Friday, May 25, 2007

Dems Floundering, Fatherless

Mr. Bush has done it again. The President's blunt simplicity, his crusading stubbornness and his consistent causticity have got the Democrats cowering and splintering and, confronted with the klieg lights, merely knocking the tires of the administration's old jalopy. No peeks under the hood, much less an engine overhaul. Last night's vote to further fund the war in Iraq, without a timetable for withdrawal and without any clear alternatives to the president's bilious escalation, leaves the party floundering.

The Democrats, plain and simple, need a father figure.

Maybe they could rent out Fred Thompson for the role. He's a decent enough actor, and he'd get the job done.

In an article for the NY Times Select titled "The New Silent Majority," Mark Buchanan talks about the psychological phenomenon called "pluralistic ignorance," which is a fancy way of say most people would rather crawl under a rock (Iraq?) than be the first to raise their hand to ask a "dumb" question -- or to say that something they've just heard doesn't match the facts or maybe even make sense. The "silent majority" would rather duck for cover or hide in the herd than stand out like a sore something-er-other.

As most people get their news from the major outlets, these distortions, however they occur, whether intentionally or through some more innocuous process of filtering, almost certainly translate into a strongly distorted image in peoples' minds of what most people across the country think. They contribute to making mainstream Americans feel as if they're probably not mainstream, which in turn may make them less likely to voice their opinions.

One of the most common examples of pluralistic ignorance, of course, takes place in the classroom, where a teacher has just finished a dull and completely incomprehensible lecture, and asks if there are any questions. No hands go up, as everyone feels like the lone fool, even though no student actually understood a single word. It takes guts, of course, to admit total ignorance when you might just be the only one.

Buchanan says this sort of mentality is why the strident squeaky wheels are getting the grease, why the garishly inane, the pompous plutocrats and the puffed up hucksters are getting loads of airtime and giving us a warped sense of what's up -- and running the show. The majority's inclination is to follow and get out of the way. This is how the inaccurate, sloppy and melodramatic media are getting away with slander -- and why Bush is so consistently able to keep getting what he wants, even, most of the time, without vetoes. Buchanan is only wrong in suggesting that this "new silent majority" is new. It's nothing new. As Abraham Lincoln said, "you can fool most of the people most of the time." Most of the people -- a majority -- are never activists, much less articulate or loud or well-connected rabble-rousers. Michael Moore, for example, might be notorious and even persuasive, but he is certainly of the minority and in the minority, no matter how much it seems he is earnestly FOR the majority. The majority are rarely in it for much of anything beyond their own poorly informed desires. As Thomas Franks has said, most people often don't act in their own best interests. Franks famously asked, "What is the matter with Kansas?" What, we might ask, is the matter with democracy in America? What's the matter with the media? What's the matter with us?

The same thing that is the matter with the Democrats.

The Dems are so enamored with with their politically correct and (generally) polite herd and with the propaganda of "supporting the troops" that they remain relatively disjointed and deferential to the Bully Pulpit. The party of diversity just can't get it together to block the blank checks for a war that has become a shame to a majority of Americans. A majority who, in anonymous polls, say they oppose this or that or who want change, but who are not themselves members of the select (self-selected) minority who agitate for change, who call out loud for a better nation. Lost in the flock, we all need a competent herder to help us along. Better yet, a benevolent and loving father figure to show us the way.


At 5/25/2007 4:47 PM, Anonymous chaz b. said...

"garishly inane"?? it's worse: people caught up in Am idol and feuds like the snarky View broads, like the latest on Rosie's fast exit, bitching out the back door...... tv morons, catch the drool. What a country.


Post a Comment

<< Home