American Culture

More crazy uncles for President, fewer capitulating sellouts in Congress

By Martin Bosworth

There isn’t much I can add about Ron Paul’s fundraising success that hasn’t already been said before and better (particularly by Glenn Greenwald), except that this is an even clearer indication that there is a massive swath of the electorate that is so desperate for a candidate to speak plain truths and answer pleas for sanity that the fringes are suddenly looking mighty sane.

What Matt Stoller says here about the “crazy uncle theory” of politics is absolutely right–the more that so-called “mainstream” pols reject the public’s will and ignore their needs, the more they’ll gravitate to alternatives, no matter how long-shot and outlandish they may seem, to the point where (as John Aravosis notes) they start making much more sense.

But how crazy are people like Paul, Gravel, and Kucinich, really? The major players in the Democratic party and the top-shelf netroots have done all they could to denigrate Mike Gravel for running a crappy campaign with weird videos, for instance–but look at his campaign platform. That’s a progressive’s wet dream right there. Imagine if the Big Three Dems were running as hardcore left as Gravel is.

Or what about Kucinich? Both the mainstream left and the netroots have been killing Kucinich for years, and yet, who’s the one who had the balls to stand up and demand that Darth Cheney be held accountable as a war criminal and a disgrace to his office? Whereas Nancy Pelosi, who had a historic opportunity to bring down the Bush junta, chose to take impeachment off the table and has since done a fine job of carrying the regime’s water.

And then you have Paul himself. The reason Paul is so wildly popular is that he represents an outlet for angry, disaffected Republicans who simply cannot or will not bring themselves to vote Democrat. Beyond the cranks, crazies, 9/11 truthers, and racist hate groups who are falling over themselves for Paul, there is a huge range of angry moderates, independents, and libertarians who oppose the Iraq fiasco, the PATRIOT Act, and our empire of oil. These people would be more than willing to convert to the progressive cause, but their cultural and social mores have so completely inculcated in them the belief that Dems are weak and compromising that they won’t do it. So Paul is their “steam vent,” if you will.

And after seeing the 2006 class of Democrats–many of whom were powered to victory by the netroots–promptly betray the voters by kowtowing to Bush’s desires on the Iraq war and the FISA reauthorization, can we really tell these people differently?

Now, let me be clear–all of these guys have severe flaws that make them difficult (if not impossible) to support. But after seven years of being told by a corrupt government and a complacent, enabling media that the War on Terra is being fought to preserve the country from the tides of Islamofascism, and that the economy is great despite all evidence to the contrary, and that our rights are necessary sacrifices to the altar of security–I gotta tell ya, the crazy is starting to sound really nice.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again–the more that the “mainstream” Democrats act like Republicans (see Russ’ post on Hillary’s nuclear nonproliferation non-policy, for example) and the more that the media enables the worst, most obsequious, and trivial aspects of the campaign to dominate the narrative, the more that angry voters will gravitate to extremes. As progressives, we would do well to stop marginalizing the extreme voices and start listening to what they have to say.

It may turn out that they know something we don’t.

8 replies »

  1. These people would be more than willing to convert to the progressive cause, but their cultural and social mores have so completely inculcated in them the belief that Dems are weak and compromising that they won’t do it.

    That is the single most perfect description of that particular group of voters that I have ever read. Those people are the friends with whom I know better than to discuss politics, because it inevitably leaves me baffled and sometimes furious…

  2. When people find dissatisfaction with the status quo, they will search for anything that looks sane — and overlook the insanity of that choice.

    Insightful and incisive, Martin. Thanks.

  3. Ralph Nader’s said all along that it’s one party. Now he’s suing the Dems for their organized effort to get him removed from the ballots in 2004. The Dems & Reps have a ballot-monopoly.

    The current situation is what happens when there’s no alternatives. Which is why Perot appealed in 1992.

    Last week, someone finally figured it out.
    Greg Palast in Chicago“. . . . on October 27 at an Event Sponsored by Toward the end of the Clinton Administration, the Price of a Barrel of Oil was Below $20, Now It Has Reached an All-Time Record of More than $90 a Barrel. As Far as Bush and Cheney are Concerned, Mission Accomplished.

    Speaking before a full crowd in Chicago on Saturday evening, October 27, the indefatigable investigative reporter Greg Palast challenged the conventional wisdom that the Iraq War is a failure for Cheney and Bush.

    Palast, of course, agrees that it is a disaster from the perspective of loss of life and a prodigious waste of dollars — and that it is harmful to the national interests of the United States. But, he contends that from the perspective of Cheney and Bush, the war has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.


    Because Iraq has become a huge “profit center” for American corporations due to the privatization of the war. Halliburton and Blackwater are the most visible examples of rampant profiteering, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

    In short, as Naomi Klein and Amy Goodman have also contended, the Iraq War (and the impending Iran attack) are market expansion initiatives for the corporate backers of the Republican Party — and the most basic economic outlook at the highest levels of the GOP: America is the sole superpower and deserves to assert — at its will — its market dominance for the benefit of its corporations.
    . . . .
    The goal of the Bush Republican Party is not to protect us from terrorism, but rather to use terrorism to advance their international and domestic economic agenda.

    And then there’s this:
    $460B Military Bill Omits War Funds

    “House and Senate negotiators agreed Tuesday on a $460 billion Pentagon bill that bankrolls pricey weapons systems and bomb-resistant vehicles for troops, but has little for Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Democrats said they wouldn’t leave troops in the lurch, but were reluctant to say when Congress might consider President Bush’s $196 billion request to pay expressly for combat operations.

    The nearly half-trillion dollar bill covers the 2008 budget year, which began Oct. 1. . . . .”

    My guess is that Bush & Dick & a few select friends have offshore bank accounts somewhere funded by all the private contractors worth a few billion waiting for them in 2009 or whenever they leave. Kinda like organized crime and the Mafia.

  4. Btw, Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose / Progressive party platform is as relevant today as it was then.

    It starts out with . . . .
    “The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the nation’s sense of justice. We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations they laid.

    We hold with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that the people are the masters of their Constitution, to fulfill its purposes and to safeguard it from those who, by perversion of its intent, would convert it into an instrument of injustice. In accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which this Government was founded and without which no republic can endure.

    This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest.

    It is time to set the public welfare in the first place.”

    The rest is here: Progressive Party Platform of 1912

  5. These people would be more than willing to convert to the progressive cause, but their cultural and social mores have so completely inculcated in them the belief that Dems are weak and compromising that they won’t do it.

    Ron Paul supporter:

    Whenever I see the word “progressive” I know I will be hearing from a lying parasite who wants lots of free stuff from the government. Ron Paul is the natural enemy of every “progressive”. People who want what they didn’t earn never hesitate to tell lies and their favorite lies are often psychobabble. They like to insult and dismiss the mind of anyone who opposes their parasitic collectivism. (Collectivism: your wealth is “our” economy.) “Progressivism” is a cult of thieves.

  6. Four united for truth elicit fear smear blacklist. Honesty compassion intelligence guts…

  7. Well, there’s always that one guy. Seriously, you’d think people like this never drove on a public road.

    Actually, it’s funny when you think about it–the Paul phenomenon is a case of collective action coming together to support a political policy based on pure selfishness and hyper-individualism. That’s why you never hear the word “democracy” in Paul’s pitch–it’s always “liberty” or “freedom.” Me, me, me.

    And yet you have people working collectively to make that happen. I wonder if we should start testing Paulites for an irony deficiency. I hear it’s fatal.

  8. Insightful article…

    The failure of the political system, as exemplified by the corporate kleptocracy practiced by our political parties, has pushed a great many people towards the political fringes.

    Now wonder HR1955 came to us now. The system pushes people to the fringes and then the system votes 404 to 6, criminalizing the fringes.

    Gee whiz, i love my constitutional republic…