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There's been a lot of angst, meta and finger pointing today about the current "tone" of DKos. I gather some people think that there has been too much criticism here of Obama and the Democrats, who we have elected to serve us. I have actually noticed this too, and not just in user diaries: the FP articles are quite a bit more punchy and progressive in orientation. Frankly, I think it's a breath of fresh air and about damn time for this site to re-orient back towards being a source of progressive pressure, and away from the Democratic Party cheerleading squad we saw leading up to the election.

The funny thing about all of this is that it was completely predictable. In the year leading up to an election, this site always adopts a cheerleading role. If one goal of this site is to elect more Democrats, then it may be appropriate to adopt a "pitch in" attitude at the time that it really counts. Markos has even posted about this in various diaries. The result: a predominance of Rah Rah diaries and FP articles that predictably only criticized Republicans with over the top vitriol (vitriol which FTR I enjoyed), and soft-pedaling Democratic intransigence.

In the meantime, us DFH lefty "critics", for the most part, understood all of this. I have seen diaries and comments over the last year to the effect that we need to "hold our fire" for now, on account of the election. I certainly felt that way and acted accordingly in commenting.

So, until recently Daily Kos had been relatively friendly to problematic Democratic politicians who are far to the right of most of this site's writers and readers. I think that some folks around here have gotten the notion that this was the "new normal".

Thank secular goodness, or whichever God you prefer that that is all over now, I hope.

The election is OVER, and everything's different in Washington. At this stage in the game, Democratic politicians are deep inside the Beltway Bubble. They are concentrating on gamesmanship and maneuvering, meeting the needs of lobbyists and big-money donors, and getting things done for the sake of getting things done by horse trading and grand bargains. This is the time in the Great Cycle when a politician will normally only pay attention to external "problems" that threaten their strategy, goals, and even their jobs. This is true for ALL of them: Obama, Merkley, Sanders, Warren, etc - it's just the nature of the Washington beast.

If they will only respond to Real Problems, then now is the time to make some Real Problems for our elected Democrats. Now is the time for dissent, not cheerleading. BTW, politicians and the political establishment really hate it when people make Problems. They complain and say that it isn't helpful. That's OK - the important thing to remember is that they aren't really our buddies, and they don't have to like it if it makes them do the right thing.

Here are some things that are NOT Real Problems: Sternly worded petitions, or petitions of any kind. Pretty please pleadings to hold the line on entitlement cuts. Certainly not hopeful expressions of "having their back" and faith that our politicians will "do the right thing". Expressions of support are heartwarming but  will not sway any politician. Blog posts by liberals expressing disappointment and concern, with helpful advice will not affect a politician. If nobody in Washington is listening to Paul Krugman, then they certainly won't be paying attention to the wonderful snarky diaries by Markos or anyone on this site.

Another non-Problem, which does not in any way impress politicians: pie fights and division among progressives over whether we should be supportive or not, and how to proceed to make change.

Conversely, unified opposition is a Real Problem. Here are some Real Problems that politicians might pay attention to:

A mob of pissed off elders and near-elders who write letters to their politician that all Hell will break loose if there are ANY entitlement cuts.

A well organized and significantly large coalition of minority groups, labor unions, and progressive orgs that pledge to withhold votes, money and help from politicians who do not work for the needs of the 99%. Note that this must be backed by actual action when politicians fail.

Announcements by progressive leaders that they will challenge elected politicians in primaries if they betray the public.

A concerted and organized effort by progressive bloggers, celebrities, and progressive politicians to break into the MSM's Reality Distortion Field and change the narrative to be more responsive to the 99%.

A resurgence of Occupy, with more effective media messaging.

--------------

I sure hope that this site seems to be done with cheerleading for now. It was good strategy during the election, but now is the time to get organized and voice our displeasure with the status quo as loudly as possible and in unison. It would be nice to see the writers here at Daily Kos get involved in promoting any and all kinds of Real Problems for our elected congressmen and President Obama that help them do the right thing, rather than do the most politically expedient thing. In the next few weeks, we may be witness to irreparable damage to the safety net programs, cuts to vital government services, austerity concessions that force the economy into another recession, and serious damage to the Democratic Party brand for the way it has handled itself.

When 2014 rolls around we can have another 2010-style bloodbath because none of those low-information occasional voters bother to vote. Or, we can see progressive electoral gains because Democrats were prodded to do the right thing and protect our government and the economy from being laid waste by the Republican Visagoths.

Poll

Should DKos be more critical of Democratic policy and strategy?

14%10 votes
17%12 votes
62%42 votes
4%3 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've got your back, just don't turn around. (5+ / 0-)
  •  Well, I think the balance, in terms of amount, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, sfinx, pdxteacher, SpecialKinFlag

    is about right, but it definitely needs some modifications to its tone.

    •  The people who aren't angry about the (16+ / 0-)

      changes being proposed to our social safety net programs are not the ones who will be negatively effected by cuts.  Can you imagine the outrage that would be expressed on this site if Obama proposed to place gay marriage on the negotiating table?  Or how about the repeal of voting rights for women or minorities?  How about immigration reform?  Reproductive rights?

      How would you feel if all of the elderly people withdrew their support for each of those programs?  Of course you would feel betrayed, the same way many of us who are fighting to keep social security off the bargaining table feel about the criticism we're receiving from fellow Democrats.

      If those policies were threatened in the same manner that our social safety net programs are being threatened, this place would erupt into an inferno...and you can imagine how angry it would make the same people feel if other Democrats told them to shut up, that we all just need to get along.

  •  Markos' Mission is "More and BETTER" Dems. (20+ / 0-)

    That's the key that separates the conservatives in our community from the progressives.

    As I commented in an earlier diary, we get the "more" part by unifying behind the party and its nominees after primaries.

    But we only get the "better" part by backing off from the party immediately after the election, pushing back on bad policy and bad trial balloons, and by independent activism to create better issues and candidates for the party for the next elections.

    So as you say, now is the time to step out of the parade and, well, work on "progress" -ing.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 06:54:05 PM PST

    •  seems a good progressive strategy (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher, blueoasis, twigg

      Unfortunately not everyone is progressive here as you say. But that shouldn't be a problem if the site managers are on board. As for people leaving, I guess that's a loss, but if it leads to a more unified focus on the site (yeah right) and actual action along the lines we've mentioned rather than meta bullshit and distracting pie fights, well then that's ok.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:06:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  One small problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, ctami, wader

      No one seems to agree on what "better" actually means.

      •  It'd be boring (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pdxteacher

        If people were in near-unanimous agreement on that.

      •  That is not necessarily a bad thing. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pdxteacher, quill, blueoasis, wader, rlb

        We need a variety of views to discuss.   Maybe someone else will pick up on something that I miss or I will find something they might benefit from.

        You can't expect change if you walk in lockstep, never exploring and never questioning.  If you want change you have to generate it.  

        The  tone of no criticism of the current administration grates on me.  I don't agree with everything they do, and when I don't I'm going to tell them.  Everyone here should be doing that.  The more dissent and the more back pressure the better the chance for change.

        You can be powerful without being hateful though.  If someone insults you to try to make a point, chances are all you will hear is the insult.  The point will be lost.  Use power not simply aggression.  You will do much better.

        •  That seems to have been misunderstood (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          quill, wader

          You can't expect change if you can't define what you are trying to achieve.  It has to be about something.  

          Walking in lockstep is not a good thing, but neither is a random walk.

          •  I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            quill, wader, snowwoman, diggerspop

            People should have definite opinions.  They should be thought out and directed to a person you want to hear them.  I didn't mean that we pick a thought at random and without purpose.

            You actualize your idea, present it and discuss it.  You just have to remember that difference is not a bad thing.  As some of the posts above point out, different people have different concerns.  I am elderly and disabled.  I saw the grand deal offering a $2500 for college students.  I agree that we need to support education.  But there is also a credit for the elderly and disabled which the IRS has not raised since long before I worked there.  It would have been helpful to have included tax relief for the elderly and disabled as well.  A credit is the most helpful tax relief.  It is a dollar for dollar offset in the amount of tax paid.  Some of those "middle class" taxpayers with $400,000, could have been taxed more to help pay for more and better tax credits for middle class and poor Americans.

            I wrote to the president about it.  Every time I write to the White House, the staffer who answers the mail tries to get me to volunteer to help the president spread his agenda.  That won't happen.  The people he has extended his largesse to can help him out.

            But this was not a random idea, I was not chasing a daisy chain.  I had something specific that I want to see done.  I know it won't happen in my lifetime, but if I keep pushing it might help someone else.

      •  I disagree! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, OleHippieChick, lotlizard

        Kidding.

        Given how conservative-skewed our current selection of Democratic politicians is, I think that we should be able to come to some broad common agreement about what a "better" Dem is. Like for instance:

        - actually agrees with the Democratic Party platform.
        - doesn't take money from the NRA, Pete Peterson, the Koch Bros, etc.
        - doesn't obsess about deficits and "fixing" "entitlements".

        That sort of thing...

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:43:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Interpretation of facts towards "better" (0+ / 0-)

        has a wide variance, as well; I'm not referring to simple differences of perspective, but extremes of perspectives that make some analyses masturbatory writeups for specific portions of the DKos audience - regardless of bigger pictures that could expand (and, in some cases, contradict) points being made.

        I think it's great to concentrate on meaningful details, but not to skew views as if everything is only one way or another.  Accept the good as things to potentially build upon and move forward with addressing the bad on a continual basis - doesn't seem that hard, in theory.

        "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

        by wader on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:37:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The best and (5+ / 0-)

    most timely diary that I've read for some time.
    Thanks for saying this.

  •  Elections are the only time we have a voice (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, quill, Yasuragi, ctami

    I don't see what the point is of dissent or chreerleading.  Both are purely masturbatory and have zero chance of changing anything.  

    The only way we can change anything is by constantly working towards the next election.   I really wish people would ask themselves "is this diary doing anything to help win the next election or am I wasting my time?"

    I'm a socialist and only support democrats because after having nothing to show for the years and years I put into activism, I finally decided the only avenue that exists for changing the status qua is electoral politics.
       

    •  there is a point (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher, quill, Just Bob
      "I don't see what the point is of dissent or chreerleading.  Both are purely masturbatory and have zero chance of changing anything."
      and that's to convince others to come around to your way of thinking so we can exert pressure (or not exert pressure) in greater numbers.

      Now, I'm sure it's popped into your mind that that's not what usually happens around here, and I totally agree, but there is a theoretical point to it.

    •  popular dissent has great power (6+ / 0-)

      talking to each other about what the politicians should or shouldn't be doing has no value whatever, well besides entertainment.

      Using social media, like this blog, to create, promote, and/or support popular movements and activities that pressure politicians - that can have great power.

      DKos is also an opinion generating hub, and though many disagree with me on this, I think that speaking out with a more unified voice can have a powerful effect. For an example, the War on Women narrative heavily promoted by this site was very effective in multiple ways: the MSM started reporting about these stories, progressive politicians and even the Obama admin began using the language, and the result was more Democrats getting elected.  

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:55:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with all that (7+ / 0-)

    But when we call each other names, and when we express our criticisms in terms that are just abusive, it seems to me it undermines the effectiveness of the criticisms by making them easy to dismiss: "Don't worry about those guys, they'll never be satisfied." It makes us sound immature and not so rational. That's my main worry about SOME of the critical writing. I'm not against strong criticism, and I'm not against expressing strong feelings about things that matter. But there has been a lot of name-calling and moral one-upsmanship that I think just doesn't contribute to the goals you lay out so well here.

    Babylon system is the vampire... ~Bob Marley

    by sfinx on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:19:07 PM PST

    •  abuse is never helpful (5+ / 0-)

      that is, unless you're in the majority and want to suppress and demoralize dissenters. In that case, abuse can be very effective.

      For sure though, name calling from either "side" are certainly not helpful to any kind of useful action in the community.

      But, I would say that if you look beyond this site to the real world, the "dissenters" are always leftists and progressives (i.e. the "dirty hippies", etc), and they will always be disrespected, no matter how polite they are, if they merely express their opinions. OTOH if they don't speak up, well then I guess they won't be disrespected, but they are also not participating so who cares.

      In other words, it's a Catch-22 dynamic for progressives: in the end, it doesn't matter what they say, so many people decide to just say what's on their minds.

      However, as I try to point out in the diary, talk is cheap. The thing that gets everyone's attention, regardless of how much they disrespect you, is if you can mobilize a credible threat, which is really a kind of political power. If we can make them do the right thing, then they can call us dirty hippies all day for all I care!

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:22:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  the best time to make our dissention (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, slinkerwink

    heard was before the election, because that's the only time politicians might possibly listen to us.  

    •  but they weren't really listening to us (6+ / 0-)

      They were just nodding their heads in sympathy and adding up our votes.

      It's another Catch-22: you can either threaten to withhold your vote, in which case (unless you're with a whole bunch of people) they will ignore you. Or, you can pledge your vote, in which case they will REALLY ignore you.

      Before an election, I think the most useful thing you can do is work to get your chosen politician elected. Your "voice" is expressed in that effort, not in any vocal dissension.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:30:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary! The cheerleading (or (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill, pdxteacher, blueoasis

    rather discouragement of dissention) leading up to the election depressed me.  I get it, we have to elect the best people we have running at the time, but now is the time to ensure we have the best people running in 2014!

    -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

    What is the sound of one hand clapping? Just listen!

    There are no luggage racks on hearses.

    by 84thProblem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 07:31:38 PM PST

    •  yes, "have the best people running in 2014", and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher

      make the ones we've got now work for us, which are really the same goal...

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:32:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, I guess I meant it also as a threat to those (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quill, pdxteacher, blueoasis

        that don't toe (tow?) the progressive line.  For those that we progressives obviously aided this cycle?  Remember how you got there! For those that got elected without our help?  Nothing is permanent!

        -7.38, -5.38 (that's a surprise)

        What is the sound of one hand clapping? Just listen!

        There are no luggage racks on hearses.

        by 84thProblem on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:58:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  If people think there's too much... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quill

    ...criticism of Obama here, they should find sites where everyone agrees on everything and most of the threads they sit around saying "Great diary as always, _" and sing Kumbaya.  Some people find actually thinking is too hard for them and they can't deal with conflict.  I've got one word for them - Bye.

    Preparing for the Mayan doomsday prophecy by hastily trying to get in the good graces of snake-bird god Q’uq’umatz

    by dov12348 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:37:10 PM PST

    •  Yep that will work. Turn KOS into a kumbaya site (0+ / 0-)

      for all those  whose goal in life is to marginalize others with terms like cheerleaders, Obamabots and all the nasty slip in a low gut shot pushing your superiority onto anyone who disagrees with you.

      Yes that grows the power and pressure you can exert... Simply take stances and then dismiss anyone who won't sing your tune. Make the pressure you can apply as small as the buzzing of a gnat.

      I have read diaries expressing opinions I disagree with  and then read diaries where they have good points but they have to slip in the stabs at those who disagree... minimal thinking quick insults to appease thier own egos. The constant need to have quick categories to dismiss other people thoughts or feelings will in the long run turn this site (like many red state sites)into the province of the nastiest and the most domineering. What I refuse to do is continue to read anything that I have already got the message from that only their opinion is intelligent and supported by evidence...But I am not leaving because this is not your site... If you can't even begin to behave towards others without  marginalizing them or denigrating them then how can you call yourself different from the regressives... Is that what being a progressive is? Getting your way and beating others up until the only voice you hear is your own?

      I do not want to silence anyone. I merely make the judgment as to what your agenda is and then stop reading if it is a dominance game rather then really examining ideas. That is what the pie fights are about to me and they are not convincing nor do they have any power to move me in the direction of the writer, It seems to be more about raging or poo throwing dominance games then an exchange of ideas.

      When in danger or in doubt run in circles scream & shout.

      Fear is the Mind Killer...

      by boophus on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:01:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep that will work. Turn KOS into a kumbaya site (0+ / 0-)

      for all those  whose goal in life is to marginalize others with terms like cheerleaders, Obamabots and all the nasty slip in a low gut shot pushing your superiority onto anyone who disagrees with you.

      Yes that grows the power and pressure you can exert... Simply take stances and then dismiss anyone who won't sing your tune. Make the pressure you can apply as small as the buzzing of a gnat.

      I have read diaries expressing opinions I disagree with  and then read diaries where they have good points but they have to slip in the stabs at those who disagree... minimal thinking quick insults to appease thier own egos. The constant need to have quick categories to dismiss other people thoughts or feelings will in the long run turn this site (like many red state sites)into the province of the nastiest and the most domineering. What I refuse to do is continue to read anything that I have already got the message from that only their opinion is intelligent and supported by evidence...But I am not leaving because this is not your site... If you can't even begin to behave towards others without  marginalizing them or denigrating them then how can you call yourself different from the regressives... Is that what being a progressive is? Getting your way and beating others up until the only voice you hear is your own?

      I do not want to silence anyone. I merely make the judgment as to what your agenda is and then stop reading if it is a dominance game rather then really examining ideas. That is what the pie fights are about to me and they are not convincing nor do they have any power to move me in the direction of the writer, It seems to be more about raging or poo throwing dominance games then an exchange of ideas.

      When in danger or in doubt run in circles scream & shout.

      Fear is the Mind Killer...

      by boophus on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 06:01:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The president needs to be pushed (4+ / 0-)

    and pressured by us now.  He will move if he feels it from us.  He is a political person and that means he needs to hear from us loud and clear about what we want.  Once these  GOP paddle brains stop threatening to create mayhem with the debt ceiling and stop yammering about fiscal stuff they don't want to deal with, we can get on with other things.  I for one like the controversy about issues here at KOS.  But I will often side with Obama, too, because I agree with him, others should say what they think so we can sort it out.

  •  "pledge to withhold votes" "backed by actual (0+ / 0-)

    action?"  Great strategy for handing the midterms to Republicans.  Again.

    "Democracy is a life; and involves continual struggle." ---'Fighting Bob' LaFollette

    by leftreborn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:57:31 PM PST

    •  yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher

      Electoral consequences are important for spinal fortitude. If a Dem is pushed to do the right thing (e.g. hang tough on SS), then they will be much more likely to win the next midterm.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:29:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well, this wasn't so much a note on dissension (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick, rlb, quill, pdxteacher

    as it was an advocacy for a specific approach. But I respect your opinion.

    Obama has said repeatedly (concerning progressive legislation) that "you have to make me do it." I think it's his way of saying, "give me some political cover by creating a popular groundswell" if you want new ideas enacted. That may not be ideal, but it seems to be the reality. That seems to be what you are advocating, and I agree.

    The dissension, IMHO, is from the disrespect tossed out by both sides during the discussion on how to achieve this. It's been devolving into personal attacks by some of the more passionate participants.

    I think terms like "Democratic Party cheerleading squad" don't really help things. If people on a site like this aren't on the side of Democrats during an election, who is?

    •  I don't see cheerleading as inherently bad (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pdxteacher

      At the right time and place. But all the time? To the point where you ignore serious problems and attack anyone who brings them up?

      I see your point about name calling. I avoid the term obamabot because it's just uncivil. I also avoid calling someone a cheerleader, but "cheerleading" just seems descriptive of the behavior.

      "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

      by quill on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 07:39:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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