If you spend much time on social media, you’ve almost surely seen the posts. “Hey! While you were focused on whether Russia stole the election, Trump is appointing lots of bad judges!” “Quit talking about Scott Pruitt’s corruption; Trump is using a cell phone that allows almost anyone to listen in!” “Sheeple! Who cares whether Trump meets with the Super Bowl Champs! His racist ambassador is trying to throw the German election to white nationalists!” And on, and on, and on. (Oh, and if your concern involves women’s rights, or African American lives, or LGBTQ issues, expect to get double the amount of posts telling you why your issue needs to just go away in the face of “really” important matters. The liberal blogger bros have got this, little lady, go home and make coffee.)
On any given day, #Putin’sPuppet and his traitorous running dogs commit so many atrocities that it can be impossible to keep up. (Yesterday, I was chatting with a gay friend and telling him what SCOTUS had done in the wedding cake case and he was telling me about horrible votes in the states that are limiting women’s reproductive justice options. ) And, yeah, I find the constant, “Don’t look over there; look over HERE,” posts annoying. As I’ve noted, I can multitask and, besides, I’m a big believer in Byron Ballard’s Pick Three philosophy. I can focus on the three things that really matter to me and hope that my sisters and brothers will focus on the other atrocities. We are many; they are few.
But there is a sense in which I wish that “our side,” would stop allowing the crazies to set the agenda.
We need to be cats, not dogs. I have cats and I can promise you that there is nothing (OK, for mine, other than a piece of cheese dropped on the floor), that will interest a cat when that cat does not want to be interested. Not a mouse toy, not a kitty treat, not the scratching post. A dog, however, well, we know how dogs are. They will run enthusiastically after, chase down, dig out from behind a bush, and run right back with the most over-chewed tennis ball ever. And when you throw it again, they’ll run enthusiastically after it, chase it down, dig it out from behind a bush, and run right back with it.
We keep acting like dogs because we still think that, if we can just show, logically and rationally, with facts, and figures, and charts and graphs, that we are right and they are wrong, well, then, surely, those Trump voters, and Fox News, and David Brooks will see the error of their ways and, suddenly, do right.
No, they will not.
Here’s an example.
Bill Clinton has written a book and, heck, for all I know it could even be interesting. (It’s not going on this Witch’s bedtable. I’ve got more than a year’s worth of reading already piled up and more suggestions coming in every day.) But, Bill’s retired and, if he wants to spend his time writing books, well, no one tells men to stay home and knit. However, while he was on his promotional tour yesterday, he got asked about the whole #metoo movement, his affair with Monica Lewinsky, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And, we — we liberals — were off, just like that silly slobbering dog.
I’m so old that I remember literally thousands of hours devoted to discussions of whether that affair was consensual (it was), whether Clinton abused his position (he did), whether feminists should side with Clinton or Lewinsky (not mutually exclusive positions), etc., etc., etc. That affair occurred almost a quarter of a century ago and the only reason the media is bringing it up now is to play their well-practiced bothsiderism: If we are going to criticize Trump for his sexual harassment, let’s criticize Bill Clinton, too. Today, the morons on Morning Joe were declaring that Trump was Bill Clinton’s fault; Bill Clinton caused Trump. And so, even some of the wisest liberal commentators I know jumped in with both feet, seriously considering and debating whether Bill owes Monica an apology, whether the #metoo movement applies to an affair that an adult woman initiated with her boss, whether what Bill did to Monica is equivalent to what Trump did to dozens of women . . . .
Who wins when we do this?
I’m an old lawyer and, in the law, we have a saying: “Qui bono?” It means, “Who benefits?” Who benefits when our side runs off chasing the quarter-century-old bouncing tennis ball?
Here’s a hint: not our side.
There are lots of other examples. We don’t need to have long debates about whether someone (Roseanne) calling an African American an ape or a monkey is racist. The people who do that do it BECAUSE it is racist. Having long debates with them just bothers us and annoys the pig. We don’t need to have long debates over whether women should be forced into sexual slavery because some psychopaths can’t get laid. Devoting attention and serious debate to that issue simply gives the pig a bigger soapbox (a wider Overton Window). We don’t need to have long debates over whether it’s OK for Xians to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Spending pixels on that topic simply makes it look as if there’s some serious debate to be had when, in fact, singing pig or not, there isn’t.
Please read up on the Overton Window.
When the right can keep us debating over increasingly insane and fascist propositions (well, maybe at least a few women should sleep with a few men they don’t like, and maybe some African Americans should be more polite to the police, and maybe Trump should get a pass because a woman was attracted to Bill Clinton . . . .) they win.
Ask yourself if the madness we’re debating today is closer to their position than to ours? Why is that, do you think?
We somehow never seem to get them debating whether or not property is theft, whether or not all coal plants should be seized via the Fifth Amendment and shut down, whether 52% of every legislature, every court, and every board of directors should be female, or whether a a guaranteed annual income is each citizen’s right. We somehow never seem to get them debating whether large swaths of the country should be set aside for 100 years for wildlife, whether everyone in jail for drug offenses should be set free, or whether all corporations should be subject to a 70-year life after which they “die,” — and have their assets distributed to the country — like the “people” the Supreme Court thinks they are. We somehow never seem to get them debating whether any corporation that has never had a woman CEO should be seized via the Fifth Amendment and its assets converted to abortion clinics. We somehow never seem to get them debating whether plastic manufacturers should be required to clean all the plastic out of the sea, to remove all plastic bags from every tree, and to fund every fledgling opera singer for the next 500 years. `
Here are a few issues we can throw out in order to shift the Overton Window our way: all wealth above $500 million is theft and should be seized to pay for remediation of ecological damage; three-fifths of all male children should have vasectomies and receive one million dollars in order to alleviate climate change and male supremacy; every woman who agrees not to bear children should receive five million dollars and be known as a Mother of the New Environment; any inhabited square mile that does not contain a library must immediately have its malls, parking lots, and office parks seized and converted to libraries; the water in every high school must be medicated with birth control; nurses and sanitation workers will each receive $5 million pensions; for the next 300 years, every judge, professor, CEO, and Senator must be either a woman, an African American, a Native American, and/or an openly LGBTQ person. After that, we’ll start adding the white, straight men back in, one at a time.
Please feel free to add other ideas in comments.
Please quit running after every shiny thing. There are a lot of us and if even one of us does a take-down of their batshit insane ideas, let’s just quote that person. Meanwhile, please go put your shoulder to the Overton Window. We’re cats, not dogs.
Ignore the shiny. They aren’t throwing that shit out there in order to create honest debate.
Picture found here.