Oct 14, 2004

lefty shame

So, it seems liberal is a dirty word
I mean, this is nothing new, but in a city like Portland, with more than it’s share of very left, very vocal residents, sitting smack in the middle of the virtual heartland, it never seems to be old news either.
And, specifically, what IS new, at least to me, is this growing sense of shame, a seeming discomfort among those who possess many of these liberal ideals, with the word, the crowd, the group, the identity. This need to degrade and deride to separate oneself out from the occasionally insane or inane within the group. To define the freaks and point the finger wherever one may, in order to defend their own “well thought out” beliefs.
Sure, I understand that there can be a tendency for no-think group-think ideology in place of actual ideas among the far left (much like the far right) I understand there is a level of elitism rooted in idealism that renders pragmatism obsolete in any “extreme” faction and can ostracize those wishing to compromise or even understand.
This can be alienating. And it’s an issue. It’s something worth finding frustrating as it can stand in the way of the unity necessary for real change.
However, this tendency towards derision and shame of our politically active liberal counterparts is getting kind of offensive and old, to me.

I’ll say it: I am a liberal. I might even be very very left. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, government regulated healthcare, taxation for education, a reduced military budget, civil rights (gay and otherwise), strong environmental regulations, an end to the death penalty in it’s current incarnation. I believe in the legalization of most (not all) substances and taxation on these drugs for treatment programs, and realistic and evidence based regulations on all drugs, illicit and otherwise. I think the government should stay the hell out of my bedroom and find ways to make my streets safer, my education more affordable and my healthcare a right and not a privilege. And I am pretty comfortable and committed to these ideas, though open to new evidence and compromise apt to make the and result of a more productive, happy and healthy society and land more feasible.

That being said: sure I cringe occasionally when a crazy leftist busts out with something insensitive or bizarre while standing on a street corner, especially if they happen to be voicing an idea I agree with under all the rhetoric. But I am making a special effort to not apologize for them, not feel shame or aggression towards anyone showing an interest. I might go up and suggest a more universal means to convey a goal that is possibly universal.

More importantly, I will not apologize for Portland, or any other politically active liberal society. Not to my more conservative friends and relatives, not to my cynical or apathetic hipster friends. To be honest, I am a bit relieved, proud even to witness people giving a damn at all. They are communicating with the outside world, and even if the outside world thinks they are freaks, they should know they are there. I was more disturbed to live in Santa Barbara is all it’s dignified apathy. I’d rather have parades of people shouting their opinions in the street from both sides (barring some hate/violence based organizations) than live in a city governed by silence.




2 comments:

Angry Hickeys said...

First off...

I'd rather live in a liberal city like Portland than SB or just about anywhere in CT.

That being said...these lefty places drive me nutso sometimes. Yes, the community is wonderful, yes, the quality of life in general is 1000% better...but there are still a few things worth pointing out about liberal havens - one of which is that it is very diffucult to get people to think for themselves in these places.

Just because everyone we know believes the death penalty is amoral does not make it so. Just because we rarely hear or see lefty activists speak out in favor of eliminating affimative action does not mean that the issue is entirely without it's merits. Wake up Leftys..."personal responsibility"is a powerful argument coming from the other side - OUR response to this needs to be cognicent of the fact that there are a huge number of middle-grounders who either resent or have been turned off by what they see as lazy welfare freaks and rich kids who have never had to work a 60-hour week doing back-breaking labor or skull-drudgery to make ends meet.

I just wish our crowd could practice a little more compassion for the working classes...Ever ask yourself why all the leftys come from upper middle class familys? That or they are wacko conspiracy nuts from the whole class-range.

Myself, I would trade a pound of lefty principles for an ounce of common sense and mass-appeal. I guess I'm tired of having the things I believe in most associated with a lifestyle that irritates the other 75% of the country.

But perhaps I just can't be happy. I'll admit...leftyness beats the other side of the equation...have you ever seen how fat those people are?

daff0dil said...

It has been my experience that in most communities it is very difficult to get people to think for oneself
I've spent time in Virgina, Florida, NY, DC...all places with different ideologies, all with symptoms of groupthink. In FLA it seemed a given that gay people were going to hell, clinton israel was in the right in their border genocide tactics, and that I was a great big freak with weird ideas obviously based on emotion and without a shred of factual backing.
so yeah: thinking for oneself is not the hallmark of western society, possibly any society
the only difference seems to be a certain intellectual elitism that more liberal folds posess.
No doubt this is the tie in to the whole upper middle class lefty tie: those with more money tend to have more education and might come to more progressive ideas, or simply be indoctrinated with them.
Both.
Obviously $ does not equal liberal though, just look at the Bushes, and they have generations of wealth and education under their belt.
Further, some of the working class people I have met have had the most progressive ideas I have met: but they were from a fomer generation.
Hell, during the new deal all sorts of working class epople got on board because they got JOBS.
It's not rocket science.
And it's not about comapssion for the working class, I suspect, it's about frustration when you see poor people voting for those that screw them systematically...and knowing they are being brain washed as well.
We are back to thinking for oneself again aren't we?
Maybe this notion of "thinking for oneself" should be abolished" Possibly too much static exists to come ot a wholly original and personally contrived thought. Maybe we should admit that we all get piles of information and are apt to be influenced by our peers in how we translate it
and so the most we can hope for is:
-fair and accurate representation in the news (including financial burden or decisions, religous influence of ideals, actual positions of candidates)
-peers with open minds
-constant re-evaluation of ones beliefs creating more evidence based practice (this is a medical/health term, but I enjoy it)

I'm going to guess that most groups have none of these

which brings me to the death penalty, your example, and a good one, as it is the most prickly and confusing of examples

you are right: just because your peers think its amoral doesn't make it so
always important when we are discussing morality to remember that morality, right and wrong, is based in deeply ingrained beliefs, religous convictions and sometimes inertia
best to look at the fact, take into account your own ideology and come to the best conclusion for you
interestingly: this is not a topic most liberals agree upon. It is a very conditional kind of thought pattern, and many people who would chain themselves to a tree are kind of ok with killing a child molester when you really talk to them.
I myself oppose the death penalty, as the US wields it, for a few reasons:
-It's expensive, with all the appeals and so forth. WAY more expensive than a life of imprisonment, and actually, I wish we put these people to hard fair work so that prison would cost society much less
-It has not been proven to prevent most violent crime. Really heinous mass murderers tend to be kinda crazy and beyond such reasoning (and would not get the death penalty as a result of an insanity please half the time anway) Gangbangers and such tend to assume a limted lifespan. Which leaves those who premeditatedly kill once as a general rule. And research has shown that it doesn't even necessarily deter them. Normal people when interviewed on the street tend to say it would deter them. These people are not killers, and might just have a different mindset.
-It is, as of right now, incredibly racially biased. And yes, possibly this is due to more violent crime being done by ethnic minorities. But research also shows that a disproportionate amount of violent white criminals tend to get life sentences to death row

and so what if it were fair? what if we somehow conjured a system that justly and cost-effectively eliminated such perpetrators?
I think I might still oppose it
Government sanctioned killing creeps me out and sends a weird message. I wonder if our penal system sent a greater message of compassion and rehabilitation, as part of a larger system that could stand to step down the fear factor, and send a message or compassion, hope and possibility, if maybe the need for the death penalty would lesson.

But these are wholly unorginal ideas.
Based in facts and dfigures and emotional pleas that you can find on any anti death penalty site I am sure.

does this make me a victim of groupthink?
perhaps?
does this mean I can't "think for myself"?
possibly
but I'm ok with that, because I've read over 300 pages of for and against death pentalty literature and can admit that my opinions are a hidgepodge of idealogy and fact, social pressure and intuition.

and so are yours



Just because everyone we know believes the death penalty is amoral does not make it so. Just because we rarely hear or see lefty activists speak out in favor of eliminating affimative action does not mean that the issue is entirely without it's merits. Wake up Leftys..."personal responsibility"is a powerful argument coming from the other side - OUR response to this needs to be cognicent of the fact that there are a huge number of middle-grounders who either resent or have been turned off by what they see as lazy welfare freaks and rich kids who have never had to work a 60-hour week doing back-breaking labor or skull-drudgery to make ends meet.


Myself, I would trade a pound of lefty principles for an ounce of common sense and mass-appeal. I guess I'm tired of having the things I believe in most associated with a lifestyle that irritates the other 75% of the country.

But perhaps I just can't be happy. I'll admit...leftyness beats the other side of the equation...have you ever seen how fat those people are?