Revenge of the Nerds: The Real Life Cut

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Today, I am reminded of one of my favorite childhood movies, Revenge of the Nerds.  The Republican Right represents the jock fraternity, Alpha Beta.  The progressive left represents the eponymous nerds.  Since God can remember, the nerds have been getting their asses kicked by the Alpha Betas, while the rest of the campus looks on indifferently.  Most of the campus falls into the nerd category.  They understand that the treatment of the visibly nerdy is outrageous and they secretly want to do something to help.  Yet, they are paralyzed by fear.

Well, the nerds figure that if they can only get control of the Greek Council (Congress and the Presidency) they can enact rules that will create a kinder, gentler campus imbued with an atmosphere of fairness, compassion, and generosity.  The Alpha Betas continue to harass the nerds.  Yet, the nerds ban together, form their own fraternity, fight back, and use their intelligence, charm, and creativity to beat the Alpha Betas in a fair contest.  For their Herculean efforts, the nerds, I mean, Tri Lambs are awarded control of the Greek Council.  Change We Can Believe In, right?

Of course, the Alpha Betas do not take this lying down.  As Coach John Goodman tells his defeated cohort of disheartened jocks, “You just got your asses whipped by a bunch of goddamn nerds.  NERDS!”  They cannot simply stand idly by while a bunch of brainy, arugula eating, faggoty, retards take what is theirs.  Thus, the Alpha Betas storm and destroy the Tri Lambs’ house in a fit of rage.  When the Tri Lambs return home from celebrating, they are completely dejected.  They realize that controlling the Greek Council is meaningless because they do not have any power.  Nerds will always be nerds.

Yet, one nerd, Gilbert makes a courageous stand.  He goes alone to confront the brutal Alpha Betas on their own turf.  Of course, he is unceremoniously dumped in a fountain.  However, the nerds rally and with the help of their fraternity brothers come to Gilbert’s aid.  Gilbert makes an impassioned speech that helps everyone realize that fundamental healthcare reform, if not single-payer, then a robust public option, is in everyone’s best interests.  The other students turn their backs on the Alpha Betas and embrace their nerdiness and a public option.  Now, it will not be a problem using the Greek Council to correct the inequities perpetrated by the unbroken rule of the Alpha Betas.  Student life is never better.

Even at a young age, that silly, goofy, teen sex comedy taught something that I fundamentally wanted to believe in.  If you are courageous, principled, and right (correct), good will defeat evil.

Not quite.

You see, we fought to get control of Congress in order to make things better for the bottom 99%.  Nevertheless, once our nerds got on the Greek Council, they made it their business to suck up to the Alpha Betas in the name of bipartisanship.  Even though the Betas hated everything we represented and stood for, the nerds we elected always wanted to be one of the cool kids.  Therefore, despite repeated slaps to the face, they continued negotiating in vain.  We begged them to forget about the Betas and support the things that a majority of the country wants.

Alas, our nerd leaders began telling us that it was in our best interests to do things such as cut library funding in order to build new stadium skyboxes.  “You know,” they said.  “Football brings in revenue that will be distributed to all areas of the university.”  Only, the extra money goes to coaches, executives, a few professors, and our so-called nerd representatives on the Greek Council.  The rest of us have to make do with outdated books and eat cold pizza from a crumbling student union.

This ultra-extended metaphor has one primary point.  The people who we elected to represent us were either bought and paid for from at the beginning, or they were co-opted along the way.  As Glenn Greenwald points out, the progressives in Congress and some in the media have lost of all credibility as a bargaining force.  The Obama Administration ran roughshod over their demands because they were not backed up by real power.  Corporations wield power.  Politicians backed by corporations wield enormous power.  In the face of overwhelming power, many people, even leftists I admire, will acquiesce.  I hope that I am wrong, but anyone that believes that this bill will undergo any substantive fixes any time soon is delusional.

Mr. Obama is going to treat healthcare reform like a drunken uncle: get him inside and put him in the back room away from company.

My challenge to any liberal: show me one substantive change to this healthcare bill that was inserted in order to keep liberals from bailing on it.  As far as I can tell, they keep taking the moderately helpful provisions out of the bill.

Even if Senator Bernie Sanders got some money into the bill in order to help finance free healthcare clinics in poor areas, these are not the type of systemic changes that will greatly improve the healthcare system in this country.

If you support this bill on the merits or are worshipper at the altar of pragmatism, you should still be ashamed to call yourself a liberal.

I am.

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