Saturday, June 13, 2015

What the "Obama Era" Taught Me About the Left

If you had asked me years ago, I would have said that I respect people like Noam Chomsky. As a matter of fact, his book Manufactured Consent still sits on my bookshelf. But it is statements like this that caused me to lose that respect.
“I wrote about him before the primaries in 2008, simply using his webpage — the way he was presenting himself — and he seemed to me like an opportunist,” Chomsky said of Obama, according to WND News.

“His portrayed idealism could not be taken seriously,” he added of the president.
I'm going to try to be as clear as I can about this. I have zero problems with Chomsky disagreeing with President Obama about things like drone strikes, health care reform and TPP. I don't expect people like him to agree with the President on everything. What I DO expect from people who call themselves liberals is to have enough respect to avoid demonizing each other.

Call me naive if you wish, but I always assumed that part of what it meant to be a liberal was to demonstrate tolerance and respect for each other...to be able to disagree on the merits of the issue rather than fall back on personal attacks. If we can't do that, I don't see a big difference with the approach we so often condemn on the other side.

Of course Chomsky's not the only one. We've been hearing this kind of thing from liberals about the most progressive president in my lifetime since before he was inaugurated. That's not my idea of what liberalism is all about. This is:
I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.

Barack Obama, 2005
And so what I've learned during this Obama era is that when people resort to personal attacks to make their case, it is often because their position lacks merit.  My response, then, has been to look a little deeper and question - not our shared goals - but their inadequate strategies for reaching them. In other words...I've become a pragmatic progressive. Thanks, Obama.

12 comments:

  1. What it taught me is that white > ideology

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    1. Exactly. Racism runs deep in both parties

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  2. Its Usually White Liberals who feel this way who feel they're entitled being the voice of the Democratic Base when it is the exact opposite. They're the ones who usually call this president all kinds of stuff. And wonder why people don't vote. Too us many black folk these personal attacks are a slap in the face who know how the game is played . They need to realize that the Obama Coalition is a force to be reckoned with and need not to assume they we will walk in lockstep with them just because. Those days are over. Obama didn't run as an ideologue he knew that change was not to come in a vacuum it was going to be hard as hell and face plenty opposition from the other side.

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    1. But this who most of them have ever been...some of them use these purity issues as a way of masking their racism...

      what i have learned during the Obama Era...is that Obama Derangement Syndrome does not just effect the RW is it ever present on so called progressive left...

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    2. "They're the ones who usually call this president all kinds of stuff. And wonder why people don't vote. Too us many black folk these personal attacks are a slap in the face who know how the game is played . They need to realize that the Obama Coalition is a force to be reckoned with and need not to assume they we will walk in lockstep with them just because. Those days are over."




      ^Say it again my friend. They don't hear you. A lot of them are in for a big surprise come 2016. 2010 & 2014 where warning signs.

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  3. Not really sure why an anti-statist like Noam Chomsky is held up to represent liberalism? Also, not sure what he has to do with racism (as per the other comments) when his next sentence after "Barack Obama is bad" is "And Hillary is even worse."

    What are people planning to do in 2017 when everything that's happened from 2009 onward stays exactly the same and the contempt and delegitimization simply transfers targets? Would that be for the better or the worse? I can only assume the people expecting some great lifting of the masks just never paid attention to politics before Obama's election. Remember the Seattle WTO riots?

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    1. It was liberals who used that Chomsky quote in a discussion that brought it to my attention. So no matter how he self-identifies, he's been embraced by some liberals.

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    2. When the Left sets idiotic criteria for success that has no bearing on reality, they show themselves to be elitisits. Chomsky trashed Mondragon Cooperative Corporations as a failure because "everyone isn't paid the same" from janitor to CEO. That is true - everyone gets to VOTE on everyone's pay, so the intervals between the janitor and the CEO is seven. Not 70 not 700. Seven. By democratic vote. And yet this harbinger of 'purity' surely doesn't get paid the same as the janitor in his university, nor would he tolerate the janitor being paid what HE earns. These sorts of dismissive faux intellectual positions lead him to diss the president and anyone who doesn't do what he, for the knee jerk moment, thinks is essential. Chomsky has done some excellent analysis. It is his policy projections that suck totally - it is important to be in touch with reality, and that apparently fled Chomsky's corral some years ago.

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  4. Mr. Chomsky is a very intelligent person when it comes to economic analysis however he is very ignorant when it comes to political analysis and how politics works. That's what President Obama understands more than these so called liberals.

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  5. "'I wrote about him before the primaries in 2008, simply using his webpage — the way he was presenting himself — and he seemed to me like an opportunist,' Chomsky said of Obama, according to WND News."

    So he read the website and based everything off that? Well, I guess that's better than never bothering to read a book by a genocide denier, yet still writing a glowing intro for it. http://www.monbiot.com/2012/05/21/2181/

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    1. Wow - I just read the exchange at the link you provided. It is enlightening about Chomsky.

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  6. Also--I"m afraid all this is a kind of personalizing in its own right, but the fact that this material is from an interview given to paranoid rightwing conspiracy theorist, serial liar, and noted racist Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily, author of one of the books "proving" Obama is a secret Muslim and surrounded by Communist advisors, etc., etc., and a prime spreader of the lesbian stories on Hillary Clinton and Swift boat lies about John Kerry. That Chomsky would give an interview to such a person would suggest that his judgment, at 86, has become really questionable.

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