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View Diary: The Ethic of (Ir)Responsibility (238 comments)

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  •  Yeah, but (none)
    when you speak cynically in a public forum...
    and disparage Dems who are honestly working out of an "Ethics of Responsibility" mindset, you do more than say:

    "I'm not buying"...

    Your initial comment here has the effect of poisoning the well and turning people off the process.  And as much as I see that we are on the same page in some ways and hope we are working  for similar justice goals...I also need to say this:

    It is perfectly legitimate to disagree with the content of the main post.  To argue that real ethics can take the long view and be idealistic and principled RIGHT NOW a la Nader.  But to do so by denigrating it and putting down those who sincerely espouse it's views is just bad argument...and worse politics.

    2004's the election, 2005's the prize...let'sTCB!

    by kid oakland on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 07:49:55 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  au contraire (none)
      I think this "ethics of responsibility" is a crock, as being presented.

      Nader has been a model of the ethical and political in his career.

      What I see in this post is an evasion of ethics, and responsibility, by seeking fall guys and avoiding one's own responsibility (or one's own chosen candidates and leaders).

      I don't think my arguments are bad, and, upon reflecting on my intitial response, I countered it with someone more affirmative and common ground-ish.

      Did you notice?

      Ethics should tell you that we should hold all candidates to the same standards, and responsibility ought to counsel us not to single-mindedly focus on evasion of our responsibility by pinning it on someone else.

      There's information out there that Nader hurt the Democrats in 2000, and there's even more information out there that the Democrats hurt Nader and the Greens (and their 5%) by not allowing the Greens to debate.

      This is called pragmatics.  The Democrats didn't want Nader to debate out of fear for losing.  They lost anyway, and screwed both parties.

      There's also plenty of information out there that points to this or that development that also hurt Gore's chances, and people love ignoring ALL of this other information while single-mindedly focusing on the hated Nader (go see DHinMI's response to me in another comment - he clearly hates Nader).

      Gore didn't win his homestate.  Tons of Democrats voted for Bush in Florida.  And so on.  And so on.  

      And is it okay for the Right to run popular 3rd party candidates, so it will split their vote, but not okay for the Left to do so?

      What DHinMI is expressing is an emotional revulsion that is seeking evidence to support the feeling.

      I'm talking ethics and responsibility, treating candidates fairly and equally in terms of criticism, and paying attention to all the information before coming to conclusions (also, NOT coming to conclusions when it is impossible, in the face of so many factors and vectors, to confidently posit a cause-effect relationship).

      It's called rationalism, and the Democratic Party often loves to tease the Republicans about their commitment to it, as do I.  I would like the Democratic Party to walk the talk, and respect rationalism and not namecalling, fearmongering, emotionalism, and hysterics.

      free the information

      by freelixir on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 08:01:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  NO NO NO NO NO... (none)
        Please, show me where I attribute exclusive blame to Ralph Nader for Bush's victory, and show me where I reject the sharing of responsibility.  Try all you want to argue against something I didn't say, but it's still sophistry.  In several comments on this board myself and others acknowledge that there is plenty of responsibility to go around for what happened in the 2000 election.  The only people refusing to share in the responsiblity are those like yourself who are making an extremist defense of Nader that attributes blame to everyone else but absolutely none to Ralph Nader and the people who voted for him.  

        And by the way, regarding this:
        "What DHinMI is expressing is an emotional revulsion that is seeking evidence to support the feeling."

        Now who's psychologizing someone else's actions or argument.

        Here's my argument, clear and simple for you to accept or reject:  

        People are responsible not only for their intentions but also for the foreseeable results of their actions.  Blaming what transpires on the stupidity or immorality of others, when their action was predictable to a decent degree of probability, is unethical.  I used Nader as an extreme example of this, but it applies to everyone who participates in politics, electoral or otherwise...and that includes me, Kid Oakland, Ralph Nader, and you.  

        •  respectfully (none)
          The only people refusing to share in the responsiblity are those like yourself who are making an extremist defense of Nader that attributes blame to everyone else but absolutely none to Ralph Nader and the people who voted for him.

          I'm not sure this is what people do; most of the time what you get are people who stand by their votes for Nader, given that the normal stance of those angry with them is to try and make people feel guilty.  Funny how so many of us like to confuse responsibility, accountability and guilt as if they are interchangeable terms for the same phenomenon.  I don't feel guilty about my vote for Nader, and neither do many other people and very often I hear people saying that.  This seems to outrage Dems who are looking for a kind of Mel Gibsonesque self flagelation on the part of 2000 Nader voters.  

          If there is "extremism" in these discussions, its in the form of people who want to attribute the entire problems of the world to Nader's 2000 run and the people who voted for him.  That "defense" of Nader that you seem to be red flagging, I would suggest, comes most often in the context of the Democratic refusal to see anything else as the issue, when it comes.  What's amazing to me is the thickness of the blinders that so many Dems (and especially centrist Dems) wear that they spell N-a-d-e-r.  

          As for Nader's personal refusal to accept accountability, that's a different issue, and I would probably agree with you.  But there is something slightly deceptive in your characterization above, or at least, something devoid of context.

           

          "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself." -- Martin Vanbee

          by a gilas girl on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 08:34:56 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  devoid of context indeed (none)
            I sometimes wonder when reading a rebuttal to my comments if they truly are a rebuttal to my comment, and I end up having to back and read my own rebuttal again, to figure out where the rebuttal to my rebuttal is coming from.

            With that said, I'd like to remind anyone reading my comments that there is usually more than a single person involved in the discussion, and so I may be characterizing an overall gist of discussion rather than what any one person in particular said.

            People are responsible not only for their intentions but also for the foreseeable results of their actions.  Blaming what transpires on the stupidity or immorality of others, when their action was predictable to a decent degree of probability, is unethical.  I used Nader as an extreme example of this, but it applies to everyone who participates in politics, electoral or otherwise...and that includes me, Kid Oakland, Ralph Nader, and you.

            I don't have time to critique this, and, from my first read, it sounds agreeable.  So let's run with it.  Remember, my point is that whatever standard we lay down, it applies across the board, to all ethical agents, or, in this case, to all candidates.

            First, let's turn this back to Gore and the Democrats' decision to freeze Nader out of the debates.  The foreseeable result of this is obvious - Nader is not going to be on your team, or cooperate with you, since you are not cooperating with him, but are instead actively undermining and working against him in your own self-interest (elements of game theory spinning all over the place here).

            The result of pissing Nader and the Greens off is that if you need their cooperation at some point, you won't get it.  Besides that, many voters did the "Nader Trader" thing on their own.  Still, when it came time to ask favors of Nader to not campaign in the swing states, what was the expected result?  In my mind, what happened.

            Also, let's review the Democrats performance in Congress, while Nader and his organization were continuing, as always, to push for grassroots democracy across the nation (and which people LIE about constantly saying "what's Ralph been doing?")

            Apply that to the Democrats voting on the war in Iraq.  The intention was to cover their flanks and self-interest by voting to put pressure on Iraq but not for the war.  Evade responsibility, when in fact it is the responsibility of Congress to declare war.  Everyone knows that if we build up forces we're probably going to war, especially when 1/2 the functioning cabinet is influenced by Richard Perle.

            Then blaming what happened on the "immorality" of Bush is unethical.  I mean, it was anything but not eminently predictable what the result would be.  It's only when it appeared the war wasn't going so well that the Democrats, challenged by Dean's rising popularity, suddenly declared their opposition to the war.

            This is the party that claims to be the champions of the grassroots and the American people.  Well, I'm not holding my breath.  It took Dean and Trippi to take the energy of anti-Iraq War emotions and fold it into a eerily-familiar Naderesque platform and thus force the Democrats to pay attention to the grassroots and start thinking contrary to Big Money prostitution.

            So it's not unreasonable to assume that Nader may be needed, in the absence of Dean, to assure that the Democrats pay attention to the grassroots and citizen-focused platform.  One would be a fool to think that Democrats would do anything for the grassroots without being pressured to do so.

            free the information

            by freelixir on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 09:03:50 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  either that, or support IRV (none)
              Or, we could free up the political market, and allow more people to be served, by supporting Instant Runoff Voting.  Put it on the platform.

              Then, all of these discussions about Nader would be null and void.

              free the information

              by freelixir on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 09:07:41 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  well (none)
        namecalling, fearmongering, emotionalism, and hysterics.
        ain't me.

        In simplest terms, you firmly agree with Nader's critique and want to vote for him.  You have no argument from me.  It's a free country and it's your conscience.  Period.  End of sentence.

        However, you also want to claim the moral high ground...AND put down Democrats who vote for Kerry at the same time...saying that Kerry Democrats, in effect are buying into a BS ideology.

        Take one step back, though.  Who do POOR and LOWER INCOME people vote for?  Not for Nader.

        Is there any chance that Nader is going to get votes from everyday working Americans who know their lives would be best served under Kerry over Bush...

        not a lot.

        Some folks don't have the luxury to "vote their conscience".  I stand with them.

        2004's the election, 2005's the prize...let'sTCB!

        by kid oakland on Fri Feb 27, 2004 at 10:49:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indulgences (none)
          "Some folks don't have the luxury to "vote their conscience"."

          Thanks for pointing that out.  For all the bluster about looking out for the little guy (who he did help throughout most of his career), Nader's talk about helping the poor people rings hollow, most of all because most poor and minority voters want to help themselves.  Therefore, they tend not to cast protest votes.  

          Oh yeah, RE: DK's playing the convention.  Not the DK's themselves, for obvious issues of taste if for nothing else.  But it's worthwhile to consider as long as they do no harm.  Big events outside a convention hall shakes me a little bit (shades of 1968), but I'm all for pushing the party to the left as long as we don't open the door to the right.  

          I'm kind of like Badger, who commented above to the effect that I'm far left, but I'm only interested in what works.  Trial and error have been discredited as a scientific method since about the seventeenth century, so we'd need to be careful.  But expanding the struggle into areas of culture and society and beyond the narrow realm of voting and elections?  I'm all for it.  

          In fact, I think blogs like this one are doing just such political work.  

          BTW, I love your diaries and your comments.  

        •  I'm Not Voting For Nader (none)
          Where did I say that?

          free the information

          by freelixir on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 03:42:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't get the "gore lost tenn" (none)
        argument as the parallel, or response, to the "nader was partially responsible for electing bush" argument. A vote for Nader could never--never-have resulted in bush losing the election and non-bush winning. Nader never had a chance. So in that sense, a vote for nader was contributing to a bush win. Gore lost his home state, and we can say he was an unsucessful politician there. But the voters there didn't want to vote for him precisely because he wasn't republican enough for them. Gore could never have made himself over into someone who was "more like bush" for them and making himself over into someone who was "more like nader" would also have lost tenn. so the whole issue is pointless. Its not who won/lost its whether running as a certain kind of candidate at a certain moment in time is helpful or destructive of the chances of another kind of candidate being elected. My only enemies are the republicans as presently constituted. no democrat is as bad as most republicans.

        aimai

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