The State of Our Disunion

Is it me, or does the news these days seem like so much chaotic noise? It’s all blah-blah-blah from reporters and journalists whose partisan leanings are oh-so-evident reporting on people and events that bear the mark of that partisanship in one way or another. The blue pill or the red pill, Democrats or Republicans, Brady or Manning; same damn thing. It’s difficult in this environment to a) figure out what’s really going on and b) find allies and worthy issues. If I’ve reverse engineered this process as correctly as I think I have, that’s just by design.

I mean, let’s take a look at this Occupy Wall Street thing. Factions have swapped sides again, as if politics were some sort of baseball game where teams switch off batting. The Wall Street protesters sound like the Tea Partiers of yesteryear while Tea Partiers are reacting to OWS similarly to the way many of the protesters themselves reacted to the Tea Party (which is to say, denigration into annihilation). Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats have switched places; Democrats now sing the praises of the OWS while Republicans use hostile rhetoric to try to discredit them.

The thing about the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street Protests, however, is that the constituencies of neither movement would be happy if they were able to achieve their goals. While liberals and progressives made much hay over the Tea Party signs that said “Hands off my Medicare!” they see no irony in their signs, which read “Tax the Rich!” If so-called “entitlements” and limiting them was a subtext of the Tea Party rhetoric (and it was), then what the government is currently doing with taxes and the left’s disapproval of that activity is certainly a subtext of these ongoing protests. Opposition to wars, Guantanamo Bay, secret wire-tapping, attacks on civil liberties, illegal military activity, etc. are generally par for the course with Wall Street protesters.

Here’s the thing, though: if Tea Partiers are successful in eliminating as much spending as they say they want, Medicare as we know it is going away. If Occupy Wall Street is successful in its goal, the government will have more money to perpetrate wars, fund Guantanamo Bay, illegally wire-tap, etc. And it will use the money for those purposes. It will not translate to income equality, just as Tea Party demands will not translate to a less corrupt government. The demands do nothing to change the underlying processes of corruption that both movements are hostile towards.

The flip side of that disconnection is the confluence of sentiment behind both movements. They are similar, if not the same. The electorate is highly dissatisfied with the current state of affairs and both movements have capitalized on the growing sense of anxiety ordinary Americans are feeling about the improbability of upward social mobility and their own political isolation as the political elite have been more and more concerned with the problems of Wall Street than they are of Main Street.

So what does an ordinary American do with such sentiments and movements? How does one get the accurate information that is needed to bring good judgment to bear? In an environment where both sides demonize the other and try to paint purity pictures of their own adherents, where in order to join, to go all in, as they say, requires a belief that one set of American citizens if wholly bad and another set of American citizens is wholly good, what is a political moderate supposed to do? The argument is over before it begins because the premises are in opposition to the most basic rules of critical thinking and modern political identity.

Ironically enough, Joe Biden may have put it best when he said:

“The core is the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level….. That is the core of what you’re seeing on Wall Street. And that’s what started, by the way — there’s a lot in common with the Tea Party. The Tea Party started why? TARP. They thought it was unfair — we were bailing out the big guy.”

He’s not technically correct about TARP. TARP was just the beginning of conservative discontent–bail outs primed the pump, so to speak. The Tea Parties themselves were organized around the health care law Democrats pushed through in 2009, the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They were angry that the federal government was empowering itself to force the little guy to buy a private product, and the perceived lie that health care mandates did not amount to a new tax. As with the bail outs, conservatives and a rather diverse set of supporters were angry that once again the political class had come to the rescue of the financial class at the expense of the taxpayers.

The point is, the TP movement was about discontent over the corruption of the system. That’s also what Occupy Wall Street says it’s about. The only solution that has any hope of manifesting any real change in the system is for supporters of these two movements to unite around the issue of political and governmental reform. It’s also the least likely scenario to actually happen. That’s because our political discourse, which was wrought with demands that the rhetoric be toned down earlier this year after Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot, has devolved finally into a perfect re-hashing of the common familial argument from the 1960s. On one side you have young people screaming “Racist!” to older people who are screaming back, “Hippie!” One would think this would diminish any credibility Andrew Sullivan has left after the ironically titled Goodbye to All That. He couldn’t have been more wrong about it all:

Unlike any of the other candidates, he could take America—finally—past the debilitating, self-perpetuating family quarrel of the Baby Boom generation that has long engulfed all of us…. But it is only when you take several large steps back into the long past that the full logic of an Obama presidency stares directly—and uncomfortably—at you.

At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo­mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce.

I don’t know how we get past this argument, and therein lies the problem. Occupy Wall Street in its current formation will never unite 99% of the population, or anything close to it. Already there’s a 53% response (referring to 53% of Americans who they say pay taxes) to the 99% tagline, and both sides seem to have fair points of view that sometimes overlap, but often reveal the startling divide between conservative and progressive ideology in America today. There’s a lot of distance between “Pay off my student loans!” and “I didn’t take welfare even though I qualified.” Of course, if we follow it to through the natural progression, soon we’ll have the 9% who don’t give a damn, the 20% who are too young to vote, and the 22% who’d rather tune in to Dancing with the Stars. The math is simply impossible. So much for that, too, Somerby.

Each faction is convinced that it is right and the other side is wrong, and no one seems ready to talk about how neither side can be all right or wrong, that what’s happening is exactly what’s supposed to happen in a democracy, namely that the diverse people of our nation have voices and use them. We’re so busy demonizing the other side, we can’t even take a break and say, “Hey, good on ya for speaking up, for keeping the wheels of democracy greased.” Unless and until we can get to that point, real change won’t happen. We’ll keep spinning in the same old boomer ditch we’ve been spinning in for the last forty years until it’s no longer a winning strategy for the elite to keep us tied up like this. This is the state of our disunion.

This editorial has been cross-posted from Peacocks & Lilies.

About Woke Lola

Bitch, please.
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36 Responses to The State of Our Disunion

  1. myiq2xu says:

    Try to bridge the gap and someone on this side will call you a Beckistani.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Exactly. Fascist, socialist, raycist, the list of -ists goes on and on. And increasingly we are defined by who we listen to and hang with and not what we do. The people bear some responsibility for this mess, if only because they cannot seem to see the quagmire of their own making and do something about it.

  2. votermom says:

    On the Tea Party side, Palin sent a clear signal in her speech at Defending the Republic event that she is willing to talk about Crony Capitalism with them if they are willing to listen.
    (Too bad I can’t find a transcript)

  3. yttik says:

    Good post, Lola.

    “Each faction is convinced that it is right and the other side is wrong..”

    Well, I hate to say it, but the right has been more welcoming lately. I still have all my kooky liberal ideas but they don’t call me names, they don’t kick me off their blogs, they don’t scream at me. Since the election of 2008 the Left has been nothing but hostile. I can reach out to the Right, I can debate and argue and reason with them, but the Left has simply decided I’m bitter, stupid, racist, brainwashed, a Beck fan, a Palinista, a Hillary holdout. You can’t bridge any gaps with people who insist on shutting you out.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      That has been my experience as well. One of the major differences between the TP and OWS has been the willingness on the TP side to criticize their own side. You don’t see that as much with OWS, but it is a subtle subtext for some protesters. The things is, the TP had a role model with Sarah Palin. She did that too–started with the idea of reforming her side. OWS has no such role models–yet.

      The authoritarianism that once infected the right has moved to the left, largely thanks to Obama and his cronies. We even see that has infected some formerly PUMA circles, such as with The Confluence.

      • elliesmom says:

        I’m truly disappointed that so many of my favorite bloggers have abandoned their skepticism to jump on the OWS bandwagon- especially the women. Not sure why they’re buying what the dudebro protesters are selling with so few questions. Maybe they’re tired of sitting at the wrong cafeteria table.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          I’m not really surprised. Half the criticism of the Tea Party amounted to little more than salivating over it, wishing they could harness their side to such organization. And a significant number of former PUMAs bought the astroturfed bullshit put up by journolisters when they should have known better. Now they’re fighting those same charges against a movement they support, and they have no one to blame but themselves.

        • Catfish says:

          The vagueness of OWS recalls the vagueness of OFA, and the idea of a “new kind of movement” that rises above specific demands is distressingly reminiscent of “a new kind of candidate” that rises above partisanship.

          The rhetoric of OWS boosters often has the same woolly, mystical quality so prominent in The Lightworker’s hagiography. I find the single-minded emphasis on the apparently groundbreaking, transcendent importance of OWS (without any apparent cognizance of other recent protest movements, almost to the point that you’d think there had not been any major protests of significance in the last decade) to be unsettling. There just seems to be a fuzzy, magic-thinking quality to the whole thing, which in my experience tends to be a rather bad portent.

          It’s also rather suspicious that this sudden revelation of the need to rise above specific policy demands should come just as Congress is getting prepped to ram three separate quadruple-decker ultra-super-jumbo neo-NAFTA s*** sandwiches down the American public’s throat. This would seem to be far and away the opportune time for one of those icky issue-specific protests, no?

        • votermom says:

          I’m truly disappointed that so many of my favorite bloggers have abandoned their skepticism to jump on the OWS bandwagon- especially the women.

          It’s gotten to the point where I am almost afraid to click on my blog roll links now…

  4. WMCB says:

    Great piece, Lola. I just took some pain meds (ugh), so cannot do any comment real justice at the moment.

    But yes, it is really hard out here now for anyone who does not have knee jerk tribal loyalties, or is not sold that any particular ideology, if only perfectly enacted, would be utopia on earth.

    I want the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people with the lowest chance for abuse of power possible. I fully realize that 1) nothing is ever going to be perfect 2) compromise with those who think differently is always going to be needed, and 3) Sometimes I even have to compromise with myself. I have to give up some of my heartfelt tendency for wanting govt to help people, because I know that with help usually comes ever-growing control. I have to give up some of my natural bent toward less govt control, because I think if govt is a tool we can use to help one another, then we need to use it.

    My political opinions are not, for me, steps on the way to realizing the Big Dream of my ideology one day made flesh. They are an expression of the practicalities of “what can we do, and will it help without causing too many other problems in return?”

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Redstate’s Erick Erickson wants to reach out from the right to find the common ground and tells the GOP what to do….not sure those protesters only interested in a new world order would agree?

    • yttik says:

      That’s a good article. He understands how it works. I groan when I hear how we just need more regulations, more taxes on business. All that does is hit small businesses harder, making them less able to compete, so corporations grow more powerful, more wealthy. They become the only ones who can still afford to stay in the game.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        I especially liked this:

        The point is not that we now need to punish those big businesses. The point is that we need to re-level the playing field and make it a fair competition between entrepreneur and corporation again. We need big business to stop living off the taxpayer dole. We need a new age of corporate welfare reform like the welfare reform of the 1990s.

        So what should we do?

        First, we need to blow up the tax code. The tax code is the source of much of the problems. It has become a costly burden for individuals to try to stay in compliance with the tax code. People should not need an army of accountants just to avoid the IRS nor should they need an army of lobbyists to secure their fair treatment from the tax code.

        Bolding mine.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Agreed. This was a good post. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  6. HELENK says:

    backtrack sending troops to central Africa
    Green Beret advisors. sound familiar?

  7. foxyladi14 says:

    they should leave those rebels alone 🙂

  8. yttik says:

    I’ve really been enjoying Occupy Your Brain and a couple of other sites. OYB says, “When more of the world population chooses to forsake their favored “fighter” based mentality and its corresponding courses of action in favor of the kind of direct and immediately effective “builder” actions listed above, human civilization will start to generate more real progress in the direction of total liberty and optimal choice for prosperity.”

    You simply aren’t the 99% when you have to occupy, protest, and force your will upon others. If you were actually the 99%, there would be nobody to fight against. It kind of reminds me of the Moral Majority of the olden days. No, you guys were neither moral nor the majority. You were simply a critical mass that believed you had to right to speak for everyone. Well, believing you are entitled to call yourself the majority is a problem right there. It doesn’t allow for any dissent. It doesn’t respect other voices. It doesn’t encourage critical thinking. It’s not a model that respects democracy.

  9. Catfish says:

    You simply aren’t the 99% when you have to occupy, protest, and force your will upon others. If you were actually the 99%, there would be nobody to fight against.

    That assumes power is evenly distributed in society, though.

    It’s not a model that respects democracy.

    Protest disrespects democracy? Uh…

  10. timothy2010 says:

    Debating on whether or not to attend Pittsburgh’s inaugural occupy event tomorrow to see first hand. Had planned on it but my interest has waned after watching the videos over the last week. i don’t drive and if it gets out of hand they will stop the buses. Walkable as it is under 7 miles, but big chunk is up a hill.

    • votermom says:

      Be warned – so many people who “go to see” seem to get assimilated. Maybe you should wear a tin foil hat just in case. 🙂

      • timothy2010 says:

        Tin foil, kevlar, goggles febreeze, netbook, camera
        Downtown is DESOLATE on the weekends. Most places aren’t even open. City is I’m sure prepared as they dealt with the G20.Seems like obama visits every other month. What is the big draw here for him other than wreaking havoc on my travels. See I’ve already donned the hat.
        Really want to go and see if there is a palpable anger in the air or if it’s just a bunch of well-meaning youths. Pitt students cry and protest the state for tuition hikes but the University has the 28th largest endowment(2.03 billion) and is the largest employer in the county but pays zero in taxes as they are non-profit instead city residents get some sort of tuition credit for their children if they attend public schools. .Seems like students should be taking out their frustrations there.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      You should go, just to see for yourself. I wanted to go to the Occupy Indy event last weekend, but considering I had a job interview with an office of the Indiana General Assembly on Tuesday, I thought I better not. Didn’t want to end up in the newspaper or anything right before that!

      But I think we’re going to check out downtown some this weekend, and there may be another protest. There have been small gathering for several days.

      • timothy2010 says:

        Most likely will, but the whole thing feels like such a manipulation. Exploitation of the well intended. Craigslist has had ads posted for awhile offering 11.44/hr plus benefits. Many who take those jobs do so not because they want to change the world but often because of past indiscretions or lack skills of any sort. get hooked up with one of these groups and become inculcated with the alinsky noise. Not your felt you didn’t pay attention in school it’s the mans, not your fault you’ve been arrested 4 times it’s the capitalistic society and on and on.

        Indy has a downtown? haven’t been there since I was at Purdue in the mid-eighties but I just remember a big flat waterway-less city. remember it being very clean.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          Oh yes, Indy has a vibrant downtown, now. It’s so beautiful, and yes, clean. I love it. We’re new to the area.

  11. HELENK says:

    Even during Viet Nam, I do not remember the country being this divided.
    Backtrack was selected to forment chaos and he is doing a hell of a job.

    redistribute wealth – give to your friends and then blame someone else for the economic down turn.

    create policies that limit job creation – blame someone else because the unemployment is high

    keep civil discourse from happening – blame the other side always

    The education system has been going down hill for years and this is the result – no critical thinking – do not ask questions and demand true answers. Just demand because you exist, what do you mean I have to earn it????. That is so yesterday

  12. HELENK says:

    bill brought to the floor that you can not pick on the TSA.
    They can still molest you, you just can not call them molesters

    • votermom says:

      That seems unconstitutional to me.

      • timothy2010 says:

        All part of the script to destroy the American independent. Stay in line be subjected to demeaning pat downs and don’t talk back. Pseudo-authoritarian figures( 9/hr security guards ) everywhere you go in any major city demanding ID to enter every building– because of course if you were going to blow it and yourself up you would not do so if you had shown a drivers license. yet your can board Amtrak without even a sideways glance. Tin foil hat fits me well.

  13. soupcity says:

    Great post, Lola. I don’t know where we go from here, the divisions seem to widen each day. Frankly, I don’t want to attach myself to any of these factions, where does the moderate go indeed.

  14. DandyTiger says:

    Great post!!

  15. fif says:

    Great post. At this point, all I hear is the Group Think pendulum swinging back and forth. Both sides throw around the carefully planted slogans of the propaganda puppeteers, as they continue to manipulate the hordes for their own benefit. I can’t even look at Facebook anymore–well-meaning friends repost “info-tainment” articles, pretending to be revolutionary and informed. It’s depressing.

  16. Both the original tea party and OWS started for the same reason: indignation over economic injustice – Wall Street robbing us blind. The babel Tower confusion started when politicians got in and took over the tea party. I am sure they have designs on OWS – just hope some light gets shined on the thugs before confusion takes over.

  17. gxm17 says:

    Great analysis, LaL.

    Hope this isn’t out of place here. And not to demonize the other side but all I know is anyone stupid enough to vote for Obama because he’s the anti-Wall Street candidate should have their license to reproduce revoked. Here’s hoping this plan blows up in King Nothing’s face spectacularly. Not that I’m too happy about the prospect of a Romney presidency. I’ll probably go to the polls on Super Tuesday and cast a vote for Cain if he’s still in it.

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