More from the editorial:
But when I survey this wreckage I wonder who the real idiots are. Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties, as Thomas Frank laments in his latest book Pity the Billionaire, triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate, muzzled by what he calls “terminal niceness”(9). They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism.
I'm not sure that I buy this entirely. Certainly most conservatives wouldn't describe liberals as "terminally nice." At the top of the food chain, progressive politicians may fall into this trap but their actions are based on survival, continuing to get the funds they need to maintain their elected office. At the bottom of the food chain (where I reside) you won't find that sort of hesitation and triangulation. Venomous and vitriolic are more apt descriptions. No one has ever accused me of being "terminally nice."
I think you'll find the true problem encapsulated in this excerpt:
Don’t take my word for it. Listen to what two former Republican ideologues, David Frum and Mike Lofgren, have been saying. Frum warns that “conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.”(6) The result is a “shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology” which has “ominous real-world consequences for American society.”
What's missing here is exactly how
conservatives have managed to infect a sizable portion of the population with not only misinformation but an entire worldview based upon misinformation. We can look to the obvious culprits like FoxNews and Rush Limbaugh, the pervasiveness of right-wing talking points throughout the media despite claims to the contrary, but a convincing messenger carries a convincing message and I think this is where Republicans win the war of words. Capitalizing upon the intolerant tendencies of people with low intelligence, Republicans have crafted an elaborate worldview that offers all of the necessary excuses and scapegoats to make conservatives feel good about thoughts and feelings they might otherwise suppress.
Bigotry, racial and otherwise, cruelty and greed are the cornerstones of modern conservative thought. Carefully crafted messages offer simplistic arguments that people of low intelligence can digest easily and repeat liberally. "I never got a job from a poor man." "It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!
" "Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but every act of terrorism is committed by a Muslim." "Government doesn't create jobs, people
The problem isn't that liberals are too nice, it's that our messages aren't as easily condensed. Explaining a consumption driven economy that relies upon a strong middle class requires more than a catchphrase. It requires both a speaker and listener who can think through the argument.
And therein lies our problem...