Let me be blunt.

I say that a lot, you know.  I've got limited social skills, and a very direct style of communication.  Over time, though, I've come to realize something, despite my Autistic/aspie sensibilities: It is different to disagree with those who are on your side than it is to disagree with somebody who is diametrically opposed to you.

In other words, while it may feel glorious to greet any deviation from what you consider good policies with direct and harsh treatment similar to what you would give to a Republican, you really should have a different way of dealing with your disagreements with your friends than with your enemies.


I'm not going to single anybody out on any side of the Chained CPI issue (Or rather the "how to respond to the Chained CPI issue", since I bet most Democrats disagree with that particular policy.  Hell, I'd say I'm just as much a conflict junkie in my own way, given my long experience directly thwacking Republicans elsewhere, and my sometimes baseball bat blunt posts here.

It feels good to stand up against the things that make you feel worried, angry, or whatever.  But not everything that feels good, does you good.  Milkshakes and cookies make you feel good, but they will also make you fat.  There, too, I have quite a bit of experience.  ;-)

Seriously, though, it does feel good to stand up for what you think is right, or at least against what you feel is wrong.  But at the same time, we need a degree of unity, of positive fellowship to win.  We can't be blasting each other, given our common cause, without mercy, relentlessly attacking our own over our internal disagreements.  It doesn't exactly help us.

Looking back at 2010, it's unclear whether it was the stupidity of some of the Democrats in Washington, or the alienation of some of the Democrats back home that caused the greatest damage.  But regardless, we underperformed, and have paid a price in terms of our Constitutionally constrained ability to pass legislation, and avoid stupid crises ever since.

Whatever we think of Obama or the Washington Democrats, there are quite a few ways in which we miss having total majority status in Congress.  There's no question we need to get those seats back.

And confidence will be part of that.  I know folks are going to talk about clapping fairies back to life, but let's take a moment to look at this: We're not dealing with a real creature, whose heart will not pump blood, nor lungs breath air, unless we applaud.  We're talking about something in people's spirits, in their hearts and minds, things that do respond to appeals to hope, to reassurances, to brighter and more optimistic messages.

Yes, there are a lot of things wrong in policy and politics these days, but whether we have the means to do anything real about it depends on those psychological and emotional reactions in voters, the stuff we're looking down our nose at.

As such, here would be what I would say: we need to tone down the venom, and keep in mind that the people we're talking to are closer to us than others.  Where with some, we'd have to engineer complete conversion or defeat to get them to our side, with members of our own party, we only have to do something in the way of deflection, nudges in the right direction.  Rather than oppose people within our party as if they are absolutely wrong, we ought to be approaching them with a more managed kind of opposition, less contradiction and direct opposition, and more deflection and course correction.

Most importantly, we need to invite people to do constructive things, things that will leave a stronger party behind, both in power and in character, rather than continually convince people that there isn't any hope left for anything.  Such politics, in my opinion, simply lets the other side both have the advantage on optimism, and also teaches our people to believe themselves helpless before their opponents.

America needs a new dream, not a reiteration to it of the nightmare it's currently in.  Taken too far, it can become denial, but as a species that must hope for the future in order to survive, we need to cultivate a sense of new life, and new achievement in our party.  People are sick of the negativism and conflict.  They want to feel good about things again.

Progressivism is sold on that kind of optimism, not on relentless pessimism.  It's sold on the idea that we can improve things, that corporations do not have to dominate, that people can bend the trajectory of history towards justice and common prosperity.  The pessimism we see all too much is more like that of Conservatism, where we are told that things must remain as they are, or else all will be lost.

We can say this: there are alternatives to chained CPI which might cost the Rich and well off more now, but which in the end will make retirement more comfortable for the beneficiars, and no less comfortable for those who have millions in the bank.  We ought not to be making things worse for millions of Americans to barely improve the comfort level of a few.

If Republicans will not yield on tax cuts, yielding on any social security reforms should be  off the table.  And even if they do yield, the reforms should be restricted to that  which will not undermine benefits.

We don't need to get all slippery-slope and angry on the President.  We don't help ourselves much if we leave him politically bruised, with less support.  No, what we need to do is to remind him of what we sent him there for, and the support we gave him.

Let's save the hostility for those we really would profit from seeing destroyed.

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