A View From the Outside

When you’re employed as a web designer or tech support person or any other job that requires you to sit in front of a computer all day, you’ve got ample time to read the news. In fact, in intellectually-stressing jobs, escaping for five minutes here or there to stare at the news is not merely a luxury, it’s a job requirement. You have more than enough time to read blogs and you have perhaps just a bit too much time to formulate strong opinions on the issues of the day.

But while you would think that unemployment would offer you that much time and more, my experience so far has been the opposite: whereas I woke up each morning updating my news section of this site, reading news and blogs and beginning to think about articles I might write later in the day, these days I can barely muster the interest to watch morning news. My interests have become hyper-provincial: the economy I care about is my economy; the education I care about is my own education.

Thus I’ve withdrawn from the world of political commentary for the last six months or so. And like stepping suddenly back into winter after months of summer, I’ve found my perspective changed and my impression of where we are has taken a turn for the worse. Or perhaps things really have changed, I don’t know.

But I really don’t remember the animosity and back-biting among Progressives that I see right now. Both on a national level and a local level, there seems to be a shrill insistence that because Barack Obama won the election, nothing less than the most liberal of positions – one the president himself never took – is an acceptable position. All that getting together and working for a better America crap went right out the window the minute people thought themselves entitled. Not getting what you want from your elected representatives is a matter of course for most adults: we accept that we’re not going to get everything, we just want to be sure our rep is at least dealing with us honestly. But for Progressives these days, it’s apparently akin to being abused and slaughtered like… wait for it…. veal.

Now forgive me if I’m sounding a bit shrill, myself. But as a good Leftie, I’m well-aware of what veal cows endure in their short and miserable lives; I really don’t think that missing out on an opportunity to have fully-nationalized health care really stacks up. I don’t think getting yourself rightfully fired for being a careless dipshit[1. forgive the WikiPedia link. Intellectual laziness forbade me finding a more reputable source], signing your name to anything you please like it won’t come back to bite you in the ass really qualifies. That you were promised something that you (might) not get is in no way related to spending a short lifetime in a box being fed your neighbors. I think making the comparison is really quite offensive.

I was recently lectured in the most patronizing way possible on FaceBook for an article I wrote on Tort Reform…. despite the fact that I never wrote an article on Tort Reform. Worse, this sphincter-winking dickwad didn’t have the class to apologize when it was clear that he had misdirected is ire. Worse still, the article in question was written by Jon Greenbaum, whom this person apparently likes enough not to bother correcting in the same shrill voice. So, it’s not the message, it’s not the meaning, it’s only the messenger that matters. Apparently, this person considers me a dick. He should consider himself lucky not to know how right he is.

All of this would be intolerable if it wasn’t so painfully, nerdfully lame. The guy even kinda looks like The Comic Store Guy.

I didn’t become a Progressive or a blogger because I wanted to have friends. I really don’t give a rat’s ass what Progressives choose to say about each other insofar as it affects them alone. What concerns me is the fact that the acrimony – inter-Progressive and inter-Party – is turning people off of the subject, either of health care reform, or of Barack Obama’s presidency and the promise it still holds. What Progressives seem to forget is that the oldest Conservative trick in the book involves ruining people’s enthusiasm for a subject and depressing support. By going negative in a campaign, a candidate drives down both his and his opponent’s numbers, but Conservative voters will go to the polls when Liberal and Moderate voters will not.

The same holds true for the current health care debate. Are Conservatives ruining their reputation with mainstream voters? You bet. But as the insanity ratchets up, more and more people turn away, which is the point. The question never seems to get asked, but I doubt the slide in Obama’s poll numbers have anything to do with people afraid he’s going to “kill grandma.” The slide is about a lack of confidence and a lack of interest in the ugliness and arguing. “A pox on both their houses,” as they say. I know I’ve all but lost interest, myself.

It’s a big gamble by Republicans and the health care industry that’s depending on them that they can defeat this bill; if not, Republican numbers slide even farther into the toilet in all but their bulwark districts. But Progressives are helping the Republicans out by matching hyperbole with more hyperbole. And this to respond to a Republican Party which is in the minority and shacking up with Orly Taitz? Republicans who can’t stop legislation demand an end to the Public Option and that sparks an internecine bitch-fest among Progressives?

But, what the hell. Far be it from me to tell anyone else what to do with their Internet time….

As Inspiration: Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick
via FoxyTunes

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.