(crossposted at Voices on the Square)
Once upon a time, the history books tell us, women marched for the right to smoke (tobacco). This was imagined as a blow for freedom, and even prominent feminists supported this movement. Now, of course, we realize that tobacco smoking is a curse, and that emphysema is a nasty way to die.
Out in Spain, the alternative media tell us, the coal miners are leading these heroic protests against the shock doctrine government of Mariano Rajoy. Spain suffers from 25% unemployment, a black-hole-sized rate of capital outflow and a sales tax the idiots in power just raised to 21%. But who are the folks to complain the loudest? The coal miners! They want their subsidies back. Conditions in Spain ought to get people in every city in the streets all by themselves, but apparently what it takes are angry coal miners whose subsidies are being cut. And yet the Facebook “Left” dutifully advertises these protests without reference to what-all is being protested. Wouldn’t it be good for planet Earth if the coal miners could be paid, somehow, to do something else? I guess we can hope that the main topic at the protests shifts a bit, and that the protesters don’t go home when the coal miners finally receive their subsidies. On the other hand, I can easily imagine a cynical Spanish government telling the protesters: Okay, here’s your coal subsidies. Enjoy your global warming!
Here in the US, for today’s pornographic episode of Activists Gone Wild, we have what needs to be called the Cherry-Pick Mitt Romney Movement. All of these Facebook “leftists” post and repost, with great glee, stuff about what Mitt Romney did at Bain Capital or about the games he plays with his family or the stuff he says on campaign or whatever.
Never mind that capitalism has become a big con game and that the banksters are no longer trying to hide their illegality. Never mind that some ninety-something percent of the “recovery” has been absorbed by the super-rich and that the pundits are crowing about “positive” economic signs that would be dismissed forty years ago. And never mind that Barack Obama’s response to the crisis in employment is somewhere to the right of that once pursued by Ronald Reagan. Mitt Romney outsourced jobs, and attended board meetings after he “quit” Bain. His positions contradict each other. He was a bully in high school. His attitudes are bad. And the echo chamber that republishes this stuff all over the Internet makes like the republishers were part of some sort of glorious radical movement or something.
Let’s be clear. Mitt Romney is a bit player in the 1%. If you really want to be a badass opponent of particular members of the super-rich, go after the Koch brothers, the folks who are bankrolling Scott Walker in Wisconsin. The fact that Mitt Romney is running for President is beside the point. If you can’t be bothered to promote some other candidate for President (for instance JILL STEIN), the alternative to Mitt Romney is going to be Barack Obama, and with Obama we’re going to get more of the same. We’re going to get more of Dick Cheney’s war on the world, we’re going to get disaster capitalism in education policy, we’re going to get raids on pot dispensaries for the sick, we’re going to get another sellout in health insurance policy, we’ll get no policy for the employment-population ratio or for global warming, and if necessary it’s all going to be blamed on Mitt Romney or whichever Republican makes a convenient target.
It’s easy to see how things might not be so bad under a President Romney. Romney might be worse, especially if he’s obliged to throw a bone to the religious fundies (and given that this is an election run-up the reality of the matter is more opaque than ever), but there will be more push-back with a President Romney. The Republicans only nominated him because he was their least-worst candidate. Nobody really likes him. And after all, the Cherry-Pick Mitt Romney Movement is already against him, and he hasn’t even been elected yet! How can they lose?
Oh but there’s SO MUCH DIFFERENCE between Obomney and Robama! I know what it is. Everyone on the “left” wants to be fooled by a cool, self-aware, irony-drenched con artist, and not some rich chump who changes his positions every half hour or so. America’s “left” want to be classy rubes, and not just cheap dates.
So I guess at this point we can hope that the conversation changes a bit, and that we actually get some semblance of a public that bothers to be against the Shock Doctrine. But this is America in an election run-up, so I’m not holding my breath.