Mark Taibbi is extremely amusing, reflecting upon — and criticizing — the contradictions of American leftism.
The sad truth is that if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left, it is engaging in a huge waste of time and personnel. No matter what it claims for a self-image, in reality it s the saddest collection of cowering, ineffectual ninnies ever assembled under one banner on Godâ€™s green earth. And its ugly little secret is that it really doesnâ€™t mind being in the position its in â€“ politically irrelevant and permanently relegated to the sidelines, tucked into its cozy little cottage industry of polysyllabic, ivory tower criticism. When you get right down to it, the American left is basically just a noisy Upper West side cocktail party for the college-graduate class.
And we all know it. The question is, when will we finally admit it?
Here’s the real problem with American liberalism: there is no such thing, not really. What we call American liberalism is really a kind of genetic mutant, a Frankensteinâ€™s monster of incongruous parts â€“ a fat, affluent, overeducated New York/Washington head crudely screwed onto the withering corpse of the vanishing middle-American manufacturing class. These days the Roosevelt stratum of rich East Coasters are still liberals, but the industrial middle class that the New Deal helped create is almost all gone. In 1965, manufacturing jobs still made up 53 percent of the US economy; that number was down to nine percent in 2004, and no one has stepped up to talk to the 30 million working poor who struggle to get by on low-wage, part-time jobs.
Thus, the people who are the public voice of American liberalism rarely have any real connection to the ordinary working people whose interests they putatively champion. They tend instead to be well-off, college-educated yuppies from California or the East Coast, and hard as they try to worry about food stamps or veterans rights or securing federal assistance for heating oil bills, they invariably gravitate instead to things that actually matter to them â€“ like the slick Al Gore documentary on global warming, or the â€œAll Things Consideredâ€ interview on NPR with the British author of Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. They haven’t yet come up with something to replace the synergy of patrician and middle-class interests that the New Deal represented.
Bernie Sanders, the new Senator from Vermont and one of the few American politicians in history to have survived publicly admitting to being a socialist, agrees that this peculiar demographic schism is a fundamental problem for the American political opposition.
â€œUnfortunately, today, when you talk about the American left,â€ he says, â€œas often as not youâ€™re talking about wealthy folks who are concerned about the environment (which is enormously important) who are concerned about women’s rights (which are enormously important) and who are concerned about gay rights (which are enormously important). â€œBut you re not really referring to millions of workers who have lost their jobs because of disastrous trade agreements,â€ he says. â€œYou’re not talking about waitresses who are working for four bucks an hour.â€ As often as not, he says, youâ€™re talking about â€œsophisticated people who have money.â€
David Sirota, … a guy who frequently appears on television news programs defending the â€œleftâ€ in TVâ€™s typical Crossfire -style left-right rock-em -sock-â€˜em format. Like a lot of people who make their living in this world, he s sometimes frustrated with the lack of discipline and purpose in American liberalism. And like Sanders, he worries that there is a wide chasm between the people who speak for the left and sponsor left-leaning political organizations, and the actual people they supposedly represent.
â€œPerhaps what the real issue is that the left is not really a grassroots movement,â€ he says. â€œYou have this donor/elite class, and then you have the public . . . You have these zillionaires who are supposedly funding the progressive movement. At some point that gets to be a problem.”
Sanders agrees, saying that â€œwhere the money comes fromâ€ is definitely one of the reasons that the so-called liberals in Washington â€“ i.e. the Democrats â€“ tend not to get too heavily into financial issues that affect ordinary people. …
Citibank gives money to Tom Daschle, Tom Daschle crafts the hideous Bankruptcy Bill, and suddenly the Midwestern union member who was laid off in the wake of Democrat-passed NAFTA can’t even declare bankruptcy to get out from the credit card debt he incurred in his unemployment. He will now probably suck eggs for the rest of his life, paying off credit card debt year after year at a snailâ€™s pace while working as a non-union butcher in a Wal -Mart in Butte. Royally screwed twice by the Democratic Party he voted for, he will almost certainly decide to vote Republican the first time he opens up the door to find four pimply college students wearing I READ BANNED BOOKS t-shirts taking up a collection to agitate for dolphin-safe tuna. …
..having rich college grads acting as the political representatives of the working class isnâ€™t just bad politics. Its also silly. And thereâ€™s probably no political movement in history that’s been sillier than the modern American left.
Read the whole article.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.