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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Why the Left has such a rough time...(part one)

Why the Left has such a rough time...

If I could point to a few key ideas of what being Left wing is all about I think I could roughly (very roughly) sum it up in one sentence.

“We’re all in this together, lets help each other out and make the best of it.”

Contrast this with the Right:

“We’re all in this together, now get the hell out of my way…”

Okay, not the most balanced treatment of the Right, but they get enough positive spin from the rest of the mainstream. One of the fundamental reasons the Right is getting so much attention I believe is that they have the answers. Good answers, or at least good sounding answers.

Crime a problem? We need more police to enforce the rules. Welfare a problem? Let’s get mandatory work for welfare recipients, so they can earn their keep. Drug addiction? Let’s go after the dealers and the users with equal ferocity. Universal Healthcare cost too much? Privatize the lot of it, the private sector knows best. I could go on… and on.

The Right has short concise answers. The answers however do not plumb the depths of the real issues at hand. Why do we have more crime? What are the factors that lead to criminal activity? What can we do to decrease the prevalence of these factors? The Left’s answers are not compact; they require explanation, background, in essence, time we rarely give to a political problem.

Comparing the Right and Left viewpoints to television, the Right would be the commercials, quick and snappy, and the Left would be the actual show, that slowly builds to conclusion, but not with the laser-like concision of the right. For better or worse, the media has chosen to go with the sound byte, the clip…and that certainly makes the case for the Left difficult to cogently access the public mind. It is on the other hand an ideal situation for the political right. The rhetoric of the right is slowly becoming the gospel as our major news sources constantly repeat the same right-slanted mantra.

The problem with the Left is that our solutions often yield less than concrete results. For instance, if we give people enough money to survive modestly on Welfare then we have less desperation, less abject poverty, less hopelessness and also less crime. When we think of “those poor wretched people” they are often disproportionately responsible for much of the crime in our communities. Consider that if they could live decently would there be similar level of criminal behaviour? Would the conditions that lead to criminality be as prevalent if more people had a better standard of living? A qualified “yes” is the answer.

The problem is the qualified “yes”. Sure we can give more poor people a chance, but can we point to statistics as easily as the Right does when they put more police on the street. Arrests are up, indictments are up… these are all easily digestible facts and concrete statistics the media and the public can readily understand. Contrast this with a hot lunch program for underprivileged children. How do you quantify the results of feeding children at school? Little ‘Bobby’ now has enough calories to operate his brain properly so he can focus on school rather than on what to eat. ‘Bobby’ can now concentrate on his lessons, he does well in school, and he has a positive environment in which he can better resist the paths that lead to criminality and poor life decisions.

How do you say that in 30 seconds or less and not sound goofy (at least to the coached mainstream media public)? You would get torn to shreds. We do not have the laser of the right to make the black and white pronouncements that they often seem to do. Will allowing more people to live with dignity lower the crime rate? Of course it will. Can you get in on a chart understandable in 20 seconds or less? Doubtful. Therein lies the problem. We need to bring public debate back to reasonable intellectual standards or even have a debate in which points of view can be discussed in detail to see the good and bad with both the Right and the Left’s point of view.


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