The name kind of intrigued me, so I looked into it. Well, I was disappointed to say the least. In the name of seeming to call me out as an Obamabot, as somebody who reflexively thinks everything is fine, Cassiodorus completely fucked up my actual message.
What was that? That things have been worse, and our forebears made them better. That all the bad news, which is bad news, which does make things worse is no cause for us to simply declare that Democracy is dead, that it's all downhill from here. It's cause for us to fight back, and most importantly, for us to figure out, at every turn, what we can do to redeem the situation.
I used the term "despair porn" to describe the endless flow of soul-crushing analysis GBCW diaries, Corpocracy rules, and whatever else diaries. Despair for this sense that nothing can be done, porn for its quality of one-dimensional thinking.
I wrote it, in part, because I was sick of being told things were bad, that we had suffered serious setbacks. I was sick of people simply allowing the backsliding of this country to convince them that nothing could be done.
The idea of the diary was far from telling people to do nothing, or to worry about nothing. It was to tell people to use their worry as motivation to do something about the problem, to do their part to think of a way to resolve the problems they so hate. In essence, my diary told people the exact opposite of what Cassiodorus is saying I told them.
You think the President isn't acting liberal enough? Well, think of things you can do to get better results. And I don't just mean primaries, or bitter criticism. I'm sure he gets plenty of that. How about strategizing on how to change the paradigm of the electorate back towards liberal policy, so we can more easily push our kind of conclusion? How about figuring out a message that can rock the Republicans back on their heels, even with their own voters?
You have a problem with the ways the laws are written? Well you have two political problems: The Republicans who filibuster in the Senate, and the Republicans who are the majority in the House. You might do yourself some big favors in that department if you can untangle the logjam and get America's political will flowing through Congress again. No question, it's terrible that things have ended up that way, but I'd like people to remember that things have been worse than they are now in many ways before.
That was another purpose of the diary, by the way: to remind people that other folks, in the past, had to politically organize in order to change things from what they were. The unions didn't gain legitimacy overnight. Somebody had to figure out how to win the battle on that, before that battle was won. The budget deficit didn't resolve itself. Somebody had to figure out how to balance the budget, and make that fight work.
Somebody had to get those environmental laws that Republicans struck down passed in the first place. Getting them back on the books will take effort, too.
Long story short, if we have to fight to restore the rights, the regulations, and the laws we think are important, and to get rights, laws, and policies manifested for the first time, we have got to start from the position that it is possible to achieve these things, if we want to have the motivation to go through all the crap it requires to get these things done.
If we're telling ourselves the corporations rule, if we take our political setbacks as evidence that nothing can be done, we're not going to apply those clever little minds of ours to the task of defeating our political opponents. We're just going to lie down and let our opponents run us over, and our voices become irrelevant.
Winning freedoms and gaining sensible, humane policies in a democracy is an active enterprise. It takes willpower. It takes the willingness (yes) to stick with imperfect politicians, because there are times when failing to do so only gets you a worse person in that office, and an additional setback. Of course, it also takes the wisdom and savvy to identify the people we can get rid of, or at least scare straight.
I am not telling people to give up. Far from it. I'm telling people to get rid of all this bullshit about quitting, about withholding fundraising, and all that counterproductive thinking, and instead aggressively pursue their political goals by pragmatically working out what the obstacles are in their path, and then working to overcome them.
I don't need to be told that things are bad. I don't need to be told that we've lost some precious things. I learn about these things all the time. What we need is a practical direction, a practical outlet for all that concerns us, for all we deal with in terms of our interests. We need to form the movements and the institutions that can lead us into battle, that can help us organize against our political rivals. Rather than merely comment on the Republican's messaging, or the President's, we need to selling our ideas, our hopes and dreams, our message to the public, and we need to be thinking of how to do that towards an audience that doesn't interpret things through our lens.
We face a complex mess of problems here, the result of decades worth of Republican victories and Democratic Defeats. It's not going to be resolved overnight, or by simple means. It's going to be one hell of a fight that's going to last a long time.
My message is that it's a fight we can win, and that it's a fight worth fighting. My message is that those who came before us already won many of these battles. We have no right to despair, in the light of those truths. We do not have to accept defeat, and we should not. Rather than get cynical and passive which each additional setback, we should get more serious, and more crafty, more inventive and more dedicated to getting what we're looking to get.
I wish Cassiodorus had understood that before. I wish he or she had understood that my philosophy isn't merely empty practicality, but idealism that uses pragmatic, strategic thinking to break through the armor the status quo's tossed up around it, that follows the example of those who made progress in this country before us.