I have a ton of respect for both Lawrence O’Donnell and Glenn Greenwald. They are both serious political commentators and true advocates for social justice and civil rights. However, they have very different approaches that put them at different ends of the liberal spectrum. Greenwald is an avowed progressive and a cheerleader for the ‘Chomsky Left’ – he does not discriminate between left and right and has written withering critiques of both parties. Greenwald is deeply suspicious of everyone and everything and refuses to compromise his ideals when analyzing politicians and their policies.
O’Donnell probably agrees with Greenwald when it comes to actual policy, but disagrees on how you get there. O’Donnell is a veteran of Washington politics and believes that compromise must be made to achieve liberal goals.
Both men are not afraid to mix it up and got in a heated debate the other day on why the Democrats got hammered in the midterms. Greenwald believes that the Democrats lost because they failed to enact serious progressive policy while O’Donnell argues that America is inherently too conservative to pass policies that the hard left wants. It’s a fascinating debate and well worth watching:
While I respect O’Donnells views and think he makes a good argument, I tend to side with Greenwald (although perhaps not his tone). I’ve travelled a fair bit in the United States and am convinced that most people are far more left wing than their political labels would indicate. One of the reasons I think this is true is that most people don’t have the time to really understand what their government is actually doing. The media (particularly Fox) does so much to distort reality it’s hard for people holding down full time jobs to get a grip on what the political classes and corporations are doing to the country. I’ve met many Republicans furious about the Wall St bailouts, the power of big corporations and the lack of funding for public education, yet they go out and vote for the party that is enabling it. Are they stupid? No, just ignorant of reality.
I think that is the point that Greenwald is trying to make, but his constant hostility towards anyone who doesn’t agree with him makes it hard to listen to him.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.