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  •  Different kinds of criticism (18+ / 0-)

    There's the policy criticism - "this approach is not going to be effective because....."

    There's the personal criticism - "Obama is a spineless empty suit because..."

    Too many folk seem to have difficulty telling the difference. It is entirely possible to thoroughly discuss a policy concern without ever naming Obama.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Fri May 17, 2013 at 07:43:10 PM PDT

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    •  So what (12+ / 0-)

      Seriously, presidents have been criticized in that manner since we started having presidents.

      He's not your boyfriend.  He's a civil servant.

      It's not your job to be his personal criticism deflector.  

      You have your opinions and your way of criticizing, or not.  Others have theirs. Live and let live.

      We're not talking about minor nit picking issues either. This is not gratuitous criticism and people are allowed to vent their frustrations without being pounded for it, as has happened here for the last five years.

      "Justice is a commodity"

      by joanneleon on Fri May 17, 2013 at 08:26:16 PM PDT

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      •  You shouldn't be "pounded" for venting (12+ / 0-)

        But there's a difference between being a bit sarcastic and harsh when making a substantive point and simply venting about what an asshole the President is. Vent if you need to - you certainly don't need my permission or anyone else's. however, the venting isn't going to teach anyone anything and probably won't change any minds. There is something to be said for catharsis, no doubt.

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Fri May 17, 2013 at 10:09:37 PM PDT

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      •  But criticizing doesn't actually do anything (6+ / 0-)

        It's what sportfans do on the sidelines or hipsters do in the back of the room while the band is up there making some noise.  It's what people do when they aren't actually doing anything.  It's parasitic, all it does is react to someone else is doing.  When it's the definition (raison d'etre) of ones approach, it's automatically disempowering and promotes a culture of impotent whining.

        The rightwing thrives on pissing and moaning because they have no vision of anything ever being different in the future.  All they want is to get "back" to whatever their imagined paradise was.  The essence of their philosophy is anticreativity.  The left is different, it thrives on actually having vision, on generating new ideas, not just saying "this sucks" all the time.

        To be anything more than a backwater of political discourse (which is what we've become here) we need to be making proposals and suggestions, not just critiquing the powers that be.  When we create, we're players, when we just point out flaws, we're bystanders (and not even very interesting ones).

        •  So you're saying criticism serves no purpose, then (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Burned, sidnora, orestes1963, Urizen

          Is that correct?

          To say I'm a bit disillusioned would be an understatement. I never would've guessed my being critical of elected officials makes me a tapeworm.

          Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
          ~ Jerry Garcia

          by DeadHead on Sat May 18, 2013 at 03:38:29 AM PDT

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          •  No, just not that it doesn't add much (1+ / 0-)
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            It's a place to start from, not a place to accept.

            I don't expect anyone short of a saint (Gandi or MLK) to satisfy me as a politician, but my response to that isn't to feel sorry for myself but to look for ways to improve the situation.

            I assume we all know that the world is fucked, that the planet is doomed, that capitalism is hugely exploitive, that the kind of people who end up in positions of power are generally slimyassed douchebags, etc.

            What I'm interested in is: what can we do about it?

        •  You realize it is possible to (6+ / 0-)

          do both? It's possible to be critical, both of policies and of the way our elected leaders choose to enact those policies, while at the same time working to improve both the policies under which we live and the quality of the people we elect.

          I would posit that, in our imperfect world, it's incumbent upon every thoughtful and engaged person to do both. I try to.

          "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

          by sidnora on Sat May 18, 2013 at 04:34:22 AM PDT

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          •  I agree, but I don't see it here (1+ / 0-)
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            The overall tone of this blog is whining or smug 'they're so stupid' stuff or 'we're fucked'.

            •  I find enough (0+ / 0-)

              decent stuff to read here still, and I've been around as long as you. But YMMV - no one's forcing you to stay here and read.

              "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."........ "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." (yeah, same guy.)

              by sidnora on Sat May 18, 2013 at 05:43:35 PM PDT

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        •  So you disapprove of criticism (1+ / 0-)
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          of the republicans as well?  Really?  It's pointless, eh?

          I take great exception to your claim.  Criticism is a fundament of the Enlightenment.  It is an important means of challenging people to new ways of thinking.  For this reason, it is also a critical component of the arts.  

          It is also an inescapable component of the Hegelian dialectic.  Every thesis is confronted with its antithesis (by nature a critique of the thesis), through which a synthesis occurs.  If there was no criticism of the status quo, there is no progress.  All movements for change are based, at the core, on criticism.

          You either have a very dim view of the role of criticism or simply did not think before you began typing.  I would hazard that you misconstrue whingeing (hipsters in the back of a bar) with actual criticism.  The "new ideas" you mention arise from a critical view of the current state of being.  These ideas are the fruit of criticism; they do not bubble up out of nowhere.  The modernist movement is an easy example in art.  It arose from a critique of the limits of representational art and the mechanization of society.  

          •  Regardless of the fact that this thread is (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Urizen, DeadHead, Gorette

            a debate where people are in disagreement, it is really AWESOME to see that the comments attached to this diary are long, thoughtful and that all of the commenters are making an attempt to have a debate.


            Thanks all for that :)

          •  As long as all we do is present antitheses (1+ / 0-)
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            we're not getting on the good foot, we're reacting.

            Can't we assume that as "progressives" we aren't satisfied with the status quo and then more forward from there instead of constantly putting ourselves in the (basically passive) position of reacting to theses generated by our opponents?

            Call it the Overton Window or whatever you like, but if we're always playing on the regressives' (of either party) turf we're NOT generating much of anything and nobody's gonna really listen to us.

            I dunno.  In real life I find those who present things to do far more stimulating and attractive than those who just point out the flaws all the time.

            What do want?  Do we want to build a movement that draws more people to it or do we want to bore them to death with a lot of negativity?  There's a reason we haven't gotten a lot of political traction.  Personally I suspect it's because we haven't been offering anything of our own.

            •  I simply disagree (2+ / 0-)
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              Gorette, Val

              Presenting an antithesis is the core of push for progress.  It is the very opposition to the status quo that creates those new ideas that you appear to value.  New ideas do not arise in a vacuum.  

              Furthermore, we are not putting ourselves in the position of reacting, we are put in the position often of having no other recourse but to react.  There's a huge difference between the two.  And I would argue that this is not a passive position.  It is the first step in changing the status quo.  Women's suffrage raged for 70 years before full voting rights were acknowledged for women.  During much of that fight, the only thing suffragists could do was raise consciousness by calling out the inequities they endured.  What would you have had them do in the 1850's that would have satisfied your "new ideas" requirement?

              Similarly, the civil rights movement did not spring up in the 1950's, but had been growing for nearly 100 years.  To use a recent example, the wave of same sex marriage adoptions occurred after at least 30 years of fighting for spousal rights (I use this conservative benchmark because the rise of HIV created an urgency on this front as spouses of the infected faced all kinds of horrors regarding caring for their partners and the treatment of joint property).  I was there in those early days and there was nothing to do but complain about the status quo, along with protesting.

              Progress does not happen overnight.  It does not spring like a "new idea" from some untended soil.  It starts by pointing out a wrong, over and over again, until a critical mass is developed which then can be actualized through a change in policy or attitudes (the synthesis).  I would argue that what you consider a waste of time is a natural and necessary part of the process.

              As for "boring them with negativity," is this a statement of your response?  I think that people like to find that there are others who feel the same way they do.  The complaints ultimately lead to a growth of consensus (as is recently occurring on same sex marriage).  The demand that we shut up or that everything doesn't have to be a gay issue is quite similar IMO to what you are advocating.  If you find the dialogue boring, I would posit that perhaps it is because you do not want to hear the message.  Are you politically inclined towards the positions of the "negativity" folks or opposed?  I think your response would be very informative.

              On an unrelated point, it appeared to me that those who decry the complaining around here about the administration were often the same people who opposed the Occupy movement or were extremely critical of it.  The so-called complainers tended to be in full support.

              •  for the record I was absolutely pro OWS (1+ / 0-)
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                my lack of enthusiasm for complaining is the same no matter who is being complained about (or even who's doing the complaining.

                I loved OWS because it was pro-active, adding new elements to the national discourse, instead of what I see us mostly doing here, which is almost completely reactionary.  In Hegelian terms OWS made the 1% and their "right" to hoard the thesis of what america was talking about.  Instead of another lame reaction to repug litanies about the deficit (which was what america was talking about until OWS changed the conversation), we (the left) proposed something for a change, put a new idea into the discourse.  I think we need to be doing a lot more of that.

                And, yeah, (maybe it's just personal, but most of the people I know feel the same way) I find constant negativity really boring (funny sometimes, like the goth kids on South Park).  The more predictable it becomes the less interesting it is to anybody.  During the Bush years, a lot of negativity was probably healthy.  All these years later, does it have the same power?  I just don't think so.  And I think the results speak for themselves.

                Do you like the results we've been getting?  I don't.  Maybe we should be doing something different.  I know it takes time to build a movement, but I don't believe movements are built on complaining.  In the Civil Rights struggle, Dr King spent a lot more time inspiring people, presenting a positive thesis of integration instead of a negative thesis of segregation ("I have a Dream", "I have been to the Mountain Top", etc.).  In Marriage Equality, those who supported equal rights got control of the discourse and changed the american mindset (the thesis) from "why do they need to get married?" to "why can't we get married just like anybody else does?".

                I dunno.  To me it's about setting the terms instead of reacting to the terms imposed by the status quo.

                And I don't see that happening over here these days.

                •  I always thought the civil rights movement was (5+ / 0-)

                  yes, was, built on complaints. I lived through it. It was Hell NO, we don't accept sitting at the back of the bus. Hell, NO, it's not right to make us go to substandard schools, etc. It was all complaints and rightly so. Those complaints waked up the rest of the nation who did not realize the things that were going on and how wrong they were. That's why politicians had the support to make great changes happen.

                  But I do think your point about negativity is correct. It cannot be the main topic because, yes it does get boring and one can feel trapped in that mindset of oh, noes, here we go again. We have to do much more than that and we do.

                  But I see DK differently, in general, than you do, I guess. As inclusiveheart said, we have had influence, and you can see how the discourse has changed as people become enlightened, from 2005 when I joined to today, the difference in attitudes towards economic issues and our plutocracy have changed and our understandings deepened as to the way the system works.

                  Over the years I have learned SO MUCH from the diaries on a wide range of topics, especially economic, government, politics, the military and the environment. It has been a huge free educational foundation for lots of us I expect, as well as a grand support system at the same time.

                  I might say also that inclusiveheart is a great example here of the kind of comment-maker who always adds substance to a discussion.

                  "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                  by Gorette on Sat May 18, 2013 at 03:25:11 PM PDT

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                  •  I would say the same about you, friend. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Thanks for contributing ;)

                  •  not sure I agree (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    samddobermann, 3goldens

                    If the Civil Rights Movement had been all about the complaints  
                    (which had been true forever) I doubt it ever would have developed traction with people all over the country who didn't live in the racist south and weren't directly exposed to / affected by it.  But, particularly through the eloquence  of Malcolm and MLK (and a generation of folksingers), it developed a strong positive voice that everyone with a heart and a soul wanted to be part of.

                    A movement succeeds by growing, by expressing its message so well that more and more people involve themselves in it.  I don't see much of that going on here these days.  All day today Sarah Palin has been at the top of the list.  Really, does anybody here not know by now she's an idiot?  Even republicans have figured that one out.

                  •  but with civil rights it wasn't the (1+ / 0-)
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                    complaining that got anything done. It was the actions: the sit ins, the marches — and the insane reactions of the white entrenched power class to them, the bus rides and the bus boycotts, the voter registration drives and going to jail (and staying there) and all sorts of other ACTIONS.

                    All the complaining in the world did no good. It didn't change a thing.

                    The Occupy movement wasn't sitting around complaining as was evident here on DKos. It was an action, a demonstration and because it was a mobilization for that which most people sat around complaining on blogs and else where it took off and incited groups around the world. It faded out because is eschewed structure though remnants are still active.

                    Criticism looses legitimacy when it deteriorates into name calling and ascribing motivation to the person(s) about whom you are complaining.

                    I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                    by samddobermann on Sun May 19, 2013 at 06:02:38 AM PDT

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                    •  Occupy showed us the way (1+ / 0-)
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                      Occupy may now be moribund, but the genie is now out of the bottle.

                      It saddened me how many people here at DKos castigated Occupy as "useless" since it wasn't concerned with electoral politics.

                      Me, I think elections mean diddley doo when neither party is on your side.

                    •  What in hell do you think GOT PEOPLE TO sit in?? (0+ / 0-)

                      Got them to march? Their complaints. And being fed up with being told to stuff it. Becoming aware of things that were wrong started things off and then leadership in nonviolence path led to change.

                      No one is saying complaining is the answer to social wrongs per se. But neither is it a bugaboo. It's part of the process of change. That's all I'm saying. True what you say about name calling and a focus on complaints. Once people are aware of the problems they need to move to the next step.

                      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

                      by Gorette on Sun May 19, 2013 at 09:44:59 AM PDT

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      •  It's true he's not a boyfriend. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gorette, samddobermann

        So it mystifies me why so many Kossacks criticize him using the same emotional language one might use to fight with a boyfriend or spouse or significant other.

        Non futuis apud Boston

        by kenlac on Sat May 18, 2013 at 07:33:32 AM PDT

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        •  Well, I saw that one coming from (3+ / 0-)

          a mile away.  There are a lot of people who invested heavily in Obama and thought he was going to accomplish a really unrealistic list of things - and also thought he was more liberal than he actually is.  Some people really feel betrayed and they are angry.  They'll get over it and be more sophisticated consumers going forward, but Obama will represent the point of disillusionment for them - much like Bill Clinton did for me.  I learned not to get attached to the person and instead focused on policies much, much more as a result.

          •  "more sophisticated consumers ?" (0+ / 0-)

            That is bizarre.

            You use an awfully broad brush to paint those you disagree with.

            I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

            by samddobermann on Sun May 19, 2013 at 06:11:33 AM PDT

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            •  Why is that bizarre and it isn't that (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              3goldens, mmacdDE

              I "disagree" with people per se.  It is just that I happen to know some people who fell in love with Obama - he inspired political participation in some of my friends who had for years been either cynical or adamantly hands off in politics. I happened to think that was really great - I was happy to see that.  The thing was that many of those friends were basically new to politics and really had not watched closely enough over the years to have experienced having a politician disappoint them - nor did they understand the limits of political realities.  Now a contingent of that group is upset and angry with Obama - they feel betrayed.  It is bizarre that you don't recognize the fine line between love and hate, imo.  

              I remember seeing the admiration, inspiration and expectations soar to such heights for some people that I know that I knew that they could only end up disappointed on some level - and what I most feared was that their awesome inspiration would not end up reverting to their previous cynicism or withdraw from the political process again.  A couple had such long lists of expectations that I was pretty sure they were going to feel acute disappointment.  Now this group in my life basically falls into two categories - one that is increasingly angry and cynical about the Republicans (even on some things that were Obama's ideas) and another that is increasingly angry and cynical about the whole process.  Both camps are intense.  Some, though, have become more sophisticated consumers.  

          •  Obama's lack of support for us didn't surprise me (1+ / 0-)
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            Like you, I had seen it before with Clinton. I can still vividly recall watching Clinton's election at the local Steel Workers Union Hall and watching everyone cheering madly, thinking that all their problems would now be solved----and knowing that all those hopes would be dashed because the Third Way Dems were not on our side.

            The sad reality is that the Dem Party---the ENTIRE Dem party from top to bottom, simply isn't on our side. Hasn't been since the 70's. Doesn't really want to be now. Until that changes, we get nothing no matter WHO is elected.

            Occupy showed us the way. We cannot wait for the knight in shining armor to get elected and charge in to rescue us all.  We have to do all that OURSELVES.

            Of course, it's always easier to do that when the people in office are supporting you instead of clubbing you over the head . . . .

        •  I can only repeat what I have said for years . . . (3+ / 0-)

          Obama is not the problem, never has been, and won't be in the future.

          The problem is that we have one political party that is conservative Eisenhower Republican, another political party that is John Birch Society nutty---and NO party on OUR side.

          The Dem Party has not been liberal or progressive since the 1970's, and has zero interest in being so now, Obama or no Obama. THAT is our problem.  If Obama were to be kidnapped by space aliens tonight and the reanimated zombie corpse of FDR or JFK dug up and put in his place instead, nothing would change. The Dem Party simply is not on our side.  Period.

          Until THAT changes, we progressives will always remain nothing more than an utterly ignored group of globflies who have zero effect on policy and who get nothing from our party but the back of its hand.

          That is why ALL of the "rox, sux" arguments are idiotically stupid. They all miss the point utterly.

    •  Well, you're right about one thing (8+ / 0-)
      Too many folk seem to have difficulty telling the difference.

      Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
      ~ Jerry Garcia

      by DeadHead on Fri May 17, 2013 at 09:35:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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