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The Failure of Big-L

Posted by Rick · June 24th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Why are the Liberals (Big-L) so incapable of getting the message of liberalism (small-L) across to the American public? They are, after all, less harmful and more often correct regarding social issues than the Right (BIG-R).

Molly Ivins writes frequently, entertainly, truthfully and most often correctly about the foibles of the Right. In a column that showed up in my local paper as “Financial links to Bush return lucrative deals,” she writes about Worldcom’s recent deal with the current administration that will result in millions (45 million, to be exact, and Ivins doesn’t say this, but it’s money paid by you—see previous link) of dollars of profits for the company.

But I know—you know—Molly Ivins is “a kook.”

Well, okay, I don’t really know. A friend of mine told me she is and that’s the point! Even when they’re correct, the Big-L writers are wrong. Why?

My guess is that it’s for the same reason any BIG-R people who’ve read this far are about to abandon my page: The style of writing does much to advance the argument to those already either to the left of the fence or sitting on it in such a way that a (small) gust of wind will blow them into Big-L land.

Yet like my note here, now, Molly’s columns are too entertaining. Sure, they tell the truth. Anyone with a half a brain would read her columns and be so incensed that in order to be President another four years Dubya would have to pull off the coup I think he might actually one day attempt (for national security reasons). All the facts are there, but the truth gets lost in the rhetoric. The writings of the Big-Ls and my note here have too much fun writing about what—to us—is as obvious as the nose on Jimmy Durante’s face.

I can write like this, though, because—no doubt correctly (yes, I am deliberately avoiding the use of the word “rightly”)—I surmise that my target audience for this post (Big-Ls) are smart enough to enjoy the entertaining elements of the rhetoric and still get the underlying point. This isn’t true of the BIG-R crowd.

And therein lies the failure of Big-L.

For, sadly, it is still “Morning in America” and Big-L is now more than ever fighting a rearward action. After all, BIG-R thinks in terms of black-and-white. (In fairness, Big-L isn’t much better, just less harmful because they lean towards a less socially destructive extreme. As I’ve said before, “When Republicans mess up the whole world gets screwed; when Democrats mess up, only interns do.”) The Truth—just because it does constitute so much of Reality—covers many shades of grey which are apparently only perceptible to small-l and possibly small-c folk. (You really have to read Canadians or Britons, though, to understand all these terms.)

What’s the solution? There may not be one. But if there is a solution, it will certainly not be entertaining ourselves through biting political commentary of the sort Molly Ivins writes. (Ms. Ivins, if you ever read this—I’ll be blown away—you should know that I personally get a great kick out of reading your work. But that only endorses my point.)

What I think we need to do is to take the type of information Ms. Ivins’ columns contain and re-work it into something that will be read—if not by the BIG-R crowd (who are probably lost to the world anyway)—then at least by those little-c folk sitting on the fence waiting for that next gust of wind.

If only I really were a blow-hard…

Categories: Politics-In-General


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Adrian // Jun 25, 2003 at 8:18 am


    An old joke goes: “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican?” Answer: “The Democrat wants 75 percent of you money, while the Republican ‘only’ wants 40.”

    That’s why I’m neither.


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