Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking Public Action

In the last couple weeks two things have figured large in the news media, one was the linking of Rush Limbaugh to Republicans and the other is the theme that the Administration is trying to do too much during this crisis. Both issues have been noisy and a matter of bringing forward very public figures and both have longer term outcomes.

One of the features of the Limbaugh dustup should be obvious, a fairly small number of very noisy people are having a large impact. Elected Republicans are not very happy to have that a publicly viewed fact. A generally unpopular figure is being linked to their political careers and actions, their problem is that attempting to create distance between themselves and this figure causes immediate backlash but staying linked creates electoral backlash. This is an obvious outcome of this public debate in political terms. The Republicans are squalling about this because it doesn't work in their favor, but it is a demonstration of the power of an active group versus a silent one. Republicans cannot fight the fact of Limbaugh so they push against the public nature of the debate by accusing Democrats of a conspiracy.

The 'doing too much' reporting bubbling up all over the place plays on fears about the economy. The theme states that the economic mess can't be solved with any attention on other matters. It should be clear to anyone paying attention that the 'other matters' are of a liberal thrust. The attention to health care reform is framed as a distraction to fixing the economy, along with too expensive and socialistic. Heath insurance costs are going up nearly 20% this year, if you have insurance and will get any of the taxpayer relief of the stimulus plan that is gone and you're still searching your pocket to come up with the rest. The net effect is that the tax reduction portion of the stimulus becomes a subsidization of the health insurance industry. People will choose groceries and rent or house payments over insurance payments, minus that change in income policy holder numbers will decrease in large numbers. The issue has immediate consequences along with long term consequences - financially. Employment numbers have two large factors, the most obvious is having something for an employee to do, the other is what it costs to have an employee - or more employees. It is a drastically important issue in economic terms and yet it is being put forward as a distraction.

Delay is the enemy of change when there is an actual opposition to change. In this particular case, along with other liberal changes Obama proposes, the public is currently concentrating ire on the very figures who oppose these changes due to the economic bust. Weekly or more often another example of greed and plutocratic enabling is paraded before the public and the general public grows more dissatisfied with their actions. This situation did not exist two years ago, at that time there was little to no focus on something that has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. If you take the behavior of the past 30 years by the public as indicative of its future behavior those with something to gain from opposition to change will hope for a recurrence as the economy stabilizes. If the economy continues into the toilet they will have that weapon to use against the liberal politics currently winning. Delay is, in their eyes a win-win situation and the fact that it is getting media attention shows that it has some public interest. The media's presence in this is as indicative of a political agenda as the Rush flap.

Silence is the ordinary American condition, the Nixonian 'The Silent Majority' is best described by reversing the words, the majority is silent and they will continue to be so. Somewhat more than half of Americans actually vote and most of those voters believe they have attended to their public duties by doing so every two years. This is the friend of the status quo, when the only voices are news and politicians, the system is controlled and damped. It is also the friend of the small voices when their energies are concentrated. Rush's ditto-heads aren't powerful because they are numerically significant over all, they are powerful because they are noisy. Republican elected officials aren't swayed by the rhetoric of Rush, they're swayed by the flooded switchboards an insignificant number marshal.

A single Letter To Editor is not influential, it might cause a person or two to think about the subject but carries the weight of a single opinion without backing. A week's worth of one or several per day begins to carry the weight of shared opinion with readers and the volume begins to attract the notice of politicians. A single phone call to an elected official carries just about the weight of that individual's regard from the official, hundreds begin to express a sense of will and organization. Politicians discriminate between expressed will and organization. Politicians know the attention paid to the squeaky wheel when there are lots of them even if they are not a determining number for election because politicians are quite used to the majority being silent.

To be sure there are formal organizations that a person can join, and as a concerned partisan I always tout the County Democratic Parties, but it goes well beyond that. Some folks read this blog and others that express agendas, you may read something that kicks at your sensitivity buttons and that is a sign that you should express yourself. It does take a few minutes to write a letter or make a phone call but you extend the reach of your ideas. This is important, if the discourse is left to those paid to do it or those who benefit financially or politically from it, the interests of the ordinary American get lost. I'm not suggesting that most people should take up the role of activist or blogger or both - that is a lot of work with no remuneration. Not many have the time or energy or interest to spend that kind of time, but reacting to what is laid before you on occasion doesn't have those kinds of requirements. If I miss a day or two of posting the readership plunges because people come here to see something new, that isn't the case with an LTE or contacting an official these remain in the consciousness if they are polite and reasonable.

You don't come around for pictures of naked people or song downloads, you come around for politics. Something you've read here struck you enough to come back, take that one bitty step forward and tell people that you were struck. I don't mean plug this blog, I mean plug your own reaction. That is a multiplier effect, that puts some real meaning into me spending this time. The thirty years of political history leading to here and now happened to a great extent because the push back was so limited and failed so spectacularly in the face of the Republican theocratic plutocrat's game at taking charge of the discussion. Push back.


phone insurance said...

Chuck for - you really got different style of thinking. It is so different. That is also evident from the comment box :)

Bpaul said...

Well done, as usual, sir.