Thursday, March 6, 2008

Pickup Games, Black Guys, and Progressives

Anyone who has ever played pickup basketball games with some black guys will immediately understand this essay, for those who haven’t I will try to explain. There is a common belief that in pickup games black guys would rather look good and lose than win ugly. They would rather do a 360 slam dunk, than do the dirty work that insures victory like setting screens and blocking out on the boards. In other words it is not about the team or playing the game, it is about the individual looking good. I have come to the conclusion that there are many in the progressive and net-roots community who have this same mentality. They would rather lose holding on to some false sense of integrity, than win and accept piecemeal gains.

In their infinite wisdom the founders of this country created a system of government that relies on compromise. The problem with compromise is that it causes change to come very slowly. We have a system that short of an all out revolution takes years to change. Now there are many that will argue the merits or the disadvantages of such a system, but none the less it is the system we have inherited. In the last twenty to thirty years we have seen the system slowly being pushed to the right, so that now even the center is to the right. This of course has many on the left up in arms and desiring a full scale shift back to the left right now. This of course will be extremely difficult because as the center bar has been pushed to the right, so has the country. Any sudden shift will be seen and presented as radicalism to the general public. Such radicalism will be easily defeated through coercion from the media, the right, and the powers that be.

One of the difficulties of interacting with the net-roots and blogosphere is that there are many pseudo-revolutionaries. They preach all-out anarchy from behind their screens, but do nothing to actually bring about the change they seek. Not only do they not become active, they criticize anyone who is active but not an extremist. If you do not agree or support their agenda 100% then you are labeled as a sell-out and open to all manner of personal attack and criticism. As if wishing change will make it so. In their fantasy world of genies and wizards change comes at the waving of a wand. Unfortunately, in the real world of politics in America it doesn’t quite work this way. There will be no radical change to either the left or the right under the political system we have.

The problem is that we on the left have allowed the right to create these false narratives for the American public without disputing their validity. We have watched while our concerns and issues have been slowly recast as out of touch with “real” American values when the truth is the exact opposite. The truth is that the majority of Americans do believe in providing for those less fortunate, they do believe in privacy of the individual, they believe in diplomacy, and they believe in fairness, justice, and tolerance for all. Maybe the problem with those pseudo revolutionaries is that they are feeling the pangs of guilt for having given away the farm during the “Reagan Revolution” or the “War on Terror”.

If we are to swing the body politic back to a more progressive agenda it is not going to happen overnight. It is not enough to be right, we do not live in a world where good always triumphs evil. We must begin the process of reversing the current trend gradually through the election and promotion of those who may not agree with every point in our agenda but whom we can find commonness of purpose on the larger issues. We are pass the point of moral victories, it is the accepting of those moral victories that have placed us in the situation we are in. For too long we have allowed others to do the heavy lifting and then become angry when they have gone for themselves and abandoned our issues. The time has come for us to become active in not only crafting the agenda, but insuring it’s being instituted.

Rather you agree with Barack Obama or not you cannot deny that his message is resonating with millions of people, many of whom are first timers and this presents an opportunity. This opportunity is only as useful as we make it through direct participation. We must be willing to hold not only his feet to the fire, but also those who would obstruct and deny the will of the people. The reason that George Bush and the right can ignore the will of the people is because they are allowed to by the people. It is no longer enough to vote and participate only during elections, we must remain engaged and ready to mobilize against anyone who would try to impede the will of the people.

I am so tired of this crap about how we are too busy today to remained engaged beyond our daily grind. Ok, so you may not be able to attend rallies or marches, but we can all take the time to write a letter or make a phone call. This thing will not get better because we elected the right person, this thing will only get better because we held those elected accountable. The reason the center was pushed to the right is because they were united, we on the other hand are so busy looking at our sacred cow or only one tree that we have forgotten we are in a forest. So, if you want to do the 360 go right ahead, but don’t come crying to me when you lose.

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