...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Friday, February 06, 2004
      ( 10:10 AM )
Going Over to the Dark Side?

This is the best vent I've read lately that expresses a little of how I've been feeling the last few weeks, but with much more eloquent use of expletives than I could have managed. If you look past the expletives, what this commentor on Daily Kos today is saying (in response to new, discouraging poll results) really resonated with me. He is in my demographic and is an activist who has spent most of his adult life trying to make that as full-time a vocation as possible. But the discouragment and frustration is palpable:

So this it it? I joined up for Brown when I was 18.
I voted for Clinton in 1992, and was betrayed.
Now, 12 years, a lost congress and a slew of lost
legislatures and statehouses later, and we get
Kerry? This is it?

I feel the need to vomit. 12 years wasted. When
will there be another chance? For twelve years all
we get is an Iowa caucus that determines everything?

From one CNYer to another, let me offer a
profound f$*! you to T-Mac for setting up this
horrible primary schedule. I wasted twelve years
hoping for a new chance to define the party, and
now for another twelve I'll probably have to hear
Dems bitching at me because I don't support the
party line without thinking while the country is
sold down the river.

Unlike this person, I didn't commit to the democratic party early on because I wasn't inspired by what it had to offer. I instead put my energies in other causes. I too feel that Clinton, who despite his political prowess, had absolutely NO coattails his entire 2 terms in office, did NOTHING to enhance the party's power at local levels, betrayed his constituents by going along with DOMA, don't ask-don't tell, NAFTA, "welfare reform" and a slew of other neo-democrat (read: moderate republican) policies, not to mention the crippling effect of bringing in and emphasizing big business and corporate power in the party in a faint and weak echo of the GOP. I'm sorry, but in terms of making this party an effective tool for change, Clinton didn't do it. I was sick and tired in 2000 of hearing democrats who insisted that if we didn't vote for Gore we were disloyal progressives - and yet, what was in the offer for this country then? Don't give me the hindsight of Bush's last 3 years in office either.

Frankly, without major change in the Democratic party, the GOP will be in power a long, long time (even if it isn't the presidency, congress is still no challenge for them yet). Twenty years ago, the GOP started a movement. They looked at the state of their party and decided they needed a long term plan. So they started in the school boards, the district elections, the state races. They built foundations and "research groups" and built core members who fought hard for issues they embraced. And look what they've built. Not to mention their lack of hesitation in using any tactic necessary to win their races. They've coopted issues and policies from democrats, they've coopted voting blocs and demographics from Democrats. Do you think that the Texas redistricting debacle last year could have happened if they hadn't worked long and hard to get it to the place they could manipulate that into happening?

The Democrats, on the other hand, have been jumping from one short term vision to the next for the last 20 years. They've been grasping at straws, and for the last 10 years, they've been trying to be mini-republicans. But aping the GOP without doing the work the GOP did has ended up with us where we are today. This has got to change. The current leadership of the DNC has manipulated things to once again hand us a milktoast candidate, though far better than Bush, doesn't have a solid record of any accomplishment, any executive experience or even original ideas that inspire change. Whether he has coattails won't even depend on him anymore, thank god - hundreds of thousands of people who were motivated to join politics last year because of another candidate have already parlayed that activism into changing their local elections. When offered a chance at revitalization, true change and an actual chance to step up and really transform not only the party but the country, the DNC has once again backed down and taken a compromise candidate.

It's the job of the current people in office and the media to try and maintain the status quo. I don't fault them for doing their best to accomplish this (though I do fault some of their incredibly dirty tactics) - if they didn't, they would become extinct. But why don't we fight just as hard to change the status quo? Why do we always fall in line and go with the status quo? I realize that the vast majority of voters out there, democrat and republican, are just dumb. I am sorry if that offends you. But consider the polls that show that people STILL believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11. Consider the fact that Bush will most likely be extremely successful in convincing everyone that everything he said last year actually didn't come out of his mouth. Most voters don't think, don't analyze the information. Most of them are spoonfed by those very institution that are working every day to maintain the status quo. The only way to fight that is to make the inspiration for change more powerful and more eye-catching for them. But the party doesn't want that. Because of course, the party is run by the very same people who want the status quo. The GOP changed that for themselves starting 20 years ago. Are democrats going to step up to the plate and do the same thing? I know individuals will try, but without the party being behind true change, there's only so far we activists can go.

Most of you who read my blog know what a fan I am of Buffy and Angel. I find a very big parallel with what has happened to the Democratic party and the current plot of Angel. To be brief, Angel became head of the very evil corporation he'd been fighting for years. He thought he could use it for good. But in the process he lost his calling as a champion. He was reminded of that by a visit from an old friend this week, but it took a resurrection from the dead to accomplish it. I see the party as falling into this same trap. Having compromised and tried to become the enemy it fought for so long, it's lost track of its championing of the things that really mattered. And the process, it's also lost its power and effectiveness.

I have to admit that I am tempted to withdraw my newly minted registration as a democrat. I only did it because i thought the party was truly going to change, going to take on the challenge of rising above the echos, the mediocrity, the compromise. But it looks like I was wrong. I'm not losing all my hope, and I'm definitely not giving up on fighting until there's no fight left to participate in, but I sure as hell am not going to support a party that continues to roll over and play dead when it's obvious that its time has come and gone if something doesn't change soon.

Damn it. We could have had something here. It's a damn shame. And it will be an even worse shame if next November, this same old tired tactic proves to have the same old tired results it's had for the last 10 years. [/vent]

UPDATE: (more thoughts) In case the "electability" argument is swaying you. I have an example for you: Florida 2002. The dems in Florida had a fantastic candidate to take on Jeb Bush, Janet Reno. She scored high in all the major polls, there was great groundwork and it looked like she was the one. Then just before the primaries, the lawyer, Bill McBride got the backhand backing of Bush because Bush ran ads that made Reno look "not electable." Everyone fled, not looking at the truth but falling for the electability line - "anyone but Bush!" they cried! And then in the general, Jeb Bush beat McBride in a massive smackdown. The formidable candidate is the one who is the real thing, the true challenger, the true policy maker and record of change holder - "electability" is a red herring, a distraction, and one that I fear Bush and Rove will use handily against us once we have our milktoast nominee.

UPDATE 2: Oh, and another thing. Even worse than losing progressive voters and activists like myself, what about all the conservatives and republicans that Dean brought into the fold. Folks like my dad: a veteran who sees the hollow aspect of Kerry's claims regarding being a vet in that besides fighting in a war 20 years ago, what has he done in his entire political career to lead the way in helping veterans? What has he proposed in terms of concise policy for veterans and service members? Dean was the first one to combine anti-war beliefs with solid policies on how to make life better for vets, not to mention fiscally conservative economic policies. My dad, a lifelong republican, not only decided to vote democrat, but actually became a political activist. Are these moderate/conservative voters going to stay in the fold with Kerry? I have my doubts about that too. One more thing the Dem party has let slip through its fingers.

| -- permanent link