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[Just as he was being announced as a new guest blogger, Armando was already exerting his tyrannical impulses, telling me I should make a diary entry of this comment, an answer to the question of what's an "unpopular opinion" at Daily Kos.  It's been slightly edited to fix grammatical, spelling and style issues.]

Here's a by no means exhaustive list of some of the major unpopular opinions at Daily Kos.  As you'll probably figure out, most are both popular and unpopular, and they appear in multiple combinations:

more below the jump

Anti-and-pro-Dean, Clark, Kerry, Edwards, Gephardt, Clinton(s), Daschle, Pelosi, McAulliffe.

Failure to accept as gospel truth the following: The DLC controls everything; Clinton controls everything; the South should be written off; the South should be contested; the Democrats are broken beyond repair; the Democrats are not broken beyond repair; not gaining seats in House/Senate is direct fault of Gephardt/Pelosi/Daschle; the Israelis are pure victims; the Israelis are evil Zionist racists and equivalent to the Nazis; the Palestinians are pure victims; the Palestinians are evil terrorists equivalent to the Nazis;  the leadership of the Democratic party hates "us" ("us" being a lose and flexible definition/descriptor); Trippi is a genius, Trippi is a crook; Dean got nothing but great press; Dean was taken down by the press and the Democratic establishement; Dean is a raving liberal; Dean is not a liberal but a centrist; Dean was a darling of the DLC; Dean was always despised by the DLC; the DLC is different from the DNC; Dean is fully to blame for the demise of his campaign; Dean is without blame for the demise of his campaign; Kerry's IWR vote was a vote for Bush to invade Iraq; Kerry shouldn't be blamed for voting for the IWR because he couldn't know Bush would use it to justify invading Iraq; Clark is a Republican; Clark has always be unambiguous about his partisan history; Clark was for the war; Clark's position was always clearly against the war.

Here are some opinions that are claimed to be far more unpopular or dangerous than they actually are:

Pro-Dean, anti-Dean, anti-DLC, anti-Democratic establishment (which is seldom defined), desire to fix our election system and ensure all votes are counted; viewing criticism of Dems and Dem candidates as useful; expressing an upopular opinion will result in you being banned or treated like a pariah; criticising Markos; suggesting improvements for Daily Kos; criticizing established participants; criticizing guest posters.

Here are some commonly seen red-herrings: Criticism of fraud claims=don't want to improve integrity of voting systems; investigating questionable voting results=tin-foil habedashery; criticism of candidate=that candidate's supporters are rubes/morons/should be purged/blacklisted/despised/etc; Dems don't always live up to their ideals and potential=Dems take advantage of minorities and are to blame for all their problems.  

In addition to those opinions, there are a few other dynamics going on here.  Some people who've been here for a while--and numbers aren't an accurate indicator, as they were only instituted as of Sept or Oct of 2003, while the site goes back to 2002--cannot accept change.  For some, that means somebody like me--who started reading in Dec 2002 or Jan 2003, began posting in March or April 2003, and, along with Meteor Blades, has been a front-page poster since August of 2003--is an "outsider" who represents what's been wrong with the place since the time that somebody downthread aptly characterized as the idealize and imagined Golden Age.  For others who came later, it means that it's too different than it was last June or July, and the people who came in September or the week of the election are a pernicious influence who are trying to subvert a delicate balance they percieve existed back in the early Summer.  Still others don't give a shit about anybody who's been around for a while, because they're all cliquish and tyrants who want to lord their seniority and low numbers over anybody new.  

Then there's the very different views of what the hell Daily Kos really is, why people come here, and what it should become.  For some of those most bitter over the changes, it's simply because it's not the intimate place where everyone knew each other and could kibbitz and kvetch about Bush.  They remember the days before Dean, and they remember the overwhelming unanimity between the early joiners to DKos and the early joiners to the Dean campaign, and they associate anyone who wasn't with Dean and/or DKos as an outsider.  That to me is the crucial shift; at that point, even though Markos posted a disclaimer that he was working for Dean but didn't make it a rah-rah site, and even though it wasn't really a fundraising our organizing tool of the Dean campaign, it was percieved by many as a warm place full of (mostly) Dean supporters.  Backers of Dean took to the shift fine, many who didn't back Dean dealt with the shift without a problem, even though they were supporting a different candidate.  (An example is Trapper John, who backed Gephardt.)  Others stayed agnostic on the intra-party stuff.  (I sort of fall into that category, athough in December 2003 I began actively supporting Clark, but I was also mostly absent from here through the Holidays and the entire month of January, and only came back in mid-February.)  But plenty of others left because their reason for being here wasn't the primary, it was because it was an excellent place to get news and discussion about Iraq, foreign policy, and meatier discussion about ideas.  For many of the real old-timers, they blame animus toward Dean supporters or animus by Dean supporters toward supporters of other candidates for the disappearance of some of the more eccentric or distinctive voices of that era.  The more likely explanation, however, is that as the primaries and then the general heated up, the site became more partisan--in both rhetoric and active fundraising for partisan candiates and committees--and that simply wasn't their cup of tea.

The partisanship is what brought plenty of people here in the Spring through the election, and this is all like ancient history.  It's like moving into a neighborhood you like just fine but hearing the people next door bitch all day about how the neighborhood was once so much nicer, and now they hardly know anyone and those they know they don't much like.  

Others have been here a long time, but as readers and not participants.  For them, this is all like the history of a foreign country, because while they remember much of Daily Kos, they have no sense of the changes to the "community."  Many liked Daily Kos much more before it was a site of fundraising for the party committees, Kerry and Senate and Congressional candidates.  Others came here because of the media attention.  And tens of thousands--probably more--who love Daily Kos will never, ever see a comment like this, because they never open up a comment thread.  They're readers, not participants, and that's just fine for them.  Notions of the place being broken are foreign and strange to them.

Finally, there's a tension that I think exists with all online forums: the difference between people who believe their arguments speak for themselves and judge their interlocutors solely by their arguments, and those people who chose to view the arguments through the lens of who wrote it, why they would write that, and how it should be interpreted based upon the poster's motives, history, character, allegiances, etc.  I try to adhere to "the argument, not the person."  While I certainly have gotten to recognize voices and have become friends with many scores of people on here, to be honest I've never met anyone in person (although that will change in a couple weeks) and can't really know if people are really who they say they are.  Somebody the other day congratulated me for being one of the more distincive female voices at DKos, when in fact I'm a man.  I've been called a DLC'er, a labor stooge, an anti-Semite, an Arab-hater, I've been criticized for shilling for my supposed favored candidate, who at various times was identified as Gephardt, Dean and Kerry (but surprisingly never Clark).  For some folks, what's written and argued isn't good enough, it's the supposed motivations and allegiances one is supposedly keeping secret that matter, and those motivations are offered up all the time, with seldom a shred of evidence to support the accusations, and seldom a reason for it to be pertinent to the discussion taking place.  It's the deepest rift I see here, and one being played out right on this thread.

Anyway, that was realllllllyyyyy longwinded, but the idea of "unpopular opinions" is something I've found one of the most anthropologically intersting dynamics on Daily Kos.

Originally posted to Dana Houle on Tue Nov 30, 2004 at 09:08 PM PST.

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