aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Bush Dog a foolish analog of the Fleischer organization?
UPDATE: I’ve yet to write my definitive retort, but two weeks later I’m still steamed.
As a very liberal gay man living in John Barrow’s district - and someone who has respected you, your writing and your thinking for a long time - I think your Bush Dog initiative is wrong headed. Most ironically, I note that both you and Ari Fleischer’s “Freedom’s Watch” have targeted MY blue dog Democratic congressman, John Barrow, nicely illustrating what we’re up against here. Ari’s campaign will hurt Barrow more than yours, but what yours does is continue a destructive stereotyping abandonment of the South by the rest of the country.
Kos was most articulate on Meet the Press when he said:“We started pushing Democrats to be proud to be Democrats. This had nothing to do with being centrist or liberal or conservative. It had to do with standing tall for core progressive principles. In fact, one of the first people we, we supported was Stephanie Herseth in South Dakota, who is now a Blue Dog. Ben Chandler in, in, in Kentucky. So we, we work with, with politicians that really fit the people in their states and in their districts, and help them sort of get over this hump. [...] So it doesn’t matter who I think is liberal enough or conservative enough. I don’t make those value judgments. I don’t--I’m not there--arrogant to think that I should be making those decisions.”
The longer I live here the more liberal opportunity I see. And the more opportunity I see the more liberal failing I find. Democrats should come down here, show up, and do something positive rather than complaining that WE are holding YOU back.
Barrow won this year by the slimmest of margins after a slimy partisan redistricting plan that moved his lifelong home out of his district. Where were the national Democrats who could have helped in that fight? We liberals down here need support from outside; what we get instead is targeted from outside?
I am a gay man subject to those “socially restrictive” blue dog policies. I believe I am making a difference in the red, red, heart of my conservative rural Georgia district. I’m telling you that your campaign does not help or support my efforts. And if you succeed, the man who WILL win will be far worse.
Later i read Matt more closely, with the comments and on multiple sites. Where Ari’s group is top down and spending $15 million, Matt’s group is bottom up and volunteer-driven. But key is that what Joyner calls a “revolution to purify” is instead a call for volunteers to do research and provide profiles for criticism. Criticism with this important caveat:
Remember, this is not an attack, it’s a profile so we can get to know these people and eventually persuade them to do the right thing. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive or long, just enough to get a sense of who this person is and how they do their politics. [...]
You can defend your member, if you think the criticism is unfair. [...]
When we’re done doing these profiles, we can begin to track these members, engage in online advertising to let their constituents know their record, and/or help local activists in their districts. This is going to be a completely open process, and as votes come up this fall, we won’t hesitate to add new Bush Dogs or honorary Bush Dog titles based on political games played by leadership. I’ve had conversations with sources in the House who think that this wasn’t the fault of the Bush Dogs, even though they were the ones who voted for FISA. So fine. There’s more than enough wankery to go around. [...]
This is going to be uncomfortable for many of us. Criticizing the people we just elected, people who may even be nice to us personally, is never easy. And shifting away from raw partisanship, which was necessary from 2002-2006, towards the idea that we need good Democrats and not Bush Dog Democrats, is going to take some slight adjustments. We’re going to be told that we are jeopardizing candidates in swing districts, that we are hurting the possibility of retaining the majority. We’re going to be told we’re bad Democrats.
I wrote Matt back telling him that “I reread and reconsidered. Conversation is important. I’ll find a way to voice my concerns productively.” I’ll be following the profiles and comments about my Blue Dogs, and I’ll try to contribute to the conversation. I’ll let those dogs know I’m on their liberal side. And think twice before reacting so quickly to a Joyner post again.
Katrina as Democratic Party failure
Last week on Bill Moyers Journal, Princeton’s Melissa Harris-Lacewell explained that up until Katrina the Democratic Party and the traditional media were “quite timid” in critiquing the Bush administration for fear of being labeled unpatriotic. The bungling of Katrina opened the door to criticism, but with that opening the Democratic Party chose to go after the president on Iraq.
Democrats could have used the opportunity to stand up for New Orleans and hold our government accountable for the “urbanism, race, class, environmentalism which were the true core issues that made Katrina possible.”
Instead we know, as Mike Tidwell tells us in the same program, that “the city of New Orleans is effectively being abandoned. It really is. And we’re not doing what we know we can do to save it.”
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: If someone had looked at that coverage and instead of saying, oh, my God, look at all these refugees on the roof of their home. If someone had said look at all those Democratic voters trapped out there in the water because that’s what they are. There a bunch of Democratic voters. Then maybe the party would have thought, okay, if George Bush isn’t here every day, then we should be. We should be standing in Jackson Square every day and holding accountable. I don’t allow or accept that simply because it was a party in power, even more so therefore that the Democrats who were in local power there. Not just at the city level, but the state level and even at the national level, could have started to provide leadership.
BILL MOYERS: Are you saying that the response to Katrina on the part of the democratic party should have been we can win the election in 2008 if we exploit this?
MELISSA HARRIS-LACEWELL: No. It should have been, here, standing here at this moment is the questions of why the Democratic Party, from its own understandings of itself as a progressive liberal institution, should be able to do better. That this was a moment where you had national outrage. Where you had southerners together in solidarity from the experience that they had just had. Where you had environmentalism which is Al Gore’s central key issue, where you had urban issues coming-- all of the things that the Democrats say that they’re good at, this is the moment to provide leadership. I won’t talk-- I’m not talking about exploitation. I’m saying, you claim this is what you’re good at. Let’s see you do it. Let’s see you talk about how we build a progressive coalition of working people in the South.
Emphasis mine. I note that she emphasizes “the South” and take the opportunity to complain again that the Democratic Party bears some responsibility for our southern heritage and should be redoubling its efforts here.
After the jump, why handing out checks to Katrina victims is wrong…