Ted Rall and the Rude Pundit Talk Revolution, Part 2 (The Problem as It Stands):
"Unless you're in fucking total denial, you have to accept the fact the Democratic and Republican parties are unwilling and unable to talk about the real problems facing the country...If that's the system you've got, then why put up with it?" said Pulitzer-nominated cartoonist Ted Rall. You have to say "Pulitzer-nominated" or "American Library Association Best Book of the Year author" or some such shit whenever you're quoting someone who is truly radical because you want to demonstrate their mainstream credibility. Certainly, that street cred is what got Rall invited to MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show for his new book The Anti-American Manifesto.
Rall and the Rude Pundit met for a conversation in a loud restaurant in Manhattan last week to talk about one of the taboo subjects for liberals: the threat of leftist revolution in the United States with the possibility of violence built into it. Even though he's caught hell for his snarkily-titled book's stand on the need for such action, Rall ain't backing down. "If you are a fan of moderation, you have to have that threat," he said. If you're progressive, you have to be able to point to the radical leftists and communists and anarchists and say, 'Look, if you don't want to deal with us, you're gonna have to deal with them.' You can give us a higher minimum wage and security that we won't lose our jobs and stop paying your CEOs $80 million a year and you won't have to deal with them. Otherwise, one day, you're gonna end up hanging from a lamp post." The Rude Pundit commiserated, saying that he was only half-joking when he wrote that Bernie Madoff should have been set on fire on the steps of the New York Stock Exchange.
The thing is that the book itself doesn't say that any kind of revolution would inevitably lead to violence in the streets or even to a progressive government. What Rall does is lay out a case for how the American system of government and the social contract itself is broken, using for evidence everything from the use of torture to the health insurance clusterfuck to the ludicrously imbalanced punishment of the poor versus the treatment of rich criminals. He does it with rage, sarcasm, and heartbreaking story-telling.
"It's not a call for violent revolution. It's not a call for leftist revolution. It's a call for revolution," Rall explained. "I'm very well aware that there is a huge, possibly overwhelming majority of conservative people in this country. And it may well be that when we get rid of this broken down system, we may end up with some right wing, authoritarian state. So be it." As the Rude Pundit's said before, let's settle this shit: what kind of country are we? If we're the country that the right claims we are, or if we're the country of rights and liberty for all, whatever it is, let's settle it.
Rall says flat-out that he loves America, or at least a concept of America that we've gotten away from, and he wants to save the nation. "Right now, this country is kind of played out," he said. And we tried to figure out what was the last great thing the United States accomplished. When was the last great social action that the government was involved in? The civil rights movement? We bailed on the War on Poverty. What was the last great public works project? The Hoover Dam? The highway system, which is now falling into shabby disrepair? "We've duct-taped the entire country," he offered.
Rall went in another direction: "When's the last time we won a war? 1945? When's the last time we declared one? 1941?" He added, "When's the last time we had something for us? We don't do anything anymore. The only thing we do is rain bombs on Muslims...This system is a system of gangsters, like the Russian government. They don't follow their own Constitution as it is." With the abandonment of habeas corpus and due process when it's convenient under presidents of both parties, it's hard to argue. "Obama demonstrates that country is broken down."
The Rude Pundit mentioned how he thought the Tea Party, despite its destructive effect on the recent elections, showed that it's still possible for citizens to gather for a broad agenda in a way that actually accomplishes something. "You have to admire that they are angry, that they recognize that something's wrong. I have more in common with that attitude than I do with liberals who think everything's fine, everything will be hunky-dory if we just get Obama reelected," Rall said. "Where the Tea Party people go wrong is in who they blame... they blame the poor and illegal immigrants. I blame the rich and the corporations. But in terms of assessing the problem, we're on the same page. Now we have to have a discussion about who's really responsible."
Of course, the Tea Party is now merely a loony subsidiary of the Republican Party. As Rall said, they're "like little babies. They don't know how much they're being used by the GOP. It's like how liberals have been used by the Democrats. Liberals have been around the block a little longer." But let's not give the right too much credit: "The country's collapsing - if we don't step in and take control, they will, and they're a bunch of violent, highly armed assholes. So we have to stop them first."
Tomorrow: We plan a revolution. And where the Rude Pundit stands. All in the thrilling conclusion.