install, perpetuate and engorge itself for decades to come, and at the worst possible time for such moves since the 1970s, a reckoning of some sort is in order. It may not be the man on the white horse – for I don’t believe he truly exists – but a popular backlash will need to take hold unless we resign ourselves to a permanently lowered standard of living and a subservience to government bureaucracy that I don’t think any of us truly want. Without being overly alarmist, “the time to act is now”, since it’s easier for the mass of Americans to sit and absorb the gradual stagnation of our economy (and with it, wages, job prospects, dynamism and overall standards of living) rather than to do the hard work to reverse the trends.
Where I personally struggle is with how exactly to respond. Sure, I can and do vote. I can also blog all I want, and maybe that helps a little – particularly if people actually start reading my blog. (Insert happy face emoticon here). Or, to put a finer point on it, if I can finally muster the time and energy to write this blog regularly, and get the word out about it. I have the advantage, I guess, of coming to online writing from a place (music fanzines & music blogging) where the prevailing political view is far more left/"progressive" than my own. This means that rather than preaching to the choir, as most political blogs do, I might actually be able to get some readers who drift over here to think about their convictions, or lack thereof - people who might initially disagree with me. I have the added "advantage" of being very socially liberal myself – and I agree with the left/liberal choir on a number of their chosen pet issues: ending both wars ASAP; working for a secular society; I'm pro-choice on abortion; I'm pro-gun control; I'm strongly pro-immigrant; I applaud experimentation with new approaches to drug criminalization etc. So by stealth, I can gain a bit of empathy before clobbering readers over the head with what I truly care about: economics, and the eternal struggle between economic & social dynamism and big government statism. I will continually work to help along truly free markets, which I believe not without mountains of evidence enrich the world's people, and provide individuals for their best opportunity for happiness and personal fulfillment.
Yet if we’re going to reverse the prevailing tide, how to go forward? Marching in the streets seems to be a time-honored solution. I’ve tried that before, and it always breaks down for me when I see the idiots marching next to me. Have you ever been to a left-wing protest march in a city like San Francisco, Seattle or Berkeley? I have. Professional “activists”, the ones who crash a war protest with Reagan=Hitler, Clinton=Hitler, Bush=Hitler signs and their exhortations to show solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, are bad enough. The borderline Anti-Semitic ("no man, it’s just Anti-Israel") and just plain hateful and always illogical signs and banners are always there, though. If I ever got my picture taken next to one of these nutballs I’d be horrified (“I was just there for the vegan oat cakes, I swear!”). So goes it for the outpouring of energy and anger coming from what’s popularly dubbed as the Tea Party movement.
I want to support the professed aims and ideals of the Tea Partiers, for the ones they profess are my ideals. I abhor the double-standard coverage they are getting in the media, and how they are treated like aliens from another world for protesting the size & scope of government, a time-honored tradition that founded the country itself. Obviously. They, too, have their fringe that I’d hate to stand in concert with. I listened to conservative talk radio in Indiana over the summer as a “birther” wackjob totally hijacked a show with his theories about Barack Hussain Obama’s Kenyan birth. Even the right-of-Attila-the-Hun show host was trying to reason with and then shout down this guy to no avail. I’d hate to be anywhere near a rally that seeks to repeal parts of the Obamacare bill, only to find myself in lockstep with a Birther sub-group or a group of folks carrying Obama=Hitler signs. Whether left- or right-wing, protesting in the streets seems to bring out the most disaffected, most angry and the most unhinged of us into a pack mentality, and I wonder sometimes if this is truly the way to bring about the change in mass consciousness that we seek. I do know that filling out internet polls and auto-generated letters to Congress isn’t working.
What do you think – are you willing to march with the idiots to get your point across? Or is it counterproductive to do so?