Young Liberals Must Become VocalNational shifts to the right make apathy impossible
Upon hearing the outrageous and incendiary claims of people like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, many liberals just sit back and think, “Well, these guys are just saying crazy things to get a paycheck, I don’t really have much to fear.” This degree of complacency is something I understand, and I ascribe about the same amount of importance to what Rush Limbaugh thinks about politics as I do to what Snooki thinks about Pauly D’s tan. They are both entertainers. While some hone a skill like singing and dancing, those with lesser talents can compensate by also having no shame, or any kind of moral floor. What many liberals may fail to understand, though, is that stupid people often like to choose stupid leaders, and that small seeds of fear can be exploited to massive proportions.
Allen West, the Florida Republican House Representative and Tea party favorite, was recently asked how many card-carrying Marxists he believed there were in the legislature today. “That’s a fair question,” Allen responded, “I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party.”
My first reaction was to file Allen’s comments in my mental cabinet under “Things Crazy People Say That We Shouldn’t Pay Attention To.” Then I turned angry—why is it even a problem to be a Marxist in this country, to hold and express views that are so different than the cultural norms? Finally, I felt fear. Fear instilled by the fact that Mr. West is not just some nutjob that we can easily dismiss: but rather he is a prominent Tea Party politician who has gained the ear
of the entire nation. Mr. West was elected by the approximately 650,000 people of Florida’s 22nd district—a majority of whom apparently found his ideas worthy of being lifted upon the national stage. This for a man who is now attempting to invoke the fears and irrationality of the McCarthy era.
The power and popularity of the Tea Party movement has brought the Republican party to its knees. In an attempt to assuage the needs and fears of these Tea Party Republicans, the party has moved further to the right, bringing with it a large section of the American electorate. And though it’s easy to dismiss, we liberals must come to realize is that our greatest fears are not impossible. The idea of a red scare taking place in America today may seem ridiculous, but let’s not forget that it did happen once before. Horrible things have occured in this country when people who knew better sat down on the sidelines until it was far too late.
A relatively large, extremely vocal and horribly misguided portion of our population not only looks upon today’s progress negatively, but has outwardly voiced its wish to turn the clock back a couple of decades, to “better times.” Better times when, as Santorum put it, “the dangers of contraception,” were not a constant threat to the young people of America. Times when, if women wanted protection, they just “held an aspirin between their knees,” as noted by prominent Republican donor Foster Friess. Back to times when everyone was the same color, and everyone spoke English, or “the language of prosperity,” as Newt Gingrich has stated.
As Gustave Flaubert once said, “Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.” These people have romanticized a past of racial homogeneity, and have completely ignored the fact
that it wasn’t better for anyone not white and male. It wasn’t better for women, it wasn’t better for gays, and it certainly wasn’t better for African Americans. As Louis C.K. put it, “A black guy with a Time Machine’s like ‘Hey, anything before 1980, I don’t want to go.”
But these new conservatives do want to go, and if liberals out there don’t take action—and become as vocal as the Tea Baggers—we then become partly responsible for any negative changes that take place.