IS AMERICA ABOUT TO UNDERGO A RADICAL LIBERAL TRANSFORMATION?

BUMPS ALONG THE LONG ARC OF LIBERAL HISTORY 

Okay, we all know (hopefully) that it’s waaaaay to early to predict that some liberal revolution will be overtaking America anytime soon, but I’m encouraged by some nascent initial signs.  Sure, the success of the Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) “revolution” is a sign of things changing but we have the parallel universe nativist revolution of Donald J. Trump which is not exactly an encouraging sign of coming together and ultimate social, political and economic Kumbaya for the rest of us. 

Some of you might remember a few years ago when I undertook to insert myself into the WWF world of on line commenting.  "Yes," I said to myself, “I’m going to take six months and comment on online comments just to get a better feel for what’s going on in right wing cyber sphere.”  Like you, perhaps, I would read an online article and glance at the comments that appeared just after but never took the opportunity to engage.   Well, the six months sort of morphed into just over a years’ time and, in fact, I still work the comment boards, just no longer at Yahoo, limiting my commenting activity to Politico,  Huffington Post for the most part. 

I chose Yahoo back then because, at the time, it seemed that the comments people posted there were a tad more to the right than anything I saw on the most popular search engines and mass news sites yet weren’t quite as off-the-wall or totally batshit crazy as what one found on the more “tellin’ it like it is” white power and Nazi themed sites.  As I dug deeper into the worm hole of Yahoo comments and commentators, I discovered that there seemed to be two reigning themes:  “It’s all Obama’s fault” and that us “libruls” - in perfect synchronicity with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh - were the ones who were out to destroy the America they had come to love.  So when The Donald snatched the Republican nomination it really wasn’t all that much of a surprise to me.   


Here are my major non-scientific findings of my year+ foray into the netherworld of conservative online narratives:

1.  Despite the Tea Party’s and right wingers’ total devotion to “We The People” rule and abject devotion to democracy and democratic principles they simply cannot countenance the heretical, treasonous idea that “We The People of the District of Columbia” ought to be able to elect representatives to the House of Representatives and the Senate especially since our population is larger than Wyoming and Vermont.  

In at least 100 posts – I’m sure it was more but I don’t want to exaggerate here - only one was not met with absolute silence, you know, "crickets."  And that one told me I should move to Canada or Malawi (I forget which.) So much for hypocrisy at work.

2.  You can go, at most, three relatively cogent exchanges attempting to counter the insane notion that Barack Obama is a Muslim or that it was actually George Bush who created ISIS before you are called a “motherfucking, brainless, libertard, Obama worshipping, sheeple” or worse.  Most often this intelligence revealed itself after a single exchange but since I did not keep track of this particular trend I am left with this non-scientific conclusion.


3.    In the right wing world of parallel existence to the world of the rest of us, facts do not exist.  Period.  No facts.  Nada.  Zero.  And I’m not talking about the facts of the age of the Earth (6,000 or 3 billion years) or whether or not human beings kept dinosaurs as pets.  These are, at least, arguable particularly if you are one of the science averse citizens of America or one of those folks who  believe that the recently opened Noah’s Ark museum in Kentucky is an exact replica of the Ark God commanded Noah to build.  Here I’m referring to such things as where Obama was born even after he released his birth certificate or the fact that the Second Amendment phrase “"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,” wasn’t some auto-correct error by a Founding Father's quill pen. 
      
But although I got metaphorically shat on, beheaded, water boarded, executed by a firing squad and told that I was a dub-ass, Democratic liberal retard, the experience was enlightening in an apocalyptic sense and this “right wing, bubblicious, thematic narrative” is no doubt why we now have Donald Trump despoiling the American landscape with the very same crap.

But over the past year I’ve noticed that we liberals have begun to push back against all this crazy shit. Finally, we liberals have tired of bing patient, of waiting for the fucking right wingers to come to their senses and realize that there is in fact a real world out here where Obama is not the spawn of Satan and Hillary Clinton is an intelligent, hard working, experienced woman and not worthy of being shot by a Donald Trump hired firing squad giving the term “You’re Fired” a whole new meaning. 


But this trend toward rationality, intelligence and fact-based discourse does not mean that we are out of the woods yet where “cutting taxes create jobs” is our primo economic policy, although it is an encouraging sign.  Of course, The Donald has gone a long way towards ramping up this nascent trend towards collective sanity and, hopefully, his example will continue to frighten sufficient numbers of Americans that he will not succeed in turning back the clock on the entire Modern Era.   But I'm thinking here about what historians term "The Long Arc of Liberal History,"  basically the notion that when surveying the history of mankind on Planet Earth, the long-term trend has arced towards the dignification of human beings, the recognition of fundamental human rights, the spread of social enlightenment and equality.

It's worthwhile noting, however, that from the flowering of the radical ideas of Greek civilization that inform the entirety of Western Civilization today, this arc has not been without speed bumps along the way.  Recall that the enlightened Greek experiment was followed by the more autocratic Roman Empire, which was then followed by Europe's Dark Ages that lasted from the 6th to the 14th Centuries. (Both China and India, by the way, were doing far better at the time.)  So for more than 800 years Western Civilization lay inert and fallow.  It wasn't until the Renaissance that the radical experiment of Greece was rediscovered and began to spread once more through the Western World.   So in the eyes of historians, there indeed has been a continuous "Liberal Arc" to the history of mankind but with a couple of caveats, as it were. 

What we're talking about here is ancient history, with scant relevance to our lives in 2016, right?   But even the Modern Era shows us how fragile enlightenment and liberalism can be.   Germany, in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries was the absolute, unchallenged pinnacle of Western Civilization. No other country could match Germany's accomplishments in science, technology, philosophy, art and literature.  This is the era that produced Wagner, Marx, Kant, Beethoven, Schopenhauer among a host of others who are still studied and admired today.   But then along came Adolf Hitler who upended the Arc of Liberalism proving, once again, that along the liberal historical pathway are fairly severe deviations - speed bumps, let's call them - from the normal trend of increasing enlightenment, humanity and liberalism.


So even though I detect a nascent trend lately towards liberal sanity, it is a trend that is extremely fragile, only lightly engaged, and not all that certain of outcome for the moment.  Nothing, of course, illustrates just how fragile this Arc is than Donald Trump.   While I am encouraged and celebrate the recent turning away from conservatism in social, economic, and political policy, I suspect that we still have a long, long way to travel before the long Arc of Liberal History takes strong, healthy roots and is fully restored in American society.


It wasn't all that long ago, folks.  Let's not let it happen again.

La Lutte Continues!

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