The Cantor Paradox

To start, Eric Cantor is a craven idiot. That he can remember not to tie his shoelaces together is in itself a minor miracle. But his latest fiasco got me thinking. In a narrow sense, blaming Democrats for the right-wing threats and vandalism is absurd, especially when it’s accompanied by a ham-fisted “me too” that turned out to be pretty much a crock of shit. Looking at it in terms of the last three years, however, I think Pretty Boy Cantor may have inadvertently stumbled onto a huge component of the problem:

The Left completely flaked out.

After a grueling Presidential campaign and a historic victory, we all congratulated ourselves, confident that the progress we made was going to usher in a new utopia or something. Nobody except Barack Obama seemed to understand that he couldn’t possibly do anything on his own. He pretty much said this exact thing, albeit with much loftier language. And did the huge numbers of young, excited, hopeful voters that put him in office heed his call? Not so much. Instead, we all sat around, watching last Summer’s town halls turn into a cross between a Hee-Haw episode and Morton Downey, Jr, with more firepower.

To be fair, lots of people on the left did help out. There were marches, counter-protests, ad campaigns. But the things is we just didn’t work hard enough to sway the country decisively. We bitched that Obama was taking things too slow, tackling the wrong things, giving up the right things, talking to the wrong people, ignoring the right people, etc., etc., ad nauseam. We never rolled up our sleeves and fought like we did in the campaign. The TeaBaggers only represent maybe 25-35% of the electorate but they scream the loudest. The actual majority, the ones who put Obama into office with historic numbers, just criticized from the sidelines and fretted about the rise of an awful new force in politics: the morons.

It’s as if we were in shock, perhaps still giddy from the historic victory we helped create, waiting for someone anyone to DO something about what we were witnessing. No one did. Rather, the lies and smears and half-truths and death panels were not challenged immediately and they grew. Sure, we can blame the Republicans for being so cynical and ignorant, the media for dutifully going along, or the poor schmucks that were duped into believing Dick Armey’s interests aligned with their own. The truth, however, is that the army of support that Obama had last January went back to the couch in February and hasn’t really been heard from since.

Nobody should take this as a defense of Eric Cantor. The fountain of bullshit coming from him at his press conference is as bone-headed and divisive a political stunt as any. But when he says we’re to blame for the violence, he’s half right. In the sense that the true majority of people in this country, the ones who want real reform, real change, the ones who fought so hard for it in 2008 ceded all the momentum to a bunch of rednecks with misspelled signs. We act shocked when their words morph into action and the Republican leadership eggs them on with a wink and a nod. If the left had created its own enthusiasm for change rather than waiting for Obama and the Democrats to make us enthusiastic, then perhaps the Teabaggers might have been mollified long ago. The dilemma we face is how to acknowledge this glaring oversight and correct it for the future. Eric cantor is right, but for all the wrong reasons. We need to change that, like, now.

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