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Monday, September 28, 2009

Secular Democrats Own the Place

Josh and Atrios among others are expressing befuddlement at the apparent appetite of corporate-media institutions to document ever more and more the arguments and activities of the white racist patriarchal corporate-militarist Christianist-theocratic neo-Confederate rump of Movement Republicanism even as it grows ever more palpably crazy and ever more marginal to the secular center-left multicultural small-d democratic American mainstream.

Of course, part of this is the vestigial trace in the superannuated out-of-step professional commentariat of the unquestionable successes of well over a generation of deceptive and deranging Movement Republican rhetoric, which managed to figure a moralizing minority as a "Moral Majority" in the first place and managed to figure widespread support for social welfare programs and widespread skepticism of military adventurism as "extreme" and "discredited" hippy-talk.

Also, there are of course counter-intuitive structural affinities between the class interests of the secular city-dwelling professional commentariat and the know-nothing patriarchal white-racist feudalists of Movement Conservatism -- since the commentariat consists largely of unqualified gossips who have failed upward into high profiles and salaries they cannot really justify and so function, much as mouthbreathing white-racist Christianist mobs do, as useful idiots megaphoning the opportunistic spin and strategy of moneyed corporate-military incumbents.

As I have mentioned here many times before, though, I do think there is another phenomenon in play in all this, a collective experience, general though of course not universal, that resonates deeply and abidingly in the consciousness of mainstream secular democrats in ways that render us especially vulnerable to self-marginalization as "Less-Than-Real Americans" and overly attentive to the noise of actually marginal reactionaries who declare themselves flabbergastingly falsely as the "Only-Real Americans."

When many of us first left home for college or for life in the cities and emerged there into progressive consciousness, first confronted religious diversity, first grasped the reality and extent of social injustice, came out as gay, rebelled against the strictures of our upbringing, whatever form this development took, in becoming progressive many of us took a measure of distance from "America" as it was embodied in the meaner impoverished parts of the lives we left behind.

What we must grasp is that this is the path the majority of Americans have taken in some form or other over a century of tumult and trial. We did not leave America behind when we grew up and became more tolerant, more critical, more interested, more secular, more progressive.

Most of America grew up with us, most of America came with us. This is what America is now, this is the way most of us do things around here now. We are real Americans. This is not to deny the reality of the Americans who are drawn in their vulnerability and ignorance and parochialism into the deceptive deranging traps of Movement Republican discourse, it is not even to deny the goodness and good sense and enormous potential of so many of these deceived and deranged people in many other aspects of their lives and communities.

But it is to grasp ourselves a reality that the reactionaries know all too well themselves even if we do not seem yet quite to get it... It is their grasp of this reality that fuels their desperate rage, fuels their lock-step discipline, fuels their unquestioning uncritical certainty in asserting any belief, affirming any alliance, investing in any strategy however palpably it contradicts beliefs alliances and strategies they held hitherto or hold still elsewhere so long as this self-contradictory posture confers some momentary advantage in their struggle for position, fuels their anguished panic-stricken cries of "I want my country back!"

They realize as we do not that they have indeed lost their country, a country well lost indeed, that the America of Segregation and of Muscular Christianity and of Petrochemical Futurism is gone forever and that the America that elected Barack Obama President and celebrates its diversity and participates in p2p formations and doesn't believe that greed is good and demands healthcare for all and believes in the possibility of sustainable civilization and expects government of, by, and for the people actually to live up to its rhetoric, that America, that Real America, our Real America has taken its place.

Secular democrats -- among whom number many of the overpaid hacks of the insular professional commentariat -- simply need to get it in their heads that Movement Republicanism is a sad, scared echo of America’s past reverberating into its present, always was but is ever more conspicuously so now, these days, and that center-left tolerant secular pragmatic small-d democrats are truly Americans in America as it actually exists in the present.

Secular social democrats need to stop acting like renters in America -- and certainly stop paying attention to those who declare us to be such -- and realize we actually already own the place.


jimf said...

> [T]he reactionaries['] . . . anguished panic-stricken cries of
> "I want my country back!" [come from the fact that t]hey realize. . .
> that they have indeed lost their country, a country well lost indeed,
> that the America of Segregation and of Muscular Christianity and
> of Petrochemical Futurism is gone forever. . .

Let's hope so, but I have my doubts.

I keep getting Fox News pushed in my face wherever I go
to eat. ;->

Last week, at lunch (in Queens; I've been banished
from Manhattan along with most of the rest of my coworkers)
the annoying Fox commentator on the tube presiding over
the sandwich shop was interviewing a 75-year-old
man, a Floridian who had participated in some of those
"town hall" meetings, trying to get a rise out of him
by asking him for his reaction to Nancy Pelosi's remarks
that the town halls were dangerous -- were inciting people to riot.
The old guy refused to get ruffled; he demurred that
at the events he had participated in, everyone was well-
behaved and polite, and that **he** was certainly the
farthest thing from anybody who could be characterized
as "dangerous".

He did say, though, that Obama & Co. had "taken his
country away from him," and that he wanted it to be
known that he wanted it back.

Well, we'll see come 2012 (or sooner) whether he gets
it back.

Dale Carrico said...

Let's hope so, but I have my doubts. I keep getting Fox News pushed in my face wherever I go to eat.

It's true -- one loses track of reality if you're forced to make contact with it through a puke funnel. Obama won -- we have majorities in Confress -- Obama's positives are still high -- and the numbers on health care were scarcely nudged by the teabaggerpalooza. Denialism on the Right is High and their official organs (ew) reflect their Denialism, but reality is still reality, however much they pout and stamp, however much they bully and bluster.