[editor's note, by RenaRF] This is in response to Barack Obama's diary at Daily Kos earlier today. I was almost crying when I typed it.
Dear Senator Obama,
Thank you so much for your thoughtful post this morning. My reply to you, contained within this diary, is solely my own thoughts and impressions and is intended to provide some insight for you. I have a deep and abiding regard for your character and it is to that which I appeal.
In no way do I mean to criticize you or attack you, though the overall tone of my following response may be interpreted that way. My issues with your post are multiple, the most acute ones being related to the fact that I think you are viewing and responding to symptoms and not considering the root causes.
And so I'll begin.
I think the defining statement of your letter was this:
...win the right to appoint [judges] by recpaturing the presidency and the Senate. And I don't believe we get there by vilifying good allies, with a lifetime record of battling for progressive causes, over one vote or position.
That excerpt says two important things: First, it tells us that we simply must be focused on taking back control of the executive and legislative branches. We are in violent accord on that issue, though I will foreshadow that we disagree dramatically on what needs to be done to make that occur. Second, it immediately chastisizes those of us who have stepped up and criticized Democratic senators who voted to confirm John Roberts. I will ask you to consider this: What if the criticism you reference is really a broad metaphor for an across-the-board abandonment of progressive values on the part of Democrats? Please keep that question with you as you read this, because I would submit to you that it's not just about the Roberts nomination.
Senator, we haven't forgotten all the efforts made by Democrats on everything but the Roberts nomination. My mother raised me with a variety of truisms, one of which is particularly apt for this particular discussion: you reap what you sow. If Democrats portray weakness as a party, Democrats will be labelled and branded as weak. Coming back and gently, articulately criticizing us for actually calling the Democratic party weak reminds me a bit of a situation with my now 20-year old stepson. In going through his room, I found something which allowed me to catch him in a lie. When confronted with that lie, he was angry that I had gone through his room. He totally missed the fact that he had lied and that I had a right to be disappointed in him. The methods employed in proving the lie are irrelevant. I don't find decrying criticism from your own camp entirely dissimilar.
As I stated in a comment to your diary, the definition of insanity is doing what you've always done yet somehow expecting different results. Democrats have striven for congeniality in their approach to opposing the majority and have been repeatedly and squarely defeated in that tactic. Nowhere have I seen a cohesive and unified "calling out" of the opposition on their tactics. Coming back to common sense truisms, Senator, I would say that the only way to deal with a bully is to stand up to that bully. When the bully knows that he can intimidate you and muscle you to achieve his end goals, he will do so. Fighting back is the only thing he understands and Democrats have not been fighting back in any meaningful way against the bullying tactics of the majority party. For example:
The above list doesn't even approach being exhaustive - I'm sure what little I have provided gives you a flavor for the generalized frustration progressives across the country are experiencing. "Calling out" Democratic Senators on the issue of John Roberts is the result of an accumulated sense that the Democratic party is, at the least, ineffective and, at worst, irrelevant and obsolete. Espousing ideas that issue a call for comity further speeds the certainty of irrelevance. Our hopes and our hearts die with every capitulation - each of which is one of the 1,000 cuts that will eventually spell our death.
Ask yourself this: why is it that the vast majority of progressives who frequent Daily Kos are able to sum up the Republican party's platform in six words? Strong Military. Lower Taxes. Family Values. Yet this pool of often brilliant thinkers can't do the same for our own party. It's not because we don't agree with a platform that has been put forward - it's that the Democratic message itself is contrary and lacks unity. Don't ask us to rally around the party if you can't provide us with the words we need to issue the cry. You can't have the support if you're not willing to do the work required to put it in place.
Most importantly, we're tired of getting punched. EVERY DAY brings a new item that we hold as absolutely imperative that we find has been sacrificed on the altar of "statesmanship". It's not time to make nice with the majority party. It's the time to get angry and knock them out. They haven't hesitated to do so with us and yet we've stood there, taking it, hoping that their eventual missteps would spell their own demise.
Well it hasn't, Senator Obama. It hasn't. The Republican party has shown time and time again its resilience in the face of consequences associated with their policies and actions. They take the heat - they stick to the script and to the plan - they ride it out - and it works. It works because no one is standing over them kicking them in the face when they try to get back up. It's not enough that the Democratic party start building frames of its own (and I see precious little of that type of activity) - we have to simultaneously obliterate the frames within which the Republicans operate. Nothing short of a full assault will do and we're running out of time and influence with which to do it. I hope that it isn't already too late.
Senator Obama, I do see great promise from you. You are a skilled and inspiring orator and one of the best chances we have as we move into the future. Hence my near-hysterical reaction to your letter, a letter which seemed to me to say the same tired old things and promote the same losing tactics. More importantly, I'm dumbfounded by your lack of anger at the way you and other Democrats are simply kicked around by the Republican party. They are humiliating you while you try to straighten your tie. They're punching you in the face while you try to shake their hand. I realize that one-on-one relationships with opposing party members are not like that - but the end result is that you wind up beaten bloody and left to die while they walk away laughing.
I'm pretty moderate as far as this site goes and yet I'm ready to take to the streets and do what the Democratic party won't or cant - it's that important - and I'm frankly shocked that you don't see it.
Hope springs eternal but it IS fading, Senator. It's sad when average people are willing to be more courageous and daring than our elected leaders.
LEAD, damnit. Stop telling us why we're wrong and lead.