So, Mr. Nader, I see you don't believe in fun either
I was reading Joe Trippi's new book( which I will review in detail either tonight or tomorrow)The Revolution Will Not Be Televised when I realized something. Trippi's rep is of a hard as nails consultant, but the tone of the book struck me: he's an optimist. Instead of playing to people's fears, he's talking about a different kind of democracy, one where the Internet provides a real connection between people. And while I think some of his conclusions are a bit much, his tone is clearly upbeat, like a missionary who'd seen the promised land.
And then, I realized why Nader, and to a lesser extent, the Greens, have failed so miserably. This isn't about bashing Nader, per se, athough I can do that any time of the day, it's about how his politics have failed to move people
Every word out of their mouth is about a problem or how we're being screwed. How corporations are evil and want to control the world. It's a pretty grisly and depressing picture. It makes people hopeless and docile. Waiting for a leader to save them. Instead of a cooperative vision of the world, I realized that Nader is quite the opposite. He wants to tell people what is wrong and then force his solutions on everyone. This is not the kind of politics which people will invest their time and effort in. It is politics by remote control, and exactly the opposite of what Trippi and Dean, and now to some extend, Kerry has endorsed.
Think about this: for the last 40 years, Nader has had the pick of the best and brightest. How many wind up embittered and angry after their time with him? How many had their marriages ruined? What was the human wreckage created by a man who respected few boundaries and viciously attacks anyone who opposes him or even have different ideas.
Nader is an elitist and has moved the left far awway from the goals of social justice he is so clearly dismissive of. Instead, he basically hijacked the left after Vietnam and focused on making middle class life more comfortable. Safer cars, attacking fast food. All the while remaining mute about real social injustice. The Greens, by looking for visibility, also skirted these issues or never understood why their fear-based campaigning failed for the most part. The Greens can stand for positive social change, but it has to be cast as a positive change. Conservatives have gained the most mileage when they presented a positive view of their plans for the world. Liberals and progressives need to do the same. They need to stress positive changes, not this doom and gloom which is counterintuative to millions of people.
It may sound fun to call Microsoft evil, but the reality is that Microsoft deserves a great deal of credit for making computers affordable. Without DOS and Windows, we would all be beholden to Apple and whatever they churned out. Microsoft created diversity, a diversity which Linux followed. There would be no internet, no blogs and no jobs if the world relied on Apple to lead the way. That doesn't mean MS isn't a monopolist or doesn't have too much power, but you need a balanced view. Whereas the family friendly face of Nike covers a world wide network slave labor sweatshops.
You cannot truly reach people with fear, and have them stay with you for long. People to embrace positive change, to believe that they're not perpetually on the defensive. People need to believe in more than holding back the tide. The left has indulged Nader's cramped, negative wortld view for 40 years, even as the right was painting their reckless changes as nirvana. All the left could do was act as scolds and nannies and when that failed, they retreated.
Trippi makes an excellent point, which is that you can win when you empower people. That we don't need Naders to tell us what to believe and place a blind trust in him to solve our problems. That millions of people, acting collectively, can bring about change. They don't have to be powerful or wealthy alone, their combined efforts. One of the things which impressed me was the Dean Corps. People who met while working on the campaign, but then took that activism and turned it into direct public service, like cleaning parks and helping charities. The Nader view of the world sounds great, but it doesn't move people to act. Trippi's participatory democracy enabled by the internet has a great deal of potential to invigorate this country without relying on some aesthetic millionaire who plays the stock market, lies about most of his life and treats people badly. We can, if you believe Trippi, and I do, make this happen on oue own, by collective action.
It was about 10 AM on Omaha Beach. Most of the officers and NCO's were dead or wounded. The tanks were at the bottom of the channel. The detroyers were getting as close as possible, but they didn't have wheels. Bradley had to decide whether to send the next waves of troops to Utah and evacuate Omaha. But then, suddenly, small groups of men, often just teenaged privates, were moving off the beach. They didn't have leaders, but they had to get off the beach or die. So they found explosives, used them, called in naval gunfire, and beat the Germans. And they weren't the only ones. Paratroopers dropped into the Normandy countryside all screwed up. Battalions, regiments, even divisions were mixed up. Men from the 101st were fighting with strangers from the 82nd. People they'd never seen before, were trained differently than. But they were Americans, they had the same basic tactics and the only way to survive was to work together. All the interdivisional rivalry disappeared when everyone realized they had no choice but to cooperate. Even though they were teenagers, they knew they had to become a team.
Americans can work together if they choose to. They don't need leaders, just a cause and a way to act. The problem is that for too long we've been looking for leaders, people to show us the way. Well, we know we don't need people to show us anything. We can save ourselves if we choose. The question is will we realize this?
posted by Steve @ 7:33:00 PM