Armando claims that I am against "the big tent." It's a curious assertion, and makes me wonder if he's really that mistaken, or is he just striking a pose to trigger a response?
I was a bit late to the excitement. Not being a professional blogger, I was away from the computer for several hours. The thread was, and as I write this still is, hopping. In fact, I would not have known about this for a day or two, until Technorati perhaps got around to actually listing the link. (Is Technorati in a time warp lately?) As it was, someone sent me a link via email, so of course I had to go look.
And of course I had to respond:
A few things in response
Much as I am flattered to have been, apparently, a trigger of such expressions of outrage, I feel I must speak up here, at the risk of spoiling the party. (Small 'p' folks.)
First, I find it fascinating that Armando claims I am against what he calls a "big tent" approach to politics, when it seems to me that Markos and company have been the ones who have no room for environmentalists or hippies or "tin hat" folks or the "women's studies set," what with all of our "pet issues" and the like. I humbly submit that you don't lead a "big tent" endeavor by kicking people out of the tent.
Second, I think a lot of people here seem to be operating from some zero-sum notion of politics -- that if I get my rights recognized, then someone else must lose. This kind of thinking really doesn't make sense to me. I don't see how reproductive rights, workers' rights, gay rights, civil rights, national healthcare, and so on are mutually exclusive. But to hear all the whining, here and elsewhere, about people who advocate for those issues, you'd think that the advocacy groups were all out to rule as little Hitlers, when all they are saying is, "Don't leave these folks out."
Third, women will not have equal protection under the law as long as something as fundamental as control over one's own body is considered negotiable in political gamesmanship. Men simply do not ever -- EVER -- face such a threat of intrusion of the government into one's own personal life, personal decisions about one's own body. To lose control over one's own body is indeed to be enslaved. Slavery has had many faces throughout history. A woman who is forced by the government to put her body, her job, her life on the line to carry a pregnancy to term is a slave -- a breeder slave under governmental control, a slave who faces severe punishment if she dares to oppose that assumed authority. eastsidedemocrat makes the claim, "No Democrat thinks women's rights are negotiable/But lots of us, women as well as men, think that abortion is not a right that anyone can claim" -- as if that actually made sense. That's kind of like saying, "No Democrat thinks African Americans' rights are negotiable, but lots of us think they shouldn't be sitting at the front of the bus."
Fourth, there is a big difference between making room for someone who is pro-choice -- who by definition respects the rights of others to do what they feel they must -- and someone who is pro-life -- who by definition wants the government to back up their own personal views and impose them on everyone else. It is like the civil rights activist and the KKK wizard. They disagree, but one merely wants to be free of oppression, and the other wants to oppress. As Peanut says, "Pro-choice IS both sides. Anti-choice is extremism." What would happen here if the Democrats embraced a KKK enthusiast who was all about white supremacy, but otherwise sounded the "right notes" on war, the economy, and so on? There would be howls of outrage and calls for the pillory. But wait -- Armando says we must have a big tent, so maybe it doesn't matter where he stands on the other things, because we're not supposed to have any "pet issues" (as Kos calls them), so as long as he takes his campaign money from the Democratic Party, it should not matter where he stands on anything, right? Wrong.
Fifth, there seems to be a lot of confusion here when it comes to what politics is about. Some think it's all about power, no matter what is done with that power. Some think it's all about who gets to elect the Speaker, as if their just being Democrat would make all these questionable folks ditch their self-proclaimed attitudes and positions and vote for what the Democrats stood for in the 1960s -- perhaps out of some sense of gratitude? And then Outlandish Josh says the litmus test is effectiveness, as if we were picking stocks instead of taking a stance on the political and cultural fabric of our society. Politics -- or at least progressive politics -- is about fighting for what you believe, not backing the prevailing wind.
Sixth, some people seem to me to be a bit mesmerized by the boob tube. Taylor gives good TV is what a few people said here and elsewhere. Yeah, so does Arnold, but I won't be voting for him, either. So what if he's good on TV? You think that you can tell what he's about because he talks a good game? I recommend reading some Edward R. Murrow and getting on the decades old cluetrain when it comes to the old media.
Seventh, these compromises are not without cost. Markos has berated advocacy organizations for being ineffective. But that's kind of like blaming soldiers for dying on the front lines when they don't get any air support. These causes don't win on their own, they win when (sorry, gals, but the metaphor is apt) -- THEY WIN WHEN POLITICIANS SHOW THEY HAVE THE BALLS TO STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT. Do you think the Great Society happened without party support? Do you think the integration of schools happened without party support? Do you think Americans with disabilities would have won protections without party support? These things don't happen on their own, with the party just glomming on to the success. The party works to make these things happen.
You want things to change, the party has to be right there, not hanging back, cherry picking the "winners" in the media wars.
Finally, one thing I see here is a hubris that is very unbecoming. Do you really think that the Democratic Party can scold its constituents into dropping what they hold dear, just so the Democrats can win at any cost?
To follow Armando's metaphor, it seems to me a big tent can't hold anyone if it doesn't have tent poles -- and those poles are the core values that liberals and progressives hold dear, poles that address different parts of the tent, but stand together because they are not mutually exclusive, poles that draw people in because these people see shelter from the problems they see coming, or are fighting every single day. These tent poles, our fundamental core values, are what hold up the big tent in the first place. Keep knocking out the poles and you don't have a tent at all.
Finally, Kangro X, I'm sorry there are people out there blogging about things you don't agree with. Personally, I think debate is essential in politics. If you don't like the real netroots' taking issue with things happening in their name here, then maybe you should call for an end to the sniping at the constituents for their "pet causes."
Oh, and this isn't about traffic. I'd like to know what your evidence of your claims might be. Or is this just more ad hominem attacking? "There was outrage to be mined?" Sorry, but not everyone is so cold-blooded as you assume. Sometimes outrage is just outrage.
And that's where I left it for now.
Oh, and for the record, you can see the most popular posts here in the sidebar, and aside from The Feminist Kos, most all are about progressive values, right wing foolishness, and blogging. #1 is the faq. And the post of the past couple of months that had the highest traffic was on Bush's speech -- and that traffic came from a link on a high-profile blog. But don't tell Kangro X. This can be our little secret.