Well, I woke up this morning and saw that load of tripe by Dana Houle accusing "some" unidentifed kossaks of not being Democrats. Real witchhunt stuff.
I first voted for a Democrat in 1974, when I was 19. I have been a Democrat longer than Dana has been alive. Who the fuck is he to accuse others of not being Democrats because they might be critical of an Obama policy? What bullshit.
It reminded me of Republican attacks on the patriotism of critics of the Iraq war, and of attacks on the patriotism of Barack Obama during last years election.
Too many want lock step support of all that President Obama does. Well, it won't come from me. And it is not asked for by Barack Obama. He wants you to think for yourself. Activists are nothing if all they do is follow in lockstep some leader.
More of my rant, after the fold.
That diary reminded me of the Red baiting I saw when we fought against the Vietnam War. We were teenagers in 1969 and 1970 and afterward. I was 14 when I first went to an antiwar demonstration. And we were right. Yet we were berated as communists for fighting to help America.
That diary also reminded me of a speech calling for witchhunts. Who are the real Democrats? The "malaise" at Daily Kos because there is not total lock step praise for the Obama administration. Even for Dana, it was real crap.
I joined the Democratic Party in 1974 when I was 19. I voted for Democrats throughout the bad years of Reagan. I gave thousands of dollars in the last decade. And I belong to my local Democratic township club. I worked to elect the first Democratic state representative from my district ever, including maxing out on donations to her in the primary and general election.
There are many like me here who also criticize the Obama administration at times. There are many here who Dana would judge as not Democrats. There are so many people that fought so long for what the Democratic Party stood for. And, yet, Dana considers them disloyal.
What is achieved from pushing the progressives out of the Democratic Party? What purpose?
None I see.
But I look to Barack Obama, not Dana Houle, and President Obama prefers pluralism and democratic dissent.
But what I will not do is suggest that the Senator takes his positions for political purposes. Because one of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.
The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America.
So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.
"One of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism."
I've got news for you, Dana, many people here disagree with you on issues and with Obama at times, but they are just as much members of the Democratic Party as you. And you cannot run us out.
More from that dissenter, Barack Obama:
You understand that in this election, the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result. You have shown what history teaches us - that at defining moments like this one, the change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington. Change happens because the American people demand it - because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time.
America, this is one of those moments.
With us or against us, as Dana's diary asserts, is the old politics. Political hackery will not solve America's problems.
The promise of America is a democratic promise, one in which witchhunts have no place, and one in which the dissenter of today is the leader of tomorrow:
Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances.
The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.
I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
I'll end with something from Barack Obama that is fitting during Passover and Holy Week:
That's the promise of America - the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.
So, Dana, I fundamentally disagree with you. And I am a Democrat.
Update I: Barack Obama on dissent:
Of course, precisely because America isn't perfect, precisely because our ideals constantly demand more from us, patriotism can never be defined as loyalty to any particular leader or government or policy. As Mark Twain, that greatest of American satirists and proud son of Missouri, once wrote, "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." We may hope that our leaders and our government stand up for our ideals, and there are many times in our history when that's occurred. But when our laws, our leaders or our government are out of alignment with our ideals, then the dissent of ordinary Americans may prove to be one of the truest expression of patriotism.
(from citizen53 in the comments)
Update II: Dana in the comments accused me of being intellectually dishonest for not linking his diary, even though it was on the Rec List when I wrote it. I think most folks here had read it or could find it. In any event, for those who cannot find it on the Rec List, here's a link to Dana's diary:
Update III: A comment from Seneca Doane that I thought was worth highlighting. (S)he says things very well:
And he's going to say that (17+ / 0-)
he wasn't talking about you. It's a pretty safe piece to have written that way.
I hope to weigh in exactly once on this meta kerfuffle, and since you've written a diary worth recommending I'll do it here.
Dana is right. So are you. The fact that both of you can be right is due to Dana's phrasing his argument in a way that the group that he criticizes can be expanded or contracted as the need arises.
There are, absolutely, some people here who are not well-disposed towards the Democratic Party -- and for quite understandable reasons; among other things, it is ill-placed (though better placed than the Republican Party) for strong action in areas like fundamental economic reform and standing against the national security state. Those of us who favor the party, while grinding our teeth, do so despite those deficiencies; we think that the other advantages of having Democrats in power -- foremost among them that it keeps Republicans out of power -- justify that support even while we try to change the party for the better (and ideally for the best.)
You and I, Tom, are in the latter group, but I think that we understand why people are in the former group and why they have a place in discussions. Dana will contract the scope of his criticism as need be to exclude the likes of you.
Within the party, there are some who just don't like and trust Obama. I have a hard time empathizing with it, but I accept that things happen. They too will help keep our discussion honest and deserve a place in the table.
There are, I'm sure, trolls and agents provocatuers here as well.
Where Dana's position offends is in the style of his argument more than its substance: that "we" (he and the good people) have to and ought to be willing to suffer the indignity of trafficking with others. Well, to a point, this is true. But one doesn't have to say, in every conversation with an opponent, "I am suffering your existence, you know!" Reasonable people understand that that will just lead to unnecessary conflict.
Dana underemphasized something in his diary. He didn't quite omit it, but it got only a glancing mention -- albeit enough that he can haughtily come back and say "didn't you see that I made an exception, jerk?" as if the notion of the role of emphasis in written communication has never occurred to him.) The glaring underemphasis is this: of those of us who have opposed Obama Administration policies here in discrete areas, I'd say that the substantial majority are those who fall into none of the categories of frustrating and offending writers he identifies. We want the Democratic Party to succeed electorally and in terms of policy, we want Obama to succeed personally, we are not trolls -- but we are also not patsies.
How one could write an argument like his and say "there's a lot of irritating criticism here and some of it may be justified in part but that aside let me tear into the three types of offensive critics we see here and that we must stand against" without/ acknowledging more openly (and repeatedly, given the sensitivity of his position) the good will and legitimacy in debate of most of the people here who criticize Obama is beyond me. It was the difference between what could have been a constructive piece and what a deft campaign manager surely should have know was simply pot-stirring and passive-aggressive insult.
That said, I'm not going to change my behavior at all in its wake and I hope that no critics but the trolls (and perhaps those who should reflect upon any personal animosity towards Obama) do either. In talking past so many people to his "many followers," Dana has tried to passive-aggressively insult those who don't deserve, in his opinion, direct polite engagement -- but I don't "Accept That."
Thanks for the diary and the forum and I hope to say (almost) nothing more on this.
My manifesto: what DKos could be.
by Seneca Doane on Fri Apr 10, 2009 at 08:19:22 AM PDT