by user Ayd
I don't think I am the first person to say this. I remember reading a book when I was in college called "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. I don't think I fully appreciated the book when I was in college, but when I look back on it, I understand Postman to have been saying exactly what I am saying. However, I think Postman goes further, squarely blaming entertainment, particularly television, for killing political discourse in America. I never blamed television for killing political discourse. I blamed the right wing. Theirs was the rhetoric of hate. Ann Coulter demonizes liberals. Bill O'Reilly insults anyone he disagrees with. Right wing politicians constantly verbally assault the judiciary. Weekly political discussion revolves around people yelling at each other. Everyone talking but no one listening. Lately, however, it has seemed to me that liberals are guilty of the offenses I always ascribed to the right. A court recognizes the right to gay marriage and the right starts the "tyranny of unelected liberal judges" assault. It disgusts me. But a military judge rules that he has no jurisdiction to rule on the legality of the Iraq war and he is dismissed as "a pure Bush toady, ignoring the US Constitution in his rush to support Bush's illegal war." Republicans accuse Democrats as being traitors and liberals accuse George W. Bush of being a war criminal.
I used to believe in hyperbole. I was really really guilty of it. But eventually I realized that it was counter-productive. It was good for expressing anger and outrage. It was bad for getting anyone to actually listen to me. I don't have to prove how outrageous I can be. I don't have to out-liberal the next person. Extreme language is fine if you want to be viewed as the political extreme. But the political extreme is marginalized, and rightfully so.
I want the Democrats to adopt a progressive agenda. I want the Democrats to push even further for equality. Racial equality. Gender Equality. Equality of all sexual orientations. I want the Democrats to fight for gun control, universal health care, stem cell research and better education. But the way to encourage that fight is not to use fighting words, but to fight for your ideas. To do so we need to ramp down the rhetoric and ramp up the argument.
Lets not be the Left’s version of the radical right (which has represented the Republican party since sometime around 1994). Our anger should not substitute for our argument. Lets be the party of fact, fairness and forward-thinking and leave the Republicans as the party of derision, distraction and destruction.