Saturday, April 15, 2006

Angry Liberal Bloggers

Insane, irritating, hyperbolic rhetoric has traditionally been the purview of the Angry Right. How many Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly clones have cropped up lately -- inciting, rioting, raving over the airways and infiltrating the blogosphere with their inanity? And though this has served to mobilize the Right into a frenzy of bigotted hatred and self-righteous pompousness, and though the Left has suffered with repeated accusations of being cold, over-educated, impotent academics, it disheartened me after 2004 when the Democrats looked about at the various debris strewn around the floor, looked up at the big screen showing a smirking junior Bush resuming his castration of this country, and looked across the aisle to see where they had gone wrong. It disheartened me as the Left went more and more Right in an effort to appeal to the silent majority. It disheartened me when the Left built Air America only to copy the Right's majority sharehold of radio broadcast, rather than as an effective tool in and of itself. And it disheartens me now to read, in today'sWashington Post, about angry liberal bloggers sounding more and more like Sean Hannity having missed his morning Ritalin. Don't get me wrong, I think passion is great. In a nice juxtaposition to the terrified, pissing-in-their-pants Dems, it's nice to see a side of the Left that is justifiably angry about the State of the Union. That being said, even though millions listen to pundits like O'Reilly "angerify", the kind of blogging highlighted in the article above isn't respectable. It doesn't engender open, educated, meaningful dialogue. It's ridiculous. Frankly, having read the excerpts of blogger Maryscott's rant on Darfur, while Maryscott may be well-informed, her writing sounds like the ravings of a lunatic. Consider her viewpoints:

She smokes a cigarette. Should [her next post] be about Bush, whom she considers "malevolent," a "sociopath" and "the Antichrist"? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as "Satan," or about Karl Rove, "the devil"? Should it be about the "evil" Republican Party, or the "weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving" Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says "I have a special place in my heart . . . a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned"?
That's a lot of hyperbole, but not much substance behind the hate-mongering. And as much as I dislike Bush, Cheney and Rove, nothing about them makes me want to characterize them as the Antichrist. That's giving Bush a little too much credit. There are many things to be upset about in today's America. Certainly, our inactivity in Darfur angers me, but, truth be told, having explectives riddle every other sentence and using the tacky, tacky strategy of capital letters to convey shouting only makes me turn my brain off. If I come across a new blog, nothing makes me click the "x" key faster than reading someone yelling at me with endless rhetorical questions and hand-wringing. They're not angry, they sound insane. More importantly, writing like this is only serves to insulate our Party and alienate others. Those who find such ravings appealing are those who enjoy being the choir to be preached at rather than engendering debate and discussion all leading to more informed choices and political participation. And sorry, I think the blogosphere is more about a healthy amount of disagreement rather than a giant, cheerleading-esque clusterfuck. We, as a party, are better than this. I'd like to think that, contrary to the Right, who must resort to sandbox-esque mudslinging and ad hominem attacks, appealing to the country's most low-browed members, we are the party that can win based on the quality of our arguments. Why, then, are we trying to emulate the enemy, thinking we can win by having a larger megaphone and using more crass words? And, if Maryscott's exercepts are any representation, at the expense of cogent, constructed, conveyance of clear reasoning. When challenged, usually these same people can't put together anything more than a sputtering outrage that anyone would question their hyperbole. They would rather beat an effigy of Bush than tell me where the president has screwed up. Again, the Left is looking to the Right to define their tactics. Again, we are seeing the Left resembling all the worst parts of the Right, like that crazed cousin who resembles the rest of the family but embodies all of their worst qualities, to the extreme. In a country with two powerful political parties that are supposed to offer reasonable, meaningful choice for the voters, we need to encourage a distinct character for each party that further emphasizes their difference. If this continues, we will only have more voters who stay home, preferring to stay out of the grudge match that pits angry racist rhetoric about one senator's "Brillo pad" hair against repeated, spiteful, hateful, stomach-churning deathwishes for this Nation's president. We, as a party and a group of like-minded political activists, have lost a lot in the last six years. We've had to put up with unjust wars, the election of an inarticulate, simpering moron to the presidency, a war against illegal immigrants, and countless other small but accumulating injustices. All we have left is the moral high ground and our dignity. Don't make us give that up too.


Blogger No Blood for Hubris said...

It isn't respectable?

You must be kidding. Please, please tell me this is snark.

4/15/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

It's not respectable. It's trash. It's one of the many reasons people don't listen to the Left, even when they know the Left is correct. The angry demonization that characterizes President Bush as "the Antichrist" has no place in useful public discourse.

Plus, it emerges from people who often benefit from many of President Bush's domestic policies. I can't stand hatespeech from any demographic.

Gotta say, I like this post. Speaking up for restraint is always a plus.

4/15/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Anonymous James Cape said...

Without debating whether dignity and moral high ground is actually all that left-liberals have left, why do you think that is the case?

4/16/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

James, I can see your point, but hate-speech and demonization of the opposition is ALL the Republican party has been doing for the past 6 years and it seems to have worked for them. I don't think this anger is the reason people haven't been listening to the "Left".

The sad fact of the matter is, is that Americans don't WANT to think for themselves. They want the 2 second sound-bite, the easy explanation, the pat on the back that they are doing the right thing whenever they follow blindly. The Democratic party HAS presented the better arguments with the better points, but the people have not listened.

Sure, lunatic ranting is not going to sway anyone either, but look at how popular O'Reilly and kind are and all they spew is lunacy.

Really, what CAN the Democratic Party do to turn this around, because whatever we've all tried hasn't been working.

4/17/2006 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I think the Republicans are successful because they know who their base is and are catering to it. They don't care if they sound like asses, because it's not the intelligent people's opinions they care about.

The Left base has never been lunatic raving with little substance. It doesn't fit our platform -- our party and ideals are all about details, about understanding the particulars, and making educated choices. We are about dignity and idealism without ugliness. That's the party I want to be associated with -- and this ugly raving just serves to alienate people like me without actually grabbing anyone else to replace me.

We've already learned that trying to be Republican Lite doesn't work because why take Lite when you can get the real deal. I think what we need to do is skew more heavily towards the Left to cater to our base, but to maintain the respectability and intelligence we've always been known for.

4/17/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

I hear you jenn, but, unfortunately, it seems that the base that the Republicans are catering to is more numerous or at least more willing to vote then the base to which the Democrats are catering.

The Left can make all the eloquent, cogent, well thought out arguments we want, but when the people won't/can't listen, what good is it?

4/18/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

Again, the Left is looking to the Right to define their tactics. Again, we are seeing the Left resembling all the worst parts of the Right, like that crazed cousin who resembles the rest of the family but embodies all of their worst qualities, to the extreme.


Not only does the Right define the tactics. The Left allows them to define the issues and frame the debate. The Right has given up so much grist for the mill it's unbelievable.

4/18/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

The Left can make all the eloquent, cogent, well thought out arguments we want, but when the people won't/can't listen, what good is it?

I hear you, but I don't think alienating our admittedly smaller base is the way to go. Because eloquent arguments aren't winning the undecideds, do we really think the following will win them over:


I, for one, think that only stifles real debate, turns off the populace seeking a balanced debate, and makes us look like gibbering baboons.

4/18/2006 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

You're right, it does make us look like gibbering babboons, but can you blame some people for trying to vent their frustration?

I guess I'm just stumped as to how to reframe the debate away from the black/white, us/them, fear-mongering that the Republicans have had so much success in doing.

4/19/2006 09:19:00 AM  
Anonymous TMJ said...

I can dig it, Jenn. But I have to admit that I am one of those people! :) lol so don't read my last blog entry, cuz I was totally ranting.

However, I do agree that the left and right look and sound more alike every day. I can't even consider myself a democrat anymore because they seem to have lost their "Democratic Ideals" in a sea of apathy. Well, maybe it's just because they have no backbone currently, I don't know. But it does frustrate me to no end.

However, when I do get on the soapbox ala MaryScott (who i agreed with, except for the catholic church-that did scare me!) I tend to stay away from Repub/Dems because ALL AROUND THE WORLD, SAME SONG! There are plenty of Bushes in the Dem Party, as there are many sex-crazed Clintons in the Repubs...

Thanks for your post on restraint though, Lord knows we need some. Um, can I borrow some of yours? I'm all out.

Love your blog!

4/19/2006 05:03:00 PM  

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