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Total Pussy Weekly Issue.01
March 1, 2005 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Most Americans don't know their left wingers from their right wingers. And no, its not about hockey or chicken parts.
posted by phirleh (33 comments total)

 
the number aren't that surprising. they cite 37%, 27%, 10% etc.. but the plain facts are that 41% of eligible citizens didnt vote in the first place.

So yeah, we hardly expect them to know jack shit about our country.
posted by reflection at 7:28 AM on March 1, 2005


To most it's not the meaning behind these labels that counts, it's the emotional response generated by the label. Liberal (at least south of the border) has become a dirty word. People who use that label to criticize others aren't worried about painting their opponent as 'broad-minded' or 'tolerant'. They've created an association between 'liberal' and 'spends your tax dollars on poe-nah-graphy.'

Bill Hicks was right - you shouldn't be able to ban something you can't pronounce.
posted by sudasana at 7:31 AM on March 1, 2005


at least south of the border

South of what border? The Mexican border? Canada?
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2005


People don't know what these words mean because they don't mean anything.
posted by casu marzu at 7:45 AM on March 1, 2005


People don't know what these words mean because they don't mean anything.

True enough.

As for the article...Somebody once said that a good comedian dosen't blame his audience for not finding him funny. A smart politician dosen't blame the electorate for not electing him, even if he thinks it's true. Saying "The only reason we're not running the country is because you're all so doggone stupid," isn't going to win you much support, and that's just a fact of life. Some smart leftie is going to have to read the mood of the country and find a way to communicate his policies to it without sounding petulant or smart-alecky. Yes, this shouldn't matter, but it does.

Liberal (at least south of the border) has become a dirty word.

There's lots of reasons for that, involving left-wing political gaffes, clever framing and campaigning by the right, bad timing and the oft-mentioned "national malaise," of the late 70's.
posted by jonmc at 7:52 AM on March 1, 2005


Thanks for the link. I like this Matt Taibbi character. His "March to Irrelevance" is in my permanent bookmarks (right next to this, from notable neocon David Corn).
posted by dhoyt at 7:55 AM on March 1, 2005


Nice link. That article is hilarious.... I hope it doesnt reflect the true state of affairs of the minds of "right-wingers"
posted by gagglezoomer at 8:03 AM on March 1, 2005


South of what border? The Mexican border? Canada?

In Mexico, you only call someone a Liberal if you have the cohones.
posted by sudasana at 8:37 AM on March 1, 2005


Labels mean everything.
A unified group of morons will defeat unorganized, intelligent individuals every time. The the best way to unify people is to get them to agree on something that has no meaning or cannot be proven.
Otherwise they quibble over details, like we do.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:39 AM on March 1, 2005


If people are confused about what left-wing means, there might be a reason for that. If you can call both Leon Trotsky and Eric Alterman left-wing and be technically right in both cases, then clearly the word is doing injustice to one of them. They have nothing in common; Trotsky had a much better sense of humor.

Good stuff =)
posted by kableh at 8:40 AM on March 1, 2005


Clearly, only the constant vigilance of the right prevents all those kids with pointy beards working in coffee shops from organizing massacres. Thankfully, blood is never spilled!

My fingers twitch as I think of the machete in the garage. My god, think of how good it would feel to whack a few of the sheeple. The people who voted for Bush because "we have to fight the war over there so we don't fight the war over here" clearly aren't using their brains, so why don't I just relieve them of these useless organs.

Fertilizer. Anybody got any fertilizer?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:44 AM on March 1, 2005


dhoyt: [that was good]
posted by kableh at 8:49 AM on March 1, 2005


"Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half".
-- Gore Vidal
posted by matteo at 8:59 AM on March 1, 2005


Here's an interactive site about "the old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left'" and the fluidity of political ideology. Interesting stuff.
posted by poweredbybeard at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2005


I'm not surprised by these statistics either. The words "left" and "right" have become anathema to both parties.

I think the more effective poll would have been to ask people what they think a republican stands for as opposed to a democrat. They've both become chameleons. I, for one, can find few tangible links between the Reagan era republicans and todays version. And who would have thought we would see the democrats tow the republican line on the war issue the way they have?

It's all about those votes baby.
posted by j.p. Hung at 9:54 AM on March 1, 2005


Isn't there some convention against posting just one article in a FPP? This is an excellent data point in favor of such a convention: that article sucked. Here's a much clearer representation of those poll results. That's right, I just linked to a Washington Times article in favor of a GN article. You have to understand how anathema it is to my personality to ever refer to the WT in any favorable way, ever; that's how bad this GN article was, and here's why.

Throughout the entire peice, the author only refers to the opinion of a minority of people. In at least one case, he mentions the set of people who think something or "aren't sure" about the point, and still comes up with a minority. Now, opinions are complex, and substantial minorities can be important, but most of these are binary questions: "what do liberals think of issue X?" And so if only 20% get the "wrong" answer or are confused, that means damn near 80% have the "right" answer.

Lo and behold, this is exactly the case: see the Washington Times (shudder). So really, the result of this poll is that, broadly speaking, people think what we expect them to think of the political labels we sling around all the time. You would have no idea of that fact after reading the FPP-linked article.

Oh, and here's a softball the poster totally missed: Harris's own press release on the poll results, which is also substantially clearer than the linked article.
posted by rkent at 10:01 AM on March 1, 2005


The problem I have with this thread is that even the authors of these articles are confused about what all these terms mean. Here's what the terms used to mean: Liberal = Reformer; Conservative = Pro Status Quo. The confusion stems from conflating the distinct concepts of liberal/conservative with the unrelated concepts of left-wing/right-wing (historically, American left wingers have pushed most for rapid systemic change, so that's probably how the confusion arose). Political ideologies can be said to fall somewhere along a spectrum from right to left (although there isn't a whole lot of consensus around how the extremes of the spectrum are defined either), but the terms liberal and conservative, in a political context, don't speak to ideology--they speak to different approaches to implementing a set of political ideologies. A radical right-wing reformer, for example, should be called a "liberal right-winger," and a sheepish left-winger who's reluctant to implement sweeping reforms in the face of political opposition should be called a "conservative left-winger." If we continue to dilute these concepts, we blunt the precision of our discussions of complex political positions, and that can only lead to more confusion, IMHO.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:32 AM on March 1, 2005


The only real power that the 'right-wing' ever had is their organizational skills. It hinges on the understanding that liberals have to 'know' something while conservatives merely have to 'believe.' It is that insatiable quest for justification of information that causes liberals to quibble so much.

The real irony is that the 'right' has managed to convince the masses that the 'left' is some organized behemoth, evil because of its consolidated power, when that consolidation is exactly what the 'right' has always been and 'left' could never hope to be. It somehow reminds me of the saying that the devil's best trick was to convince men that he didn't exist.
posted by mystyk at 10:37 AM on March 1, 2005


Thanks for not adding to the confusion there, mystyk...
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2005


while right is code for “winner” and “the people who are actually running things while you assholes are reading James Joyce.”

heh heh
posted by OmieWise at 10:54 AM on March 1, 2005


Isn't there some convention against posting just one article in a FPP?

Nope.
posted by stbalbach at 11:00 AM on March 1, 2005


all-seeing eye dog: Think about it; how many times have you heard Rush Limbaugh of Ann Coultier rattling on about the "left-wing agenda?" It's bullshit, because no two people on the left can agree long enough to form a clear agenda. One section of the right wing agenda, and I do insist that they have a fairly clear one, is making people fear the sheer thought that the left might have one.

This is sort of the same philosophy behind the justifications for war. Somebody somewhere over a coffe in a bombed-out cafe may have told someone that Iraq was considering thinking about investing in the possibility of a nuclear program. All of a sudden, this is "reliable intel" and we're in a war. North Korea blatantly admits to having nukes and we ignore them. One of the agenda items for the right is making others believe the existance of agendas that at best can't be proven, all because that takes the eyes off of the other points of the right's agenda; things like oil.

But I digress...
posted by mystyk at 11:09 AM on March 1, 2005


Damn typos...
of/or

Oh, and for the record, when I speak about intel, it's from an actual understanding of the process...I work in Military Intelligence. (Go ahead, say the oxymoron comments. I've heard them all. Hell, I've used most of them.)
posted by mystyk at 11:12 AM on March 1, 2005


Mystyk--I agree with you almost 100%. My problem is with the loose use of the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative.' A liberal politician (like a liberal drinker) is a politician of any political stripe that takes their beliefs to an extreme. The political right has (so far) successfully confused the picture so that everyone thinks Bush is a conservative on the basis of what he believes, when he's clearly a radical reformer (i.e., a liberal) on the basis of how zealously he holds his beliefs. It's important that we use these terms properly and insist that others do too. The right has been extremely effective at sowing confusion, and one of their most effective strategies has been the use of subtle rhetorical sleights-of-hand that help tilt the playing field in their favor. (FYI, I'm a tech consultant who works a lot with state government and in the political arena; so I can vouch for the fact that the political climate is much scarier than most people want to know.)
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:36 AM on March 1, 2005


Mystyk: Military Intelligence about biological weaponry is a contradiction in germs. Ahahahah. ha. Hmmm.

But anyhow. I'm with all-seeing eye dog up until s/he gets to liberal = extremist. Either liberal = reformer or liberal = radical, but if it means both, then what do you call someone who thinks the status quo is unacceptable but doesn't want to upset the applecart with too much change too soon. A conservative liberal?
posted by Sparx at 11:50 AM on March 1, 2005


Sparx: A moderate.
posted by all-seeing eye dog at 11:55 AM on March 1, 2005


Ah. That makes sense and now I feel dumb. I shall have to pretend to be merely hungover until it passes from the collective memory.

"Ouch. My poor head."
posted by Sparx at 12:00 PM on March 1, 2005


I think the important point is the "right" is less attached to their labels, which allows them to position themselves as being "mainstream" when to many of us their views are hardly mainstream at all. The left has lost the battle for which side is seen as radical/non-mainstream so it needs to let go of the labels if it's ever going to gain power. But that's understandably hard since calling oneself a liberal/lefty is such an easy way to say that you're one of the millions that hate what George Bush stands for. Meanwhile the right gets to lay low pretending that they aren't evil baby-eating warmongers and claim to be "centrists".
posted by jimmy76 at 2:18 PM on March 1, 2005


A unified group of morons will defeat unorganized, intelligent individuals every time

Conversely, a unified group of intelligent individuals will defeat unorganized morons every time.

So what's with the name calling?
posted by IndigoJones at 2:50 PM on March 1, 2005


actually I think it's right wing, left wing, broken wing.

goodnight Cleveland!
posted by petebest at 4:48 PM on March 1, 2005


Do we need yet another poll to tell us that most people are as stupid as a box of hammers?
posted by tkchrist at 5:53 PM on March 1, 2005


So what's with the name calling?
Simple. He feels that the "unified group of morons" just beat the "unorganized, intelligent individuals", and is not happy.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:36 PM on March 1, 2005


No, and no. I wasn't calling anyone a moron. I was making a general comment about the inverse relationship between intelligence and herding. Intelligent people do not form alliances based on slogans; they want specific evidence, and weigh it critically. Slogans and labels are extremely effective in herding those at the other end of the IQ spectrum. Make the slogan impossible to verify and it works even better. Right or left, the pasture is sloped towards the corral.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:12 AM on March 2, 2005


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