney? Kind of counter productive....

  9. Google ads help keep this page running. I don't choose them. The Romney ads are funny and wasted here.

  10. Ask an economics professor and a politician a question about economics and you'll get two very different answers, even if they come to the same conclusion. The professor will be attempting to educate you and the politician will be attempting to inspire your confidence in him without taking any risks that may be counterproductive. Given a simple choice of which to trust with decisions effecting our economy most would choose the professor hands down. However, if they must campaign for the position people's preference reverses.

    The professor will drag out his charts and quote theory and figures, while the politician will go with "I'm a good guy, trust me". Lacking any requisite knowledge to judge either, the intellectually lazy voter will accept the emotional appeal over boring facts every time. Charts and figures make their eyes glaze over and it's very difficult to become emotionally attached to facts and figures. Emotional attachment is the primary tool of a good salesman, and Republicans, being well versed in business and marketing, have excelled. The only time Republicans will not come out on top of the democratic process is after they fail so badly that voters reject them in rebound. However, that doesn't mean that they have accepted the boring charts, graphs, facts and figures for their own sake.

    Until the left figures out that the average voter really isn't that into his/her own economic future, and isn't all that bright outside their specialty area it will not be effective in marketing it's message and ideology. The real challenge is marketing a message to a base that is very similar to a herd of cats, each with it's own favorite issue and little interest in the issues of anyone else. The off grid tree hugger isn't going to get that excited by the issues of inner city economics, and vice versa.

    There are just too many advantages to the right to ever hope for any lasting "dynasty" of progressives. We will have to make what progress we can in the natural cycles of boom and bust inherent to the capitalism that lies at the core of the corporatist controlled GOP. If we can stay in the driver's seat long enough for our programs to become endearing to the general populace we can make progress, but that is the best we can hope for until some random sun flare occurs at just the right frequency to raise the IQ of a substantial portion of Americans.

  11. Yes.

    I sometimes cackle with delight at Trollvengers' crude humor, but I won't share 95% of what they publish. Some among them present fabulously factual take-downs of right-wing lies and distortions, which I gladly share.

    I'm glad the seedy underbelly of Facebook exists, and I'm glad I know about it. But most of it I don't need in my News Feed.