The Campaign Spot

Your Relatives Are Not for Turning

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! From today’s delayed-because-I-spent-hours-in-traffic-on-Interstate-95-last-night edition of the Morning Jolt:

Happy Thanksgiving! For America’s Sake, Don’t Berate Your Relatives

Ace spotlights the most recent e-mail from Obama’s grassroots army, Organizing for Action:

There’s a whole website for it: “Health Care for the Holidays.” (Somehow they managed to meet the deadline for getting that website to work.)

Apparently liberals have gotten the message. MSNBC host Chris Hayes cheerfully tweeted Monday, “Devoting our whole show on Wednesday to how to talk about politics, news with conservative family members. Should be fun!”

If you need the advice of an MSNBC host in order to respectfully and pleasantly talk with family members, you’ve got real problems.

Here’s a crazy idea: Treat your family members as people you love and appreciate — or at least tolerate — instead of targets for political conversion. You only get one or two families in this life — the one you’re born into, and the one you marry into. Maybe if you’re lucky, you become “like a son” or “like a sister” to another. There’s a lot to talk about in this world beyond politics, and chances are you’re not going to persuade disagreeing relatives, anyway.

A healthy society does not feature a leader who sends messages to his followers, asking them to make a pledge to have a conversation with their families about his agenda at Thanksgiving. This is cult-like.

Our friend Jonah gets a lot of grief over Liberal Fascism, usually from people who have never read the book, and who usually go on to insist they don’t need to in order to criticize it. But there is a creepy quasi-fascist vibe in this effort to turn families’ holiday gatherings into an opportunity to dissuade critics of the president’s policies. This is not normal behavior for an American president. (Although FDR did try moving Thanksgiving a week earlier in an effort to help pre-Christmas sales. It didn’t work out.)

When you say the word ‘fascist,’ people usually picture Mussolini speaking from a balcony and his high-booted goons marching around in public squares. Because we don’t see those images in American society today, a lot of people recoil from labeling anyone in our modern politics with the term “fascist.”

But Mussolini wrote, “for the fascist, everything is in the state, and no human or spiritual thing exists, or has any sort of value, outside the state.” Among the Organizing for Action crew, there seems to be some irresistible compulsion to take something outside the state — Thanksgiving dinner — and co-opt it for the purposes of the state — or its leader, or its agenda.

Ace notes, “It truly is insidious, I think, this devotion to cause such that one would seriously — earnestly! — urge others to fight with family in order to advance a political goal. It’s not just about the casual denigration of the family in favor of the Real Family, which is of course like-minded socialists in the Progressive Cult. It is that, but it’s not just that. It’s also this idea that a person’s highest aspiration is to be . . . A telemarketer. Or, as there’s nothing ‘tele-’ about picking fights with your family in face-to-face meetings, an epimarketer, then. There is a terribly strange notion affecting the country, chiefly on the left but sometimes on the right, that man’s highest calling is to be a Public Relations Account Manager.”

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