Class Warfare Blog

December 19, 2011

Playing by “The Rules”

Filed under: Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:58 am
Tags: , , , ,

Readers of this blog probably know that I am in favor of changing the “rules” regarding campaign finance. Clearly the system we have doesn’t work. I want to stop the money at the boundaries of political districts. For example, in the gubernatorial recall effort in Wisconsin, I would like all monies coming from outside the state of Wisconsin to be separated from those coming from within. Any political speech in the form of ads, leaflets, whatever, paid for entirely or in part from these outsider’s money would have to be clearly labeled “Paid for by Outsiders.”

So, why not start a grass roots campaign and try to get people to play this way? The reason is basically that if you don’t play by the “real rules,” you will lose. If the people trying to recall Governor Scott Walker were to shun outside money while the people supporting the Governor did not, they would lose that battle. The rules need to be changed first.

What got me thinking about this was a comment in another blog that Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the U.S. was a polarizing book. That book was written from the viewpoint of all the people who got left out of the other U.S. history books, the “little people” who tend to get ground to dust under the wheels of history. I might have agreed with that viewpoint but the polarization of our society started with right-wing think tanks (financed by rich folks) who influenced heavily people, well, like Newt Gingrich who were amoral enough and self-centered enough to think that was a good idea. If those on the left of the political spectrum stay in the center and leave the field to the distorters (think Texas history school book selections), our history will look more right-wing that it has in the past.

The strategy of labeling people “them” and “us” has a long history. The reason is that it is effective, but is it good for the survivors? Think about the label “liberal.” Does anyone use that label anymore? Very few do. The reason? Radio and TV talk show “personalities” have distorted its meaning and demonized the label. You hear all kinds of people now labeling themselves as “progressives” when that term had long fallen out of general use. A progressive is a liberal labeled differently. Demonizing liberal thinking people was not an effort begun by the left. It was right-wing bloviators (Limbaugh, Beck, and their ilk) who did the deed.

So, should we eschew polarizing behaviors as being undesirable (which I sincerely believe they are)? The answer right now is No! This is a game where one side sets the rules (like war). Look at what happened to President Obama when he tried to play the “Bipartisan Cooperation Game” to “change the culture of Washington, D.C.” only to find out the other side had changed the rules. “Cooperation” had become “capitulation” under their rules and was no longer desirable. Being “bipartisan” was being disloyal and cowardly, so that was no longer desirable. But Obama kept trying to play by the old rules and he just kept getting hammered. His task is to figure out how to play under the current rules while recreating the rules that favored cooperation instead of confrontation. I wish him luck. It can be done; it is just difficult right now.

Rule #1 of Politics: You Gotta Play by The Real Rules.

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