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I want confess that the first essay in this series, levers and fulcrum points: sustainability, was not my best material.

It's not that I don't sincerely think that sustainability and it's companion insight, that we are in this together, are not fundamental start points for progressive activism. I just think there are other people who know the language of sustainability and the material better; one could see that in comments by DBunn and Cassiodorus and Paul Rosenberg.

What I'd like to do, then, is to back up and get personal. To tell a bit of my story and then get at what I mean about levers and fulcrum points by talking about the leadership of our political party.

I consider myself to be utterly privileged in the coincidences of my upbringing.  I have met so many incredible leaders and activists. I have had the chance to hear so many inspiring stories. I have come face to face with so many disturbing and powerful realities. I have made so many incredible allies and friends.

These experiences make me the person, the political activist, that I am today; they have empowered me and shaped my political views.

In my mind, to write about political levers and fulcrum points without addressing this reality is to miss something basic and profound. I skipped the very first and most progressive fulcrum and lever: the political empowerment that comes from lived experience, the history that made me who I am.

What do I mean by that?  

Let me get personal. Why do I do what I do? Blog as kid oakland. Do GOTV. Found BlogsUnited. Do the ChicagoVoices Project. Walk precincts to defeat Richard Pombo. Write pieces to highlight the activism of others, including local bloggers all over this nation. For me, it's simple. My life experience tells me so.

It was the old woman with the numbered tattoo on her arm I saw shopping in the produce aisle on 183rd street one hot summer day in 1990. It took a second for that to sink in; but when it did, it was overpowering to me. I will never forget that woman or that day for as long as I live.

It was the representative of the ANC who came to tell us his story...and who took off his shirt to show us the marks up and down his back where he had been subject to electro shock torture by the apartheid South African government.

It was the Christian Brother in 1984 with the shoe box of slides of death squad victims he'd smuggled out of El Salvador. I cannot describe to you how brutal that was. There are no words for the utter inhumanity we saw that day.

It was hearing Albie Sachs, and Bernadette Devlin, and Dith Pran, and Michael Harrington and Coretta Scott King up close and personal.

It was doing social work in Harlem during the crack epidemic and then living in Harlem during the reign of crack cocaine and AIDS. Let me say this, when you open the door of a tiny, filthy tenement apartment, crowded to the hilt with personal belongings, and the woman who opens the door, the mother of three kids, is crying because she is so ashamed of her poverty and her inability to help herself, it changes you. You never forget that.

It's seeing a childhood friend get hooked on crack. It's seeing his cousin, another childhood friend, become a crack dealer. It's seeing your friends go to jail in a criminal justice system that disproportionately arrests and detains and executes African-American men. It's seeing Democrats who know better help that system along.

It's realizing, having fought apartheid, that I am now witnessing many of my fellow Americans, including some who call themselves Democrats, fall into a logic about Latino immigrants that is very close to apartheid...a sense of "second class" citizenship. It's seeing the effect that that hatred has on my Latino neighbors and friends here in Oakland, whatever their immigration or citizenship status.

It was visiting my white friend Darryl in my neighborhood growing up and realizing that, while his single-parent family had a home, they had almost no possessions. No television. A few pieces of old beat up furniture. One old-fashioned radio. That was it. It was the look on Darryl's face when he first visited the modest home I grew up in, where my parents still live, and he realized that we had a stereo, a television and carpeting on our floors. That look, that astonishment was unforgettable. What little we had was a wonderment to 1977. That makes me angry to this day.

It was talking to a black friend from my neighborhood about attending the Catholic, mostly white high school we both went to and having him tell me it was pure hell.  That he felt like he had to force himself to get on the bus every day, that he was taunted and made fun of relentlessly just because he was black. And the only reason he told me this was because I asked.

I hate poverty. I hate racism. On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I don't need to point out that both realities are alive and well in America in the 21st Century. I hate the easy assumptions we all make, assumptions that I find myself making as well. Katrina simply lifted the veil. I think we all should keep doing just that.

My dad grew up without electricity or running water. He had a simple point of view about poverty.  He'd say: "You either knew what a lard sandwich tastes like, or you didn't. If you did, you knew you were poor."

There's a great photograph of my dad and his brother George the day of my Aunt Rita's wedding. They are both wearing t-shirts and smiling. They hadn't attended the wedding because there was only so much money to buy kids clothes. They were happy to be at the "after party." It didn't occur to them to be ashamed of that; they both have these huge grins. Of course, my dad now finds that photograph painful to look at. There is and was such a thing as white poverty in the USA. Many people conveniently forget that. It's hidden and shamed. Let's bring it out in the open.

I've written about this before. When I asked my maternal grandmother, who is still alive, what it was like to live and work through the Great Depression she had a simple way of putting it.  "We didn't have a dime, Paul."  And then she paused, and smiled, to speak more accurately, "Come to think of it, we didn't have a nickel." The Great Depression lasted for years. It wore people down. Some did not make it. Those who did, were not the same.

Personally, I think we as a society live in a land of "let's pretend."  On my block today there are Japanese internment survivors, Chinese veterans of the indignities of Angel island and African American citizens who grew up under segregation and Jim Crow in the South.

Nobody talks much about this. It just is. And we like to pretend that this history isn't connected to our present day. Our leaders let loud mouths like Bill O'Reilly and Michell Malkin shame our party and shout us down. They think it's just politics.   We know better. The cowardice of our leaders in the face of FOXNews impacts real people that our leaders don't see, and, too often, in reality, don't much care about.

Ask Jose, who stood up at the California Regional caucus in Chicago to talk about his hopes and dreams to live as a productive American citizen in the only country he's really known. Ask the Iraq war veteran I spoke to outside my hotel in Chicago and whom I invited, to no avail, to come join us at YearlyKos. Ask my neighbor Maren, the nicest and quietest child I knew growing up, who is serving her second tour of duty as a combat medic in Iraq.

I'm not telling you anything new. We are involved in politics for these and many other reasons. If you've read my diaries, you know them all.

(Let me say that often when I write pieces like this, they get picked up and mocked by conservative bloggers. They call me a "bleeding heart", they mock my "concern." I take that as a badge of honor. They only belittle and hate what they are afraid of, and to be frank, we all know full well the impact of the policies and leaders they've espoused. They can't hide Katrina, our health care system and Iraq. They can't hide Trent Lott, Tom Foley, Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay.  They can't deny that it was their party that brought this nation eight years of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. They have to live with that. It's pretty simple: they are the party that has no problem running a slate of rich, white, anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-gay men from President, in fact, they are proud of that fact.)

All that being said, I do have a challenging thought for Democrats about where we are today. I want to say that while I believe that engagement with the Democratic Party is the only course of action that makes any sense given the work we need to do changing the laws and regulations and policies of the United States, I also want to convey something deep and sincere.

Given my life experience and the results we have in hand as we start the month of September 2007, I have never been more ashamed of the leadership of the Democratic Party than today. I am ashamed of Hillary Clinton, of Barack Obama, of John Edwards of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. I am ashamed of their leadership of the party from stem to stern.

I want to be clear. My disgruntlement carries over to leaders of the left of the party as well. I'm not particularly happy with Howard Dean. I'm not really a fan of Barbara Lee and Ron Dellums here in Oakland. (And I was pretty unhappy with Jerry Brown to be quite honest.)

When people talk to me about distant ills in Gaza and Darfur here at my cafe, I have to stop and ask them if they've given much thought to the running and unabated genocide of gang violence going down in East Oakland and on International Boulevard?  When they talk about Katrina, I have to ask have they taken a drive down Market Street in West Oakland? If they are focused on Arnold and the GOP power grab for CA electoral college votes, have they also spent a day at McClymonds High? What is the message we bring to these young American citizens in our city of Oakland? How has that message changed in the last thirty years?

It hasn't.

And when I think about Howard Dean's speech at YearlyKos I have to ask myself this question: How can the man who gave that courageous and principled anti-war speech at the California convention in 2003 give the speech he gave in Chicago in 2007? The message I get from Howard Dean and leaders of our Democratic Party is this: we have to have another election in order to get a change of course on this war, and, even then, it's not clear what that change of course is going to be.

That is not acceptable.

There is too much to do and we have come too far to forget our principles and our positions. How can we be the party that embraced the values of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and, yes, Michael Harrington, and now have fallen so low? It's 2007. What are our leaders scared of? Where is the backbone?

I wrote about fighting Democrats in the aftermath of the 2004 elections. Where are they?

Rahm, you're no fighter. Your position on immigration is an embarassment to our party and its values. Steny, your constant undercutting of Speaker Pelosi is so obvious and shameless, you should be ashamed to call yourself a Democrat. As someone who like so many others here went out and busted my ass to win Democrats new majorities in 2006, surrounded by other volunteers who cared passionately about our nation and our world and in particular our occupation of Iraq, I have to ask, in September of 2007: is that all there is? Steny Hoyer primping and posing for the cameras? Rahm Emanuel claiming the mantle of the "fighting Democrat?"

John Edwards is pro death penalty and anti gay marriage?
Barack Obama is for expanding the military industrial complex?
Hillary Clinton thinks that we are making progress in Iraq?

From where I stand, none of them can give clear leadership TODAY about how we can end this occupation NOW and start getting our sons and daughters out of the slaughterhouse that is our nation's occupation of Iraq. Friends, John Kerry promised us to do that in two years in 2004 and he was roundly criticized because we expected more of him. It's now September of 2007 and, in my view, we are being bamboozled by a lack of leadership once again. There is simply no accountability within the Democratic Party.

I'm sick of it. I'm not afraid of saying that we've come too far, and fought too hard to watch as the leadership of the Democratic party once again fails to live up the ideas and ideals that we are so deeply bound to. And it's not just the war, it's social justice.

I said I would make it personal and this is it: I am 38 years old, I'm white, I've spent my life growing up side by side with African-American children coming of age in America. That's my experience. These are my neighbors, my fellow citizens and my friends. This is the community that I love: the multi-racial world of America's cities. In terms of where I've lived, either in the Midwest, the East Coast or here in Oakland, this is the only world I have known. I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I drive past the public housing projects around the corner from my house. I don't think I have anything new to bring or say to counter the powerful message that Katrina sent about the real values of America: too many in this country don't really believe that "all men are created equal" when it comes to the beautiful mosaic of children...American citizens...coming of age in America's cities: their education, their safety, their health care, their environment.

We left an American city and its poorest citizens to drown. We did that for all the world to see. (Katrina was mentioned as an aside at the very end of the YearlyKos presidential forum.)

Where is the hope? How can I go back to the West Oakland BART station, where I do GOTV on election day every year, once again, and ask the voters to turn out for the Democratic Party?

I don't want a snow job of predictable rhetoric from Barack or Hillary or Edwards or Barbara or Ron. That's not acceptable; that's too par for the course. I know that if we are going to accomplish what we need to accomplish going forward that it will take every last one of us taking responsibility and rising to the occasion. Like so many Democrats and all of you reading this today, I am willing to do my part, to be pragmatic, and to bring as many others along as I possibly can. In that regard, I feel that I've done alright so far.

However, let me be real. Without a doubt, there will be rousing speeches at the Democratic Convention in Denver in 2008. In my view, that's too late. The time for a "Come to Jesus" moment within the Democratic Party is now. Will Steny and Rahm run the show, or will somebody finally put their foot down and have some courage and call them out? Will someone make a clarion call for justice within our party in such a way that it results in legislation and action this fall, the fall of 2007?  Will we put bills that give this nation the change we are hungry for, the change we promised last election, on the President's desk?

I will vote for the Democratic nominee, of course. I will do so not simply because there is no alternative, but also because I am proud of the values of our party and what we stand for. But let me get personal once again. On my journey in politics I've changed and grown. I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit that I've made mistakes and learned things. I've deepened my understanding of how things really work in this country. (Hence my relentless encouragement of local blogging and grassroots activism.) I will continue to do so. Where can you find that candor in our candidates?

Now is the time for our leaders (Nancy and Harry) and candidates (Hillary and Barack and Edwards) to rise to this moment in history. Now is the time for them to grow into the leadership we so desperately need.

It's not simply about ending the occupation. If only it was as simple as that. It's about justice. It's about vision. It's about hope.

Hope has to mean something more than partisan victory. Leadership means nothing if it has been made hollow by consultants and cowardly operatives. That is all we have to show for our efforts in 2006 as far as a true change from business as usual in DC. Zippo. Nada. Not much. (ie. They sold out our position on the war to pass minimum wage in the Senate...that's about it.)

Let me put it simply: the true leader of the Democratic party will be the person who carries the torch, who creates fear in the corrupt "go along, get along" members of the party elite, who shames Rahm and Steny and John Dingell and, yes, my former Congressman, Mr. Rangel, for their utter lack of conviction and inside dealings, someone who reaches out and inspires new leadership to emerge in all fifty states to revitalize and reform our party.

Nothing will change in America until we work together locally to effectively make it change. Our leaders, so far, have failed us. They are timid, they are out of touch and they are not rooted in the bold ideas that motivate their core supporters: the bold ideas that are our only true hope.

What's so hard to understand about "all men are created equal?"
What's so difficult about "equal justice before the law?"
What's so hard to understand about protection from "unreasonable search and seizure?"
Why is it so hard to talk about a woman's right to choose?
Why are we still fighting rear guard battles?

When will we end this horrible lie and disaster in Iraq and move on to the true battles our nation faces?

There is so much else we have to do. We all know that.

I will not stop fighting and writing, but I will not choose to fight and write because we have the leadership we need in our party, far from it.

I have other reasons that motivate me to do what I do. As part of working the fulcrums and levers of change, I've chosen to share some of those reasons with you.

Originally posted to kid oakland on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 06:51 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If you agree with me (26+ / 0-)

    and expect more of our candidates for President...throw a tip in this tip jar and recommend this diary.

    I will keep writing with ever more specificity about the fulcrums and levers for change, and I will listen to the stories you have to tell about what brings you to the table, what motivates you.

    It is too easy to say "wait until January of 2009."

    I don't agree with that point of view. I don't think that even our heroes should be exempt from accountability.  That's the mark of a leader, to grow and listen and to change.

    What we are embarking on will not be a course that follows a straight line, but, at some point, there has to be a line in the sand.

    We didn't vote for this.

    Markos is right. With George Bush at 28% there is no reason for cowardice about our core principles. Why does that attain?

    We must push forward. It won't be perfect, but we need to work our leverage and the fulcrums of power at every level. We need to be pragmatic and bold.

    At the end of the day, we all have our reasons for doing what we do.

    I would like to think that we are all, on some level, hungry for peace, working for justice, and true believers in the founding principle of our nation: all men are created equal and have certain inalienable rights among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    •  it's an old saw (7+ / 0-)

      but I think there's a lot of truth to it.

      Tip O'Neill: 'All politics is local' all sustainable change really starts from the bottom up, not the top down. Howard Dean lost something when he became part of that machine. They all do.

      But each one shifts the weight and helps tip the giant ship of state, gradually. I just hope we have a chance to see the ship right itself. Time is running out.

      socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

      by shpilk on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:04:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Kid, I rec and tip your diaries even when (6+ / 0-)

      I don't agree with you (which doesn't happen very often).

      Thanks for this one.  Spot on.

    •  KO (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kid oakland, shayera, sockpuppet, offgrid

      I'm sorry I missed this live- it should be FP IMHO. I totally agree with everything you say here. We must accentuate the commonalities among us: good schools, healthcare, living wage not to mention clean air & water. If we could get everyone going together on these we could get over the devisiveness that is being practiced. The reason I am a liberal democrat is because that label most nearly fits my true ideal- we're all humans with red blood & bones & a mile of intestines :) and it doesn't (shouldn't anyway)signify that people worship differently or have different shades of skin or different bank balances or different eye color. I thought democrats shared my values.
      I got a call from from Deans people asking for money recently. I started laughing "You must be high! I've given money since the 2000 campaign, money I could've used to buy ME things. I gave it freely on the promise that you would 'do better' & 'take back congress'. Well I've seen now we have the majority just what you think 'better' is. Well to me it's just more of the same & I refuse to spend my money on that. NO, Thank you, Good-bye"

      The hippies had it right all along and it's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.

      by RiaD on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 09:51:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  RiaD (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You really should give Mark Morford props for your tag line.

        I don't mean to be pesky, but it's a great quote and Morford should get the credit.

        ....carry on .....

        "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

        by offgrid on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 08:20:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if you can figure out what to leave out, still make the point & add his name I'd change it in a heartbeat. I tried to link to the article.
          The problem is not enough characters to add his name.

          I have provided a link to everyone who has commented on it- check my history!


          The hippies had it right all along and it's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.

          by RiaD on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 03:54:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmmm... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I wasn't aware that there was a limit on space.

            I don't know any tricks to add more copy. The only thing that I can think of is to add the name manually above the quote.

            No biggie. I just loved that Morford column ad thought that other's should know where it came from.

            Thanks for using it!

            "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

            by offgrid on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 12:06:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hey! I got it!!! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              thanks for making me think about this again! I took out one (superfluous word & put in ... in its place- Voila! it Worked!!

              The hippies had it right all's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.MMorford

              by RiaD on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 03:03:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Cool! (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Morford is a gem, as is Don Rasmussen's Bad Reporter, at the Chron.

                Those two, along with Stewart, Colbert, and Olbermann, keep me sane.

                Thanks RiaD. I didn't mean for this to be a big deal!

                "If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy." -teacherken

                by offgrid on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 04:15:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  & I found all of your list from being here at dKos. Sometimes I feel I'm a dKos-ollegiate with the education I've gained here :-)

                  & no big deal at all. I'd worried about it when I first quoted him, then quit trying. I guess I just needed time & your reminder ;-}

                  The hippies had it right all's about time the media, the politicians, the culture as a whole sent out a big, wet, hemp-covered apology.MMorford

                  by RiaD on Wed Sep 05, 2007 at 05:48:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, you pushed my buttons tonight (6+ / 0-)

    (in a good way):

    we like to pretend that this history isn't connected to our present day.

    I just wrote a diary last week about how we use history  here at Daily Kos, and how important it is to politics today. I agree with you 100% that we need more context in our political culture. The point about Jim Crow is especially pertinent, given the geographic and racial polarization of our political system.


    From where I stand, none of them can give clear leadership TODAY about how we can end this occupation NOW and start getting our sons and daughters out of the slaughterhouse that is our nation's occupation of Iraq.

    Really speaks to me. that is our issue. that is THE issue (as it was for 2004 and 2006). Of course, I don't agree that none of the candidates are leading now. Dodd and Edwards have, as mcjoan pointed out last week.

    Overall, I whole-heartedly endorse this diary.

    Thanks k/o

  •  Has this ever been true? (10+ / 0-)

    How can we be the party that embraced the values of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and, yes, Michael Harrington, and now have fallen so low?

    In my time, and in my reading of history before, I cannot think of a time when the Democratic party truly embraced the values you reference.  Certainly some officials of the party have, sometimes, but the Democratic party as a whole has never really been a populist engine.  The New Deal perhaps came closest, but ask African- or Japanese-Americans if they felt included in those days.

    We can't create a Democratic party like that in time for the 2008 election.  We may never succeed.  But we must always try.  The more of us who are there talking and working and donating and motivating our neighbors, the more pressure will be placed on the Democratic party to meet us halfway.  

    Fulcrums?  Try what people need for security:  a job, health care, hope their kids in Iraq will get home safe.  Levers?  Give people an idea and a bit of hope that by pulling together, they may move this country in the direction it needs to go.

    Another excellent diary, kid.  Thanks for the banquet for thought.

    Don't expect to live in a democracy if you're not prepared to be an active citizen.

    by Dallasdoc on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:00:21 PM PDT

    •  Most people respond to their own needs first (6+ / 0-)

      Most people are not involved with trying to understand why it's so hard to find a decent job, pay, health care, place to live .. why food and gas are going up. Even amongst those who suffer, they don't have the time or resources or will to want to understand.

      And I suspect that most of us here imagine the needs of these others, and try to make society live up to it's responsibilities; because in the long run it's better for everyone.

      socialist democratic progressive pragmatic idealist with a small d.

      by shpilk on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:08:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly -- that's the fulcrum (4+ / 0-)

        A fulcrum is a foundational point, a place to lean on as hard as you can in order to effect change.  What better place than individual peoples' needs (and wants and hopes and fears)?  

        The levers are the means by which to effect change, the stuff of politics.  This covers ideas, tactics, and strategies of politics.  

        Who wields the levers and chooses the fulcrum?  That's the point of ko's diary in my reading.  Will it be us, or will it be the Rahm Emanuels?  That's the most interesting question we face in the next decade of politics.

        Don't expect to live in a democracy if you're not prepared to be an active citizen.

        by Dallasdoc on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:20:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •   From Who ever or what ever (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, andgarden, trashablanca

    I hope you are blessed for these words with
    Love and peace

    LIFE * I have lived enough of it to know that I am still a pupil.

    by Luetta on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:11:14 PM PDT

  •  Finally (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shayera, Luetta

    the truth ...articulated with clarity. Brilliantly done.

  •  KO is one of my fav writers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, timber, SSMir

    so I'm sorry to read that you're disheartened and seeming to join those who feel the Democrats are no longer fighting. In one sense I agree and share the frustration but it doesn't make sense that many good Dems like Dean, Lee, Obama, and many others have been co-opted or given up. I heard Dean's speech in Chicago and I liked it. i heard him say that one more good turnout among youth voters and they may vote my way for 30 years. So, what's good?

    We have a shot at a clear (maybe even 60) Senators.

    We can elect more progressive Dems in the House.

    We're building real power at the local level.

    The netroots are demonstrating growth and ability.

    In 19 months we may be in DC cheering President Gore (ok, now i'm hoping)

    Mostly, we've been thru a lot, why quit now? Would any of our heroes quit or would they work harder and  bang on our electeds more. If not us, who?

    •  Are you satisfied (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shayera, trashablanca

      with the current results in Iraq?

      in New Orleans?

      on Health Care?

      Are you happy with Edwards position on the death penalty and gay marriage?

      With Obama's positions on the military?

      With Clinton's talk about "the right tactics" and "the next war" and her fundraising?

      I listened carefully to Dean's speech.  It was nothing close to 2003. It was about proces, about "inevitable procedural victory." It was about taking hope because "white kids in the mall wear baggy jeans."  Sorry, that doesn't cut it.

      I admire Howard Dean. I support DFA and the 50 State strategy and have put my money where my mouth is by relentlessly advocating for local blogs and local grassroots activism and engaging with DFA.

      But I was not satisfied with that speech.  Not on the war. Not on race. Not on what needs to be done now.

      I am hopeful, but not because of demographic trends. Far from it.

      k/o: politics and culture

      by kid oakland on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:27:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you voting for Kucinich then? (0+ / 0-)

        35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in Matt 25: 35;

        by timber on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:33:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I voted for Kucinich in the 2004 primary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          timber, shayera, Luetta

          because I didn't believe any of the candidates or the party on Iraq. I wrote about that at the time. So your snark is misdirected.

          Was I right, or was I wrong?

          (Fwiw, I called over 1500 people in swing states over three weeks for John Kerry and encouraged many others to join it's not like I didn't and won't put my shoulder to the wheel.)

          You don't see me advocating for Kucinich (a weak symbolic candidate) in this diary so much as for holding our leadership accountable. That includes Ron Dellums and Barbara Lee. (Not exactly a popular stand here in my home town.) Why do I take that stand?  Because I think something needs to change that isn't changing.

          If we can't make positive change in Oakland and Berkeley given our will and our resources, how can we make change anywhere?

          Jerry Brown was NOT acceptable. That's just the truth.

          k/o: politics and culture

          by kid oakland on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:39:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Not happy, not satisfied, still hungry (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kid oakland

        Most of what is wrong is directly traced to the current Admin and Republican Congress. I don't expect Dem candidates to agree with me on every issue. I still think Her Royal Clintoness could lose the general. But i'm more upset about the static inertia and too many people giving up and blaming the Dems and backing off. We need to encourage each other and hold up hope while working our butts off. If we sit down now we'll be lying down soon enough.

        •  You are mischaracterizing the piece (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          shayera, philinmaine, andgarden, Luetta

          I'm not calling for folks to sit down, I'm asking our leaders to stand up.

          It's EASY given Bush/Cheney to sound the right notes.  The question is whether we get the right results. Edwards and Obama and Clinton have not insisted on those results NOW.  (And have they talked about Rahm and Steny? Nope.)

          Do you disagree that it seems to now be the official position of the Democratic Party that we need ANOTHER election to make a change of course in Iraq?

          (Even the Baker/Hamilton report called for an April 2008 withdrawal of the vast majority of our forces.  Is that going to happen this month?  $200 Billion

          k/o: politics and culture

          by kid oakland on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:46:38 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a fair point (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kid oakland

            and we can agree the leadership should stand and fight and do more (Now not Later). But the general tone of the piece does not get me inspired to work more

            That is all we have to show for our efforts in 2006. Zippo. Nada. Not much. (ie. They sold out our position on the war to pass minimum wage in the Senate...that's about it.)

            That's discouraging and so is the general tone..too easy to say, they're all this way or that. i still like your writing and your voice. I understand the frustration but I still find hope out there. Goodnight from the east coast. Peace.

            •  I find hope out there too (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              shayera, andgarden, Luetta

              but it is in my fellow activists and volunteers and in my neighbors.

              I am not impressed with many/any of our current politicians. They are many of them who are sincere people, but they are caught up in a deeply corrupt system and media climate that collectively they've done little to change.

              We have the majority in the House. What does that mean?  Really, truly?

              There is a reason our leaders have fallen in the polls.  We should not be afraid to mention it.

              It's called leadership. It's called delivering what you promised.

              My hope is powerful and I am loathe to disempower you or anyone else...but I also am realistic about the very real perils of overpomising and underdelivering.  

              That's what we're experiencing right now, imo, in regrads to the Democratic leadership.

              k/o: politics and culture

              by kid oakland on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:12:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Such a beautiful diary... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, andgarden

    Although I do have "Stuck in Fulcrum Prison" singing in my head now. I know, but there it is, making itself up.

    With geographical differences, yes:

    How can I go back to the West Oakland BART station, where I do GOTV, once again, and ask the voters to turn out for the Democratic Party?

    Some days the amount of garbage in the gutter makes it difficult to move. How can there still be so much garbage in the gutters?

  •  kid oakland.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, andgarden

    you aren't asking too much of our leaders- to have courage and vision to move us into a new century, not just a new two year congress.  We are facing global warming issues, population expansions, health care crises, violence in our cities and energy crises- and its like they just want to appease the middle and cut taxes.  

    I think the government would be better if we had publically funded campaigns only, which would limit the influence of the lobbyists and big campaign contributors.  You and your fellow volunteers, working to get candidates elected by educating the voters on the issues, should be the important persons in an election, not the big check writers.

    Thanks for this diary and for all the good work you do.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:31:10 PM PDT

  •  as usual, you provoke my own thinking (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, Luetta, mommyof3, gatorbot

    in the text for my picture for UnConventional I retold my first experience of segregation - getting off a plane in Miami in December of 1956 and seeing whites only signs and the like for the first time in my life.

    My father's father was an immigrant from Poland who became a tailor.  My father was the 2nd of 6 kids, five of whom graduated from Cornell.  Growing up they never had much, but they all always had at least one good coat thanks to their dad, the grandfather who died when I was still a very small child.

    I have never myself lived in poverty, but I have played on softball teams in Brooklyn with people who live only two blocks from the comfortable brownstown in which I had an apartment and been in their homes - one table, 4 chairs, no books, no TV, one radio, and barely enough dishes to have a single guest - me - over for a meal of  hominy grits and gristle:  how could I refuse their generosity?  And yet my teammate would not give a return visit, because the block on which I lived was largely Italian, and he would not be welcome because he was black.  This was in 1969.  

    I served in the Marine Corps with people who came from impoverished background. I remember one kid in my boot camp platoon named Malina, a black Puerto Rican, who had played trumpet.  Note the past tense -  he had never seen a dentist, and after the first visit to the dentist in boot camp he lost 10 teeth at age 18.

    I have experienced some discrimination and prejudice because I am of Jewish background, but I had no obvious accent, and had I wanted to change my name and a few of my mannerisms, who would know?  My black acquaintances did not have that luxury.

    Perhaps my sister's closest friend growing up had been born in a camp - an American concentration camp - because her parents, although citizens, were of Japanese origin.

    I have seen abandonment of public school systems when they became overwhelmingly populated by minorities.

    I have been through sections of American cities that have been abandoned by the powers that be without having first been flooded by a hurricane - in Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia,Washington DC and more.  

    I remember on a trip to Stockholm in 1968 being shocked by seeing a couple of wat turned out to be Finnish seamen who had jumped ship - they were panhandling, and what was shocking was that they were the only thing approaching poor or needy people I encountered in almost a week in a major European city.

    When I have occasion to be in poor neighborhoods, in inner cities or increasingly in inner ring suburbs, I note the high density of liquor stores and overpriced "convenience" stores and the lack supermarkets.  I see payday lenders and pawn shops, but no banks.

    I have travelled through poor rural areas as well, in parts of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.  These might be "ethnic" (as in eastern European) in their population, or they would be"hillbillies"  using the least offensive term I have heard used to describe Appalachian whites.  I think of the passage in  Jim Webb's history of his Scots-Irish heritage, Born Fighting, where he lists some of the pejorative terms used to describe such folk, include trailer park trash, and connects that with himself.

    My wife is a interesting mixture, with ancestors who came over on the Mayflower and fought in the Revolution - on both sides!  With others who did not convert from Judaism until the 1700s.  She has one sister who was married to a Pueblo Indian whose daughter is a registered member of her father's Pueblo.  Another sister is married to a man who can trace his family back in Northern New Mexico several hundred years, and they have three sons.  Her brother is married to a woman whose background is German-American farmers from Pennsylvania.  My sister's son has an African-American wife.  

    I understand something perhaps of fear and mistrust, but it is unacceptable to me that we divide our people up - by religion, race, economic class, whatever.

    And it is unacceptable to me that those who seek to lead us will not directly confront the way we have ignored the needs of so many of our people, and the willingness of far to many to belittle those different from themselves.

    And yet -  I hope that in some fashion I can contribute to a different society not only by challenging, but by how I live and act and treat people.  I cannot demand from those who would seek to lead us what I am not willing to impose upon myself.

    I thank you for your diary, which I strongly recommend.  And I thank you for forcing me again to reflect.


    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 07:37:31 PM PDT

  •  I'd like to know where the Fighting Dems are... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shayera, andgarden

    these days, too...

    I don't understand what we're afraid of in the Democratic Party right now... we're on the correct side of the important issues.  Why we are walking on eggshells is really confusing to me...

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 08:31:55 PM PDT

  •  A revolution has to start with one voice. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, RiaD

    And spread from person to person.
    More and more these past years I find myself demoralized and depressed by those that call ourselves our "leaders."
    What have we been seen as but as nothing more than simple willing fodder? Tell us a story, we'll buy it and follow you to the end. And more often than not, we're the ones kicked in the knee and left along the side of the road (metaphorically).
    Complacency has become the byword. Someone else will come along and fix it for us.

    Like you all, I've gotten endless calls from campaigns and the Party asking for money. But for now, my wallet is closed. No one. Not one candidate gets any money until they can absolutely promise to make a stand for truth and honor and liberty. And yes, the Constitution. Cliched. But true.


    by shayera on Sun Sep 02, 2007 at 10:50:55 PM PDT

  •  Excellent (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, shayera, sockpuppet, RiaD

    KO you can express your thoughts so very well.

    It's a crying shame this didn't make the rec list.

    I happy that no matter what happens you won't give up though!

    well done

  •  Terrific diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, RiaD


    I'm not going anywhere. I'm standing up, which is how one speaks in opposition in a civilized world. - Ainsley Hayes

    by jillian on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:17:42 PM PDT

  •  I'm pretty cynical about politicians, too. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, RiaD

    The best ones are conflicted between their guiding principles--the reasons the people elected them--and doing what they think will advance their careers.

    I believe you have to go with the ones whose guiding principals are unambiguous and detailed, and then stay on top of them, for all you're worth.

  •  Not Politicians or Parties, Just You (4+ / 0-)

    We have to save ourselves.  Lech Walesa was once asked how Solidarity started and he said, "We began by talking loud at the bus stops."

    I'd like to see people do practical solar and energy efficiency demos at such events as farmers' markets or street fairs.  I say Solar IS Civil Defense and could be a very effective lever if placed near the right fulcrum.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at

    by gmoke on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:36:30 PM PDT

  •  The bottom line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sadly, your bottom line is more of the same:

    "I will vote for the Democratic nominee, of course."

    Because it is precisely that line that keeps driving the Democratic Party further and further to the right. No matter how reactionary the candidate, the Republican candidate will always be "worse." And so you'll find yourself voting for a Hillary Clinton whose position on Iraq, Iran, Cuba, or any foreign issue is for all intents and purposes indistinguishable from Bush aside from the competence question, and whose position on domestic issues may sound a lot better than Bush, but when you vote for her you'll get "the end of welfare as we know it," medical care "reform" that ends up empowering and enriching the pharmaceutical companies more than it benefits the people, and so on.

    If there's nothing you can't not tolerate, then that's what you end up settling for...nothing.

    Eli Stephens
    Left I on the News

    Sept. 15 in D.C.! Be there! Stop the war!

    by elishastephens on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:36:33 PM PDT

  •  Kid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sockpuppet, RiaD

    I'm sorry I missed this wonderful diary earlier.  We have to keep pushing and these dems are all we have to work with, depressingly true.  I was on a R/W site earlier and those people are not on the same planet.  We will not reach them - ever. I don't think it is just the leaders.  A lot of these  issues have not reached the consciousness (sp?)of even other dems and when John Edwards, my favorite despite several faults in addition to the ones you pointed out, talks about the 2 Americas & poverty & labor (you get the point) he is derided or ignored.  I don't know what the answer is and I fear that even when we get control it will be like then Clintons in that we will be under constant attack.  My greatest hope is that when the Dems get more power we will have a pulpit to show ALL the damage that has been done to our country and that people will finally see what has been happening.  That they will get totally pissed.  

    "I wish I were a pacifist. I am not a pacifist. I'm a peace lover." Archbishop Tutu

    by Cocker Mom on Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 08:54:36 PM PDT

  •  We Need To Do More Together (4+ / 0-)

    I've written a few diaries over at Open Left, arguing that we need to organize a progressive force in the battleground districts, the places where we're told most insistently that we need to compromise. ["Beyond Bush Dogs? Proposal For A Pro-Active Battleground District Organizing Strategy" and "Notes Toward A National Battleground District Poll"]

    One of the main features of what I'm suggesting is that it doesn't depend on us asking anyone else.  It only depends on cooperating with others much like ourselves, and building on what we already have.

    Right now, my suggestions are getting overshadowed by the Bush Dog campaign, which I support, but see as more of a stop-gap measure.  But I'm ready to dig in and work some more.

  •  thanks for the diary n/t (0+ / 0-)

    "History will judge the GOP abdication to NeoCons as the single worst tactical blunder since the Taliban gave safe harbor to Osama bin Laden"

    by BentLiberal on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 12:52:11 AM PDT

  •  that's just about where i find myself (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kid oakland, mataliandy

    although i think i may be even less optimistic on our ability to force the dems to do what their constituents, the constitution, and the times are screaming for them to do.

    it is a shame that this party's politicians are so unwilling to lead, and do not have the convictions to do right by the people they represent. to fight hard for the principles they campaigned on.

    i fear that we were too eager to get inside, that we lost an important source of energy by making peace too early.

    we do not scare the politicians nearly enough.

    i want to believe, but i'm not willing to lie to myself to get peace of mind.

    something has got to give. if they do not start fighting as if their jobs depended on it pretty soon, the democratic party may be one of those things.

    what'll it be, guys? lincoln 1860 or whigs 1856?

    surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

    by wu ming on Tue Sep 04, 2007 at 04:20:31 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Glad it got rescued and that I had the chance to read it.


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