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Take allies where you can get them

Published by marco on

I jumped in on the thread Jimmy Dore says something objectively correct about how Democrats are making people fight for a one time payment, when other countries support their citizens, and Sam Seder has a fit about it whining about Senate process. (Reddit) the other day.

One comment accused Dore of being a grifter, which is an exceedingly odd charge. It’s most likely that that person has never seen or heard Dore and was just regurgitating what they’d heard from someone else who’d never seen or heard Dore. The Internet is full of foolish children who want to pretend that they’re “participating” in “discussions”.

I remember when I was a kid, and was not allowed to watch nearly as much TV—or stay up nearly as late—as my friends, I’d sometimes try to pretend I’d seen a TV show I hadn’t and just kind of coattail my opinion on what the majority seemed to think. Most of social media is like that. Very few people read the article or watch the videos before commenting. How could they? They’re commenting on a long read or have an opinion on a 30-minute video within seconds.

So, to the grifter accusation, another commentator replied that,

“[f]or a grifter, he sure has pretty cool regular guests. Or maybe Richard Wolff, Cornel West, and others are in on the grift?”

That’s how I see it, too. Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald are on quite often as well. That’s a lot of clout. I’ve seen Krystal Ball. He hasn’t had Lee Camp or Eleanor Goldfield on yet (that I know of), but Dore wrote the foreword for Lee’s book. To my mind, that’s all pretty good company. No, that’s fantastic company.

Then I landed on this comment by vacuum_state, which inspired the following response. The quoted bits are from the comment to which I responded.

“There’s one thing criticizing AOC or the “squad” for having no conviction or whatever, but he tries to destroy them while not doing the same for Tucker.”

The way I see that is that Tucker started off way to the right and seems to be willing to listen to argument, sometimes changing his mind on air and sticking to it (e.g. on Julian Assange). He’s actually using his huge platform (biggest show on cable, last I heard) to get left-wing ideas and segments in front of a captive audience. Dore’s working-class ideas seem to resonate with him and he shows them to his audience. It doesn’t even matter in the end that he’s pretending.

I honestly don’t know what inspired this, but I presume some number-crunchers at FOX are just following the audience. Sometimes even they have to do that, although they do a lot of leading. If Dore were on Carlson and had to “clean up” his message, it would be one thing. But the message is the same as on his show, minus cursing. That seems…fine to me?

OTOH, Dore holds the Squad’s feet to the fire because they started off way to the left and have veered to the center, seemingly capitulating for no apparent political gain. They are _elected representatives_. They’re there to be yelled at and exhorted to do things. Even more so if they once showed the promise of doing good things and are _coasting_ now, morphing into just some more Democrats that are useless to the suffering working class, but with way better Twitter game. AOC should spend less time responding to Ted Cruz with sassy hot takes and more time watching interviews with herself from 2 years ago.

“[…] he likes to feast upon what should be his nearest allies with any clout.”

His hatred is pure. It’s equal-opportunity. It’s often uncompromising. I’m not sure which “allies without any clout” you’re referring to because he seems to spend a lot of time excoriating elected members of The Congress, who form an elite group of 535 people in a country of 330M.

Look, I don’t think Dore’s presentation is for everyone, but his politics are dead-on what America needs and his passion is pure. I’m not a fan of Tucker Carlson, but I’ve seen him espouse some acceptable views. We should be careful not to capitulate on message, but be happy for honest exposure wherever possible.

I don’t think we have the luxury of liking the message, but hating the messenger right now. We’re in a tight spot.

I received a reply by vacuum_state, which made a strong point, starting with

“Good points broadly. There are just things that rub me the wrong way. […] Dore goes out to assassinate character.”

I again responded at length, reproduced below.

“Anyone who wasn’t for his MFA [Medicate For All] push was a fraud in his eyes.”

Well, not anyone, just the people who actually campaigned on MFA a couple of years ago and still haven’t pushed it to a single vote yet. That’s why he spends less time lambasting Republicans. It’s not because he supports them, but because he sees them as hopeless. If he’s hammering on someone, it’s because he actually believes in them.

The Congress has voted against the ACA 67 times (Wikipedia) (they finally stopped after 5 years). But there have been no votes for anything like MFA or a public option, despite a lot of politicians getting votes and mileage out of supporting those things.

As Dore says, an overwhelming majority of the country would be for it, but there’s no political support, other than lip service when it’s personally beneficial. Of course, he doesn’t say it that nicely, but he’s still right when he yells that, in the middle of a pandemic, with Congress and the White House, when are the Democrats going to do one of the things that they claim differentiates them from the Republicans? If they don’t step up now, of course they’re frauds. There is no way of sugar-coating that message without getting into bed with them.

“No one on the left should be promoting Tucker Carlson as an ally. His intentions are absolutely to not advance left wing agenda, his intentions are to build a right wing populist movement.”

I can’t presume to know Tucker’s intentions. I know that he’s swung around on some issues and is playing the role of a supporter of some issues I support (e.g. Assange, working class). For example, the ten-minute video segment Tucker Investigates: What is destroying rural America? (YouTube) was interesting. That makes him useful. Obviously, we keep an eye on him for betrayal, but reaching 15M people who are otherwise unreachable is no small thing.

Tucker Investigates: What is destroying rural America? by FOX News (YouTube)

First of all, the parties have flipped in allegiances before (the Democrats used to have the nickname The Dixiecrats and the Republicans won’t shut up about being “the party of Lincoln”). Second of all, though, allegiances are messy. People and institutions (like FOX) have a mix of opinions they promote and “believe” in. FOX can control its audience to a large degree, but if the audience starts to shift, FOX has to shift with it, to follow the money. If they think they have to give more voice to a suffering working class—why wouldn’t they? It’s a huge majority—then it’s possible that they pivot to keep their audience. Again, stay cautious, but use them where we can.

If Dore changed his message from his YouTube channel to FOX, that would be one thing. But he doesn’t. He just stops swearing, which is a fair concession, I think.

“I get unsure what his true objectives are and whether he comes in good faith.”

That’s fair. If his delivery style is off-putting or too mixed with jokes, then a more sober summary (perhaps like the one I made above) is more convincing. But I bet he appeals to a lot of people because he’s not that hard to understand. And he happens to be right, for the most part, happens to be on the side of the working class. We should be happy to have him, broadening the appeal of a working-class message.

I just read something the other day about Rush Limbaugh that goes to that point, in Don’t Hate Rush Limbaugh. Copy Him. by Ted Rall:

“As much as Buchanan, Reagan and Trump, [Limbaugh] defined the ideological and attitudinal contours of today’s emboldened Republican Party. Had Al Franken managed to guide the benighted Air America — take a sec to Google it — to similar heights, Democrats would have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and Bernie Sanders would be beginning his second term. Who knows how many economic sectors would be nationalized by now? (Emphasis added.)”

If you find yourself nodding in agreement with the entire message of a video or interview (like the Tucker Calrson one I linked above), but don’t like the people, that’s fine. Stay alert. But maybe don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and try to burn potential powerful allies. We need all the help we can get (as long as we don’t compromise principles).