Carla at Preemptive Karma
takes exception with at least part of something I posted
last week about message focus for Democratic bloggers, and I can't say that I entirely disagree with her critique. I think it's less a matter of a disagreement between us, in fact, than my own failure to clearly express my point. For instance, she interprets the post thus...
Shaun at Upper Left wants to find a way to hold lefty bloggers to a standard...
Well, not exactly.
While it's true that I used the phrase 'lefty blogosphere' in the conclusion she cites, my target was somewhat more precise in context. The intro to my post addressed the Democratic blogosphere, which overlaps with, but does not encompass, the full range of lefty bloggers. There are pacifist bloggers, anti-capitalist bloggers, anti-corporate bloggers and various others who claim, and generally deserve, the tag 'lefty,' but who are bound to be somewhat uncomfortable being identified with a Party which is not pacifist, nor anti-capitalist, nor anti-corporate, though it contains elements who might merit any of those descriptions. I do believe that those of us who identify as Democrats should be conscious of the need for some degree of message discipline, just as we expect such discipline of Democratic elected officials and Party spokespersons. Carla takes demurs, noting that...
...Shaun is wrong about having such expectations for bloggers. First of all, most bloggers aren't paid for what they do. In fact, most bloggers pay for their own domain and blog upkeep. Second, most of us have a real job outside of blogging that takes up the majority of our time (nevermind parenting and other community based activities).
She's mostly right there. After all, although this site is hosted by Blogger, I pay for the service that hosts my graphics and my internet connection. I, too, have a 'real' job and a wide range of other community based activities, political and otherwise. (All the kids are grown up now, so most of my active parenting responsibilities are behind me, but they never go away entirely, do they?) My plea for some level of partisan discipline is more a hope than an expectation, because I think for those of us who are Democrats, and who hope for Democratic electoral victories, that kind of discipline is an important part of achieving our common goals. Thus, if I implied that I was trying to "...force bloggers under these circumstances to adhere to a standard..." it seems pretty clear that what we have here is a failure to communicate. My failure.
I do think that, absent a Democratic Presidential administration, Democrats are wise to look to Congressional leadership for direction. The real burden is not on us to adhere, though, so much as it is to those leaders to provide appropriate direction. Both the House and Senate caucuses have issued agendas which are more complementary than not. It's past time for those agendas to be united into a coherent statement that can fit on a post card and disseminated through every means available, including every willing blogger.
Carla seems to find my hopes unrealistic, noting that...
The Democratic Congressional leadership can't even hold their own fractured group together and speak with a united voice that articulates the values and ideas of the left.
If we wait for the Democratic Party to speak for 'the left' I'm afraid we're never going to accomplish anything constructive at all. The 'left' is simply too broad in its makeup for anyone to speak for, especially an entity that is struggling to be electorally relevant. The Democratic Party may welcome elements of the pacifist left, or the anti-capitalist left, etc., within its ranks in pursuit of electoral or legislative goals, but those goals will always be more limited than those factions will desire.
The fact is that we can't win elections in this country in any forseeable future with a message that articulates pacifism or anti-capitalism, because most Democrats, let alone most Americans, aren't pacifists or socialits. My own Congressman, Jim McDermott, certainly ranks among the most progressive members of the House, but despite his opposition to the Iraqi war or his advocacy of single payer health care, even he doesn't articulate a pacifist or socialist position.
I'm simply suggesting that when we define what constitutes a 'real' Democrat these days, we turn to the agendas articulated by the Congressional caucuses, rather than our most fervent ideological desires, for guidance. Is there dissension on many issues dear to progressives among the Congressional D's? Sure. We are a big tent Party. At the same time, a review of the House's New Partnership
plan, or the Senate's American Promise
agenda will reveal broad agreement among our Senators and Representatives on a set of core principles that, while perhaps imperfect from a 'left' perspective, constitute real progress when compared to our current national circumstance. I think it's worthwhile for progressives to endorse that progress, and to temper their attacks on the Party and its officials while continuing to argue for even more. I think, too, that it's essential for us to keep electoral realities in mind as we articulate our arguements.
One thing on which Carla and I heartily concur is this...
I blog because I like to write. I do it for my own pleasure. It's helped me to discover and explore aspects of my own belief system...I can't imagine I'm the only one that feels this way.
Nope, you're not. I'm one, too.