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November 22, 2013

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I don't think liberalism is dead. Its just that extreme conservatism has learned how to scream and shout louder and angrier than liberalism ever could. In addition conservatism found a way to reconstruct the definition and ideaology of the term "iberal" and make it a four-letter word. Say it loud enough and long enough and people will believe that its truth......like they did the WMDs in Iraq or the Communists in Hollywood, or the voter criminals in ACORN. The problem is today's Democrats still believe what they have been told....and shy from the label instead of taking it back and making it their own again.

Thanks Jon, as a professional Arizona historian and a member of your generation, it's great to read what I know from experience and research to be true. Hope you are read by younger Liberals/Progressives/Whatevers.

To #2, the rise of the politically powerful Religious Right can be traced back to opposition to integrated schools and anger over segregated Christian schools losing their tax exempt status. People think it was over abortion and gay rights, and those are certainly cornerstones, but the movement took off with racism.

To #4, the challenge for liberals is to be cognizant of intersectionality - a big, fancy grad school word meaning that systems of oppression overlap and are connected - while avoiding mission creep and dilution. When Occupy Wall St. broke on the scene I remember seeing one of the protesters holding a sign that said "Israel Out of Palestine". I thought, "Yeah, I get the importance of that but this is maybe not the best time or place for that message?" Oh well, herding cats.

"Today's younger Americans largely don't read, don't know history, however much most of them have an easy going attitude toward social issues."

I think that is true of every generation. Many of my fellow baby boomers had no interest in history or social science as youths. History was 'boring' and you had to 'remember stuff'.

These selfsame lower tier scholars did eventually hear the Johnny One-Note explanations (gub'ment's the problem, etc...)that were not boring and were easy to remember.

It's amusing in a somewhat saddening way to listen to them attempt to grapple with the forces of history that bored them so much in days past.

Did the Soviet empire plot the death of Liberalism?
Was there a Soviet plan to murder both Albert Camus and JFK?

A very wealthy man told me once,"It takes two generations to make a fortune,and one to waste it."The two generations before us, made strong by the depression and the war,set the stage for the Baby Boomer generation.Things were easy for us,with good educations available from an educated class that were willing to work cheap after being on the WPA dole for many years.Corporations actually recruited us and jobs were easy to find.So easy,we could slide by in school,and still be in demand.

It was a magical time when our primary job was to buy as much as possible,and when we ran out of savings to buy things,the banks created easy to acquire credit cards.Why spend money on education when all you had to do was shop.

It was magic-the more we bought,the bigger and faster the economy grew until the bubble burst.First,the wizards busted the S&Ls.Then they ran up the tech stocks,but even that wasn't enough.They finally perfected their craft by running their con on the Feds and running up trillions in debt to line their own pockets.

Now,our children's generation get to revise down their living standard to pay for our belief in "American Exceptionalism"And we have the gall to call them lazy and poorly educated?

Scandinavian liberalism can't work in a multiracial society. So, should we give up knowing what we do about our fellow Americans? Maybe not. Consider the frosty reception given Richard Cohen's recent column ("People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children"). Cohen is considered a "liberal" pundit at The Washington Post but his thinking seems to recall an era decades in the past. Cohen is 73.

America isn't finished because the American people can change. Natality is the reason. It's maddenly slow, maybe even glacial, but we're very different from our parents and simply unrecognizable by comparison to our grandparents. Young people may be uneducated but they're far less likely to be racist than their parents' high-school civics teacher. It's why the interracial marriages of celebrities hardly registers as controversial. It's why interracial dating has become a badge of hipness on many college campuses. Race may have been the Rovian mind-fuck that guaranteed a majority of whites voting Republican but its hold cannot survive in a nation where bigotry is the real taboo.

There is no other wedge issue that can mesmerize so many Americans to self-defeating voting. Guns are totems of potency that fearful little men rely on for their sense of masculinity. The anti-abortion issue is a subset of fundamentalist hysteria that itself is simply a substitute for a conscious life. As Republicans continually increase the insanity of their anti-abortion gambits in state legislatures, the perception has gelled that they really do hate women. The gay issue is collapsing as older voters die off and are replaced by younger voters with gay friends. Latinos, increasingly, are seen as human beings rather than caricatures of slothfulness that boils the blood of "real Americans".

Savor this irony: the very culture that Republicans weaponized in order to divide Americans against one another has triumphed over the cruelty of those same Republicans. The good guys are winning despite themselves and their own despair. Young people simply don't care about the stuff the haters peddle.

A Florida congressman, Trey Radel, pleaded guilty to cocaine possession this week. The Republican made the obligatory appeals to forgiveness from Jesus and blamed 'ol demon rum for his troubles. The playbook on the American right never changes. He voted to drug test people getting SNAP because, well, he's that kind of jerk. A party that claims to be Christian yet would gladly starve children if their parents flunked a drug test is living on borrowed time. It's not because of us, needless to say. It's because all those kids out there know there's a synonym for "jerk". Not asshole. Republican.

WOW!

When our dogged, tired, Boomer asses are gone, I think it will change too.

...someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties...

I have been liberal all along!

Last possible liberal POTUS was Morris Udall. Over a third of a century ago.

There are new wedge issues; one is sustainability, another is voting rights. Wedge issues arise all the time, one is Tea Party the other is Occupy Wall St., one is free market the other is socialist. I can imagine church/state separation issues lingering in the courts for some time, even while we have an ‘originalist’ court in order.

Mike85284 hits on the how we have been drugged into consuming beyond our means, beyond the earths capacity to renew. The free market pressure to keep that up is enormous.
We could learn something from the Brits: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/oct/24/students-post-crash-economics/print

It will be interesting to see what their "manifesto proposing sweeping reforms" looks like.

Suzanne,"It will be interesting to see what their "manifesto proposing sweeping reforms" looks like. "

"Dostoevsky explains in his Crime and Punishment, “Do you think I care if they talk nonsense? Hogwash! Talking nonsense is man’s only privilege that distinguishes him from all?other organisms. If you keep talking?big nonsense, you will get to sense. I am a man, therefore I talk nonsense. Nobody ever got a single truth without talking nonsense fourteen?times first. Maybe even a hundred and fourteen. That’s all right in its own way. We don’t even?know how to talk nonsense intelligently, though!”

what might a socialistic Seattle look like. Take a peek.
http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/strike/
U ready Dawn, we can pickup soleri on the way.

"When all is said and done. More will have been said than done."

Wait. Sorry. I got off track.

"When all is said and done", I believe you will find that "rural America", which you city folks hate, will have been found to be fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

I live amongst them and I guess you could say, I am them. I'm much more comfortable around them, then around you city folk.

I would venture to guess that they are fiscally conservative because the financial workings of wall street and the federal government are above their understanding. (keep in mind it takes a sprinkling of greed and dishonesty to operate at those levels.

The part that escapes you city lovers is that rural America is more liberal in its approach to the needs of its neighbors. If there is a crisis at the neighborhood/local level, the rural folks are there in an instant to offer help. They'll literally give the shirt off their back to help a fellow man in need. I've witnessed it time and again.

You city folks, who don't know your neighbors, witness tragedy and your only thought is, "best them and not me".

Social liberalism is alive and well in rural America. It is only dead in the soul-less mega-cities of the U.S.

AZReb - The existence of all the self reliant rural farming and ranching folk has a lot to do with, for instance, the hydroelectric dams built mostly with funds obtained from the 'soulless' cities.

I also know that a lot of cattle in AZ are run on public lands for cheap.

Last time I checked rural folks pay taxes too.

Don't worry about cattle.

Worry about all the sheeple who live lives of fear and desperation behind their walls in the city.

Last time I checked rural folks pay taxes too.

True, but if we depended on "rural folks" for tax revenues, we'd all be starving. The problem is that there isn't enough wealth there. The real engines of the economy lie elsewhere.
For all the imaginary virtues of sturdy yeoman householders giving one another the shirts off their backs, it's "urban folks" who create the wealth that allows the import of those same shirts from Bangla Desh.

I'm not sure what is "socially liberal" about rural America aside from its welcoming embrace of socially corrosive fetishes like guns and meth labs, but the overwhelming evidence is that it's homogeneous. It's not hard to be generous when everyone looks like you. When the most challenging person you have to deal with is your neighbor's skateboarding teenager, your own ability to stretch your circle of concern is impaired. It's why red-state voters have such a hard time seeing others as "real Americans". I wish them luck with their "liberalism", but their voting patterns seem to indicate rampant resentment and cultural grievance.

All that said, there are fine rural Americans out there and I don't think it's necessary to declare war against them out of some ginned-up sense of tribalism. There's a new movie I recommend by the director Alexander Payne: Nebraska. It takes place in the heartland, and it's funny/sad as are all his movies. It's a tone-poem of loss about America's declining sense of cultural unity. This shouldn't blind us to the new reality that we're an urban nation. You can still feel you're special but you shouldn't try to divide us against one another. It's 315 million people, most of whom live in cities or crowded suburbs. That's the story for most of us. We're not uncaring, wicked people. We are, for better or worse, the majority.

Interesting discussion.

Rural America has been a huge beneficiary of the commons as championed by liberals and progressives. E.g. electrification, roads, flood control, regulatory requirement for Ma Bell to lay phone lines that were not economical, etc. Conservatives opposed all this a century ago.

The farm economy was an early area championed by liberals and progressives, providing price stabilization and relief in the Depression. This has evolved into a massive corporate welfare state for agribusiness, but there it is. The relatively few genuine family farmers do benefit. Progressives regulated rail rates so farmers wouldn't be "gouged" by railroads.

Overall, rural and small-town Americans get far more than they pay in taxes. That's fine with me because I believe in the commons. I just wish my countrymen in the red states didn't think that they are superior creatures of Ayn Rand (and I am not accusing Reb, who began this productive discussion, of this) who did it all on their own.

Defining "rural" is much more difficult today than 30 years ago. Then I lived in a town of 10,000 surrounded by genuinely rural countryside. The line was clear, geographically and in a host of customs and social values.

Today, so much exurbian sprawl and people who work in cities or town and drive to "rural" homes have blurred this distinction and marred the countryside. Is Prescott Valley or the subdivisions of cabins along the Rim "rural"? Or by rural do we only mean people living and working outside of places such as Havre, N.D.?

Yet even they are beneficiaries of the commons, of decades of government intervention against the rough play of "the free market" and they shop at the end of the 10,000-mile supply chain ensured by the taxpayers via the U.S. Navy.

Thanks all for the great comments.

"315 million" humans. Is that called a Plague? The rats were here when we got here and will be when we are gone.

"Rural America" was prior to 1400.
"beneficiary" So progressives have given us something "better" than Hopi medicine men. Progressives have given us polluting transportation methods so we do not have to walk. Why have Walkable cities? Conservatives, progressives: Go tell it to the Indians or better yet ask Indians about what government since 1400 has done for them.

Nebraska: About ten days ago my motorhome became surrounded by RV's and huge trucks with license plates that read Nebraska. A few Iowans and Ohioans and some Minnesotans.

Agribusiness has bought congress. The small farmers that are left and the new organic green farmers are about to be regulated out of business. There is even a town ordinance in one city that prevents gardening in your own yard.

Liberalism LIVES:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/american-anarchist/

An excerpt: “The main currents of anarchist thought were derived from classical liberal ideas that emerged in the Enlightenment and the Romantic era. The central idea, Chomsky said, was that “institutions that constrain human development are illegitimate unless they can justify themselves.” Anarchists seek to challenge those institutions and dismantle the ones that cannot be justified, while creating new institutions from the ground up based on cooperation and benefits for the community. This tradition of libertarian socialism or anarcho-syndicalism was still alive, Chomsky claimed, despite challenges and suppression.”

Don’t forget Camus is 100 this month.

And for U rats:

http://harpers.org/archive/2010/01/the-wisdom-of-rats/

REB, Rat coffee is still on for this week:

AZReb -- "Last time I checked rural folks pay taxes too."

But they take more tax money than they contribute, which is a 'redistribution of wealth 'last time I checked.

Rural areas are mostly conservative and they take more that they contribute, but like to lecture everyone else on their moral superiority and self reliance.

I was merely trying to point out in a polite way their hypocrisy.

How can you be so obtuse?

another quote from Chompsky in the article.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/american-anarchist/

"He contrasted Dewey’s critique of power with the ideals of the liberal/progressive tradition in the United States, noting that many of its leading lights, including Walter Lippmann, Samuel Huntington, and Woodrow Wilson, held extremely dim views of the majority of people, considering them dangerous, ignorant, and in need of control."

Cal, thank you for that Chompsky quote; and now we have B.O. on our necks.

A final note on the Death of Liberalism:
The NSA is now in charge; No need for Democracy by any
ism.
Just ask Snowden or Christopher Boyce.
Who will make Snowden’s “Falcon and the Snowman”
Will there be a next Ellsberg, Boyce, Manning or Snowden

Obtuse!!

Leave my weight out of this!

"Leave my weight out of this!"

OK OK -- Then: How can you be so rotund?

Actually, I just saw an opportunity to use a 'Shawshank' reference.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/25/us-ideas_n_4311178.html?utm_hp_ref=world&ir=World

I really like this one
7. Public universities should be free. What used to be the norm at U.S. public universities still is in Argentina and many other countries.

Food for thought for your holidays.

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