More Election Day Propaganda

A friend forwarded this email to me.  It was sent to him by a friend of his, as a way of urging him to vote.

Dear E—,
Today is Election Day. The Tea Partiers and the cynics are hoping we all decide not to do anything and stay home.
Today Common Dreams published the transcript of a speech Bill Moyers gave this past Saturday night as part of the Howard Zinn Lecture Series at Boston University.
It’s rather long but we encourage you to read the whole speech.
Here’s the final paragraph:

But let’s be clear: Even with most Americans on our side, the odds are long. Money fights hard, and it fights dirty. Think Rove. The Chamber. The Kochs. We may lose. It all may be impossible. But it’s OK if it’s impossible. You heard me right. I’ve learned something about this from the former farmworker and labor organizer Baldemar Velasquez. The members of his Farm Labor Organizing Committee are a long way from the world of K Street lobbyists. But they took on the Campbell Soup Company – and won. They took on North Carolina growers – and won, using transnational organizing tactics that helped win Velasquez a “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation. And now they’re taking on no less than R. J. Reynolds Tobacco and one of its principle financial sponsors, JPMorgan-Chase. Some people question the wisdom of taking on such powerful interests, but here’s what Velasquez says: “It’s OK if it’s impossible; it’s OK! Now I’m going to speak to you as organizers. Listen carefully. The object is not to win. That’s not the objective. The object is to do the right and good thing. If you decide not to do anything, because it’s too hard or too impossible, then nothing will be done, and when you’re on your death bed, you’re gonna say, ‘I wish I had done something.’ But if you go and do the right thing NOW, and you do it long enough good things will happen-something’s gonna happen. Shades of Howard Zinn!”

I hope you will join all of us in the Common Dreams community in defying the polls and the cynics by going to vote. We can’t give up “because it’s too hard or too impossible”.
And no matter the results of today’s elections, Common Dreams will be here for you going forward, bringing you the breaking news and views from the best progressive voices of our time.
“Do the right thing NOW” and go vote. Good things will happen,
Craig Brown
for the whole Common Dreams team

First of all, here we have the typically lame progressive stratagem of attempting to motivate their base of voters by conjuring up the dread twin specter of the Tea Partier and the cynic.  You see, because the enemy isn’t a bankrupt political system, it’s a (largely) media-created and driven non-movement and their apparent allies, those dastardly malcontents who are tactless enough to notice the steaming turd on the carpet that everyone else is desperately trying to ignore.

Secondly, I’m not sure what the passage by Bill Moyers quoted above has to do with voting.  He’s talking about a labor organizer who won concessions from some big businesses by “using transnational organizing tactics”—not by dutifully plodding into the voting booth and hoping that one of the two available corporate-sponsored candidates would actually do something to help his cause.

(I didn’t read the Moyers piece, so I’m not sure if he’s actually endorsing voting; it seems, from a brief skim, that he’s just talking about “organizing.”  Although it wouldn’t be entirely out of character for him to go on and on about the corruption of the system and then turn around and extol the virtues of “democracy.”  Moyers strikes me as a well-meaning and serious guy, but ultimately a true believer in the US government and its institutions.)

But nevermind, just get out and vote.  Good things will happen, says the guy from Common Dreams.  He got the “Dreams” part right, anyway.

And for additional reading enjoyment, check out this compendium of progressive voting scolds.

There’s a Teabagger Under My Bed

Over at True/Slant, Allison Kilkenny is worried about the teabaggers.  It’s not so much the would-be Travis Bickles or Rupert Pupkins who’ve made the news lately (and who may or may not have anything whatsoever to do with the tea party movement, but nevermind), although they are a cause for concern; no, the real worry is that the teabaggers “will convince and/or provide the federal government with the excuse to withdraw from the public at a time when the country badly needs government-provided services and regulation.”

But, as Kilkenny herself notes, the government is already not doing such a great job, teabaggers or no, of providing those badly needed services and regulations:

First, there actually aren’t enough independent regulators to cover all industries. Second, the criminals who get caught violating codes and breaking laws don’t get punished very seriously — if at all. Finally, there has been zero effort to seriously reform the worst-offending industries like the financial sector. Too Big To Fail and the complex derivatives, which created the Economic Armageddon, are both still in place — untouched by the government or regulators.

And she acknowledges that this has something to do with campaign contributions and the “revolving door” between jobs in the government and jobs in the industries being regulated.

At this point you might think that it would be at least worth considering the possibility that there’s something inherent in government regulation itself that’s the problem, and that the anti-government folks, misguided as a lot of them may be, might have a point.

But no. 

That could undermine the entire progressive myth about how the function of government is to protect the little guy from the rapacious capitalist fat cats (rather than being a tool used by the fat cats to keep the little guy in his place).  The more plausible scenario, apparently, is that a bunch of yahoos wearing fuzzy tricornered hats, who yearn for the freedom to “roam the woods, chopping their own firewood and stitching together clothing made from deer hide” are discouraging the government from doing its job and allowing the bankers and corporate CEOs to plunder and pollute with impunity.

I have an alternative theory: That people like Kilkenny, by focusing their ire at a bunch of nobodies who are aware, no matter how dimly, that the system does not exist to serve their interests, are helping to divert people’s attention from the government’s role in screwing them over.