This blog has many fine contributors to its diaries and articles. Often, however, the comments to them reveal to me a troubling undercurrent among the liberal community.
These comments, I think, can be categorized more or less as follows:
Those that find in the article justification for their worst and most simplistic preconceptions ("See, it's all the fault of the…" and here add whatever boogyman tickles your ivories, the Military Industrial Complex, Wall Street, Dick Cheany (I probably agree with this one), etc.)
Those that point to an even greater specter to explain what the writer it trying to say ( "If only people really understood that…").
Those that despair ("Ha, no matter what you do they will only…" or, "They are all the same".)
Those who denigrate the writer by pointing to a minor error in fact or style ("Really. you should be aware that George Bush wore a red tie and not the blue one that you mention on that day when…")
Those that call for someone else to do their dirty work ("Someone should…")
Those that believe that there is something truly more important with which to be obsessed than that that concerns the writer ("Global warming may not be the end or the world as we know it as the writer suggests, but on the other hand smoking in National Parks,,,")
All too often among liberals and progressives, what they like to describe as reasoned and spirited free debate appears to be no more than bickering, sort of like bystanders at a fire arguing about the best way to put it out while the building itself burns to the ground. It is a bickering in which they often convince themselves that their particular parochial interest is as important as any other and the failure of one to acknowledge that places that person among the enemy. In other-words, only a liberal or progressive voting record that includes their particular issue or issues renders that elected official worthy of enthusiastic support.
I often wonder if it would not be more profitable for the dissemination of their ideas, if these writers should not be writing instead for some of the more conservative and right wing blogs.
I sometimes think it is mostly a waste of time for progressive and liberal writers to address the left, not simply because they may be preaching to the choir but because of the smug ennui and love of arcane dispute more than action that so often characterizes the left. It might be better if they, the thoughtful liberal and progressive writers, with a slight change in emphasis, address themselves to explaining to those on the right what it is that they, should really fear, loathe and hate, those predators whether institutional or individual who prey on the rest of us.
As far as I can tell, many conservatives are simply right wing populists looking only to be pointed toward something to hate and fear with which to assuage their feelings of helplessness. All too often their need is recognized and used by those with the resources to understand those things and who then apply this knowledge to direct this inchoate fury, not at themselves of course even if they are what must truly be feared, but at those who understand and thereby threaten these powerful interests.
In democratic politics, ultimately it is not the quality of the message but the numbers who vote for it on election day.