I hate meta-bloggy discussions with a passion and rarely indulge in them, but because I turned off my comments to cool the rhetoric a little, others in the blogosphere are commenting and I figure I'd better say something more about it.
I've been doing this for five years and I've taken enough controversial stances to have received my share of commenter ire. I even have a couple of internet stalkers. But I've never had to deal with the kind of abuse to which many others have been subjected, so I'm not complaining. My regular commenters are the greatest. It just got a little bit too heated and I don't have the inclination to referee flame war, which is what i would take.
A lot of criticism has come my way recently because I won't "endorse" anyone and this has led to people making assumptions about my position. But the truth really is that I am not invested in any of the candidates. They are nearly identical in terms of policy, all have political gifts and bring something to the table and I find none of the various electability arguments particularly persuasive. Indeed, I believe that the fact they are so similar in all the important ways is one of the reasons everyone is at each other's throats on this --- since there's no daylight on policy everyone is having to argue their case based on their own emotional connection to the candidate or what the candidate symbolizes, which often devolves into ugly invective. It really does become personal under those circumstances. You can see the result of this in the candidates' own debate last night. They weren't really fighting over anything important because they don't actually disagree about anything important. But they had to fight. It's an election. Somebody's got to win.
Unlike many of you, all things being equal in the policy and electability department, I don't actually believe that Edwards' "fighting working man spirit" or Obama's "post-partisan vision" or Clinton's "hard knuckled experience" are going to be the determining factor in the success of progressive politics. I think change is going to come from the ground up not the top down, from a progressive movement that has positioned itself to leverage ANY candidate.
I agree with Robert Borosage, who wrote this piece, It Takes A Movement:
The lesson of the King years isn't a choice between rhetoric and reality, or between experience and change. The lesson of the King years is the vital necessity of an independent progressive movement to demand change against the resistance of both entrenched interests and cautious reformers.
Since I have no dog in this primary fight (although I will join the fray in earnest once the nominees are chosen --- beating Republicans is job one) I'm staying out of the daily back and forth between the candidates on the campaign trail. But I am challenging media storylines and destructive village behavior and trying to influence progressive rhetoric and strategy.
I've been closely following the sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton in the press --- I always monitor the media narratives and this one was indisputably powerful and instructive. (Eric Boehlert has a column up about The Tweety Effect today.) And I've also been critical of some of Obama's post-partisan rhetoric because I just disagree with it as a matter of strategic principle, even as I understand why he is doing it. Those two things seem to have led readers to believe that I am a biased, possibly paid, closet Clinton shill, which is what turned the comment section into a war zone.
I could try to do the "balanced" kind of reporting we deplore in the media, which requires that you always criticize both sides equally or seek out obscure examples of ill treatment of others so that nobody will claim you are biased. Or I could lie and say that I've backed a candidate when I haven't, just for the simplicity of it. Finally, I could stop writing about the things I care about and concentrate on all those important issues people are always telling me I have to write about. (Say, have you heard that man didn't actually land on the moon in 1969?) In the end, I think I'll just keep writing my blog the way I always have and let the market decide.
As I said, I'm invested in none of these candidates, I'm invested in progressive politics, which none of them are speaking to very directly. But then we are only beginning to develop the language and themes for them to use to do that. (I do have some hope that whoever is elected will hear us, however.) And I'll keep watching the village and the media and pointing out their arcane mores and rituals because that's ... what I do.
I'll probably bring the comments back in bit. In the meantime, keep all those emails coming. They are illuminating.