The Divided Self

Posted on October 23, 2010 by

How am I preparing for the likely conservative surge?

First, I contain my impulse to blame tepid democrats, vicious republicans, a compromise-crazed president and ignorant voters.

Second, I apply lessons learned as a political and union activist, namely that sometimes circumstances and conditions – in this case the economy – are just not going our way.

Third, I try to locate the conservative in me so I can relate to popular sentiment and avoid alienation.

I’ve noticed that many liberals and progressives are doing this.  Though highly critical of tea party goals, we’re working hard not to demonize its activists and candidates.

That’s a sign of political maturity.

Are we getting more conservative as we get older or just worn out by American political life?

The answer isn’t simple.

When they became parents and homeowners, for example, many former “new left” types became more hard-line about crime.

I’ll admit to this one.  Protecting the rights of criminals is not as high on my list as it used to be.  Though I may not line up with the Roberts Court, you won’t find me holding a candle outside San Quentin protesting an execution.

(Years ago I concluded that Americans want retribution in their criminal justice system and I submitted to that consensus).

But because our views ripen with age doesn’t mean we’ve surrendered our principles just to join the American herd.

Sometimes it’s a matter of focus.

I’ve zeroed in on the “re-unionization” of the American economy which seems to me the only antidote to the ever-widening wage, income and wealth gap.

Which leads me to that study out of Harvard and Duke released a few weeks ago that most people believe wealth equality in America to be far greater than it really is?  And, when asked, they – we – wanted to see this nation’s wealth distribution look more like that of Sweden’s.

What that tells me is that Americans, though not exactly egalitarian, want the system to be fair.

And, for a variety of reasons (including, of course, a very united opposition), Obama and his party failed to respond to a very complicated and ambiguous public mood.

Now we’re paying the price.

Comments (4)


  1. Janice Godrich says:

    Second, I apply lessons learned as a political and union activist, namely that sometimes circumstances and conditions – in this case the economy – are just not going our way.

    – what I’ve learnt is that perspectives and discussion are the key to remaining politically grounded. life, family and age mean that you need to make more effort to ensure this happens,

    good blog,

    In internati0onal solidarity, Janice

  2. Salvador Sanchez says:

    This is depressing Lou but not detached from reality…

  3. Cyndi Kahn says:

    Obama & his administration fail to respond to a “very complicated and ambiguous public mood” for the same reasons that you seem to be working hard not to demonize the activities and candidates of the tea party. You and the liberal and progressives (that you refer to) apparently are not connecting the dots. I’ll give you your example for example. The prison industrial complex is one of the fastest growing private industries in the U.S. (maybe the world). More of your and my tax dollars are pumped into the prison industrial complex than are invested in public education. The U.S. leads the world in locking up its own people. Currently there are more Afro Americans under correctional control (prisons, jails, probation and parole) than there were in the 1850′s. Connecting the dots means understanding that our criminal justice system is a huge issue that reaches well beyond prison walls. It is a matter of resources and the incestuous relationship between government and industry. For me, “not demonizing” tea party activities and candidates is not a sign of maturity. What is relevant here is the truth and speaking truth because these tea party candidates present arguments that are neither based in fact nor science. If the media won’t call them out then the democrats should. If the democrats won’t then certainly anyone who calls him/herself a progressive should. That is a sign of maturity.

  4. Bruce Shragg says:

    Thanks for your blog, Lou. What ever happened to the days when there was more collegiality in congress, more sensible dialogue between political opponents, and a willingness to cross the aisle for the betterment of the country? Conservatives like George Will and David Gergen have been essentially replaced by Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Sean Hannity. If only they had a nuanced view of the world.

    Bruce Shragg

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