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Embarrassing Liberals

Entry 1821, on 2016-11-12 at 12:50:51 (Rating 4, Politics)

I have always been a bit of an iconoclast, and a devil's advocate, and I often like to contribute to discussions - especially in on-line fora like Facebook and Youtube - by pointing out weaknesses in other people's arguments, even if that person is ostensibly "on my side".

And I expect the same back again. I don't feel personally attacked or diminished if someone wants to argue with me and possibly look for problems with my own arguments. And I have changed my perspective when these have turned out to be genuine. If anything, it's when I don't get any feedback - positive or negative - that I feel most aggrieved.

In the past I have mainly debated against conservatives, although I do point out BS everywhere I see it, and there are certain beliefs of the liberal left which I feel just as offended by, especially those to do with unthinking political correctness.

As you might have guessed by now, this is leading up to a rant about the utter disdain I feel towards my erstwhile allies on the left in regard to their reaction to Donald Trump's win in the recent US presidential election.

I must have seen a thousand comments so far and the vast majority of them boil down to this: they think Donald Trump does not react in the way they expect towards women, Muslims, and foreginers (especially Mexicans). Of course this sounds so much better when it is expressed as a convenient sound bite like "he's misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic".

I totally agree that there is a tendency towards these attributes in Trump's character but just applying those labels instead of debating the finer points of the situation is just cowardly and anti-intellectual.

And the anti-Trump protests (some of which have been labelled riots) don't show the Clinton supporters - who presumably would have been my allies in the past - in a very good light. When Trump said he might not accept the outcome of the election (because he thought it might be rigged) he was ridiculed and disparaged by the left. Is it not the ultimate in hypocrisy that they are now doing exactly the same thing themselves?

And what is the point if these protests? Do they expect the outcome of the election to be reversed? Do they think that the democratic process should be negated because they are acting like a bunch of spoiled kids? I really have no idea.

There is one main reason Trump won the election and it has nothing to do with misogyny, racism, or xenophobia. He won because he represented a change from the existing political establishment. An establishment that Clinton represented strongly. Trump didn't really win, Clinton lost. Look at the voter turn-out and it's clear that Democrats just didn't turn up. Why? Because Clinton didn't represent what they wanted.

I have never belonged to a political party, but I would generally self-identify with the liberal left. Well not any more. From now on I am not identifying with anything. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't identify with the conservative right, or with Libertarianism, or even with the Green agenda. I find all of these ideologies partly good and partly bad to varying degrees. But after the mindless nonsense I have heard from the left recently I certainly feel a lot less attraction towards that side of politics than I ever have before.

The left is losing ground in many parts of the world and the main reason seems to be its total detachment from reality. Surely the Democrats must have realised that Clinton was the wrong person for this job. And they had the perfect alternative available: Bernie Sanders, whose efforts were sabotaged by the party machine.

So they deserved to fail. Unfortunately, that meant that Trump got success, but that's what happened and it was not misogynistic, racist, xenophobic voters who are to blame, it's the Democratic party who thought it was business as usual. Well it isn't, and I hope they realise that for the next election, because they had better offer a better candidate at that one or they will just fail again.

Many commentators agree with me regarding the election being a reaction against the establishment, and a smaller number agree with me on my next point: that the problem goes back to the neo-liberal revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. That was when all sides of politics jumped on the bandwagon and abandoned their traditional principles.

In the UK Tony Blair's Labour government were so far right that they were unrecognisable. The same happened in New Zealand where the 1984 Labour government started it all in this country. And it's happened in the US too, where the Democrats took up many of the same ideas that traditionally belonged on the right. Well the zeitgeist ahs changed. Finally we are realising that neo-liberalism doesn't work. The left needs to get back where it belongs: on the left.

Abraham Lincoln promised "Government of the people, by the people, for the people" but that last piece has been forgotten. Liberals need to forget about their meaningless slogans and their mindless rhetoric and get on with solving the real problems. Until then they are just an embarrassment to be associated with.


Comment 2 (4613) by OJB on 2016-11-12 at 15:02:43: (view earlier comments)

I think it will be interesting too. I don't think he will be able to do many of the things he said he would during the campaign, but who knows what he might achieve. I am a bit concerned that some of his ideas are based on things which just aren't true, for example he thinks global warming is a hoax. At the very least it will be interesting to see what a totally different type of president (someone with no background in politics) is like.


Comment 3 (4614) by Derek Ramsey on 2016-11-12 at 16:54:47:

“Do they think that the democratic process should be negated because they are acting like a bunch of spoiled kids?”

Some do. There are plenty of ignorant comments saying that the electoral college should vote against Trump. They are advocating for the complete destruction of democracy. Doesn’t seem to bother them though.

“Look at the voter turn-out and it’s clear that Democrats just didn’t turn up”

Indeed. It’s so obvious that the election was lost because of internal problems within the democratic party itself, starting with Clinton. Both Brexit and Trump were the result of the establishment completely missing the fact that they were not wanted anymore. Voters are doing almost anything, even ‘sabotaging’ their country, to force change. And really, what choice do you have when your leaders completely ignore your needs?

“Liberals need to forget about their meaningless slogans and their mindless rhetoric and get on with solving the real problems.”

I’d like to say a bit more on this. You and I have had some conversations on a number of topics where we are sharply divided. Yet we are civil, rational, and have attempted to find common ground where possible. Despite our obvious differences, if we were both politicians determining policy, we would be able to work together to find compromise solutions that actually have a chance to solve problems.

Neither party in America is interested in solving problems with the help of the other party. They have their notion of what is right and they want to force their will on the other. Coercion is rarely a good idea because leads to extreme hostile reactions (President Trump anyone?).

When I argue conservative or liberal positions, I appreciate having someone with the other perspective find the flaws in my arguments. It’s pretty obvious that someone who holds the opposite view is going to be best suited to find flaws in your own while simultaneously being blind to the flaws in their own arguments.

I don’t have any trust at all that liberals and conservatives can come up with optimal real solutions to real problems without working together. And they don’t appear to have (yet) learned anything from this surprising turn of events. Maybe that will change, but I doubt it. I hope I am wrong.


Comment 4 (4615) by OJB on 2016-11-12 at 17:02:59:

I think a lot of the problem is the way American politics actually works. It discourages negotiation, finding common ground, and trying new things.

Here in New Zealand we have a proportional representation political system. The number of seats in the house corresponds to how many votes the party gets. The biggest party chooses the prime minister, who has few special powers like a president does.

Because of all of this it is almost impossible for one party to be completely in charge and they need to negotiate with others, usually a smaller party, to get their support. This tends to moderate the sort of stuff one party can do. It also means that a vote for a minor party isn't automatically wasted.

The American political system has some good checks and balances, but I think it is unfair at the most basic level, mainly because new parties can never gain enough of a foothold in the system to make a difference.


Comment 5 (4618) by Rick Harvey on 2016-11-13 at 17:48:37:

The Biggest difference between NZ and USA and even Australia, is that NZ is simply only 1 voting base.

USA is almost like a conglomeration of 50 individual countries, Australia in the same way is like 6 or 8 countries - they can't make their minds up if NT or ACT are a state or not, so call these two areas "teritories".

POTUS is the head of all 50 independent states, so that is probably why it is such a mess to get sorted.


Comment 6 (4619) by OJB on 2016-11-13 at 23:20:07:

Yes, this is a comment I made today in a "discussion" on the subject. I suggested the states should become independent countries so that the more "liberal" and "progressive" could elect a female president, and the somewhat "conservative" might want to go back to teaching creationism. I wasn't totally serious, but I wasn't being totally facetious either.


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