One of Two Choices

Crossposted over at Left of Center

As I ease my way back into the life of political blogging, there are some things that I find I sort of forgotten about. For example, I forgot with what disdain the basic liberal argument is held in from the unsuspecting mainstream without really understanding that argument. From “Feminazis” to “bleeding hearts” to “tree huggers” it wasn’t cool to be a liberal when I took over the UPC project, and it’s not cool now that I’m back to doing my own thing. The way I see it, if we want to make any kind of headway in this national debate, we only have two choices before us.

The first choice is to just start calling our selves “Progressives”. It’s a good solid name. I mean, who hates progress? And bleeding heart progressive just doesn’t have the same ring as bleeding heart liberal. But the problem is that would be just a quick cosmetic fix, not addressing what the true problems are.

The problems that I speak of are pretty well summed up in a little incident I was a part of just the other day.

I had written a little article called, Of Course The Numbers Matter, and crossposted it over at Comments From Left Field (that would be this very blog you’re reading right now. I wouldn’t lie to you). The content of the article was a simple analysis of the impact one could expect Bush’s approval ratings to have on the rest of his presidency. I wasn’t particularly critical of him, and actually gave the guy leeway in some areas that many other of my liberal friends won’t.

And yet, despite a comparitively neutral article, at least from me, I got this following comment:

“I’m all about accountability”…I love when the left makes jokes they don’t even know they’re making, that’s funny stuff!Mark Marco 09.25.05 – 10:32 pm #

Though an isolated incident, it rings much too familiar to ignore. Witty, snide comments, whisper campaigns, incomplete rationales, anecdotal evidence and false analogies have all probably played a more than a small role in the demonizing of the liberal argument, and personally, we need to to take every single small minute transgressions to task.

For my conservative friends, look, I’m not a big grizzly bear of debate. Seriously, I’m too lazy to really seriously in depth research, and I don’t deal too well with conflict, but I refuse to let any more of these inane arguments designed to pander to the ignorant fly anymore.

Like I said, friends, take them to task. Make them actually use a valid argument. Have them pull out stats, trends, facts. How many times have you heard that Welfare is a useless system because of “welfare mothers,” and yet you never hear a single statistic? How often do you hear an argument that sounds vaguely like “I knew a guy who did a thing, and as a result the system failed”?

I mean honestly.

I’ll tell you a story.

In my marriage, my wife is the higher educated of we two. She graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s in the IT field. Her best friend in this area is also an ODU alum, same year as my wife. Me, I’m just a high school grad who just doesn’t have the patience to get a degree in anything, even the one that I apparently don’t even have to go to school for (long story).

So, educated people, right?At about the same time Clinton hit the campaign trail with Kerry, my wife’s friend sends us one of those e-mail chain letters, this one about Bill.

Now, Bill’s my boy, so when I read the letter, I got a little miffed. Written in excruciatingly thick sarcasm, the letter listed a bunch of different things the writer was “thankful” for. Each item irked me more and more and more as it never once challenged President Clinton’s ability to govern, but were all snide shots at his affair with Monica (something I’ll never defend, but let’s honestly ask ourselves how much does getting a knobber affect policy?).

So I had vowed to answer each silly little item and send it back to her(ie.”Thank You Bill for teaching my 8 year old about oral sex.” My answer being: Bill did not teach your 8 year old about oral sex, Ken Starr did, with your help, that is, if you actually take responsibility for being a parent. I have a hard time believing the president wanted anyone to know about his blowjob, let alone your 8 year old). But I procrastinated, and finally rationalized to myself that this was an intelligent and educated woman, of course she wouldn’t be swayed by this bit of drivel.

After the election, she pointed out that she had voted for Bush. When asked why, she shrugged her shoulders, and in a noncommittal tone just kind of grunted.

Of course it would be fool to say that these kind of guerilla whisper tactics are the sole reason for the liberals playing the part of the underdogs, but it is something that can’t be ignored. We cannot try and hold ourselves “above” this kind of argument.

We must engage.

We must attack.

And we must not quit until we get these people to enter the debate based on the merit of their arguments, not on how they can make you chuckle.

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