As if I needed to make my blood boil more in the heat wave that is radiating across San Diego, while listening to NPR on my drive home, I began to hear the voice of Mitt Romney booming from my radio. I instinctively reached to change the channel when I heard the question “What do you think Washington is right now, liberal or conservative?”
“This I gotta hear,” I thought.
With the rhetorical question “is our government liberal or conservative?” framing his RNC speech, Romney attempted to claim that we live in a country that leans far too far to the left, that we have a liberal Supreme Court (yeah, Alito et al or SOOO liberal), and that we are all under the spell of ‘big government liberals.’
Now, it would have been nice if Romney had defined for his listeners exactly what he meant by ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ as these are very slippery, complex terms. For now, let’s suffice it to say that ‘liberal’ seemed to be used by Romney in the catch all insulting way it is by many Republicans and neo-conservatives – it supposedly means one is too easy on “terrorists,” that one supports “government dependency” (yes, because believing social services like education and healthcare are the purview of the government is so sadly dependent…), that one cares WAY TOO DAMN MUCH about the environment and wants to make the US “dependent on Middle Eastern Tyrants” (MR’s words, not mine!). Romney even suggested that liberals are to blame for high gas prices. Yeah, Mitt, that has nothing to do with the big oil industrial complex, global militarization, and CONSERVATIVES blockage of getting the US off of the oil sauce. (See, for example, the wonderful documentary Who Killed the Electric Car. As a hint: it wasn’t liberals.)
While many would call me ‘liberal,’ (my dad, in fact, likes to call me a ‘bleeding heart liberal’), I choose to call myself progressive. This is partly due to the fact that many self-proclaimed liberals and leftists have of late widely diverged from tenets I hold dear, and also because I think ‘progressive’ more correctly sums up my beliefs. You see, we progressives want to PROGRESS society forward by bringing about changes that benefit all people, not just people in the United States, not just people with white skin, not just people with sausage and waffles (my son’s way of referencing penis and testicles). Conservatives, on the other hand, want to CONSERVE the status quo. They want to keep things as they are. Heck people, it says it all right there in the word!
But, let’s get back to good ol’ boy Mitt. What if the question wasn’t one of “liberal or conservative” (as in his speech) but one of “democratic or fascist”? Well, if he was asked “Is this country right now democratic or fascist?,” I am quite sure he would loudly proclaim that we are a democratic nation, that we are, as the closing words of his speech proclaimed “the hope of the world.”
Yet, as you can read and view here, here, and here, the United States currently exhibits all of the warning signs of fascism. In fact, Romney’s speech inadvertently conceded this fact when he characterized the US as an Orwellian society. As he said, “It’s time for the party of big ideas, not the party of Big Brother.” Now, Romney used this line to insinuate that the ‘liberals’ who supposedly rule this country are the party of ‘Big Brother’ (he apparently has never read the novel 1984 or he would now that BB is far from liberal). Yet, what is true in this line (although I am sure he didn’t mean it in this way) is that we indeed are under the leadership of ‘the party of Big Brother.’
Big Brother and the fascist society depicted in Orwell’s novel thrived on perpetual war, on keeping the masses overworked and undereducated, on controlling not only all media but language itself, on demonizing sexuality, on hatred, prejudice, sexism, racism, etc. Sound familiar? Sound a little bit like the US? Would you like to CONSERVE these ‘values’ or might you be interested in PROGRESSING society – changing society – in ways that benefit all humans, not just those with money, power, white skin, certain religious leanings, and who belong to certain clubs (Bohemian Grove, PNAC, etc).
Indeed, reading 1984 feels more like reading non-fiction these days.
Sadly, the key question we need to be asking is not “Is the US liberal or conservative?” but “Is the US becoming, or is it already, a fascist state?” How about posing that much more important question in your next speech Mitt? Or, do you wish to continue to allow “retreat in the face of evil extremism”? (A hint here Mitt, the ‘evil extremism’ I refer to is that of the corporate elite and their lackeys that rule the globe, NOT to the people you so broadly paint as evil – i.e. liberals, people of the Islam faith, and people of Middle Eastern descent.)
If I needed reminding why I am progressive (which I didn’t), Mitt certainly gave it to me… (In fact, listening to the coverage of the RNC makes my ‘bleeding heart liberal’ self want to cry, throw up, revolt, move to another planet…) If McSaim and Pain win, oh goodness, well it will be just as depressing (if not more so) than the last two stolen elections.
So, to end on a more positive note, let me close with a progressive shout out: “Go McKinney!”