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You've Gotta Fight, for Your Right, to have a REAL Party -- Liberal Street Fighter

It is easy, here in the land of the Personality Cult and "There is no 'I' in team" and office environments plastered with motivational posters to blame the system or our "leaders" for the sorry state this culture festers in, but that is too simple, a cop out. How easily we forget, or run away from, the idea that this is a government of We the People .... David Sirota sums up the real problem:

The disease is simple to understand: It leads the supposedly “ideological” grassroots left to increasingly subvert its overarching ideology on issues in favor of pure partisan concerns. That may sound great at first glance. Democratic Party officials always talk about a need for “big tent unity” and subsequently try to downplay ideology. But as a trait of the grassroots and not just the party, Partisan War Syndrome could be positively devastating not just for issue advocacy, but also for Democrats’ political aspirations as well.

Remember last year, when so many of us (myself included) found ways to look past our values, our disappointment, our disgust at the Democratic Party's fecklessness? Remember the way you made your peace with yet another shitty candidate, a candidate who lived down to all of our worst fears? Remember how everybody blames Nader for Gore's loss, instead of Gore's lousy campaign and all of the Democratic voters who've long since stopped demanding a responsive and representative party?

Sirota is right, and it would do us all a world of good to take his insights to heart.

Certainly, this disease can be difficult to detect. The mainstream media regularly portrays the so-called Democratic base as a highly ideological, “liberal” or “progressive” monolith, supposedly pressing an insulated, spineless D.C. Democratic establishment to move to the “left.” This portrayal creates the image that there really is a cohesive, powerful ideological force on the left, one that is committed to convictions and issues before party-much like there is on the right. This image is reinforced by the mainstream media’s constant characterization of Internet blogs and the “netroots” as an extension of this monolith-as if a medium automatically equals an ideology.

It's an easy story to believe, and it is hard to accept that we've all stepped away from our responsibilties as citizens:

And it is a straw man. To be sure, there used to be a powerful ideological force on the left that constituted the Democratic Party base. And there are still remnants of that ideological movement left in various progressive labor, environmental and civil rights organizations, and disparate Internet blogs. But look no further than the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries to see that the ideological movement as a whole is in tatters. In that race, primary voters - supposedly a representation of this “ideological” base -supported John Kerry on the basis of his personal profile as a Vietnam War veteran and his supposed “electability.” It was the most non-ideological of choices in what we were supposed to believe was the most ideological of races.

This blunting of the left’s ideological edge is a result of three unfortunate circumstances. First, conservatives spent the better part of three decades vilifying the major tenets of the left’s core ideology, succeeding to the point where “liberal” is now considered a slur. Second, the media seized on these stereotypes and amplified them - both because there was little being done to refute them, and because they fit so cleanly into the increasingly primitive and binary political narrative being told on television.

And third is Partisan War Syndrome - the misconception even in supposedly “progressive” circles that substance is irrelevant when it comes to both electoral success and, far more damaging, to actually building a serious, long-lasting political movement. This is the syndrome resulting from the shellshock of the partisan wars that marked the Clinton presidency. It is an affliction that hollowed out much of the Democratic base’s economic and national security convictions in favor of an orthodoxy that says partisan concerns and cults of personality should be the only priorities because they are supposedly the only factors that win elections. It is a disease that subverts substance for “image” and has marked the last decade of Democrats’ repeated failures at the ballot box.

We've made politics just another hobby, another game, the same way we talk about chart position instead of songs, weekend box office instead of plot and direction, box scores instead of the poetry in motion of a good play. Surface without heart, that's the modern American way. This is why the right is beating the shit out of us, why they are destroying our country ... we aren't fighting them. Not really. To really fight requires passion and heart and the willingness to risk all to fight for a better world.

To be sure, it is impossible to paint a picture of the entire “progressive” base in one stroke. After all, the base is not just a monolith (regardless of what the media would like you to believe). There still remain some institutions, pundits, blogs and grassroots power organized specifically around ideology and issue positions. But a quick glance at some of the most prominent “liberals” on newspaper op-ed pages or at a small but growing segment of “progressive” blogs makes clear that, unlike on the right, efforts to strengthen an ideology on the left face a clear roadblock with the advent of Partisan War Syndrome.

“Liberal” columnists write with little sense of an overarching ideological umbrella. A cadre of bloggers and blog commenters increasingly give and take away their support for candidates based on questions of political tactics and “profile,” not issues. The left’s emerging new ideological infrastructure still at times seems afraid to openly push the Democratic Party to embrace more progressive themes.

It is in the heat of debate that we find solutions. It is in open primaries and contentious elections that real consensus can form. Without passion from the left, the blinkered retrenchment in an imagined past, instead of a joyful embrace of a future of our own design, will continue to dominate our politics.

Why should this be troubling to the average progressive? First, it is both soulless and aimless. Partisanship is not ideology, and movements are not political parties - they are bigger than political parties, and shape those parties accordingly through pressure. As much as paid party hacks would argue otherwise, the most significant movements in American history did not emanate from the innards of the Democratic or Republican Party headquarters, and they did not come from groups of activists who put labels before substance: They spawned from millions of people committed to grassroots movements organized around ideas - movements which pushed both parties’ establishments to deal with given issues. Without those movements transcending exclusively partisan concerns, American history would be a one-page tale of status quo.[...]

This is why resisting Partisan War Syndrome and doing the hard work of rebuilding an ideological movement is both a moral imperative and a political necessity for the left. A grassroots base that is organized around hollow partisan labels rather than an overarching belief system - no matter how seemingly energized - will never defeat an opponent that puts ideological warriors ready to walk through fire on the political battlefield. If we do not rekindle that same fervor about actual issues on the left, we will continue living in a one-party country, losing elections into the distant future, and most disturbing of all, watching as our government serves only to protect those in power.

Be prepared to resist bad candidates if they are opposed to your values, even if you have to withhold your vote to do so. Work hard for good candidates, but if partisan manipulations make real progressives unavailable, then WITHHOLD YOUR VOTE. If a shitty scion of a political family is going to help take away your reproductive freedom, refuse your support. If a corporate whore is only to willing to protect corporate bankruptcy while taking away the same from working people, leave that place on the ballot blank if you have to. Remember, without your vote, they don't have jobs, and would you hire somebody who you knew was going to do a shitty job for your own business?

Do not buy the bullying that you have no choice. Politics is eventually about what we value as a people, about what we want to BE as a people. Do you really like what you see now when you look around you?

Originally posted to Madman in the marketplace on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:07 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Point taken (4.00)
    But, in a two-party system, when your party has to consistently bend over and take it, you must do everything possible (within the law) to get your guys in office. When power is no longer consolidated in the hands of the other party, then perhaps we can start talking about increasing our scrutiny of our guys. Until then, in my opinion, we should continue to focus on the more immediate goal of retakihg the Congress to restore the checks and balance of power.

    We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of out souls. --Winston Churchill

    by Sunqueen212 on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:13:56 PM PST

    •  lets say (3.77)
      that we return "our" party to power, without expecting them to actually work for our values: what incentive would these suddenly empowered leaders have to change? How would we make them change having elevated them without any demands if them?
    •  Interestingly (4.00)
      The Republicans could not gain power until they abandoned the strategy you advocate for the Democrats, and started fighting "the war of ideas."

      Maybe it's time the Democrats started putting forth some of their own? If they cannot unite around traditionally Democratic ideas and principles (such as fighting the bankruptcy bill), then there is no winning.

      •  Part of what you say is correct (none)
        but do not downply the decades-long partisan rage-fest that the GOP engaged in starting in the 60's.

        It was very effective, as was said previously, in turning the very term "Liberal" into an epithet used in campaign literature, propaganda, and press releases on a daily basis.

        Look at the Bus-Dukakis campaign. Where were the "ideas"? Compare the prominence of those ideas to the prominence of blatant hatred and attack politics.

        The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

        by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:39:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The "ideas" were bogus (4.00)
          But they managed to redefine politics so that someone like Richard Nixon or Barry Goldwater couldn't get elected dog catcher as a Republican, and would be called "liberals" today.

          And the Democrats aided and abetted. How? By just being partisan, while abandoning all of their principles. They forfeit the war of ideas. And that fateful moment, when Dukakis stammered, "I am not a liberal!"

          That was the nail in the coffin. And since then the Democrats have been silent about ideas -- or at best running away as soon as they got their noses bloodied.

          Without the ideas, the Democrats will continue to lose.

          •  Have you read the history (4.00)
            of how they did what they did?

            They did it through media spin, think tanks and propaganda.

            There were very few "ideas" inherent, and lots and lots of "framing" of liberals and democrats and progressives as traitors, as weak, as soft, as lame, and so on.

            The democrats did not aid and abet by simply being partisan - that would imply that they fought back...rather they did not fight back, as your Dukakis quote illustrates...

            Instead, Democrats continued in the same vein as always, droning on about micromanagement and playing the same game as they did in 1965.

            Long speeches and press-releases about policy details, about the ins and outs of particular issues, accounting and technocratic wonkery that was met with disdain, scorn, and shouts of "Liberal" or "Elitist" (see Bush vs. Gore, 2000)...

            My question is this: do you want democrats to fight, or to describe? do you want them to put forward ideas, or to proudly proclaim their partisan attachment to a particular platform?

            Or is the real issue not the dichotomy above, rather that you do not agree with the democratic platform.

            The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

            by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:55:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (none)
              you do not agree with the democratic platform.

              and the democratic platform is ...???? Iraq? Health care?

              •  Good point (none)
                ...and it seems to be shifting ever rightward. Now they've even dropped the ERA, which, given the full-on assault against women's rights in this country, I find quite telling.
              •  The Democratic Platform is (none)
                1. as many have pointed out, requiring significant revamping,

                2. "fluid" in that it is currently a topic of massive debate,

                3. Not sufficient, but better than the GOP alternative,

                4. Nowhere near as good as the Green or Socialist platform(s), but those are unfortunately not viable alternatives.

                For what it is worth, the 2004 Democratic Platform is:

                http://www.ontheissues.org/...

                And it is not great, but has some bright spots.

                Adherence to that platform in the form of action and votes on the floor...again, not great, but better than I think you portray.

                The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:18:59 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  i have to say (none)
                  that your response depresses me -- this pile of garbage smells a little less bad -- dig in!

                  Note that I am agreeing with you.

                  •  Oh it depresses me too. (none)
                    But I feel the need to DO something, and I cannot bear to shout into the void any longer. I feel like my work with the local democratic organization over the last year or two has had more effect than 10 years of ardent activism in organizations that are MUCH closer to my political leanings.

                    Unfortunate, depressing, but, sadly, there we are.

                    Hopefully I, we, can shift the frame.

                    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                    by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:57:31 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

            •  In other words (none)
              The Democrats refused to talk about ideas, refused to talk about values -- liberal values, progressive values. Instead they played parliamentary games, talked wonky and tried to play both sides.

              That's how they abetted.

              And how the big call seems to be for more of the same.

              I fail to see how that's a winning strategy. The proof is in the polls, where despite the Bush and GOP lows, the Dems are hardly faring any better. Why?

              Because they stand for nothing.

              •  Actually what they did (none)
                is took for granted that the ideals and values were inherent and shared and clearly understood...

                In other words, they took for granted your statement about the fact that the majority of Americans were with them on the issues and the ideology, and were trying to talk about implementation.

                The problem is that when they took that for granted and stopped talking about those core ideals AS core ideals, the GOP was busy re-framing and labelling the names given to those ideas, lying about those ideals, their history and efficacy, and suborning the media through think-tanks and corporate malfeasance in order to broadcast their propagandistic lies.

                The democrats, at least in my opinion, were busy being earnest technocrats operating under the assumption that, as you say, Americans are generally pretty liberal (and I believe that they are and that you are correct)...meanwhile the GOP was operating under the assumption that even basically liberal Americans can be lied to and snowed into believing terrible things about wonky technocrats too busy nuancing and thinking about policy nerdling to realize that they were getting framed.

                The response to that series of changes was the DLC, who decided that the best way to get out from under the labeling, rather than fight back and define those ideals, was to lie, cheat and steal better than the GOP.

                And on that score, we agree - the DLC is lame, crass, and craven.

                The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 11:39:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

  •  Several questions, and (4.00)
    a challenge.

    1. How do you propose that "we the people" get organized?

    2. Do you think that some form of "leadership" is necessary, and do you think that prominent individuals speaking to millions on the TV and the 'Net have a responsibility to lay out an ideological program, and as such, do they constitute leaders? If so, then don't you agree that criticism of those leaders, coupled with support for the basic organization that they seemingly lead is valid, useful, and effective?

    3. Do you really think that backhanded insults couched in pretty language on this blog, coupled with outright nasty invective everywhere else you post are not noticed? And do you think that such behavior helps or hurts your (in my opinion admirable and progressive) cause?

    4. Do you, as is implied by your post here and by several comments elsewhere, really think that "the worse it gets, the better it will be?

    5. Given that implication, and given your prominently stated intent (elsewhere) to destroy and replace the Democratic Party (something that I am certainly willing to entertain in theory), what do you propose to replace it with, and how do you propose to maintain the basic fundamentals and infrastructure that people need to survive in the interim?

    And the Challenge:

    Please differentiate your position from what has been described by extremely prominent leftist intellectuals and leaders over the last 150 years as a combination of maximalism and infantile hyper-leftism.

    Thanks.

    And keep this in mind: You and I, personally, have gotten engaged in some pretty nasty exchanges, including insults and worse. We probably would not like each other very much in person. But make no mistake, I agree with 90% of your political stances...where we differ, the real kicker is that I think your tactics and strategy are 1) naive, 2) self-destructive, 3) indicative of a pampered, bourgeois conception of "progressive politics" that arise out of privilege.

    I have been where you are...it does not work, it will not work, and it has been the standard practice of the "Left" for the last 35 or more years...and it is a massive failure that has resulted in the alienation of the Left from its traditional partisan fighting base.

    The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

    by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:20:23 PM PST

    •  Let me add this (3.85)
      If the "Left" withdraws from and/or actively opposes the political "reform" party, the soft-moderate liberal welfare capitalists, otherwise known as the Democratic Party, otherwise known as "the Bosses B team"....

      And the result is wholesale takeover of the government, and subsequent gutting of every significant reform by the radical right (as is happening right now, as we speak)...

      And one of the reasons why that takeover is possible is clearly the ardent and vocal opposition from the Left...

      How will the large mass of people who NEED those reforms, who SUPPORT that reform/liberal/soft capitalist party view the Left opposition?

      What you are suggesting is that if the Left actively engages in opposition to the centrists, regardless of the effects of the takeover by the right, that the people who supported that now-defunct moderate/reformist party will naturally gravitate toward and support...the very people who helped engineer that collapse?

      That's nuts.

      Go back and read Rosa again.

      Engage in Reform, fight alongside the reform-moderates, even as you simultaneously advocate your positions and present your critical analyses and predictions.

      Gain respect by working WITH, gain support by helping and by being right.

      If my house has a rotten foundation and you burn it down while telling me it is all for the best, I will still fight you.

      If my house has a rotten foundation and you help me try and fix it, even if my plan is not great and you say it is not great...when it does not work, I wil remember your help and turn to you next.

      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

      by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:27:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is my one and only response to you (3.00)
      as I'm too tired to get into one of those flame wars you enjoy so much.

      1. This is a funny question coming from someone who has identified himself as a Socialist. I would argue that leaders are created by their times, and are often only apparent looking backwards, but you're well schooled in historical dialectics, right?

      2. I'm a firm believer in the idea that leaders are elevated by followers, and aren't always apparent. I am also a firm believer that in a democracy it is very important to remember that EVERYONE is subject to criticism, even invective. After all, they're going to get worse from the other side. If you can't take the heat ... etc.

      3. You think my words are purty? <blush>

      oh, and yes, I do. Worked for Tom Paine, Tom Jefferson, John Adams ... Hunter Thompson.

      1. Yes. Think of the energy the labor movement gathered coming out of the Depression. Again, funny question coming from a socialist.

      2. It is through conflict that new opportunities appear. Phoenix from the ashes and all those other cliches. Anyway, I'm not destroying anything ... they're doing that all on their own (see: Kerry's self-agrandizing shitty "response" today).

      As for "prominent" intellectuals and all that ... I'm just a guy w/ a keyboard. Take me or leave me, and I'm still mystified that I upset guys like you so much. If I'm so wrongheaded and stupid, why do I upset you so much?

      As for "naive" ... my 'strategy' is merely a recognition that politics is a form of negotiation writ large, and in what negotiation does one win by conceding your position at the beginning of the haggling?

      Your last paragraph is just repeating the blinkered "insight" that Sirota is warning about in his piece, but I have learned to expect little else from you.

      Don't you have a woman professor or two to go harrass or something?

      •  No flames (3.33)
        from this quarter. And there is a difference between calling bullshit on misrepresentation and harassment.

        Yes. Think of the energy the labor movement gathered coming out of the Depression. Again, funny question coming from a socialist.

        Ding. Ding. Ding.

        Gramsci disagrees, and states that the politique du pire or the idea that the worse things get the better they will be is extremely backwards and dangerous.

        And your history is way off...the energy gathered by the Labor movement coming out of the depression were actually dying gasps -- the labor movement was quickly purged of most of its left-leaning elements during and after WWII, the CIO was quickly subsumed into the reactionary AFL, the IWW was dead and gone, and the long slide of Labor Unions into bureacratic capitulationism began.

        The energy and dynamism I think you are talking about actually arose in the 1910's, 20's and early 30's...the Depression was disasterous for workers and for the labor movement, and the world war was worse.

        The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

        by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:57:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  WITHHOLD YOUR VOTE? (none)
    Are you preaching that without a left leaning Democratic candidate, we should just give up?

    Maybe I'm wrong but that seems to be what I'm reading. Think about the eight years of Clinton in the dead center. Now compare that to five years of Bush. Which is worse?

    Did Clinton take the trust that was given and just shit on the people or was he just mildly dissatisfying?

    If you have both involvement and support of a man or woman who has a chance then you have a voice in government.  

    If there is a Democrat, any Democrat then that person is not the enemy. If you disagree with their views and you sit on the side line, you are supporting the Republican.

    Be prepared to embrace so so candidates. Be prepared to stand behind and work for a Democrat who has a different opinion on some issues than you do and work to have him listen to your side.

    The open primaries are one thing but when the crying is all over and someone seems like Republican light, that someone is still no Republican.

    You can't always get what you want but if you try sometime...

    •  I'd agree with you (3.50)
      if the DSCC and DCCC weren't putting their thumbs so heavily on the scales in so many places, trying to preclude primaries in the name of "viable" candidates. If Schumer, Emmanuel and Reid have there way, there will BE no open primaries. Hell, if the netroots have their way, there will be no primaries (see Brown and Hackett in OH).

      And yes, Clinton shit all over the people, in many ways: media consolidation, welfare "reform", NAFTA, abandoning/fighting poorly for wider healthcare ... need I go on?

      •  Sirota (none)
        supports WHO in Ohio? Oh that's right.

        the fucking ESTABLISHMENT candidate.

        This is too fucking funny.

        The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

        by Armando on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:09:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Establishment? (none)
          what does that mean in that race? Brown has been a consistent progressive for years, from a state where that is supposed to be a detriment. Hackett is an untested candidate who'd main claim to fame is that he's worn a uniform.

          I'm looking forward to a vital primary battle there: I think it would be good for the party.

          •  But I thought that (4.00)
            you do not want what is best for the party.

            That thinking about "the party" is bad, anti-progressive, capitulationist vichy politics...

            And that the best thing would be the destruction of the party and its replacement.

            The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

            by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:30:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Sirota isn't (none)
            He wants Hackett out.

            You Party  apparatchik you.

            Fucking hilarious.

            The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

            by Armando on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:46:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  he's a consutant (none)
              supporting his candidate. That's his fucking job.

              I, on the other hand, hope they beat each other bloody. Get whoever wins ready for the main bout.

              •  Wait (none)
                Sirota is a pad consultant for Sherrod Brown? That's news to me.

                Don't you think he should disclose that? Better yet, maybe he should stop writing about the race on his blog.

                A lot of  folks, people you know, supported Zephyr Teachout's attacks on kos and Jerome on this.

                Now it is ok?

                You need o make up your mind Madman. You are looking prety spineless from here.

                The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

                by Armando on Thu Dec 01, 2005 at 05:09:03 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Bad choice of words (none)
                  I don't think he's working for his campaign, I meant to say that he's written very favorably about Brown throughout this whole Hackett thing. He's also a consultant who is going to talk up his vision for where the party should go. I shouldn't have so sloppily conflated the two.

                  Wow, and you always make this personal. What happened to "new Armando"?

                  Frankly, what you and the rest of your little cabal think of me isn't even on my radar. I could give a fuck what you think of me. Last thing in the world I need is a thin-skinned bully in my life.

  •  I posted about progressive themes this morning (3.50)
    Said the fight was in delivering policy that delivered to the Little People, not shredding our opponent to bits.

    One needs a little of that I should have said so.

    Still, it was totally ignored.  Totally.  Some woman even said I was unworthy of Founding Father character.  Jesus.

    The blog is just spitting mad and wants blood, they don't want to hear anything else  Okay, okay.  That will never build us a party--maybe one win, but still no party.  Building a party requires a lot more than defeating opponents.

    •  You're not paying attention (2.75)
      or rather, your paying attention to the shiny bits and not to the massive amount of on-the-ground organizing that has been the result of this and many other blogs, Dean, and etc.

      There are numerous examples of Party Building in front of your face.

      There are numerous examples of progressives and very liberal to left candidates winning, getting close to winning, and making serious inroads into both the Democratic Party infrastructure, and into the general political game.

      There are a large number of party building activities that are going under, right in front of your eyes.

      That those are taking place in the context of extreme partisan anger, vocal rage, and spitting mad invective should not be a surprise in the least - several stolen elections, years of being called traitors, an illegal war, a city lost, and a social infrastructure in shambles tends to make folks mad.

      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

      by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:42:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see (3.60)
        Please back up your assertions that all this great massive attention to party building has:

        • Driven up voter participation rates.  Federal stories please.
        • Created an issue agenda focused on such populist progressive elements:  healthcare, daycare, wage growth, worker safety, minority rights, and fair taxation.  Where are the candidates--the broad range of them, spouting all over the land--that have this issue set for 2006?
        • Filled all the unopposed seats for the House with burning liberal grassroots candidates.  Where are they?  Surely such massive party operation would have filled every slot by now.

        I could go on for quite long time.  I'm not in the least intimidated by you, flame bully.  Where is the empirical demonstation for all this great populism you speak?  Other than the pretty comabtive text you can spit out that actually says nothing?

        Have fun.  I'm following the example of my friend madman and will leave you to another flame fest with someone else.  Now go pay attention to the empirical demonstation of your outlandish assertions, Red, or be polite to fellow Kossarians.  We'all supposed to be in this together, but Mr. We Are Awesome Organizing Liberals has got me to the dvd player.  Way to go.

        •  Is our job (none)
          to fill every seat with a burning liberal grassroots candidate? Or to fill each seat with the most burning liberal grassroots candidate who can actually mobilize voters and create momentum in that district?

          Cause they're not necessarily the same thing.

          Running an ultra liberal candidate in a conservative district (the type we usually leave unopposed), wouldn't do a whole lot of good if it just turned voters off to the party. Whereas a moderately liberal candidate could put forth issues that resonated with that district, and build momentum for later.

          But yes, it is a problem to have so many seats challenged at this point.

          Oh. And it's always been my understanding that elections are driven by local issues, not national ones. The Contract With America wasn't even widely known at the time of the 94 election.

          Daily Kos: turning unanimity into discord since...well...I frickin got here

          by AnnArborBlue on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:20:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Here is one pretty impressive list: (none)
          http://tools.democracyforamerica.com/...

          Are these federal races? no.

          Is the federal arena the most important? I think it is not, I think that building on success at the local level, all the way down to School board, city council, and dogcatcher is the cornerstone...just like the fundies figured out in the 1970's.

          There has been exactly 1 nationwide federal election since the onset of the topic of discussion (partisan rage as expressed on blogs and the relationship to grassroots party building). In that federal election, a boring moderate candidate with some progressive cred and no progressive heart got more votes than any Democratic or Republican candidate in history...except for his opponent. Several interim and special elections in "Red" federal districts were won by reasonably liberal candidates. The track record is pretty good.

          As for issue focus - Feingold is hammering on those issues. Dean is hammering on those issues. Fair taxation, minority rights, healthcare, wages, safety nets, and much more.

          As for your whining about "flame bully" - where in my post did I "flame" you?

          Are you so sensitive that you can brook no disagreement?

          Does the fact that I criticized you make you run away shouting "bully"?

          Sorry, but in a diary devoted to essentially calling all democrats cowards unless they fight, that simultaneously bemoans "partisan rage" when democrats DO fight, and essentially calls anyone who supports working with or for Democrats a fool and a useful tool...and in a specific comment thread that shouts "Amen" to those contentions, you're damn right I am going to criicize.

          And since I backed up my "outlandish assertions" with some real facts, perhaps you (and madman) might want to think about spoiled, petulant bourgeois pseudo-leftists who want it all, want it all NOW, and are not willing to do the heavy lifting with the people that you want to either a) lead to the promised land or b) leave to the dogs of war and repression if they are not progressive enough to abandon the Democrats and join you.

          The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

          by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:26:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Great (3.33)
    So when is David resigning from the Democratic Party?

    I love David but this is crap he is writing.

    It is inaccurate and lacking in insight.

    And frankly, needs to name names instead of broad brushing.

    BTW, ask David how important the right to choose is to him? Is he ready to go to that mattresses on that?

    How about gun control?

    This is very fucking selective of Sirota and pretty damned disingenuous for a guy who works for Brian Schweitzer.

    Piss poor work from one of my favorites.

    I am very disapponted.

    Let's see if he is at the barricades on Alito.

    I won't hold my breath.

    The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

    by Armando on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:38:43 PM PST

    •  What I enjoy is the (3.50)
      bemoaning of partisan anger driving political participation and action....in a series of statements and posts that are basically Leftist partisan rage against the Democrats...with nary a mention of the GOP.

      Do I have serious issues with the Democratic Party, and do I intend to do everything I can to faciliate a populist progressive takeover of this party with the intention of heading even further left later? You bet your ass.

      Am I going to couch that intention in pretty-sound words and hypocritical kabuki?

      No.

      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

      by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:44:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sirota is fantastic (none)
        This column is total bullshit.

        And hypocritical as all fucking hell.

        He fucking works for Schweitzer for crissakes!!

        The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

        by Armando on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:53:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Woe to the party (4.00)
        ...that thinks it's above criticism. If the Democrats insist on being the take-it-or-leave-it party, they can look forward to more losses.

        Why do so many of us knock "red state voters" for voting against their interests, while at the same time insisting that people vote Democrat no matter what, even if the candidate is against their interests?

        •  Because (none)
          "red state voters" are voting against their interests, when a viable alternative exists that better represents their interest.

          Do you have a viable alternative to the Democrats that will allow you to get what you want and avoid Republicans getting even more of waht they want?

          Daily Kos: turning unanimity into discord since...well...I frickin got here

          by AnnArborBlue on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:39:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  we never will (none)
            if we keep supporting "centrists" who're little more than nicer Republicans.
          •  I would vote for (4.00)
            Christie Whitman over Casey, for example. I vote for people. The Democrats, in their shameful support of the Bankruptcy Bill, proved that, as a party, they aren't worth spit. Only the people matter. The actual candidates.

            I look at the Senators who cheerlead the war on Iraq. I look at the Senators who cheerlead Alito's nomination. I look at the Democrats who pass TRAP laws. When the Democrat in question is more of a Republican than many Republians, what's the real choice?

            Why should I vote for a politician who thinks the government owns my body? Why should I vote for a politician who treats the poor people, not poverty, as the enemy? Why should I vote for a politician who plays the corporate welfare game?

            That would be voting against my interest.

            •  Because a vote for Bob Casey (none)
              is a vote closer to regaining control of Congress, which is necessary so that shit like the Bankruptcy Bill never comes up in the first place.

              Who cares how Bob Casey would vote on abortion when he'd never really get a chance to?

              Electing moderate Dems to gain a majority will do more to enact good legislation than will electing liberal Republicans.

              Specter hasn't done anythign to save Roe. And Chafee just plain hasn't done anything period.

              Daily Kos: turning unanimity into discord since...well...I frickin got here

              by AnnArborBlue on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:56:30 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Christie Whitman, or rather, Olympia Snowe (none)
              votes for a GOP senator for Majority Leader. That would be Bill Frist if she were in the senate today.

              She votes, in large part, for Bush's and the GOP's agenda as defined by the GOP (actually by the corporate Lobbyists and the Norquist/Abramoff/Reed/Dobson cabal).

              Do I prefer Snowe to Casey individually?

              YES!

              Would I rather see Pennachio over Casey?

              YES!

              But given the choice between a Snowe and a Casey, I will take Casey, because while Snowe is better on the overall issues, she votes with her party 90% of the time, and her party is insane and disgusting....

              Casey votes with his party most of the time, and while he may be a grade A jerk, his party is not just nominally, but measurably better than the GOP...and his party is also much easier to change.

              The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

              by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:59:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Talking about Whitman (4.00)
                She quite the EPA rather than go along with BushCo. She's been openly critical, supporting pro-choice groups, attacking the so-called "pro-life" radicals in the GOP, and even appearing on the GOP nemesis "NOW" several times.

                Meanwhile I see Lieberman mumble nonsense, Biden flash his teeth, and a parade of others talk around everything and actually say nothing of consequence.

                "Party first" to me smacks of fascism, and I don't think that's a good remedy to the fascism we already have, thank you.

                •  I am not suggesting (none)
                  "Party First" and given the extremely critical tone taken against prominent Democrats both here and on many other "Vichy Dem" blogs, I do not think "Party First" is particularly popular among many of the online Democratic Activists - at MyDD, at NextHurrah, at PoliticalCortex, at Kos, at Atrios, at Gilliard, or whatever others you want to name.

                  Criticism of Biden, Kerry, Clinton, Lieberman, and many others are prominent features.

                  The difference between your stance and the stance I am talking about is that I think that the party itself is worth fighting to control, worth fighting to empower, and worth fighting to change. The primary reason I think it is worth doing so is because, like it or not, a very large number of people in the US do not consider the Greens or the Socialists or etc to be viable alternatives or workable political tools for change. That is unfortunate, and that large group of people is incorrect, IMO, but there it is. That is where the people are, and if we do not work with them, support what they support while simultaneously advocating our alternative when we are working with them, then we will continue to remain irrelevant, frustrated voices in the wilderness.

                  The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                  by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:13:38 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If the party fights for me (none)
                    then I'll fight for the party.

                    But if it continues to play games, well, I suppose I'll still vote, but I can guarantee you that most other independents will not.

                    •  A party that you abandon (none)
                      attack, oppose and vilify is not ever going to fight for you...

                      And a party that you feel the need to criticize in that way is not one that you should ever fight for.

                      However, I would question the "what have you done for me lately" tone to this post - how about the fact that one of the main reasons for the rightward shift in the Democratic Party came about as a result of the relatively lackadaisical and disengaged behavior of so many liberals in the 70's and 80's? The loss of the base, and the abandonment of basic party functions and infrastructure building on the part of so many liberals in the late 20th century required that the Dems look elsewhere for life-support, or wither on the vine.

                      The Democratic Party photographs from my grandparents apartment show a wide array of engaged folks from the PTA and the community getting local, getting active, and getting results...

                      What changed?

                      IMO, it was a combination of Kenndy's assassination (and his brother's), coupled with the disgusting actions of the Johnson adminstration w.r.t. vietnam...

                      A party that is dominated at local and regional levels by active, engaged progressives will, by definition, start to be dominated at federal and national levels by people from those lower level, foundational structures.

                      Fighting to get into that infrastructure is and will be hard work...but the results could be excellent.

                      Unfortunately (and I really mean this) joining the local ISO or Green or DSA chapter simply does not have the same potential for positive change...hopefully it will, but having gone that route and been engaged on that level for many years, I just cannot see how that has any effect. Which sucks, but there it is.

                      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                      by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:26:44 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Do parties get hurt feelings? (4.00)
                        And here I thought democracy was about candidates standing up for people's interests. Funny how that logic is scorned in a democracy.

                        I haven't abandoned any party. The Democrats have been marching rightward, just trying to get a little glow off the GOP shine. They abandoned me.

                        The people haven't gone anywhere. Look at the polls on issues and you see the people are far left of the politicians in Washington.

                        The vast majority of my blog posts are about the abominations of the GOP. But I will continue to agitate for a Democratic party that fights for the people, instead of weaseling to not get pinned down on anything.

                        You'd think an opposition party would have focus. But the amorphous blob that is the Democrats I think is proof that they've lost their center and are adrift.

                        Remember, the biggest bloc of voters are the independents -- and that's only if you don't count the non-voters. Without motivating these people to vote for something, the Democrats will continue to lose. The proof is in the pudding -- 25 years of it.

                        •  Parties are (none)
                          made of people.

                          Small groups of people at the local level, larger groups of people at the state, regional, and national levels.

                          Those people behave in ways that most groups behave, and yes, I think that they can get hurt feelings, develop irrational opinions, and act like herds.

                          Sometimes they act like "smart mobs", and sometimes they just act like sheep.

                          Regardless, there are impressions that get cemented into "conventional wisdom"...

                          Politicians try to balance their egos and their desire for power with what they feel is right and good...and have to balance those with what they feel their supporters will abide.

                          If politicians do not feel that their support base will accept a certain stance, they will not do it.

                          Where they get the information is (currently) through polling and consultocracies.

                          If we can overwhelm those filters, convince self-interested but basically decent politicians that their support base is not what they think it is (i.e. complacent and conservative, which is the impression most politicians have of the general populace)...then they will start to hew to our line...

                          The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

                          by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 11:18:27 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

        •  Absolutely agreed. (none)
          I would never state that the Democrats or the Party are above criticism.

          They are not, not by any measure.

          Your last sentence is crucial - we (progressives, leftists, liberals) are faced with a serious catch-22 in that we have the choice of a) political irrelevancy, b) holding our noses and voting for less-than-palatable candidates with a "D" after their name, or c) hammering democrats and watching even worse politicians get their greasy hands on the levers of power.

          The way I see it, we have two options: build a viable alternative that attracts people or participate en masse in the less-palatable but "branded" party in hopes of taking over its infrastructure to some meaningful degree.

          I argue that doing the latter has the potential of a) succeeding, b) building meaningful and potentially powerful relationships with large blocs of people that would otherwise never come in contact with our political ideas, and c) laying the groundwork for viable alternative building in the future.

          Basically I feel like "going where the people are and working with them there" (working within the Democratic Party) is a better alternative than "building a structure and shouting at people from its empty rooms" (running candidates on a Green or other 3rd party ticket).

          The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

          by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:46:05 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The "Big Tent" (none)
      won't be manning the barricades against Alito, either.
  •  Here is some fucking irony (none)
    David Sirota quoting Schweitzer approvingly:

    Schweitzer was quick to make the same point during a visit to watch Eastern Washington play his alma mater, Montana State. "Well, look," he
    said, "the Democratic Party has allowed a few to be defining its message, but the party is a big tent."

    Can you say flipflopper?

    The SCOTUS is Extraordinary.

    by Armando on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:41:32 PM PST

  •  Selfishness (4.00)
    There are 6 billion people on this planet who don't have a vote in the US, who don't give a rat's ass about the fucking rights of anyone from the fucking richest country in the world, but just want us to stop killing them quickly with our bombs and slowly with our emissions. The rest of the world doesn't want you withholding your vote. They would kill to have your vote. But they don't get a vote. And you are going to toss yours away. Feh.

    Pointless, incessant barking since Mon Feb 9, 2004 at 3:05:52 PM MST

    by Blue the Wild Dog on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 08:48:56 PM PST

  •  yeah, it would be nice if the democratic (none)
    party actually stood for something more than "we're not as bad as the republicans." i hear it from disenchanted republicans all the time, "i don't like these guys, but the democrats won't fight for anything." two stolen presidential elections & the best thing you can say about about the democratic nominees is they are "good losers." that's pathetic.
    i have & will continue to vote for democrats & i have & will continue to rail at them for their moderation. maybe that's infantilism, i don't make those kind of clinical diagnosis, but i will tell you that people are looking for an alternative to the creeps in office now & just being moderately less creepy is not gonna get it done.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:01:30 PM PST

    •  That I can agree with (none)
      The Democratic Party has a serious problem, and that problem will not go away simply by continuing to "not be republicans"...

      The only way to ensure a free press is to own one

      by RedDan on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:13:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  But the Dems are stuck (none)
      The Rethugs are unified.  They don't allow debate, discourse, or dissent of any kind.  We have a 2-party system, which leaves to the Dems the responsibiltiy for everything not endorsed by the Rethugs.  By definition, the Dems are stuck trying to represent literally everyone and everything outside the narrow Rethug focus.  The only unifying factor (which I think is by design), is opposition to the Rethugs.  How can the Dems stand for any specific principles, if the only thing holding them together is the commonality of hate?  

      And how can we demonize them for it without offering some alternative from "We the People?"

      •  the box the democratic party is in (4.00)
        is a box it has constructed, to a large extent. if you believe in social programs or civil rights then push it. the perception is that democrats sort of believe in these things, but not enough to really fight for them.

        i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

        by rasbobbo on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:56:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  don't throw away your vote (none)
    While I understand the frustration with many dem politicians, if what you said - you believe - then you must support...and work with what we are able to, in order to win we have to get in the game.

    If we are suffering the syndrome, and I believe this is true on some levels, how can we look the other way, and not lend support to get a progressive movement on it's feet.

    That would be irresponsible, in the least, and most harmful.  Maybe you are spoiled?

    They will listen to us...if they want to serve the country as a career.  Sooner or later, chances are we will receive something in return for supporting - the duds among us -  if it gets us in the door.

    Realistically, in 2006, just like today, and yeaterday, we will not want everyone.
    But I damn sure will vote, even to pick the lesser of two evils.
    It gives us a chance.

    Why waste an opportunity?
    We have to be smart.  

         

    The problem with all of us is that after wearing a mask for a lifetime it is not so easy to drop it. - Julias Fast

    by beachglass on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 09:12:18 PM PST

  •  If I had a bunch of fake UID's (4.00)
    I'd recommend this three thousand times.

    As a former and future Independent, the Democratic Party has perhaps its only opportunity here to make its marriage with me more than simply one of convenience.  It has to show it has principles, ethics, a love for humanity, and a soul.

    Otherwise, I simply hightail it back to Nonpartisanland.

  •  Neither Dem nor Green purists get it. (4.00)
    But not a few voters do. The 3d Party card is more powerful in your hand than on the table.

    Run 4 kinds of races. The one that keeps your ballot status. The ones you can win. The ones where either the Dems or GOP have no candidate. And just enough "spoiler" races against the lamest local Dems to keep the rest from wanting to find the votes that'll help them avoid being next year's target.

    A Senator YOU can afford
    $1 contributions only.
    Masel for Senate
    1214 E. Mifflin St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    by ben masel on Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 10:34:35 PM PST

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