Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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Warning: If you are not patronizing and/or presumptuous, do not apply this to yourself.
One thing Democrats believe in is full and open discussion. They believe that for democracy to work, there has to be a process of gathering all the ideas and perspectives possible together and to forge from them policies and laws that deprive no one of freedom, equality, justice, and opportunity. Democrats adhere to the basic definition of liberalism: a belief in natural goodness of humankind and autonomy of the individual, in civil and political liberties, government by law with the consent of the governed, and protection from arbitrary authority. It also favors free intellectual inquiry and resists the imposition of dogma.
The old cliche is that sausage may be good, but you don't want to see how it's made. Democracy is often likened to sausage-making. Democrats tend to do their sausage making in the open. This complicates their political dialogues, because the kibitzers stand around making inane comments and offering incredibly stupid advice. On occasion, Democrats can be stupid enough by themselves; they don't need any help from the outside--however much more qualification and experience the kibitzers may bring to the task.
Democratic blogs of late have revealed some of the human frailties and problems that are involved in political lives. They have witnessed the breakup of a relationship with a record of accusations, recriminations, and an astounding incoherence. We have seen bloggers take down their sites because the of the climate of malevolence that incoherent and unprinicipled dialogue creates around them and their families. And we have learned of one prominent blogger taking a hiatus to deal with family matters that take priority--and Todd, as Democrats tend to be, was frank and open about the nature of those matters.
And here come the kibitzers. They offer fatuous advice on what the Democrats need to do. They trot out their inventory of platitudes and presumption, all delivered in the most patronizing of manners. No one ever told them that patronization is the most serious form of insult. Blogs need the intellectual equivalent of barf bags on airplanes for those who wander into the turbulence of their presumption.
Did it really never occur to them that
- Democrats have examined in great detail why voters have drifted into the Republican camp of late?
- Democrats accommodate people within their party whose moral codes are ethically and humanitarian based as well as faith-based, but that does not mean they don't have the same moral and religious values as others?
- There are hordes of Democrats who have labored hard in the poltical process and know the people and the issues and the political problems that face them? Workers who have as much political savvy and expertise as anyone in the other party?
- Plenty of Democrats have worked first hand on policy issues and case work for elected officials and have an authoritative grasp on the problems facing the citizens?
- People are observing, thinking, and talking about these matters from the liberal perspective?
- To give up the liberal perspective and adopt Republican values in order win elections would be for Democrats, to give up important advantages of democracy?
- That we sometimes label the other side with certain terms because they evince the doctrines that define those terms?
- That we want to be governed by those to whom we can give consent?
We realize that most punditry and blogging today is ego-based. It provides a means through which those who think their organs of intellectual procreation are so precious that they are moved to massage them in public. They constantly promote themselves as luminaries while casting dark clouds of self-service over the spectrum of ideas. And they constantly moan in orgies of self-adulation. And it never occurs to them that no one wants to be party to anyone's acts of self-gratification.
We fully believe that if internet dialogue is to be useful and productive, it must be done free from the spatters of self-inflated egos and stick as much as possible to the discussion of facts, critical ideas, and real solutions. We do not think that dirty politics is acceptable or workable because that is the way they have been done.
Yes, the Republicans have been winning. Yes, there are things we need to know and can learn from. But the issue is not to remodel the Democratic Party so that it betrays the liberal principles. Who wants to win an election by compromising away the freedom, the equality, and the justice that does not make race, creed, class, and sexual orientation a determining factor in its dispensation? Who wants to win elections by submitting to values that in the liberal view are oppressive and anti-democratic?
Over the years, we have noted that the country is dividing itself into liberal and conservative regions. Nothing rankles South Dakotans like the observation that some people find the state's political climate regressive and repressive. Their votes are cast with their feet. They move away. The question facing many Democrats is whether it is worth the fight to stay in South Dakota or if efforts in behalf of Democratic ideals are better invested elsewhere. In looking at the voter registration data in our neck of the prairie, we find this may well be the biggest issue. For people who think they can build better lives for themselves and their children by building a better democracy, mobility and finding a place that offers such a democracy is more vital than winning elections in South Dakota. And that is one of the problems Democrats are grappling with.
We wonder if the other side can offer any words of wisdom on this other than its usual: if you don't like it, leave it?
But, please, tell them to do the kibitzing in the privacy of their rooms.