"This site is about more and better Democrats..." -Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, 03 Feb 2010
Being part of a movement to elect more and better Democrats cannot just be about electing more and better Democrats; it is about being more and better Democrats ourselves. The "more" part of that comes when we engage: when we register voters, when we phone bank, when we vote -- even and especially in downticket races where we might otherwise have been silent, when we donate, and most of all when we get others to do the same. The "better" part, though? That comes when we, individually and as a group, compose ourselves in a manner that is in accordance with our best practices, with the better parts of human nature, and with the goals and ideals that the Democratic Party stands for. When we stand up for what we believe in, when we do what's right, we're better Democrats.
Today, Daily Kos is not a place for better Democrats.
Today, Daily Kos is not a place for more Democrats.
Kos has said that there is nothing unethical about Hilarity. Kos has said that trying to make the Republican primary into an even bigger debacle than it already is, means we win. Kos is wrong. This is wrong. And we win nothing by losing our souls. Below, I explain why that's true in the short term, and why I might get banned for explaining why that's true in the long term.
In the short term, Hilarity is antithetical to every stated goal of this site, and the party it seeks to support.
Tactically, it is a terrible idea. Actual money is being raised and spent in this Hilarity project. I want to focus on that for a moment. Regardless of anything else being true, money is being spent -- under the banner of Daily Kos -- to support a Republican's campaign for the presidency. Is there seriously no Democrat who would benefit from that money? Kos tries to argue that hurting the Republican frontrunners benefits the downticket Democrats, but you know what? That's the tactics of failure. I don't want to elect Democrats because we discourage the other guy. I want to elect Democrats because they are the better candidates and their constituents want to vote for them. And we should all want that, because that's the way to elect Democrats who don't get voted out of office on the next election cycle.
And that assumes that this idea works. It didn't work when the Republicans did it to us in the past. It sounds unfair. It sounds sleazy. It sounds like ratfucking. Because it is. And that sort of thing pisses people off. People pissed off at the "other guy" vote. Republican voters who think that the Democrats are a bunch of cheating, weaselly losers who want to rules-lawyer about whether sabotaging their primary is or isn't "ethical" are the kinds of Republican voters who will hold their nose and vote just to stop us.
And you know what? They're right. Sure, this isn't actually a dig-up-the-dead-to-vote, stereotyped Chicago-style operation. It's not illegal. Kos got that much right. But there are still a lot of people who think of those sort of things in association with our party. It's why "community organizer" is a term that gets the Republicans all riled up. Is that fair? No, of course not. But why play into it? The Republican party is self-destructing. Why wallow in the trenches? Why roll around in the grey area of ethics to beat a dying horse? Why adopt the tactics we've decried in the past? Hilarity is wrong. Wrong from its inception, wrong from its goals, wrong from its very name.
But the long-term problems with things like Hilarity are more serious. And, conceivably, Markos might ban me for them, because I'm going to talk about electing Republicans.
Here's an uncomfortable truth: sometimes the other guy wins the election. See, sometimes good candidates fail. They die, maybe. Or it turns out that they were secretly not very good people at all (Edwards, I'm looking at you here). Or the world just shits all over itself and "vote for change" cancels out logical arguments. It doesn't matter how right we are. It doesn't matter how much money our side has or there side spends. It doesn't matter who cheated in what election and stole which office. Nothing we do will elect Democrats, or Democratic majorities, 100% of the time. Also, we shouldn't want to.
When the Republicans got on board with people like Grover Norquist and Karl Rove, and got the idea that, hey, maybe they could be in charge forever if they just worked at it hard enough ... that's when they started the rapid plunge towards Crazytown. There but for grace, we go. We abandon our higher principles, we become them. And ultimately, that's where people like George W. Bush came from. Stolen elections, yes, yes, sure. But Bush v. Gore wasn't the start of what went wrong in 2000. Much less 2004, 2008, 2010. Or now. The real problem is that the people we're running against are batshit crazy and should never have even the chance to win.
Remember when David Duke used to be a real candidate? Eventually, people finally realized that, hey, that guy was a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard! We probably shouldn't let him be a serious candidate anymore! That's what we need now. We need people to realize: hey, Michelle Bachmann shouldn't be a serious candidate. Herman Cain shouldn't be a serious candidate. Sarah Palin shouldn't be a serious candidate. Rick Santorum shouldn't be a serious candidate. Not for President, not for Congress, not for a governorship. Those aren't people that support America. Those aren't people that should get elected.
If the Republicans run better Republicans -- you know, actual sane conservatives -- we'll lose some races to them. Maybe we'll lose more races to them than we'd lose if they continue to be the Clown College Party. But look at our government now. Look at it. Is it even possible to write about our Congress without using the term "broken"? The Bush Presidency was horrific. A McCain administration would have been worse. Can we even imagine the unlikely possibility of a Santorum Doctrine? At some point, we have to help the people who don't agree with us. We have to lend a hand to sane, principled Republicans and say, hey, we'd prefer that our guys win, because we agree with them. But when they have to lose, we'd like to lose to people like you, instead of people like that. We have to get back to a place in national politics where losing the majority in the Senate or even the White House isn't apocalyptic. Otherwise, some day ... maybe not in 2012, but maybe in 2016 or 2020, someone like McCain or Santorum or Palin or Bachmann or Nehemiah Scudder is going to win the election, and we're going to reap the results right along with the Republicans we laughed at.
And Hilarity? Hilarity hurts, not helps. It belittles the political process. It makes voting into some sort of perverse game. It encourages the idea that people like Santorum deserve a place in the forum of Presidential candidates. It further alienates what sane people there are -- and, candidates notwithstanding, there are a lot of sane Republican voters -- on the other side of the aisle. It makes politics in America worse, and that hurts America.
Markos: As Jon Stewart once said, to someone very different than you, "Stop this. Stop hurting America." Politics, even partisan politics, isn't zero-sum, scorched earth. It isn't a game. And this isn't winning. Kos, please. End this.