I don't care about Weiner. Is he the best choice for mayor? Then I'll support him. Is he not? I'll support someone else. To me, Weiner is not a person, he's a potential political function.
I don't care about Obama. I don't care if he 'betrayed' me. I don't care if he's an austerity-spouting corporatist or a beleaguered progressive. I support him when I agree with him. I oppose him when I disagree. To me, Obama is not a person. He's a political function.
I don't care about Snowden. Is he wise, is he righteous, are his motivations pure? I don't care. To me, Snowden is not a person. He is a source of political information.
I don't care about Yellen, I don't care about Warren, I don't care about Rubio, I don't care about Cruz. This is not personal. None of these people know that I exist. I am purely an abstraction to them—'loudmouth nobody on leftie blogs'—and they are abstractions to me. They barely exist as human beings. Any scandal they're involved in—any crappy vote, any financial shenanigan, any half-eaten body in the rec room—matters only to the extent that it affects their function.
And that's a good thing. They're not my friends, they're not my neighbors or my role models. None of them would like me if we met, and that suits me fine. They're cogs in the political machine, that's all. What kind of deluded idiot gets personally invested in a cog?
This is true of Republicans as well. They operate in a political milieu which incentivizes priorities that damage our citizens, our country, and our future. Those are the parameters under which they operate. Yelling about them committing 'sabotage'—as if that changes anything—is utterly irrelevant.
Does that mean that I don't hate them? That they don't make me angry? No. I hate them, and I'm pissed. But I angrily hate them in precisely the same way that I angrily hate the fact that preventable medical errors in hospitals cause as many as 98,000 deaths a year.
This is not personal. The system we have produces the results we see. There's no reason to think of politicians as people. They're just political algorithms in suits. You plug in money, pressure, and information, and you see the output in political priorities and votes.
So I think the questions are:
A) what results do we want to produce?
B) what input will deliver those results?
Here on dKos, we do a great job with A. In the past few days, I've read diaries about how we want early childhood education, and we want to narrow the wealth gap. We want to address the looming climate catastrophe and the war on women and the resurgent racism of voter suppression. We want to reign in the national security state and the criminal justice system and expand sustainable sources of energy. And much more.
But we're not so strong on B. We knock on doors, we donate, we write emails. We phone-bank, we argue, we vote for the better of two less-than-perfect candidates. We try to pressure our officeholders, we try to focus on local races. And yet, at least to me, 'more and better Democrats' feels increasingly like 'spinning our wheels.' If we work harder, will we see more-er and better-er Democrats? Can we rely on the Republicans imploding? Should we focus on putting out fires until demographics come to the rescue?
I'm thinking that the answers are no, no, and no. The system we have produces the results we see. Perhaps doing the same thing will produce different results this time. But perhaps not. So what else can we do? Are there any productive ways to change our focus?
My short answer: dunno. You tell me. (I've occasionally thought that primaries are the answer, but the key to using primaries effectively is apparently the willingness to lose general after general after general. I'm not sure I've got that level of cut-off-your-nose devotion to the long game.)
My longer answer: I've seen two comments recently that made me wonder if there aren't other ways to leverage what little political power we have.
An (edited) comment from kovie:
I've been hoping that the organized left, e.g. labor, NOW, ACLU, etc., mounts a coordinated, aggressive effort to push back against the right, and push forward a more progressive agenda, in concert with Dems when useful, independent of them when not.Can we productively focus our energy on our advocacy groups, trying to pressure them (and their already-existing influence and infrastructure) into pressuring elected officials? Post-Komen, in particular, I wonder if these groups might be amenable to grassroots pressure. Also, a concerted campaign, if hard-assed enough, might actually force the various group to present a united front.
We have the infrastructure. It's just not being used the way it should be used. To a large extent, I'm guessing, because many of the people who currently run these left-aligned organizations are doing ok personally and don't want to risk their entitled positions with political war.
Most of us don't have the time or abilities to fight this war effectively. That's why the left has organizations to do that. But their leaders and not leading them well.
The second (edited) comment, from MichiganGirl:
Our problem lies within our party's leadership, and I don't mean the politicians. I'm talking about the people running the show in DNC, and the State Parties. Politicians come and go, they're interchangeable, and in the long run don't really matter much. The people in charge of the parties are there election cycle after election cycle, picking the candidates, deciding which race will get support, which won't. Which issue will get airtime, which won't.I don't even know how I'd find out who's in charge of the inner apparatus of the party, so I'm hoping that someone with more experience than I can address this idea. But again, this strikes me as a more effective focus for leverage than politicians themselves.
No one appears to pay much attention to the politics going on within the inner apparatus of the Democratic Party, or even seems aware that such a thing even exists, and we really should be paying attention, because it's important. REALLY important.
The people in charge of the party, they decide everything. Do most of us know who the people making these decisions for us are? Do we know if they care about the problems the average person encounters? Do we know if their priorities line up with ours?
The online left almost always agrees about the problems that the country faces. We almost always agree about the solutions, too.
But how do we implement those solutions? Any ideas?