Underpants Gnome politics

by: Paul Rosenberg

Mon Sep 13, 2010 at 10:30


The South Park "Underpants Gnomes" had a simple business plan:
    Phase 1: Collect Underpants
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Profit

A similar sort of thinking seems to persist with many who are justifiably frustrated with the Democrat's failure to substantially break with Republican rule:

    Phase 1: Ditch Democrats
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Progressive Victory

God, I really do wish it would work.

But it won't.  It can't.  "?" is not a plan.

We've seen a recent example of such thinking in metamars' quick hit posting of a call for a "dump Obama" movement.  There's actually a history of movements to dump Democratic presidents, and they have a common core: highly unpopular wars.   Afghanistan fits the bill, we all know how frustratingly difficult it's been to get any sustained attention paid to it.  Still, things could change, right?  And then what would happen?  In 1952, Senator Estes Kefauver challenged Harry Truman in New Hampshire (beating him 55-45), and in 1968, Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged LBJ in New Hampshire, (holding him under 50%, losing by just 42-49).  Both times the incumbent withdrew.  Both times the challenger did not win the Democratic nomination.  Both times the Republicans won the general election--and were easily re-elected four years later.  What would make this time different?  What would be Phase 2, if Obama actually were forced out of the race?   The Underpants Gnomes have no idea.  And frankly, they don't even seem interested.  Their goal is getting rid of Obama.  Winning the general election isn't even on their radar, except as something to reject:

5)  The argument that our primary concern must be to prevent a Republican takeover is bankrupt and worse, a public menace.

But perhaps what's most frustrating about this proposal is that it actually makes the original Underpants Gnomes look good.  Just take a look at these two points Metamars advanced:

Paul Rosenberg :: Underpants Gnome politics

(3)  Dump Obama gives the left (broadly defined) a bully pulpit not readily available elsewhere, an opportunity to focus a wide array of political forces -- populist, progressive, radical -- that would normally not be able to work together....

(6)  The key concept at this point is building a movement, not coming to agreement on a candidate or specific organizational vehicle (timing is everything).

In short, this is a proposal to build a movement to dump Obama, on the premise that such a movement will give the left "an opportunity to focus a wide array of political forces -- populist, progressive, radical -- that would normally not be able to work together."  Of course this is just ludicrous.  Blacks and labor would never join in in any significant numbers.  But if it were true, then just think what this says:  No, we can't organize cohesively against Wall Street, which would help us build a foundation for reorienting the economy, and restructuring political discourse, but we can organize cohesively against a Democratic president, creating even deeper and even more bitter divisions among those outside the GOP base.

In short, the Underpants Gnome strategy would be:

    Phase 1: Ditch Obama
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Progressive Victory

But this strategy is:

    Phase 1: Ditch Obama
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Conservative Victory

To be fair, it's a lot more likely to succeed.  But that's precisely what's wrong with it.

Of course, Metamars has a long Underpants Gnome history:

    Phase 1: Unite with Tea Party
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Progressive Victory

So perhaps this latest is none too surprising, even if it does represent a further devolution.

There are others, however, who have not been so delusional, who are nonetheless showing signs of potentially starting to succumb. .  We saw hints of this in response to Mike's weekend diary, "The emerging strategy". To be frank, most--if not virtually all--of what was said had merit.  Heck, much of it I've said myself.  My expectations for Obama were a good deal lower than most, and even so I've been bitterly disappointed.

But what I found potentially problematic was the assumption of our own powerlessness, which I see at the root of the impulse that would lead folks to embrace a "plan" with a big fat question mark at its core.  That was highlighted in this interaction:

1 and 3 are good

I've been begging for that kind of thing for years. I don't know how plausible they are given the actual records of Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

The anti-extremism thing might work, but it's poison. Boehner or someone like that just called Obama an extremist and demanded that he return to the center. If progressives could gain control of the definition of "extremist", that would be a victory. But otherwise the anti-extremism angle belongs to Lieberdems.  

by: John Emerson @ Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 10:25:13 AM CDT


    Tricky

    I agree it is tricky defining a term when everyone else is tyrying to do it, but I also don't think we should leave the playing field to the other side. The advantage we have is that voters actually do think stuff like eliminating Social Security, Medicare, and the minumum wage is extreme.

    by: Mike Lux @ Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 12:50:40 PM CDT

      Right, but which party is looking to loot SS in December?

      Hint, it's the party in power. It's coming from THIS White House and current Dem leadership in congress.

      This is what you don't seem to get. It was Barack Hoover Obama that appointed both Bowles and Simpson to the Catfood Commission, and no one else.

      If they go ahead with this, the Democratic Party can look forward to being destroyed in short order. Yet, we're supposed to suck it up and go to bat for these weasels? Please explain how that makes any sense to a person who isn't a masochist....

      by: Emocrat @ Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 14:01:48 PM CDT

Now, I've expressed sentiments very similar to Emocrat's in the past, and I stand by them still.  But what Emocrat is not focused on is:

    (1) How massive Democratic losses in November will make a Democratic collapse on Social Security and Medicare much more likely--and more likely to be more drastic.

    (2) How adoption of this strategy could help stiffen Dems' backbones and empower activists to hold their feet to the fire.

If we simply assume that we are powerless, then what Emocrat is saying is perfectly reasonable  in this context... and it leads pretty quickly either to total despair, or into Underpants Gnome territory.  But if we do not assume that we are powerless, then (2) leads us to start thinking what else we can to that can strengthen our hands as progressive activists, and strengthen Dems' backbones when the time comes.  Perhaps our own sort of "Contract With America" that binds Dem signatories to strengthen, not cut, Social Security and Medicare, among a handful of other key items.  

This is what I found so valuable about Mike's diary: It provided a framework for winning a progressive victory in November, which could lead to making Democrats more progressive afterward, even in the face of adversity.  Of course nothing is guaranteed. Of course it will still require a lot of hard work, as well as some luck.  But it points a way forward.  It points a way out of despair.  And it provides a viable alternative to the Underpants Gnomes.

Creating fundamental change in American politics is very hard.  History makes that very clear.  But others have had things much harder than we do today.  That's one reason why I always count Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser and the other leaders of slave rebellions at the top of my list of American heroes.  No one faced greater odds than they did.  No one faced more certain death if they failed. And yet, in the end, they did succeed, though it took generations to do so.  They changed history in ways that were unimaginable at the time of their actions.  And if they could do that against such overwhelming odds, then who are we to quit now in despair?  

Or to throw in our lots with the Underpants Gnomes?


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Hoppy opens umbrella, holds it high. (4.00 / 2)

I feel for the people who love the sound of breaking glass, I really do, the condition we are in feels awful, so why not do things that feel good, its cathartic. Its also pointless, unfortunately.

In fact it reminds me a lot of the 'black blockists' who argue for random violence at public demonstrations. And its just as useful. It allows for the people we oppose to get more powerful, it destroys any chance of coalitions, it removes what little power we have.

But here's a lovely tume for all the I'm-angry-and- don't-know-how-to-help- maybe-its-all-hopeless- so-lets-smash-things crowd.



--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


speaking of that crowd... (4.00 / 4)

And here's the accompanying three-part essay at beyondthechoir.org, which gets at some of the group psychology issues of underpants gnomes:

What Prevents Radicals from Acting Strategically?

  1. Ritual & Engagement
  2. Encapsulation
  3. The Story of the Righteous Few


BeyondtheChoir.org | strategy, analysis, and tools for progressive change

[ Parent ]
Well, and where's "how to become friends with radicals?" (4.00 / 1)
That woulkd be good to know more about now, too, since the Dems can't effring AFFORD to lose ANY vote on their left in this crucial election! And what Paul and some others do here isn'tn helpful at all. Hey, want another Nader run in 2012? Just go on with alienating progressives to the left of you!

[ Parent ]
Hm. (4.00 / 1)
Not sure who you're accusing of alienating people on the left.  If you mean the Obama administration and the Blue Dogs, then I heartily agree with your idea for a video - though I'd probably call it, "How NOT to alienate your base."

I don't think you're accusing ME of alienating progressives to the left of me - because I don't know of any.  Unless you're insinuating that when people do extreme tactics without any plan or strategy that that somehow equals being further to my left.  But I'm really not sure what you're saying here, or precisely what you're accusing "Paul and some others" of doing that "isn'tn helpful at all."

BeyondtheChoir.org | strategy, analysis, and tools for progressive change


[ Parent ]
No, I didn't mean you! (0.00 / 0)
I just wanted to point out that picking on the flaws of radical progressives isn't that helpful now, either. And that was more directed at Paul than at you. Sry for the misunderstanding.

[ Parent ]
Extreme tactics? (4.00 / 4)
How revealing that is.  Running a challenge in the Democratic primaries is "extreme tactics."  My lord, what have we come to?  I was around in the 60's.  Dump Johnson was the RIGHT WING of the movement.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
You were "around in the 60's"? (4.00 / 1)
Oops. I now recognize I have misinterpreted your pseudonym jeffroby88 all of the time!
:D

[ Parent ]
I guess, then, that 88 is simply a lucky number. (0.00 / 0)
I heard it's especially popular among the Chinese. Sadly, among German neonazis, too, along with the 18. Just count the letters in the alphabet...

So, just as a tip, better not use that when commenting on German sites, ok?


[ Parent ]
actually i wasn't talking about primaries as extreme... (0.00 / 0)
I was referring to content in the video I posted.

But I do think that running a primary in this moment does qualify as acting without a viable plan or strategy.

BeyondtheChoir.org | strategy, analysis, and tools for progressive change


[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 2)
I had a brainfart whereby when I first read Paul's post, I thought he was talking about a third-party but in fact he--and we--are talking about merely a challenge from within the party.

Paul would oppose a challenge? Even if, say, a Congresswoman the race as antiwar, singlepayer, anti-Wall Street candidate, Paul would oppose her and support Obama?

Judging by his post, I'd have to conclude that Paul would not merely oppose her, but criticize her for entering.

Paul, help me out here. I don't understand.

I say: more democracy, not less.  


[ Parent ]
"more democracy, not less" (4.00 / 1)
Reminds me of the slogan of hugely popular Social Democrat Willy Brandt in the 60s:
"Mehr Demokratie wagen!" - 'Dare more democracy!'
He became the first German chancellor to visit communist Poland and to apologize for German war crimes. That was change, and created hope!

[ Parent ]
Good post, Paul. (4.00 / 4)
In the long run, a LBJ relection rather than a Nixon victory (or even a Humphrey victory) would have made a huge difference and created a humane society.  

Creating fundamental change in American politics is very hard.

We're always between a rock and a hard place, but there are better and worse ways to navigate the small space we ahve in which to operate.

I agree with you and Mike Lux in general strategy.


A mean a "more humane" society. (0.00 / 0)
It goes back to 68.  I was 13 then.  

[ Parent ]
Interestingly (4.00 / 6)
I supported Martin Luther in '68--even though he refused to run, and I was too young to vote.  And if there were a King-like figure today, I might support them still, since the presence of a genuine, proven alternative figure could create a viable possibility beyond the scope of the analysis presented here.  But we don't have that now, and we need to deal with the reality we have, and not the one we wished we had.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I was 13 then and "rooted" (4.00 / 1)
for RFK and then, eventually, Humphery over Nixon.

We don't even have a Humphery now.

Real change begins with a realistic view of the power of progressives and right now, we are so weak.  A centrist, Obama, seems to be the limits of our possibilities, and he is portrayed as far left.  

But we don't have that now, and we need to deal with the reality we have, and not the one we wished we had.



[ Parent ]
So people were wrong to support (4.00 / 2)
McCarthy and Kennedy?

And Tom, I can't take anything you say on this topic seriously given that you spend most of your blogging life at Daily Kos defending Obama.

Please don't make me go fetch the comments; they would only embarrass you.  


[ Parent ]
Thanks for the insult, David. (4.00 / 1)
Rather chidish.  

I'm speaking about what happened.  Until we look realistically at what happened, we cannot ever win.
The reality is that we have lost ground since 1968.
Who knows whether people were right or wrong there.  I was 13 and I doubt you were born.  I had views far to the left of RFK and Gene McCarthy in 1972, when I was 17.  Big fucking deal.

 


[ Parent ]
Hi Tom, I was 20 in '68 (4.00 / 1)
I strongly believe that historical reference can shed light, but does not constitute proof of anything.  One can take 68 as vindication because of the war, or disaster because of Nixon.  Might as well argue about today's situation and save time.

But you are absolutely right about us losing ground since 1968.  Problem was that the left had nothing to consolidate around.  So focused (overall) on U.S. out of Vietnam that it couldn't survive the U.S. getting out of Vietnam.  The McGovern campaign became the big umbrella.

The left's underlying premise (though largely unconscious) was that capitalism would keep expanding, and there was an ever bigger pie we could keep fighting over.  But in the 70's, the pie started shrinking and the old rules no longer applied.

So I suppose we disagree about what needs to be done today.  As someone who was wild in the streets in 1969, I do find it amusing at how a primary challenge in 2012 is reacted to as so radical.  My god, Dump Johnson was the right wing of the movement in 1968.

The question, as I see it, is how can the left get some ground under its feet so that it can fight for what it wants.  Paul has one notion, I have another, for accomplishing the same thing.  Both are gambles.  The answer to Dump Obama isn't to denounce denounce Dump Obama.  The answer is to build that left infrastructure that Paul CALLS for.

But the question then is how to do so is how to, in a sense, find some tiny patch of solid ground amidst the quicksand we stand in that has led us to our current mess.  I think an extreme wrenching is required.  How's that for deep analysis?

Or as Chairman Archimedes said, "Give me a place to stand and I can move the world."

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
A bad mix of apples and oranges, Paul. (4.00 / 2)
Sry, but I think there's much in this diary that is plain wrong. Most importantly, Metamars talks about replacing Obama (a very desirable goal, imho, and your two counterexamples don't substantiate a rule that this shouldn't be possible) while Mike focusses on the elections for Congress. 2012 and 2010, that's apples and oranges, and you simply ignore the difference. That major fault makes your whole post quite useless, so I won't go into further details. I'm too pissed off now anyway.

Btw, since you chose to attack regular OpenLeft commenters in a front page diary, pls don't forget the longheld OL tradition that they are entitled now to respond with a front page diary of their own!  


Just one more point (4.00 / 1)
WHAT ABOUT RFK IN '68???
Really, imho it borders to dishonesty to conveniently forget to mention the candidate who would have won BOTH the primary AND the general election and thus would have ruined your attempt to create a general rule based on just two incidents!

[ Parent ]
So Who Is RFK Today??? (4.00 / 3)
I could have gone into much more detail, but it would have been more of a distraction than an enlightenment.  Two points about him, though, since you bring him up:

(1) RFK was not going to run.  Anti-war activists approached him and he turned them down.  It was only after they drafted McCarthy & McCarthy held Johnson under 50% that RFK jumped in.  This does not bode well for recruiting any viable challenger, even such a figure did exist.

(2) The main reason RKF was more viable than Kefauver was as a challenger was because of the unexpected growing power of the primaries, which were not yet carefully gamed out by party operatives.  Now, in contrast, Obama has the most savvy primary operatives evah on his team.  RFK today wouldn't stand a chance.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Let me get this straight (4.00 / 4)
You oppose not only third-partyism but a challenge to Obama during the primary?

Is that correct?

If a credible antiwar, anti-corporate somebody decided to run, you would support Obama and oppose him or her?  


[ Parent ]
No (0.00 / 0)
I don't necessarily oppose a primary challenge.  I do oppose Underpants Gnome politics, which the plan as presented generically represents.

(As noted above, it's:

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Conservative Victory

not:

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Progressive Victory
)

What I am interested in is building long-term progressive hegemonic infrastructure.  If someone comes up with a plan to challenge Obama that does that better than anything else out there, then I would support it.

What's so hard to understand about that?

But you have to realize that with unions and blacks virtually guaranteed to not join in, the odds against this happening are necessarily quite long.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Actually, it's a little hard to understand. (4.00 / 5)
I agree that no one's going to beat Obama in a primary. Just can't happen.

But if a credible liberal entered the race, I would support him or her. I don't care how much her or his candidacy would create progressive infrastructure (and surely without support from progressives, it wouldn't amount to much. Chicken and egg kind of thing) I simply couldn't bring myself to vote for Obama over a liberal challenger, assuming that the liberal challenger were sane and moderately smart and generally not-ridiculous.

You would support Obama over a challenger unless that challenger what?  


[ Parent ]
Voting Is One Thing (4.00 / 2)
But I wouldn't pour hard work into an effort that had no commitment to building something that would last beyond the election cycle.  Heck, Robertson did it 22 years ago.  How long does it take us to catch on?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Okay, I got it, I think (4.00 / 2)
You have no problem with, and might yourself support, a primary challenge to Obama but don't think it's a vehicle for creating progressive change (unless, for some surprising reason, it is.)

2 points.

1) It's a fine, coherent position in theory, but in practice...say a progressive antiwar challenger gets even a little traction in Iowa. I don't know how anyone could credibly argue that it wouldn't be better for a progressive if a progressive challenger did better. Thus, I suspect that you would be supporting that challenger and writing posts to support him or her, and at that point there would little if any daylight between your position and that of Metamars. Indeed, Metamars wouldn't be wrong to feel good about having supported that challenge from the outset.

2) Whether something lasts beyond the election cycle isn't necessarily up to the candidate. The candidate's supporters could create an organization or movement. You're often arguing that such and such depends on what happens after, well, whether a primary challenge results in something meaningful would depends on what happens after.  


[ Parent ]
Bottom Line: I Want Sound Reasons For What I Do (0.00 / 0)
So sue me, already!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
When having to act under the handicap of uncertainty... (0.00 / 0)
...to wait for sound reasons to show up may be the worst tactic of all! If the house is on fire, and you don't know the best route to escape, wasting time with considering all the pros and cons certainly isn't a god idea. Better to jump through the window, even if this results in cuts and bruises, than to suffucate and burn!

I'm not advocating to act blindly, without taking the facts into account, of course. But it's a well established rule in strategy that there will always be a certain level of uncertainty, and that it's often more important to act at the right time than to wait for more clarity. And now look at what we're doung here: The burning issue is the November elections. There is no time to lose for engaging in that fight and supporting the forces of good. The deadline is known, there's so much at odds, and the clock is ticking. But here we are discussing if a move to unseat Obama in 2012 is a good idea or not! Instead of coping with the urgent problem at hand where we can't wait for more clarity and "sound reason", we focus on another issue where we can afford to wait for more facts to turn up. Idiotic, isn't it?


[ Parent ]
What about "si, se puende", David? (0.00 / 0)
What about "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself"? "Just can't happen" is pure defeatism, and it isn't even true. Ok, the odds may be long,  but with hard work and some luck mankind did accomplish much more difficult tasks. And lets not forget that time goes on and things are moving.
What looks like impossible now may be viewed as an almost inevitable outcome in six months or so. Just look at the incredibky shrinking popularity of the president! It's much more likely that this trend cpontinues than that there will be a turnaround, because we allready know that Obama's centrism and idiotic "postpartisanship" isn't the right answer to the demands of this crisis. That guy won't change, but more and more people will want a change of leadership!

So, pls don't say "it can't be done". We don't know that. Let's instead concentrate on November now, and reevaluate the chances after this battle.


[ Parent ]
You're lapsing into overt dishonesty here (4.00 / 1)
My position is that we have to build something to the left of Obama by challenging Obama.  That is the goal.  Where that goes long-term, that's another discussion.

What I've clearly articulated is that we need to build a progressive movement, and not be cowed by the question of whether or not it leads to Republican victory.

Now you can argue in good faith that Dump Obama would inevitably lead to Conservative victory.  We could quarrel over what is meant by "conservative victory" even, given the conservative victories we've suffered in the healthcare fight, the war on terror, you know the litany.

But to say that that is our goal is simply false.  I wrote the paper.  I know what MY goal is.  I don't speak for everybody, but then neither do you, so I will not brand you in with the hacks at Daily Kos who are in full raving mode these days.  It's called respect.  And my respect for you has gone up considerably because you are having this discussion.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Dump Neo-Liberals Movement (4.00 / 4)
Don't make this about Obama.  Use Obama as an example and the primary as an opportunity, but making this about Obama is a bad idea.  It isn't even correct.

Label the movement "Dump Neo-Liberals".  People will see and hear that instead of just one guy.  Take race and the Tea Party out of it.  Get people thinking about what a neo-liberal is and why progressives are better.  Make them think about the difference.

There is a movement you can build upon.


[ Parent ]
People don't do nuances, Mark. (0.00 / 0)
And Obama stands for what is wrong, and is the single most powerful Dem standing in the way of better politics. People can understand that. And it's better to stomp for a simple goal, with a simple message, than to be overly correct and confuse folks with the complexity of the issue.

But it seems to me that you real point is that you simplky don't belive that Obama can be unseated. Well, sure the odds are long now, but they are improving. And I don't see how you want to achieve anything by ignoring the (blue painted) elephant in the room? Without engagfing Obama, how do you want tpo improve things? By getting rid of all DINO Senators? That's not only even more unlikely, that's really impossible, We simply don't have the time, and progressives didn't even manage to get rid of the incumbents who are up for reelection now. So, what? What is your plan? "In god we trust"???


[ Parent ]
I don't think we've got an RFK. (4.00 / 1)
The progressive movement today is more dispersed in that there is no single figure out there who is the standard-bearer.  But, if we can get past the need for a single, unifying, charismatic figure to lead us (since the most recent one didn't turn out so well), then perhaps we can still implement successful strategies to achieve progressive policy goals.  

[ Parent ]
Right. But those achievements will be limited. (4.00 / 3)
Let's face it, with the effing president actively working AGAINST progressive goals, the chances for victories are low! That's why it would be great to find a popular, and more progressive challenger for 2012. Because under the current conditions the chnces for progresive legislation are low. So, those conditions have to be changed!  

[ Parent ]
Not At All (0.00 / 0)
Replace Obama with what?  And how?

That's the

Phase 2: ?

In the Underpants Gnome plan here.  And you haven't done anything to dispute that.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Actually, I see the flaws in Metamars idea, too. (0.00 / 0)
And those should have been discussed in a calm, respectful way, which doesn't bring up some OL commenters against others, and which centers on drving this in a positive direction. I probably would have taken up a position between you two on on this. But in this controversial diary you painted a good progressive, even if sometimes misguided, regular commenter here as an "underpants gnome". I don't think this way of ridiculing our own folks in a discussion about strategy is helpful at all! And I can't support this at all. Sry, but this really pisses me off. And I will take a break now and not go any further since this crap isn't good for my blood pressure.

[ Parent ]
I've Done That Already, Gray, On Many Occassions (4.00 / 1)
The positive alternative is para-party building--creating progressive infrastructure independent of the party, that is nonetheless party-like in that it creates a coherent multi-issue power base and generator of ideas from the tactical to the visionary.

That's a lot of hard work.  And metamars prefers glitzy short-cuts instead.  Except they don't actually lead anywhere.  Or, at least, anywhere positive. And that needs to be pointed out as forcefully and clearly as possible.

Hence this diary.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
And what did you achieve? (0.00 / 0)
Do you think you convinced any of those rebels with your attack piece? Don't fool yourself! If you don't have a real good strategy to offer (and, sry, no, I don't think what has been proposed yet is "real good") you better should have ignored the ranting.

[ Parent ]
Ignoring Rants Is ALWAYS Dangerous (0.00 / 0)
When things get grim, ranters will draw an audience.  Look at the ranters against Park51.

So evey once in a while, it's both healthy and necessary to rant back.

Then I can go back to work on the much duller work of a much more realistic (2), which the Underpants Gnomes despise.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I am firm, you are obstinate ... (4.00 / 1)
I rant while you engage in reasoned discourse.  I see.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
While Paul has insulted me more than once in times past (4.00 / 3)
and in a manner I sometimes found to be delusionary or fanatical, I frankly found the underpants gnome thing so funny, I think it was well worth the entertainment value!

BTW, "Dump Obama" is not "my" idea - I'm enthusiastic about "Dump Obama", but it was Jeff Roby who drew attention to the notion. I actually argued for an "Operation Expose Obama", with a "Dump Obama" phase in about 8 months.

However, there is a parsimonious aspect to "Dump Obama" that is hard to beat. As Jeff says, it fits well on a bumper sticker. Also, it's sort of obvious from comments at firedoglake (well, I think it is) that "Dump Obama" has the power to fire up the imagination of disgusted lefties, in a way that "Operation Expose Obama" does not.

From my perspective (as an independent), despite some lefty luminaries such as Chris Hedges, the Left has exhibited a massive FAILURE to exert any real pressure on Obama. They, collectively, bear a good deal of the blame for Obama's failed presidency. Special dismay (I wanted to write "disgust") is due to anybody who argued about "making him do it", but utterly failed to make even a serious attempt to do so.

Paul admires Martin Luther King, but can you imagine what Martin Luther King would say about Obama? About lefties that found out that Obama betrayed them, and was a corporatist, war-making, facile liar, but basically let him get away with that? Are these the sort of lefties that would have marched with MLK, and faced down snarling dogs?

I think MLK would speak out loud and clear, and not sacrifice his opportunities for moral suasian due to concerns about hegemonic institutions. (And who would be the authority about how those institutions should unfold? Pat Robertson? Be careful what you wish for...) Paul is quite right not to appreciate electoral flashes in the pan, but here is where I think he is making a HUGE error. In Jeff Roby's case, from everything I know about him, and also from what he has written on the subject of Dump Obama, it's clear that he is trying to push politics in a certain direction, and a Dump Obama movement is not any sort of desperate measure, but rather an opportunity which is presenting itself to us now, but that can and should be part of building something more long-lasting.

Why else would Jeff have written

I want the progressive movement to grow (4.00 / 8)
I won't be bound by the dictates of the either/or choices they try to present us with.
I think we need to start talking about Dumping Obama.  Primary him in 2012.  Run independent in 2012.  That's not the same as wanting the Republicans to win.

If denouncing Muslims would keep the Democrats in power, should we do it?

If invading Iran would secure Obama's re-election, should we do it?

I refuse to work within that framework.  We need to fight for what's right.  If we don't, then we get what's wrong FOREVER.

Calling on the Democrats to fight back without an OR ELSE is completely impotent.  We need to start talking about Dumping Obama NOW.  You've talked about waging the class war to the point of scaring them.  If we can't go this far, we're never going to even scare a mouse.

(As for myself, I have actually recently written a 70 page document on democratic infrastructure. While I didn't anticipate a Dump Obama movement, I certainly did mention 'guerilla voter groups'. I fail to see any contradiction, per se, with a developed democratic infrastructure, though bear in mind that most of what I wrote about doesn't exist, yet! If it did, then efforts such as Dump Obama could probably be pursued more "scientifically", let's say. )

So, there's no serious argument to be made that either Jeff or I think only of the short term. This is just plain false. Whether or not either of our thoughts for how to bring about substantial change is valid, is a different discussion.

If there was a nascent MLK II amongst us, reading this diary, and these comments, who ideas would more likely inspire this hypothetical MLK II to take that leap into human history? Paul's or Jeff's?

Perhaps Jeff is more in tune with the psyche of activists, while Paul is more of a nuts and bolts thinker.  

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
" "Dump Obama" has the power to fire up the imagination of disgusted lefties" (4.00 / 2)
To get some sense of objective feedback, I posted a poll at a diary of mine called Open Question: What Points should a DUMP OBAMA Manifesto make? Me: CALL FOR LEADERS WITH BACKBONE, which actually preceeded Jeff's 'official' diary on the Dump Obama idea. (Unfortunately, as it turned out.)

The poll question is:

Would you support a DUMP OBAMA movement?

9/10 respondents chose "yes". We can't conclude anything from such a small sample size, but I'd say that this is an encouraging result, in terms of the power of the "Dump Obama" meme to gain adherents.

From a purely marketing perspective, (i.e., it's ability to demand attention) it seems to me to be on the brilliant side.

Time will tell...

435 Dem Primaries 2012
Coffee Party Usa
TheRealNews.Com


[ Parent ]
Well, imho Paul is more of a "nuts and bolts" theoretician. (0.00 / 0)
Too high a focus on the details of metal works and the wide field of history and science, but too short on practical advice a DIY guy can use to fasten an engine to his boat. And I'm quite sure that a real, down to earth political analyst would come up with more compelling answers to the hopelessness and devastation of the (open)left. Overly complicated plans, which depend on too many condititions to be met by indifferent powers (like the effing centrist Dem party) not only are very likely to fail, but also fall short when it comes to reviving the fighting spirit of our folks and to directing them towards a target. I'm quite sure that Chris would have handled this situation differently, and I miss his advice.

What progressives need now is leadership that shows a clear and reasonable course to follow, and which also meets the emotional demands of the community. A guy like Bill Clinton (but, of course, more to the left) who understands that you can't cope with a crisis in an academic way. Just imagine what would have happened if a Prof would have led Britain after Duncirque, instead of ole hellraiser Winston Churchill! That nation would have fallen into despair, and never found the energy to keep on fighting against all odds. That's the situation we're in now, imho.

The energy is still there, showing in an increasing unrest among folks like Jeff, who want to react on the crisis with determined, strong action. That's power that has to be applied on a lever to move things into the right direction, it shouldn't be wasted by shutting the engine down! So, we need a leader like MLK, Cesar Chavez, FDR or Winston Churchill to put that power to good use and to get things moving again. Who defines the big goal, and sends people in te right direction. And who doesn't sink down to hand wringing, risk avoidance, inner party fighting and all the other mistakes that result in severe underachieving. I don't think Jeff is such a leader, but I'm sure Paul isn't it, either. Chris, were are you?


[ Parent ]
As one of those being "attacked," (4.00 / 5)
I don't think he was attacking at all. It's quite a legitimate difference of opinion, IMO.

But if he had called me out as, say, a "Neo-Calvinist" or a "snotty-nosed, mellow-dressed pervert", well, I would have to throw the gauntlet down. ;^P

But this is a damn fine comment thread, IMHO.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I Wasn't Attacking You, So Thanks For The Quote Marks (4.00 / 2)
As I tried to make clear, I don't think your points were necessarily mistaken--especially since I've made similar points myself, and will surely do so again.  But the interchange as a whole helped to capture the context which is what I'm trying to focus on here.  And I actually think you're one of the most capable and likely to take on that level of questioning.

Which, given the other things you've said here today, is proving to be accurate, I think.

Which is why I would never call you a "Neo-Calvinist" or a "snotty-nosed, mellow-dressed pervert".

Though I must admit to being strangely intrigued by that "mellow-dressed pervert" phraseology.  Exactly which GOP senator did you have in mind when you wrote it?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Why, ALL OF THEM, of course! (4.00 / 2)
Are there any that aren't? Seriously, if someone can name one, I'd love to know!

That's from the Is This The Right Room For An Argument Sketch. But I'm sure you knew that.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I agree with some of this (4.00 / 8)
in that it's folly to think a movement to reject Dems will lead directly, or even indirectly, to a more progressive outcome.

But then, to persuade Metamars and others to abandon this type of activism, it's not enough to say they're wrong. You need to explain a better way to build a progressive movement. Keep on doing what we're doing? Really? We're ten years since Gore lost to Bush, eight years or so into the netroots "revolution," and the Dem party is just as beholden to corporate-imperial interests as ever. Perhaps more so. We seem to be in a no-exit situation here.

Hamsher has tried a different approach, staying firmly in the Democratic camp while opposing those pols and those organizations who've become coopted. And what has she gotten for her efforts? Obama supporters have turned her into a pariah and not a single one her netroots "allies" has come to her defense.

And no, Mike's strategy will not lead, as you claim, to a "progressive victory," any more than Obama's victory in 2008 led to a "progressive victory." It will lead to more of the same, more or less. How could you possibly argue otherwise?

You think a less-bad loss for Dems in November will make it less likely they will fold on Social Security? I'm not sure. A "victory" for Dems in November would strengthen the hand of Obama, who, after all, is the driving force behind the cut-SS movement. Conversely, a crushing loss would weaken Obama and probably make it more likely that progressives in the House would locate their backbone. Plus given that the SS-cut plan might include some tax increases, Republicans might actually be our allies.

More generally, yes, facile sentiments denying differences between the two parties--"who cares who's in power?"--are silly. As Chomsky and Zinn and others point out, Dems are better on domestic issues. But the math isn't always straightforward. For example, there's no question that on a number of issues, Dems in Congress would be fighting Obama, as opposed to folding, if he had a R next to his name.

So, no good answers. Metamars doesn't have one. But no one else does, either.



I think Paul's answer is pretty good, (4.00 / 4)
and terribly depressing at the same time.

I also think that

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Conservative Victory

is a pretty terrible answer.

I guess I'm reading Paul as saying we need something more like

Phase 1: Support the least-bad option available. At this point, that means following Mike's advice in the diary he referenced,
Phase 2: "Creating fundamental change in American politics is very hard.  History makes that very clear.  But others have had things much harder than we do today.  That's one reason why I always count Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser and the other leaders of slave rebellions at the top of my list of American heroes.  No one faced greater odds than they did.  No one faced more certain death if they failed. And yet, in the end, they did succeed, though it took generations to do so.  They changed history in ways that were unimaginable at the time of their actions.  And if they could do that against such overwhelming odds, then who are we to quit now in despair? "
Phase 3: Progressive victory.

The problem is still Phase 2, of course. But I'm not sure there's any other answer.


[ Parent ]
I've Explained A Better Way In The Past (4.00 / 2)
(1) You need to build a para-party infrastructure, along the lines of PDA, with possible state-level third party affiliates, such NY's Working Families Party.  John Emerson has written quite a bit about the history state-level third parties here, which I invited him to specifically because it is a concrete historical example of what can work.

None of this will convince metamars and others like him, though.  And that's not the point.  The point is to make it quite clear to others what's lacking in his type of strategy and lacking in his way of thinking about politics in general.

It's not enough to "think outside the box."  The Underpants Gnomes were very good at that.  Stealing underpants!  Who would have thought of that!  You have to connect that back to getting actual results.

D'oh! (To mix shows.)

Building a para-party infrastructure isn't just something you can do by waving a magic wand, either.  It takes a lot of baby steps to accomplish that, and buidling a realistic sense of what alternatives are viable and why at multiple levels of action and analysis is a vital part of preparing the ground for that.

(2)

Hamsher has tried a different approach, staying firmly in the Democratic camp while opposing those pols and those organizations who've become coopted. And what has she gotten for her efforts? Obama supporters have turned her into a pariah and not a single one her netroots "allies" has come to her defense.

That's not my perception.  I think she deserves a lot more support than she's gotten, but she hasn't gotten no defense.  For the most part, she's gotten something much more fundamental--people agreeing with her and adding their voices in support of her on specific actions or lines of criticism.

(3)

And no, Mike's strategy will not lead, as you claim, to a "progressive victory," any more than Obama's victory in 2008 led to a "progressive victory." It will lead to more of the same, more or less. How could you possibly argue otherwise?

Because I don't think people are mindless robots.  Because I think that (a) people have learned something over the past two years, and (b) that it takes time to organize progressive opposition vs. a faux progressive leadership, and (c) that it took time for progressive opposition to coalesce after the '29 crash, too.

Note, I'm not arguing that this is a sure thing.  There are no sure things.  But there is a possibility here, and the strategy that Mike laid out is a way of expanding that possibility.  Which, BTW, I don't see as necessarily contradicting Jane's strategy.  Rather, I see a great deal of potential synergy between the two.

(4)

You think a less-bad loss for Dems in November will make it less likely they will fold on Social Security? I'm not sure. A "victory" for Dems in November would strengthen the hand of Obama, who, after all, is the driving force behind the cut-SS movement. Conversely, a crushing loss would weaken Obama and probably make it more likely that progressives in the House would locate their backbone. Plus given that the SS-cut plan might include some tax increases, Republicans might actually be our allies.

Nothing is certain, of course.  But a GOP victory will clearly result in further mariginalization of progressives, and anyone arguing otherwise is clearly off in Underpants Gnomeland.

(5)

So, no good answers. Metamars doesn't have one. But no one else does, either.

But there's a profound difference between having less-than-ideal answers to a tough problem and having a plan like this:

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Conservative Victory


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I once had a plan to do that: (4.00 / 1)
You need to build a para-party infrastructure

called the Full Court Press.  But you scorned it.  Problem with building a para-party infrastructure is that it will come under vicious attack from the Democratic hierarchy, who will accuse it of endangering Dem re-elections.  You either take that heat or you don't.  (forgive my dualism)

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
I Didn't SCORN It. (0.00 / 0)
I said it was a bad idea, because it would spread us too thin, and that a handful of actual victories could do a lot more good.

When you characterize a rational criticism as "scorn" you don't exhibit a great deal of potential for coalition-building with potential allies.

And that, in turn, tends to lead to Underpants Gnomeland.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I didn't mean to suggest (0.00 / 0)
that you haven't offered a different approach. You, and others, have offered good ideas, but they're only ideas at this point. Not enough people are acting on them to make a difference. What we're doing isn't working.

Change is hard, yeah, blah blah blah, can't turn a battleship on a dime, yada yada yada. Well, a) we're moving in the wrong direction b) patience isn't something we can afford at this point. We're in crisis. A crisis like this should spark radicalism (of the good kind), and I can't help thinking that one of the reasons it hasn't is that lefties with platforms and power (relative power) haven't and aren't engaging in radical politics and disparage those who are. (I'm not including you in this critique.)

I think [Hamsher] deserves a lot more support than she's gotten, but she hasn't gotten no defense.  

I'm aware of no big progressive blogger who has come to her defense--link me if I'm wrong. She's been killed from Obanapologists on one side and criticized from third-partiers on the other.

And, Paul, do you really think, as you say in the post, that a victory for Dems in November would amount to a progressive victory?

It provided a framework for winning a progressive victory in November, which could lead to making Democrats more progressive afterward, even in the face of adversity.

You're way too smart and experienced to believe this. Fine to critique the dump-the-Dems approach, but this kind of bullshit isn't going to get it done.



[ Parent ]
Oh, sorry (0.00 / 0)
I see you addressed, sort of, my last point. You may be right that Social Security would be marginally less in peril if Dems don't crushed, but it's kooky to think a twenty seat loss as opposed to a forty seat loss would = a "progressive victory."

[ Parent ]
It All Depends (4.00 / 1)
  • If Dems run on the basis that Mike suggests.
  • If only Blue Dogs get defeated, leaving the Democratic caucus more unified.
  • If progressives win convincingly & a few new ones are even elected.
  • And the Catfood Commission is DOA.
  • And these narrative themes are used by activists to push the Dems in a progressive direction for the next two years.

Then yes, a 20-seat loss could still be counted as a progressive victory.

I didn't say it was certain.  I said it was a possibility.

Unlike the Underpants Gnomes.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
And what if not? (4.00 / 1)
If one, several, or all of these cponditions aren't met? Then what? What is the Plan B from outer leftwing?

Sorry, but imho ANY progressive strategy which depends on something the Dem party, or even the effing president has to do first, is an unavoidable FAILURE! We know it won't happen, it never does. And that's why progressive strategy has to be INDEPENDENT from Dem strategy. If progressives win, this will be good for the party, too. If Dems win, that won't necessarily be good for progressives! Come on, this is obvious, isn't it? Progressives first! The rest of the Dems only have secondary importance.  


[ Parent ]
Please Quote Me In Context (4.00 / 1)
And, Paul, do you really think, as you say in the post, that a victory for Dems in November would amount to a progressive victory?
    It provided a framework for winning a progressive victory in November, which could lead to making Democrats more progressive afterward, even in the face of adversity.

You're way too smart and experienced to believe this.

That's not what I said.  I said that

This is what I found so valuable about Mike's diary: It provided a framework for winning a progressive victory in November, which could lead to making Democrats more progressive afterward, even in the face of adversity.  Of course nothing is guaranteed. Of course it will still require a lot of hard work, as well as some luck.  But it points a way forward.  It points a way out of despair.  And it provides a viable alternative to the Underpants Gnomes.

You're too good a person to fall back on strawman arguments.

You also say:

You, and others, have offered good ideas, but they're only ideas at this point. Not enough people are acting on them to make a difference. What we're doing isn't working.

Yes.  Precisely. What we're doing isn't working yet in part because not enough people are involved, that's true.  And the Underpants Gnomes want to draw even more people away from doing something that could work, if enough people who support the goal would be willing to do the hard and visionary work.  Which is why I find it so important to knock down their illusions, hard.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Excellent case (4.00 / 3)
There is less than a zero % chance that a dump Obama movement will result in Obama being dumped. This is true for the reason given by Rosenberg that mainline labor and blacks will not sign up for such a quixotic effort and for other reasons as well.

So what could be accomplished? Not much that is positive, I am afraid.

I have been in this argument a gazillion times but I have yet to be persuaded against the view that as bad as things are greater GOPer power would be worse. Now jump up and down, jump up and down alongside me and others, complaining about the Democrats, especially the party leaders. Point out that under their leadership things are likely getting worse. That does not change the fact that things could be worse still. In fact, all things considered were worse still under Bush (worse from a policy standpoint, objective realities of the economy mean that more people may be hurting now than before).

Unless one can win the argument - forget for the moment the morality of increasing pain for political gain - that making things worse, maybe far worse will somehow wake people up to jump start a true progressive movement that takes over the Dems or imposes its will in spite of them merely to point out the perfidy of Dem leaders doesn't get one very far. I mean it is possible, I suppose, but equally likely or more likely is that adding to the woes will turn things further to the right. A deeper crisis creates an opportunity for a left populism but it also creates an opportunity for a right wing populism, aka fascism, as history makes plain. Sometimes a relative slowing of the approach to the abyss is the necessary holding action.

Those taking the "dump Obama" tact and others like it must win that a) GOPers are not worse or b) making things worse will catalyze good left populism. 99% never try but merely continue to indict the major Dems, as if those of us on the left don't also see their manifold problems. To cut to the chase, in terms of questions of political elections, make an effort to win a) or b) or consider sitting down.

And what has always frustrated me about these debates is that they presume the entirety of political struggle is confined to electioneering: should we or should we not dump Obama and the Dems? It is a very limited, needlessly blinkered view. There is a lot that needs to be done and much of what needs be done is outside elections and party politics. But these debates quickly devolve to the base assumption that the only important issue is whether or not we should support Dems.

What about tactically supporting some Dems to slow the approach of the abyss while we figure out how to turn the car around, jump into a new car, heal grandma that is bleeding in the back seat, what have you? Or just give us all a little more time for world circumstances outside our immediate control to present themselves, potentially changing the terrain in dramatic ways.

I know I can and think all of us can simultaneously do all of the following: vote for Obama and Dems when necessary because the alternative is worse; slam the leading Dems for their double dealing and watch them like hawks; participate in and build up new parties or reforming the Dems in our various communities; engage in a full range of counter-institution building that continues - must continue - whatever comes on the national political stage.

Life is much, much more complicated than "Obama, yea or nay?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


And yet we gnomes are accused of holding out ??? (4.00 / 2)
What about tactically supporting some Dems to slow the approach of the abyss while we figure out how to turn the car around, jump into a new car, heal grandma that is bleeding in the back seat, what have you?

Yeah, why haven't you done so already?  Do it now and we gnomes fade away.  Don't do it, we'll be heard from.

it also creates an opportunity for a right wing populism, aka fascism

We don't already have an opportunity for fascism?  Maybe if you'd figured out how to turn the car around and all that, it wouldn't ALREADY be staring us in the face.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Unclear (4.00 / 1)
not sure of your overall point here in response and I am not being purposely dense. I'll do my best to respond.

Yeah, why haven't you done so already?  Do it now and we gnomes fade away.  Don't do it, we'll be heard from.

1. Am trying and try every day in every way I can see how.
2. doing it now, tried to do it in my comment. In my own way and using my own terminology I am a participant in Rosenberg's "para-party" activities.
3. I am happy to hear from you and any others. Don't believe in silencing discussion but rather engaging in it for the purpose, among others, of persuading people to rethink a dump Obama move at the current moment.

We don't already have an opportunity for fascism?  Maybe if you'd figured out how to turn the car around and all that, it wouldn't ALREADY be staring us in the face.

1. It IS staring us in the face and long has been. And it has many causes, not just a dump Obama movement. I think dump Obama (as a stand in for a broader set of claims) will result in greater GOPer power which will produce a much deeper crisis thus laying a much firmer foundation for already emerging fascism. Can't really put it more clearly than that.
2. I am trying to help turn around the car, are you? If not, what are your answers to my a) and b) above. I threw down a marker and you have ignored it completely. That is your right, but it does not do much in my eyes to illustrate any wisdom or contemplation on your part. So please show that either a) GOPers are not worse; or b) making things worse will rebound into a stronger, more vital and effectively transformative progressive movement.

What I hear is this from you and others:

"I am going to jump out of the speeding car, even though it is likely I'll be injured, and knowing (or should know) that in so doing, those left in the car will have a harder time slowing it down in order to more safely jump to another car, attend to the needy in the car, develop the capacity to seize the wheel, or take advantage of outside changes that only time will permit to develop. I am OK with the fact that by jumping I will help to hand the wheel over to those in the midst of a meth high who believe that by accelerating the approach to the abyss the car will sprout wings or the ability to defy gravity."

More seriously, as far as I am concerned, until either a) or b) is persuasively argued, and you are not, it's just more bitching about the Dems. I'm down with bitching about the Dems, I just don't think that doing so is some sort of magic bullet.

Instead I find supporting some Dems now is part of a larger strategy of progressive transformation the heart of which is local counter-institution building.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
I never said anything about magic bullets (4.00 / 1)
I never said anything would be easy.

What I am espousing would be extraordinarily hard.  Enough with the cheap shots.  To respond to (not necessarily answer) your points:

a) GOPers are not worse; or b) making things worse will rebound into a stronger, more vital and effectively transformative progressive movement.

Taken one-by-one, GOPers are obviously worse.  I do not hold that "making things worse will rebound into a stronger, more vital and effectively transformative progressive movement."

What I do believe is that the only way to build a "stronger, more vital and effectively transformative progressive movement" is by building one.  My argument is that remaining within the lesser-evil box has crippled our capacity to do so, and will continue to cripple it.

I'm not a big fan of argument by analogy, but allow me to indulge for a moment.  Suppose the choices are between letting Obama drive us over a 1,000-foot cliff, or grabbing the wheel and swerving into a darkened forest.  I'll take the forest.

Then we can argue about who's driving who off the cliff and all that.  I prefer to get down to concretes directly.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Fair enough (4.00 / 1)
Let me apologize at the outset for the fact that my self-imposed internet quota is at an end so I must return to my work. But I wanted to provide a final response.

I also apologize for coming off as characterizing your view as appealing to a magic bullet. That's not fair and I am sorry. I do think your overall argument merits serious attention and consideration. I do not dismiss it out-of-hand. Indeed at some points in my life I have formulated comparable arguments. Arguments that led me to support the SWP candidate in 1992 because Clinton turned my stomach. So I am not innately opposed to your view, I just read the current moment differently.

So for me our current disagreement centers on two crucial questions and a reformulation of the dreaded analogy:

1. Why can't we do most of what it takes to build a transformative progressive movement while supporting Democrats in competitive races? What is the necessary tradeoff here? Most of the most important work is outside of electioneering. I hold this view even if it is true that only abandoning the mainline Dems might create an incentive for them to change in the near term because I don't think that incentive will overcome those to track further right in the face of our leaving. In the near term, 2010, 2012 (beyond that is a little bit of wishcasting regarding our powers of prognostication given the epochal scale of changes afoot) who or what is the substance of the dump Obama movement, which you articulate as occurring within the primary, i.e. within the party? Why is tactical support for Dems only, solely, and exclusively a lesser-evil box as opposed to part of a broader framework of progressive agitation? Even if it has crippled our capacity, as you say (I think other things have been more crippling), why must it be crippling?

2. More to the point, why won't tactical support for some as yet unstated primary opponent of Obama, an effort I believe is sure to fail if the goal is to dump Obama, and in so doing antagonizing key constituencies such as labor and blacks, preferable? Taking this point further, considered against the full range of needed actions to build a progressive future, why is dumping financial, emotional, psychological, and organizational resources into a quixotic and futile campaign to dump Obama a better use of those resources than directing them to other areas while pulling the lever for Obama as a better alternative than actions that risk enabling greater GOPer victories? Will we win in the primary? Will we "show Obama who is boss" and drag him to the left?

The analogy. You assume we are in a position to reach across the gear shifter and seize the wheel. But you have not even come close to demonstrating that we have that capacity. You won't drive us into the forest. You will chop block us in the effort and enable the meth-addled GOPers to seize control of the wheel and accelerate our approach to the abyss while at the same time depleting our limited resources that could be spent attending to bleeding grandma or organizing to persuade the Dem driver to slow down a little bit more so that we can jump to another car without getting splattered on the pavement.

Apologies again, I must return to other matters so I cannot respond in a timely fashion. Good debate, though.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Strategy (4.00 / 6)
I don't have a problem with electing Democrats when that is the only alternative to electing Republicans. And that's the situation.

But I do have a problem with an electoral strategy that is based on lying to the public. That's too damaging to our civic fabric, which is already so tattered.

In my opinion, there was too much lying in Mike Lux's proposed strategy. For example, if the Democratic Party believes that the only way to improve the American health care system is with incremental change including deal-making with the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, it would be better to say that than to pretend to "oppose corporate cronyism". Of course, that's just one among any number of examples.

Didn't Obama say that he believed in speaking to the American people as if it were composed of adults?

Anyway, finding a particular strategy unconvincing and even potentially damaging is not necessarily the same thing as rooting for the opposition. Or so it seems to me.


Two years (4.00 / 9)
Obama has two more years to turn the economy around.  It's either going to be "morning in America" time in 2012 or a Republican victory.

The dithering courtesy of the Blue Dogs and Obama and point after point set this up.  If we have a combination of the tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy and the cat food commission disemboweling Social Security and Medicare, I'll vote Green for President and a straight Democratic ticket the rest of the way.

A strong intra-party challenge is not the reason for the defeats.  The reason is that the current President has failed to do what the party and the country as a whole needed.  Even lacking a challenge or a strong challenge, party's that screw up the economy lose power (see Nixon in 1960 and Hoover in 1932).

If the cat food commission does its dirty deed, Obama will surpass Buchanan as the worst President in US history.  He's actively taking away as well as failing to satisfactorily deal with a major crisis.  Hope he enjoys his big money jobs after being tossed from office.

No cat food commission or a stymied one and an economic turnaround that hits the other 90% of us and it is a new ball game.

Even the economic turnaround combined with the wreck of Social Security and Medicare and I couldn't vote for him.  


I presumed they intended to find someone to replace him with (4.00 / 3)
and that this was a starter plan.  Ofcoarse I am a green leaning progressive not a dem so what dems do is not really interesting to me.  I'll dump him the general too and I think spoiler is a perfectly legitimate way of getting rid of a bad dem even if it is strong medicine.  Whether every element of the progressive coalition agrees is irrelevant.  It is sad that black ethnic solidarity over-rides there traditional commitment to social justice.  I didn't let my shared gender with Hillary over-ride my disgust at her right wing policies, but I won't lose sleep over it.   The aflcio has always been useless to the majority of workers, going back to Samual P. Gompers, so their lack of support doesn't bother me either.

My blog  

careful, please (4.00 / 2)
t is sad that black ethnic solidarity over-rides there traditional commitment to social justice.
.

Many of the blacks I talk to here in Detroit do express some serious pride and ethnic solidarity with Obama. And I won't blame them for that.

But the major reason they support him is that they aren't buying this vague BS about alternatives that no one can clearly define. And they know the GOPers are worse. And many are too close to the margins to have the privilege of treating politics as a pissing match or a theoretical game.

Just speaking for my experiences with those folks I have talked with. Not claiming any generalizability here but the arguments I have heard of the sort I just described strike me a pretty darn reasonable.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Green Lealan Jones (4.00 / 1)
is polling 30% of the black community in Chicago.  Are blacks in Chicago living less on the margins, than other blacks, so they can afford theoretical politics?  

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Don't know (0.00 / 0)
Haven't spoken with any and know nothing about Lealan Jones, or the Dem or the GOPer in that race.

Flip that around. Are you saying that those black in Detroit expressing the view I shared (again, making no generalizability claim for Detroit or elsewhere) are in the grips of some kind of false consciousness? Or that their view as I characterized it is beyond the pale?

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
No view is on the pale (0.00 / 0)
for whatever reason they want.  I believe in spoiler not majority politics.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
The can vote for anyone for whatever reason they (0.00 / 0)
want, and so can I.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
The can vote for anyone for whatever reason they (0.00 / 0)
want, and so can I.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Your conclusion, which I agree with, doesn't preclude the (4.00 / 10)
need to state that of all the Presidents who have faced a challenger Obama deserves one almost more than all the others and the way to begin a movement is to state the obvious and start a conversation going.

The battle is within the Democratic Party itself.

What local Democratic organizations can do is hold forums discussing trends, trajectories, beliefs and strategies which have gotten us to the place we are - I am presuming that there will be losses  in November and frankly, as a member of a local and regional MA dem organization, we held these after Martha Coakley's defeat. What I saw was the desire to blame the whole loss on her campaigning skills - as if the electorate is so shallow that they are incapable of following a health care debate which jettisoned the public option and right in the smack middle of the Coakley /Brown race it was announced that middle calss health care benefits would be taxed.

Politics is personal, yes, and all of us regard poor campaigning in a bad light, but it is  personal on a deeper level that may be so subliminal that even activists are unaware of what a 'neo-liberal' is. And that being a neo -liberal when so much more was promised is what really spelled defeat for Coakley.

Neo- liberalism doesn't work on the general population - as evidenced by the falling support of Obama which is similar to Carter and Clinton's dropping  support, but it sure does act as a dog whistle for certain kinds of Democratic activists.

The conversation must start somewhere.

Is the Democratic Party the brand that FDR built that held together for 60 years, or is  the Party of Clinton,- lose the Congressional majority, Carter - lose to Reaganism, or Obama and Rahm - the  neo-liberal brand that just fundamentally pisses people off going to control this oldest of political parties which Obama never even identifies with anyway?

When was the last time Obama even said 'fellow Democrats?' in a speech? Or 'our Party'? Can someone link to it?

I'm ranting, but I do agree with your post.



Good rant. (4.00 / 1)
And my solution is that I will no longer vote.  Sad to have to say it.

[ Parent ]
Then why bother to comment anymore? (4.00 / 3)
Why not just do other things with your life?  Not voting allows them to interpret you as not being interested anymore therefore they can move the right with abandon.  You should atleast vote third party or writein!

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Dameocrat has a point, Shainzona! (4.00 / 5)
Only by going to the poll, and making your preference for a more progressive course known, by writing in a real left winger or by voting green or something, will you change anything! Without this, the effing party strategists will simply explain the low turnout with people being uninterested in politics.

[ Parent ]
Good suggestion. (0.00 / 0)
But I am just so fed up with the whole bloody thing.  Primary day arrived here a couple of weeks ago and my husband and I just ignored it and said nasty things to every "Democratic" candidate who called and asked for our vote.

We are really really pissed.  I mean really pissed!  And it's saving me a ton of money in the process.


[ Parent ]
If you can't find a green (4.00 / 2)
write-in Elizabeth Warren!

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Now that I WILL DO! (4.00 / 2)
And so will my husband.  With great pleasure.

[ Parent ]
good news! n/t (0.00 / 0)
n/t

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Underpants Gnomes could aspire to Huey Long's plan (0.00 / 0)
Had the Kingfish not died, his plan was to use a third party stalking horse to draw enough votes away from FDR to cause a Republican presidential victory in 1936.  Long then expected to capture the White House in 1940.  That's why Long made use of the filibuster to block parts of the New Deal; ostensibly, he was acting from the populist left, but in reality, he didn't want Roosevelt to accomplish so much that he would become undefeatable.

The key difference is that Long actually had a candidate in mind.

True or not, some African American voters are going to perceive this as a bunch of whites trying to tear down the first black president.  There's no way that's going to cause problems, right?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


Just The Same, But Completely Different! (0.00 / 0)
Got it!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
even if (4.00 / 1)
Even if this strategy was more coherent because he had an actual candidate in mind, this episode lowers my opinion of Long.

Block potentially effectively policies and help enable someone likely to further eviscerate policy responses to this country's 3rd greatest crisis so that he can maybe become president in four years? That's pretty damn disgusting.

I get your point but if that if that episode is to illustrate the possible outlines of a Gnomes' strategy, I'm not buying it. They'd do better to stick with ?.

And your final point is also important.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
the Gnome responds: (4.00 / 1)
Let's hear from me, the gnome metamars was referencing.  My full piece can be found at FireDogLake, Time for a Dump Obama Movement.

You raise some good points.  Since readers can check out the full piece, I'll try to keep this short.  You wonder about the ??

It's to build a movement that fights for what the people need, issues like ending our Middle Eastern wars, building a GREATER safety net to meet the consequences of the structural blows to our economy that will not be cured by promises of an upturn, taking on corporate wealth, etc., etc.  A movement that can somehow fight for these things unfettered by what will help the Democrats in the next electoral cycle.  You can call that abstract, but no more abstract than what you hold out, other than clinging to what already is.  You talk about:

a framework for winning a progressive victory in November, which could lead to making Democrats more progressive afterward, even in the face of adversity.  Of course nothing is guaranteed. Of course it will still require a lot of hard work, as well as some luck.  But it points a way forward.  It points a way out of despair.

Winning in November is pie in the sky.  By and by.  "And it provides a viable alternative to the Underpants Gnomes."  No, you've got to do better.  You address "the assumption of our own powerlessness," but you've got to deal with that powerlessness to date.  NOW we need to address it?  How many years have we played the lesser evil game.  Even when we win the White House, we get clobbered.  And most pathetic are those years when we make the choice to stay within the bounds of Democratic Party propriety lest the greater evil wins, and the greater evil wins anyway!  You talk about the tradeoff between compromise and necessity, but most of the time, there is no tradeoff at all.  We pays our money and get nothing.

So you think we can build a movement that does all the good stuff AND maybe elects more Democrats?  Then for god's sake do it!  I think Dump Obama can be effective.  It's already effective to the extent it has you raising alarm bells.  You think we can do better?  Then do it!  I'd love you to prove me wrong, I really would.  But you're the one with a track record to defend.  Between ?? and certain doom, I'll take ??  And the ?? isn't so vague.  It's what you call for, it's what you believe in.  The difference is that I think that if we shed the chains of re-electing Obama, we have a better shot at it.

To end on a hilarious note, I see you cite Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, and Gabriel Prosser.  Per Wikipedia, here's how their rebellions turned out in the short run:

Nat Turner:  1831.  In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence. Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.

Denmark Vesey:  1822.  Two slaves opposed to Vesey's scheme leaked the plot. Charleston authorities charged 131 men with conspiracy. In total, 67 men were convicted and 35 hanged, including Denmark Vesey.

Gabriel Prosser:  1800.  Gabriel, along with twenty-six members of the revolt, were hanged. In reaction, the Virginia and other legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks, as well as the education, movement and hiring out of the enslaved.

But as you say:

in the end, they did succeed, though it took generations to do so.  They changed history in ways that were unimaginable at the time of their actions.  And if they could do that against such overwhelming odds, then who are we to quit now in despair?

I, too, am inspired by this.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


But You're Not Attacking Slavery, Jeff (0.00 / 0)
You're attacking a symptom, not the cause.  Which is why your plan isn't even:

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Progressive Victory

But:

Phase 1: Ditch Obama
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Conservative Victory


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
And we are not living under slavery now (0.00 / 0)
yet you find inspiration.  But quibbling over the true meaning of Nat Turner dances around the margins.  As I wrote on FDL:

At the risk of still being schematic, let's add another factor to the equation: What is good for the movement, or what is good for the left? The left has been making these lesser-evil choices for generations, and I have to say that things are going badly. The point now is not to support the Republicans, or to secretly hope they win, but to build a populist progressive movement on our own terms, without being overdetermined by their partisan definition of the battlefield.

This is the backbone of my position.  I define a hard row to hoe, indeed.  It won't happen by magic, it may indeed not happen.  But the "Dump" position, while emerging from time to time, has not been the left position for most of the last 40 years.  The lesser-evil position has been hegemonic.  And that has failed abjectly.

If you think you can build something within the Democratic Party, the heavy burden of proof is on you.  Do it!  If you don't, you'll get Dump Obama regardless of what I personally advocate.  Consider my early advocacy a fair warning.  Prove me wrong.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
I think a Dump Obama strategy could work as (4.00 / 6)
a bluff. Fear of losing progressive voters might persuade Obama to do some things that would help here and now, like nominating Elizabeth Warren, letting the millionaire tax cuts expire, or renouncing the Catfood Commission.

But a bluff only works if no one knows it's a bluff. And if a bluff fails, you have to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. It's a dilemma.

Montani semper liberi


Doesn't work as a bluff (4.00 / 1)
That's what the Democrats do.  Announce they're fighting for something, AND announce that they're bluffing.

I'm not bluffing.  If the Democrats make the moves that need to be made, then Dump Obama goes up in smoke.  If they don't ...

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Edwards' attacks forced Obama to the left in the primary, too! (4.00 / 4)
Sadly, that dishonest jerk (Obama) only paid lip services and didn't intent to actually follow up on his big "progressive" promises at all. And that's why I don't think repeating this in the next primary will change anything.

[ Parent ]
Controls votes (0.00 / 0)
There are 18 votes on the cat food commission.  Five kills anything.  With eight Republicans any tax increase is out.  Obama controls some votes even if he stacked the commission in favor of deform.  Andy Stern is supposed to be voting for a radical restructuring of Social Security.  If Obama leaned on him hard along with his former membership he'd swing.  Obama can kill this if he wants but it has to be done almost immediately.

[ Parent ]
What Could Work (4.00 / 7)
Is an actual demonstration of effective progressive independence.  Such as successfully backing progressive candidates instead of continuing to fund the Democratic Party directly.  Doing that is clearly not a bluff.  It's power base building.  And that's what I support wholeheartedly.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I'm with you there. (4.00 / 9)
I emailed my Blue Dog Congressman and told him I was having a hard time deciding whether to vote for him again, as I have done every two years without fail. I told him what would help me make up my mind would be a strong, unequivocal statement promising to reject any plans to cut Social Security.

That was weeks ago and I've heard nothing but crickets since. I think an appropriate follow up will be to thank him for his time and service, and explain that in lieu of voting for him this time I am making a financial contribution to Alan Grayson.

Montani semper liberi


[ Parent ]
+1000 (0.00 / 0)
Yep!

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

[ Parent ]
hey remember when Lux proposed that and not lying to everyone to win seats (0.00 / 0)
eh, what's that?

p.s. your quip re: Mike's post: "It provided a framework for winning a progressive victory in November"

you deserve at least 30 minutes at the improve for that line


[ Parent ]
But we're not doing that here! (0.00 / 0)
We fool around and dive deep into the theoretical side of political science, sociology, psychology, etc etc. Where's the activism? What is done to actually help progressive candidates? Discussing the intention to help them isn't good enough. There has to be action. And someone has to direct that action to the fields where small victories are possible. Folks like Jeff want to put their energy into good use, but instead of giving them clear, real life advice where their help is needed, we leave them in the dark and then even pick on their own attempts to get someting done. This isn't helpful at all.

Really, the campaign is going into the hot phase and we still talk about long term strategy while the fighting gets tough all around us. 2012 will be an important issue in the next year. Right now, it's the November elections instead. So, who are the progressive lawmakers who need support to survive the onslaught? Let's get real!


[ Parent ]
Here's the problem in a nutshell. (4.00 / 6)
THIS underpants gnome scheme has been tried for decades now and still isn't turning a profit:

1. Continue supporting Democratic party as it drifts far to the right of Richard Nixon
2. ?????
3. Progressive victory!

No, I don't know the answer to this dilemma either. On the other hand, I don't think there's ANYTHING that will work in the near and medium term. The question then becomes whether in the long term (and I bitterly regret the tremendous damage that will occur in the meantime- it's just that I don't see it as being avoidable, because as we're seeing Blue Doggery is a political loser no matter what progressives do) there is any benefit to the progressive cause in continuing to try to work within the existing Democratic Party. On that question, maybe there's a good argument for the affirmative but I have yet to see it.


But That's NOT My Plan! (4.00 / 4)
My plan is:

(1) Conditionally support Democrats to defeat Republicans.
(2) Build para-party infrastructure for hegemonic warfare, the same way that the right has done for 40 years.
(3) Progressive victory.

It's damn hard work to convince folks to do the hard work involved in (2), and folks like Jeff and metamars are major obstacles on the supposed "left" who are too impatient for that, and too enamored of "purity" and fantasies of easy solutions.

Hence, this diary is itself an important aspect of (2).

Of course there is no guarantee of my plan succeeding.  But I want to make it very clear that I am, in fact, fighting for plan that has a rational structure to it.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
And that's why you supported the Full Court Press? (4.00 / 1)
NOT.  I nowhere state that I am offering an easy solution.  I'm hardly enamored of purity.  But let's face it, any reference to principle gets tagged with being a call for purity.  On Daily Kos, over and over, they say something like, well, Obama hasn't closed Gitmo, but ...

Closing Gitmo is the least of Obama's shortcomings.  But so easy to take the cheap shot.

By the way, how am I preventing youi from "Build para-party infrastructure for hegemonic warfare, the same way that the right has done for 40 years"?  If nothing else, I would be lighting a fire under you.

Do it!  Prove me wrong!

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Purity Obsession Is A Real Problem (0.00 / 0)
As is purity phobia.

All schematic thinking is a bane on our existence as potentially sentient beings.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Wait a goddamn minute! (4.00 / 1)
You keep laying out 123 over and over, then dare accuse me of schematic thinking?

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
It's NOT purity obsession.... (0.00 / 0)
...to point out that Obama hasn't delivered on too many promisses. And that he didn't even fight to achieve those changes. Actually, that's a point we don't disagree about, or do we? So, why do you paint this as "purity obsession" here?

You would have a point if there would be more compromises, like the Medicare expansion. But there aren't, and Obama didn't even try. Purity be damned, I'm too pragmatic to engage in this (or else I would have stomped for single payer when that wasn't even on the table anymore). But even for pragmatic folks there comes the moment of truth where they have to say this can't be tolerated any more. And that moment has already passed, imho!

And, sry, but modern psychology shows that "schematic thinking" has been a very useful tool during the evolution of mankind! Especially when acting under uncertainty, it's often helpful to see similarities and try a solution that worked in a somewhat similar case in the past, than to stay paralyzed like a frightened deer which is confused by an unprecedent situation.

Oh, and then, martial arts! Instant reaction based on schematics trumps analytical methods there. The point is, you have to adjust to the time frame you have for acting. And the effing elections are less than two months away!


[ Parent ]
this is not a new plan (4.00 / 4)
that is what the netroots and kos was supposed to do.

Known problems with this plan.

1)Our candidates are not as well financed as theirs.

2)Candidates like Obummer lie to us and pretend to be more progressive than they are to get our support than sell us out.

3)It also takes money to change hegemonic discourse, since this is based on media ownership and the ability to fund thunk tanks.

4)All these issues conspire to produce progressive loss.

This is why I know longer think populism is useful, even though I embrace the narrative, and why I just think we need to purge the sellouts employing spoiler effect.  

The conservatives gained power in the republican party by looking longterm and simply sitting on their hands when moderate republicans were up for election.  The moderates  lost the election and over time were replaced with conservatives.  We can use this against neolibs particularly if we double the pain with third parties like the greens.



My blog  


[ Parent ]
Progressives have been conditionally supporting Democrats forever. (4.00 / 3)
And that's gotten us where, exactly?

I'm all for your point 2. So much so that I think all available energy and resources should go to that goal and none to even conditional support of a party that has proved itself again and again to be hopeless. I'm not even interested in bashing the Democrats- only in ignoring them. Their astounding political ineptitude renders their supposed sole remaining claim to support- protecting the country from the Republicans- moot. They'll lose with or without help from progressives, which makes them merely a distraction from the work that needs to be done.


[ Parent ]
I Think You're Wrong To Ignore The Dems (0.00 / 0)
But as long as you're serious about building hegemonic para-party infrastructure, our agreements are much more important than our disagreements, by at least an order of magnitude.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
Support individual progressive candidates by all means, if you wish (4.00 / 4)
But not one dollar or door-knock for the institutional party.
And no bashing of those who work for the progressive cause but are not interested in the Democratic party at all.
Is that a peace formula that a large number of us could agree on? Because these civil wars have got to stop

[ Parent ]
Then count me in (4.00 / 1)
Dump Obama obviously entails a primary challenge, i.e., WITHIN the Democratic Party.  Such a challenge would entail some kind of campaign organization in the primaries.  Such a campaign organization would certainly be part of a "hegemonic para-party infrastructure."

As long as purity advocates don't treat them as beyond the pale.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Not Exactly (4.00 / 2)
Such a campaign organization would certainly be part of a "hegemonic para-party infrastructure."

I put hundreds of hours into Jackson's campaign in '88.  Maybe thousands.  I knew he was very unlikely to win, but I saw it as an excellent movement-building opportunity, as did many of the other volunteers I worked with.

But that was never seriously part of Jackson's plan.  In contrast, it was part of Pat Robertson's plan, and even though he got far fewer votes than Jackson, he used his campaign to lay the groundwork for the Christian Coalition, and had a much larger impact in terms of building hegemonic infrastructure than Jackson ever dreamed of.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
That's an important point (0.00 / 0)
If Dump Obama gets off the ground, and has a quasi-mainstream candidate, that candidate will say sayonara the day after the election.  That's par for the course.

How we would deal with that is a major issue.  The majority of voters for that candidate would also say sayonara the day after the election.

Here's one of the major reasons I wrote what I wrote.  My assumption is that there will be some kind of Dump Obama movement in 2012.  It's not dependent on me.  I'm stepping in now in the hope that I can have some tiny influence in how the day after plays out.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
So, it was ok for you, but won't be for Jeff? (4.00 / 3)
I don't really get that point. Of course, and I guess we are all aware of this, point 2) in the rebel plan is "find a hugely popular, yet determinedly progressive candidate and support his campaign all which (legal) way you can!". If Jeff finds such a candidate, dunno, maybe Dean again, why would it be wrong for him to go all in, with the intention to also build a stronger progressive coalition within the Dems, when you did the same? Maybe I'm a bit tired now, but I really don't see your point!

[ Parent ]
Good Grief! (0.00 / 0)
(1) Jackson was a candidate. Jeff has none.
(2) Jackson wasn't challenging an incumbent Dem president, Jeff wants to.
(3) I supported Jackson with a long-term strategy in mind.  I was disappointed in the end, but many others joined like me, and it was a rational expectation, even though it was not fulfilled.
(4) Jackson was black, and this helped establish a substantial voter base in support of him, for progressive to build on.  Running against Obama reverses this against us.

I could go on, but that's enough to indicate just how different the situations are.

I am not a schematic thinker.  Not all primary campaigns are the same.  You have to actually look at them in context to know if they are at all similar.

These are clearly not.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Allow me to jump up, getting too skinny (0.00 / 0)
But you make some valid points about the difference between a Dump campaign and the Jackson challenge.  However, let me quote from my original piece Time for a  Dump Obama movement:

Note that I call for a Dump Obama movement, not a campaign committee, not a candidate. (Dennis Kucinich? Russ Feingold? Jane Hamsher? Who knows?) Nor does a Dump Obama movement have to confine itself to the primaries, when independents make up a third of the electorate. I assume there will still be a general election. It's a matter of timing. All these questions and more will have to be addressed. But to be able to address them, we have to get something going. The exposure has been done, the misery is all around us, the rage explodes all around us in often unfortunate ways. The concept of movement provides the beginning of how these elements might begin to gel. That will provide the preconditions for taking this further.

If people would read it, it might spare us all some time.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
too enamored of "purity" (4.00 / 2)
at least you didn't say "ponies"

this is so fucking insulting


[ Parent ]
How about this for an underpants gnomes plan (4.00 / 5)
1. Ridicule and alienate voters to the left of the Dems
2. ???
3. Huge progressive victories in 2010 and 2012!


Strawman (0.00 / 0)
This assumes that "voters to the left of the Dems" are well represented by people without a plan.

I find that highly insulting.  I think such folks are hungry for a credible plan, and are very well served by clarifying arguments that help sort the wheat from the chaff.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
"hungry for a credible plan"? Sure. (4.00 / 2)
Now, what does the lack of enthusiasm for your, or Mike's plan, tell you about how its credibility is perceived?

And you're wrong again. The point is, "voters to the left of the Dems" don't really feel represented by anyone! It doesn't matter if Jeff or Meta don't have many followers, that doesn't make other progressives who feel like them more likely to vote Dem. The problem is, the Dem party hasn't found a way yet to bring these voters to their party in this election. Not even you nor Mike have brought up convincing arguments that are better than the lame "hold your nose, the other side is worse!". And we know from fiascos like that of Creigh Deeds that this slogan doesn't work.  


[ Parent ]
Lack of Enthusiasm? (0.00 / 0)
Our plans require hard work, with uncertain outcomes.

WHen, exactly, is that not a hard sell?

Jeff & metamars?  Snakeoil.

WHen, exactly, has that not been popular?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Not a hard sell? Snakeoil? (0.00 / 0)
Movement building is extraordinarily difficult.  At no point have I EVER said otherwise.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
It doesn't matter if your competitors offer snakeoil. (4.00 / 1)
You still have to beat them in the fight for the customer. Sorry, but this is obvious, isn't it? It wouldn't help you if I put a cherry on top and dishonestly pretend that the somewhat farfetched and utterly depressing porposals on the table so far are the hotteswt thing since Obama said "change" through his lying lips.

Imho, regarding the almost impossible difficulty of coming up with a compelling strategy how to turn this Damn crap into gold, maybe it would be better on leaving the Dem party aside and concentrate solely on the progressive candidates in the race. Create excitement by making a regular series here about who they are, how good their chances are, and what support they need! Make this about expanding the progressive block in 2010, and this may convince radical progressives that there's still something worth fighting for in the Dem party. Just don't expect those left-of-Dem voters to share any crocodile tears about the Dinos!


[ Parent ]
Btw, the name of this site is OpenLeft, NOT OpenDem! (4.00 / 2)
Even more reason not to stomp for the Dems, but for the real lefties, the progressives. Obama's policies and the treason by the DINO's can't be defended anyway. So, as a campaign strategy, progressives should talk about what progressive candidates have done to push for better laws, which progressives are running now for reelection and need support, and which new progressive candidates are out there to replace DINO's or rethuglicans! Forget the phrase "Dem party", that doesn't sell this season. 2010 is about electing more PROGRESSIVES!

[ Parent ]
Underpants gnomes (4.00 / 1)
I've always wondered about the logic of folks who are pessimistic that they can build a movement to persuade the 10 percent of voters who vote in a Democratic primary, but sure they can somehow build a movement to take over the whole country

That's because (4.00 / 1)
You have failed to come to terms with the fact that primary elections, even more than general elections, are rigged games whose results reflect little more than the power of money.

[ Parent ]
A Kobayashi Maru (Maybe)? (4.00 / 5)
What jumps out in these comments is the vast difference between strategy and tactics. Everyone appears to agree to the goals: progressive leadership and progressive policies. How we get there is the debate.

As Susan H rightly points out, it all starts with the voter. If they don't know their neo-liberal from their liberal, who will?

What's missing in the progressive debate is unified action on a number of fronts that begins and ends with voters and voter education. That might mean a Contract with America. But who will put it forward? And when? And how do we guarantee the announcement will get wide notice among the voters? And it most likely means taking over state Democratic parties and building a legion of progressive politicians. Is that happening today? If not, how can we get started? Which state Democratic parties are ripe for takeover by progressives?

Unified action on a number of fronts also means finding and supporting existing progressive politicians, people like Alan Grayson. And we appear to do well in that area, certainly compared to other tactics like taking over state Democratic parties. But how do we groom the Graysons of the world for the Senate? To run for President? How do we take their actions and words and turn them into political action and results? Grayson, for example, has a real way with painting Republicans in a negative light that is often humorous: how do we tap into that? How do we get that same effect from other progressive politicians?

And there are other areas of action. Campaign finance reform is 100% critical to a progressive takeover. So is lobbying reform.

In short, it seems progressives are in this long boat with lots of oars. Most of us pull in the same direction. And many of us do great work. But we're missing a few key pieces, most of which are tactics that would lead to having a large number of progressive politicians able to run for any office, a set of messages that resonate with voters, and other key elements to political victory and political dominance. I don't know that we need a slave master whipping us in line. We do pretty good on co-ordination. But we are missing key pieces that lead to victory over time. Perhaps a discussion and debate over those missing pieces would be useful.

If the progressive moment were a business, we've got a terrific product that meets the needs of far more customers than Republican products. But we don't have the sales channels (e.g. state parties, national parties). We don't have all the messages nailed down. And we're missing lots of sales people (aka progressive politicians).

My last point is that the threat of dumping Obama needs a hammer to make it real. Only a progressive movement can serve as that hammer, for Obama or any politician. We're not there yet and, as a result, as satisfying as it would be to dump Obama, the lack of progressive politicians to run for President and the lack of a progressive Democratic party organization across many states makes that approach quixotic.

Instead of arguing tactics, let's do like Captain Kirk and refuse to accept defeat and, instead, rewire the game we're playing. The Kobayashi Maru stuff in Star Trek is one of the sillier bits in that series but it can be instructive. In this case, a broader view of tactics that yields short, medium, and long term gains for progressives might be a better approach. Then execute the tactics, of course.

FWIW, on the question of whether Paul or any front pager should call out members of this community, I assume Paul is frustrated by the continuation of this debate (I am, so are many others) but it's also true we owe a basic respect to each other. I'm fond of the Underpants Gnome meme from doing startups. But it also can be insulting.


Things don't always work as reason would prefer (4.00 / 2)
the lack of progressive politicians to run for President and the lack of a progressive Democratic party organization across many states makes that approach quixotic

With the Dump Johnson movement, the movement preceded the candidates.  Allard Lowenstein launched official "Dump Johnson" in 1967 at a point where there was widespread ferment.  McCarthy jumped in later.  Bobby  Kennedy jumped in after McCarthy showed that challenging Johnson (and by then Johnson-stooge Humphrey) was viable.

That's how it goes.  That's why I'm calling for a movement at this stage.  Candidate search is premature.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
And I Respect Your Call for a Movement (0.00 / 0)
My point is simply that, if we had a viable progressive Democratic organization that had progressive politicians all over this country, your movement would be far more successful. Indeed, a corporate Democrat like Obama might never have been nominated or won the primaries. So let's also get started on building an organization so that finding and recruiting and supporting viable progressive politicians will prevent this problem in five or ten or twenty years. Let's also figure out what else we have to do to avoid this dilemma in the future.

[ Parent ]
This Is Key: (4.00 / 2)
My last point is that the threat of dumping Obama needs a hammer to make it real. Only a progressive movement can serve as that hammer, for Obama or any politician.

Another way of understanding this particular Underpants Gnome problem is that, much like the "physicist, chemist and economist stranded on desert island" joke that I've told a couple of times here, the "argument" here is "assume we have a hammer."  

But if we actually had a hammer, we wouldn't be having this discussion now.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Pragmatisms (4.00 / 7)
I'm a Democratic Party volunteer -- a precinct committee person, actually. I go to the local office, because today we're calling voters. We're going to tell them about President Obama's 10 great achievements (or 5, or 37, or whatever) since taking office. I can do this.

I can do this, even if it's really not a job for me. My colleagues don't understand why, and I don't tell them. Some of them know that I moonlight here, and just shake their heads. I'm not part of the solution.

No, I'm not. I'm part of the baggage. I think, if we'd elected Hubert Humphrey in 1968, would things REALLY be hunky-dory now? I suppress the thought, pick up the phone. I take a deep breath and start dialing.

Schizophrenia is just part of the job.


This is a good discussion. (4.00 / 6)
I wish I had a little more time now to jump in. I find Paul's strategic approach thoroughly unconvincing. I see absolutely zero evidence it leads to a more progressive direction of the Democratic Party or of challenging in any way the stranglehold the corporate Democrats have on the party. It seems to me, cutting away the South Park insults, in the end it reinforces the marginalization of the left in the party. I know that is not Rosenberg's intent but I see no evidence that his strategy has any real legs, It is not new by the way...it has been around and unsuccessful for decades. Lux gave no strategy and it is really disingenuous for Rosenberg to act as if he did. Lux gave an electoral positioning which was entirely opportunistic never dealing with the problem of implementing new populist promises when the previous ones have just been trashed by the same party.
I do not know that Metamars and Jeffroby's approach will be more succesful but it certainly will command greater general attention and will distinguish the left from Obama and the present course of the Democratic Party. That is valuable and worthwhile. Right now, Obama gives socialism and the left a bad name. In the public mind the Obama/Dem failures become, absent an independent left voice, the failures of the left, of progressives. Rosenberg never deals with the need for an independent left voice. (He does of course formally; but his prescription is to bury that voice in these selective Dem campaigns; which one of these campaigns really allows raising a left criticism of the direction this country is headed? How can this be unanswered when Rosenberg is the same time saying WHO WILL OPPOSE OBAMA? If there is enough verbal and vocal disgust with Obama be sure some ambitious politician will realize the opportunity and will jump in.

I wish we could get beyond "Dump Obama" (4.00 / 1)
Sure, maybe that's even possible. I doubt it. But that's not really the issue either, at least for me.

It's about the bulk of the Party Leadership. To my mind, personalizing it in the typical American fashion manages to let other people off the hook... thus preserving the problem itself.

For example, after Pelosi's horrid behavior passing the last War Supplemental, does anyone have any doubts as to what she's going to do when the Poverty Enhancement Commission does it's thing?

Yet, she's not getting any heat about that. If I lived in SFO, I'd be organizing a guerrilla marketing campaign to tar her as a traitor to Party Values. It's a smallish district, so it's very doable. It may not get her tossed out of office, but it might wake her up. Then again.......................

But this is why lacking a strategy really hurts. Right now, all we can do is kvetch.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
A Dump Obama movement would draw in all the Nancy Pelosis (0.00 / 0)
And in not just defending Obama, but attacking any challengers, she and her ilk would draw the heat as well.  Although it may seem like I am personalizing this, a challenge to Obama is a challenge to all of them.  Going more directly after lesser figures would not.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Pelosi 2012? That's an idea. (0.00 / 0)
Not bad. Maybe still not progressive enough for some, but determinedly better than effing Obama. First female president, following after the first African American president. Why should she not be able to gather a lot of support? Really, not bad.

[ Parent ]
It's the branding I don't like. (4.00 / 2)
Protest is protest. But if you brand it referring to one specific person, you're limiting your own options. That's a mistake. So is personalizing this a mistake, since his supporters will simply resist with everything they've got. You'll just be labeled with whatever syndrome--oh yeah Derangement-- they've got going.

Now, if the protest were to be labeled, say, "Dump the Dems," then you might even get some press. In fact, that's almost guaranteed the way the presstitutes operate these days. Then you can go all Abbie Hoffman on CNN, instead of the local community station pumping a whopping 16 Watts.

So making this all about Obama ignores 95% of the problem and makes it too easy for leadership to smack you down.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Exactly. (4.00 / 1)
It cannot be about Obama, specifically.

The problem with "Dump the Dems" is it doesn't differentiate.  It doesn't leave anything in anyone's minds to remind them what the big deal was all about.  I'm suggesting "Dump Neo-Liberals", something direct and to the point.  It draws a thick line of separation.


[ Parent ]
Quite to the contrary. (0.00 / 0)
You have to replace Obama with a SPECIFIC candidate, of course! That's a point that Paul got right, the flaw in the rebel plan is that they don't have a specific candidate yet who is popular enough to challenge Obama. And it has to be tried to replace Obama, because he is the worst obstacle towards more progressive policies!  

[ Parent ]
And as I state over and over ... (4.00 / 1)
The movement has to precede the candidate.  No candidate will jump in without a base of support.  Thus our task at the moment is to get Dump Obama into the public discourse, then build that base of support.

Mass anti-war sentiment preceded Allard Lowenstein's move in 1967, which preceded Eugene McCarthy jumping in, which preceded Bobby Kennedy jumping in.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
That's a point. (0.00 / 0)
But still, the whole thing will only gain traction and become a force that can't be ignored after you have found the candidate to unite behind.

[ Parent ]
But then it becomes about a canidate. (4.00 / 1)
Yet another liberal messiah.  I don't know about you, but I'm getting kind of sick of those.

[ Parent ]
I don't think another "Messiah" can be sold this soon again. (4.00 / 1)
Of course, ANY candidate will be marketed and sold as a produkt. That's inevitable today. You don't have to like that, but it's part of the way this game is played nowadays. Because it brings results. Still, it would be desirable if all the advertsing hype still stays close to the truth. Not another sham package like 'New progressive Obama, with much more change and hope than all others!', pls.

[ Parent ]
I tend to think precisely the same way. (4.00 / 1)
But... and this is a big BUT, I wonder how efficacious a "precision strike" model would be from the outset. This is a question, mind you, not an assertion.

My initial thinking on this is to go whole hog on the party and make them defend themselves. Some will easily do better than others and we know who those people will be, don't we? Why not let THEM do the differentiating? When the good ones stand up, then shout hosannas in their direction. If it's someone we don't like, call them liars.

Who's going to get more media time, a seemingly minor intra-party squabble or a much bigger broadside? You say, "Dump the Dems" and CNN, ABC, NBC and every other outlet will be calling you. With proper planning, that could be turned into a serious hit on the party.

But then you say, (ahem) rather like (but obviously with honesty) the phony teabaggers, "The party isn't serving it's members or the nation because they aren't sufficiently progressive. We know how to fix a lot of these problems, yet we can't get within 300 miles of the White House, even though our activists are largely responsible for putting them in power...." So on, so forth, etc.

Sometimes a blunderbuss approach is more effective, even if it seems messy. Because it's not enough to merely complain, when a Raul Grijalva says something cool, we go support him and say, "See? This is what we want!"

Using terms like Neo-Liberal, which I use all the freakin' time, is hard to convey to a larger audience. It has to be explained to them. So, get the opening first and once you've gained some audience, then lay it on with gusto.

Differentiation can come out of the process of dissent itself. It doesn't have to be on the lapel button. But without making a serious ruckus to begin with and causing some confusion by knocking people back on their heels, being too clever can be costly.


"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
But (4.00 / 6)
as you yourself admit, the Dems in Congress let Obama get away with pushing policies that they'd oppose if he was a Republican.  

So, in many ways, we're worse off because Obama won the last election.  So, why can't we at least try to ditch him now?

I'll never vote for the least bad alternative again.  

If the Dems are successful in slashing SS/Medicare, it won't even be a good argument that they're better on domestic issues.

I won't ever let the perfect be the enemy of the good, but can we at least get some good?


Joseph Keller would be amused by these posts (4.00 / 6)
American Soldier: It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!

Aged Italian Partisan: You've got that one backward son.  It's better to live on your feet than to die on your knees."

I don't understand why Paul and so many others on the "progressive" left can't seem to trust in their own feet and the ability to get things done.  Just keep kneeling and thinking about living while they sharpen the axe I guess.

---------

or

---------

1. Sell out your core liberal principles and settle for watered down, meaningless legislation
2.  ???
3.  Total progressive victory!

'Cuz that's exactly where we are today my friend.  The unknown at least has a chance of being better, I see no way out of this cycle by lining up and pulling the "D" button like rats in a maze hoping for a cookie.


No One's Talking About Selling Out (4.00 / 1)
Strawman arguments are a sign of total lamitude.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
I think you're being hard on Paul (0.00 / 0)
But I think your broader point stands. But I also think Paul managed to make a broader point using the Underpants Gnome. It seems central to the way a lot of "leaders" think about everything.

Since you're so clear on this point, may I ask as to what you would like to see happen on a strategic level? I ask, because this strikes me as the central question of the time.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I Have REPEATEDLY Criticized Obama For His Shifting Positions & Rightwing Accomodations (4.00 / 1)
So I think it's pretty damn clear that any progressive stance I can get him to take rhetorically, I will use to hold him accountable.

The notion that I'm advocating slavish subservience is simply slander, nothing more.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Hehe, "hold him accountable"! How? (4.00 / 1)
Really, how, without replacing him? That jerk doesn't care about progressives! He will ignore any complaints from the left, and even exploit them to enhance his "postpartisan" image. So, accountability, a great idea, but where are the effing means for that? Ain't that another UGP?

1. Declare intent to hold Obama accountable
2. ???
3. Progressive forced Obama to the left!

Sry, but I really don't see how anything will become better without removing the guy from the WH. If you have any realistic ideas about levers that could be used to strongarm him, shoot!


[ Parent ]
Robert Gibbs Says Otherwise (0.00 / 0)
They do notice and pay attention to us.(Even though they'd rather not.)

Not nearly as much as we'd like, of course.  But pretending that we're totally powerless is just a lazy man's way out.  You think you can justify the Underpants Gnome plan by saying that everything else is futile.  Which isn't even a rational argument, just an attempt to overwhelm people with a sense of futility. You're starting to sound like a GOP troll.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Where are the consequences of this attention? (0.00 / 0)
Where is the pound of flesh for progressives? Not even Elisabeth Warren has been nominated yet! But in the meantime, Van Jones and Sherrod are out of the adminstration. So, really, what does it mean if effing Gibbs, the mercenary doing the loudmouthing for Obama, says they're paying attention? A big fat NOTHIN'! Where are the actions as evidence of the attention? There aren't any. Just more cheap lipservices, that's all.

Oh, and btw, to return the compliment: You start to sound like Obama! There you have it (at least I didn't say Lieberman).
:P


[ Parent ]
Hold on there. (0.00 / 0)
I wasn't going after you. I was responding to the other zot.

You don't have to defend yourself to me. You're not advocating slavish anything. I do think that remark was unfair, hence my remark that he/she was being harsh. Okay?

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
that's my question also (4.00 / 5)
You offer trenchant criticisms of Obama and the Dems regularly.  You apparently despise neoliberalism, and see it for the sham it is.

If, in 2012, you push Obama as the only (of 2) candidates that we, your readership, should vote?  What then does it matter what you like or don't like about Dem policy?  They can be as neoliberal as they wanna be.  You'll always come home.  Rahm was right.

And in 2016 you'll support the next neoliberal as the least bad choice?

How will the Dems change if you continue to vote for them despite their neoliberalism?

Doesn't the plan to move the Dems leftward need to be long? By which I mean: don't you have to be willing to live with Republican victories in the near term(2012)?

(I already suspect I'm writing in "Gus Hall" if Obama is one of my two choices, no matter the identity of his R opponent.)


[ Parent ]
No Strawmen, Please! (0.00 / 0)
If, in 2012, you push Obama as the only (of 2) candidates that we, your readership, should vote?  What then does it matter what you like or don't like about Dem policy?  They can be as neoliberal as they wanna be.  You'll always come home.  Rahm was right.

Only problem is, I never said anything like that.

This is just a strawman argument to distract from the gaping hole in the Underpants Gnome plan.  Fill that hole for me in a credible way, and then we can talk.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
your plan (4.00 / 2)
Both times the incumbent withdrew.  Both times the challenger did not win the Democratic nomination.  Both times the Republicans won the general election--and were easily re-elected four years later.  What would make this time different?  What would be Phase 2, if Obama actually were forced out of the race?   The Underpants Gnomes have no idea.  And frankly, they don't even seem interested.  Their goal is getting rid of Obama.  Winning the general election isn't even on their radar, except as something to reject:

   5)  The argument that our primary concern must be to prevent a Republican takeover is bankrupt and worse, a public menace.

But perhaps what's most frustrating about this proposal is that it actually makes the original Underpants Gnomes look good.

Are you not saying that you want (and we should all support) a Democratic, presumably Obama, victory in '12?

Again:
How will the Dems change if you continue to vote for them despite their neoliberalism?

Doesn't the plan to move the Dems leftward need to be long? By which I mean: don't you have to be willing to live with Republican victories in the near term(2012)?  


[ Parent ]
You keep saying no strawmen Paul (4.00 / 3)
but your entire "Underpants Gnomes" point is a gigantic strawman.  You're painting everyone who wants a different course than yourself as being simplistic, moronic, and unable see further than one step ahead.

Even in your posted plan, you offer "conditional support" for democratic candidates.  The real division here is that my line for conditional support is much, much shorter than yours.  Most (if not all) of the moderates are out of my comfort zone, I feel no desire or need to enable them any longer at the voting booth.  This definitely includes Obama and most within his administration.  They don't share my values, they don't support my desired policies, they offer nothing in return for my support.  Hence the condition has been met and I simply don't care if they sink, swim, or destruct.  So my question for you is: what are you going to do when the party as a whole fails your "conditional support" premise?  What recourse would you follow?

Would I prefer a Republican in the WH instead, or in charge of one/both houses?  Really, I don't care if the choice is between giving everything away to the rich in a large dollop (the republican way) or in a small and steady stream (the moderate dem way.)  I'm not afraid of the coming fight, if they want to get to it quicker then it'll be over that much sooner.

The pain is coming man, there is no way to avoid it.  These are large, systemic problems that might not be able to be handled by the institutions of the past.  The power of the rich and ignorant has grown to a tremendous degree - I would say this challenge is equal to the confederacy in Lincoln's time.  We don't have 40 years to slowly build a rebuttal organization, this time bomb has less than 10 years before we will be in a state of constant crisis.

I do applaud you for the responses in this thread.  It's obvious you believe heart and soul in what you are writing (why else would you continue to take this punishment?)  It sure as hell isn't enjoyable or ego-friendly to have these arguments.  

But my question still stands: what are you willing to do if democrats fail your conditions for support and there is no avenue to spend 40 years building new institutions?  What is your plan B Paul without it being underwear gnomes territory?  Because honestly, I think we're just a little bit ahead on that curve of distrust, for me at least it now spreads to the institutions used to change politics as well as the political actors themselves.


[ Parent ]
My own criteria aren't completely abstract (4.00 / 2)
The healthcare fight pointed out the line in the sand.  The mandate and the restrictions on abortion were (are) outrages.  But most horrifying was the way the Grijalva bloc tried to take a stand on some kind of public option, and then caved.  If Kucinich had gone down fighting, I might have had a little more hope.  But as he himself said, he didn't want to become a rallying point.

Healthcare was the fight where some left force within the Democratic could have made their stand.  It was a disaster.  The extent of the disaster can be measured by the lack of any fight over a serious jobs creation program other than a variation of Reagan's trickle-down tax breaks.

My advocacy of Dump Obama is an attempt, you might even call it a desperate attempt, to stake out some kind of rallying point.  For these are desperate times.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Heller? (0.00 / 0)
I am assuming you mean Joseph Heller.

Anyway, props for the Catch-22 reference, even if substantively I do not really agree with you.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Sorry, Heller (0.00 / 0)
Sometimes I post on the iPad, it's excessively easy to swipe the wrong key and not notice.  

[ Parent ]
Hmm, to some extent, I think you misread my comment. (4.00 / 6)
First of all, I won't fully endorse a "Dump Obama Movement," mostly for the reasons you yourself just cited. Indeed, I wasn't talking about that at all, so I'm not sure how my comments figure into that discussion. That and I don't think it will work, if polling of Dems and their approval of Obama means anything at all.

I used the word "Right" in my heder because, per usual, I often agree with Mike's ideas or rhetoric. What I found problematic in Mike's piece that day is his continuing assumption that the Democratic Party stands for anything that isn't distinctly anti-progressive.

My assertion is that as long as Progressives feel they can accomplish things by backing people who are diametrically opposed to their own agenda, they are being fools. I don't see how Progressives gain power or influence by pretending they can gain something by supplicating themselves to people who harbor so much contempt for them.

All I want is for insiders like Mike to make the jump to realism and away from The Battered Wife Syndrome. Acting as if doesn't make it so.

So to be clear, I don't see any magic bullets or simple solutions to any of this. Pretending we have influence when we clearly do not solves precisely nothing. It only serves to further enfeeble what once started to look like a movement. At this point, I would be greatly pleased if Progressives started thinking more generally in terms of how we're going to survive the current trends. But right now we seem to have limited options in terms of our own commons.

Party supplicants argue we have to support REGRESSIVES because GOP REGRESSIVES are a "million times worse." I'm not speaking so much of Mike here as others, like dKos and a couple people at C&L, for starters. The insipid "logic" of this meme is that we have to surrender, so it's better to surrender to a Dem than the GOP. I call bullshit on that. You can't enable, empower and organize people effectively on that kind of idea--most people understand that kind of utter bullshit when they hear it. People will just go home and stay there.

So while I agree with 90% of your post, I disagree that Mike's post was a great roadmap to progressive success. The reason it will fail lies very much in his mindless acceptance of WH talking points which bare no relation to reality. My point about WH making itself look "reasonable" in it's own REGRESSIVE policies by painting the GOP as wild-eyed "destroyers of SS" stands, precisely because it is bullshit. This administration is the one that appointed Cat Food Alan. They're the ones looking to do the looting for their own enrichment.

So my point is simple: Hitching oneself to that bandwagon is political suicide, not empowerment. I understand very well Mike's reasoning behind it, but he's not thinking this through. You can't support REGRESSIVE people and call yourself a Progressive, especially when they are doing such horrible things as this crew is. You can be a Democrat and do that, but you can't expect people to believe you're a Progressive. Mike is more devoted to the Party than anything else, and given his long history within the apparat, I certainly don't fault him for that. He's not being "immoral" or "bad" or anything remotely like that. Mostly I fault him for being a hopeless romantic, but again, who can really dislike someone like that? I can't!

I respect his intelligence, his dedication both to good ideas and his commitment to the Party. But like apparatchiks of any sort, in any business, trade or profession, his final analysis is usually colored with the group-think of his own apparat. I can't be too judgmental about that, since I'm sure I do that as well. I think we all do at one time or another--but maybe that's just me trying to defend my own occasional (often?) undiscipline. But that's why respecting each other is so damn important, even if we disagree.

So I don't know what the answer is--I wish I did. I think it's a conundrum, really. I smile at things like "Dump Obama" not because it's realistic or even a good idea, but rather because it tells me there are other people who are starting to acquire situational awareness. Perhaps that's the first step to realization.

You can't successfully fight on any front if you don't know who your enemies are. That's not a solution, but you can't find the solution(s) without knowing that first, eh?

So when I hear people saying we need to get behind the Party effort, even though we know it's BS and too many people won't buy it anyway, I just have to point out things like who is really going to force old and disabled people to dine on pet food from China.

I think Progressives have to find ways of flexing what underdeveloped muscles we do have at opportune moments. We have to be willing to jettison people and ideas that we are opposed to, if only to make a point. But I also recognize that's not always the best idea. Personally, I think Obama is doing a bang-up job of self-immolation without anyone's help.

But that's not enough either. Progressive messaging, taken as a whole, largely bites because it's not focused as much on Progressivism as it is Party Cheerleading--this is especially acute during election cycles. That's a major strategic flaw, IMO, and with the community so terribly split between cheerleaders and critics, I don't see that changing anytime soon.

A good strategy can overcome a great deal of tactical blunders. But no amount of tactical success can overcome a bad strategy. Progressives, as a whole community, don't have a strategy at all that I can see--it's all about tactics. The greater community can't even agree on the most fundamental Strategic Question: Who are we and what are WE ABOUT? Without having a good answer to that question, none of the following questions even matter.

Supporting our erstwhile enemies does nothing to solve that dilemma. It only makes it more difficult to even have that discussion in the first place.

Strategy is about Goal Setting.

Tactics is about Problem Solving.

You can't solve problems until you know what they are and you can't know that until you have a Strategy. So thus far, most of the hyperventilating on the interwebs about "What To Do" is already misplaced. As far as the Party Apparat goes, it's actually misdirection, IMHO.

Lastly, this is why I really like your use of the Underpants Gnome. You could not have picked a better vehicle than that one. It succinctly describes so much of how this society operates, it's scary.



"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


Define Obama Movement (Dump Neo-Liberals Movement) (4.00 / 4)
I believe the 2012 presidential primary is a good time for progressives to make a strong point.  But "Dump Obama" isn't quite right.

For one, this isn't about Obama.  Anything you can say about Obama you can say about the bulk of the Democratic leadership.  Focusing too much on Obama guarantees pissing off blacks (at a minimum), emphasizes Tea Party crazy points, and obfuscates that actual problems.

The goal must be to draw a distinction between neo-liberals and progressives in the minds of voters.

Obama is simply a representation of the central point.  In fact, he can easily be characterized as someone who once was (or seemed) progressive but got washed away in neo-liberal beliefs.

So I actually think something similar to a "Dump Obama Movement" could be a good idea.  But make it "Define Obama" or "Dump Neo-Liberals".


Precisely (0.00 / 0)
Obama is simply a representation of the central point.  In fact, he can easily be characterized as someone who once was (or seemed) progressive but got washed away in neo-liberal beliefs.

That's why I want to focus on Obama.  It naturally draws all those others in as well.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Distraction (4.00 / 3)
That's why I want to focus on Obama.  It naturally draws all those others in as well.

Except that is exactly backwards.  Obama brings in race (whether you want to or not), personality, the Tea Party and tons of other stuff.  It also gives you absolutely nothing to build upon.

Step one, call the Movement something different.  I suggest "Dump Neo-Liberals".  That puts to focus where it belongs.

Then, with that focus, primary Obama and other Democrats in 2012, all under the same heading of Dump Neo-Liberals.

See the difference?


[ Parent ]
But Mark! Then You'd Lose The Underpants Gnome Contingent! (0.00 / 0)
Which at this point would prove fatal.

You're just too damn logical and practical.  Get with the program, dude!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Bad marketing, Mark. (0.00 / 0)
"Dump Obama" is a hard hitting slogan that will connect with many voters. "Dump Neo-Liberals", not so much. You have to take that into account, too. And you still can attack Obama-enabling DINO'S and centrists under the "Dump Obama", that's no problem.

[ Parent ]
But to what end? (4.00 / 1)
Why market something bad and destructive?

Now, there may very well be something better than "Dump Neo-Liberals", as much as I like it.  The fact is, I tend to suck at coming up with names.

But I think controlling the language is important.  It isn't just the name, it is the focus.  Zeroing in on Obama is a bad idea, for all the reasons given.  What do we really want to zero in on?  It ain't Obama.  What then?


[ Parent ]
Of course, it has to be Obama. (4.00 / 1)
He's the #1 obstacle for progressive legislation. How do you want to achieve anything important with him actively working against this? He has to go. Others, too, if possible, but BHO is the posterchild for everything that's wrong in the Damn party.  

[ Parent ]
#1 obstacle for progressive legislation? (4.00 / 1)
Have you paid no attention to congress lately?  Obama has not been the solution and Obama has done tons of bad things without the consent of congress, but he is but one important player when it comes to legislation.

We even have half on an experiment to analyze.  Look at what passed the House these past two years.  Compare and contrast to actual legislation signed by Obama.  That difference has nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with the filibuster and the Senate.

The other half of a good experiment would be to see what a better progressive President could have gotten through the Senate, but I strongly suspect the current House legislation would be better than the alternative universe Senate legislation.


[ Parent ]
Obama never made a stand against the Senate. (4.00 / 2)
And he never made the obstructionism an issue or prepared the ground for getting rid of the filibuster. Without the president weighing in, there's next to no chance of getting rid of the roadblocks. So, imho, it's Obama who is the #1 obstacle.  

[ Parent ]
No it doesn't. (4.00 / 3)
Consider the current politico-media environment we're in. Race is EVERYWHERE and 98% of the time, NOT in a good way. Anyone who isn't a rich, WHITE Republican is being held up as traitors. So what you're proposing is distinctly dangerous on this point alone. You're going to play right into the nativist right with this and that's the way the press will treat it, because that's what they want to hear/see/do.

So Mark's thinking is a good deal better, IMO, although I think using "neo-liberal" as branding is a tough sell. That's the kind of word that goes in copy (where it can be explained), not the heder, where everyone will see it for a fleeting moment.

Dump The Dems is crude, but it's sufficiently amorphous people will have to ask questions. Perhaps there's something better though. I'm sure there probably is. But the point is to create a broadside and let people squirm out of it or start making deals. Nailing one person can't possibly do that.

Making it all about Obama invites a lot more problems than it solves, and no, it does not draw in Pelosi, or even Reid, much less Hoyer and so on. It allows the others a very distinct OUT, since they can just say, "Look it's just about these Obama-Haters.... it has nothing to do with me."

So be careful what you wish for.

This is  about intra-party dynamics and not personalities.



"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Neo-Liberals (4.00 / 2)
I don't think everyone knows what a Neo-Liberal is.  Partially that's why I like the idea.  If the group calls itself "Dump Neo-Liberals" and uses that term over and over again, then that name will get used in the headlines.  Eventually, at least.

That forces people to think about what Neo-Liberal means.  Even the most straight forward definition of "new liberal" implies the "old liberals" were better (according to this group, at least).  The fact the term actually has a well defined meaning helps as well.  That allows the same phrase to work at many different levels simultaneously.

By controlling the language we get to control what the debate is about.


[ Parent ]
If the group calls itself "Dump Neo-Liberals"? (0.00 / 0)
But there is no group.  We're at the earliest stages here.  Many good ideas are kicking around here, but they lack ORGANIZATIONAL specificity, which I contend is far more important than candidate specificity.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Oh, there is a group of them. (4.00 / 1)
The only problem is it's too vague in terms of common parlance and thusly represents a challenge in terms of imaging. And I would also caution about too much specificity too. The narrower your focus, the narrower your options are.

If you want to cause a ruckus that will have a more mass appeal, then by all means, GO BIG. You can always narrow things down later. Indeed, you'll have to to keep people focused on The Prize, as it were.

But you're right, there's a lot of good thinking going on here, agree or disagree with any given point.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
As you say: (0.00 / 0)
Oh, there is a group of them

Precisely.  No one official Dump Obama group.  All the suggestions here are good ones.  It will take a lot of dialogue to sort them all out.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Well, I was referring to Neo-Libs. (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, there's some good stuff to chew on here. It's been a fun conversation.

So in that vein, let me say that while I have some differences with you on certain things, do note that I share in your desire to revolt against the corporatist overlords.

I think if one thing is clear from this thread (174 comments thus far), it's that this is a pretty widely held view round these parts.

IMO, that's more important and more enlightening than what the damn thing is actually called.

Cheers,

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I mostly agree with this. (0.00 / 0)
Especially the last sentence. 1000%

But in a sense, you just explained my own qualm about this labeling. How do you get people to sign on to a slogan that includes a term they don't know the meaning of? If I say to someone, "We need to get rid the Neo-Keynsians!", they'll either off me a blank stare or they'll go off to Wikipedia to look up what that means. And as much as I love pedagogical exercises, it doesn't have the kind of HOOK one needs to gain and hold people's attention.

But perhaps my slogan, which took all of 1/5th of a second to come up with, isn't all that great either. I can certainly live with that.

So to get back to controlling the language, whatever it's called has to be catchy, preferably alliterative and easy to get. Dump The Leaders. Cuckhold The Corrupt! (I jest, but it sings, eh?)

Maybe a strong anti-corruption message would do it. Maybe something relating to the banksters. But it has to be clear and broad enough to put a lot of people back on their heels, throwing them off-balance. You simply cannot reach the moment of decision (favorable to YOU) if you can't manage to pull that off.

That's where the opening is to discuss Neo-Liberalism. But as a campaign button, I don't think it will sell. Then again, not putting it on the masthead of the movement web site doesn't mean it won't go in the body. It most certainly has to.

Heh. Maybe Dump The Neos. It's too vague for my taste, but I have to admit it has a nice sound. I don't know.

Let's keep trying. :^)

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
. (0.00 / 1)
You guys are the equivalent of a left leaning tea party. Too bad nobody cares.

Then why ain't I rich? (4.00 / 3)
This thread shows that somebody cares.  And this is just day 3!

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Which Is Why You Just HAD To Comment Yourself! (4.00 / 3)
Too bad nobody cares.

Ah, the art of the self-refuting argument!

Very good!

Very good!

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I hope you didn't sprain your massive intellect with this one. (4.00 / 1)


"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

[ Parent ]
I would like to address a wide range of comments (0.00 / 0)
Some folks have come up with improvements on Dump Obama, such as  Dump neo-liberals, Dump dems, supporting progressives, etc.

They are good ideas.  My advocacy of Dump Obama rather than more sophisticated alternatives is premised on the fact that progressives within the Democratic Party are closer to being an angry mob than a cohesive organization.  I mean no disrespect to them as individuals, but there is no coherent body that could come to agreement on these more sophisticated tactics and strategies, and then carry them out.  The best we saw was Grijalva's bloc during the Healthcare fight, and recall how they caved.

Dump Obama is unspeakably crude.  But in its very crudeness it has the POTENTIAL for mass appeal which these other ideas lack.  There is a price for this crudeness.  It might attract a wide array of progressive forces, and maybe a few not so progressive ones (though the focus on the Dem primaries would do some filtering).  The candidate would undoubtedly be to the right of the movement, and not particularly interested in building something the day after the election.

I am well aware of these matters.  I persist with Dump Obama because it has the potential to generate energy, pull in some numbers, and create the preconditions for higher levels of tactics and strategy, higher levels of organization.  These are the goals.  As for actually having a Dump Obama challenger win the Dem nomination, I consider that highly unlikely.  Saying that we won't isn't telling me anything I don't already know.

For those carping at me for magic bullets, easy solutions, all that, good lord!  I can only state that if we succeed, our difficulties will have only begun.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


Underpants Gnome Bait (4.00 / 3)
Dump Obama is unspeakably crude.  But in its very crudeness it has the POTENTIAL for mass appeal which these other ideas lack.

Sorta says it all.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
You know... (4.00 / 1)
I almost commented on your "But Mark! Then You'd Lose The Underpants Gnome Contingent!" comment, thinking that last bit of snark wasn't very helpful, as we were actually entering the possibility of reaching an agreement of a good idea.

And then, wouldn't you know it, Jeff specifically endorses your point.  Sure enough, he isn't willing to do something actually useful or constructive because it would lose the Underpants Gnome Contingent.

Part of me asks myself "when will I learn??"  But you know what, I don't think I want to learn that particular lesson, whatever it is.


[ Parent ]
Sorry ... (0.00 / 0)
... but I don't understand.  What exactly was I endorsing?  Where did I say I wouldn't do something useful?

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
You didn't think you did (0.00 / 0)
But you did.

Paul already highlighted the sentences I would, so no need to repeat.  I can't think of anything to say that I haven't already said, but I'll try.

1) Focusing on Obama is a bad idea for a wide range of reasons.

2) You need a unifying theme that goes beyond personality. What exactly do you want?  What does the movement stand for and/or against?

3) If you go against other Dems, not just Obama, under the unifying theme, you emphasize that theme and de-emphasize the personalities.

Now this is tricky.  Progressives will never, ever have something as simple as "never raise taxes".  But you need to define that thing, as simply as possible, that separates Obama from what a good progressive would actually be.

As a self described recovering neo-liberal, I like using that term.  But "progressive populism" works, as does a bunch of other stuff.

Again, I'm not just saying this needs a better name.  I'm trying to go deeper and make sure the movement actually stands for something and gives us something to build upon.

Basically, ask yourself this.  Assume that Obama wins the primary easily, after your attempt to remove him.  What do you want the lasting memory of the movement to be?  What should people remember?  What should people think about Obama?  What do you have that you can build upon?

I feel it is very safe to assume "Dump Obama" won't leave you anything useful.


[ Parent ]
It's very early to begin drawing ANY conclusions (0.00 / 0)
I only raise possibilities.  Since you say you can't think of anything to say that you haven't already said, and you don't, I see no need to reiterate my answers.

But as for your last question, "What do you have that you can build upon?" maybe more foundation for a 3rd party, maybe some independent Democratic Party infrastructure.  Dump Obama is a broad tactic.  There could be a broad array of results, along with those who usually go home after the election.

If my answers were more concrete, I assure you that I'd be attacked for my abstract master plan, my claims to having a crystal ball, etc.

I'm very patient.  Small moves, small gains.  There is no basis for your final remark one way or the other.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Sry, Mark, but your accusations are unbased. (4.00 / 1)
Jeff did a lot stomping here to unify people behind a new movement (Full Court Press) to hold Dem candidates accountable and to push progressive policies. And if some more experienced activists would have picked this up, something good could have come out of it. Sadly, that didn't happen, but at least Jeff really tried. Actually, he invested more time and effort into this than neither you not me on anything here.  So, there go your points 2 and 3. And your point 1) is only your personal opinion, and not proven at all.

[ Parent ]
Gray, (0.00 / 0)
I deeply, deeply appreciate this!

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Welcome. You know I was sceptical about your idea... (0.00 / 0)
..because I thought it would be a better strategy to work within an existing group like MoveOn, profitting from their experience, but at the same time I couldn't help but respect your enthusiasm, determination, and commitment. And I still think it would be good if the idea of controlled accountability would be picked up by, say, ActBlue or Progressive Punch, for instance. Every serious leverage that helps in delivering the message to lawmakers that progressives can't be taken for granted would be helpful.

[ Parent ]
It's all opinion (4.00 / 1)
I guess you are saying he tried something more like what I suggest before, failed, and having learned from that wants to try a different tact.  I'll buy that, to some extent, at least.  But, just because the same person had another idea doesn't have any direct impact on this idea.  Not really.  It certainly doesn't change the validity of my criticism.

I just don't get that you or Jeff really have a real goal in mind.  Through all this discussion, I don't walk away believing there is an answer to the ??? in Paul's post.  With a fairly simple change, I suggest one possible ???.  Rejecting that is fine, but ignoring the need for an answer is not.

I'm don't remember the Full Court Press thing, but I'll read it.


[ Parent ]
The point hidden behind ??? is obvious. (0.00 / 0)
It's simply "find a hugely popular candidate who is more progressive than Obama and do everyathing legally possible to get her/him elected!" Paul's criticism actually boils down to two points: a) Who is this candidate? and b) This is too risky!  

Well, a) will become more clear in the next year, when the challengers throw their hats in the ring. And b) depends on who the rethuglican candidate will be, doesn't it? If it's Palin, a heated primary still won't hurt the chances of the Dem candidate too much. If its a moderate, like, say, Romney, where's the big difference to Obama, then? After all, the Dem president already signed Romneycare....


[ Parent ]
Oh, right (4.00 / 1)
You actually plan on winning the primary.

Ignoring everything else, you do realize that kicking out in the Democratic primaries the first black president ever would have some other consequences, right?

I believe there are tons of other problems, but seriously, this is a non-starter.  I hate to pull the "race card", but this is no laughing matter.


[ Parent ]
Yes, But kicking out the hopefully first FEMALE president.... (0.00 / 0)
...had consequences, too. Obama still won. Why should it be impossible to repeat this, this time the other way round? It depends on the candidate. Jeff passingly mentioned Pelosi. Well, why not? She has a chance.

So, I hate to pull the "feminist card", but this is no laughing matter.  


[ Parent ]
Schematic Thinking DeLux! (4.00 / 2)
This a perfect example of Underpants Gnome defensive thinking mode I've referred to elsewhere as "schematic".  It has a clever formal structure to it, but it's utterly divorced from reality.

This example takes no note of the fact that:

(1) Obama is an incumbent president. Clinton was not.
(2) Someone had to lose the contested primary of 2008.  The same isn't true of the normally uncontested primary that 2012 will bring.
(3) There actually was a considerable residue of bitterness that took time to overcome, which was greatly assisted by deliberate acts of reconciliation--up to and including the appointment of Clinton as Secretary of State that are clearly not going to be repeated in this projected scenario.
(4) There's a long history of tension (as well as collaboration) between black and feminist activists, and fact that we whethered a contentious primary in 2008 that reopened some of those tensions will only be deeply aggravated by having a contentious primary challenge in 2012.

Schematic thnking as a means of avoiding deling with tough questions is a halmark of Underpants Gnome advocates avoid dealing with their fundamental lack of a rational plan.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I don't think I sound like Mike (De)Lux, but thx. (0.00 / 0)
1),2),3) 4), BHO should run no more!

It still depends on who runs for the rethuglicans. And who on the Dem side. And some candidates WILL have to lose the primary 2012, too. If the mood is against Obama, as it increasingly seems, why NOT him? It depends on what the public thinks about him. It may very well be that there'll be a strong majority for getting rid of him, if his lousy performance continues. It's the economy, stupid! And if Obama can't deliver, but is presiding over FAILURE, he may retire, like LBJ. He even already made statements about a single term!

And as for the feminist/African American divide, this can't be avoided if a female challenger runs in 2012. So, what?


[ Parent ]
FCP (0.00 / 0)
I read the idea and think it was pretty good.  Apparently Paul promoted it but Chris took it down, or something, at least according to one of Jeff's comments.

[ Parent ]
dates (0.00 / 0)
Though the FCP link is dated 2009 while Jeff has some comments linking to it from 2007.  I'm not sure what is up with that.

[ Parent ]
I had put out the idea before ... (0.00 / 0)
but in 2009 decided that since nobody else was doing it, I had to take responsibility for giving it a shot.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan

[ Parent ]
Yeah, the idea was good. (0.00 / 0)
And if, for instance, MoveOn or Progressive Punch (or both!) would have picked it up, they could have more easily implemented it. After all, it's basically a combination of the score card approach to evaluate a lawmakers performance with the ability to reward real progressives that a fundraising organisation has. It would provide a leverage for progressives to make phonies, pretenders and sellouts accountable by withdrawing support! And as the depressing situation of the progressives now shows, their powerless complaining is based on the lack of leverage on the Congress. This has to change!

[ Parent ]
The experience with the Full Court Press did inform Dump Obama (0.00 / 0)
Here's why.  I got a fair amount of support, but it turned out that my supporters broke down into 2 camps.  (1) Independents who had no interest in running in Democratic primaries, and (2) Democrats who initially liked the idea (challenge all 435 Democratic primaries, not running to win but to advance a modest 5-point agenda) but almost immediately started focusing on winning individual races.

In other words, the plan was too sophisticated without having a very strong organization already in place, too radical for some, not radical enough for others.  And moving it along took more commitment from individuals than they were willing to make.

In other words, it didn't have sufficient foundation, without being picked up by bigger names than mine.

Dump Obama takes the need for creating the foundation for independent party infrastructure, and simplifies the tactic into one campaign, not 435.  It leaves many, many important questions kicked down the road.  The question is, what questions must be answered now, and which must be kicked down the road because they CANNOT be answered now.  At this point (day 3, for chrissake) the task is to find out what kind of response it might get (pretty good, thank you), and starting injecting into the political dialogue.

There is now a diary on FireDogLake Merging Two Movements: VoteLeft and DumpObama that popped up completely independently of me.  That's what I'm about.  Not controlling or masterminding any movement, but getting the discussion going.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Are you fighting for the history books, or for results, Mark? (0.00 / 0)
Really, sorry, but I think your questions are virtually useless.

Assume that a meteor strikes the earth in 2012! That's as likely as Obama winning easily, if you take his downward trend into account, and the high certainty that his kind of centrist, "postpartisan" "leadership" (if only) is unlikely to acchieve a turnaround for the economy.

If you act like a frightened rabbit, afraid of shadows, you won't achieve anything. Sure there are risks. Those deserve attention. But doing nothing, despite seeing that it's all downhill, straight into an abyss, is even more risky!


[ Parent ]
Paul, you enjoy throwing out Underpants Gnome (0.00 / 0)
as often as you can, as though it were unbearably clever.  I'm sure you consider Dump Obama a menace, and are trying to give it that tag in the public eye for propagandistic purposes.

2. has been answered.  Not to your satisfaction?  I doubt if any answer would be to your satisfaction, but that's politics.

Would you be insulted if -- in every reference to you -- I called it Classically Insane thinking, (doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result)?

I won't.  But it's interesting that Dump Obama lowers you to school yard level.

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


This infantile baiting of political opponents (4.00 / 1)
 is pretty  fucking immature. It is a little difficult to have a serious political discussion with someone who thinks an inappropriate metaphor is a deep political insight. One has to be very taken with one's own intellect to engage in such sophomoric behavior.

[ Parent ]
You May Think You've Answered The Question, But You Haven't (0.00 / 0)
In fact, you've repeated versions of earlier statements that underscore the problem. In addiiton, you and your supporters---particularly Gray--have repeatedly resorted to schematic arguments that further underscore a complete lack of appreciation of the concrete political & histroical reality in which we are operating.

And, of course, various people have made totally unwarrented and untrue assumptions and accusations about me that further discredit them as sources of reliable argumentation.

So, finally, for the record, I would be totally thrilled to have a progressive Democratic president elected in 2012 in place of Obama.  I'm just not willing to pursue an Underpants Gnome plan in the vain hope of achieving that end.



"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
It would be more precise ... (0.00 / 0)
... to say that I haven't answered it to your satisfaction.  I'm sure I never will.  But I gather you think you are justified in continuing your school yard taunts.  You want to plant Dump Obama = Underpants Gnomes, to kill it with ridicule.  Yet it does generate a certain degree of interest.

Do I have a roadmap?  Certainly not.  There's a matter of methodology.  What can be answered at what stage of a process.  At this point, my goal is to generate conversation.  You must admit that I am having some success at that in a very short time.  Ideas along these lines have been floating around for a while.  Giving it the name Dump Obama is already pulling some of that together.  Into a cohesive organization?  Not yet, but that will gel in time.

"You say you want a revolution, well, we'd all like to see the plan."  "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Shorter Paul: If we keeping voting for the Dems, maybe they'll stop hitting us. (4.00 / 1)


Shorter Randall Kohn: If I Keeping Lying About Paul, Maybe I'll Get A Pony (0.00 / 0)
Not so much.

Would you believe an Underpants Gnome?

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I wasn't lying, and it wasn't even all that much about you. (0.00 / 0)
I just boiled down your pathetic begging whine to its essence.

[ Parent ]
I have to agree with you, Paul. I couldn't help reading "Dump on Obama," (4.00 / 1)
rather than "Dump Obama." There are so many complicated and conflicting currents around Obama that the message will get lost if Obama becomes the focal point. If one argues for dismantling the military-industrial complex, one's allies will be recognizable as allies, more or less. A campaign called "Dump Obama" is likely to attract a bunch of Tea Party folks.

To make sure the message doesn't get lost, a candidate who could forcefully articulate a platform is necessary--for this reason, a third party candidate would be a better alternative. After all, it is the Democratic party that seems to be the problem; Obama is just the face of the party. The need to appoint a bunch of Clinton folks to the cabinet, to appoint a Harvard loyalist to the Supreme Court, and to keep the structure and philosophy of our intelligence agencies--all are pressures that come from within the party. Even Howard Dean has turned out to be an asshole.  


The Denial Of The Obvious (0.00 / 0)
is a huge part of what's going on here.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3

[ Parent ]
The "Dump Obama" plan asks that we make a major effort to challenge (4.00 / 1)
Obama so that the Democratic party is weakened; the Dems lose the general, they are properly chastened, and tack left in the future. In the abstract, I would say, yes, the Dems are as much a problem as the Republicans, but let's be realistic. Beck followers, Neocons, Tea Partyers--this is the real enemy, and fight against them should command most of the effort. Do you really want to live under Tea Party rule?

yeah they might let big industries dictate policy and do whatever the fuck they want (4.00 / 2)
or perpetuate wars and secret courts while failing to restore habaeus corpus

[ Parent ]
They will certainly do that. So why should Obama get all the opposition? (4.00 / 1)
At least Obama believes in evolution.

[ Parent ]
he hasn't come out firmly in favor of it (4.00 / 2)
also there's no Intelligent Design industry for him to strike a deal with

but if Arne Duncan finds out that the ID crowd wants to fire teachers, watch out


[ Parent ]
Paul's comment... (4.00 / 2)
What Could Work... Is an actual demonstration of effective progressive independence.  Such as successfully backing progressive candidates instead of continuing to fund the Democratic Party directly.  Doing that is clearly not a bluff.  It's power base building.  And that's what I support wholeheartedly.

...is interesting, and is what some of us are proposing as the first of a two-part strategy, the second part of which may - or may not - be a "Dump Obama" push. If in fact the second part is not that, it may well be "Re-Elect Obama." Let me explain.

As Paul states, an actual demonstration of effective progressive independence is crucial. Why not stage that demonstration this November, while a Democrat still holds the White House? He may be a DINO, or worse. We don't want to think so, do we? But after the last two years, we can't help but wonder. So let's find out by forcing his hand, and by - in a highly unified manner - trying to push the Party back to the Left, where it belongs.

This November, let's refuse to vote for any Dem who helped kill the Public Option in the health care legislation or went back on their pledge not to vote for any bill that lacked the Public Option.

And that would be all of them.

("Why health care?" you may ask. Very simply, because it was the dominant piece of legislation throughout these first two years, and the phrase "Public Option" is therefore very widely known, and very widely accepted as being a Lefty imperative. Was it what we really wanted, Medicare for all? No. But it is indisputably where the Dems drew their supposed line in the sand - and then jumped right over it.)

Let's do as Paul suggests: Demonstrate our independence as progressives. Let's stop funding the Democratic party right now, today - both fiscally and at the voting booth. Instead, in all U.S. Congress races, let's do one of the following two things:

A) Vote for progressive candidates from third parties strongly associated with the left: Green, Socialist, etc., or...

B) Write-in these words: PUBLIC OPTION.

A sufficient number of either of these acts will garner media attention, particularly when Dems lose by margins approximately equal to or less than the total votes garnered by both.

If this is not doing what Obama had asked, ad nauseum from Day One of the health reform initiative - i.e., "forcing him" to take the progressive stand - I don't know what is.

Then, if he consistently gets out his veto pen for all the bullshit legislation he'll see from the GOP-controlled Congress in the ensuing two years, maybe we give him a re-do in 2012, congressional majority and all. If he doesn't, our path is quite clear: Primary him, and build on our effective demonstration of progressive independence during the midterms by either unseating him in the primaries, or by supporting the Lefty primary challenger he beats as a third-party candidate in the general election.

Under our system, a midterm loss while retaining the White House is without question the least painful way to prompt ideologic movement by the Democratic Party back to the Left, where it is supposed to belong.

And if we've been willing for all these years to vote for the least-worst candidate, shouldn't we be willing, while we have the White House (or think we do) to take the least-painful opportunity for winning what is supposed to be "our" party back?

Would love your thoughts on this strategy, Paul. It certainly fills in the ? at #2 in your original post, and seems to meet this criterion as well:

It's power base building.  And that's what I support wholeheartedly.

Have at it, all. I have several hours of meetings coming up and will not be able to join the fun 'til later, so please - be gentle with me.

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." Emma Goldman


Good thinking (0.00 / 0)
I admittedly don't directly address this November's elections.  Figure it's a bit late to come up with something coherent in so short a time.

But using the public option in the healthcare fight as our line in the sand?  Right on!

For the wheel's still in spin And there's no tellin' who That it's namin'. -- Dylan


[ Parent ]
Thanks, but... (0.00 / 0)
the credit goes to Stan at alterpolitics.com for coming up with the write-in idea, which he posted to a diary of mine at FDL. That diary (posted here at Open Left too; search on "Burmese" to find it) asked whether, like the Burmese, we are brave enough to boycott an election. Sadly, we're probably not, and until we are given reasonable alternatives like NOTA (None Of The Above) an action such as this is our best chance. "PUBLIC OPTION" is a rallying point - and write-in - that makes it pretty tough for the media to misread (or spin) our intent, as do votes for Lefty third parties.

Plus, two months (well, a month and a half now) is no time in this age. All it takes, as Stan says, is for this idea to go viral, for a brave Lefty blog or three to pick it up and run with it.

If the Teabaggers can do what they have in the past two years and produce the anticipated result this fall, there's no reason we can't send a strong Lefty message this fall and then do the same thing for the next two years, re-take the Democratic Party and keep the WH.  

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal." Emma Goldman


[ Parent ]
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