Or possibly a new conservatism. Trying to fit new ideas into the old one dimensional politics is like trying to define a cube without depth. It’s impossible.
Anyhow, my topic today is about the necessity of forming a new political movement. Call it rational liberalism, or evidence-based compassion, or whatever you like.
But the left needs to divest itself of its lunatic fringe of radical reactionaries if we are to march boldly and firmly into the future. To be limited by the exact same kind of thinking that causes the right wing social conservatives to blindly oppose things like gay marriage and marijuana legalization is not only unfitting our high intellectual ideals, it is a virtual guarantee that our voice will be confused, weak, diffuse, and ineffectual.
Because the plain truth is, you cannot lead people forward if what you really want is to backward, whether you are looking to retreat to a 1950′s that never existed or a state of balance and harmony with nature that also never existed.
The true enemy is irrationality. It is people swept up in passionate ignorance because it feels good and it’s easy. Just let go of your intellectual integrity and believe that which you already find easy to believe, with your usual set of villains and the scary scary things they do, and you too can enjoy the cathartic release of screaming in righteous rage at the Satan of your choosing without those pesky nuances and (heaven forbid) actual facts getting in the way and ruining all your fun.
Just try being the voice of moderate, fact based reason around people and see how they pout at you like they are children and you are spoiling a very fun game of make-believe. Then you will see what is really going on.
And before you get all smug, liberals, and assume I am only talking about Tea Party whackjobs jizzing all over themselves with glee as they pillory Hillary and satanize Obama, remember that this applies equally well to lefties screaming about nuclear power, GMOs, or the rain forest.
A key to the guidance of this new liberalism will be to question any movement that resists your looking at the real fact, the hard data, instead of their overheated and hysterical rhetoric. If people are worried that you will reach the “wrong” conclusions if you are left alone with the facts, it is a sure sign that these people have deep seated doubts about their own positions and are afraid that the facts do not actually support said positions, and that they have therefore been at best ridiculous and at worst possibly downright evil for vastly insufficient cause.
Because that is the thing about the kind of pure irrational high of total righteous conviction. It provides an excuse for all kinds of sins. Because if the enemy is infinitely evil, then all actions taken against them are justified, right?
People who otherwise would never think of screaming and foaming at the mouth in public will gladly do it at a political rally where it is not just allowed but socially rewarded on a massive scale. What is truth compared to that kind of pleasure? It feels good to be so sure of yourself. It feels good to get praise and reinforcement from like-minded people. And it really feels good to experience such unity with others, to be of one mind with so many others in a confined space.
Why, it’s just like church, except without the depressing and boring parts.
So I can see the appeal of these movements. I really can. All you need to make it perfect is your own source for news from the “right” perspective, already processed into the soft and digestible form your prefer, with nothing that might upset your mental digestion and cause the heartbreak and anxiety of actually having to think about what you think about things.
And again, I remind you that this applied equally to Tea Party morons who have no idea why they hate Obama and hysterical, hand-wringing environmentalists who have no idea why they hate GMOs.
They just know they are scared, and that is good enough for them.
So we fact-based moderates, we people of compassionate goals and rational means, we people who want to change the world by facing the facts, we who know you can’t get anywhere without taking a good look around to find out where you are, need a single unifying voice around which a movement can coalesce.
We need a motto, a rallying cry. As Jon Steward said, you can’t just march down the middle of Main Street chanting “Please Be Reasonable”. It needs a better fulcrum than that, some sort of inspirational sound bite that encapsulates what the movement is all about in a way that really speaks to people.
The problem is, of course, that reality is complicated and nuanced and thus nearly impossible to turn into a perfect little gem of a soundbite. That is precisely the problem. People prefer to believe in simplified, cartoonish versions of reality because it helps them cut down the complexity of the world to something they can handle.
And there is no royal road out of that mindset. You cannot make people think harder than they feel like thinking about things, You can present people with the absolute truth, a truth that is not just well expressed but vitally important to their own lives, and if it is too inherently complicated for the small amount of space they have open for new thoughts, it will simply bounce off their heads and fall to the floor, unnoticed.
So it looks like we will need to either be willing to dumb down the truth (bad) or lie in its service (worse) in order to get the point across.
There has to be another way, a way to bring people into the data-driven, results-based fold without scaring them off or misleading them. Some way to get them excited about the truth.
Damned if I know what it is, though.
Talk to you again tomorrow, folks!