While I was growing up - or at least getting older - there were certain words and phrases that blazed across the political firmament. Some were soaring and inspirational, like "Give Peace a Chance," some were lamely laconic, like "Just Say No," and some were strangely urinary - "Trickle Down" comes to mind.
Remember when anything Liberal was bad? Of course, now we have neo-Liberalism, and that's okay. It's just like traditional American Liberalism, only it takes all the Civil Rights and economic justice old-fashioned Liberals fought to secure for citizens, and gives them instead to soulless Corporations.
And that's all it took to make a version of the "L" word okay.
And Revolutionaries! Remember when they were all swarthy anti-American agents of Moscow, good only for rounding up and shooting? (Not by us, of course, but by Death Squads - another name that was somehow never quite obvious enough to lose Presidential sanction or Congressional funding.) Nowadays Bush, Rove, Cheney, and Gingrich call themselves Revolutionaries. Fighting against the Man - though in their case it's against the little man. To be fair, a Revolution is an action that brings a new class to power, and I think few would disagree that these bloodworms are in a class by themselves.
Hey, I even heard Bush refer to himself once as a progressive - because he wanted to help Democracy and the Free Market progress around the world... in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
But I don't want to talk about the happy-go-lucky Orwellian co-option of Progressive language so many have slavishly accepted. No, I'd rather discuss how easily the Reactionaries have denigrated the terms they could not co-opt, how readily that denigration was accepted by Liberals ( or whatever they call themselves nowadays ) and how that linguistic negation, and the cowardly response, led us to the split personality that is the Democratic Party.
"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." No special rights, no unisex bathrooms, no enforced Goddess worship - just equality before the law and in the workplace. And yet when Reactionaries like Rush Limbaugh shouted into a microphone that fiery Feminists wanted to turn our pie cooking, God-Fearing womenfolk into a pack of hairy armpitted, ball-busting lesbian FemiNazis, Democrats ran for cover.
Feminazism? The Uber-estrogen fueled Corporate/Military totalitarian philosophy, combining the hatred of men, with the insatiable lust for lesbian Lebensraum. Is that what Feminists were, and are, struggling for? Because if not, if Equality is what it's always been about, why do the Democrats still shun the word? (Oh, it was also around this time - after Liberals abandoned their own name - that the whole "I don't believe in "isms" weasalosity was born - the idea that if you actually stood for something you were weak. Another successful mindfuck brought to you by People Who Want You to Shut Up.)
People who believe it is in our enlightened self-interest to have the cleanest possible environment. Who could be against that?
Well, it turns out anyone who gets richer by polluting. And so, with the megaphone of corporate media, the altruistic Environmentalist became the unbathed, granola chomping Tree Hugger, a furry Luddite who wants the children of honest loggers to starve. Sure, some of Earth First might be stinky nuts, but do we actually disagree with their ideals? If we have to choose between the corporation that is cutting down the redwoods and the guy who chains himself to the last tree to protect it, who do we sympathize with? And what was that they were saying about global warming all those years ago?
But by then they had been redefined by the Reactionaries as Tree Huggers. And how did our brave leaders respond? With the magic of self negation! By prefacing any statement that in any way may seem to endorse even slightly any infringement upon the profitable rape of Nature, any idea of environmentalism, with "Now, I'm not a tree hugger, but..." Weasels.
And what's wrong with hugging trees anyway? Trees don't cut funding for food stamps. Trees don't poison children with depleted uranium. Trees don't shoot their friends in the face.
Trees make air, and in return we kill them. Fuck that. Be a tree hugger.
Do I even have to go into this one? What kind of person is afraid of being called peace loving? A Democratic candidate for President. We live in a country where if anyone running for high office says they love peace they have to immediately follow it up with a list of who they are willing to bomb to preserve it , lest they be labeled weak. The thing that gets me is that all of the candidates, even the Republicans, say they admire and respect the actions and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. But if he were alive today almost all of them would call him a traitorous pussy.
Admittedly this is more problematic. Stalin was a Red. Pol Pot was a Red. But so was George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, Helen Keller, Paul Robeson, and Aaron Copeland. The guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance was a Red. And so are Social Security, free public education, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, unions, and the weekend. No wonder the Reactionaries are attacking them so hard.
So being a Red isn't just black and white. But I'll tell you this - American Reds have been on the correct side on questions of civil rights, social justice, and environmentalism a heck of a lot more than the Reactionary dickwads so many of our Democratic leaders work so hard to emulate. Reds defended the Scottsborough Boys - a group of young Black men being railroaded with rape charges, Reds created the ACLU which fights for our Constitution, Reds were the ones marching to make sure women and Blacks could vote in America, while Reagan - whom too many of our candidates trumpet as a great President - opposed the Civil Right's Act of 1965.
Let me say that again: Reagan opposed the Civil Right's Act of 1965. And not just in 1965, but when he was President, and he did all he could to undermine it.
Most Reds wouldn't have done that.
Oh, and for the record, that whole "the far Left and the far Right are almost the same" line is what I call Crapaganda - a lie to distract you from the fact that the speaker is mentally lazy, and full of shit. It's not a circle. Far Right: Militaristic Xenophobic foot soldiers for corporate hegemony protecting Arizona from Mexicans. Far Left: Pro-Democracy anti-Imperialist peaceniks in rubber boats protecting whales from slaughter. One side will beat you to death for reading this, the other will talk you to sleep for disagreeing. There is a big difference.
This one really pisses me off. Our side demands we be a Nation of Laws, but then don't want anyone who has a thorough understanding of our government to be a Lawmaker. Usta be Liberals looked to lawyers to fight the good fight. Then somewhere along the line we became brainwashed that lawyers in government are the problem, that making law is something that should be done by people who don't really have a grasp of what laws are, and have little intention of being restricted by them. You know, businessmen.
Here's a thought: if your car broke down, would you take it to a dairyman? No, you'd take it to a mechanic - you'd take it to be worked on by someone who is skilled in automobiles, a skill you need to employ to do the job done well.
Yet when it comes to something as supremely important as making the Laws of our Nation, so many of us would rather not trust those who have studied that very thing. Some hate, for example, John Edwards simply because he is a lawyer. Never mind that his practice was built fighting for individuals against corporations - we've already been brainwashed into distrusting even the lawyers who are on our side.
Brown vs. the Board of Education wasn't fought by stock speculators. Thurgood Marshall wasn't a shoe salesmen before getting on the Supreme Court. The Chicago Eight were defended by lawyers. Every Klansmen put in prison for murdering a Civil Rights worker is put there by lawyers. In fact, every Civil Right you have was crafted by lawyers. The Constitution was written by lawyers! Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison - lawyers! Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy... you ever see "Inherit the Wind?" Clarence Darrow was a lawyer! And if we have to fight tooth and nail to defend our rights of Free Speech, Habeas Corpus, or anything else, we can and will depend on some courageous lawyers to stand by us, where they will take on the full might of Corporate America, or an oppressive U.S. government, for us.
You get my point. There are good lawyers and there are bad lawyers, there are our lawyers, and there are their lawyers. But since we've been trained to not trust lawyers at all today we have businessmen "lawmakers" who denigrate their job, bastardize the system, and do all they can to destroy a Government that is supposed to be of, by, and for the People.
So that's it. Until Democrats can clearly identify for themselves what they stand for, stop believing the insidious redefinition of themselves and their allies by their declared enemies, stop sucking up to those who have vowed to destroy them - until Democrats can bravely stand up and say " What's so wrong with being a Peace-Loving, tree hugging, Red Feminist Lawyer?" this side of the aisle will always have a split personality: Those who dedicate their lives to fighting for justice, equality, the environment, for all that this country is supposed to stand for, and those who want their votes - but are scared to be seen with them.