Saturday, October 15, 2005

From Shrieks of Protestation

In light of a few discussions lately, I would like to direct your attention to a quote I enjoy that is featured quite prominently on The Anonymous Liberal by Bertrand Russell:
"The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment." -Bertrand Russell

I think that THIS speaks to aspects of the 'liberal' mindset that are criticized as being accommodating, flexible, dogmatically permissive... I truly think that a distinction needs to be made about the differences between free expression of opinion and judgement. Opinion is of course based on our experience and processing of available factual inputs. Judgement springs from the same well but is more inclusive of value determinations and reveals a response based on egocentric frames of reference.
When we on the left point out instances where words move beyond expression of opinion, we do not do so to suppress speech but rather to encourage a less rigid dialogue. I do think it is healthy to process what we observe against a backdrop of thoughtful and intelligent standards of evaluation, and to express those conclusions. But the conclusions need their backing, and when that backing is based on things like stereotypes, generalizations, assumptions, they reinforce what is inherently flawed reasoning from the get-go.

9 comments:

Bill Ziemer said...

That is a really excellent quote.

Lily said...

I think so and I think it speaks to some of the misunderstandings that result in people saying "I hate the way liberals...". There is a common and prevalent inability to grasp some of the differences in thought processes and to base positions and subsequent judgements on these misunderstandings. There is an emerging difference perhaps between liberal or conservative THEORY and taking a set of positions and saying"she's a liberal because she meets 17 out of 20 criteria".
After I get more into DU on my blog, I want to tackle the pigeon holing with labels a bit more. Have had some interesting discussions with libertarians lately and think there are just as many innaccuracies surrounding them!

Cantankerous Bitch said...

I have no philosophical disagreement with the quote or the stated advocacy of it here in this thread.
My concern, however, is this:

In terms of election strategies, the Democrats have been portrayed by all corners as having "no clear views", "no ideas", and "no values", and I believe that in part, this is due to the pervailing tendencies to avoid taking strong positions on virtually anything short of contrary stances to GOP talking points.

Further, I think there's a world of difference between saying "I feel strongly about this" and "This MUST be so!" (re: the "dogma" referred to in the original post).

In our collective attempt to remain "accomodating" and "flexible", what we've managed to project to the general electorate is that we don't really HAVE any position on much of anything. This is a problem. I think it's part of what keeps moderates away from the party, and it's certainly what alienates some of the most activist portions of the left.

To me, the key is not perpetually refraining from coming down firmly on one side of the issue or another, but rather, coming down on the "correct" side of an issue (for lack of a better term).

For example, for decades, the Dems have been portrayed as "pro-abortion", when little could be further from the truth. The position, in fact, is "pro-PRIVACY", and I challenge ANYONE, left, right or center, to make a case for why a citizen's fundamental right to privacy, to self-determination, to automony, is a bad thing.

Since the Dems don't want to appear to be "pro-abortion", they've shrunk from the debate for fear of being vilified by a strong, clear position on the matter. In an impotent attempt to blindly appeal to the nebulous center, their position has been more akin to "well, we think choice is important, but we're open to new ideas". This kind of wet-noodle-ism (no blasphemy intended to the great and powerful FSM intended) is part of what contributes to the position void percieved by far too many voters.

I find no value in a milquetoast party brand, even if it's born of a solid intellectual goal toward receptivity.

So, the question is, how does any political party maintain a "tentative" grasp on ideology and still communicate a solid, clear party platform?

Lily said...

See correct me if I am wrong but I think we have gone way too far on the issues branch with respect to rights infringement- the search for one voice in a chorus, in the name of position. In the name of doing what 'they' do well.
Hitler's toadies did their job well and certainly seized power for it. But-just because a strategy works short term does not make it desireable. Just because a group can utilize propaganda and mindmelting does not make that the proper course. The constant criticisms about why we do not act more like the religious right are absurd. Just because their tactics work, does not mean that the key to constructive criticism is to point out the ways we are not like them and then assume that THIS is the crux of why we fail. Positions are only one part of it. The reasons are in my opinion more based on economic trends than these petty 'you don't have a message' remarks. The nazi's understood the economic aspect quite well. Beneath it all, so do your neocons. My advice? Spend an equal amount of time on that as on intelligent design and abortion. In the end your uterus will go to the highest bidder.
I mean, YAWN! Come up with something different to say about liberals or Democrats for that matter. Message is so helpful? Sure helped us become a great country right! Record deficits, crisis, climate chaos... the undoing of our gains... instead of viewing the end of the cld war as a time to focus on our rotting national psyche, we commenced dismantling of the constitution, geneva convention, human rights... The key is common message perhaps but not about what the RIGHT want us to focus on as liberals. While we focus our energy on abortion, we have cases like Padilla.
Thats the problem. I realize this is a simplification but it really comes down to a matter of law and legislation and less about platforms and party tents. Very few people fall into the pigeonholes that make your observations applicable. The thirst for extreme unwavering 'we STAND for this or that" is an unrealistic demand in response to the criticisms you describe. They have spoon fed you this argument too by the way and count on your buy-in because they know that firm unity on positions is their strong suit, their positons are not diluted by a myriad of plural voices. They know that the decisive strength of their position makes us fodder for the 'you don't have a clear message' argument.
I find clear one-size-fits-all messages to be strategically wonderfully, BUT when one considers the real purpose of government, this perspective is bankrupt.
They know that this desire to be inclusive hurts the liberal left. And we know that central to lefty thinking is pluralism and a positional mosaic.
Often the very same people who talk about privacy are the ones to demand clear,strong, decisive positions which does not jive with an "every situation is unique, let the woman decide" perspective. The fact that liberals do not emphatically assert strong positions is partly because on matters of moral intrusion, many of us are simply reticent. Very few issues can elicit a strong 'no exceptions' response ABSENT a 'book' that tells you how to think. Nice to have a biblical blueprint for our lives but we cannot all subscribe to that.
Now we are talking about categories of people who have united positions by virtue of the fact that their God makes no distinctions, and to promote such ideas amounts to an *obviously* easier undertaking. To compare that, and bemoan the strategic inability of groups that are a spectrum of philosophical and ethical consistencies is to compare apples and oranges and ask why the oranges cannot make applesauce as efficiently.
I am certainly not the liberal champion, but I think that you are missing the idea that they promote the divisive nature of what you say, and the more people say "liberals have no message" the more the intellectually insecure will flock to those who DO. Why? because they are right? NO. Because they tell the population what to think instead of the population holding the government accountable to us. The result of this is obvious- we have a government right now that dishes out distorted patriotism and offends its citizens with lies and corruption. I hear you on strategy and many liberals would agree, but on the matter of bigger handwriting- not so much.
They key to strength is not in copying the tact of the one size fits all right wing, it is not found in replicating singular message politics to show 'direction'. It is found in understanding the role of government and what the boundaries are. You will see that the emerging thinking on this will be that liberals fall into more alliance with libertarians on matters of individual concerns, but differentiate themselves on matters of security, public health, social welfare, disaster response, and economics.
Bush is not losing popularity because the Democrats developed clarity this year. It is because he is failing on his real job. Talking about curriculum is not his job. Helping in a national disaster IS. And that is where the Democrats, centrist and liberal alike, need to put their energy, on reaffirming the role of the almighty FEDS as not the tax and spend new dealers who serve up charity and perpetual welfare like the cheap dad that pats the checkbook - but the begrudgingly maternal role that intervenes not when the kids bicker but when they are fucking bleeding.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

I'm really not sure who you're addressing here, with "your necons", for example. Nor have I, at any point, said "we need to do what the right wing is doing". In threads past, I have said that the GOP has done a far better job of "messaging" than the Democrats, evidenced by the GOP control of Congress and the WH. In general, the flavor of your post seems to confuse that (and my recent comments) with some kind of wholesale endorsement of their tactics and goals. So, in answer to your invitation, this is where you misunderstand what I've said.

Nor did I say that the Democrats problem with messaging is "the crux". Point in fact, I very deliberately said "part of the problem". While I appreciate passion in any argument, and value this feedback, it's hard to know where to respond cogently when it appears as if you're arguing against statements I've not made. Perhaps when you say "constant criticisms about why we do not act more like the religious right are absurd" you're speaking rhetorically? Finally, in this vein, I don't know what these Nazi references are meant to be other than inflammatory. Do you mean to paint my commentary as in line with the Nazi party platform? Please clarify.

Moving on… why, precisely, is "petty" about recognizing that the Democratic party has had chronic problems communicating overall platform messages? Think about it from a basic sales perspective: You can have the greatest widget in the world, but if your marketing is ineffective, no one will know about your widget, and consequently, no one will buy it.

Ask any Average Joe on the street what the GOP platform is. Their response will be "Stong Military, Lower Taxes, Family Values". Now ask what the DNC platform is. I'll bet you all the money in my pockets that same guy can't tell you in such a consise manner. And that is a problem, no matter how petty, insignificant or tedious it may appear.

This is not a question of being "spoon fed" anything to which my "buy-in" has been solicited or achieved. This is a question of what I see and hear each and every time I talk to people that are NOT card-carrying, Democrats-Until-Death. It may be convenient for your argument to dismiss me as having swallowed a GOP talking point in whole, but your assumption would be incorrect. These generally moderate voters tell me, again and again, "I don't know what the Democrats stand for anymore", or worse, "the Democrats want late-term abortion on demand, higher taxes and a welfare state". Obviously, anyone that takes just a few scant minutes can discover that this is not, in fact, the case. However, it is how the Dems are portrayed and how they are percieved by a considerable portion of the electorate. Like it or not, those perceptions drive voter behavior. If this enrages you, it should. I have no argument with that. But to run me, or anyone else raising the issue, over the coals and accusing us of pettiness, I think, misses a significant point about election strategy. One-size-fits-all messages do not, I agree, equate to effective government. But that is not the point. In this sad little sound-byte media world, if a candidate's or party platform cannot be distilled into some clear, concise, philosphical messages and policy goals, how complex the underlying issues are won't matter a hill of beans. One cannot govern if one cannot get elected.

As a specific quibble, I take issue with this:
"Often the very same people who talk about privacy are the ones to demand clear,strong, decisive positions which does not jive with an "every situation is unique, let the woman decide" perspective. The fact that liberals do not emphatically assert strong positions is partly because on matters of moral intrusion, many of us are simply reticent.

The thing to be screamed over the bullhorn is not "every situation is unique". That's precisely what leads people to accuse the left of moral relativism and trump us with the "god said" card. What should be broadcast is this: "Reproductive autonomy is the hallmark of personal liberty. These decisions belong in the private realm of a woman, her partner and her physician." (I'm not an advertising whiz, but I trust you get my point). Such a statement affirms the conviction that abortion is about the fundamental value of privacy, and allows for pluralism without appearing positionLESS. Any left-politician "reticent" to convey such a message is, IMO, weak on the issue altogether and likely pandering to centrists and moderate Republicans.

But, I digress…. The sad state of affairs in American politics is that would-be leaders must navigate the typically treacherous roads of sales, marketing, presentation and spin in order to attract and maintain, voter attention. We can blame this on any number of things -- a lack of political literacy throughout the general population, increasingly short attention spans, the inherently corrupt lobbying system, socio-economic strata serving as policy filters and agenda steerage, the national psyche that makes voters look for "dad" in the GOP and "mom" in the DNC -- take your pick. When we add a disastrous foreign policy approach and increasing pressure by fundmentalists, it's amazing candidates or opposition parties can find any path to walk, much less an effective one. Still, this is our curse. And it is over this din that the Democrats must reach, should they have any hope of ousting the culture of corruption.

We can rail all we like about how we shouldn't have to do this, how Democratic platform ideals should speak for themselves and somehow convince voters of their inherent superiority through glaring self-evidence, but clearly, that approach is not working. It didn't work in 2000, and it didn't work in 2004.

Effective campaigning and effective government enjoy no natural symbiosis, but given the political system in which we work, the two are inexorably linked. The former must precede the latter or the latter never comes to pass. To assail critiques of messaging, branding or marketing on the grounds that they do not make for a sound government is interesting in the abstract, but ultimately is neither here nor there given the realities of election strategy in 2005.

A good example to contemplate:
The Kerry "Flip Flop". The politically astute (or even those of us merely paying attention) understood that Kerry voted against the $87 billion, among other things, after the source of funding changed. Given the specifics of his reasoning, his change in stance was not difficult to understand, nor did it constitute "waffling". However, the common Joe didn't get to hear much of anything about his reasoning, because a.) he did a poor job of explaning it in the "debates" (if we can accurately call them that) and because his reasoning could not effectively be conveyed in a 30 second commercial spot. The GOP slapped on the "flip flop" label and gave people a simple two word image to walk away with. Hell, later on they didn't even need the words, and a picture of a sandal (!) conveyed the same thing. That is messaging. And that is what the American public responds to, for better or worse.

Now, if we want to rage against the fact that our political campaigns are accomplished via 30 second TV ads, then great, by all means, we absolutely should. It's a dreadfully sad commentary on how out of touch voters have become with our political process and how inattentive we've become to issues that effect us. However, those compliants don't change the fact that this IS how our campaigns are handled, and refusing to participate on the grounds that it "should NOT be the way" is self-defeating folly at a time when kicking the GOP out of power is so critically important. We cannot change the game if we do not first WIN the game. Get the Democrats back in power and we can reform our election system, we can implement a host of new campaign finance laws etc ad infinitum. But we don't have much choice other than to play the game as it exists, take back control of the government and then change how it works.

The GOP has siezed control of our government, in part, through their clarity of message. We may know their message is complete and utter bullshit, and we might have a hundred ways to prove that it is. But if it takes us four paragraphs to espouse the virtues of the liberal "positional mosaic", when conservatives can toot their own horns with 6 words, we have a problem with message communication. That I say this is not tantamount to agreeing that liberals have no message. Instead, it is offered as a tactical point of improvement as we head into the next election cycle. If you find this petty, I’m not really sure what else to tell you.

Lily said...

First of all, it was very clear why I discussed Hitler in the 'just because it works doesn't make it right" context- there is no need to get all hystrionic because I used the fucking word Hitler in a post. The meaning was clear. I have nothing to add to that except to say that the point was apparently missed because I chose an example that was extreme but illustrated the point.
I suggest you tackle on POINTS, not style. Is Nazi Germany not a valid example of an effective political strategy? Did they not understand message and image? Did I call you a fascist- or point out an historical example where this logic is lacking? My purpose was clear-- that I was pointing out that what works is not necessarily right. The example was clearly intended to make the point that just because a strategy works does not mean that there are not other consequences of that strategy that are inherently bad. Ditto to a far less degree on message harping.
I am not a detached hippie unaware of the role of perception. I am 'out there'in the world quite a bit. My experience with image is not hypothetical. My experience with image and constituent services (my graduate thesis, incidentally, so ironic) goes beyond grabbing a dude and asking questions like a Jay Leno bit. And I stand by my position that they have a clearer message because they have more money on the right and because they have a unifying social/financial element-religion- that we do not have. And I am not lamenting that. I'll take the chaos, thank you.
It is not because Democrats just won't 'get it'. Its not a matter of pounding the point. Even if they miss Strategy 101 on Hydrogen and Stupidity you can bet they've heard it before. From, like, a zillion other people. "You need a message!!" they say. Clinton was a relatively decent President by many indicators and he won two terms and would win tomorrow with NO MESSAGE. There's more to it. Distilling it to marketing ignores too many other failings.
A politician may be a 'product' in your eyes but you know that there is more to a widget than appearance. By your logic, why not recommend Brad Pitt for president?
I get the marketing, with all due respect, I've probably taken many of the same college courses. I do know this speech and have heard much of it before. When I worked in an actual political office (yup) we heard it there too. You'd be surprised how many people think they know the answers! AND think they offer new insight. Sadly, it isn't ground breaking, this is redundant.
YES I GET IT. I am suggesting there is more to it, is all. I don't need the lectures on attention spans and how stupid Americans are. I understand the Kerry failings but (also) with all due respect -again- I never supported Kerry and so cannot defend his campaign. What went wrong was the fact that the Republicans go for the jugular (Lewinsky) on every little damn matter and the Democrats do not. They stay silent. And on a certain level- people have a hard time visualizing a leader that cannot even forcefully defend his own war hero status. People want more than message. Forgive me for being crass but what he calls the 'high road" is what mainstream America calls a 'pussy'.
Market the man/woman, not the party. Get off the message fixation and fix Brad Pitt's hair. Let him tell people they will be safe, have him ride a horse or say 'nuculer' like a bumpkin because thats the way your marketing really works, the message crap is secondary.
I don't think its all about 'winning' the big race either. It might not be juicy to discuss local issues like who is running for tax collector of Smalltown, USA- but small races make a difference. Its like the way everyone watches the Superbowl and knows the name of the quarterback. I admit it right here- I hate bandwagons. I hate issue beating. I hate the predictable course of punditry. I hate that people describe something new by describing what people have been saying for eons..
I hate superbowl politics and armchair critics. The result is that people post about ID and school boards- that don't have any inkling of what happens at their OWN school board meetings where they live. Do you know about curriculum in your community? Do you know what the recruiters do in our schools? Do you love the fact that the Young Marines start in freakin' elementary school? Does THAT type of indoctrination get your panties in a knot? Probably not. See the laughable things I do are not rantworthy.
See, everyone watches Dover for its huge significance and I concede that- but nobody watches what happens to their own schools or their own yards. I say this not to be antagonizing but to point out that everyone has their eye on the top and that is part of it, certainly message is part of it, certainly ignorance and monopolized media is part of it, certainly censorship is part of it.
We could write volumes on just these topics alone and spin off into a million directions. The fact is that some people see this right-left sparring as a sport, with little to say about legitimate analysis of what is actually going on. Namely, the financial differences which are equal if not more important than the marketing points. If I hadn't seen this conversation play out a hundred times, I'd be more inclined to go further.
But I feel like I am getting the script.
If you want to speak to a human, press the pound key...

Cantankerous Bitch said...

First of all, it was very clear why I discussed Hitler in the 'just because it works doesn't make it right" context- there is no need to get all hystrionic because I used the fucking word Hitler in a post. The meaning was clear. I have nothing to add to that except to say that the point was apparently missed because I chose an example that was extreme but illustrated the point.

Well, no, the meaning wasn't clear, or I wouldn't have asked "please clarify". You drew the line to suggest that concern over message clarity was somehow faulty, pointing to the Nazi party as an example of why. Well, we can find a worst-case scenario in any strategy approach and vilify its advocates in the process. That doesn't necessarily invalidate the merit of the mention.

I suggest you tackle on POINTS, not style. Is Nazi Germany not a valid example of an effective political strategy? Did they not understand message and image? Did I call you a fascist- or point out an historical example where this logic is lacking? My purpose was clear-- that I was pointing out that what works is not necessarily right.

And what works is not necessarily wrong, either, which is what you seemed to be implying with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. Further, I have little disagreement with the fundamentals of the Democratic platform, so as to "tackling on points", my laundry list is fairly small (and outside the scope of this thread, specifically). Overall, this is another occasion in which you've run me up the flagpole for not being comprehensive enough in my statements -- a strange reaction given that some fairly specific subjects have been the trigger for these threads. If I decide to post a rant about lemons, you often retort with demands that I address the failings of the entire produce department. To what end?

The example was clearly intended to make the point that just because a strategy works does not mean that there are not other consequences of that strategy that are inherently bad. Ditto to a far less degree on message harping. I am not a detached hippie unaware of the role of perception. I am 'out there'in the world quite a bit. My experience with image is not hypothetical. My experience with image and constituent services (my graduate thesis, incidentally, so ironic) goes beyond grabbing a dude and asking questions like a Jay Leno bit. And I stand by my position that they have a clearer message because they have more money on the right and because they have a unifying social/financial element-religion- that we do not have. And I am not lamenting that. I'll take the chaos, thank you.

So if I comment on what I see as a (not *the*, not the *only*, not the *most egregious*) failure of the DNC machine of late, then I should just refrain altogether because my commentary isn't an all encompassing diagnostic of How To Restore The Left To Power? Your tactics here are fairly confrontational given that you recently chided me (indirectly) for "rigid dialogue". I post an off-the-cuff rant about "this cog is busted" and you retort with "well why the hell don't you have a solution to the entire engine?!?"

But let's talk a bit about funding, since you raised the point. I agree that the disparity between the DNC and the GOP in this regard represents a wide array of significant tactical challenges. So, what's involved with fundraising? Aside from corporate whoring, it's about awareness raising, isn't it? Fundraiser: "Hi, Mr. Moneybags. Here's what we're trying to do, here's why it's important that we have your support, and here's what you can do to help". Donor: "Great! Thanks to your really great presentation of the issue, your explanation of the relevant facts, and your method of making me see why this is, indeed, important to me and my concerns, I see why my contribution would be valuable. Let me get my checkbook". Isn't this process a function of messaging? Is it not cliché that politics is the art of persuasion? My point here is not to be a one-trick pony, but I feel compelled to rally a defense of the idea in light of your near scathing dismissiveness of the notion.

It is not because Democrats just won't 'get it'. Its not a matter of pounding the point. Even if they miss Strategy 101 on Hydrogen and Stupidity you can bet they've heard it before. From, like, a zillion other people. "You need a message!!" they say. Clinton was a relatively decent President by many indicators and he won two terms and would win tomorrow with NO MESSAGE. There's more to it. Distilling it to marketing ignores too many other failings. A politician may be a 'product' in your eyes but you know that there is more to a widget than appearance. By your logic, why not recommend Brad Pitt for president?

Snarkilicious. Congratulations.
Again, I'll repeat. My contribution to this thread was not intended as a distillation (see phrases like "part of the problem"). The bulk of your response seems geared as if it is, and you fire off a litany of why such a narrow take is counterproductive. Are you screaming at me, or at 600 other things/people at the same time? Oh, and by the way -- do I need a better pedigree to earn qualification to speak my observations here? Personally, I value the input of anyone paying attention to politics, not just the ones with the appropriate degrees or practical campaign experience. Your implication throughout is that your qualifications trump mine and I should therefore, temper my commentary accordingly. Is this what you're trying to convey?

I get the marketing, with all due respect, I've probably taken many of the same college courses. I do know this speech and have heard much of it before. When I worked in an actual political office (yup) we heard it there too. You'd be surprised how many people think they know the answers! AND think they offer new insight. Sadly, it isn't ground breaking, this is redundant.

Then it begs the question: If such a proposition is so dreadfully redundant, why are so many voters so hopelessly clueless about what the Democratic platform is? Why is it that, especially in 2004, we heard reports far and wide of people voting Republican because they "knew" what the GOP stood for, but could not say the same of the DNC? If it's a completely passe criticism, one would expect it's been addressed, that it's been dealt with, that it is, indeed, old news. You seem to want to treat this particular "messaging" topic as a slam-dunk no brainer, but evidently the rest of the party isn't quite as well informed, given their repeated bungling. I don't know about you, but I've seen news days in which Reid says one thing, Dean says another, then Pelosi chimes in with a third. If this is such a redundant topic, then why are Democratic leaders still having such a tough time getting people to hear what they have to say?

YES I GET IT. I am suggesting there is more to it, is all.

Yes, and I get that part too. You really can stop hollering as if I do not.

I don't need the lectures on attention spans and how stupid Americans are. I understand the Kerry failings but (also) with all due respect -again- I never supported Kerry and so cannot defend his campaign. What went wrong was the fact that the Republicans go for the jugular (Lewinsky) on every little damn matter and the Democrats do not. They stay silent. And on a certain level- people have a hard time visualizing a leader that cannot even forcefully defend his own war hero status. People want more than message. Forgive me for being crass but what he calls the 'high road" is what mainstream America calls a 'pussy'. Market the man/woman, not the party. Get off the message fixation and fix Brad Pitt's hair. Let him tell people they will be safe, have him ride a horse or say 'nuculer' like a bumpkin because thats the way your marketing really works, the message crap is secondary.

Lectures? Hm. I thought this was a lively discussion, but no matter. The Democrats' "silence" is something I take issue with, and I'll not apologize a whit for it. Take the Durbin "Nazi" incident for example. He made some insightful criticisms of the behavior of our military at Abu Ghraib, the GOP picked it up, twisted it around and ran around saying "he called our soldiers Nazis!". What did Durbin do? Stared at his shoes for a few days and then said "uh.. never mind". He should have gotten back in the press, clarified what he was saying, and defended his ground. But no. Instead, he decided not to make a stink and back off. On the other hand, McCain makes the same kind of noise and is praised from virtually all corners (save for the ultra-cons). Not because what he was saying was measurably different, but because he had the balls to say it and defend it. In this example, the righteousness of the message was lost because the messenger dropped the ball. If concerns over events like these is "petty", particularly when we're desperately trying to win back seats in Congress, then I have to wonder what passes the worthiness test?

I don't think its all about 'winning' the big race either. It might not be juicy to discuss local issues like who is running for tax collector of Smalltown, USA- but small races make a difference. Its like the way everyone watches the Superbowl and knows the name of the quarterback. I admit it right here- I hate bandwagons. I hate issue beating. I hate the predictable course of punditry. I hate that people describe something new by describing what people have been saying for eons.. I hate superbowl politics and armchair critics. The result is that people post about ID and school boards- that don't have any inkling of what happens at their OWN school board meetings where they live.

Do you know about curriculum in your community?
Some, yes. Not much yet, but I'm working on it while I have at least three years before I'll get detailed first hand exposure. Does this make me apathetic?

Do you know what the recruiters do in our schools?
Yes, in fact, I do.

Do you love the fact that the Young Marines start in freakin' elementary school? Does THAT type of indoctrination get your panties in a knot? Probably not. See the laughable things I do are not rantworthy.

Probably not? Oh ok. So now we've moved completely out of actual discussion and well into snarky assumptions. So tell me. If my particular list of rants here does not include your specific hot button issues, then I'm just another windbag pundit? Let's not dance around with too much innuendo, too much passive aggressive tango. Are you honestly trying to imply that if I (or whomever your rhetorical target is) does not yell and scream about the exact same issues you do, then I'm somehow failing you and "The Cause" in one fell swoop?

See, everyone watches Dover for its huge significance and I concede that- but nobody watches what happens to their own schools or their own yards. I say this not to be antagonizing but to point out that everyone has their eye on the top and that is part of it, certainly message is part of it, certainly ignorance and monopolized media is part of it, certainly censorship is part of it.

Then I'm sure you'll also agree that the entire point of watching what is happening in Dover/Kansas is that it provides us with a primer, an opportunity to see what the thumpers are doing/saying/attempting so that we will better recognize it in our OWN communities. Before the Dover case hit the news, how many people down at Lake Whatchahoosie High would be alarmed at the introduction of Pandas as an ostensibly innocent "supplemental text"? Short of foreign policy initiatives, attention to national issues parlays into ammunition at the local level for all of us. On this much I know we agree -- message, ignorance, monopolized media, censorship -- these are things that require our attention as much as anything.

We could write volumes on just these topics alone and spin off into a million directions. The fact is that some people see this right-left sparring as a sport, with little to say about legitimate analysis of what is actually going on.

Well, let me remind you that you're not talking to one of them. Honestly, Lily. Your entire tone here is over-the-top dismissive, and frankly, it's flabbergasting because WE'RE ON THE SAME SIDE. I'm delighted to provide a platform for venting whatever angst you'd care to express, but I've no yearning to be run through the wringer along with every other bad guy on your shit list.

This discussion seems to have degraded to the very embodiment of what's endemic throughout the Democratic party. So much infighting that progress is minimal at best. I say "this element isn't working", you retort with "pshaw, here's what's REALLY important", and in the end, where do we end up other than pissed off at our own?

Namely, the financial differences which are equal if not more important than the marketing points. If I hadn't seen this conversation play out a hundred times, I'd be more inclined to go further. But I feel like I am getting the script. If you want to speak to a human, press the pound key...

Getting the script? Nice. I can't say I've ever been accused of regurgitating talking points in such a sublte way, so points to you on delivery. Well done!

I'll simply say this (hereby reiterating my sole point in this diatribe). If a sentiment is being repeated over and over and over again, perhaps it's because it reflects a still unresolved problem. Perhaps it still needs attention. Then again, what do I know, right? I'm just another armchair pundit without the requisite experience from which to comment.

Lily said...

Now, now. I did not run you up a flagpole. It is just far easier to illustrate in real time the problem than to describe it academically.
You're far from on my shitlist. I love you and your comments dearly and of course there is much merit to what you say. But it is necessary to antagonize you. I am pushing the envelope with you at my own warm and fuzzy expense- not to create divisiveness but because I am trying to point out that THIS is what lefties need. The problem is the knee jerk reactions to criticism. Marketing is helped considerably by credible and thoughtful responsiveness. They fail often in that respect.
"Question my war record? it seems to me that America cannot trust the leadership of a man that was by legal definitons AWOL." Would that be snark? Or would that be the assertive direct challenge that Americans would want to see? The question is- WHERE"S THE PAIR??
Again, the problem is that Democrats are pussies. They cannot handle being run up the flagpole, CB. And they need to learn. They need to be dismissive of what borders on the ridiculous and cognizant of what needs to be responded to with clarity.
You might feel that cohesion and a unified message of what Dems 'stand for" is the thrust. But getting there is the problem. I am saying that they know what they ought to be doing but cannot make the leap, and part of it is because they cannot get through this type of squabble. And these discussions happen all the time- the skills to resolve it are essential because otherwise you will not see the message no matter how much we all agree that better 'selling' would help.
Further, the lack of coping contributes to the leadership vacuum.
If it seems that I got snarky to express my thoughts, that was only part of my intention and I felt that some clarification of my experience that informed my views was in order, this was not to suggest pedigree credentials. Or to exclude anyone's right to particiapte, perhaps it could be read that way. Plus, my condescension radar was admittedly chirping.
"Cantankerous" behavior can hardly be judged too harshly by you, can it?

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Perhaps this exchange can be written off to a difference in style. I tend to reserve my edgier snark for ideological opponents, as evident on all pages here. I have no objection to challenges, but don't find much appeal in a bare knuckle approach when working on the "inside". There's no accounting for taste, indeed.

As I see it, the list of things badly in need of repair on the left (as it pertains to mounting an effective reclamation of political power) is so long as to be disorienting and daunting. But that does not mean that any of us can afford to shrug off one priority in favor of another. The advantage of the plurality you speak of is that each of us can focus our energies on issues that resonate the most loudly with us at an individual level. For you, as an example, DU is a passion. Encroachment of fundamentalism is one of mine. I can think of few things as comforting as knowing that you're watching my back in one vein, while I watch yours in another. In this specific discussion, "marketing" failures of the DNC get me riled up because that relates to my professional experience; it is part of what I know and can speak to with at least a little authority.

Just one final illustrative example and then, I swear, I'll drop it (at least for this thread): There was an occasion during the Kerry campaign in which he was making some position statement or another to the press (the specifics elude me just at the moment). Unfortunately, the sound techs that accompanied him that day were asleep at the wheel, and Kerry's statements could only barely be heard on the recording that fed the wires and MSM coverage that night. Now, this may strike some as no big deal, perhaps worthy of inclusion on the list of "ridiculous" distrations, but I couldn't disagree more. Particularly when that night's news broadcast ran the fuzzy-audio Kerry footage along side a similar press conference by Bush that was clear as a shiny new bell. This goes to production quality, more of those tedious superficialities that we'd rather not have waste energy on. But I'm sure we'll agree that it all counts, it's all important. Kerry could have been announcing his committment to cure cancer in the next decade, but very few people would have heard him because his staff screwed up at the sound board. So, while you might have several insightful critiques of the "cure cancer" message itself ("points"), what jumps out at me, thanks to my particular set of experiences, is the shitty, message-obsuring audio ("style").

Our respective bailiwicks act as filters for what compels us, and consequently, we all have something to contribute to party objectives. In our fantasy campaign office, you'd sit at the policy desk, and I'd sit at the communications desk. Both critical areas, both equally valuable. Honestly, when you dismiss as "petty" a topic about which I can contribute, it's hard not to feel marginalized to no particular purpose. But it happens all over the left, so my point is not to whine excessively over this particular thread. Rather, this discussion is a perfect example of where we need to improve throughout the entire party. Factions condemn each other for nonequivalent priorities, the party remains fragmented over which direction to take, what candidate to endorse, and next thing you know, the Democrats are splintered, scattered in their efforts, and lacking the concensus under which all of our concerns can be addressed comprehensively.

I also think that much of our mutual angst is better directed at DLC leadership. They've done a fine job of rolling over on issues that require steadfastness, watered down one ideal after another in an attempt to attract support beyond the base, and failed on so many PR levels as to boggle the mind. And while it may be cathartic to wrestle each other in an attempt to build our collective muscle, it too easily leads to the kind of interal squabbling that prevents us from presenting a united front. Honestly, at the end of the day, I'm pretty well spent from my rage over the latest bit of slime oozing from the GOP to be terribly eager to spar with my own teammates, particularly in pursuit of an object lesson.

All that said, for my own loss of composure, you have my apologies. Then again, if you can't scream at your friends, who can you scream at?