If You Don’t Like It, Leave

This keeps coming up, this idea that if progressives don’t like how things are going in Tennessee, we should just leave and go elsewhere. (See here for an example.)

As a small-town girl myself, I find this interesting because I know that’s how it works. Rather than dealing with folks who crop up who are different than you, you just run them off. Run off your gay kids, run off your smarty-pantses, run off the non-whites, run off the non-Christians. Just run ‘em all off. (Step two is to make up religious reasons why they had to go, to try to keep those who are left behind, who miss them, in line.)

Then you can live a little lie about how your town or state is just like you say it is, because there’s no one to challenge it.

But, really, this move only works in a good economy. It only works, when it works, because people can afford to move.

Otherwise, even if folks want to leave, they can’t.

Not that I want to leave. Shoot, I love this place, even with all its silliness. I just bought a house.

But I’m just saying, no one’s fooled. We all see this for the temper-tantrum it is, designed to keep power in the hands of the same old people.

My second favorite thing I’ve noticed is this newfound tendency to insist that Mike McWherter has nuanced positions we just can’t know because we are too stupid to get them. I used to dog on Republicans for insisting that Tennessee Democrats think they’re smarter than everyone. I mean, shoot, of course that feels too close to an indictment of me.

But then, damn, you see this kind of nonsense, where folks are chastised for taking what McWherter says at face value, as if what we really need is just someone who can properly interpret the complexity of what he’s saying.

When I read Cynic’s post over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’s place this morning, it reminded me of that.

In each case, the controversy requires an esoteric reading. The great preponderance of the evidence is dismissed as concealing what the enlightened few are able to recognize as the hidden truth. Small deviations, instead of being ignored as insignificant exceptions, become freighted with greater meaning than the norm. And these arguments are immune from rebuttal. Any action, any words that would seem to contradict the esoteric reading can be dismissed as cover. Anyone unable to see the hidden meanings that are so readily apparent to believers can safely be ignored, because they refuse to see the truth.

I mean, doesn’t that seem like what’s happening? That we’re being told McWherter’s words have some meaning not obvious to us because we’re too stupid? But that we should just trust that everything’s fine, take the word of the people who can correctly interpret him?

That, in the end, ends up being what disturbs me about the “like it or leave” position. So far, it’s advocated by people who mean “it” to mean “the fact that we’re insisting on complete bullshit.” At some level, it’s not a disagreement on policy. We’re having a basic disagreement over whether some Democrats think other Democrats should just shut up and take whatever bullshit is dished out.

That’s not a political disagreement.

That’s a basic disagreement about reality.

Seriously. I’m supposed to leave the state because I refuse to accept people who are doing dumbass shit are secretly smarter than me?

Ha, has their ever been a more patronizing proposition? I must either not worry my pretty little head about things or I must leave?

Yeah, good luck with that.

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17 thoughts on “If You Don’t Like It, Leave

  1. As a seventh or so generation Tennessean, I would tend to agree. This is all just disinformation, and should be aptly labeled as such.

    As though slapping a different label on a can of beans makes it taste like anything else.

  2. Please tell me you have a link to someone trying to claim McWherter has grand and subtle positions on things. I need a good laugh

    I’d say its pretty obvious what his positions on most things are and they suck.

  3. See “magical thinking” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking, for a succinct definition of this kind of thought process.

    The question, as always, is this: does McWherter say these things because he truly believes them, or does he say them because he thinks the vast majority of us believe them. Or, put another way, is he truly wrongheaded, or simply cynical.

    I’m willing to give McWherter, Wamp, and Ramsey the benefit of the doubt and assume they actually believe the wacky things they say. I don’t include Haslam in this group because he isn’t really saying much of anything substantive.

    I’ve argued before that Democrats shouldn’t withhold support from the party because of dumb positions taken by individual candidates. That position becomes harder and harder to maintain, the more dumb things come out of McWherter’s mouth. I still count myself as a liberal, and a Democrat; I’m just not sure McWherter is either.

    But it seems to me that there is an alternative to stalking away in a fury and letting the wingnuts take over by default. We should identify a true liberal and launch a write-in gubernatorial campaign for him/her between now and November in the blogosphere. Such a plan has a couple of advantages: it requires no campaign contributions and it bypasses the state election deadlines for getting candidates on the ballot. It requires no party structure. It can be spearheaded by a handful of people in each major city in Tennessee, and it capitalizes on the widespread discontent with the present field of candidates.

    Such a person would have no more chance that McWherter does of actually winning the election, but winning the election is no longer the goal. Our goal should be sending a message to the Tennessee Democratic Party to move a little further left, or risk being out of power forever.

    Admittedly, this plan does nothing to reverse the coming Republican landslide of 2010. It might help prevent a recurrence, though, in 2012 and 2014. Like a football team that has opened the season 0-6, maybe it’s time for us to start thinking about next season as we slog through the rest of our games this year.

  4. Mark,

    I like that idea a lot. But let’s just say, and why not, we agreed on Andy Berke as a write-in candidate and promoted the hell out of it?

    Within an hour of it being made public, Andy would ask us not to do this and get behind McWherter, for fear that the GOB brigade would take actions against him.

    I suspect that would happen with any elected Democrat, unless they were getting ready to retire and just didn’t care any more.

    Why not write in Ned? THAT would send a message.

  5. B, can you suck Andy Berke into your stable of D politician commenters, so he can confirm or deny Steve’s thought above? I mean, if it’s not too much trouble. ;)

  6. If Andy Berke isn’t willing to let us write him in on our own initiative, then I’d suggest that he isn’t worth our time to begin with.

    The whole problem here is that we’re expecting support in return for support and we aren’t getting it. If we support Andy Berke as a remedy for that problem… then, well… he should support us in return, right? At the very least, he should tolerate us, much in the same way Al Gore treated the 2004 draft movement.

    If he won’t do that, what’s the point? Besides, I’d like to hear him speak for himself on the matter. On the record.

    While we’re on the subject, I’d also like to add, I am really proud of the Memphis delegation to both houses of the General Assembly. There are some great, great Dems in Middle and East Tennessee as well. We do have some gems in the mud here. I think we could do more to develop closer relationships with them, to help them promote the bills they care about, and basically to help give some good pub to our team. STP is a huge step in the right direction, but this is a bigass problem, and if we want to solve it, or at least ameliorate it somewhat, we’re probably going to have to all get in on the act.

  7. “We should identify a true liberal and launch a write-in gubernatorial campaign for him/her between now and November in the blogosphere”

    Hell yes we should, and that true liberal should be EmmyLou Harris!

  8. A few further thoughts:

    1. The write-in candidate must agree to the idea, even if he/she doesn’t actively campaign.

    2. This can’t be inside baseball. The candidate must be someone who EVERY liberal in the state already knows – maybe not Steve Cohen, but someone like Steve Cohen – a widely known, hardheaded progressive.

    3. The individual needs to be someone the vast majority of liberals could get behind.

    4. The candidate would have to be someone who would meet every legal qualification – age, residence, etc.

    5. The campaign would need to go viral – on everything from blogs, to Twitter to Youtube – taking advantage of every free medium in the state. I suspect that means mixing humor/outrageousness with leftist hardball.

  9. After four decades of never hearing the suggestion, this year I have been asked TWICE to leave. “We don’t want your kind here.” If I had the financial means to buy a home elsewhere, I would. That kind of hate plants seeds of doubt and self-loathing that suffocate the soul worse than kudzu.

  10. Well, it’s funny that the whole “if you don’t like it then leave” thing is a one way street. Back during the Bush years when liberals were complaining we were told how UNPATRIOTIC and UNAMERICAN it was to complain about the president and his policies. Now the “take my country back to 1850″ crowd sees their protests as the highest form of patriotism, quoting Jefferson about watering the tree of Liberty with blood and all that. How come liberals didn’t get that deal back during the ‘Oughts?

    Don’t answer that.

    Anyway, I suppose we liberals could tell the Teanuts that if they’re so dang unhappy to take it to a country like Somalia with no functioning government whatsoever. Then the response is always: “Why should I? This is my country too!”

    Again, liberals never get that deal. Why should we move, Tennessee is our state too.

  11. Holy shit, Cathy! What do they mean by “your kind”?! Hilarious, kick-ass people?

    Luckily, in my case, I’m just being told by other Democrats, which is about as threatening as nothing. I mean, what are they going to do if I don’t? Hold a salon where they talk shit about me? They don’t carry guns and I’m pretty sure I can survive being run over by their electric cars.

  12. Yeah, I don’t think that the current crop of political invertebrates are much of a threat. No one has ever really died from a ineffective Friday afternoon presser.

  13. I have it on pretty good authority that the only offense they can usually muster is staining someone’s reputation, usually by painting him/her as crazy. Honestly, I’d wear that designation as a badge of honor – sort of like how it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to be called a “socialist” by the Tea Partiers. I’m a proud socialist, and a proud crazy, if it means just saying NO to the wrongheaded garbage we’re so often told will translate into effective social policy hereabouts.

    We do have some gems in the mud here. I think we could do more to develop closer relationships with them, to help them promote the bills they care about, and basically to help give some good pub to our team.

    We do. And many of them feel alone and like they’re not supported by progressives in terms of financial contributions, I suspect.

    Do we think Cohen would object to being the write-in guy? As long as we were clear this was an independent movement, not in any way being coordinated with his staffers or him personally.

    (If we don’t find anybody currently in office, I’ll vote for R Kurita – who I’m 99% sure wouldn’t mind a bit being a protest candidate.)

  14. So when the write in candidate gets less than 5% of the vote, will it be because less than 5% of TN is rabidly socialist or just incapable of organizing this?

  15. The Write-in candidate should be EmmyLou Harris.

    She meets every one of the “qualifications” as set forth above by Mark, and her candidacy would attract attention from the mainstream media, probably world wide.

  16. Eh, I’ll be honest. I’m not that interested in running someone–willing or unwilling–for governor. I want the Democrats to give me someone I can vote for, if they want my vote. If I write in someone else, that’s because I believe that person would have been a better choice, not because I’m mounting some coordinated campaign.

    And it’s not that I think there’s anything wrong with coordinated campaigns, but, if it’s not really successful, it will undermine whoever we support and give Dems (more) ammunition to continue to ignore us.

    If it is successful but doesn’t get our person in the governor’s seat (and let’s be honest, that is never going to happen), we will have fucked things for that person.

    Plus, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to pester my readers about voting for someone. Look at the people who comment here. I don’t know better than them the decisions they should make.

    All I can do is explain the decisions I make and why I make them.

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