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Recently, several brushfires have flared in the Kos community around various flashpoints.  The progressive/centrist dialectic seems to lie at or near the center of them all.  I'd like to entreat everyone for amity and shared action, disregarding purity and absolute unity of purpose (for reason that they are, and should be, unattainable).

Democrats are supposed to be the big-tent party.  They're also supposed to - at least theoretically - represent progressive and populist causes (don't start ranting on this, hear me out - please).  This is an openly, avowedly Democrat-supporting website, yet - rightly - its community is far from a unified whole.

What worries me is the recent trend of conflict between the community's left - whom I would name progressives, though that may be too broad a brush - and its relative center, who might be called "everyone else," though that too is overly broad and seems to paint progressives into a corner.  It serves nothing to call out specific comments and members (also, I believe, it's counter to site rules), plus it would make people defensive.  I'm talking far less about any single specific instance or set of such; more about a prevailing wind.  The feel is clearly beyond disunity and into the realm of exclusion, even fruit-throwing.

Folks, that is a Bad Thing.

Let's be realistic.  We will never all agree.  Never.  Not on major issues; not on minor points.  An informed electorate - hell, an informed population - is a wilderland of unique viewpoints, regardless of trends.  Opinions are intrinsically idiopathic.  If you get granular enough, people disagree - even twins, about some things.

Some among the community's progressives are dedicated enough in their views to consider withholding their votes if the progressive candidate they fought for doesn't get the nomination.

Some among the rest of the community are sufficiently hostile (sorry for the sharp-edged word, but it's accurate) to the aforestated position that they're willing to tell progressives:  "If you're not going to help, get out."

Anybody remember Mutually Assured Destruction?

We can't afford to do this.

I know I repeat myself.  Forgive me.  It needs underlining.

Let me be as clear as I can.  I do not object to criticism of the Democratic party from its left; nor should anyone here.  At least, not so long as that criticism is constructive rather than destructive.  Complaints about income inequality, triangulation, the "security" state and so forth are meritorious and very worthy of discussion.  But there's the key word - discussion.  Discussion isn't tossing epithets at each other, nor saying, "Fine, if you won't help, leave."

Because if we do that, then some people - excuse me, potential allies, whom we desperately need - will leave.

And that's not just shooting one's self in the foot.  It's sticking a sword into one's own gut.  All in the name of pride.

Know what that leads to?

Electoral losses in 2014.

Know what that leads to?

More SCOTUS decisions in the vein of Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, and so forth.  More state/local level christian revision of our Constitution in favor of religious privilege ("freedom" is absolutely not the appropriate word) for so-called Christians.

More of the absolute worst budget cuts inflicted on the wrong people.  More of the least-needed tax breaks given to the wrong people.  More comforting the (obscenely) comfortable.  More afflicting the (outrageously) afflicted - and vilifying them, can't forget that.

Anyone really want to go there?

Anyone?  Really?

I don't.

I am going to call myself out in this diary - a couple of comments I've recently made summate this position reasonably well, and I think quoting them will work out better than trying to simply rehash and repackage.

I don't want to kick you out. I don't want you to leave.

I'm asking for your help.  You personally, {username redacted}, but also others who share your bent.  I respect progressive objections to the current Democratic party; I agree with some of them.  I'm saying things won't get better if Republicans keep getting elected.  We can't move to the left without everyone kicking in.

Both parties ARE beholden to the Bigs.  Oil, Pharma, Ag, the works.  It sucks.  But I don't think anyone can change it by bowing out of the voting race and allowing the worst of the worst to further their excesses.  I don't want to live in the United States of Kochmerica.

Yes, let's fight for and promote progressives like Elizabeth Warren.  Yes, let's do our best to keep a 50-state ground game going, and fuck the DNC if they don't support a candidate in a bad-numbers state.  Yes, let's put our views on the table, good and bad, and discuss them.  Even if we get passionate and occasionally piss each other off, let's talk.  But when it counts, let's vote.

It stinks beyond words that our current election system is absolutely rigged in favor of the two main parties.  If we let the Big Money interests keep winning, that will never change.  It might not seem like there's a lot of daylight between Dems and Big Money, but some is more than none.  And, sad as it is, "none" is the precise amount of traction a non-prime party can gain in national races right now.  That also makes the point that we have to keep the fight local, but bear in mind that D/R is a very ingrained dialectic in American culture.  Changing it will take time.

We can make small good things happen, or we can let NO good things happen.  I'll take small over none.

Please help.

Fight for strength, then change.  Crying about how awesome a progressively-run America would be is shit-useless when you have little to no effective presence in any of the three branches of government.

The American middle is not ideologically aligned with either party.  DiesIrae wrote a great diary about this, which I do not currently have time to find and link.  Search his diaries if you'd like to read it (you should).  Note - it's linked below, along with another important one.

The current crop of Dems to choose from, at most levels, has a lot of stinkers and a few gems.  That sucks.  There's a way to change it.

First, fight like hell for progressive candidates in primaries.  Ideally the progressive candidate gets elected and the narrative may become happier at this point.  But if not:  Second, when a candidate is elected, if you don't like that candidate, deal with it and vote for them anyway.  Third, if the candidate you didn't like is in office, work to move them to the left.  Use every avenue of communication you can.  And fourth, when primaries come around again, keep fighting for progressives.  Fifth, corollary, support sitting progressives (Warren, Sanders, &c) every way you can.

It would be awesome to have a progressive Democratic party.  Truly, wonderfully awesome.  We do not have that.

The question is, are we going to cry in our beer and hold some drum circles or do something useful.  Taking political action is useful.  Choosing to take no action to make a statement is destructive.

Republicans and conservatives have spent the last few decades demonstrating the monstrous effectiveness of a unified front.  Until Democrats start learning the same lessons, we won't get the results we need to start germinating real change.

Please note that the second quote is more a call for action than for discussion.  That's the other half of my plea and argument.  I'd like to try and frame the issue in a compelling way, but honestly, DiesIrae said it better than I think I could.  So, with deep respect to DiesIrae, please read these two diaries of his, especially the second.  They're both much shorter than this one, and their message is utterly vital.

The Real Silent Majority

Reality Check: Voting Matters

I know this is too long, but I hope some of it is sinking in.  This is what I'm trying to say, folks:

We cannot eat our own.

We need every voice at the table.

We need every hand at the voting lever.

Progressives:  You're not going to get all the candidates you want.  It sucks, but it's reality.  We - and by "we" I mean this entire country - still need your voices and your votes.  We absolutely do need more progressive officials in office.  We absolutely do have a way to get there.  That way, at least in the short term, is working with the imperfect tools we have.

Centrists/Dem supporters:  You're not going to get unity at the table.  It's impossible.  There's too much diversity of thought and opinion here, and in the nation as a whole.  Accept it.  By diminishing the number of people willing to vote Democratic, we gain nothing and lose far too much.

All:  I know the tone of this diary sounds both didactic and rambling.  I'm genuinely sorry for that, and that I can't find better language to communicate this (for the rambling I plead that this was written in bursts, and without an outline).  Please believe that my tone here is born of passion and heartfelt belief that comity is necessary and vital.  Not from any perception that I'm better than anyone else.  Certainly not from any desire to widen a dangerous rift.

We can work together.  We should work together.  We need each other.  And a whole lot of people who don't come to this website, who've probably never heard of it, need our unified action, too.

We can do this.  Please help.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

    by Jon Sitzman on Thu Jul 03, 2014 at 02:02:24 PM PDT

  •  It's thoughtful and passionate; however, (0+ / 0-)

    I did vote for the Green presidential candidate last time, due to the President's too-close-to-money opening of the Atlantic to oil drilling (just prior to the great Gulf oil spill), and what I felt was his caving to the same insurance industry that had dropped so many people, leaving them to die.

    In the time since then, he's done a lot to redeem himself: closing Northern California's coast to oil drilling, and conducting a mammoth expansion of the ocean sanctuary after that. If he'd done all that PRIOR to the 2012 election, I might have voted for him.

    I appreciate your diary, yet the 2000 election was the LAST time I plan to get scared into voting one way or other, 'cause look out! If you vote for a third party, the bogeyman cometh!

    Well, MAYBE they cometh, but thoughtful discussion (which you allow for in your diary, I hasten to note, but you don't seem to allow the following:) even thoughtful voting-against-the-grain, is simply not to blame if they are. As Nader said: "what do you mean, 'stealing Gore's votes'? Those were MY VOTES!" And they were. As pointed out then from many corners, a vote against the two-party monolith is not a betrayal. Enslavement to that monolith is--a betrayal of democracy.

    Every four years, someone, somewhere--not the voters--decides which people we get to vote for in the primaries. Did I decide that Howard Dean was out of the race? Did you? No. No we didn't. A tight cabal, responding to threats to monied interests, did, and ensured that a compliant media lied about the reason (since they in those media also received that money). That is undemocratic, and offering obeisance to those slavemasters is unbecoming.

    I'm not getting scared into voting. I'm getting convinced, or I'm not getting convinced. Nor do I think our leaders (at least among the Left) are stupid enough to need a drubbing at the polls before they'll ever deign to listen to us progressives. I think they ARE listening to us progressives. That's why the ocean sanctuary stuff.

    •  I'm sorry to have missed my chance to rec your... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Whamadoodle

      comment.  I have been off DKos the entire long weekend and just now checked this.  So, while I can't actually tick the radio button, consider yourself recc'ed.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response.  Please understand:  you are absolutely correct.  The false two-parties-only system in the US is very much a rigged and corrupt game.  The Howard Dean example is painfully accurate, and I dispute it not at all.

      But I'm not trying to scare you into voting Democratic.  I'm trying to enjoin (or beg, if you prefer - I have no ego in this) such on the basis of positives.  In short, BY ALL MEANS fight for progressive candidates, whatever their party alignment - but once that battle is fought, please consider voting in the Democratic candidate as a weapon to be used.  Yes, I'm that cynical about it.

      Perhaps another way to put it is:  what we do for the Democratic party, we should be willing to do TO the Democratic party - once we have the ability to do so.  That is to say, vote them out - once a realistic alternative is available.  On a national stage currently, to our detriment, one is not.

      Sad and awful as it is, it's no exaggeration to say that the American middle is mostly terrified of the boogeyman-word "socialism."  Most Americans can't accurately define it, and don't understand it.  They think it means total, crushing government control of everything (such assumptions come with a big dose of belief that all government is innately selfish, corrupt, and disinclined to serve its constituents).  All laughably untrue, but all thoroughly ingrained into the collective American psyche by decades of hate-speech against a legitimate and (when well implemented) just and successful mode of government.

      How does electing Democrats move us towards a more open political system, one in which alternatives like socialism are achievable?  Well... if I'm dead honest, it doesn't much.  That said, since Democrats are in theory the party of social justice in America (for all that its representation of such is, again in honesty, execrably poor for the most part), they are a better alternative to move toward a better future than are Republicans.

      I'm aware this sounds like TINA, and that is not my intention.  I'm trying to say that by allowing Republicans to get elected, we make the situation worse for a more open political system in America - so the Democratic party is a viable alternative to at least keep options open, or pave the way for doing so.

      Again, please understand:  I am most certainly saying:  FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT for your candidate of choice at the local level (the only stage on which progressive movement is realistically possible at this time - the national stage is a set of fixed races in a fixed system).  And by all means try and get progressive candidates in office locally.  Build momentum there.  But on national races, please consider tossing your vote to a Democrat if the only two options are a Dem and a Rep.  I understand that would not be your first choice (probably not your second either) - but it still helps the country move into a more favorable space, or at least slows its descent into a worse one.

      I hope this is making sense.  I'm trying to say that voting Democratic is a vote for a better future - it's possible to fail better than the last failure, and it's possible to move the needle one micrometer at a time.  Better that then letting it slide the other way, and withholding your vote because your preferred candidate lost the race to get on the final ballot is giving that permission.

      Thanks again.

      Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

      by Jon Sitzman on Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 08:25:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Mr. Sitzman, you sound like a heck of a great guy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jon Sitzman

        And again, a very thoughtful person. Thanks for bringing some of that thought to bear on your response to me. Yes, I find what you say to be persuasive, and I am saving your reply to a Word file on my desktop (which I otherwise keep very clean) so that I can consider it on my next trip to the voting booth.

        The only thing I would contest in it is that the American middle class has such a fear of socialism. Note that the Tea Party, our main repository for reactionary, thoughtless middle-class socialism-as-bogeyman "thinking," has only polled with around 1/3 support from Americans as a WHOLE (even including their rich and poor supporters, not only their middle class ones), at most, and down to 22% late last year.

        This is alarming, in that 1/3 is almost exactly what the Nazis polled at most (I believe they took 39% of the vote in only one election, but that one saw so much voter intimidation that I think 1/3 is the more realistic number). However, as a measure of middle class feeling, I am heartened to know that two-thirds of Americans support some form of socialized medicine. There's a lot of screaming, but no one is fooled.

        I think that voters have their heads on straight--most know what's going on (especially since around a million of the Americans pretending not to know are actually being paid to spread the anti-socialist fear propaganda).

        To quote Linus and Charlie Brown: "be of good cheer!"

        Stay well, and thanks again, Jon!

        •  Thank you kindly and sincerely. As to socialism: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Whamadoodle

          You're absolutely right that the TP fringe IS just that, a fringe.  I'm not talking about them - they're unabashed radicals (though they would bridle at the term).

          But the battle is most definitely one of terminology.  You nailed it - much of the American populace supports socialized medicine.  Somehow, even when those precise words are used, that's not the same as "socialism."  I don't know what mental gymnastics are required to make that so, but it is indeed so.  Frank Luntz has a long shadow.

          I'm speaking from direct experience - specifics would take too long, suffice to say many sources, some family, some friends, and some acquaintances - but I do live in the American south, so possibly my population sample is slanted.  No - probably, almost certainly really, if I'm honest.  So I hope you're right and I'm wrong.  Certainly you're citing statistics, where I can only offer (numerous) anecdotes.

          I too enjoyed this discussion, and hope more like it can happen.  Thank you and be well.  :^)

          Not all people are human; not all humans are people.

          by Jon Sitzman on Tue Jul 08, 2014 at 07:36:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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