This is a post about where we go next, but first I want to talk about where we were, and are.

Yesterday’s failure to sustain a filibuster is causing the punditocracy — defined as “people who make a living telling the rest of us what mood we were in 18 months ago” — to run with the story about how Dem leadership caved in to the unhinged, whackjob leftie fringe.

Dana Milbank, hardly the worst of them, characterized the grassroots effort to stop Alito as a “Democratic food fight.” “Elected Democrats and their liberal base are in one of their periodic splits between pragmatism and symbolism,” Milbank writes.

But there’s Left, and then there’s Left. Milbank’s article describes an “impeach Bush” rally in which no one wanted to hear that it ain’t gonna happen as long as the House is controlled by Republicans.

When one of the impeachment forum’s sponsors posted an item on its Web site about news coverage of the event, a reader responded that, without conservative support, “this becomes a cartoon image of the old pinko commie left, and fair game for the wingnuts at Fox.”

The lineup of speakers indeed could have been a Bill O’Reilly fantasy: Saddam Hussein’s lawyer ([Ramsey] Clark), Hugo Chavez’s friend ([Cindy] Sheehan) and the man who denied Al Gore the presidency in Florida in 2000 (Ralph Nader).

Nader, as it happens, couldn’t make it because of a death in the family. But Fox News was there — and the other speakers did not disappoint.

I respect Ramsey Clark’s decision to represent Saddam Hussein at trial, but IMO he and Nader are not part of today’s mainstream Left, and they played no part in the Netroots Uprising. And I’m afraid Sheehan has taken a wrong turn and is aligning herself with the old fringe that’s stuck in a 1970s time warp of identity politics and street theater projects and handing out fliers for the next cause du jour rally.

Frankly, I’m sick to death of that Left.

There is another Left, one that is more serious about good government than it is about making posters. And that Left is serious about winning elections. It’s also serious about building progressive coalitions that can have a real impact on making and enacting policy.

The Left Blogosphere, more than anyone else, speaks for the mainstream Left. And we are the descendants of the Progressive Era and the New Deal. The GOP wants to make us out to be the same old New Left of the 1960s, and there are plenty of people (International ANSWER, Ralph Nader, etc.) who are ready to oblige and play the role of the cartoon “pinko commie left” in front of news cameras. But IMO that’s not who we are. Not most of us, anyway.

I anticipate getting comments about how we should support other lefties instead of Bush. But though its corpse is still twitching the New Left is dead. And its baggage is holding us back. Cut it loose, I say.

It’s not 1968 any more. But note what Digby says — it’s not October 2002 any more, either.

You remember October 2002 and the Iraq war resolution. We made phone calls, sent emails, wrote letters — and the “smart” Dems, the ambitious Dems, ignored us and voted for the bleeping resolution. “The entire leadership of the party,” says Digby. The entire leadership voted for the resolution.

Yesterday was different. “Every one of them went the other way this time,” Digby writes.

Maybe it’s still calculation, but the equation has changed. John Kerry, for one, must realize that his vote in October 2002 hurt him badly in 2004. One could argue that it cost him the election. Kerry must realize that if he has any hope of another presidential nomination, he can’t do it without us. And he must realize that if he has any hope of getting elected, he can’t do it without us — the mainstream Left.

Like I said, maybe it’s calculation. But maybe the long-slumbering Winter Soldier is waking up and remembering why it was he got into politics to begin with. Jane writes,

It was a groundswell that swept me and other bloggers up and called out for direction, and somehow John Kerry heard that and he stepped into a leadership position and he gave it to us. He gave our frustrations a focus, he offered us a chance to stand up and fight regardless of the likelihood of success, and that was all we asked. He validated our efforts and he let people know that their voices were being heard in spite of the timidity gripping many of his peers.

I frankly think the passion of the netroots community surprised him. For those who want to criticize him for not acting earlier or better, I do not think he had any reason to believe that this kind of support was extant or that we would have his back. He put his neck on the line over at Kos and the Huffington Post, not knowing what was going to come back. The outpouring of gratitude that came back to him for his efforts was extremely moving.

I’m not saying I want Kerry to be the nominee, but I’m not ruling him out. Now and in the next few months we’ll find out who our real leaders are.

Digby continues,

I believe that there is finally a recognition that the Party has hit the wall. We have moved as far to the right as we can go and we have been as accommodating as we can be without thoroughly compromising our fundamental principles. Most of us are not “far left” if that means extreme policy positions. Indeed, many of us would have been seen as middle of the road not all that long ago. We are partisans and that’s a different thing all together. The leadership is recognising this.

Now, people, is the time to believe in ourselves, and to work harder. We are having an impact.

48 thoughts on “Believe

  1. I have two senators and a congressional representative who voted no on the war resolution. Both senators voted yesterday for the filibuster; they will vote no on Alito. I send them thank yous; but, after that I am at a loss of what to do next because I don’t have to spend time trying to change the minds of my elected representatives.

    Something the left needs to do is not worry about being called “this” or “that” to reach our goals. It doesn’t matter what the Democrats do, if it is what the Repugs don’t want, they WILL be called obstructionists. So, forget about the names they call us. Being an obstructionist is a title I will wear proudly if that is what it takes to win the 2006 elections.

    I supported Kerry during his entire campaign; but, he failed me. I will not support him again. He did not fight hard enough to beat down the barbarians. The Dems need someone who will be stronger and more eloquent. We need a candidate who can use the English language for us, not against us.

  2. The last couple of times I saw Kerry on TV, however, he kicked ass. Maybe there’s something about losing a presidential election that loosens people up. Compare/contrast the pre-2000 election Al Gore to the Al Gore of today, for example.

  3. All I know is that when a pendulum swings to the far end of its’ arc it will, eventually, swing back the other way. All the prosnosticating and pontificating won’t change nor influence this fact.

    Thanks for listening –

  4. “when a pendulum swings to the far end of its’ arc it will, eventually, swing back the other way”

    That’s the Tao.

  5. I rule out a Kerry candidacy despite his leadership of the Alito filibuster effort. I will never, ever forgive him for conceding the election before the votes were counted and/or disputed, recounted, etc. in Ohio. There were black ladies outside Columbus who waited on line in the rain to vote (probably for Kerry) longer than it took Kerry to concede after the polls closed. He let them and us down in a big way. He caved when we needed him most. Edwards was willing to fight, but not Kerry.

  6. I’d like a working defnitition of leftist.

    National security, military and economic, is the first concern. First, you have to protect yourself.

    Second, I believe social welfare programs are necessary along with wealth sharing in the modern nation, but also believe we need to build in motivation and opportunity for employment and education. Some capitalism is a good thing; generational transfer of massive amounts of wealth, with the creation of Paris Hiltons, is a bad thing.

    The social welfare makes me a leftist in the eyes of many, but here’s a fact I ran across yesterday:

    Israel provides universal health coverage, as well as a panoply of social welfare programs to its citizens (according to Brittanica).

    We give Israel billions of dollars a year so they can provide universal health care to its citizens. And of course Israel is the darling of the right wing these days, so welfare states can’t be all that bad, or the right wing would be complaining about it. We won’t fund various birth control measures in the third world, but we will provide universal health care for Israelis.

    As an aside, as if that didn’t piss me off enough, I read the requirements for Israeli citizenship, and off course any person of Jewish heritage is eligible for Israeli citizenship.

    In other words, Jewish Americans are guaranteed universal health coverage, if they want to enjoy it in Israel. Too bad the rest of us don’t have that option.

  7. Working definition of leftist — go to this post, but skip the first grid (which I think is wrong) and go to the second one, the Schlesinger-Poole model.

    This is very crude and could easily be misunderstood, but it makes the general point that not all “leftists” are alike. Indeed, we might disagree with each other considerably. Someone at the top of the sphere and close to the north-south axis would disagree with a Marxist at every turn, yet they’d still both be on the “left.”

  8. “The Left Blogosphere, more than anyone else, speaks for the mainstream Left.” How can we speak for people who’ve never even heard of us? Yes, our opinions may coincide with theirs or be representative of theirs, but we don’t speak for them, any more than online comics fans speak for the majority of comics readers.

  9. Re questioning Kerry’s motives–what I’m “sick to death” of is trying to discern motives. I don’t really care about motives. It’s what they do that counts. Kerry did the right thing. Good for him. We don’t become good people by having pure motives; we become good by doing good things. . . IMO.

  10. As an “Old Fringe Lefty” I resent being called dead. When there is a peace march or vigil, people see that who do not blog. Granted–the “pinko commie” meme has been branded by the press on anyone speaking out in public. And granted, marches aren’t as productive as when politicians thought public opinion was important, but if you define yourself by saying you’re not “THAT left” you’re leaving out a lot of people who work hard for local change, and have deep roots in their communities. Support your local peace group as well as blogging.

  11. Support your local peace group as well as blogging.

    I go to the occasional antiwar “event,” but most of the time rallies and protests are counterproductive and don’t change anyone’s mind. Once in a while you can make a statement with a big turnout (or if you somehow can get sympathetic press), but lots of little protests are pointless, IMO.

    Working hard for local change is an entirely different matter and was not what I was talking about when I said the New Left is dead.

  12. Our real leaders are no where to be found. I don’t hear any of the DC Democrats pre-empting Bush on Iran–not only calling for direct talks with Iran, (since we’ve never talked to them) but also arguing that the fix we’re in with regard to Iran is directly related to our going after the wrong war in Iraq and ignoring Iran.

    Now, yesterday, Wes Clark delivered “The Real State of the Union 2006” at the New America Foundation forum. It was a brilliant “review” of current problems, both domestic and international, that we are facing over the long haul. Clark has also been very vocal…and alone…in outlining Bush’s failings re: Iran and how a regional dialogue should be attempted. And he says it in the lion’s den of FOX News, too. He seems to be ignored now by the Democratic Party, which seems to want to enable Bush on attacking Iran.

    Wes Clark is a real leader, willing to say what needs to be said. It’s sad that he is being ignored, to our detriment.
    If you haven’t seen the speech, the transcript is up here:

    It is a beautifully crafted, important work.

  13. Well, WhomeverI, we can twitch together, as we’re patronized by the oh-so-pragmatic mainstream Left. More power to them in trying to move the country’s policies back to something more decent and humane. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep working on that vision thing about standing up because it’s right.

  14. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep working on that vision thing about standing up because it’s right.

    Nobody’s saying you shouldn’t stand up for what’s right, but how you do it matters. Over the years I’ve seen too many lefties bleep their own goals and alienate the rest of America with juvenile antics. And if your chief goal in standing up is to feel good about yourself, then please stay home.

    I attended the big antiwar March in Washington last September. International ANSWER hijacked the event by putting on its own show for C-SPAN while everyone else was marching against the war. So people tuning in on C-SPAN didn’t see “get out of Iraq”: they saw “Free Mumia.” This little stunt could have been a disaster for the antiwar movement, except that (fortunately) most of the TV news organizations were covering Hurricane Rita at the time.

    In July I attended what was supposed to be a silent vigil outside Rockefeller Plaza calling attention to the Downing Street memos. A couple of assholes who didn’t grasp the “silent vigil” context managed to ruin whatever effectiveness the event might have had by screaming at the passers-by.

    I was in college during the Vietnam War years and well remember the way the antiwar movement continually shot itself in the foot with stupid grandstanding (like waving North Vietnamese flags) and acts of vandalism. And it was very effective–at getting Richard Nixon re-elected. The stunts did nothing to shorten the course of the war, however.

    Street theater and rallies usually end up being feel-good stunts that are fun for the attendees but don’t change anyone’s minds. If you want to actually effect change, entirely different tactics are needed.

  15. Wow, it’s about time someone said this even if “only” on a blog.

    Yes, the anti-war left of the 1960s is exactly the kind of model for an “opposition” that anyone who is serious about re-building a Democratic majority would do well to study as a counter-example of how to reach people.

    Cindy Sheehan? I feel bad for her, I do, but she’s just another poster child the right can trot out and ridicule. How does that help things? There is such a thing as a “mainstream” and like it or not you stand too far outside of it and you’re just going to alienate people.

    I’m sure this upsets a lot of people, but it seems so obvious to me sometimes when I perform the simple thought experiment of putting on my “opposite viewpoint” hat and seeing what I would think of these demonstrations in terms of persuasiveness.

    Do wing-nuts who scream in front of abortion clinics, etc. help “their” side? I think not.

    Anyways, I think you’re spot on with this. Thanks.

    — Another moderate liberal

  16. Russ Feingold is the true heir of Paul Wellstone, and will be the ethical candidate of the reality-based electorate in 2008. Jebby Bush will be the ethically compromised, vote-suppressing Rovian. If Feingold can manage to stay alive once September polling makes it clear he’s in the lead, we can take America be back. Net activists need to help devise a way to facilitate a Feingold campaign which keeps him out of airplanes and away from unscreened crowds.

  17. However we may delineate the differences, and relative effectiveness, between the old left and the new left, I think we need to be addressing a couple of fundamental issues within ourselves; issues that have a profound effect on the efficacy of our actions politically.

    If we acknowledge that supporting or voting for “the lesser of two evils” is not necesaarily always a good thing, then can we take a good hardlook at where we draw the line on such behavior? In other words, do we vote for Dem candidate X in order to unseat Repub Y even if Dem X doesn’t support our own fundamental priniciple on a key issue, or do we choose to reject him also because a victory for him would be tantamount to rewarding the party for fielding candidates that move it “rightward”?

    Can we withold our vote on principle in such cases, even when doing so clearly favors a Repub victory? Can we accept Dem failures as necessary until we can field candidates who truly do represent our views? Can we improve our prospects by be willing to engage in less compromise rather than more compromise? I think these re important questions we tend towant to skate past.

  18. maha, JR, exactly how effective have you been at policing the left over the years? Every movement will attract people whose style and beliefs at a minimum irritate you. Probably, there will be people in the crowd that you find wrong and maybe even evil. Furthermore, the media will race like ants to sugar to what they can portray as the most outrageous. That’s why Bush restricts access to his events — to insure the best media coverage. And that’s why the DLC has urged caution! caution! caution! to all Democrats. Maybe if we’re nice and civil enough the media will tell everybody that we’re really nice, and everybody will like us, if we just figure out a way to stifle the crazy boat-rockers.

    You’re never going to get a mass movement where everybody practices a nice little understated style. Even if you did, two things would happen: 1) you’d be ignored (as opposed to those Vietnam protest crazies who did force an end to the war, though you can always argue that reform would have gone faster if people you disagree with had just behaved themselve); 2) your opponents will throw in ringers to discredit you (see the Chicago police riot in ’68, or the Seattle vandalism at the WTO meeting).

    Thank you for your un-invite to political events, but I’m not sure that feeling good about myself is my chief motive. I would hate to think that people were suffering and I didn’t try to end the suffering. Is that trying to feel good about myself? So I’ll probably drag myself to some more lefty political events. We’ll just have to put up with each other.

    Don’t get angry about all this. I’m actually having fun. I read Miss Manners every week for the entertainment value. And while I think it’s counterproductive for “moderate” and “modern” progressives to spend time seeking out the same outrageous behavior that the media does in order to recite conventional wisdom talking points about the Left who never MSM accomplished anything except civil rights legislation, end of a war, environmental protection (remember the Earth Days?), all of which could have been done so much more . . . well, politely. . . . In the meantime, happy policing!!!

  19. In other words, do we vote for Dem candidate X in order to unseat Repub Y even if Dem X doesn’t support our own fundamental priniciple on a key issue, or do we choose to reject him also because a victory for him would be tantamount to rewarding the party for fielding candidates that move it “rightward”?

    But this is exactly what the mainstream Left Blogosphere is working to correct; we’re NOT accepting the DLC Vichycrats, but working to pull the Democratic Party away from its failed rightward tactics. This is where the struggle is now, especially this year.

  20. exactly how effective have you been at policing the left over the years?

    Who said anything about “policing”? I don’t want to control the extremist leftie fringe, even if I could. I’m saying cut it loose. I’m saying they go their way, and we go ours.

    civil rights legislation, end of a war, environmental protection (remember the Earth Days?), all of which could have been done so much more . . . well, politely. . . .

    The 1960s New Left didn’t do any of those things. (On edit: OK, if you include Nader, they had some impact on environmental protection. But Nader didn’t accomplish change in environmental policy by holding rallies.) They made a lot of noise and accomplished nothing.

  21. The New Left was young.
    We had lost Martin and Bobby.
    We were burying childhood friends.
    We had pangs of guilt because we hadn’t died with them.
    Many of us couldn’t even vote.
    We had to take to bricks and bottles to make our point.
    Nixon hired Teamters to beat us up.
    Nixon sent the FBI to prosecute us.
    We convinced many that the war was wrong.
    Once the war was a Presidential campaign issue we disappeared.
    Excuse the fuck out of us.

  22. Actually, Congress did all those things. What impelled them to do so? Gee, I don’t know. Something changed between the fifties with its complacent conformism and the sixties/seventies with some impressive legislation. I saw something called the “left” pushing those things. Then I saw the legislation get passed. Then I saw a right wing determined propaganda machine turn “the Left” into traitorous crazies and “liberals” into traitorous whiners. And then all those things were undercut and rolled back. So, yeah, I think the left played a significant role in advancing the causes. You think they “made a lot of noise and accomplished nothing.”

    You can’t ever tell what would have happened if something had been different. Jesse Helms of North Carolina recently published his memoirs. During the civil rights era, he appeared to be a white supremist, big time. According to his memoirs, he really supported equal rights for everyone; he just didn’t like how civil rights were being pursued. Presumably, after 80 years, the Jim Crow laws would just have fallen spontaneously if protestors hadn’t been pushing. It was the pushing that created the resistance. Well, maybe, but I don’t buy it. I think the protests influenced the passage of the laws. I think it takes grass roots pressure to effect any measures that benefit anyone other than the elite.

    Of course, we’re probably talking at cross purposes. What was the “same old new Left of the 1960” in your post has turned into “the extremist leftie fringe” in your comments. You know, I’m not an extremist!!! No, no, I’m not on the fringe!!! Is leftie still a derogatory term? I have to admit I am that.

    Meanwhile, you don’t have to canonize Cindy Sheehan if you find her too far left or too friendly with non-establishment figures. But the right wing has been trying to discredit her since she publicly questioned the war. Let them carry their own water. Or in your own terms, cut her loose. That doesn’t mean help the right stave in her boat, push her head under, and shout loud enough to drown her out. Don’t go to her rallies, don’t support her, don’t contribute to her, but also don’t go out of your way to criticize her (unless you have a genuine disagreement on a policy that you’re working on).

    So now, cut loose myself, I drift off on my iceberg. . . .

  23. maha,

    Where you say;

    But this is exactly what the mainstream Left Blogosphere is working to correct; we’re NOT accepting the DLC Vichycrats, but working to pull the Democratic Party away from its failed rightward tactics. This is where the struggle is now, especially this year.

    I agree that this is true for much of the Left blogosphere. But what I don’t see so clearly is unambiguous, explicit acknowledgement that sometimes it’s better to lose with a bad Dem even if it means a crappy Repub wins, and that we need to more openly define the parameters by which we make those decisions to support or not support candidates in those instances.

    Is a vote for anti-abortion rights Casey in Pennsylvania worth it if it unseats the lunatic creature Santorum, even though Casey , if victorious, may pull the party further right and in doing so destroy the very same freedoms Santorum and his pals are seeking to destroy?

    I don’t see open, responsible dialog addressing this conundrum taking place. There is merit to both sides of this issue for instance, but rarely are these merits discussed together in a way designed to reach a solution on how to define the parameters best suited to both uphold the principles we hold dear and to move the party forward at the same time.

  24. nihil, most of the progress in Civil Rights was accomplished BEFORE the formation of the New Left. If anything, the New Left stopped the progress that was being made by MLK and his peaceful resistance tactics, which New Lefties thought were for wusses. Get your history straight.

    The New Left did squat to stop the Vietnam War. They take credit for stopping it, but I’m old enough to remember those days well. If anything, the New Left provided Nixon with butt cover.

    I realize you must have an emotional, vested interest in your romantic but misguided notions of how things happened, but do get over yourself and deal with it.

  25. maha,

    re; your comment #26, and the statement;

    Then open your eyes.

    I’d be interested if you have the time or inclination to direct me to any recent or ongoing discussion taking place in which the relative merits of either voting for a Dem to stop a Repub, or witholding a vote for a Dem even when doing so might be helpful to a Repub are discussed in relation to each other in a way that seems motivated by a desire to directly address the question of how we may best determine where to draw the line between these two choices in order to develop the most effective srategy to achieve our aims.

    I don’t understand the reason for what seems to me to be low-level snarkiness in your earlier reply. I’m not the enemy; I agree with virtually all of what you have said here. I’m just looking to add a useful dimension to the conversation and you seem to bridle at it.

  26. Gosh, I just can’t “Get my history straight.” I read the wikipedia link, and I didn’t see how it even argued that the “New Left did squat to stop the Vietnam War.” I lived during the time of the history (you give me too much credit; I wasn’t sufficiently misguided to have fought the good fight as I should have), I’ve read several histories, and even the article that you point me to straighten me out, and I just don’t get it straight that the left didn’t help stop the war. Ah, well, that’s what I get for being so emotional and misguided. Resolution for self: get over yourself and deal with it!!! OK, I’ll work on that.

    But I do tend to think about history (among other things) in trying to make sense of this world and figure out what I can do to make it a better place. The way to stop a movement and then to reverse it is to present its most negative aspects as the essence of the movement and then to flatter those who will recite the presentation along with them so that they abandon the movement. I’m not sure that it matters whether we see the left of the 60s and 70s in the same way — maybe truth requires that you point out to me that I should get over the past that you have created for me (Don’t worry, I’ll try!!!).

    As I noted in an earlier post, I’m having fun. You condescended in what struck me as a rather thoughtless way in your post, and I figured some slight mocking was in order. However, the desire to put down a left that I (romanticly, misguidedly, full-of-myself-ly) identify with seems to be far more important to you than the offhand way it came across. If so, I’m sorry.

    But even if we should agree that the New Left was a bad, bad thing that deserves ritual trashing to prove our bona fides for seriousness and moderation, how does that affect how we act for the future. At best, I can only say, let’s not jump down the rabbit hole of making sure that our political time is taken up with a contemporary ritual trashing of all the groups and individuals that the MSM is going to tar us with. Especially since, we then also take on the task of deciding who’s in the club. Michael Moore? Al Franken? Ramsey Clark? Ralph Nader. I’ll gladly talk about the virtues and drawbacks of all of them (being full of myself, you know). You can ignore them. Or you can individually explain what’s wrong with the one under discussion. But I have some problems with spending time deploring some generic “extremist leftie fringe.”

    Off to contemplate some romantic deluded history.

  27. I don’t understand the reason for what seems to me to be low-level snarkiness in your earlier reply,

    Because I wrote a post about how the Netroots really are pulling the Democratic Party back to the center, and you come here commenting, paragraph after whiny paragraph, complaining that the Democratic Party needs to be pulled back to the center. Please stop whining. I find it tiresome.

  28. let’s not jump down the rabbit hole of making sure that our political time is taken up with a contemporary ritual trashing of all the groups and individuals that the MSM is going to tar us with.

    And let’s not jump down the rabbit hole of believing the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Dead weight needs to be thrown overboard.

  29. To me, Ralph Nader is a hero in America for his years of singlehandedly championing, on behalf of ordinary citizens, our safety and well-being in the face of irresponsible corporation practices.. To me Ralph Nader deserves condemnation for his behavior and choices made during the 2000 election. Neither of these statements wipes out the truth of the other..

    To me, Cindy Sheehan is a heroine in America for her lonely singlehanded bravery which, more than anything else, coalesced and returned sanity to Americans’ minds about the Iraq debacle. To me, Cindy Sheehan sometimes uses poor judgment in deciding with whom to associate herself, therefore leaving herself and her message wide open for dismissal. Neither of these statements wipes out the truth of the other.

  30. I agree with most of what Maha said. It’s a question of focus and knowing who you’re talking to. The “Free Mumia” signs at an anti-war rally are the perfect symbol of this scattershot approach. Jon Stewart did a fairly long and typically perceptive bit on just this, how the speakers spent one sentence talking about the war before drifting off to their own pet causes (I exaggerate deliberately for effect, the sort of disclaimer you have to make when dealing with some issues, like Nader), most of which (Mumia mythology aside) I agreed with, but it turns into a very specific and imortant issue into an omnibus statement of every leftist principle, it loses any effectiveness.

  31. Regarding the September rally, this is the story I heard: The rally was sponsored and organized primarily by United for Peace and Justice, an organization I respect. International ANSWER demanded to be co-sponsors, or else they threatened to disrupt the march. UPJ caved. Then IA refused to agree that the march would only be about the war, as the other groups participating had agreed. So while more than 100,000 people marched around the White House against the war, IA staged its own event for C-SPAN cameras and damn near hijacked the whole event. Later in the day some roving gangs of IA members committed acts of vandalism in and around the Capitol Hill area. This was exactly the sort of thing most people who made the effort to be there did NOT want to happen.

    As I’ve said, were it not for Hurricane Rita the march could have been a disaster for the antiwar movement. Fortunately what little press coverage the event received was about the march itself, and was mostly fair.

  32. re: #17 promoting Feingold for 2008

    I was thinking along the same lines until a few incovenient facts came to my attention:
    (1) Feingold is twice divorced.
    (2) Feingold is Jewish.

    Personally, neither of these make a difference to me. Realistically they rule him out of being a contending presidential candidate.

    And, I haven’t even mentioned his senate record that we’ve seen leaves the owner (no matter what his or her philosophical leanings) vulnerable to negative campaigning.

    I’m still praying for some Dem with guts, charisma and the ability to connect with common people to emerge. Obviously, Kerry still lacks all those attributes.

  33. I see the distinctions today as being mainly between the “Rational Left” and the “Romantic Left” at least in terms of how we are portrayed in the media. I agree that there is also a new, practical, left (of which I am a member) in contradistinction to the old “new left.” I do not feel any particular affinity for the old “new left” at this point.

    In addition, I admit to not having much patience with the romantic left of the “natural birth, no caesarian section crowd” but I don’t find them to be bad people. I just don’t agree with what seems like the rejection of technology and a fetishising of of the “natural.”

    I think we on the left have been painted deliberately as being uniformly hippie-dippy-ish space cadets who don’t grasp reality. I am very firmly planted on the left but I am also a realist. (That doesn’t mean I am in the camp of the so-called “liberal Hawks”; I think they are just moderate Republicans and I don’t agree with significant portions of their viewpoint.) I personally am influenced most profoundly by the ideas coming from the Enlightenment, with a little Hegel and Marx thrown in there.

  34. Why don’t you just go ahead and join the Republican party?

    That way instead of practising this shit-to-the-left, suck-up to the right stuff you can just be yourself?

  35. I’ve been trying to wirte about this but I just don’t have the ability to do it justice. I think Digby is right. I think people are upset because they feel their identity has been attacked. I think the left needs to move away from an outside the wall fighting model to a concerned citizen model. I think the left sometimes gets confused by the legacy of the civil rights movement where the outside the wall stance was justified. It is a stance that does not carry well to other fights, since it requires a truly anti democratic ennemy to gain the support of the masses. Finally the right and far right figured out that if the left didn’t see themselves as part of the country’s institions that the right fill that space and subvert the nation from within. That’s what happened, the left dropped out of the system to fight on the streets and the liberals were replace by conservatives in the seats of power.
    You have to present yourself as a noble citizen who loves the nation in order to take back the nation from the right wing criminals and thugs. You can’t present yourself as an aggrieved victim of institutional discrimination, which was the case in the civil rights era, and win the many battles we have to win.

    I think there is an important book to be written on this subject with a title like: Letters from a Liberal to a friend on the Left.

  36. Why don’t you just go ahead and join the Republican party?

    That way instead of practising this shit-to-the-left, suck-up to the right stuff you can just be yourself?

    If someone can explain to me how anyone could have interpreted what I wrote as “shit-to-the-left, suck-up to the right” go ahead and explain it. Or should I just assume DavidByron is drunk and/or illiterate?

  37. I think the left needs to move away from an outside the wall fighting model to a concerned citizen model.

    That’s exactly right. I’ve been struck by the number of “professional protester” types in the Left who can’t grasp that we have as much right to power as anyone else. We’re not kids any more; we can sit at the grown-up table.

    Yesterday I told a guy we needed to get beyond “speaking truth to power”; we need to BE power. And this guy had no idea what I was talking about. He seemed to think I was saying we should shut up and accept the status quo. Then he went on a nostalgia trip of Great Moments in Protesting. He wasn’t interested in government, just in protesting. It’s that kind of attitude that’s holding us back.

  38. Greetings and respectful wave!

    I recommend Aldon Morris’ Origins of the Civil Rights Movement (1986). “What?? recommending a print book on the blogosphere??” Or see if your local high school or library has the “Eyes on the Prize” video series. What I remember is learning that Rosa Parks had already been part of an extensive planning effort, not a spur-of-the-moment protester. Even the impact of a genius orator like Dr. King grew out of a base, and the pillars of that base (forgive stretched metaphors) were ordinary people. The kind that always cook extra food for the church/synagogue/etc pot luck. Was that base unified under a banner of “left” or “right” or “center”? I don’t know.

    I’m too young to have seen the history (re: Vietnam) that Maha is analyzing, but I have participated in some similarly mixed-message-y recent events. And I take to heart Thich Nhat Hanh’s point (somewhere in Being Peace) that screaming at soldiers is not a very effective way to wage peace from the heart.

    But I don’t have answers.

    Some questions:

    1. How can we do anything to get more press coverage of, say, an expert-studded, burningly relevant Veterans for Common Sense press conference when on the same day there are some (were there more than two?) lovely Breasts not Bombs spokeswomen to photograph?

    2. How many times had Reagan been divorced? (that’s just for #35) Seriously, I wonder if part of our problem on the progressive side is that we work so hard to bring in everyone’s voice… leaving us with “America can do better”, which is not going to knock down swift boats full of Rovian smears. Do folks on this list like Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant?

    Thank you Maha for this forum, and extra thanks if you read this. I call the closeness of the Alito vote (second closest ever!) a win for progressives. And when I called 10 senators, I didn’t say “I’m calling from the Left”, I said, I think anyone who cares about checks and balances should be mighty worried! Dogmatism is not helpful; the reverse requires working alongside of people you might not 100% agree with.

  39. And I take to heart Thich Nhat Hanh’s point (somewhere in Being Peace) that screaming at soldiers is not a very effective way to wage peace from the heart.

    Thich Nhat Hanh is a true buddha. You may know that in the early 1960s in Vietnam, it was his monks who, protesting the Nhu regime, set fire to themselves. TNH and his monks were protesting in Vietnam before there was a protest movement here. TNH was committed to nonviolent resistance (in spite of the burning monks; I think there were only a couple of them, who did the immolation thing on their own). Martin Luther King admired him and, I understand, nominated TNH for a Nobel Peace Prize. But when the antiwar movement got going in the U.S. the Kool Kids here wouldn’t have anything to do with TNH and his group in Vietnam because they weren’t politically radical enough.

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  41. As a charter member of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), your struggle against professional protesters is one that I face every day.

    I would argue, however, that you need both, just to keep things honest. You need people working the inside games so that you can, as you put it eloquently, be power and power-brokers.

    Similarly, you need people on the outside to agitate and create the conditions for change.

    Neither is exclusionary; they can be complementary.

    Me? I’m all about sitting at the table and being power.

  42. I’m proud that Senator Kerry stood up for us on the filibuster. He went on KOS to listen to us. And he heard us. And he stood by us. He keeps his promises, thats for damn sure.

    I’m looking around to see who really has the determination and the courage to keep on fighting. And most of the Dems I see are playing it safe. Clinton, Reid and Obama totally lost my respect by their waffling and by their half-hearted “support” of the filibuster. This was a chance to stand up and be counted as DEMOCRATS. And what did they do? They slunk into the back of the room and timidly raised their hands to vote “no” on cloture. That’s crap. Give me a Barbara Boxer or a John Kerry or a Ted Kennedy, thank you.

    Gore had a better case against concession in 2000 than Kerry had in 2004, and where did Gore’s fight get him? A beard and a long vacation. I’m happy to have him back among us, but let’s face it: Al Gore wasn’t here for us for a very long time.

    As for Senator Kerry, after his concession speech, he hit the ground running. He didn’t stop for a heartbeat before going to Iraq and the Middle East to get the lay of the land. And he’s been at the forefront or deeply ensconced in all the important battles of 2005: fighting against Drilling in ANWR, for Veterans benefits, for legislation to protect small business, for health care for children, for better medicare benefits, for alternate fuel research incentives, for stimulating jobs and the economy, for a pro-active agenda against global warming, fighting to keep Social Security from being privatized and for getting us out of Iraq. He’s done more for the people suffering from the devestation wrought by Katrina than the Senators of the states directly involved! He’s fought Bolton, Roberts and Alito. And what about all the money his PAC, Keeping America’s Promise has raised for Democrats around the country? What about the tireless campaigning he did last year for fellow democrats, the majority of whom were ELECTED, in no small part because of Senator Kerry’s efforts? There isn’t one issue he hasn’t worked his ass off on since that concession.

    And if you really want to understand why Kerry conceded the election, you should think back to all the lawyers he had on staff. Okay, 500 lawyers are wrong and you are right. If Kerry only stamped his feet and protested it all would have ended differently. Yeah, right. I believe that. And what about the legal action the Kerry campaign still has pending in Ohio? Or doesn’t that count? And could it be that these suits have been pending such an awful long time because the state is filled with Republicans in positions of power? Could it be that 2006 is the year that could make or break any progress with regard to election fraud and reform? If we don’t get the Republicans out of office, we might as well pucker up to the closest Diebold machine because we’ll be married to the damn things till Hell freezes over!

    I’m just tired of listening to people whine about concession. Not a damn thing he could have done at that point in time. What do you think, Senator Kerry was afraid to contest the election? Are you trying to tell me, the guy who protested with the VVAW, was a tough Assistant District Attorney and exposed the Iran-Contra scandal was afraid to make waves? I don’t think so. Alito proves that. He hasn’t changed one iota in all these years. Clearly many supporters were devestated by the outcome of the election. Yeah, it hurts like hell. Sure I’d like to have seen JK take a baseball bat to the voting machines, in my dreams. But I’d have been horrified to see him act in any other way than he did: with logic and dogged pesistence. He’s still fighting for election and voting reform and there are still lawsuits pending in Ohio.

    I don’t know if John Kerry will run in 2008. Looking around at the party and seeing as much spinelessness and whining, I wouldn’t blame him if he wanted no part of it. There isn’t a single Democrat who can hold a candle to Senator Kerry in courage, knowledge, hard work or in determination. He will never give up or give in.

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