I began writing this diary on April 28th. I wasn't sure I'd ever publish it, but I am.
The last several months I've come to a special place on Daily Kos - a place I want to stay. There's nobody on the site I don't like. I can get annoyed like anyone, but I get over it. That's a nice place to be. I now believe most of the "divides" I used to sense, were more perceived than real.
I wanted to write about how I got to this place. I decided building bridges was about my reaching out to people who were on the "other side" of real or perceived divides around here. It wasn't about waiting for them to reach out to me. I remember seeing comments such as "well they did this." Somebody has to reach out first. Why not me? Now, that does not mean a kossacks has to wind up fully or even partly agreeing with someone else.
I also decided I would get out of Daily Kos what I put into it. If I put criticism in, I would get criticism back. If I treated people with respect, I would get respect back.
This journey started after the purge, but accelerated after some people began to leave Daily Kos.
I wanted to understand what was going on. Could anything be done to help? In my effort to better understand what was going on, I began reading more diaries and more comments from kossacks historically on the "other side" of what I now consider a more perceived than real divide. I didn't just read pie fights or hidden comments. Do I want people on Daily Kos to look mostly at my mistakes? No - I wanted the big picture. I wanted to get to know people for who they really were. I wanted to know what was at the root of all this.
I decided the people on the opposite side of what I now call more "perceived" divides, were just human beings like myself. I sometimes agreed with them. I didn't at other times. I specifically found they were very concerned the 30 year economic race to the bottom had not reversed. That's a concern I deeply share. We sometimes had different beliefs about who was to blame. Yes, their rhetoric regarding President Obama was at times too strong for me. But behind all that we wanted to live in the same America - an America where we all have enough. In fact, we wanted mostly the same policies. Why focus so much on what divides us when so much unites us? Is that any way to build a coalition and to work for change?
That observation was consistent with something I noticed shortly after the purge. There were people on both "sides" who wrote diaries against the execution of Troy Davis. The diaries were very similar, but a lot of people tipped or recommended just the diaries on their "side" of the divide. To me, this illustrated just how sadly polarized Daily Kos had become. Couldn't people see this was an issue almost all of us had in common?
I was historically more on the Rox side of the Rox/Sux divide. That goes back to health care reform. I didn't want to make the perfect the enemy of the good. In my mind, the uninsured desperately needed health care. People desperate for health care didn't care if their medical bills were paid by a public plan or a subsidized private plan. They cared about whether their bills were paid. So, I strongly favored ACA even though it was not enough. I also realized how hard it was for Democrats to get even this far. It was all we had the votes for. I hoped we could one day build on it to truly universal care and single payer.
The more diaries I read by people I had perceived as being on "the other side" the more I began to realize something. We need people out there who talk about what economic policies we SHOULD pass, not just what economic policies we CAN pass. If nobody promotes what we should ideally pass, those ideas don't get into national conversation, public opinion doesn't change, and those ideas are less likely to ever become politically possible.
Isn't that what conservatives did? Didn't they begin to promote trickle down, free market economics in the late 1960's and 1970's when it was rejected by almost everyone? That included the Republican establishment. One reason conservatives ultimately passed legislation that years earlier was impossible is because they never quit promoting the ideas. We must do the same.
Conversely, there's a time and a place for pragmatism and a time and place to focus on what is currently possible. I'll use the ACA as an example. There was a point at which it was obvious this was all we had the votes for - it was ACA in its current form or no bill. Similarly, Republican political hostage taking has put President Obama between a rock and a hard place. He has no good options when it comes to the budget.
I wish there were more diaries about how we can get from where we are today to the America almost all of us want. How can we outmaneuver the Republicans given their political hostage taking and a gerrymandered House? The political hostage taking and gerrymandered House allow the GOP to be in charge. When Democrats control the White House and Senate, we have to govern by executive order and veto. Do any history buffs know if there's any precedent for this in our country's history?
The Democratic establishment tends to focus on winning the next election. That means they will gravitate where the votes and the money needed to win the next election are. As progressives, one of our goals is to move public opinion so that what's progressive today is centrist tomorrow. That's when America will start to be the country we want it to be. That's when we will get a truly progressive President, Senate, and House. We will get truly progressive legislation when that's where the votes and the money is. And we have a lot of work to do to move the country in that direction.
This is a decision I made for myself. I understand there is and will always be some conflict on Daily Kos. After all, this is a big tent progressive blog. That means it is a given not everyone is going to agree. I understand there are diarists who have to deal with hundreds of comments in their diary, not all productive. I understand there are times if a person doesn't dot their i's and cross their t's as if they are going to court, people jump on them. I understand emotions can build up.
I have personally decided for me the divides around here were more perceived than real. I've decided that pragmatists and idealists both play important and needed roles in the progressive movement and while we won't always agree, we are on the same team!