Liberal Street Fighter

If you want to know why this country is in the sad state in which we find ourselves, you can start with the intense pressure in this country to shut the hell up.

Still, while Mr. Geffen hardly needs the money, you can understand why a lot of people here wish he still had a day job. (Mr. Geffen declined to elaborate on his remarks to Ms. Dowd.)

“I don’t think that all of this is productive,” said Warren Beatty, reached on his cellphone. “I think the media is looking for a big political story, and I think it is much more important to talk about the issues.”

The mixture of revulsion and fascination with this episode mirrors Mr. Geffen’s career. He combines a gift for market timing — this is the guy who brought you the Eagles in the ’70s, Guns N’ Roses in the ’80s and Nirvana in the ’90s — with a guerrilla’s touch for instigation.

A “guerrilla’s touch”? Now, far be from me to champion a guy with far more influence than I will EVER have, but the constant and troubling demands by people like Mr. Carr and Mr. Beatty that people should remain quiet rather than upset the cozy status quo is the source of so much that is wrong with American politics.

This pressure comes from the right, it comes from the left, and it especially comes from the mushy middle that is desperately afraid of conflict. It comes from the business community, from religious figures and from the hoi polloi that has hated the outspoken since that kid in class wouldn’t stop raising his damned hand.

There can be no political change, no adjustment to shifting problems, if conflict is stifled. Boisterous debate is necessary … without it there will be real conflict, bloody conflict. Societies that bully the nonconformists, the free thinkers and the dissenters slide inexorably toward social breakdown.

Of course, no matter how much Beatty and others whine, it’s a pretty safe bet that Geffen isn’t going to shut up. He certainly doesn’t need this banned from kos blogger to champion his fortune-fueled speech. Geffen isn’t the point (though I am grateful that he raised the political imprisonment of Leonard Peltier).  Mr. Carr might have meant that Geffen was out of line because he’s so wealthy, but I don’t see any sign that the real funders of Clinton’s zealous championing of American and corporate imperialism are going to “shut up” anytime soon … in fact, as she’s cut loose her campaign from public financing, their voices will only get louder.

What is at issue here isn’t the inside-baseball conflicts like the one between Geffen and the Clintons, or the frequent claims by partisans and scolds that comments like his “distract us from the issues”. What actually distracts us from the issues is that there is … no … discussion. Not about anything. In order for the entrenched to maintain control, they have to drive the debate, stifle the debate, restrain it to limited and safe areas that focus groups, polling and their own discomfort tell them are advantageous to maintaining power and influence. Mr. Geffen’s outburst called into question Senator Clinton’s real interest in having a conversation with America, which is no more real than anything else she says. She lies like she breathes, like most of the rest of them, and Geffen, a former supporter, bringing that vital issue up was a public service. Making vague promises to respond to constituent demands is the method used by the Donklephant leadership in their fake “work” toward ending the criminal war in Iraq. It is the method used so much by the political parties, especially the Vichy Donks, to seem to respond to voters and calls and letters and protests and emails while in the long run doing nothing but cashing in for their big campaign contributors.

What this country needs is more dissent, more shouting, more boisterous and angry and confrontational debate. We need to become more furious, more engaged, more passionate and ugly in our politics. For too long, only the right was fighting. For too long, only one party played to win, and thus reduced the “other” party to nothing more than rubber stamps. We need raised voices, we need red faces, we need to put EVERYTHING on the table. Citizens need to start giving a damn, to stop ceding the debate to the fringe right. We are in such great danger, pursuing two disasterous wars and being led by madmen toward a third, more dangerous conflict. We have more and more people sinking into poverty. If Reid and the others had been in the Continental Congress, we wouldn’t have a United States of America … we’d be proud servants of the Crown. Reid and the rest of them are proud servants of this era’s mad King George. They aren’t fit to hold their offices.

We can’t fight the fascists destroying this country until we reawaken a spirit of political conflict. Politics IS conflict, not “bipartisanship” or “centrism” or any of the other idiotic nostrums that come out of the nation’s press. Fight the right by fighting the centrist conservatives like Senator Clinton. The only hope we have is for more of us to raise our voices in disgust just as Mr. Geffen did.

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