November 05, 2004

A Reality-based Wedge Issue

So as the stunned silence that seems to have struck Kerry supporters slowly begins to lift, some folks are out there looking for ways to win the next one.

From Michael Berube...

....It should be clear by now that progressives cannot win the presidency by being reality-based. The reality-based appeal works only in isolated areas of the country with high population density. Reality-based campaigning draws in highly educated voters, voters who are likely to consult a wide variety of news sources inside and outside the US, and voters who tend to be swayed by demonstrable empirical evidence about the age and the current disposition of the planet and its resources. These voters are, however, a fringe element of the electorate that we must now cast aside.

Instead, we must devise a “wedge issue” that is as powerful and compelling as the campaign against gay marriage. And just as the campaign against gay marriage draws its deepest support from conservative rural areas hundreds of miles away from the nearest actual cohabiting gay couple, so too must progressives-- especially urban-identified, “metro” progressives-- seek to mobilize an energetic Democratic base by inventing a chimera that none of us have actually ever seen and cannot imagine anyone actually caring about.

Janet suggested this morning that we try alerting our fellow progressives to the fact that certain farmers in these rural areas are keeping sheep and goats in the same pen. It is an outrage, no question about it-- after all, these people are violating the proverbial imperative to distinguish the sheep from the goats, one of the most ancient proverbial imperatives in the history of proverbs-- but more important, it has no material bearing whatsoever on the conduct of our lives. The disposition of sheep and goats on certain rural farms does not affect our salaries, our health care, our children’s education, or the quality of our housing. It has nothing to do with the debacle in Iraq or the torture chambers of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. It does not diminish or enhance our own civil liberties. It will not affect the ozone layer or industrial mercury emissions; it will not alter the budget deficit or the balance of trade. And that is why we must denounce this practice. We must denounce it in the coffeehouses, in the graduate seminars, at the wine tastings, at every performance in the Alice Tully Hall-- wherever cosmopolitan liberal elitists congregate. Until our land is rid of this plague, this promiscuous mingling of sheep with goats in precincts unknown to us, we cannot begin to take back America.

Other suggestions are, as always, welcome. I ask only two things: it must be an outrage, and it must have no material bearing on the conduct of our lives.

Posted by rich at November 5, 2004 11:04 AM