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  • Sunday, June 12, 2005


    Leaving the Game with My Ball

    A current dispute about an ad over on DailyKos highlights some of the current misunderstandings about the nature of politics. Here is Kos' view and here is a bit of a rebuttal by Shakespeare's Sister. I thought maybe I should point out a few things I regard as bottom-line realities of politics.

    First, Democrats did not lose the 2004 presidential election because of "single issue" voters. They lost because of an apparent failure to implement proper "coalition building." Coalition building doesn't mean simplifying and pasteurizing a party's message to the point where it won't offend anyone; it means reaching out, finding ways to work together, and creating a framework people can broadly support. Single issues aren't the problem. The problem is a party that doesn't include these issues in a practical, meaningful, and dynamic manner.

    Second, Democrats seem unwilling or unable to take women's issues and concerns seriously. Oh, I hear a fair bit of empty promises and noise about caring about women's issues (or their votes) but I see little in the way of substantive policy or proposals. I find this a sad state for the major party most likely to address these issues.

    Third, Democrat apologists argue that the Democratic Party is really the only game in town. The only viable national parties are the Democrats and the Republicans, so they say. And we definitely know where the Republicans stand, leaving anyone with even the faintest liberal/progressive impulse to settle dejectedly into the Dems side of things. Therefore, they argue, whatever the problems, liberals are stuck with the Democratic Party.

    I have to call BS on all of this rationalizing. If the Dems aren't willing to represent all their constituents in real and meaningful ways, then, ipso facto, Dems do not represent major portions of their membership. I know part of politics is compromise. I know some issues are difficult to take a public stand on. But, at a certain point, don't keep expecting people to vote for hollow promises never redeemed.

    Coalition building isn't easy. As a matter of fact, it is very hard. It requires much discussion, much evaluation of priorities. If the outcome of the process contains positions that support the leadership, there is probably something wrong with the process. If the outcome produces leaders who are able to represent a large majority of the party most of the time, then I think the process is working. Do you understand the difference? One is probably a plutocratic result and the other is democratic. A democratic leader doesn't just lead, s/he is a representative of the people.

    I'd like to gently remind the Democrats that they are particularly vulnerable to the disgruntled. Instead of blaming the victim in a burning building, it might be wise to offer some help and water. Just because someone has always voted Democratic in the past does not assure they will continue to do so in the face of verbal abuse and neglect of their best interests. Many people don't like Republican policies; this does not guarantee you are their only alternative.

    We might take our votes and look for a better game.

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