Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lack of Vision on the Left

I started reading "The Left Hand of God" by Michael Lerner, who is a Jewish Rabbi. It is very good. Here's an excerpt:

Liberals and progressives sometimes like to make fun of the Right by pointing out that it is precisely in the Red states of the Republican majority where abortions are most prevalent, where divorce is most rampant,where the power of corporate selfishness is most unrestrained by laws, where the malls have done most to uproot small businesses, and where materialism on the whole seems to be having its greatest field day. The same is true for many of the enclaves of Red-state consciousness in Blue states, such as the gated communities and mostly white valleys of Southern California or the suburban areas of man other Blue states. But that, of course, is just the point. It is precisely because people in the Red states are suffering most from the epidemic of uncontrolled me-firstism that so many residents of those states are so desperate to find a counterforce. They are the most susceptible to the appeals of the Religious Right that has become a champion for family values, tradition, the stability that is offered by authoritarian and patriarchal norms, and the real comfort that spiritual life offers through connection to something higher than money.

The point is that there is a real spiritual crisis in American society, and the Religious Right has managed to position itself as the articulator of the pain that crisis causes and as he caring force that will provide a spiritual solution. And then it takes the credibility that it has won in this way and associates itself with a political Right that is actually championing the very institutions and social arrangements that caused this problem in the first place. And with the power that each of these has gained by their alliance, they have become ever more arrogant in trying to impose their worldview on everyone else in society. Their alliance threatens to destroy the fragile balance between secular and religious people and move the United States toward the very kind of theocracy that people originally came to this country to escape.

So, how could this happen?

It has happened because the political Left doesn’t really have a clue about the spiritual crisis in American society and is thus unable to address it in any persuasive way. Witnessing the country give electoral victories to the Right, those on the Left are totally confused about why it’s happening. They earnestly study poll data and then reposition themselves in ways that will not put them too far beyond where they imagine popular opinion is moving. It never occurs to them to be the shapers of this social energy instead of merely the responders. For much of the past twenty-five years, since the early days of the Reagan administration, the Democrats have explained their electoral losses by claiming that the country is just in a “conservative period”, as though the political climate had fallen mysteriously from the heaven and had nothing to do with the way liberals failed to develop mass support for a progressive worldview when they held political power.
I think this is very true. Democrats keep running to the center, and when they do, people rightly assume that they don't believe in their own values. The center then keeps moving right and Democrats just become light Republicans. They would do better to attract independents by articulating and standing behind their liberal values than by running away from them.


KFingtree said...

Our colors (they don't run) are red, white and blue. I think all the states should be white, being that there only seems to be red and blue. Jesse Jackson may take issue with this so that may not fly.
I'm currently writing a song called; 50 states of mind. My goal is to have the Dixie Chics record it and have it sell throughout the red, black, white and blue states and restore the Dixie Chics credibility in Iraq.

Brownie said...

"They have become ever more arrogant in trying to impose their worldview on everyone else in society"

This is an interesting thought. First of all, it is an assumption.
It assumses arrogance on the part of the religous right, which while often taken as truth because it gives liberals a warm fuzzy to say it, it is nevertheless unprovable. How does one measure arrogance? Have all on the religous right been measured for it? Should they be subjected to it in a free society?

Secondly, it assumes they are "Trying" to impose their world view on every one else. So what if they do? Isn't that what liberals try to do? Conservatives? Democrats? Pro-choicers? Pro-lifers? And every other politically minded group in the country? Speaking one's mind based on ones values in this country is what is all about after all, isn't it? So why does this statement, seem to scare so many people. They're Americans and they can do as any other.

Brownie said...

Please allow me to expand on that last thought. I agree that a theocracy (at least any run by less than the Almighty personally) is a bad idea. And some of those on the right have made attempts (sometimes successfully, sometimes less so) to institute questionable programs or policies where there seems to be an infraction on the seperation of church and state credo. These don't worry much, as there are still enough liberal judges around the country to strike them down if they are truly unconstitutional, and challenged intelligently. And some RR inspired policies or programs may not necessarily be all that bad(I don't have in particular in mind as I write this), so they would not need striking down.

What worries me about the statement (quoted at top of my first comment) is that it ignores too much and assumes too much. And because it does, it gives me the creeping feeling that people are being attacked simply for being Christian. I may be wrong. But on my palate, it smacks of a deliberate attempt to scare people against Christians. And I am a Christian. And I don't like it.

It also seems to stereotype Christians as all having the exact same political or social views or goals, which is rediculous (evidenced by the nature of this blog and it's author compared to the RR), as we all think differently.

As I stated before, A Christian has just as much right to influence the Gov't as an athiest, a Muslim, a Jew, a short person, a fat person, a cat lover, a dog person, etc.

This then, brings to mind a disturbing question: Why does the left (apparently) enjoy attacking the Christian so stongly and so often? Is it because they (the RR) have been brought in so warmly under the right wing of the Rep party? Perhaps (and most likely). If this is the case, then it's just partisan wrangling and frankly, who gives a shove?

Or is it something else? Something uglier? If it is anything other than their now cozy relationship w/the Repubs, then I feel a great swell of pity for the folks who spread this type of fear mongery, intolerance and stereotyping.

God Save Us From Ourselves.