This will be a fun essay, one born of pure experience and personal observation. Before I begin I must offer a disclaimer that this essay is only for those possessing a decent education in that I will be reflecting on my transformation from a moderate Democrat who supported Obama in 2008 to a Green Socialist who now finds Obama for what he has proven to be: a “3rd way” centrist, something the Democratic Party as a whole has largely become.
What will be required of the reader in this essay is the academic (or even simply “common-sense”) ability to discern the difference between a “Communist,” “Marxist,” and a “Socialist” and then between the myriad differences that separate the various political philosophies which lay under the generic umbrella — “socialism” — as I will not be offering to make up for the reader’s deficient education; there is not enough time for that. If you are able to do this, if you are conversant in political science and/or otherwise able to shed yourself of “pop media,” propagandistic terminology currently in vogue (especially on “the right”) then you may continue on. Be forewarned: I will not respond to knee-jerk comments that reflect and demonstrate ignorance and an inability to understand these terms.
It was a few years ago that I naively decided to make a career move and briefly relocate to Salt Lake City. I figured that it was a small city with largely “country” sensibilities and the change from the big city might be interesting, at the very least an interesting sociological exercise. Boy, was I right about the latter. What I was quickly able to understand was that most (especially fiscally oriented) “Republicans” in Illinois (and other large, diverse states) are actually in practice right-of-center Democrats having far more in common with President Obama than they might ever understand if they ever left the richly blue state that Illinois is. The “Republican” mind-set that permeates much of “red state” mentality is nativist and is cloaked in a complex set of layers many of us already can observe: a conformist mind-set that condones if not outright supports racism (or certainly racial preferences), anti-intellectualism (including to a great extent questioning the value of “academic” versus “vocational” high school), a gullible type of conformity, and a strange, convoluted love-hate relationship with authority.
These many dichotomies became readily apparent to me almost immediately following Obama’s inauguration as the strange collection of storm clouds that many of us observed began to gather. I will not survey that which most of us know, the “rise” of the “outraged” tea party “patriots” and that ilk as the sad collection of ill-educated and poorly conversant faux historians (please refer to my earlier essay, “The United States of Oz” for more detailed opinion in this realm). What I will spent the remainder of this essay on is that which turned me from Obama supporter and middle-of-the-road Democrat into the “Green Socialist” I am today: the lack of Democratic Party/Obama pushback to ignorance. Much like not wanting to rehash the so-called “rise” of the right, neither do I wish to rehash the debacle that became the “Affordable Care Act”. Rather, I will note the gut feelings certain events left me with and how I then saw these feeling inform and evolve my political conscious(ness).
While living in the “red state,” again from whence the “tea party” culls much of its electoral and verbose strength, for all the rhetoric places like this throw about vis-a-vis “community,” “family values” and the like what I found was a disturbing and pronounced “anti” hyphenate one could easily add to these and other terms. Leave aside for the moment community and communism share the same root, it was the practical, day-to-day legislative and other codified realities that proved the austere hostility to such “apple pie” notions. The feeling I was left with was that, like Sarah Palin’s “our America” or Ted Nugent’s traitorous comments, these people are in fact anti-patriotic and anti-America in the generic sense (all while being “pro-American” as they oh so narrowly define Americans). In other words, they have no problem “helping their own” with many types of social assistance and further, if/when one drills down on “socialist tenets” like police, fire, military protection they prove their nativist hypocrisy. Where are the Democrats in this equation to offer some sort of alternative was the question I spent two years asking myself in the height of tea party absurdity? More importantly, where are they to illustrate such anti-community, indeed anti-American perspectives? Further, where are they to expose the corporate cynicism (ALEC, various “super pacs,” Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity et al) financing and in fact behind much of this “ginned-up” fear of a changing America while promoting a mythical return to “the good ole days?” The problem is that they are simply a marginally less fearful lot, many times beholden to the same corporate interests and ultimately dubiously capable of the very real change a demographically changing country requires . . . and is demanding!
Ironically, it was at an Easter church service I attended in this very red state where the homily offered said it better, with more passion, and far more concisely than I could ever have imagined: the priest simply said, “do something subversive” — not something people in this conformist red state are probably used to hearing (and clearly not coming from the state’s dominant “religion”). It then hit me like a ton of bricks as indeed, this is the Christian message . . . well, at least the message of Christ whose message — not Marx’, neither Hobbes nor Locke’s, not Jefferson or Washington’s, not Ayn Rand’s ever — brought down an empire in order to benefit the average person! In full disclosure, I am not a Christian all while respecting the written, very subversive teachings of Jesus and how and why this moderate Democrat is now a Green Socialist and why I argue most “blue state Republicans” are actually conservative, 3rd way centrist Democrats like Obama and most of the Democratic Party.