A Few Words From James Baldwin About Liberal Arrogance

Some of my heroes do appear on stamps.

“A liberal is someone who thinks he knows more about your experience than you do.

James Baldwin

I run an application on Facebook that sends me an update when I am “defriended.”   Sometimes it’s a matter of an account becoming inactive.  Others because someone has had enough of me and cut me loose.   That’s fine.  I never was much interested in collecting as many “friends” and for the person who waxed me from existence because I don’t share your blind hatred of Barack Obama and single-minded obsession that Edward Snowden is an American hero, I thank you for the favor.   I’m only upset I didn’t cut you loose first.

I understand this story is very important to you.  But you cannot make it as important to me as it is for you.

Because I have enough with Good White Liberals telling me, “Yeah, what happened to Trayvon Martin? Damn shame. But what REALLY matters is Edward Snowden and the NSA. That’s more important than this trial. “

How am I supposed to process that as anything but an insult and yet another reminder that not only are Black lives less important than White lives, but our life and death issues as well?   It’s fine by me if the Zimmerman trial isn’t a major priority for others.  Just don’t tell me your priorities mean so much more than mine.

What is important to whom?   The Snowden case may be of burning importance to my friends on the Left, but I do not hang on every detail of where this so-called “whistleblower” may eventually abandon his country for.  I care a lot more about a dead Black teenager than a live White traitor.

One person’s cause is another’s lack of concern.

I decide for myself what’s important to me and I don’t seek anyone’s agreement.    The  Left should not ask for it from me and I will not I ask it from them.   It has often been a bone of contention for me that there are liberals whom seem to care more about their causes than they do people;  an ugly trait they share with their some of their more callous conservative cousins.

It is a matter of practicality for African-Americans to always look at their allegiances and work with liberals when their interests are mutually served or with conservatives  when they are not.    No one who seeks to demean your humanness or marginalize your issues should be considered a reliable friend.

Let no one try to tell you they know more about you than you know about yourself.    This was what Baldwin was warning Blacks about their relationships with liberalism  Even if you agree with liberals more often than not politically,  be ready to hold them at arm’s length when they disrespect you.     They DON’T know what matters to you better than you know yourself and NO ONE should ever try to tell African-Americans they know what they should be worked up over.   There are some well-meaning liberals who think being liberals means they are racially born again.

It ain’t necessarily so.  Any of us can be racist and none of us are exempt from that particular philosophical blindness.   No matter how many times they may have read Baldwin, Why We Can’t Wait or The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

To be good allies each side must respect the issues that are important to one side if not the other.   I understand why Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s surveillance program is important to White liberals.   I don’t believe it’s too much to expect White liberals to respect, if not necessarily understand why the Trayvon Martin case is as vitally  important to Black liberals.

As the Zimmerman trial winds down and the jury begins its deliberations, now would be a particularly good time for both sides to remember they work best as allies than adversaries and Trivializing Trayvon will not score liberals any points with their Black allies.

Obama Sucker Punched By Left Hook?

"Hey, where did everybody go?"

From all the hollering and screaming you’d think President Obama had not only compromised on extending the Bush tax cuts with the Republicans but switched his party affiliation to join them as well.

Leading the cries Obama sold them out are the news hosts of MSNBC,  Paul Krugman and other columnists at the New York Times,  and a ton of liberal web sites and blogs   But  Obama’s problem may not be with the base, but with the élite.

“Obama, in other words, seems to have developed his own silent majority.   Rank-and-file liberal Democrats may not agree with everything he has done, but they do not share the sense of abandonment and betrayal that has defined liberal commentary throughout so much of his presidency. The party’s liberal base still very much likes him; it’s the elites who have turned on him.”

This is as much a battle for Barack Obama’s soul between the Far Left and the Moderate Middle as it is between Democrats and Republicans.

I’ve noticed everyone criticizing this deal has a job. Strange isn’t it?

I guess only the rich benefit from the The Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit. I guess only the rich benefit from …the cut in payroll takes. I guess only the rich benefit from unemployment benefits being extended for 13 months.

I guess the same people who disliked everything about Obama yesterday only have more reasons to do so today.
Some Obama voters (not sure I can call them “supporters”) on the Left want him to be their ideologically pure culture warrior taking on and slaying the dragons named McConnell, Boehner, Limbaugh, Beck, Palin and Fox News.  But he can’t be the dragon slayer they want him to be because while he might win the battle, he’d be scarred as a liberal ideologue.

Contrary to what my colleagues on the Left might believe, this is NOT a Left-leaning country.  The dominant political spectrum moves from the Center to the Right.    Which means even a liberal like Obama must cut nose-holding deals because he is not just a Representative from a district or the Senator from a state.

There’s a disconnect between how prevalent liberalism is and how popular its principles are.   I’m a liberal, but more than that I’m a realist and realistically I know the philosophy of liberalism doesn’t always translate into actual political clout.

If this country is so damned progressive why hasn’t a true progressive headed up a major party ticket since George McGovern’s epic fail in 1972?  Why did one of the few openly progressives in the Senate, Russ Feingold, get blindsided by a Republican Tea Bagger?

Ain't no such thing as Superman?

It’s not bashing the Left to say those their hearts are pure and their cause just, they lack the organization, the tactical strength and the numbers to mobilize and move the Democratic Party in the way conservatives set the agenda for the Republican Party. Whether it’s the Moral Majority, Christian Right, supply siders, neo-conservative war hawks and now the Tea Party, the most ideological groups in the GOP have a much easier time turning their dreams into policy than the Progressive Left.

What the Left needs to do is figure out why the Right’s appeal to red meat social issues and the laser-like intensity they focus on a few key winnable issues has so successfully revived their momentum that had all but withered and died after the 2006 and 2008 elections.

One of dumbest ideas floated in the last few days is progressives need to put up a primary challenger to President Obama in 2012.

Yeah, good luck with that. Who you got? Dennis the Menace Kucinich? Al Sharpton? Mike Gravel?  You can’t beat something with nothing and progressives have nothing to beat Obama in a primary.  But if you see Ralph Nader taking his one good gray suit to the cleaners you’ll know he’s running his old ass again in 2012.

Politics and political parties are but a vehicle and its their core constituencies that hold the keys. Maybe the Left will be successful in getting a Feingold or Dean to challenge Obama in 2012, but that’s little more than a petulant hissy-fit doomed to end in failure. Instead of tilting at windmills the Left needs to get its shit together and start taking back statehouses and Congressional seats from Republicans and replacing them with progressives.

Too many on the Left are thinking about short-term “feel good” posturing while the Right is much more disciplined about long-term goals.  Karl Rove never gave up on his efforts to establish a permanent Republican majority.  He simply adjusted his methods and in November it paid off like a slot machine.  The Left can sneer at the Right as being unsophisticated and unscrupulous, but their tactics WORK.

As my brother observed,  Obama’s motto in 2008 was “Yes, We Can.”  It wasn’t “Yes I Can.”   The Professional Left should remember Obama was never a true believer in their philosophy.   They need him and he will need them in 2012, but it’s not always going to be a smooth and pleasant relationship.   This is one of those rough patches.

Liberals often imitate Charlie Brown of Peanuts.  Even when they win they find a way to squeeze a loss out of it.

Baby, baby, where did our love go?