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Communion Wafer Liberalism

By Al Schumann on Tuesday May 1, 2007 01:37 PM

What’s “support”, then? Are we permitted to steal into the election booth and shamefacedly vote for Democrats while publically condemning them and helping them lose elections by increasing the number of people who don’t vote on the theory that they’re all the same?

Maia at Alas, A Blog wrote a nice, brief history of the Civil Rights movement, which drew that comment from Amanda Marcotte, whom you may recall was eighty-sixed in a reprehensible fashion by the Edwards campaign as soon as it appeared she was bad for their brand.

I think there's a basic misunderstanding of our representative democracy in her comment. Voting is the coda to a lot of work. It's a small rite, with a bit of culturally accepted recognition of legitimacy. Legislators are salesmen who take advantage of people's time constraints, ignorance and often enough their laziness. They present them with a consumer choice. They stick to a relatively honest interpetation of that choice only to the extent needed in order to protect their "brand" -- no further, and more often than not they do so grudgingly. The electoral process selects for people who can come off as likable and have a very flexible sense of morality. They tend to be collegial to a disastrous fault. These are people who can contemplate altering the Constitution in order to remove the controversy over their pay raises, and use weasel word language to hide that intent.

So please let's have no childish, tired, fatuous playground taunts over whether they're "all the same". Belligerent stupidity is unhelpful. As with any class, different members have different outlooks and different subgroups have different approaches. These need to be studied carefully and the white collar criminals among them need to be driven out. Their useful moment in the political process, assuming your goal is to enshrine principles of liberty and justice, is modestly managerial. There are a limited number of officially sanctioned tools that can be used to hold them to their more honest consumer offerings, or to the rare things that are actually good and work towards making the country a better place.

Negative publicity, opposition research -- with the entire political class considered as the opposition -- organizing, work with NGOs and voting strategies are good tools to use. They draw no official penalties, though the penalties weaseled in and the outright criminal attacks can be pretty awful. Backbiting minimal liberalism, liberals taking out their spousal abuse syndrome woes on the left and cruise missile liberal mini-punditry are not useful. Partisan shilling for Democrats is not useful, etc . . .

Via Ms. Xeno

Comments (9)

...Belligerent stupidity is unhelpful...

But oh-so lucrative.


In some ways it would be a comfort if the lucre really matched the level of belligerent stupidity. That way, at least, the dummies would have stagger around much more slowly.

Nah. They'd just get Segways. Blue Segways.

...the penalties weaseled in and the outright criminal attacks can be pretty awful.

Which is another reason the Amandas of the world vent on blogs instead of actually doing anything, to avoid incuring said penalties.


"Negative publicity, opposition research -- with the entire political class considered as the opposition -- organizing, work with NGOs and voting strategies are good tools to use"

and the greatest of these????


Oh, c'mon, Smithee. Amanda does lots of things besides beating the drum for electing Democrats. Why, she reads about dead Socialists, and snubs live ones !! And she went to Amsterdam for free, and mere days after she got back, I met one of her new friends. A poster with a Dutch name wandered into Round 5,799,226 of the Gore/Nader post-game analysis to loftily inform me that the U.S. had (wait for it) A WINNER-TAKE-ALL SYSTEM AND THUS WOULD IT ALWAYS REMAIN !!

That's the kind of free-thinking, maverick talk that one simply HAS to go overseas on some minor party hacks' dime in order to bring back to the benighted savages ! Don't you GET IT, Smithee ?


The little perqs -- free trips, whatever -- don't really worry me all that much by themselves. I'd want to do the same thing for any activist or anyone in the public face of a political movement. Personal sacrifice is worthy of some goodies.

The narrow rationalism, the Pravda-style quoting of talking point stats, the support for anti-democratic candidates and the endless, spiteful, pointless triangulating bother me a great deal. Actually existing liberalism can't even manage proceduralism because every core value is up for opportunistic compromise. They never draw a line on anything. Christ, the bigshots can't find the moxie to stand by their least "controversial" employees. They toss them to the wingnuts without a qualm. For all their bickering and sniping, the wingnuts show a greater sense of solidarity -- especially the wingnut elite.

The little perks bother me because they are given out in exchange for keeping quiet about the big perks the donors keep all for themselves. Also, because they are just that: Luxuries given to those who, if not wealthy, are certainly more comfortable than a lot of the people they claim to be concerned about. It's not as if Edwards took a hungry, pregnant ex-petty drug offender off the street and offered her a job with his campaign.

Depends what you're organizing around, facts or fantasy. Why you're organizing, for action or activities. Who you're organizing, fighters or finessers. How your research and education was designed, revealing or reinforcing. Where you're organizing, on the street or online.

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