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August 29, 2006

Recent right-wing language manipulation

Recently the right-wing has introduced two new twist on language which are worth looking at: the misuse of “fascism” and re-naming the Democratic Party the “Democrat Party”.

Use of “fascism”. The right-wing, with Bush at the head, has begun referring to jihadists as  “Islamic fascists”.  This is completely misleading as they are interested in imposing a theocracy, not putting the state at the service of corporations instead of the people.  Why would they do this?  Because it muddles and redefines the meaning of fascist, in order to deflect the rising sentiment that the right-wing in America is creating a fascist governmental-economic system.  Thom Hartmann has more here.  And see my own earlier blog entry here.

The “Democrat Party”.  On one of Thom Hartman's radio programs last week, I heard him talk about this right-wing renaming of the Democratic Party.  Within hours, I heard the Republican running for Liebernan's seat use the term. 

In the part I heard of his broadcast, Thom thought it related to using a word ending in “rat” ... Democ-rat.  But I think it is more subtle and more important than that.  In the current political environment, the Republican Party is on the defensive.  This means that they are doing everything they can to shore up the base because they are afraid of defections by party members to vote for Democratic candidates. 

Studies have shown that one of the best predictors of voting is  the degree of party identification.  What I think is going on here is that they realized it is “easier” for Republicans to imagine themselves voting for someone who is a member of the Democratic Party, than it is to think of themselves as become or being affiliated with Democrats.  By referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party”, they create the sense in people's minds that they would be affiliated with a bunch of Democrats by voting that way and that creates uncomfortable cognitive dissonance because those people still see themselves as Republicans.  That dissonance would encourage them to vote their comfort zone: Republicans.

For more see Media Matters GOP strategists christen “Democrat [sic] Party” -- and the media comply.

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August 04, 2006

Book: All Together Now, Common Sense for a Fair Economy

Bernstein: All Together Now, Common Sense for a Fair Economy Bernstein: All Together Now, Common Sense for a Fair Economy

In “All Together Now, Common Sense for a Fair Economy”, Jared Bernstein lays out a comprehensive economic philosophy to direct progressive economic policy making ... and shows how to apply it in key areas, of globalizatoin, pensions, healthcare, macro-economic policy, etc.  He provides a comprehensive contrast between conservative “You’re On Your Own” (YOYO) free-market fundamentalism and progressive “We’re In This Together” (WITT) models, as he calls them (and which extend beyond economics, but the economic world is what he focuses on). 

An engaging read, he avoids the progressive tendency to get so caught up in the litany of anecdotal horrors of the conservative economy as to forget to offer a complete alternative.

Instead, he shows at each step of the way how the core conservative philosophy is itself responsible for the problems -- the rapidly growing economic insecurity, failures to provide healthcare for much of the population, declining real disposable income for the middle class, etc. -- isn’t “incompetence” or an accident or fate but the inevitable, predictable  result of the conservative philosophy of an extreme Socail Darwinism that harkens back to the hard-hearted Dickensian Victorian England era of exploitation and to the Robber Baron era of rapious greed and inequality in America.

At the same time, he shows the progressive approach: founded on working together in our common interest (as I put it), and of returning to America’s roots of using government to tackle new challeges to ensuring broad-based prosperity. 

One of the key philosophical differences is in how progressives and conservatives see the role of government.  He eloquenty makes the point that when the cause of economic challenges is systemic (such as globalization commoditizing work, lack of healthare for 40 million Americans, etc.), we need a systemic, national response and not the conservative approach of leaving each of us to take it on ourselves to try and struggle against the tide and bear the burden of the consequences.

Highly recommended.

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