Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't let the "chicken littles" get you down

As a result of the negotiations over the so-called "fiscal cliff," the silence of the poutragers on the left during the presidential campaign has turned into howls of rage once again. Just as I was needing some perspective on all that, I ran across a diary that I wrote almost a year ago that reminded me...thus has it always been. It included this quote from Arthur Schlesinger from 1949.
The weakness of impotence is related to a fear of responsibility – a fear, that is, of making concrete decisions and being held to account for concrete consequences. Problems are much simpler when viewed from the office of a liberal weekly than when viewed in terms of what will actually happen when certain ideologically attractive steps are taken.

Too often the Doughface really does not want power or responsibility. For him the more subtle sensations of the perfect syllogism, the lost cause, the permanent minority, where lie can be safe from the exacting job of trying to work out wise policies in an imperfect world...

Having renounced power, the Doughface seeks compensation in emotion. The pretext for progressive rhetoric is, of course, the idea that man, the creature of reason and benevolence, has only to understand the truth in order to act upon it.

But the function of progressive rhetoric is another matter; it is, in Dwight MacDonald’s phrase, to accomplish “in fantasy what cannot be accomplished in reality.” Because politics is for the Doughface a means of accommodating himself to a world he does not like but does not really want to change, he can find ample gratification in words. They appease his twinges of guilt without committing him to very drastic action...

Progressive dreams are tinged with a brave purity, a rich sentiment and a noble defiance. But, like most dreams, they are notable for the distortion of facts by desire.
It is amazing how perfectly this description fits what we see/hear from so many on the left right now.

I think it was back during the 2008 election that Al Giordano started calling progressives who act this way "chicken littles" because the sky was perpetually falling for them and they never seemed to figure out what to do about that.
Only in America do a significant number of people equate expressions of outrage and indignation du jour as somehow being akin to the hard work of political activism or participation. And I hate to say it, but this delusion is worse, much worse, on the left side of the dial where reaction is the standard operating procedure in place of authentic action. I speak, therefore I act is the great American illusion of politics. Sorry, but no. Only when our speech effectively causes others to act does it rise to the level of poetry...
And so the chicken littles are in a constant state of outrage forecasting doom and gloom. As only Molly Ivins could do - she points out the comfort in that.
Things are not getting worse; things have always been this bad. Nothing is more consoling than the long perspective of history. It will perk you up no end to go back and read the works of progressives past. You will learn therein that things back then were also terrible, and what's more, they were always getting worse. This is most inspiriting.
So Happy Holidays everyone! Don't let the chicken littles get to you. Despite all their doom and gloom, they haven't been able to bring us all down yet!


  1. Happy Holidays to you, too, Smartypants.

    I tell my family, when they're feeling discouraged, to say two words to themselves that will make them smile and feel better. And those two words?

    President Obama.

  2. That bit from Szchlerckinger--never could spell his name--is spot-on. Al Giordano, too--his work in 2008 was not only hugely explanatory but sanity-saving.

    I am not sure things have always been this bad, nor do I think things are getting better. I think they get better, they get worse, and the ways in which they do change. Things really do get worse sometimes. At some level, it's a matter of what you compare them to, though. What is certain is that Obama is better than the last Bush, or any president in my lifetime. We can argue about what that means but to miss that point is delusional.

  3. Thank you for this. Funny enough, this can apply to other areas as well.

    Politics is a tough grind. It is ugly. And it seems that only a few are willing to get into the trenches. The President is that person who is getting into the trenches. The problem with some on the Left (or the Poutragers) is that they talk a lot about the trenches but never get into them. They talk, but do not walk.

  4. Best way to treat these people is by asking them on how many doors did they knock and how many calls did they make during the last election? If their answer is none, then invite them to roll up their sleeves for the next election. If they refuse, then tell them to sit down and shut up and let the adults handle things.

    It's all about put up or shut up with me now. I like the philosophy of the Obama campaign: If it isn't going to get more people to vote, then it doesn't matter.

    1. Excellent post, SP, and a good reminder that when it comes to kvetching, the progressives have it down to a science. But if miraculously they stop whining and take action, life in this country will get better and the Huffington Post will be reduced to posting articles about health and photos of side boobs.

    2. "But if miraculously they stop whining and take action, life in this country will get better and the Huffington Post will be reduced to posting articles about health and photos of side boobs."

      One could hope--but sadly, it's easier to whine and moan. Actually getting up and getting out and doing something takes time and effort.

  5. Happy Holiday's Smartypants. Wishing everyone here and you the bestest and safest holiday ever. Will be murking around for a week, but maybe after that I will be able to do some commenting.
    Pray our President, First Lady and family have a great hliday in the Aloha state. Loved that place.
    Roberta in MN


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