Friday, August 21, 2009

Don't belong to the Party of No

One of the things I've learned as a political junkie and wannabe-activist is that you can simply say No, No, No all the time. You have to offer people something to say Yes to.

In a previous essay, I took issue with some comments made by my friend PCS at Adirondack Musing blog. He promptly offered a response of his own. In it, he "asked [me] to give [him] the secret plans of how the Green Party is going to gain control of our government...."

I explained to him a little about American history; history which has repeatedly shown that organizations can have a huge influence on the direction of policy even without a majority of seats in a legislative body or none at all. In the early 20th century, the Progressive Party had a major influence in pushing progressive items, like anti-child labor laws and the health and safety labor regulations, that are now considered basic in any civilized society. They never controlled the presidency and I don't believe they ever controlled any governorship or state legislative chamber. Movements like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, NAACP, abolitionists and women's suffrage organizations weren't political parties at all.

All of these movements and parties succeeded not by crossing their fingers and wishing for the best for years upon years upon decades. They demanded not Hope but action. They succeeded by putting pressure on elected officials, without regard to party. Pressure that included threatening to withhold votes, support and money... and the willingness to follow through.

They weren't timid and meek. And most importantly, they weren't in hoc to any one particular party or individual (a key principle which the US labor movement singularly failed to learn, with results we can all see). Their responsibility was to their beliefs. As the political axiom goes, "There are no permanent allies, only permanent interests."

Politicians and parties worry about getting elected. Citizens must be more concerned with what's done once elected.

All citizens should be responsible to their beliefs, not their political party or any particular politician. The party and the candidates need to be servants, not masters.

I did point out to PCS that the first step in the Greens not-so-secret plan is to persuade people like him who clearly have sympathy with the Green agenda to actually vote for the party or, at the very least, consider it.

But none of this seemed to persuade my friend. He clearly thinks that the idea of the Greens or any other so-called third party making a difference is not pragmatic, is unrealistic.

So be it.

But in terms of how to the citizens can take back the government from the corporations, I've never heard from him or anyone else a realistic, viable alternative to real multipartyism.

So I will throw his challenge back at him.

If multipartyism is not his answer, then what is HIS illuminating secret plan to reinvigorate and render effective the progressive movement in the United States?

Any readers are invited to share their suggestions too.

Don't belong to the Party of No.


PCS said...

HE has no answer to your question just as you have no answer. What bugs me a bit is that you and I probably agree on 95% (if not more of political issues). But you would rather criticize me and Democrats rather than conservatives who would not agree with any of the 10 point Green platform. I understand that you are proud to be a contrarian, but there is something to the statement "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Unfortunately, it seems you see Republicans and conservatives as friends somehow.

PCS said...

Also, what is with the comment moderation? It's just like all the conservative blogs out there.

Brian said...

I DO have an answer. It's not a very good or satisfying answer, but to paraphrase Churchill, "It's the worst possible option, except all the others."

I have to admit, I can not fathom how anyone can read my blog as much as you and conclude that I am largely sympathetic to Republicans and conservatives.

The problem I have with Democrats is that absolutely most of them would agree IN THEORY with large parts of the Green platform.

But to me, supporting something in theory really doesn't do any good by itself.

Citizens, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, have to put pressure on their elected officials to implement that agenda they support.

And to say that I'd rather criticize Democrats (because of the occasional essay) ignores the fact that I criticize conservative positions in most of my political essays. I criticize Republicans and conservatives for the agenda they are pushing. When I criticize ordinary Democrats, it's usually because they are NOT pushing their agenda. Stuff in politics doesn't just happen out of thin air.

There's a big disconnect between ordinary Democrats (most of whom have sympathy to varying degrees for progressive ideals) and their party's leadership (which is corporate owned).

Stemming this requires pressure. It requires the holding of accountability. It requires this all the time, not just on election day. The Democratic Party leadership has been drifting to the corporate right for 20 years because of the lack of these things by rank and file members.

I don't have much sympathy for conservativism but I EXPECT conservatives to do nothing to implement the progressive agenda. They're open about what they believe and work hard to accomplish that.

I think overall you're a good person and our objectives are largely similar. I just think your approach is a hindrance to achieving those objectives. In the marketplace of ideas, there needs to be competition.

At the end of the day, what one believes is important only to the extent that it drives what ones.

The day the Democrats push hard to achieve 95 pct of the Green Party agenda is the day there ceases to be a need for the Green Party (and if you'll recall, this is how the progressive agenda was pushed and adopted in the past). If that happens, I will be the happiest person in America.

Brian said...

Your comments about pragmatism and soccer did not bother me in the least. But I have to say it did perturb me a little that you asked me a question and then immediately assumed the worst before hearing the answer.

As explained here, comment moderation is applied on this blog in order for me to control publication of comments that are either spam or potentially libelous or defamatory.

A cursory look at comment history on this blog shows that I will publish basically any comment, no matter how critical, so long as it's not potentially libelous or defamatory.

And even that is usually only when directed toward another person... people can say just about anything they want about me. I just don't want my blog used as a vehicle for anonymous smear campaigns against other people.

I find it ironic that one of the biggest criticisms of the blogosphere is that too many lies and too much defamatory stuff are out there and yet when measures are taken to prevent this, one is implicitly accused of silencing disagreeing opinions.

For the record, the only comment I've ever rejected for potential libel is one that made serious, unsubstantiated accusations about the past personal life of then-Congressional candidate Scott Murphy, a candidate who, you'll recall, I opposed.

Are these the same reasons comment moderation is done by the "all conservative blogs out there" that you lump me in with? Is it really your contention that there's not enough filth like this on the blogosphere?

I contend my policy is less like "all conservative blogs out there" and more like all the newspapers and magazines out there.

PCS said...

Your blog isn't a newspaper and your essays are posts. As for spam, honestly, is there really that much spam? I don't see it on my blog and if it happens I simply delete it. Same for the very occasional nasty comment that someone might post...just delete it. Also, let's face it, neither of our blogs get that many comments. Sorry to perturb you but I've yet to find a conservative blog that didn't moderate comments.

Brian said...

I've yet to find a conservative blog that didn't use the English alphabet. What's your point?

As for spam, I used to get more but I get virtually none since I started comment moderation.

I've published 498 comments in the last 300 posts (last year and a half) so that has to make for well over 1000 comments since I started this blog six years ago.

In those six years, I've rejected 1 (ONE) comment because of content. Not because it was merely "nasty," but because it was probably libelous and defamatory. I don't want my blog used as a vehicle for anonymous smear campaigns.

One comment in six years. In practice, you're just nitpicking about nothing.