HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405














Infomania

Buzzflash
Cursor
Raw Story
Salon
Slate
Prospect
New Republic
Common Dreams
AmericanPoliticsJournal
Smirking Chimp
Crisis Papers



MediA-Go-Go

BagNewsNotes
Crooks and Liars
CJR Daily
consortium news
Scoobie Davis




Blog-o-rama

Eschaton
Demosthenes
Political Animal
Driftglass
Firedoglake
oilprice.com
Taylor Marsh
Spocko's Brain
Talk Left
Suburban Guerrilla
Paperweight's Fair Shot
corrente
Pacific Views
Echidne
TAPPED
Talking Points Memo
pandagon
Daily Kos
MyDD
Electrolite
Americablog
Tom Tomorrow
Left Coaster
Angry Bear
Rooks Rant
The Poorman
Seeing the Forest
Cathie From Canada
Frontier River Guides
Brad DeLong
The Sideshow
Liberal Oasis
BartCop
Juan Cole
Mark Kleiman
Rising Hegemon
alicublog
Unqualified Offerings
Mad Kane
Blah3.com
Alas, A Blog
Fanatical Apathy
RogerAiles
Lean Left
Oliver Willis
Ruminate This
skippy the bush kangaroo
Slacktivist
uggabugga
Crooked Timber
discourse.net
Amygdala
the talking dog
David E's Fablog
Nitpicker
The Agonist


email address:
digbysez at gmail dot com
isnospoon at gmail dot com

01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003 03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003 04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003 05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003 06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

 
The Donkey in the Room
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Since Digby so graciously granted me the opportunity to leave my graffiti on these hallowed halls, some concerns have arisen within the Hullabaloo community both about the culture of DailyKos, and my involvement as an official in the Democratic Party. The Obama Wars, as they are called on the blogs, are the elephant in the room in the progressive community, the subject on the minds of many not only within the online activist community, but the local offline community as well, and even (as I found out in D.C. just recently) within the highest reaches of power in the Democratic Party.

Dealing with the Obama Wars is something that people looking to engage productively on behalf of the movement generally look to avoid, because it never ends well. That said, on my first day here, I think it's probably best to deal briefly with the 800-pound gorilla and share my thoughts on it.

For those who may not know, I'm 1st Vice Chair of the Ventura County Democratic Party in California, and a recently elected member of the California Democratic Party Executive Board. To many, that would be considered an asset. To others, it might be a curse, a straitjacket preventing free expression of ideas and forcing a toeing of the "party line." It shouldn't bear reminding that it was none other than Howard Dean, no slouch in the progressive movement, who first asked of all of us who were upset with cowardice and corporatism in the Democratic Party not to shun the Party, but to actively get involved with it. The reason for Howard Dean's call to arms was not so that progressives might be co-opted and sell out, but rather that they might storm the gates and force real changes in the Party. I am not alone in having done this in California: my brother Dante is a vice-chair in the L.A. County Dem Party and a CDP E-Board member; Robert Cruickshank, a superb netroots activist and constant and forceful Obama Administration critic, was a vice-chair in the Monterey Dem Party for a long while before moving to Seattle to work on progressive mayor McGinn's communications team; Brian Leubitz, owner of progressive California blog Calitics is a CDP Regional Director in the Bay Area. Getting involved in this way has been for all of us not a professional consideration, but an ideological one. The entire purpose of being involved is to force changes in the way the Party thinks and the way it behaves in every aspect: from the values of candidates endorsed, to the nature of field operations, to the aggressiveness of communications, and everything in between. These changes do not happen overnight. Often they take years to gestate. Almost invariably they are met with fierce opposition from the comfortable, institutional powers that be, as well as their ideological allies who prize being "nice" and "reasonable" as a greater good than actually solving the problems that face the country.

If even 1/10 of the progressives writing online would become similarly involved and demand that the institutions of the Democratic Party be accountable to the progressive base and the well-polled progressive preferences of the majority of Americans, it would be a boon to our political system. This is why Howard Dean asked us to do it. Nor for the most part would it hamper our ability to speak openly and honestly about our beliefs. What I say here or elsewhere is not the official position of the Democratic Party at any level, nor should be it construed as such. The only constraint on a Party official's personal positions is that one grant that, at a fundamental level, voting for Democrats is advantageous over voting for members of other parties. That's a big one, of course, and a non-starter for many in the progressive movement. Which is fine. Reasonable people who want the same things (single-payer healthcare, an end to pointless foreign wars, a decent safety net, a reduction in income inequality, equal rights for all Americans regardless of race, age, gender, orientation, etc.) will certainly differ on the best tactics we might use to get there.

But this last point brings us straight to the famed Obama Wars. I myself have been frequently accused by both sides of being in the other camp, depending on the time, context, issue and audience. The "hater" camp sees me as a party-line hack, while the "bot" camp sees me as an unreasonable, spiteful idealist. These perceptions matter less, however, than does the reality of what confronts America at present: on one side, we have a Republican Party that has descended into sheer, outright nihilist lunacy. It would be difficult for a person looking at the evidence to declare with a straight face that Al Gore would not have been a vastly superior president to George W. Bush, or that putting a Democrat--even a blue dog--in place of Scott Walker or Chris Christie would not improve the lives of residents of Wisconsin and New Jersey.

And on the other side, of course, we have a very flawed Democratic Party, far too beholden to the interests of Wall St. and wealthy donors, far too fractured in its coalition, far too fearful of offending hopeless voters who will never see reason, and far too willing to seek "compromise" with the nihilists on the other side of the political chasm.

Barack Obama is merely a reflection of 30 years of an evolving culture in the Democratic Party, where bland messaging on education and social services meets Wall St. money and neoliberal economics, meets coalitional turnout operations among social issue groups. Where do we place our efforts, then? Do we work on a third party? Do we reject the Democratic Party? Do we attempt to primary Barack Obama? What do we do?

For various reasons locked into the nature of our winner-take-all Constitution, we have a two-party system, not a parliamentary one. That is very unlikely to change. Further, putting efforts into third parties to the left of the Democrats has not been shown to pull the party to the left, but rather to the right (outside of small, liberal states like Vermont.) Democrats did not look at the votes for Nader in 2000 and move to Party to the left to win those voters; instead, the Bush Presidency shifted the Democrats farther to the right. Theoretically, one could try to bury the Democratic Party in the same grave as the Whigs and start over anew--but what happens in the meantime during Nihilist Republican rule? Will the country survive? Frankly, there are too many deeply vulnerable people in this country and around the world to take that chance.

Which means that for better or for worse, the Democratic Party is what we have to work with. In the short term, that means that Barack Obama, for better or for worse, is what we have to work with at this time (primarying him being pretty much a fantasy, particularly given his still soaring approval rating among the vast majority of self-described liberals.) It's not pretty, but it's reality.

It's therefore our job as progressives to work both from within the Democratic Party and from outside the Democratic Party to make the changes to it we would like to see, to refashion the Party to fit the ideals that the American people deserve. That requires an aggressive, uncompromising stance.

But it's also our job to make sure that nihilist nutcases like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry don't get anywhere near supreme power. If they do, we may never well get the chance to get it back.

Ideally, that balanced approach means being neither a "hater" nor a "bot." As with so many other things in life, it just means doing the best with what you have to work with, making the best possible choices from a poor lot, and setting oneself up to have better choices in the future.

Search Digby!