Ben Boyce


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America’s moral compass is broken

Posted on November 30, 2016 by Ben Boyce
In my pre-election article, I somewhat ironically advised my fellow progressives to ‘vote their conscience.’ My faith in the judgment of my fellow citizens and my erstwhile team on the Left has been shaken by the outcome of this catastrophic election, which will be known henceforward as America’s ‘11/9.’
This historical moment calls for a sober assessment of the magnitude and scope of this cataclysmic loss in terms of the balance of power in Congress, the Supreme Court, and the fate of the Federal regulatory agencies. This foreknowledge can help set up psychic blast walls for the painful coming demolition of the Obama legacy, official climate crisis denialism as policy, and the Republican Congress’ long-planned dismantling of the Great Society and New Deal social safety net structures, to make budgetary room for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires and to dismantle the decades of patient scientific work of the Federal regulatory agencies like the EPA and the Department of Energy.
So, what’s at stake in this strategic loss is a roll-back of decades of hard work by progressive activists and legislators. On the chopping block in the first 100 days of the Trump Administration:
Affordable Care Act
DACA data base now basis for deportation order
Iran nuclear deal: DOA
Blow Up Paris climate agreement
Rescind Cuba accord
Repeal LGBTQ employment discrimination protections
End net neutrality permanently
These are substantial and consequential policy rollbacks.
When your sports team gets beaten this badly, you insist on firing the coach and bringing on a new management team. We, the Democratic base, demand that the DNC (Democratic National Committee) hand over the car keys to the Warren Wing or we walk. Lobby the Democratic Party with a hurricane force progressive campaign to compel the DNC to transfer the leadership roles to the Warren Wing.  Dissolve the current DNC, burn the name and the logo, and reform the organization from the ground up.  It’s time to clean house.
Both Michael Moore (who was proven prescient) and Bernie Sanders ‘Our Revolution’ grassroots organization support these concrete steps to heal the broken Democratic Party: appoint Keith Ellison as DNC chair; kick Chuck Schumer to the curb and appoint Elizabeth Warren as Senate Minority leader; grant a more prominent leadership role in the Senate to Bernie Sanders; uncover all the irregularities (which are now moot, but instructive) in the 2016 vote; vet and publicize the ghastly cast of misfits, ideological pariahs and dirty tricks operatives now coalescing as Team Evil in Trump Tower.
Make plans within our progressive affinity groups to stand counter to the degradation of social culture and basic civility in the Trump era.  Resist the cultural decline into the nihilistic era of the petty tyrant, and commit to the moral imperative to be allies in resistance to the intimidation and marginalization of our black, brown, and queer brothers and sisters.
We need to perform a deep self-examination of the culture of the progressive movement.  Progressive intellectuals, informed by social science research, endorse the co-operative construction of a culture of political engagement in clan size social units (8-16).  Emphasis must be made on improving internal activist culture by encouraging empathy and inclusiveness, while maintaining firm group norms and message discipline. Re-balancing the progressive culture’s tension between individuation and collectivity is long overdue.
The question implicitly posed in my pre-election column, ‘Vote Your Conscience’ was: “Who is represented in your conscience?” Elections are not just about your own personal status needs and lifestyle preferences. They are a sober analysis of what is best for the body politic. I recognize that my political choices impact the real world lives of many people, who often do not possess the privilege afforded a college educated straight white male.  We need to learn the distinction between voting as a civic act, instead of an act of individual branding to establish our political purity status.
I am less interested in adding my grain of outrage at the amoral, corrupt Neo-Fascist administration gathering in the gloomy clouds over Trump Tower, or in raging against the insularity and political incompetence of the DNC.  This was a collective failure of the Left and we’re not going to solve it until we do a thorough self-examination of the dysfunctionality and irrationality in progressive culture.  I don’t know if many people are ready for that now, but the dialectic of history will take us there, if we decide we want to survive as a cultural and political force in the world.
Noam Chomsky is right on the money. He now calls the current Republican Party “The most dangerous organization on the face of the planet.” The difference between the two parties now is now so profound that anyone counseling political apathy (‘the corrupt duopoly’) and “both-siderism” is committing political malpractice.
I pled with my fellow Berners to keep a sense of perspective about the 2016 election.  Now we are reduced to combing through the ashes to examine the sources of the mental colonization that has driven much of the Left into the politics of individual moral purity rather than building structural progressive coalitions.  That collective effort will require a level of intellectual honesty and mature dedication that the American Left has lacked to date. A significant segment of the progressive wing stayed home, actively suppressed voter turnout by promoting anti-HRC propaganda, or made symbolic protest votes. Interestingly, the role of a foreign intelligence apparatus in trying to impact our national election was less discussed than the mundane and predictable contents of the hacked e-mail messages from DNC staffers, who had been lined up prepping for a Clinton Administration for a dozen years.
So now we get a President Donald J. Trump with a totally right-wing Republican Congress to finish off the remains of the post WWII social contract and erase 50 years of social progress. Congratulations, you voted your conscience! It was a Pyrrhic victory.
The troubling specter of shadowy Russian oligarchs operating through the Russian intelligence services and the U.S. domestic spy agency (the FBI) to throw this election is new and alarming terrain. That story was barely mentioned, while endless hours of mainstream media (MSM) coverage went to the nothing-burger e-mail saga. The MSM owes the American people an apology.

4 thoughts on “America’s moral compass is broken

  1. Thanks, very well written. But, as to having a conscience and voting your conscience, no that is not what many of these voters did. When asked in polls who they were voting for, many lied and said Clinton. Why is this? Because they were ashamed of who they were voting for. They could not say it out loud when asked. If you have a conscience you do not lie when asked a question. Many people did not want to admit to their support for the kind of hatred Trump represents. Again anyone with a conscience is proud of their beliefs and states them plainly and does not pretend to be someone they are not. I conclude from this election we are surrounded by lots of closet racists and hate mongers. Not exactly an uplifting thought.

  2. Well said, but we ain’t in Kansas anymore and maybe we need to be.

    We on the left side of the room don’t need more votes in California to win the Presidency…..w/the Electoral College as a given,we need more votes in Pennsylvania and Florida, etc.

    I think we can convince the people that our left-leaning leaders are strong and forward oriented and win back voters. Won’t be easy from writer Jonathan Haidt, “Righteous Mind” point of view.

    1. Kevin, this is an important element of the inner work needed in the progressive movement. Liberals and conservatives have very different moral triggers. One of the key failures of the Clinton campaign was the assumption that the public shared their PC outrage at DJT’s statements. Those consultants should watch a little reality TV, soap operas, and pro wrestling. America is not all that PC. They don’t give a damn about some bad language.

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