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The Good, The Bad and The Duped

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Here in the "angry, left-leaning blogosphere," we have a pretty clear idea of good guys and bad guys (no gender offense intended). We may differ in how we regard some individuals, but there's a general consensus on the kinds of people we find inspiring.

Politically Russ Feingold, John Conyers, Maxine Waters and Dennis Kucinich typify the progressive leadership so sorely lacking in our congress. Folks like Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal provide excellent context for the state of our country and the world. And people like Cindy Sheehan, Lester Brown and a host of others are truly heroic, regardless of the medals they're not getting from this administration.

The bad guys hardly need mentioning. The only question on that side of the aisle is "how deep the rabbit hole goes." The recent and sudden departure of Porter Goss and his aids, the Cunningham and Abramoff scandals, and the Libby, Delay and potential Rove indictments all suggest it's pretty deep.

On the corporate side it's the typically faceless, insidious company management that disregards workers, communities and ecologies in their fervor for profits. It's only the most brazen, like a Ken Lay, that actually bubble up to the media surface to become a target of our scorn. And of course mainstream media has lost its way due to corporate parentage.

Which transitions nicely to the third group, The Duped. The duped are the vast majority of U.S. citizens, living in a bubble painted by their own predilections and corporate-owned media. Sports fans, soccer moms, struggling families - The Duped form a very wide swath that is "mainstream America ."

This group provides a very necessary component of inertia to change. In times like these, that inertia leaves some of us lefties quite frustrated, so it's worth appreciating the inertia factor as a stabilizing influence in our culture.

And it's also worth noting that this group may be slow to gain awareness, but they're not stupid. At worst many are so blinded by their ideologies that they can't see past their own framing. But most are just caught up in day-to-day routines and interests.

What happens in our November elections will likely hinge on the success of 'angry, left-leaning bloggers' aka progressives in reaching The Duped. (There's bound to be a kinder term, maybe "The Disinterested?" And yet 'duped' is more accurate, considering the goals and the state of corporate-controlled media.)

Presuming the general accuracy of the remarks above, it makes sense that we make every effort to reach out to our less enlightened brethren, and encourage a November vote that leans progressive.

Here's a few things to bear in mind.

1) The Duped are not the bad guys. We don't want to condemn them or their viewpoints, we want them to see more clearly what's going on with our democracy. Toward that end, we want to stay calm and reasoned, avoiding the strident tone that alienates rather than supports conversation.

2) We're all in this together. An extension of the first idea, we want to empathize with those suffering from shitty jobs, high gas prices, lack of health care, etc. "If we had a real government in Washington , we'd-- Empathy isn't well-faked, but we lefties are surely nearer the heart of compassion than the Neo-cons.

3) Help them connect the dots. The Duped are often terrified, presented with a paradigm that fosters fear and alienation. "Well, terror is a tactic. You can't win that war. What you can do is vote for peace. It's through a dedication to peace that terrorism will be stopped, not stupid policies like those used to attack Iraq ."

Or "If you hit someone they're inclined to hit you back. If you smile"That doesn't mean you let someone kick your teeth in, but it means we don't kick first."

It's this kind of conversation that creates cracks in world view of The Duped. These conversations can lend awareness and energy to disaffected citizens. And we don't need a bull horn on a street corner. Growing this movement comes at the water cooler, at family and social functions, at the market or shopping mall.

One more thing. Some of The Duped are very passionate in their dupedness. The economy is great, Republicans will maintain control, we can't pull our troops from Iraq , etc. When conversation starts morphing onto confrontation, we stand quietly firm in our ideas. "You might as well let that go, as you can't convince me our economy is great when we have negative pressure on wages, under-funded schools and infrastructure, personal debt and bankruptcies at all time highs, and a 10 trillion dollar deficit."

You probably can't do much to effect the mindset of a passionate duped, but you will most certainly have a positive effect on bystanders or other interested parties. And that will bring us what we need most - a real, progressive swing that restores our government come November.
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Jim Prues is the Founder of World 5.0 and President of Panoptic Media. He understands that 'democracy is not a spectator sport.'

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