The Curse of Redistribution
Such a long, long time ago Barack Obama was a fresh national candidate, out on the campaign trail and the reality as our first black president far from certain. One morning a boil of activity on Daily Kos swirled around an absurd Sarah Palin event where an audience member, unprompted in her vehement anger, apparently yelled “he’s a –igger!” at the prospect of an Obama presidency.
Things quickly settled down when some careful listening revealed she was actually shouting “he’s a redistributor!,” the blurry recording and bad acoustics very much indicating another word nonetheless.
A tiny thing but it always stuck with me, what exactly is it about “redistribution” and whatever its allegedly very bad effects were that had that woman so angry? I remembered her again in all the copious post-mortems to the utterly disgraceful Democratic Party 2014 midterm loss as Kevin Drum brought up a massive cultural obstacle our Party faces, we’re the Party of moochers that coddles the lazy among us with our tax dollars.
I’m going to attempt an answer in how to solve that cultural and political problem, and in that process give very valuable elements and tactics to how an allegedly political national Democratic Party could in fact succeed. We were all done with how utterly fucked up the politics and tactics were for 2015, nope, here’s another look at the flaming debacle.
It took this long for me to cool down enough to rationally think and write about it, there is no way to actually convey the utter fury felt at the sickening results, and please, please trust me there are 100 other so much more pleasurable things to be performing this beautiful morning than writing about the Democratic Party. It’s my duty, we’re in a lot of trouble and really lost as a country, never again can we afford as a Party and people another midterm loss like that, nor will we accept one.
[places palms together] Redistribution. Somehow in the opposition Republican cultural vernacular the word became a slur of giveaway, the government takes our tax dollars—often earned in grinding labor or various forms of burning oppression—and then gives it to lazy good-for-nothings! One is a real fool to discount the bludgeoning negative political power of that reasoning, as Mr. Drum so astutely noted.
Liberals and Democrats automatically react with an amused rationality here that always fails. Yes, social spending on the alleged safety net is a very small element of the federal budget, oh my God we spend so much more at the Department of Defense, and yes it’s all a sick joke when one looks at the heinous subsidies for energy and agriculture, they’re the real moochers, but the rational response always flops.
Voters don’t decide issues with a rational mental scale, they identify with a tribe that shares those values and even more importantly defends and promotes them. We could fill every billboard in the country with pie charts about where our tax dollars go, we could hire 20 radio hosts to endlessly explain what a sick ripoff oil subsidies are and yet still folks would work 50 hours a week, get taxed and then watch much more unfortunate among use food stamps and burn with a real resentment.
The solution and problem itself is actually one of vacuum, as liberals and Democrats there’s nothing we can do to change the tribal minds who have decided we coddle lazy citizens, it’s just one of those unfortunate facets of political life we have to wear as a negative and hope other elements make up for it.
What, in fact, does the national Democratic Party stand for? We never would have been effectively labeled as lazy good-for-nothings if there wasn’t a whirling vacuum of nothing behind it! Peace? Oh my God. The little people working person? Heh. Environment? Sheesh. Equality? Sort of.
We can wear the negative elements—no matter how ridiculous or callously cruel in their outlook—as being the Party of moochers if we really fight in believe in something that’s truly real, that really delivers something tangibly positive to everyone’s lives. Fight and believe and do everything possible for peace, to get everyone a good job, to make our planet environmentally safe, for the love of God die on a fucking liberal hill for once, do that and voters of course will identify us with that, not food stamps.
As little people voters are we really supposed to accept another ridiculous Clinton/Obama in-the-moment-politics 2016 campaign of watery principle that always flops in the midterms? Seriously? Inevitably that will horribly fail, just as it has failed now in 2015 with the clown show Congress we have.
Except it will be with the Democratic Party too, we’ll splinter into something unrecognizable in a desperate attempt to find anything that works for peace, little people, and the Earth. Keep up a campaign of whatever, status-quo-is-cool for 2016, Democratic Party candidate, and I sadly fear that will happen.