The Problem Of Selective Outrage

by William Skink

One of the most frustrating aspects of partisan politics is selective outrage. Why? Because it keeps our two political parties locked into an endless dance of amplifying opponent’s transgressions while minimizing their own.

A comment thread about Zinke’s move to double the cost of visiting National Parks got me thinking about selective outrage.

Zinke’s attempt to pull this off is deplorable, but as JC tries to point out, it’s not happening in a vacuum. Here is JC’s initial comment:

Obama signed PL 144-289 last year which raised the price of a Senior Pass to NPS sites by eight times, from $10 to $80. Where was the outrage?

The whole thread is worth reading, but for this post here’s one reaction and JC’s response:

Pete Talbot: Hey, JC, I also would rather see public land fully open to all citizens. That’s not what this post is about. It’s about the worst Interior Secretary since James Watt. Of course we’re “beat(ing) up on Zinke some more.”

Obama’s appointees, Jewell and Salazar did a decent job of managing our public lands. There can be no comparison between them and Zinke. But because of your utter contempt for anything Democratic, you can’t see the forest for the trees.

JC: Pete, it’s not “contempt for anything Democratic.” It’s contempt for democrats that have ditched what it meant to be “Democratic” to embrace neoliberalism. And it is Bill Clinton and his congressional allies’ neoliberalism that have led to the policy that Zinke is abusing.

Of course I find Zinke’s fee decision deplorable. But it didn’t happen in a vacuum. And it illustrates the commonality between democratic neoliberalism and republican free-market ideology when it comes to the environment. Because democrats basically embraced and initiated a right-wing think tank policy (fee demo), we’re going to just beat up on Zinke?

Why not go to the root of the policy, and its foundations and work from their? That’s what’s so maddening about today’s crop of democrats, particularly with environmental issues, is that they have no sense of the past, or of the legacy of public lands management and the conservation movement.

I’d be a lot more sympathetic about public lashings for politician-turned-administrator if it happened within a foundation of solid policy. But that’s not what’s happening here. And it is what makes democratic neoliberalism so distasteful.

Pete is right about Zinke, and JC is right about neoliberalism. So where do we go from here?

Ryan Zinke’s name is also coming up in the bizarre decision to put two dudes from Whitefish in charge of returning power to Puerto Rico for a cool 300 million dollars. There’s the big dollar Trump donor, the small town connection to Zinke, and the absurdity of this two-man outfit contracting a project of this scale. The stink of corruption is strong.

Are Montana Republicans concerned? Doubtful. Zinke had no problem with his ideological comrades in Montana when disclosures about his jet-setting came out. Coming off a Gubernatorial election in which Bullock’s use of aerial transportation was a big focus, the lack of outrage regarding Zinke’s use of taxpayer resources to take five-figure flights is duly noted.

On the flip side, the stink of corruption wafting from the Whitefish deal to power up Puerto Rico cannot rise beyond the utter stench emanating from the Uranium One deal midwifed by Hillary when she was Secretary of State. This story is getting fresh attention and could do some real damage to the utterly corrupt Clintons.

Considering the non-stop anti-Russia hysteria, how can these latest disclosures not illicit outrage from the partisan xenophobes blaming Russia for everything? Maybe it’s because their xenophobia is partisan and only functionally useful as a way to delegitimize Trump.

Selective outrage is how partisans participate in the divide and conquer strategies of the establishment. If we can’t move past this to the necessary acknowledgment of the total corruption of our political process, then no one’s selective outrage will be taken seriously.

And the establishment wins.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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5 Responses to The Problem Of Selective Outrage

  1. Big Swede says:

    Great job JC. Pete looked foolish in his responses and Don in his typical crybaby fashion failed in a weak deflection.

    Of course we should all be ignoring how the Clinton machine funneled money thru a spider web of lies, funneling money thru Canada, pay for play, political assassination ploys, worst of all supplying Russia with US mined uranium who will no doubt sell it to the highest bidder at the terrorist nation arms symposium.

    But have you’ve seen the way Zinke wears his cowboy hat? What bitter pathetic lives these attack dogs must live digging up the most trivial muck on a daily basis.

    • Big Swede says:

      Next time Don uses Wiki use this definition from the same resource.

      “”Political hack” is a negative term ascribed to a person who is part of the political party apparatus, but whose intentions are more aligned with victory than personal conviction. The term “hired gun” is often used in tandem to further describe the moral bankruptcy of the “hack”. When a group of “political hacks” of a similar political affiliation get together, they are sometimes called a “political hack pack.”[1] When one side of a debate has more “political hacks” than the other, this is referred to as a “hack gap” and gives an advantage to the side with more “political hacks.”[2][3]”-Wiki

  2. Turner says:

    The fascist Republican Party and the neo-liberal Democratic Party answer only to their capitalist masters. At their masters’ behest, they’re both working full time to destroy ordinary American citizens and what’s left of the natural environment. The only real solution to the problems they are creating is to not be afraid to talk about democratic socialism as an alternative to capitalism.

    • amen, Turner.

      • Big Swede says:

        The socialist ideal eventually goes viral, and the majority learns to game the system. Everyone is trying to live at the expense of everyone else. In the terminal phase, the failure of the system is disguised under a mountain of lies, hollow promises, and debts. When the stream of other people’s money runs out, the system collapses.
        Kevin Brekke

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