October 13, 2012

COUNTERESTABLISHMENTARIANISM:

Staggering Idiocy : Panicky progressives struggle for reasons to support Obama (ANDREW FERGUSON, 120/22/12, Weekly Standard)

"We are three months away from the presidential election," [Dave Eggers] wrote, "and there is a stunning lack of energy displayed by likely Obama voters." His solution: Each day, for the 90 days before the election, a different contributor--a writer, a singer, an artist, an activist, all members in good standing of the counterestablishment--would write an essay offering a pithy reason why Obama should be reelected. "Obama cares about women's health." "Obama repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell." "President Obama Supports Women's Right to Choose." "Obama is on the right side of land use and transportation policy." Some reasons are pithier than others.

The essays themselves show all the magic of political discourse in the Internet age--the freewheeling energy, the unconventional lines of argument, the damn-the-torpedoes prose--which is another way of saying that Eggers really needs to hire a copy editor. [...]

For the counterestablishmentarians, "program" and "funding" are words with talismanic power. President Obama will "fund programs" or "not cut programs" that will rescue the environment or curb domestic violence or teach civility or help the disabled or train the jobless. The proper program can do everything but play canasta. And it can be advocated without wondering how it might work or whether it would work or what other programs would not be funded so it could be.

As they've piled up on the website the last couple months, I've found this kind of Reason oddly dispiriting, precisely because it's so conventional--it's the kind of thing you might even hear from a Republican. From a counter-establishment, I expect more reasoning like Jamaica Kincaid's (Vermont). "I am a woman," she writes. "From the time I was 14 years of age until I was 57 years of age, every twenty-eight days or so, I had a menstrual period." She concludes, after several long paragraphs of logic-chopping, that Obama's "simple, firm, clear support for a woman's right to choose .  .  . is what makes me committed to his reelection." QED.

But such arguments are increasingly the exception on 90days-90reasons.com. What a strangely conventional thing Eggers's hipster counterestablishment turns out to be! Why, in my day, sonny, a lead singer for a band with a name like Death Cab for Cutie wouldn't be caught dead endorsing a Democrat, especially one who's busy convincing the country of his pragmatism and moderation. Counterestablishments simply lived outside categories like right and left and Democrat and Republican. And they were never suckered by White House commissions and federal initiatives.

No longer, apparently. Whether the counterestablishment has taken over the Democratic party or the Democratic party has overtaken the counterestablishment, I don't know. But it's clear they'll be very happy together.

The Daughter offered the best reason: "He still owes me a pony."

Posted by at October 13, 2012 10:17 AM
  

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