On the front page of the Orange Star, DarkSyde writes, "Are You Mad Enough Yet?":
The opposition is banking, literally, on our apathy. Karl Rove is depending on you not to register to vote. Dick Cheney is praying you won't talk two into joining you. Jerry Falwell and James Dobson are anointing themselves with magic wingnut oil to keep you from checking with your local party HQ to see if there's a candidate who needs volunteers, or something as simple as signatures to get a local candidate on the ballot. There are plants and trolls here specifically to stir up division and to spread the idea that your vote won't be counted, no matter where, no matter what.
It's rather amusing to me, given that the Orange Star leadership set the tone by stirring up division with spirited attacks on progressives and progressive organizations. Kosniks are now well-versed in anti-feminist and anti-environmentalist rhetoric. Oh, I have no doubt that wingnut trolls wade into that pond and stir things up there, as they have on occasion here. But Kos and Company seem to manage to stir up division quite well on their own.
Been attacked for your "ideological purity"? That's a right-wing talking point. Been labeled as a "single-issue voter"? Right-wing talking point. Dismissed for your "pet cause"? Yes, another right-wing talking point. Since when did so-called Democrats attack progressives with right-wing talking points? Ask the DLC. Why does it persist? Ask Kos and Company.
They will argue (over and over again) that they don't need to stand for anything, because Bush and his Republican cohorts are just so evil. It may be true, but Bush isn't running again, and all the Republicans have to do is seem not quite so evil and the whole Dem strategy falls apart. This is the soft underbelly to DarkSyde's front-page rant. Because people don't just vote against people and parties -- we saw how successful that strategy was in 2004! No, people vote for people. People vote for ideas. People vote for vision. And that's because people vote their identity -- they see what they want embodied in a candidate, and they get fired up and vote.
Right now, the Democrats have no identity, except as weak, cowering second fiddles to the GOP bullies. We see it in their rhetoric, we see it in their lack of cohesiveness on issue after issue, we see it in their seeming inability, after many months, to come up with their own sort of Contract On America, and we see it in how they recruit and pave the way for candidates who do not believe in Democratic principles....
...candidates who advocate forced pregnancy, for example.
The Democrats are un-done by their "big tent." They're so all over the map, they can't agree to be for anything ... except getting re-elected.
How ironic, then, to see what the Orange Star himself posted just two days ago:
And Democrats are doing everything in their power to ensure that people have no reason to go to the polls. They aren't going to vote for Republicans. That much is clear. But why should they vote for Democrats, the same Democrats who have failed to stand up to Republican excesses over the past five years?...
...These risk averse Dems think that by merely having a pulse, voters will gladly rush to them to save them from Republicans. But in reality, voters (including much of the Democratic base) are disillusioned. Why vote for Democrats who haven't shown an ounce of fight the last six years? What's the point?
Kos doesn't mention how he has attacked the Democratic base, and in the litany of Republican abuses he offers in this post, nary a mention of South Dakota or how the fanatics on the right are legislating into reality the Handmaid's Tale. What seems clear, despite his new author-of-the-month status, is that he doesn't really understand what the grassroots are about.
Voting for something.
Flash back a few years: Why did Dean get so much grassroots support in his presidential nomination bid? Because people were for him -- not because they were against everyone else. People get out of bed in the morning to do something, to support someone, to effect positive change -- not simply to stop something.
Look at Ralph Nader. Most of his supporters wouldn't have voted at all if he weren't running. (That's why he didn't spoil Gore's victory.) Imagine if the Democrats fielded a candidate who actually appealed to the progressive base of the Democratic Party! (Someone like the Al Gore of today, rather than the Al Gore of 2000.)
Yet the Democrats continue to turn their backs on progressives, offering up either bland baby-food candidates or salty right-wing nutjobs who think Sam Alito is just hunky dory for the Supreme Court. And they continue to struggle.
Will the Democrats -- and the Big Orange bloggers -- ever realize this? Maybe, but probably not in time for the 2006 elections.
Sorry, but you're not going to see masses of voters coming out to vote against something. People vote for change when there's a clear change offered. But when the Democrats continue to refuse to stand for anything -- especially people's fundamental human rights and equal protection under the law -- well, it's hard to get all fired up about what kind of "change" the Democrats might offer.
Back to what DarkSyde writes:
I know for a fact that many here are busting their ass to stop the GOP machine. Their commitment is admirable, downright inspiring. But I'd guess there's a few readers who keep meaning to do something as simple as register to vote, or contact their local Dem HQ, but haven't gotten around to it. Maybe you moved recently, maybe you just reached voting age, maybe you've been sick, or bogged down working two jobs just to stay afloat. The Republican Culture of Corruption is betting you won't get around to it in time. Question is, are you mad enough to prove them wrong, yet?
The real question is, Are the Democrats strong enough to offer a reason for people to get out and vote for them? Bush and the Republicans may be suffering in public opinion, but the Democrats' poll numbers are pretty crappy, too. Why?
I submit that it's because they stand for nothing. The Republicans at least say what they're about. I find it offensive -- and I will vote against wingnuts every election -- but I'm already engaged in politics, active on this blog, paying attention to what's happening. But many people just shrug. Why? Because no alternative is ever offered up.
I'm sorry, but "Not as bad as the Republicans" is not much of a get-out-the-vote strategy for November.