Vidal_06-1995
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Cleaning Our Stables

In the mindless babble that passes for political debate in the United States, nothing means what it appears to mean, particularly those key words "liberal" and "conservative." For political purposes the latter seems to have demonized the former. But has this really happened? Americans tend to be divided by race, religion, and class. The idea of a political idea is alien to our passionate folk, and that is why Karl Marx and his admirers could never get through to so thoughtless a polity while neither Tom Paine nor Tom Jefferson made much impact. So-called liberals—always for some mysterious reason called "so-called" by conservatives; does this mean that conservatives want to be thought of as true liberals?—want to extend democracy as well as see to it that the Bill of Rights applies to everyone and that the Declaration of Independence, a truly radical liberal document, be heeded so that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness can be made available to each American, even William Safire.

I would have thought that all of this was fairly simple, but now, thanks to television and to a myriad of religious and political demagogues, our average citizen is demonstrably the most ignorant in the First World, knuckles heavily calloused from too close a contact with the greensward as he lurches from error to error, all the while hating niggers and fags and uppity women and whatever else was put in his...

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