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Republicrats: differences - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Dec. 7th, 2003

06:06 pm - Republicrats: differences

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Another repost from the notesfiles. Someone asked about our personal summaries of the differences between the republicans and democrats and which democrat we supported for President, if any.

Republicans: benefit rich people and fool the people in the red (rural) precincts that they also benefit them. Constantly trying to redefine the precincts so that more of them are dominated by red people. Give a lot of lipservice (and actual policy changes) to conservative religious fundamentalists. Give a lot of lipservice (and no policy changes) to the "small government" folks (libertarians). Take what they want from other countries by direct use of force. Doll out money to corporations and rich people in the form of tax breaks and non-compete contracts outsources government programs. They like guns, hate abortion, and suck up to retired people. They want to put more people in jail. On average they range from right to center but most of them are slightly to the right of center-right.

Democrats: benefit rich people and fool the people in the blue (urban) precincts that they also benefit them. Constantly trying to redefine the precincts so that more of them are dominated by blue people. Give a lot of lipservice (and actual policy changes) to classic moderate liberal social causes (things having to do with rights). Give a lot of lipservice (and no policy changes) to the "progressive" folks (greens). Take what they want from other countries by trade manipulation, and diplomatic chicanery, occasionally backed by forceful military saber rattling and demonstrations of might. Doll out money to corporations and rich people in the form of trade deals and targetted tax loopholes and "win-win" "public-private" partnerships. They don't like guns, support the right to abortion, and suck up to retired people. They want to put more people in jail. On average they range from left to center-right but most of them are slightly to the left of center-right.

I support Dennis Kucinich because he doesn't stand for any of that bullshit. He's an honest man in an evil game. That the most radically progressive representative in the house comes from Midwest, heartland, Cleveland says something about the kind of trust that he can engender in people. Urban midwesterners might be very liberal but they don't put up with that namby-pamby hippie crap. He makes hard choices. He has vision. Every time I learn something new about him I like him more and more.

Comments:

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From:hope_persists
Date:December 7th, 2003 04:18 pm (UTC)
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I LOVE Kucinich. I wish he actually had a chance :-/
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From:folkyboy
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:26 pm (UTC)
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oh me too! totally
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From:bdar
Date:December 7th, 2003 04:23 pm (UTC)
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I'm going to try and phrase this without sounding combative, because I certainly respect your right to vote for Kucinich.

But the honest man can never win the evil game. He can't even get a seat at the table. The best he can do is go down with integrity. Which is fine for him, I suppose, because who wouldn't want to at least have their integrity when they get stomped...but it sucks for the rest of us, who would rather have a progressive candidate win, so they can be in a position to foment positive change.

Put another way: you can complain all you want that the rules of Monopoly are rigged and unfair to the players who don't roll high, and you can therefore refuse to roll the dice entirely out of protest, but at the end of the game--seven or eight hours later--the winner is the guy who went around the board, picked up the Chance cards when he landed on the spaces, mortgaged Marvin Gardens and traded two railroads for Boardwalk.

The game must be played. I'm sorry.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 7th, 2003 04:58 pm (UTC)
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Consider yourself lucky that I'm even participating in the Democratic primary. Dean doesn't impress me. I'm very glad he impresses the rest of you all, he's running a good campaign.

Kucinich is the only guy who has the stance I agree with on the issues that I care most about. I can't not vote for him. If he loses the primary, I will vote Green in the general...because I'm a Green. Kucinich is the kind of guy that could bring this completely disenchanted former Democrat back to the party. Dean is not. I voted for Clinton twice. That's about all the triangulation that I could stomach. The Democratic party lost me 8 years ago. If I didn't vote for Gore, I'm not going to vote for Dean.

I do wish him the best of luck.

I do play the game. I play the game in a lot of ways. I write my congress people. I involve myself in campaigns for good democrats at the local level and campaigns for Greens when no good democrats are available. I go to city council meetings. I go to protests. I am involved on a local, regional, national, and international level in the media reform and independent media movements. I am involved on the state level in the campaign for instant run off voting and proportional representation.

I'm interested in changing the course of this beast over the next few decades so that it is more responsive to citizens and less responsive to corporations and the wealthy. I am all about citizen empowerment.

I do not believe that voting for moderate Democrats furthers my goal. I do believe that even if Kucinich loses, if he gets a sizable proportion of the vote it'll send a strong message to whatever moderate does win that the progressive voting bloc is strong and important. If whatever moderate wins the primary take some strong progressive stances and it seems real I might reconsider my Green vote. The Kucinich campaign, like the Nader campaign before it, is about building a network for long term progressive change. Change comes from more than votes, it comes from a movement.

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From:boannan
Date:December 7th, 2003 07:01 pm (UTC)
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I kind of can't believe I'm posting this, since I am really not super-interested in talking about the beaten-to-death Nader issue, but I need a study break, so here ya go!

I'm confused by the statement, "The Kucinich campaign, like the Nader campaign before it, is about building a network for long term progressive change. Change comes from more than votes, it comes from a movement." The point at which I left the Nader campaign behind was the point at which Nader supporters refused to consider coordinating a nationwide strategy to accomplish two things: 1) getting Gore elected and 2) getting Nader 5% of the vote so that the Green Party would be eligible for federal matching funds.

To me, that strategy embodied part of the necessary process for building "a network for long-term progressive change." It was a tactical move that would have kept Bush out of office and helped develop the Green Party's infrastructure. I was told by Green after Green that the game couldn't be played that way, that I had to vote my conscience, not my fears.

I understand that from a Green perspective Gore = Bush (or at least Gore was not qualitatively better than Bush), but I couldn't understand why the efforts weren't concentrated on that 5% number rather than having Nader win (which was pretty much a pipe dream).

On a funner note, I have a good shot at being able to take both Legislation and Local Government Law next year, so I can improve my own knowledge about the rules of the game and how to play it! :)
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From:mr_ducktape
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:35 pm (UTC)
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I'm far FAR less informed about such things than Zach ... but for many reasons I also voted for Nader, and one of the main reasons WAS to hopefully get that 5%. Him winning office wasn't even a possibility; I knew that and I would think every other person who voted Green knew that as well.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Out of curiosity, can I ask Nader supporters whether their support was based primarily on agreement with the Green party, belief in Nader's ability as president, or both equally?
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 7th, 2003 10:00 pm (UTC)

Both equally.

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I believe Nader would be a fantastic President. His track record of creating effective public policy is amazing. (He was responsible for or involved in the National Highway Safety Act, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the creation of the EPA, the Endangered Species Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the creation fo OSHA, the list goes on and on. He's formed dozens of extremely effective public interest non-profit organizations that have a great track record of making public policy change.

I believe strongly that the grassroots in this nation are completely doomed without a strong progressive third party. I am strongly committed to helping build that party. The Nader campaign led to the creation of thousands of new Green Party locals, many of which have run and won campaigns for local offices and continue to build their membership. The Green party is in fact stronger now than it was before Nader ran. A political party runs candidates to win. If we weren't running candidates to win, we'd just be another PAC with no hope of becoming a third party.
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From:bdar
Date:December 7th, 2003 11:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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I'll agree with you that Nader's not bad at domestic policy, but I'd need heavy-duty convincing on his or indeed any Green Party candidate's ability to handle foreign policy, especially now. Unfortunately, for however badly Shrub's been handling it, we are in a state of war.

While I don't consider myself a hawk by any means, I also don't believe in blind pacifism. Although the military misadventures of the past administrations are certainly to blame for the current crop of radical Islamists, I'd say we're past a point where avoiding war altogether is an option. I'm not talking about Iraq.

Al-Qaida is a genuine threat to the lives of Americans. I don't want me or my loved ones to get murdered by terrorists. This is an actual war, one that can't be won through negotiation or even demand concessions. While I do think that the US should get out of Saudi Arabia, I'd doubt that bin Laden and his ilk would consider this enough and stop plotting attacks. They're not fighting for demands, they're fighting for God. God is never satisfied.

No matter how intelligent they are, no matter how passionate they are, no matter how good they are at forming public policy--if their ability to handle our end of the war is suspect, I can't in good conscience vote for them.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 7th, 2003 11:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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I'm not sure if solid foreign policy/military credentials are necessary so long as the candidate has the judgement to select appropriate advisors to fill any gaps. Based on my little knowledge of Nader, he seems to value expertise enough that he would respect the advise of his NSA and the joint chiefs if he found himself in a military situation.

My question was more focused on the issue of where the Green Party's showing in 2000 was derived from. Do people find Nader to be a strong candidate to lead the executive branch of government or is the focus more on simply having a progressive candidate who is not part of one of the two parties. Would the ticket have gained as much support if Duke led it? Or if Bradley (or McCain for that matter) bolted to the Greens? Would Nader have polled better or worse as a Democrat?
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From:jasunshine
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:19 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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wow! did not mean to wake a sleeping monster! yikes!
I should be a little clearer about what I meant by tactical strategy in my earlier post. My idea (and the idea of some other Greenish Democrats) was to try to "work" the election to do two things at once: get folks who wanted Gore in office and Nader to get five percent who lived in Bush states (ie Texas) to all throw their votes to Nader, while those who felt the same way but lived in Gore states should throw their votes to (Jason says to StrongBadia) to Gore.

who knows if this was a harebrained strategy on my part (likely!) but oh well.

I am currently a little tipsy so this may not make sense (but we think its pretty funny! don't you?)
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 01:04 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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For a second I thought Jason "no opinion until after the primaries" was really weighing in on this. :)

Personally the vote trading stuff just seemed pretty silly to me.

The Nader campaign and the green party would never endorse that because the whole message was that Gore stood for the opposite of everything the greens stood for. The job of the _campaign_ and the _party_ is to fight to win.

Now individual voters, not specifically allied to the green party or the nader campaign were welcome to simply decide to vote for Gore if they felt that was a better choice given the context in which their vote was cast. They shouldn't need to "trade" their vote. The same goes for Gore voters in "safe" states. If they really believed in Nader they should have voted for Nader regardless of whether some other person "traded" with them.

And honestly I think that is what happened. I think Nader got the highest percentages in the so called "safe" states. I think a huge number of voters voted "strategically", so I don't know what the big deal is just because the campaigns didn't endorse the strategy or just because a bunch of people didn't flock to the websites for vote trading. I didn't see Gore or the Dems endorsing the idea. I didn't see a single attempt by Gore to do ANYTHING to negotiate with the Greens or with Green voters. All I saw was a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt and misinformation, spread about Nader from Gore's campaign and his supporters.

So I don't understand why you were turned off by Greens rejecting a strategy that was also rejected by the Democrats. Or alternatively why you think green voters rejected a strategy that can't actually be measured because of the secret ballot. Maybe individuals did accept the strategy.

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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 01:08 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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You know what would have been a brilliant move by Gore, early in the campaign, if he was really serious about bringing the progressives back into the fold? He could have pledged to give key Greens positions in his Cabinet.

If Gore had promised to name Winona LaDuke as his Secretary of the Interior and Ralph Nader as his secretary of Commerce and Nader/LaDuke had accepted, I'd have voted for Gore in a heartbeat.

That's the closest thing to coalition government we're going to get in this winner-takes-all system.

That's the kind of cooperation and strategy and compromise I can appreciate.

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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:26 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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Do you mean "LaDuke"? I don't know who "Duke" is other than that klan guy.

I don't think LaDuke would ever have led the ticket. She's the type of person who would make a great Vice President because she's AWESOME when it comes to certain issues. I'd envision her working closely with the Department of Interior, the EPA, and Health and Human Services. I think Nader's spin a LOT of the enviro stuff off to her and she's run with it. She'd make a tremendous VP but she never really expressed an interest in running as the Presidential Candidate. So any hypothetical with her at the top of the ticket isn't realistic.

Bradley was just another triangulating liberal. He wouldn't run as a Green. I thought I liked him during the primary season back before I got seriously into understanding just what it was I didn't like about the Dems (I had a vague uneasy feeling but I hadn't dug deep and thought hard yet).

McCain I probably wouldn't be able to vote for. I dunno. I can't see him adopting the Green values. Surprisingly, I think he's closer to the Greens than Bradley was.

It really all depends on the candidates. I can imagine in this race that the Greens might cave and run an underqualified candidate. My level of support for the candidate the Greens run will have a lot to do with whether they fit my vision of a good candidate. I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable with the "wait and see" attitude the Greens seem to be taking right now. It's sad but all I can do for now is wait and see and in the mean time support Kucinich.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 7th, 2003 11:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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The solution to Al Qaeda can never be a military one, though. Just as there is no one to negotiate with, there is no one to attack. All we can end up doing is pissing more people off.

The way to deal with the threat of terrorism is to invesigate and deal with the whole banking situation. To have intelligence and police actions to shutdown specific known terrorist training camps (without the big shock and awe warfare regime change military overthrow stuff). To have decent sensible domestic security.

And then there's the systematic policy of global good will that will eliminate the SOURCE of terrorists. We don't need to shut down Al Qaeda if we can shut down their recruiting. Who wants to commit suicide to shut down a country that hasn't done them any harm? Pacifism isn't passive. We've got a lot of bad wounds in the world that we need to help heal. Bombs ain't gonna do that. (I'm not talking about Iraq either, I'm talking about Afghanistan.)

I'm not sure this stuff is so hard to figure out if what you REALLY intend to do is prevent terrorist attacks and get along peacefully with the world. If what you REALLY want to do is increase the US's strategic position in a world economic-political-military stage that has little to do with terrorism than it gets more convoluted.
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From:bdar
Date:December 8th, 2003 05:32 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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I agree with you completely that eliminating the source of terrorism is key, and it's something none of our leaders have been able to figure out. The War on Terrorism is being fought with the same flawed strategy as the War on Drugs--attack the supply and hope the demand goes away. And I agree that the money is a key attack point.

However, I disagree that the military must be kept out of the equation. I'm not sure what you're talking about when you say "intelligence and police actions." Most of the al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan were kept away from populated areas. I had absolutely no problem with dropping a daisy cutter on them. I don't believe in giving these guys any quarter that we could not reasonably expect ourselves. I'm not interested in a fair fight with terrorists. I don't expect that we could somehow make them surrender no matter how much money we froze. People who fight for God don't surrender to other people.

Of course Bush has managed to fuck it up. You're right that, post-Enduring Freedom, we've done little to ease the pain and suffering of the place. We've continued with the bombing campaign even though the remnants are now moving back into populated areas where innocent civilians dwell. Nine kids dead in a gunship attack meant to kill one terrorist is idiotic on several levels.

What isn't working, in terms of military, is this clumsy, heavyhanded approach that keeps inflicting innocent casualties. I'm upset with that. But an incisive, surgical, and merciless attack on the enemy itself? I'd be all for it.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:15 am (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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See, what you're talking about though is extrajudicial execution. Why does everyone who happens to be at a supposed terrorist training camp deserve to die? How many of those people are just looking for a place to get a meal? How many of those people are just impressionable kids who got in with the wrong people? How many of those people are just janitors? How many of those people might back out from an actual terrorist mission because they couldn't really stomach the real thing? Has the move to dehumanize these people been so effective that you are able to discount their lives so thouroughly?

Why don't you advocate bombing the Michigan Militia? Do you think we did the right thing at Waco, killing all those kids? Do you think we did the right thing in Philadelphia at the MOVE house, killing all those kids? Do you think we did the right thing in Chicago with the cold blooded killing of Fred Hampton at the Black Panther headquarters? Do you think we should bomb the NRA headquarters, the source of much indirect material aid for these armed groups? All of these people had guns and revolutionary rhetoric. Is that alone enough to justify extrajudicial execution?

When I speak of police actions and intelligence I mean that yah we should identify, target, and shutdown the training camps...because they are illegal. This operation should have the approval of the UN. And ultimately the strategy should be to go in get evidence about the suspected terrorists, _arrest_ them, and put them to trial in an appropriate international tribunal. They should not be held incommunicado for YEARS in international legal limbo. They should have access to legal council. They should be able to present evidence at their trial. They should be afforded basic human rights -- though they are not citizens of the US, the constitution talks about "people" not "citizens" and they are residents of the World which has a universal declaration of human rights. They should not be bombed to death on a presumption of guilt by association.

Will we shut down less training camps this way? Yes. Will we kill less terrorists this way? Yes. But we also won't punish any family's kid or parent without first proving their guilt in public beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Terrorists are no less rational than psychotic serial killers, and yet we give trials to serial killers.

I'm all for incisive and surgical...I think it's the merciless that I'm having a hard time with.
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From:bdar
Date:December 8th, 2003 05:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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Why does everyone who happens to be at a supposed terrorist training camp deserve to die? How many of those people are just looking for a place to get a meal? How many of those people are just impressionable kids who got in with the wrong people? How many of those people are just janitors? How many of those people might back out from an actual terrorist mission because they couldn't really stomach the real thing? Has the move to dehumanize these people been so effective that you are able to discount their lives so thouroughly?

Now hold on a second. These people have dehumanized themselves far more thoroughly than any of our propaganda campaigns have ever done.

We are not talking about a group of people who are using their prodigious fundraising capabilities and alleged knowledge of the holy Q'uran as a way to educate and feed their own needy people. They don't even use their money and knowledge to try and get a seat at the United Nations to plead their case. We're talking about a group who uses every penny they get towards planning and executing atrocities.

Furthermore, we're talking about a group so notoriously cagey and paranoid that you have to know somebody who knows somebody who was related to Martyr So-and-So just to be allowed to be considered for recruitment. People don't just fall into this crowd accidentally, because the sort who aren't totally committed aren't allowed in. They make a conscious decision.

I'm not advocating a massive bombing campaign against every group that speaks to revolutionary rhetoric. But these guys aren't revolutionaries. They're murderers, and they're enemy combatants, and I think your serial-killer analogy is flawed. Many of them may ha
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 08:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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I still can't buy that undereducated brainwashed angry footsoldiers of this terrorist movement are as equally culpable as the leadership. I think each different involved person probably is in at a different depth and has a different level of culpability. The leadership definitely deserves MASSIVE sanction (life imprisonment, or if you must support death then execution after trial).

I also just don't trust our military intelligence to have a handle on the reality of exactly what is going on at a given target identified as a terrorist training camp. The only way to establish trust is with an audit trail and that means public trials.

But it's clear we disagree in an irreconcilable way on this one.

I do admit that I'm not an expert on these issues. If it were actually up to me to make the calls on how to deal with this, you'd better bet I'd be talking to a lot of advisers. It's FUCKED UP, I can agree with that. All I'm certain of is that Bush is doing a POOR job of dealing with it. I don't have the answers but some part of me suspects that there's some way to handle security domestically, without waging foreign invasions, that will help prevent terrorist tragedy while not attacking the liberties of citizens.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 8th, 2003 09:32 pm (UTC)

Re: Both equally.

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I think you've hit on a critical distiction that separates recent actions from similar anti-terrorist measures that were more appropriate: the unilateral decision by the US. Recent events in Europe have made it clear that the US is not the sole target of terrorism. Requiring a consensus of several nations before lauching attacks would add some measure of due process and fact checking. Ideally, this would be a division of the UN, though even NATO would be a step up.
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From:bdar
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:55 pm (UTC)
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I would have to agree with this. I had intended to vote for Nader in 2000 (although some sort of mixup ended up with me not getting a registration card, hence I was unable to vote) in part because Illinois was a state where it would have been safe, in part because I do like the fundamental ideology of the Green Party, and in part because I agree that a challenging third party is just what this country needs (and after all, the Republicans were just a noisy bunch of rabble-rousers who weren't Democrats or Whigs up until Lincoln got elected).

Other naivete--I believed the country wasn't stupid enough to elect Bush. (And, to be fair, we weren't.)

What destroyed my empathy for Nader was his shortsighted crowing over the results of the election, especially as time went on. Because he still seems to believe that Bush=Gore, and I'm sorry, it's false. The decisions of this White House are a nightmare of executive power abuse and you can't ever convince me that Gore would have taken a monthlong vacation and ignored Gary Hart's antiterror commission in the weeks before 9/11. You can't convince me that Gore would have invaded Iraq on phony evidence and the promise of oil. You can't convince me that Gore would have been worse for the environment than Bush.

Although I like Dean, I can concede there are things about him I find less than agreeable. However, the corner that progressives are backed into requires a lightning rod for the anti-Bush sentiment and the general sense that this nation has gone off the rails. We're in a fight where we cannot, at this moment, pitch idealism. We were already in that fight in 2000, but I and several other Democrats who jumped the fence to go Green weren't aware of that.

You pitch idealism when you have the stability to move forward. We don't have that. All we currently have is the struggle not to keep sliding back.

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From:mr_ducktape
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:02 am (UTC)
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You pitch idealism when you have the stability to move forward. We don't have that.

And thus is summed up the dilemma I find myself in - caught between my desire to vote for someone progressive ... and my desire to see the worst president in our history unseated.
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From:boannan
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:36 am (UTC)
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I agree completely. I hate this dilemma. This is why, these days, I'd love to see two things happen -- the campaign for and election of more progressive/liberal candidates on a local level (city council, city attorney, etc) and a concerted national campaign to get Bush the HELL out of office that does not focus as much on the progressive/liberal agenda.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 11:07 am (UTC)
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You may very well see that kind of campaign emerge. I think a lot of people agree with you.
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From:ke_jia
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:51 pm (UTC)
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Nnng. I hate posting this. I hate taking a single sentence out of a post with tons of very carefully expressed thoughts and asking a snarky question.

...

And yet, I'm doing it. I agree with Bilal; in for a penny, in for a pound. I don't understand how voting in the Democratic primary when you have no intention (well, very ... conditional intention) of voting for the Democratic nominee in the General is supposed to encourage the Democratic party to be more to be more responsive to your concerns. It's no different than Republican voters registering to vote in Democratic primaries (because there isn't going to be anyone challenging Bush on their ticket) and throwing their choice to the candidate they believe Bush can most easily beat. Why should the Democrats take your intentions any differently?

If you're serious about making the Democratic party more responsive to the progressive cause, do that. Don't pretend that voting in the primary means anything. You said it yourself: It takes more than votes. Hell, you cut a check for Kucinich a while back, which is more than I've ever done for a political campaign.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know. There are no good choices here. But as I see it, of the three alternatives, abstaining from the Democratic primary, voting in the Democratic primary then voting Dem in the General, and voting in the Democratic primary then voting Green in the General, the latter option is the one that most perfectly resembles the ideal of pissing outdoors in a hurricane.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 7th, 2003 10:32 pm (UTC)
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I have only marginal faith in electoral politics. I'm an anarchist most of the time after all. I know my people can't win. I treat elections as an organizing opportunity.

Here's the thing. Here's why you don't have to get so bent out of shape about me. Most people aren't as radical as me. I'm a tiny percent of the population. Me and my people try our damnedest to make alliances with large moderate groups (Sierra Club, AFL/CIO, NAACP, etc, etc) with the sales pitch that the Dems are screwing them over. They either feel screwed over and get fed up and join us or they leave us in the margins and we stay small and ineffective.

Now if we aren't here at all then the moderate masses have no where to turn when they feel screwed over then everyone has to start at square one. Organizers have to build a structure to the movement so that when the masses are ready to join the movement it is there for them.

The way 2000 went down, EVERYONE who was on the fence between Gore and Nader ended up voting for Gore. Nader had up to 8% in the polls a few months before the election and when push came to shove he got 2%, so HUGE masses of Nader supporters jumped back over to Gore because Gore convinced them with his last minute appeal that voting Gore was the right thing to do. And Gore won because of it. He did a better job of courting the moderate left than the Greens did and he profitted for it. The less than 5% of us that were left over were inconsequential, we wouldn't have voted for Gore whether there was a Green party or not. We'd have voted for socialists or not voted at all or something. We're the non-swinging votes that the Dems are going to have a hard time winning.

I resisted supporting Kucinich for a long time. But the man is AWESOME. How can I not support him? Democrats have been begging me to come back to the party since 2000 and if the party if going to run Kucinich I'm totally in. I think he'd make a fine president. I'm not hurting the party. I'm bringing people into the party by campaigning for Kucinich instead of the Greens. Kucinich has distracted me from my Green mission and I bet that at least 80% of the radicals that I bring into the Democratic primary to vote for Kucinich will stay on and vote for Dean if he's in the general. Just because I am not going to vote Dem in the general doesn't mean my campaigning isn't helping the dems. Like I said, you should be glad I'm even participating in the primary process.

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From:boannan
Date:December 8th, 2003 10:33 am (UTC)
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I appreciate this view (and I'm definitely going to look into Kucinich). But as a non-radical liberal Democrat, I am going to have to agree with kei_ja -- I'm not sure why we should be happy that you're participating in the Democratic primary process if you have a fair amount of distaste for the party itself. I guess you can help show us the error of our ways by pointing votes towards the most radical candidate, which is (maybe?) good. And if you're right about bringing people in who will vote for Kucinich and then vote for Dean, again, that's something to be thankful for (and maybe a strategy that has more of an activist bent, anyway, as it organzes and brings in those who wouldn't have voted). at any rate, if will be interesting to see who comes out the winner in this packed horse race.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 11:02 am (UTC)
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Some of the stuff I elaborated on this post in my repost of this comment to my journal addresses some of what you are saying.

It isn't that I have a universal thing against the whole Democratic party. I have a thing against the principals of the leadership of the national party. I have a thing against the abandonment of the grassroots left (unions, minority groups, environmental groups, etc) as the traditional key allies of the party. I have a thing against the party's widespread support for the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, the corporate free trade regime, the expansion of the jail industrial complex, welfare reform, and the outsourcing or elimination of government programs. I give my full hearted support to those candidates and elected officials who have taken a stand on these issues but I have a very hard time finding those folks among the Democrats, especially among presidential candidates.

There are a ton of AWESOME local democrats whose elections I have worked for (and who, in a couple of cases, have gotten into office and I've supported their work in office). I'll probably end up working for Obama's campaign, I still need to learn more about that.

I guess I get confused about what makes Democrats happy. Half the democrats I talk to say "it's a big party with a lot of different ideas, you should work with us instead of against us, try to change it from within" and then folks like you and William seem to be saying "if you don't like the party, you shouldn't participate". I feel that I'm trying to walk a middle road. I won't uncritically accept what the party is doing and I will work to build an alternative to the party that I expect can not be reformed from within, but when members of the party do cool stuff I'll work with them. You can't please 'em all and all that I guess.

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From:boannan
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:40 pm (UTC)
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>Some of the stuff I elaborated on this post in my repost of this comment >to my journal addresses some of what you are saying.

***

How you know a debate's gone on for a while! :)

I think I'm a little clearer now on the fact that you disagree with the larger infrastructure of the Democratic party but don't necessarily disapprove of folks who are still somewhat invested in it. I think working to build an alternative party and working with the Democrats when their agenda meshes with yours makes sense.
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From:zarfmouse
Date:December 8th, 2003 12:57 pm (UTC)
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I was kinda scared when my attempt to showcase what I thought was simply a cute snide evaluation of the two party system turned into this huge thing...but I'm glad it did because it seems like a lot of us are coming to some understanding in record time. It took me MONTHS to come to this understanding on the notesfiles.

I was worried with all this contention and such passion behind the issues on everyone's part that feelings would be hurt among friends but it seems we're safe from that (and safer in the long run for having had the discussion because we'll understand each other more in the future).
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From:ke_jia
Date:December 8th, 2003 01:33 pm (UTC)
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"... [I]n for a penny, in for a pound." Basically. My point was not to disparage your activism, which is incredible and inspiring. Or that you shouldn't participate in the Democratic primary! I know you aren't a sabateur; the very opposite. Simply put, going halfway probably won't send the message you want heard.

Turning out first-time voters that will strongly consider contributing to Democratic campaigns with their money and/or votes; that's less susceptible to misinterpretation.
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:10 pm (UTC)
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One of the major concerns I have with the two-party system is that it blends the perceptions of individuals such that you get these generalizations of the parties. Since they are nothing more than convenient aggregations of political power, they lack the clarity and direction that would appeal to most. Of course, to be honest, I'm opposed to partisan politics on principle.

However, I recognize that the two-party system does serve to avoid divisions that could result in a second civil war by providing a natural mechanism for maintaining a roughly equal division of political power. As issues and the population evolve, the parties can shift the specifics of their general position to each cover half the (voting) population.

One such shift is underway now, and I think we are on the cusp of a major realignment. The Republicans are holding core conservative values, but still have not decided between the libertarian old guard and the new "compassionate conservatism" leadership. While they try to hold on to both elements, the Democrats are positioning themselves to pick up the side that bolts first. My guess is that the new leadership will win, making Clark or Dean the logical anchor for 2004. Either of them, with a more liberal VP, could pick up the "Rockefeller" Republicans while retaining the Democratic core. However, if the old guard reasserts itself, or if the ambivalence remains, Kerry or Gephardt can fight the good fight, probably lose, and turn the moral victory into a Congressional majority in 2006.

Overall, though, I have to say I am somewhat heartened by the Democratic slate of candidates. I find most of them to be acceptable, which may not sounds positive, but I tend to emphasize the executive element of the presidency. This means I don't need to agree with the candidate on everything; I just need to think that she has generally the right idea and will do a good job of representing the people, implementing the laws of Congress, and respecting the decisions of the Supreme Court.

I rather like Clark, because he seems to embody the principle I mention above. His "mistakes" so far seem more representative of a genuine reformer not used to the game than someone trying to fundamentally alter who they are in the public perception. However, my internal cynic has all alarms going over an opinion that is largely intuitive.

Sharpton - I just like him. Even if you disagree with his stance on gay marriage, he is the only Democrat to take a moral stance on the issue (and on the right side, IMHO). Also, I credit him with the same feeling I have for Jackson that he will follow principle over popularity and champion unpopular causes. Even though I disagree with many specifics of his positions, I genuinely feel that he would represent the people of the country.

I think I should like Dean, however, I have a natural reaction against demagogues of all political persuasions (my Jewish heritage probably has something to do with this). I find myself agreeing with him on many issues, but I have not seen more to his leadership beyond the ability to rally the anti-Bush sentiment. This makes me question his potential as a national leader. I will withhold final judgment until later in the campaign and take a closer look.

If her campaign and the media could get past the "time for a minority/woman president" message, I would be very curious to learn more about Braun. She strikes me as possibly the most effective administrator in the group (with the exception of Clark on military matters) and the allegations of corruption ring hollow to me. I am disappointed with her low polling as I would like to see more excitement about someone who exhibits a strong mix of idealism and pragmatic political awareness.

It is late - must finish later.
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From:boannan
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:46 pm (UTC)
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(posting while printing out a bunch of notes)
(dude! xymboulos! good to see you! :)

I think I'm with you on Clark. Didn't think I'd be inclined to support a former military guy, but I do feel like he's got more of an actual platform than Dean (who, I agree, is very Anti-Bush and IMHO not a whole lot else).

my husband, the staunch democrat, is gonna let God sort 'em out in the primaries before he gives it any more thought. ;)
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From:xymboulos
Date:December 7th, 2003 09:50 pm (UTC)
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Clark caught me with his sound bytes on immigration (something to the effect of "if people take the initiative to become Americans, why not let them") and gun control ("if you like assault weapons, join the army - we have them").

Ah, God bless the Chicago south-siders and their wonderful Machine.
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