US AND THEM THE PEOPLE: Do we have what it takes to make it through?

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2021

Limitations of us the humans: It rarely happens, but this morning it did:

As we made our early-morning rounds, we saw an establishment journalist actually getting it right!

We refer to the assessment of Colin Powell's legacy offered by Zak Cheney-Rice. In this short essay for New York magazine, Cheney-Rice notes the conflicted way that topic is being explored by a wide range of upper-end players.

The scribe's aim strikes us as true. This almost never happens at this point, as American democracy—such as it is—is widely said to be nearing its end.

"We the People," alas!

It was with those words that a famous document, such as it was, announced itself to the world. The document appeared in 1787. Its preamble started like this:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The statement was authored by "We the People of the United States," such as that congregation was defined at the time.

Today, "we the people" can more accurately be described as "Us and Them the people." Increasingly, we the people have split into a substantial array of disputatious groups. 

The red and blue tribes are the most prominent among these groups, but many subdivisions prevail within those larger congregations. Can a very large nation function this way? 

We'll guess that it maybe cannot.

Increasingly, "we the people" are subdividing into versions of Us and Them. Throw in our species' limited ability to work outside Hard Tribal Viewpoints and the future can start looking grim.

We're going to leave it right there for today. Increasingly, reading the major newspapers of Our Own Remarkably Limited Tribe leaves us unable to speak. 

(It's easy to create a false impression, much harder to take one apart.)

In the end, we the humans may simply be "too dumb to be self-governing!" Long ago, we used that as the title for a periodic radio segment.

Now the irony arrives:

At the time, in the early 1990s, we were offering that as a joke!


26 comments:

  1. "Today, "we the people" can more accurately be described as "Us and Them the people."

    The battles over issues, extending to personalities, were just as fierce in the 1787 as now. (Apparently Somerby has never seen the musical Hamilton.) Does Somerby imagine there were not deep divisions between revolutionaries and loyalists (Tories) in that time period? The people in the colonies were far from united, divided 60/40, and Paine's pamphlet Common Sense caused consternation in several colonies. People came to blows over their divisions.

    This is the kind of idiocy someone writes who knows very little about our nation's history. Perhaps conservatives want to imagine the early colonists as united against England, but that wasn't the way it happened. And this is why our schools need to be permitted to teach history not propaganda.

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  2. "The red and blue tribes are the most prominent among these groups, but many subdivisions prevail within those larger congregations. Can a very large nation function this way?"

    Our nation was designed to function this way. That is why it is called "The Great Experiment". Our process of debate followed by voting permits all views to be aired, followed by a method of resolving disputes. It depends upon the losers of that vote acceding to the will of the majority and going along with what has been decided.

    Trump refused to follow traditions, does not adhere to rules (they are for other people), and has not respect for democratic processes, which he manipulates to his own advantage and does not permit to operated as intended. In other words, he cheats and thereby deprives the American people of their participation in government. That is why he and his supporters are a threat to democracy.

    The rest of the world watched the formation of the United States and wondered whether our new system would survive. It has up to this point because the system of democracy has been valued more than individual interests and everyone has been agreed the system is worth preserving even if it means compromise of other aims. That is what has changed. It appears that is no longer true for a substantial number of Republicans backed by corporate interests and rich people.

    How do we save our democracy? Those who value it must join together with others who feel the same way and combat people such as Trump, keep him (and his minions) out of office and engage in the process of compromise instead of obstruction within Congress. Majority rule must be defended and adhered to by all, because that is how we decide among competing interests.

    Democrats recognize this danger more than those Republicans who are still following Trump, more than McConnell and McCarthy. But the most important people in restoring our democracy are the voters, who have the power to deliver us from autocrats and dictatorship or deliver us into those hands.

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  3. "At the time, in the early 1990s, we were offering that as a joke!"

    And how have such jokes helped to strengthen our democracy? Not at all, I would argue. This is the drip drip drip of Somerby's acid, with the intent of convincing voters that all is hopeless so why bother staying informed or voting? All is hopeless so why not grab yours, the way Trump supporters do and who cares about those who need help? All is hopeless, so why not make stupid jokes instead of working to build a better country?

    Notice how Somerby takes no responsibility for his own opinions, framing all as "jokes," much less what is happening in our country. Just think, if we liberals had all been nicer to Trump supporters, he might have won in 2020, hastening the end of our democracy and putting us all in deeper shit. That's where Somerby's jokes lead.

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    Replies
    1. From Political Wire:

      "“The political network backed by billionaire Charles Koch spent a record amount of money directly lobbying Congress, with a focus on opposing crucial elements of President Joe Biden’s agenda while supporting some bills backed by Democratic lawmakers,” CNBC reports.

      “One of the network’s lobbying targets this year has been moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)."

      This is how the will of the people is subverted.

      Delete
    2. According to CNBC Charles Koch spent $350K.

      And how much do you think, dear Corby, a whole bunch of political networks financed by a globalist billionaire George Soros spent recently?

      According to WSJ, George Soros Transfers $18 Billion to His Foundation, Creating an Instant Giant.

      Delete
    3. George Soros is a conservative bogeyman used to tar a variety of liberal activities that he had no connection with at all. This is another variation of a conservative lie.

      Delete
  4. There is no such thing as a "red tribe", dear Bob.

    You watched that Anchorage video, do they look like a 'tribe' to you? No, dear Bob, they look like ordinary people, ordinary humyn beings of all walks of life, all different persuasions.

    You want to see a tribe, look at yourself and your liberal comrades, and see brain-dead lackeys of the establishment. And don't judge others by yourself, please.

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    Replies
    1. Somerby is not liberal.

      Delete
    2. No true Scotsman!

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    3. No, Somerby believes none of the things that liberals believe. Further, he routinely repeats conservative memes and talking points here while making excuses for conservative miscreants. This isn't just a matter of him being an atypical liberal. He is not liberal in any way. He isn't even a Kyrsten Sinema liberal.

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    4. You could demand to see his voting history.

      Delete
    5. He doesn’t say how he voted. Last I heard we had a secret ballot, even for Somerby.

      Delete
  5. The "us" and "them" idea was born in 1980, when the GOP purposely bankrupted the country because it resented paying taxes, as implied by David Stockman, the disillusioned Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan.


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  6. Re: "his knowing use of shoddy intelligence to justify the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq"

    Powell knew (or should have known) that the intelligence wa shoddy, because the CIA is a shoddy agency. All their intelligence is shoddy. Nevertheless, we can't fault our leaders for basing their decisions on what the CIA tells them, Note that Congress had full access to the same intelligence, and they overwhelmingly voted for the invasion of Iraq.

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    Replies
    1. There were very few dissenting voices at the time. The MSM was also fully on board.

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    2. David,
      Take it from somebody who was alive back then.
      Every small government, fiscally conservative Right-winger claimed if you didn't support the waste of $3 Trillion to kick over the hornet's nest in the Middle East, you "hated America" and "wanted Saddam to win".
      And the corporate-owned Right-wing media agreed.

      Delete
    3. Re: The Iraq War

      Blind vengeance is a helluva drug.

      Delete
    4. The Clintons were on board with going into Iraq and he was just out office and was still getting daily intelligence briefings.

      Lord knows Mrs. Clinton has never been reluctant to engage in foreign interventions.

      Delete
    5. Yet it was her support of BLM, not the Iraq war, which lost her the 2016 election.

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    6. Yes, that’s how she massively lost the popular vote! No, wait, that was Trump not Clinton.

      Delete
    7. Hillary Clinton voted identically to Obama on the Iraq war (on all war-related votes in the senate).

      Delete
  7. So which us purged all moderates and made subservience to a crazy person (Bob admits) it’s single issue? Let’s start with THEM.

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    Replies
    1. Right. With Bob there is no 'who' or 'them' that does things, that runs things. Its always vague, "humans."
      Sure, Bob there no such thing as people with wealth and the power it brings who decide to wield it. And there's no minions who blindly follow them. It wasn't billionaires and millionaires and their corporations who set up and fund the vast right-wing media...it was just some humans.

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    2. Bob is sadly, so of tragically far from the original purpose he set out for his blog. He originally criticized howlers on both sides. Then he decided he wouldn’t even pay attention to the right. Well, you had to know where that would lead….so occasionally he still hits a useful note on something the press is flubing. But mostly he now echoes the worst tendencies of what he set out to police.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
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