Saturday, January 6, 2007

Readings: Moyer and America's story

Never really able to warm up to that whole "stern father"/"nurturing parent" framing metaphor stuff as a handle on American political discourse? Me neither.

Here's something with a little more ability to stick to your ribs. It's Bill Moyers on the persistent, unwholesome effects of the story that Ronald Reagan popularized: Reducing the Reaganite story to its Karloffian essentials, it's this: "Government--bad. Greed-good."

Not so, says Brother Moyers--and not just on the economics of it, but on the history as well:
[C]ontrary to what we have heard rhetorically for a generation now, the individualist, greed-driven, free-market ideology is at odds with our history and with what most Americans really care about. More and more people agree that growing inequality is bad for the country, that corporations have too much power, that money in politics is corrupting democracy and that working families and poor communities need and deserve help when the market system fails to generate shared prosperity. Indeed, the American public is committed to a set of values that almost perfectly contradicts the conservative agenda that has dominated politics for a generation now.

The question, then, is not about changing people; it's about reaching people. I'm not speaking simply of better information, a sharper and clearer factual presentation to disperse the thick fogs generated by today's spin machines. Of course, we always need stronger empirical arguments to back up our case. It would certainly help if at least as many people who believe, say, in a "literal devil" or that God sent George W. Bush to the White House also knew that the top 1 percent of households now have more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined. Yes, people need more information than they get from the media conglomerates with their obsession for nonsense, violence and pap. And we need, as we keep hearing, "new ideas." But we are at an extraordinary moment. The conservative movement stands intellectually and morally bankrupt while Democrats talk about a "new direction" without convincing us they know the difference between a weather vane and a compass. The right story will set our course for a generation to come.

Moyer's piece is going onto the neglected Readings list on the sidebar.

No comments: