Monday, March 26, 2012

Taking the Country Back

Given they both use the same phrase, all the time, it becomes a bit difficult to understand what baseline either side is referring to when they insist it's "time to take back our country."

On the right, I think, you have to imagine the baseline is perhaps the 1950s, when white men dominated every position of power and women and minorities knew their place.

On the left, you have to image it was either the late 1940s, when the ideals behind New Deal were spreading their tentacles and business and conservatives were willing to compromise with social progress to keep the Reds at bay, or the late 1960s, when, to be honest, white men dominated every position of power, but women and minorities were encouraged to be hopeful.

But who exactly we are "taking our country back" from remains unclear to me.

On the left, today, we have Paul Krugman using the phrase in a great op-ed I too hope shines more light on the workings of the so-called (but not remotely believed to be) non-partisan American Legislative Exchange Council:
Now, ALEC isn’t single-handedly responsible for the corporatization of our political life; its influence is as much a symptom as a cause. But shining a light on ALEC and its supporters — a roster that includes many companies, from AT&T and Coca-Cola to UPS, that have so far managed to avoid being publicly associated with the hard-right agenda — is one good way to highlight what’s going on. And that kind of knowledge is what we need to start taking our country back.
Here, it's more clear that we're taking the country back from powerful business interests and multi-national corporations.

On the Right, "taking our country back" is a cottage industry, with entire movements adopting the phrase. There is www.takingourcountryback.org and www.takingourcountryback.net (which seems from skimming through it to be the more secular of the two, but I could be wrong). Here, it's noted that we're taking our country back (not from, but...) to its founding principles:
We believe the most important thing for us to do in Taking Our Country Back is to restore our knowledge of, devotion to and faithful following of our founding principles.
which just so happen to have been outlined when white men held all the positions of power and women and minorities were either not allowed to vote or were actually enslaved, but...the actual principles (in general) are indeed worth reminding ourselves of.

It is ponderous why several of the main goals of the right's "take our country back" top 10 demands were not as loudly championed during the Bush years as they are now during the Obama years (such as #3. Demand a balanced budget; #6. End runaway government spending; #8. Pass an ‘all-of-the-above” energy policy; and #9. Stop the pork), but I'm sure the Heritage Foundation has a talking point ready to distract them from that inconsistency.

Murat, for those reading who don't know, is Kyrgyz by birth (but an American citizen now). In general, the Kyrgyz people migrated to and have remained in the same place on earth for about 40,000 years (the longest of any people among our otherwise highly migratory species according to "Journey of Man" by Spenser Wells). This has ingrained in Murat a historical perspective on things that repeatedly humbles me. He notes, from his much longer-term sense of history, that all this talk about "taking our country back" would only make sense coming from the Indians (aka Native Americans). Discussing "taking the country back" in terms of decades or less, as we do, seems ludicrous to him.

Indeed, I suspect what we're really talking about when we use the phrase in contemporary America is more aligned with the current occupant of the White House and whether he's our man (or soon to be woman I hope) or not, or the majority in the houses of Congress. Noting that House of Representatives members are elected every two years, then, we barely go a full year before the losing side drags out the same posters and banners and the phrase is geared up for another campaign season.

Murat is right. This tug of war is ludicrous. The election cycle is essentially non-stop and so too is the use of the phrase. We are therefore perpetually "taking our country back" from each other.

I for one think perhaps it's OK to pause a day or two and let every American feel it's, you know, their country too and no one is trying to take it back.

Labels:

14 Comments:

Anonymous Franklin said...

Paul Krugman had no problem with crony capitalism when the industry in question was solar energy.

3/26/2012 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And still, the plural of "anecdote" remains "anecdotes" and not "data."

The goal must become to solve our shared problems and simply not citing debatable and solitary examples of equivalence to dismiss the problems entirely.

3/26/2012 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But who exactly we are "taking our country back" from remains unclear to me.


I have a Sculpture that will answer that questions Edward.

And a Tryptic to explain what's to Come.........

3/26/2012 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'll bite...what are you referring to?

3/26/2012 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How we got here 1945 t0 2012 and future events.

3/26/2012 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I was hoping for an image actually.

3/26/2012 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will e mail you soon.......

I gotta get back to work . cYa

3/26/2012 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Would prefer you post a link, so other readers could see as well.

3/26/2012 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

I'm not dismissing anything. Crony capitalism is a scourge, maybe the main threat to the nation. And Krugman is one of it's biggest supporters, as long as it supports liberal causes or comes out as a side effect of Keynesian economic interventions.

I bring this up because the kind of rhetorical improvements you're calling for in the above post will never come to pass until people lose their taste for being told what they want to hear. Krugman's essay, from top to bottom, is garbage. ALEC supports Stand Your Ground laws, therefore they "encourage vigilante (in)justice" (very cute), because vigilante justice is an example of the "long-standing exploitation of public fears, especially those associated with racial tension, to promote a pro-corporate, pro-wealthy agenda," and this results in sending more people to prison (I guess they're depending on the vigilantes having bad aim) because increased privatization of prisons will make its constituents wealthier. Even by Krugman's standards, this is delusional. But it's what you want to hear.

3/26/2012 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

But it's what you want to hear.

If the antecedent for "you" in that is yours truly...what I *want* to hear is the the winning numbers on the Mega Million drawing match those on the ticket in my wallet. Short of that, there's not much I *want* to hear.

Krugman is one of it's biggest supporters

I'm willing to listen. What other evidence do you have to back that up?

3/26/2012 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

That's a different kind of want. I'm talking about the kind of want that turns 800 words of patent silliness into "a great op-ed."

Speaking of which, I'm on the hook for a thousand words by this evening. I will return with more evidence.

3/26/2012 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You're talking about something much more nuanced than that. You're suggesting not focusing on a reach in logic by Krugman (which is debatable, by thew way) can only be explained by wanting to hear some conclusion I've already reached myself be echoed.

It's a great op-ed, as I noted in the post, because it's likely to help shed more light on ALEC. I assume you don't object to that, do you? I mean, you're not actually in favor of a think tank with crony capitalism as its alleged main goal increasingly penning the legislation of the land, are you?

3/26/2012 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one think we need to take our country

BACK....To The Future!!!

3/27/2012 02:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, Ron Paul has some interesting things to say about 'taking back' the country. Google him, twitter #RonPaul, and search him on YouTube. He really does have a lot more 'cred' then much else we've been seeing/reading about 'out there'.

4/20/2012 03:57:00 PM  

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