I've found myself in the past few days sharing NY Times links fast and furious on Facebook. Knowing me by now as I'm sure you do, they are all by educated and experienced common-sense liberals who have fact-checked their asses off: Paul Krugman, who as a Nobel Prize winner knows more about economics than Glenn Beck or Dick Armey; and Nick Kristof and Tom Friedman, who have lived and traveled extensively in the Middle East and central Asia and have met with more Muslims and their imams than anyone else writing for a national audience. So I tend to believe them, at least more than I would bloggers and blowhards whose attitudes spring from visceral resentment, xenophobia, and the prejudices with which they've been raised courtesy of their friends and families. Now, 9/10 of the responses I've gotten have been either positive or wanting to know more. But the others? When they disagree, it's more on the level of "I haven't heard anything (from a non-liberal source) to prove what you say is true, therefore it's false." Those who find ultra-conservative pundits credible seem in turn to believe that it is possible to prove a negative (probably because either they didn't take logic or flunked it).
I have disdained Tea Partiers since the movement sprung up over their strictly visceral reactions as opposed to opinions born of critical assessment of facts and assertions from a variety of sources. It's easier and less messy to believe short fearmongering slogans and buzzwords than to check out the veracity of allegations that don't fit neatly on a bumper sticker. It's always easier and faster to feel than it is to think--but that doesn't make governing from the gut more valid and trustworthy than governing with the brain. So why have I become so hotheaded and why are my responses to posts more and more impassioned these days?
Because I'm not just angry, but frustrated, in the midst of a déja vu attack. Oh, no, not again, I keep thinking. Permit me to explain: all during the ascendancy of Dubya's first candidacy in 2000, we liberals talked ourselves blue in the face warning everyone about him: that for him "compassionate conservatism" was a meaningless catchword, and that his definition of "bipartisanship" was reaching across the aisle and demanding Democrats cross over. We warned, even before 9/11, that he was looking to go into Iraq and finish what his dad started (or even avenge him) on the flimsiest of pretexts. We warned that focusing on Iraq and ignoring Bin Laden would lead to disaster; and then when it did, we also warned that he was going to advocate lashing out blindly against an entire country (the wrong one) and use it as another pretext for invading Iraq, which was even more the wrong country to attack. We warned that taking down Saddam would leave a gaping festering hole and lead to murderous fighting between sects who'd been too busy surviving under Saddam to blow and shoot each other up, and who would be united only in their desire to run us off their land. We warned that junking banking and finance regulations would lead to irresponsible playing with other people's money and eventual collapse of the system; we warned that ditching energy-company regulation would lead to environmental disaster.
Well, all our dire predictions came to pass. And they continued to come true in 2004. When the political tide turned in 2006 and 2008, we were hopeful: at last the truth was dawning on the other side and they were beginning to believe us. And when Obama was inaugurated, our sense of relief and optimism was palpable (and not just because we were patting ourselves on the back over electing an African-American and someone not from the Lower 48--the exhilaration might have been a bit less had Hillary won, but only a little less). No longer did we have to apologize to the rest of the world that we are not necessarily our government and vice versa. No longer would we be in thrall to the insurance, banking and energy issues; and we were closer than ever to decent and affordable education and health care. We held no illusions about being able to quickly dig out of the worst financial mess ever handed to a new administration since Hoover went back to Iowa. We had an uneasy feeling that there would be opposition to Obama not just because the comfy status quo was about to be denied to a wealthy few who would not cede power quietly, but because of his ethnicity. We figured that since Rome wasn't burned in a day, and it certainly wasn't built that quickly, an economic turnaround would take time.
But above all. we worked our ASSES off drumming up voter support and donations to get where we wore on Jan. 21, 2009. And now, a few fearmongering blowhards and corporate shills masquerading as populists are undoing everything we worked for--and people BELIEVE them because they speak to the gut, and not to the brain. The gut will win out every time, because it shouts louder and demands less effort. They paint themselves as being "of the people" when all of their aims and values are to restore the Bush-Cheney agenda and take it to the next level.
Yes, we're angry. And frustrated. And tired of having clawed up out of the hole and then being kicked back down it. And because viscera will whomp intellect every time, all we can do is wait for our dire predictions to come true again, say "we told you so," and wait for the conservative & middle-of-the-road voters to realize they've been had yet again. And in the meantime, console ourselves with the knowledge that we will soon have a fresh batch of targets for satire again.