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There is a story on today's DailyKos' front page, bemoaning the fact that Republican Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (MD-01) was defeated in Tuesday's primaries. Gilchrest was widely respected here in Maryland, and among his colleagues, for his moderate good sense. However, for the sin of opposing the war in Iraq, he was targeted by the right-wing purity trolls, and this time they got him out.

DHinMI's story is a powerful indictment of the pernicious influence of the radical right, on the Republican Party itself, and on our nation's politics. However, I find a powerful cautionary tale here, not for the radical right, but for the progressive movement, which has chosen to adopt the tactics which the radical right employed in seizing power in the GOP, and trying to foist its agenda upon the American people.

It's really striking to me to read two sentences in DHinMI's story:

The first:

"Gilchrest had been targeted before by the Club for Growth and other purity brigades that can't tolerate anything in the Republican party except lockstep devotion to winger orthodoxy."

;

and the second:

"Ultimately a non-radical Republican party is in the best interests of the country."

The first sentence is a clearly accurate description of what happened to Gilchrest, and what has befallen the Republican Party itself over the last 20-25 years, as all moderate elements are purged out of it.

The second sentence also seems, to me and to any progressive, and probably to any moderate, a correct conclusion about the problems this Republican radicalization causes -- the damage it has already done, as well as the further havoc it may wreak upon the country.

One has to wonder what future the Republican Party has, as the conservative activists continue to marginalize the party as they consolidate their ideological dominance over the party. In this connection, DHinMI writes:

"It's obvious, though, that we're going to have to wait longer, maybe decades more, for the Republican party to eradicate the radicalism which has been a disaster for the country and will soon be a disaster for the Republican party itself."

As a progressive, I might enjoy a moment of schadenfreude, but I don't think it's the appropriate reaction. I don't think we can afford that. Like DHinMI, I don't believe this is a development we should welcome.

As a Marylander, I regret Gilchrest's defeat, and hope that it does not portend the ascension of a more radical Republican representing Maryland -- I hope it does not represent the ascension of a more radical Republican Party within Maryland, which has seemed the last bastion of the moderate Republicanism I remember from growing up in New York.

As an American citizen, I can only hope that the political process will work to marginalize these radical elements, either to eradicate the influence radicals currently have over the GOP, or to create another party on the right that is not beholden to such marginal, extreme and misguided thinking.

However, this isn't really why I'm writing, so I must apologize for taking some time to get to the point:

The point is that, in the blogosphere and on DKos especially, the progressive "purity brigades" are not only in ascendance, they are venerated. Forget challenging their ideological orthodoxy. That instantly brands you a "Freeper". More to the point though, anyone who dares criticize the attacks on Democrats that have failed to hew the line is branded a "troll."

I know this for a fact. Sen. Schumer posted a diary here early yesterday, soliciting input from Kossacks on what races the DSCC should be targeting. Sen. Schumer asked for our views and help in creating a strategy to extend Democratic control in the Senate -- hoping to break the Republicans cloture power. The logic of that being, if we can put a Democrat in the White House and reach 60 seats in the Senate, the only obstacles remaining in advancing the progressive agenda would be creating agreement amongst ourselves.

Out of 951 comments, less than 1% were actually responsive to the Senator's invitation. The other 99% of comments excoriate either Schumer, the DSCC, or Senate Democrats, essentially for their lack of fortitude or their failure to hew the orthodoxy that prevails here. I posted a comment expressing my own personal regrets to the Senator that almost every single response ignored his purpose in writing the diary. I was labeled a "troll".

I don't challenge anyone's right to criticize our representatives. I applaud the responsive diaries, and urge folks to constantly contact their representatives regarding issues of concern. That said, I was appalled at the utter rejection of an attempt to reach out and forge an alliance. This was an audacious slap to the face, from a resoundingly critical Greek chorus that responded to the Senator's effort to reach out and create a unified effort in November.

On the same day that I wanted to celebrate Donna Edwards victory, because I feel she is a far better representative for me and my neighbors (I live a couple of miles outside of Wynn's district, but I may yet move into that district) than Al Wynn, I am conflicted because it also represents a triumph for ideological purity within the Democratic Party.

Yes, we can more reliably count on Ms. Edwards to fight for progressive ploicies, even and especially if Republicans retain or regain some further control in Washington. Yes, that feels like a good thing to a progressive. But, therein lays the danger. I fear we run the risk of becoming just like those we fear so much. Surely, the radical elements within the Republican Party believe in their agenda. They think it is the proscription for America's ills. And, they see moderating elements within their Party as a pernicious influence that weakens their movement and serves to block their agenda.

Isn't that exactly what's happening to the Democratic Party? Aren't we creating the conditions of our own demise? Politically, it's probably not the smartest idea to marginalize or purge the party of moderate elements. Creating a tyranny of ideological orthodoxy is exactly what we find most odious about the modern Republican Party. Yes, we are repelled by the party's platform itself, but we also recoil at the way the Party has become so hostile to deviations from the orthodoxy. Even as the Republican Party goes about nominating McCain as its standard-bearer, he is being viciously attacked from within his own party because he has dared to go beyond the lines of ideological purity.

It's an easy trap to fall into, when one believes in an ideology. We here all share a belief in and a commitment to the progressive agenda. We share a certainty in the correctness of our progressive impulses. We trust those impulses, even as policy debates come and go, as the issues change over time. Those impulses inform a strong core of policy goals, but they also guide as in responding to new challenges.

There is nothing wrong in believing in something -- not one thing wrong in advocating for one's own views. However, I think there is something wrong in insisting on ideological purity among our political representatives. If we enforce the same insistence on orthodoxy by driving out all moderating elements, punishing all those who fail to pass our purity test, we will marginalize the Democratic Party and ultimately the progressive movement.

It is not enough to say we are right in our views, and so we must work to ensure that our representatives represent only our views. Not only is it bad politics -- look at what is happening to the GOP, if you doubt that -- it may be bad policy. When you don't listen to dissent, and don't even allow dissenting views, you are left with no way to assess the correctness of your own view. It is arrogant in the extreme not to admit the possibility that one's ideas may be wrong.

A healthy body politic doesn't come from having two extremes, advocating two diametrically opposed views on every point. It requires a multitude of viewpoints to point out the possibilities of more nuanced policies. Unfortunately, this country is continuing its drift towards the political polar extremes. We are not only complicit in this development; we are becoming the strongest driving force -- the engine that is propelling this polarization of politics.

I can't think that this is a good thing, either for the Party, or for the country. It's also probably not a great thing for the long-term prospects of the progressive agenda. When you look clearly at what the radical right has achieved, it's a pretty meager list of small and mostly fleeting victories. They have achieved restrictions on some abortion procedures, and on funding for such medical procedures and for contraceptive programs. While they have made it more difficult to get an abortion, they have not shaken the general consensus in favor of a woman's right to choose. They have changed the makeup of the Supreme Court, resulting in a series of unfortunate decisions, with many more to come, but these gains will likely be reversed over the next decade.

On other issues, the record is far worse. They have cut taxes for the wealthy, and cut back on regulation fo financial markets. What they actually achieved was a financial train wreck. Banks are facing huge losses. The radical right's economic agenda has wreaked much damage on the middle and working classes, but the tax cuts will be phased out, and one hopes that sounder economic and financial policies will replace the deregulation madness of the last 15 years.

Then, of course, there is the war in Iraq, the evisceration of our international prestige, and the spiraling national debt. This is the legacy of the Republican right's iron-grip on the GOP, and the GOP may pay a stunning price in this year's election. The Republicans in Congress are fleeing like the proverbial rats on a sinking ship. As stunning as was their defeat in 2006, Republicans, in 2008, may be marginalized as neither major party has been in a century. That is the legacy of the purity trolls of the radical right.

What will be our legacy, if we enforce a similar ideological tyranny on the left? What mistakes will we make in policy and politics, because we have excised any and all serious or effective dissent? The Democratic Party needs to stand for something, to be sure. In the 1960s and 1970s, moderate politics held sway in this country, because both parties remained open to a range of views. There were problems to be sure, but the Democratic agenda largely held sway, because most people believed we offered the best hope of finding solutions to these problems. But for the divisions that the Vietnam War created within the Party, we would have completely controlled the government throughout those decades, and no one would much remember Dick Nixon.

Will this more radicalized Democratic Party that we are creating here ever get the degree of support, or the record of legislative success that the Democratic Party of the 60s and 70s had?

It was an impressive record. Civil rights laws, Medicare and Medicaid, various anti-poverty programs, disability rights, gender equity, workplace safety rules, minimum wages, a Mideast peace agreement, arms limitations treaties with the Soviet Union, the first major environmental laws.

There were, to be sure, excesses, as the progressivity of the tax system was skewed to the wrong extreme (top marginal rates reached the ludicrous high of 90%). Ultimately, the twin sins of stagflation (inflation and a stagnant economy) along with perceived weakness in foreign policy, created the opening for the Reagan Revolution. While Reagan proved to be far more moderate than his rhetoric, over time, the radical right has enforced the discipline of that rhetoric. Will the progressive left make a similar mistake, with equally disastrous results? What will be our legacy? Will we work to craft an agenda that the majority of Americans will support enthusiastically, or will we marginalize the Democratic Party, and ultimately, the progressive movement? What will our purity brigades accomplish? Are we sowing the seeds of our own demise?

***{Update: I'd like to thank HeatherLee for a comment she made. This diary began as a comment posted in DHinMI's story page. HeatherLee responded by observing that much of this feels as if it's fueled by raging hormones. "Testosterone poisoning", she called it. Is it really that simple? Is the debate being taken over by chest-puffing, test-crazed 17-35 yr. old males driven beyond reason by their raging hormones? Could it be that simple?}

Originally posted to FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:46 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips? (10+ / 0-)

    I'm not expecting any, but I'd be really encouraged if I got some.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:46:46 AM PST

  •  We must learn (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    acerimusdux, FischFry

    Not to eat our own.

    Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard. -=-H. L. Mencken

    by crazyshirley2100 on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:51:54 AM PST

    •  Ah, but... (6+ / 0-)

      who are 'our own'?

      Schumer was single-handedly responsible for Mukasey's being named AG. Is he one of 'our own'?

      Al Wynn was a corrupt sell-out in the pocket of whatever corporation had $100 to throw at him. Was he one of 'our own'?

      Is any candidate who slaps a D after their name to win an election and then votes with the R's at every opportunity one of 'our own'?

      If the answer to these questions is yes, then I have to ask...who the hell are 'we'?

      The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves. - Plato

      by robroser on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 09:56:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not every one, to be sure (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny rotten, acerimusdux

        I agree with your assesment of Wynn, That's why I voluteered for Donna Edwards. But, we shoot ourselves in the foot, if we don't allow each Democrat to have his or her own views. It can't be just the Kos rule -- where we allow certian Democrats in conservative districts to deviate, but insist on slavish adherence from the rest. We can't afford to be so arrogant.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:11:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just remember (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kafkananda

          Not a single congressional Democrat came out in support of Donna Edwards. And this constitutes a "party" with problems around "purity"?

          •  Actually, that proves the point (0+ / 0-)

            Some Congressional Democrats defended Wynn, saying he was hardly the "worst" in the Party. They supported his right to dissent. Maybe, they fear they will be overrun themselves by the same movement that ate Wynn.

            I wasn't saying that Dems in Congress have "purity issues." The ones on the inside, even the most ideologically pure, are probabbly far more understanding than the rest of us. I'm saying that those of us in the movement, on the outside, need to be more tolerant of folks, especially Congressfolk, who might disagree on some issues, or might see adanvatage in compromise, at times.

            Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

            by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:33:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, it proves nothing of the kind (0+ / 0-)

              You could use precisely the same argument to support voting for Lieberman instead of Lamont. In fact, I actually heard that during the last cycle: "Joe is hardly the worst". Yeah, he isn't Dick Cheney. But he's at least as useless to any progressive agenda.

              If that's the reason they spoke up for Wynn instead of Edwards, then bad cess to them. Hell, I'd rather idiots like that feared primary challenges mounted by us. But until they're more frightened of us than they are of the Republicans, we haven't finished our job.

              Which brings me to my point: You are essentially arguing that Kossacks should stop pressing so hard for the Democratic Party to move in the direction we would like because we are "outsiders". Well, we aren't. We are a tendency inside the Dems, and we have just as much right to pull the party our way as any other constituency.

              •  No, I didn't. We should press for our policies (0+ / 0-)

                But, that is not the same thing as this testosterone-fueled frenzy, getting in the face of anyone who disagrees, and calling them theworst name you can conjure up at the moment.

                Policy debates do not require that kind of behavior, and I'd add that it's a pretty poorly or ill-conceived approach.

                "until they're more frightened of us than they are of the Republicans, we haven't finished our job."

                What job are you trying to finish? The alienating of every posibble ally or constuency that doesn't think exactly as you? Well, you have some work still to do, but ya'll are well on the away. Good luck to you in that endeavor.

                Me? I'd rather have Democratic representatives that look to us for support, energy, and ideas. That will happen if they respect us, and believe we can help them. It won't happen, if they fear us, and think that our existence can only hurt them.

                Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

                by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 12:50:46 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  There are Exactly 31 Democrats In The Senate! (5+ / 0-)

      That's how many voted to uphold the constitution and laws and not pass Telecom immunity.

      Should people get all excited about voting more "Democrats" into power only to have them betray us like 19 Democratic Senators did on FISA immunity? Here in Colorado I supported and worked for Ken Salazar's election only to see him totally betray us time and again. Should I get all worked up over electing more Democrats?

      And now in the House, we have another band of "Bush Dogs" ready to do the same thing.

      There seems to be some sort of feeling that we should support Democrats just to see a "D" next to their names or something!

      Newsflash: We, the American people, don't really care whether Democrats or Republicans run Washington. What we care about is living in a sane and safe world without unnecessary wars, global warming or corporate polluting, and with decent jobs, the rule of law at home and abroad, and affordable health care.

      And I don't see the Democratic party standing up for those principles.

      We've been cut to the bone over the last 25 years by BOTH parties, not just the Republicans, and there's no room for further "compromise" which only means bending over and getting further raped. Somehow the compromise is always on our side and the Republicans and their corporate masters always get what they want in the end.

      We're totally P'd off!

      If the Democratic party wants our support then start to FIGHT for things we believe in. It isn't a question of victory all the time, but give us the sense that you are actually willing to fight on our side!

      Until you do don't ask for my support!

      •  THey are willing, and want to win the fight (0+ / 0-)

        That's why they don't show the backbone you demand, They're afraid of losing the war because they're too busy fighting a losing battle. I don't want to have that argument, though I'm not defending the Congressional Democrats. I'm saying we, on the outside, need ot be better and smarter than we have been in this fight.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:17:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This is just a SAD misunderstanding! (0+ / 0-)

          Reality: 19 Democratic Senators and 49 Republican ones voted their conscience. They supported their corporate paymasters. They didn't vote the way they did because they wanted to support the constitution and people but were afraid! The substantial majority of the American people were AGAINST telecom immunity! They voted for it because they are corporate whores. Bought and paid for. Period.

          Too bad that sounds "radical" to say, but it's a flat fact.

          Don't want to believe that? Read page 93 of Robert Reich's book Locked In The Cabinet "We're owned by them. Big business. That's where the campaign money comes from now." -- Marty Sabo (D. Minnesota) former chairman of the House Budget Committee.

          •  The American people (0+ / 0-)

            I think most Americans were against this idea of telecom immunity -- well, I should qualify that: Most Americans who were aware of the issue, were against it. I think most Americans were not particularly aware of this issue and couldn't care much less. But, that was not even remotely close to my point, which was divorced from the issues. I was talking about how we present ourselves -- how we conduct our debate, and how we accepting we are or are not, of dissent.

            Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

            by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:54:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  As a progressive (5+ / 0-)

    I consider my own politics quite progressive, but having seen what being a slave to an orthodoxy has done to the republican party, I agree wholeheartedly with this diary.

    My wife and I have joked about "intolerant liberals" for years. Even though that sounds like a complete oxymoron, there are some folks on the left side of the political spectrum who are nearly as intolerant as some of the right wing crazies...they just won't tolerate anything short of 100% adherence to liberal ideals and suggest that anyone who compromises on a single issue is a traitor to the cause.

    Alas, I'm seeing many signs of that around the Democratic party these days from Obama, Hillary, Edwards and other supporters.

  •  Hello Mr. Broder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    creeper

    Today's Democratic Party is further to the right than the Republican Party of my youth, but apparently that's not right-wing enough for the true acolytes, the Broderite Extremists.

    •  I'm not talking about policy, so I reject label (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny rotten, HeatherLee, TechieLib

      Comparing mye to Broder is just another example of the despicable ideological purity test I delplre, I didn't comment on policies, so it's ridiculous to compare me to Broder. I do not share his philosophy. I believe in the progresive agenda. It's about the direction of the debate here -- the tone and tactics, insisting on a rigid orthodoxy.

      I also don't totally agree with your assessment of where the parties stand relative to the 60s-70s politics. Issues change. Yes, the Democratic Party has moved to the right on some issues, such as abortion and welfare -- or, at least, what was perceived as the right, back then. Issues and perspectives change, as do priorities.

      I wrote this in response to wmtrialalwyers Schumer diary, now on the reec list:

      "It's really not only the most important step, it si the first step. Any other steps that might precede it, aren't really steps forward. It's just walking in place, seeing that you don't go backwards any more. If we want to go forward with our agenda, we must win the Presidency.

      However, Schumer is right. I've writtenmy own diary discussing in part my reaction to the Schumer diary, as well as the legacy of the 60s and 70s. While the Democrats did basically drive the agenda, there was much they could not do. Even when they controlled the White House, the cloture rule really put a brake on truly daring policies. If we want the opportunity to truly try out our best, most forward-thinking ideas, we will need effective control of the Senate, as well as the White House.

      Pres. Obama will gladly move to the center to seek conciliation at almost every turn, if he thinks he needs to do that to maintain his "new brand of politician" image. However, if we give him a progressive majority in the Senate, he will be responsive to it, for the same reason. A prorgressive majority in the Senate will push Pres. Obama where we want him to go."

      I want to get to the same place you do, but I want to leave room for people who don't. I think there's enough room for all. In fact, if we want to get to 60 seats, and hold that, we will need to be more inclusive not less so.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:08:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We missed an opportunity (8+ / 0-)

    to have a conversation with Schumer because so many people here thought it would be more fun to make themselves feel good by yelling and screaming profanities.  There was a seeming rush to see who could be the most offensive.  It got ugly. (But, in defense of the outrage, Schumer was asking for donations on a particular day that people were really pissed off at the Senate.)

    That being said, we are nowhere near the point where the "progressive purity police" can take down candidates at will who don't meet progressive standards.  If that were the case, candidates would be falling all over themselves to prove that they are more progressive than their opponents.   That's not happening.  "Centrism" still rules the day in the Democratic Party.  Both of our leading presidential candidates are centrists.  John Edwards, a centrist while in the Senate and a re-born Populist on the campaign trail did very poorly.  

    I think the country is starting to move in a Leftward direction, and it will take some time for the entrenched politicians to catch up or be tossed out. The depradations of the "purity police" are far from a concern at this point.

    Bush repealed Godwin's Law with a Signing Statement.

    by Mad Kossack on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:03:18 AM PST

    •  Leftward shift on the horizon...don't blow it! (4+ / 0-)

      Yes, I agree that the country is not just ready for a leftward shift, but actually craving one. The number of republicans and independents who are terrified of losing their health insurance (if they haven't already) is amazing. People are ashamed of our foreign policies. Everyone is joking about how weak the US Dollar is. I could go on with this list, but that's not the point.

      The point is that we have a country ready for a progressive message and policies, but there is no better way to scare everyone off from the Democratic party than to act like raving lunatics who demand 100% fealty to the movement or, even, the Democratic party.

      •  Really well said, and with economy of words. (0+ / 0-)

        You put my lengthy diary to shame. I think one reason the people are turning away from the GOP is not just the policies, but the tone. We must not strive to emulate that, or we'll suffer the same fate.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:14:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's how I saw that "discussion" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      johnny rotten, Mad Kossack

      I'm a bit relieved to see I'm not the only one.
      There is a time and a place to express criticism, and it's not when someone is stretching out their hand to you.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:12:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I Fail To See the Analogy (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TracieLynn, FischFry, rrheard, Mad Kossack

    If far-left progressives were prevailing these days I'd buy it.  Show me where that's happening.

    The Democratic party has moved so far to the right that progressives have no choice but work to remove the sellouts.  Do you honestly believe "moderation" will heal the wounds inflicted on this country by Republicans?

    Gore to Richardson to Edwards to ?

    by creeper on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:05:27 AM PST

    •  Not recommending moderation (5+ / 0-)

      I don't think this diary recommends moderation in policies at all. I, for one, think we do need to try to remove "sellouts" from office. However, you're going to win over a lot more people (aka votes & contributors) if you don't label them "sellouts", but instead focus on how the votes and policies of a particular candidate are out of step with progressive politics and the betterment of the USA.

      It really boils down to tactics...there will always be a time to stand up and fight, but you do not have to fight & call names in every situation...save that tactic for when you really need it!

      •  Exactly, Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny rotten

        I'm all for progressive policies, but I think we wil lose the war, if we come off like a fascist left.

        We need to convince Americans that progressivism is moderate, not intolerant. Most Americans instinctively move to the moderate position. We need to show that progresive policies are the correct and moderate -- that they reflect the majority of Americans, not the imposition of the will of the leftist extreme.

        Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

        by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:21:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Move the center to the left (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          johnny rotten, acerimusdux, FischFry

          Don't try to convince everyone that they are really a liberal at heart...instead, move the center to the left to being more "liberal" is the easy, default decision.

          I saw a wonderful column/diary on this a few days ago about how Obama was effectively trying to do exactly this. Wish I could find that link now...

        •  The "Leftist Extreme" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          creeper

          Right. Like not spying on citizens. And not torturing. And not...aw, for christ's sake.

        •  Room for both (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FischFry

          Look at the talk radio right and how they are going after McCain. All this does in the media is create a perception of McCain the moderate, when really he's extremely right wing on all but 1 or 2 issues.

          Now I personally would prefer not to emulate that approach. But, it can be argued that there's a place for it.

          But even Rush doesn't curse out guests who come to appear on his show. That means even Rush has more common sense than some here.

          I thought it was good that Senator Schumer got challenged and was willing to answer a lot of tough questions. And I have no objection to the way the majority of people handled that, giving him hard questions, and  raising inconvenient facts. I do have a problem with those who are not able to keep those disagreements civil and substantive. And I was especially troubled that there weren't more responsible users around to hide some of the less productive comments.

          There seems to be a lot less moderation here than there used to be, and maybe some like it better that way, but it seems to me we are losing something. I think it may have to do with the whole primary season, and people losing ratings priviledges, as well as an influx of new users. But we seem to be becoming an unmoderated community.

  •  I thought you said this would be a short diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mad Kossack, Cowboy Borat

    As for your points, which you repeat about 50 times:

    I'll start worrying about too much "ideological purity" on Kos right around the time that the Democratic Party is able to ram through -- with huge numbers of Republican votes -- idiotic "sense of the senate" resolutions condemning some wingnut group for a newspaper ad "insulting" American generals.

    Seriously: I'll admit that totalizing tendencies inhabit every political organization, ours included. But on the left, we're a long way from the Red Guards. Progressive and left alternatives are in retreat all around the world, not just in the USA. In this country, we have been fighting a rear-guard action since Reagan, and neocons have had exactly what they wanted for nearly a decade. How does anger at that, and disappointment with our almost totally ineffective congressional leadership, personified by Schumer, translate into some kind of "purity" movement?

    •  I never said it would be short.... (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for getting through it. I know I made the same point repeatedly, but I hope I was doing it in different ways, and moving forwards to the conclusion.

      Your points are well taken....I just think if it comes to those idiotic sense of the Congress resolutions, it will have already gone too far...and it will be too late to stop the collapse that will surely follow.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:37:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The progressive party went out of business... (0+ / 0-)

    in 1954.

  •  You can't slap a man in the face... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rrheard

    and then expect him to turn the other cheek with a "thank you, may I have another sir" type of response. Sen. Schumers support for AG Mukasey was a slap in the face and the recent senate defection on the FISA issue is a very VERY grave mistake because of the permanency of their decision as well as the lack of respect for the US Constitution. Should we continue to compromise our principles for the opportunity of another reaming of the nether regions? As many suggested, the senator's timing was ripe for a contemptious response and I think it should be viewed as a reminder of accountability to the people. Is accountability no longer desired or are we merely interested in winning titles of a "D" beside our name?

  •  well (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FischFry

    I think we do need to keep primary challenges as a viable option, I think moving the Dems in our directions is as, if not more important than just getting more Dems elected.  I am supporting a primary challenge in my congressional district this year, just because I think it's good for pols to feel pressure from the left as well as the right.  I don't think we should throw ALL the bums out, but we can pressure them to do better.

    I agree with you about the Schumer diary, I don't really think politicians should bother to post here due to the overwhelmingly rude and unproductive response they usually get.  But given the nature of the medium, I don't think that could be any different.

    •  If it's the nature of the medium (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcfly

      Maybe we should reexamine that aspect and reform our behavior there...

      Heatherlee attributes it to testosterone poisoning. She could be right.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:55:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  nature of internet debate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johnny rotten, FischFry

        not hard to anonymously call people traitorous lying sellouts behind the safety of your computer screen.  While we should not be cheerleaders, and I am all for going after Schumer for his Musaskey support, I don't think living by minimal civility standards would kill anyone.  But again, I doubt that is a realistic goal.

  •  Update -- Heatherlee's comment (0+ / 0-)

    Here is the comment I refer to in my update:

    "I didn't read Senator Schumer's post, but I'm not surprised at the responses to it. The "blogosphere" is becoming, or has become, more like my country fair's Demolition Derby than like intelligent discourse. DHinMI's post was reasonable and courteous; I enjoyed reading it and wish I'd known something about Wayne Gilchrest before now.

    But look at the responses to it! True, some of the folks are respectful and thoughtful, and they're the reason I keep reading DKos. But about half of them are of the "We (Dems) need to purge our own wishy-washy types now, just like the Reps."

    Part of the rather brainless hostility and yelling we see on political blog comments is attributable, I think, simply to testosterone poisoning. The blogosphere is primarily a young male preserve, and many young males just want a fight, any fight, anywhere. Women, or anyone post-40-ish, who call for moderation are often mocked, and showered with profanity and vulgarity until they either go away or grit their teeth and try to become "one of the boys."

    I'm for Obama, now that Edwards is out, but I look at any candidate without idolatry. I still want to hear Obama's explanation for his continuing the friendship with the slumlord during the time the latter was known to be a slumlord. But if I post this (which I guess I'm doing), I can expect to be slimed by the Keyboard Kommandos on this site, and in many ways that's too bad."

    I think there's a lot of insight and wisdom in this observation.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:49:57 AM PST

  •  Good Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FischFry

    Thing is, we not only have single issue purity demands, we have little sense here of a broader progressive agenda.

    Torture is wrong and the US government should not allow it and those responsible should be prosecuted. But is this one issue much more important than anything else we need to get done?

    How many people were actually tortured? I suspect it's more than the 3 they've admitted to water boarding, but it's still a fairly small number. And it's not that Schumer supported any of this, it's that he didn't filibuster and expend valuable political capital on an obviously losing fight or two.

    Meanwhile, there seems to be little sense here of a progressive economic agenda, using the power of government to even the score economically, to boost workers wages, to boost demand and create jobs, things that will improve the lives of millions.

    All that most of the monied elites in control currently care about in our economics are keeping inflation low and the dollar strong. This only benefits those who already have all the dollars. But when Democrats do try to do something about this, they get criticized here as much as supported.

    I'm maybe getting a bit off topic here maybe, but your title brings to mind Joseph Stiglitz's "Whither Socialism?" Which does tempt me to get back to economic issues.

    We do need some mutual respect here for those who are in broad agreement with our principles. Respect needs to be earned, but so does the right to criticize. If we aren't able to be supportive more often than not of those who agree with us most of the time, then our criticisms will begin to fall on deaf ears. But we will have trouble doing that if we can't also be clear about what that "most of the time" entails--what is the broader big picture view which we think all progressives should agree on.

    •  I wanted to stay away from this, but you're right (0+ / 0-)

      "How many people were actually tortured? I suspect it's more than the 3 they've admitted to water boarding, but it's still a fairly small number."

      I have expressed smilar sentiments -- actually the exact sentiment before. We're not Nazi Germany, or Stalinist Russia. We're not a fascist totalitarian state. We took a few, very small missteps in that direction, and they need to be corrected -- but there are so many higher priorities -- things that affect so many us in real ways every day -- that are being ignored by all the light and heat generated over FISA and waterboarding.

      Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

      by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 10:59:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Missteps . . . if we can't ass a people agree (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FischFry

        that torture is out of bounds for whatever reason then we aren't really the people we claim to be and I can't in good conscience argue with anyone in the world that America should be a culture worthy of emulation.

        "An entire credulous nation believed in Santa Claus, but Santa Claus was really the gasman." Gunter Grass

        by rrheard on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:10:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry "as a people" (0+ / 0-)

          "An entire credulous nation believed in Santa Claus, but Santa Claus was really the gasman." Gunter Grass

          by rrheard on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:10:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  We do agree.... (0+ / 0-)

          As a people, though there are some hold-outs who have watched too much "24", and think we need to torture to protect this country.

          Why should you argue that America is a culture worthy of emulation? Why should anyone emulate our culture, and why should we emulate another country's culture? You can't import a culture anyway -- that's utterly false.

          I have no qualms with stopping torture. I just think the 40 million uninsured and the hundred million plus without decent coverage are a bigger problem for this country than what happeneed to a dozen or two terrorist suspects. Torture is ugly, but there are plenty of ugly acts committed in the name of national defense, and waterboarding is pretty tame compared to some.

          The guy responsible for blowing up the US marine barracks in Beirut, and the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, got blown up yesterday, himself. I can't think of a more fitting or just act of retribution. I think, if you asked him, he'd have preferred a couple of days in custody and a little waterboarding. Just to put things in perspective.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

          by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:26:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FischFry

        I do think it is an important issue.  But Schumer was on the right side of that and FISA. Gonzalez, who was directly responsible for some of it is gone. Mukasey is criticized for failing to clearly state that water boarding is in all cases illegal.  But it is clear the procedure is now not allowed by the CIA, FBI, or Pentagon.

        In short, it seems that Mukasey is  reluctant to hold those responsible accountable, but not allowing it to continue. Thats not good, but it's likely going to be the case that any Bush attorney general appointee is going to try and avoid conflict over past administration practices.

        My guess is that this was something of a compromise by Schumer to get what he thought was a more moderate Republican than Gonzalez in there who Bush would agree to.

        •  I think that's close (0+ / 0-)

          I do think Schumer expected much better from Mukasey. Not to hold people responsible, since I expect secret Presidential pardons in the end. But, he might have been clearer about what the policy is going forward. I don't think it's as clear as yoou make it to be, especially with regard to the CIA, or contractors.

          Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

          by FischFry on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:47:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Good Point (0+ / 0-)

            Good point about contractors.

            They're really not ruling it out completely, are they. Seems a lot like the usual whack-a-mole. Just contract it out. Send the job somewhere else. I guess it is possible some Ollie North somewhere has taken over the program. With this administration, any amount of lawlessness is possible.

            It's not happening in the CIA, FBI, or pentagon probably only means they moved it to, I don't know, the Bureau of Prisons, or maybe the White House Office of Faith Based Community Initiatives.

  •  Is it ideological purity to oppose torture? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FischFry

    Is it ideological purity to expect wages not to be stagnant for 30 years while the top 1% of incomes exploded 10 fold?  Is it ideological purity to not expect that fundamental founding principles like habeaus corpus and the 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches or searches lacking probably cause or a warrant?  Is it ideological purity . . . I think you get the point.  We aren't radical this country has shifted scarily close to allowing the bar to be lowered that we will lose our soul and identity as a people.  The only common ground we'll have is as consumers.  Pathetic.

    "An entire credulous nation believed in Santa Claus, but Santa Claus was really the gasman." Gunter Grass

    by rrheard on Thu Feb 14, 2008 at 11:07:35 AM PST

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