Democrat Camille Paglia: why has the GOP become the party of freedom?
Don’t usually find reason to link to Salon because it is usually just mindless rah rah Obama-rah but here’s a huge exception. She is a Leftist in the traditional sense. In other words, she too is disgusted at the changes in the Democratic party — the complete abandonment of and hypocrisy on long-time principles. People on the Left have become like sheep, she notes and it is the Right that is fighting for the basic principles that used to be held dear by the Left.
I disagree with her on many points but she is spot on about so much else regarding the party I used to support. She wants to know how the party is embracing Obamacare given its totalitarian, government take-over nature and notes that the bill, as crafted, is one of the things the Left has traditionally been ape-sheet scared that the ‘fascist’ right would try to pass in a bill of some sort. She is amazed that it is the Right and not the Left that has been going ape sheet for years over the idea of drones used for spying on everyone domestically and a lot more. I’ll let you read a snippet below:
OK: Who are you going to vote for?
I am voting for the Green Party.
Oh, you are? I don’t even know who the Green candidate is. Who is it?
Jill Stein — a doctor from Massachusetts. Now, I wouldn’t be voting Green if Roseanne Barr had won the nomination, but Stein is a solid and sensible candidate. I don’t agree with everything the Green Party says, but I’m in tune with many of its basic positions. I’m remaining a registered Democrat because I still hope for the reform of my party. If the Republican candidate were Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, I would certainly not be voting Green; I would be voting for and contributing to Obama again, as I did in 2008. There are three people on the political landscape whom I absolutely loathe — Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Dick Cheney — that delusional and mendacious war-monger. But I think that Mitt Romney is a moderate — like Nelson Rockefeller, who as governor of New York poured money into the state university system that educated me. Romney is an affable, successful businessman whose skills seem well-suited to this particular moment of economic crisis. Hence I want to use my vote to make a statement about my unhappiness with the Democratic Party and the direction it has taken. The biggest issue for me is the Obama administration’s continuation of endless war, war, war. I denounced the Iraq incursion before it even happened.
I: I remember that — it was in an interview with David Talbot for Salon.
It was when the cowardly major media were totally accepting the government line and the flimsy evidence that Colin Powell presented at the United Nations. It was only after the invasion had been launched — and the non-discovery of any weapons of mass destruction — that the media woke up and began its way-too-late critique. I have been revolted by the silence of the liberal mainstream media about Obama’s expansion of war — even beyond our pointless continued presence in Afghanistan. After 9/11, I was for bombing the hell out of the mountains of Afghanistan until Osama Bin Laden was caught or blown to smithereens. I certainly never believed that land troops should be used in Afghanistan. Good lord, look at the evidence of history — how ridiculous! Not only the defeat of the Soviet Union there — it goes all the way back to Alexander the Great! But the Libyan incursion is another example. The mainstream media behaved like robots as Hillary Clinton and Samanatha Power and who knows who else put pressure on Obama to go into Libya. What are we doing there? It’s absolutely madness! Then, all of a sudden, when the whole thing blows up and our ambassador is killed, Hillary is in a funk. Oh, dear, how could this have happened? In a country that we helped!
And what is the administration’s response to the murder of our ambassador? Nothing. Do we have a presidency or not? The ambassador’s journal was lying on the floor for CNN to find, and it took weeks for the FBI to get there and spend a day — after sensitive documents were stripped long ago. The State Department has clearly become a morass of political correctness. Hillary and U.N. ambassador Susan Rice should resign. Of course the mainstream media were mum for weeks about the Libyan scandal. And that just empowers the right-wing in the country. The media’s pampering and protection of Obama over the years simply led to his weakening — which was on excruciating public display at his first debate with Romney, who landed blow after blow.
So, the first reason I’m voting Green is the state of endless war. Second is the appalling rise in the military and domestic use of drones. I bought Medea Benjamin’s protest book about drones, and I agree with her. There is reason for great concern about the use of drones for police surveillance in the United States. This Democratic administration has gone very deep into the weeds here in offering incentives to local police departments to acquire drones, which are a serious threat to our civil liberties and right to privacy — which liberals should be defending. We’re on our way toward a Big Brother society.
My third reason for going Green is the creeping totalitarianism of Obamacare, which Jill Stein as a physician is rightly skeptical about. I began denouncing the Obamacare bill in my Salon column within two months after Obama’s inauguration. And I was also criticizing the President’s imprisonment within an insular circle of advisors who were not of sufficient quality and experience as administrators or strategists to sustain his presidency. If Democrats and their cohorts in the mainstream media had listened to me and begun criticizing the administration early on, there would have been ample time for a course correction and Obama would now be sailing into reelection.
But the childish naivete of so many supposedly well-educated liberals was shown by their complete failure to notice or remark on the most glaringly obvious deficiency in Obamacare: You cannot possibly expand medical coverage to millions of people without also expanding medical training and funding new clinics and hospitals. The total absence of that in the bill was ludicrous. And you still hear mush-minded liberals saying all the time in the media, “Oh, what about this nice provision or that?” When any of those things could have been easily dealt with by free-standing bills passed with bipartisan support.
The way liberals lay down flat to accept this massive, totalitarian takeover of the American medical system was shocking to me. Let’s remember how Bob Dylan broke out of folk music into the public sphere with his great song, “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” which was about the fascist intrusion of Big Brother government. It was about the FBI and the CIA and the police — faceless bureaucracies — intruding into our private lives. What in the world has happened to the Democratic Party? Its passivity towards this awful takeover of our lives by a know-it-all government, as shown by the way Obama has governed by constantly going around Congress — appointing czars and one new layer of bureaucracy after another. And hardly a peep of protest from liberals. It’s like the movie of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” — Democrats have turned into the Eloi; they’re like sheep. They hear a signal, and it’s like pre-programmed spin in their heads — they just trot like sheep in one direction. I am voting Green in protest against the systemic corruption of my party.
Interviewer: Well, thanks for the exclusive. Totally agree on two subjects, Afghanistan and the growing surveillance state. But it seems like those are issues brought up — we raise them, other progressives raise them a lot — but part of why it never comes up is because the Republicans are completely complicit and would likely be worse in both of those areas.
Wait a minute, hold it, no! Listen — a huge point I want to make is that the protest against the surveillance state has, with only a few exceptions, been mainly coming from the Right and not from the Left! Talk radio has been seething with this issue for years. A good example is talk-show host Mark Levin’s “Liberty and Tyranny,” which was a No. 1 New York Times bestseller three years ago and yet got very few mainstream reviews. Democrats have got to wake up! This is why the Republican Party has gained and why the Democratic Party is in disarray — because the Democrats have lost one of their key signature issues from 1960s leftism. Why has the GOP become the freedom party?
A lot of the people who were critical of the growth of surveillance under Bush no longer care about it under Obama. That’s true. But you’re saying that it’s up to the Left, and the Democrats, to change that?
Yes. The Left must retake this issue of personal freedom and civil liberties. Over the last 20 years, freedom has become a conservative watch word, and liberals have lost their claim to it. There is a huge difference between contemporary upper-middle-class bourgeois Democratic liberalism and the fire-breathing 1960s leftism that was the mood of my college years. After all, it all began with the free speech movement at Berkeley! But liberals have now been trained to be docile and obedient. Last month, I was the featured speaker in a debate about gender roles at the Yale Political Union. At the dinner at Mory’s beforehand, the very bright and talented student organizers were telling me about how every academic year begins with a counseling session where they are instructed about the nature of sexual “consent.” So I said to them, do you understand that there is a level here of surveillance and control of your private lives that at the University of Paris would be considered grotesque? Why should the administration of any college be telling young people the way they should be interacting with each other? But these very able and promising students have been brought up in a culture of smothering paternalistic observation and control. It’s so authoritarian! But the students have been taught not to question it. To a ’60s libertarian dissident like myself, it’s really alarming.
She’s more than part-way there. She still has some knee-jerk prejudices about where the conservative movement is today (yes, there are the pro-Gingrich folks –but as I’ve said before, I’d have voted for Gingrich or My Little Pony because they really couldn’t be worse than Obama — but it is a far bigger tent than she is aware. It is resembling more and more the traditional Left but with an economic brain). I’d say she is right about where I was in 2007 as basic truths began to hit home and I started doing my homework. It takes awhile though and boy is it hard to give up those life-long affiliation ties. Give her a couple more years…