A Point or Two About False Dichotomies

in #politics3 years ago

Rarely are there only two options for any given decision. Unfortunately, the more extreme one's position, the easier it is to see the world in black and white. What follows is a somewhat unexpected interaction that I had on a somewhat left-leaning blog that I'm subscribed to. To see the whole thing, click here: https://bracingviews.com/2020/04/09/joe-biden-has-already-served-his-purpose/
I've added some external comments to explain my thinking throughout this exchange.

Me: I don’t think Sanders has been “blocked” the way he was four years ago. He is much less popular now, owing to the fact that most of his supporters from back then have either moved further left, or they felt betrayed by the DNC, voted for Trump out of spite, and became Trump supporters because they like what he ended up doing. Of course, Sanders DID endorse Clinton, so that pissed off a lot of his fans as well. By that action, which you might justify as “politically expedient,” Sanders betrayed his own base, and many now see him as a sellout. In addition, most of my generation (whom Sanders tries to pander to the most) don’t take the time to vote – but Baby Boomers do. If Sanders did mobilise the progressive base, as you suggest, then I guess there simply aren’t enough progressives, but I think the case is that the progressive base is no longer motivated. Look, I know that you still think Bernie could win, were the game not rigged against him, but did you ever consider that he lost entirely of his own merit? I used to like Sanders myself, I thought he was reasonable and principled, but I’ve changed my mind. I could go own, but I think I’d be better off letting a Vermonter do the rest of the talking:

Bill: Help me, Bernie-wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope. 🙂
I agree partially. Bernie is a great mobilizer. He speaks truth. He has integrity. But he’s not a great politician. He lacks the killer instinct.
Indeed, strengths of Bernie (his sense of fair play; his decency) are also weaknesses when running against machine politicians like Hillary and Uncle Joe. He isn’t willing to do what it takes to lead a revolution. Trump was willing to do that; he took no prisoners; and he won. Bernie is too easy-going; too deferential; even as his ideas have lucidity and (I hope) staying power.
So, his slogan: “Not me. Us.” It really should have been: Join me and together we’ll remake America.

I liked Bill's comment, and even though I'm not convinced that Bernie has integrity, a lot of the things that he used to say are reasonable. Bernie tried to put on a show when he ran for president, and ended up looking like a lunatic. Some of his campaign talking points have changed from four years ago, because his base has changed, and he's trying to play the game. Trying and failing, that is.

Greg: Kaja–If any former supporter of Bernie voted for Trump in 2016 as a protest against the Democratic Establishment and is PLEASED with what we now have in this country…then that person never really supported what Bernie represents!!

This is the exact same rhetoric that Christian fundamentalists use when talking about apostates; "if you lost your faith and became an atheist, you were never a true Christian." I could have pointed this out in response, but I decided to have some fun instead, and find out how extreme this guy really is.

Me: Well, most Sanders-supporters are self-serving. By the way, I’m well aware that just because A supports B, does not mean B supports A, and this may ruin your day, but I suspect that Sanders was only ever as popular as he was because he was “anti-establishment,” and Trump supporters DON’T see him as an establishment politician. Remember, in American politics, it’s not about whom you vote for, but whom you vote AGAINST. Unfortunately, to be united in ire is no union at all. As George Carlin once said, maybe the problem isn’t the politicians – maybe it’s the public.

Greg: I think it was H.L. Mencken who observed that “a nation gets the government it deserves.” Trump would have gotten nowhere in politics without a ready-made audience, prepped over the years by Limbaugh, Fox “News,” etc. to lap up his repellent stuff and nonsense. And man, do they ever lap it up!

Me: I hate to break this to you, but Trump couldn’t have won with the support of bible-plonkers alone. Keep in mind that CNN is an even bigger liar than Fox, and drove many people straight into Trump’s arms with their anti-patriotic vitriol. So, blame Limbaugh all you want, but you must also acknowledge the Chris Cuomo in the room. It’s not about whom you vote for, it’s about whom you vote against.

Greg: Kaja–You have finally shown your hand! You keep “coming back at me” because I am far on the left on the political spectrum, your opposite. So just go your merry way, believing that CNN tells more whoppers than Fox! I can only chuckle at such nonsense.

Bill: CNN should stand for corporate news network. Fox News is basically Trump news. As long as you realize that, they can be useful, e.g. watch CNN to see how corporations are spinning election coverage, as in favoring Biden and attacking Bernie.

I didn't see Bill's reply before I made mine. Once again, I liked Bill's comment. He's aware that all MSM is propaganda, but just because something is propaganda, doesn't mean it's not useful. After all, the Soviet propaganda rag "Pravda," a name which means "truth," actually did contain some truth in it - but you had to know how to read a Russian newspaper. I decided to be a bit cheekier, and bait Greg into saying something regrettable in his defense.

Me: Oh? Should I provide examples? Like that time that Cuomo said that “it’s illegal for private citizens to read Wikileaks, but it’s different for members of the press.” BTW, I’m not your opposite. I hate the far right as much as the far left. Neither extreme understands reason, or is willing to entertain a nuanced position. I am a centrist (meaning that I agree with points espoused by both sides) who wants an honest discussion, but YOU have just shown your own hand as a partisan hack! Prove me wrong. I used to be a communist (just ask Bill Astore himself), so if you really think that you’re “too far left” for me to understand, bring it. This is going to be fun.

He didn't take the bait.

Greg: Kaja–Sorry to spoil your fun on Easter, but I’ll “bring you” nothing further. I have learned better than to waste my time with such online piffle. Find someone else’s time to waste. Goodbye!

So, I left him a nice parting shot instead.

Me: Says the person who’s wasting time throwing a temper-tantrum because I clearly touched a nerve.

Not all extremists are trolls, so I didn't really expect him to be so irrational that he insisted on having the last word. Well, you can't win every online argument, but at least I can put out the dumpster fire and let any outside observer know that I'm not the irrational one. So, I decided to write a little rebuttal to the whole "left-right" misconception. You can read the whole thing here: https://kjworldsong.wordpress.com/2020/04/12/a-point-or-two-about-false-dichotomies/ and I suggest you do.

I hope you found this somewhat entertaining.