Sunday, March 24, 2013

I have seen the enemy

and he is us.

I wonder if Liberals can claim to be united by mostly by principle, by a shared perspicacity or more by the habit of responding to organized provocation with a conditioned reflex. Certainly the kind of strong legislation designed to regulate behavior we often support and support vehemently isn't liberal in nature. Attempting to regulate what we eat and drink is, for instance, more likely to be supported by Democrats than by Republicans or Conservatives -- and yes, there is a difference. Is the spirit of submission, the tendency to find comfort and a feeling of safety under an umbrella of statutes, regulations, authorities and prohibitions really part of any definition of Liberalism or Liberty, for that matter?

It's not that Republicans are not fond, or even passionate about making certain behaviors disappear by banning, prohibiting and regulating them, but I don't really care about Republicans.  It does no good to argue about full citizenship for fertilized egg cells with people who don't believe in questioning such received certainties and in the long term, being firmly and inexorably on the wrong side of history means we only have to wait them out. Besides, they don't listen to me, so why should I bother telling you who are at least reading this, why the hijacked hulk of the GOP is headed for the rocks. I just want to warn us of the same shoals ahead.

Yes, I think Liberals can be just as intransigent and their positions as unassailable by fact or logic, herded together and immovable like cows in a stream.  Are we really the answer or are we just the opposite polarity of the same thing and just as hide-bound and intransigent; just as beholden to political puppeteers as they are?  When we latch onto a proposed 'solution' we can be just as unable to ask if it is indeed a solution, a workable solution, the only solution and if that solution really addresses real situations, or contrived, conjectural scenarios.  Yes, we have a party that really believes that a vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus will make our daughters into whores -- a belief that is independent of data -- and so we laugh at them.  But then some of us nod our heads in agreement at the notion that Americans, or at least New Yorkers are fatter than we think they should be because, and only because vendors are selling very large containers of soft drinks.  Selling what their customers want because they are greedy. Greedy profiteers for wanting not to be put out of business by someone who offers what they want.

It's that simple post hoc ergo propter hoc thing once again and we go after those mean irresponsible business men who should avoid selling what the 'experts' tell us is bad and we slam that old punching bag once again and forget to ask why we should forbid one source of calories and ignore all the others as though they weren't as much or more significant. I've yet to hear anyone propose rationing fried potatoes or cheese or bacon or mom's apple pie.  "Here's the problem and here's the solution" is all we need to hear and by 'we' I mean everyone.  Have we moored the good ship Liberal to a drifting piling, not attached to anything at all?

Sometimes I think it's what we don't ask that defines our political polarity. When we argued for "55 stay alive"  we didn't ask why the death toll was declining faster in Germany. We didn't ask why we were focusing our safety campaign on the very safest portion of American roads. We didn't even stop to notice that the proposed fuel savings weren't materializing because of all the speeding up and slowing down one had to do to get around the little bunches of cars and trucks the speed limit caused and we fooled ourselves into believing that people really were obeying the law and that we weren't making more and more people into cynical scofflaws and spending a fortune doing it. We were so sure that it was cars and cars alone driving up the cost of fuel that we forgot to regulate trucks and gave birth to the SUV.  Did those third brake lights really do a damned thing to reduce collisions? Have we ever asked?  No, the goal was to pass a safety bill and we did. 

I'm not going into the same phenomenon as it applies to our perennial approach to gun violence or drug usage or any of the other issues that not only separate us from them, but separate us from reality.
Ask yourself, does this incident the media is howling about indicate a headlong descent into chaos, or is it random incident someone wants to use to sell an idea?  Are we getting sold hysteria so as not to care whether something is getting better or worse?  Are we out waving signs and chanting for the weakest, most ill conceived solution to a problem that's not as much of a problem as you think?

Does out ability to know about every meteorite, every earthquake, every school bus accident and every epidemic within seconds and hear about it over and over really indicate some apocalypse is coming and we need to do this or that before it's too late?  Or is someone selling something?

Are we Liberals being used as a foil the way Fox used to use their token Liberal Alan Colmes? Are our scapegoats handed to us to distract us or to make us seem silly and ill informed and who created them?  Will our passionately offered solution really work and will we bother to find out if they have worked after we pass them or if they have worked elsewhere or failed?

Or will we do as we have too often done, smile and nod together like Viziers in some Arabian Night and say "we passed a crime bill"  and move smugly on to some other Crusade that needs to be completed  right now, before the bars close?  Wisdom, I think, comes from asking questions and the wise question their every thought. It's not enough to frolic in criticism of them, to feel superior to those loonies and idiots and crooks and liars.  I've seen the enemy, you know, glaring at me from the bathroom mirror. . .

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