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Sat Jul 21, 2018, 11:06 PM

Reestablishing Democracy

It is said that when the ancient philosopher Confucius was asked what he would do if he had ultimate political power, he answered to insist that words be used properly. We can all recognize the wisdom of this when we listen to fools like Donald Trump speak, as was perhaps best illustrated when he attempted to lie about “would” versus “wouldn't.” Such pathetic nonsense tends to unite people who reject his babble.

Because languages can change over time, there is a potential for even Good People to speak or write words in a correct way, and have them misinterpreted as insults by other Good People. There is likewise the potential for Good People to use words correctly, with the intent of insulting others. And, of course, Good People can misuse words, with the best of intentions. What each of these three scenarios have in common is that they can all create divisions between various members of the Democratic Party.

While I could be wrong, as I often am, I think that there is evidence of this in various discussions on this forum. Hence, rather than address my concerns on other members' threads, I'd like to briefly talk about some examples here. I'm not pointing fingers at anyone, and recognize that my responsibility is to try to communicate as clearly as possible, without insulting others, even if I disagree with them.

Let's start with the word “establishment.” It is a neutral word that is used to describe things ranging from a business, a political organization, or even a church. Most establishments include a hierarchy within its membership. This, again, is neutral, although hierarchies contain both a positive and negative potential when put into practice. This is entirely due to the fact that these are comprised of human beings.

The Democratic Party is an establishment. It features numerous levels of hierarchy, from the local committee, to the state and national committees. As a general rule, this is a good thing, for without any structure, the party could not function. This doesn't mean the people in the higher levels of local, state, or national committees are perfect. Some make honest mistakes. A few have even been corrupt over the decades. Human beings are, after all, human

Yet the biggest area for the potential for damaging infighting comes not from when groups (or individuals) within the establishment attempt to introduce new ways – or what they believe are new – which are met with resistance from others. This is a normal feature for any group that is addressing social-political issues. Indeed, such tensions can result in growth if people are open-minded and creative.

The people that make up the Democratic Party have a wide span of beliefs and positions. And there are an almost endless number of inter-related issues, resulting in an individual being capable of being moderate on some issues, and liberal on others. That's a good thing, in my opinion. It allows a community to find common ground.

There are four basic sub-groups of people in our party. They include conservatives, moderates, liberals, and progressives. No sub-group has a monopoly on truth, nor on being either wrong or less-right. It may be best to view them as the four fingers on a hand, each with their unique value, that combine to benefit the hand.

Those who run the various levels of party committees, or establishments, tend to be liberal-to-moderate. Many have served in their organization for years, even decades. Those at the local level do so as unpaid volunteers. Even if we do not “like” some as individuals, we should maintain a sense of respect for the work that they have done, and continue to do. As a resident of rural, upstate New York where republicans are in the majority, I know how isolated many of these good people frequently feel.

There tend to be cycles in our party, where either the progressives on the left, or conservatives on the right of the liberal-moderates, take a more active interest in exercising influence on what tactics and candidates the Democrats should employ and run. This has the potential to create negative tensions. Those who have served in leadership roles tend to be wary of new ideas that go against the established practices.

Those negative tensions are often increased by a number of factors. An important one involves economics, including people's financial status. Other factors include education levels and experience. In times past, issues that played important roles included age, sex, race, and religion. Just as progress has been made with those last four factors, if we maintain open minds, our party can make the same type of progress in the other areas. For in the final analysis, we are no longer in a place and time where we can fail to understand that we are all in this together.

Obviously, at least to anyone reading through DU:GD, a strain of this negative tension is being experienced in relation to some of this year's Democratic primary contests. The below NY Times article describes some of this dynamic:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/there-is-a-revolution-on-the-left-democrats-are-bracing/ar-BBKUJ94?ocid=ientp

That there is some degree of tension is to be expected. The article frames it as being a negative that threatens to divide the party. And if hostilities increase between the various sub-groups (fingers), it will be negative. Yet, this does not have to be the case.

No single group of Democrats should believe that they, and they alone, have the right to select each and every candidate. Or what each candidate should run their campaign. Or what other Democrats they break bread with. Those who believe they have that power and right tend to attack the other candidate(s), as well as their supporters, rather than focusing on the strengths of their favored candidate. Nothing good can come to the Democrat Party from such ignorant behavior.

It's curious: when I was young, many of my generation considered it a badge of honor to be considered “anti-establishment.” As the years have passed, some of us can be found among the progressives, the liberals, the moderates, and the conservatives. The same distribution is found among younger generations. And there is not only room for everyone within the Democratic Party, but there is a great need for the variety of their positions.

Peace,
H2O Man

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Arrow 28 replies Author Time Post
Reply Reestablishing Democracy (Original post)
H2O Man Jul 2018 OP
NRaleighLiberal Jul 2018 #1
H2O Man Jul 2018 #9
jaysunb Jul 2018 #2
H2O Man Jul 2018 #10
kentuck Jul 2018 #3
H2O Man Jul 2018 #11
kentuck Jul 2018 #22
H2O Man Jul 2018 #23
dweller Jul 2018 #4
H2O Man Jul 2018 #13
CentralMass Jul 2018 #5
H2O Man Jul 2018 #14
sandensea Jul 2018 #6
H2O Man Jul 2018 #15
sandensea Jul 2018 #17
H2O Man Jul 2018 #18
YOHABLO Jul 2018 #7
H2O Man Jul 2018 #16
PatrickforO Jul 2018 #8
H2O Man Jul 2018 #19
bigtree Jul 2018 #12
H2O Man Jul 2018 #20
bigtree Jul 2018 #21
H2O Man Jul 2018 #24
Hekate Jul 2018 #25
H2O Man Jul 2018 #27
democrank Jul 2018 #26
H2O Man Jul 2018 #28

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2018, 11:16 PM

1. Bravo - really well stated. Certainly the wide cultural variety of regions of our country -

right down to the many diverse areas within each state (most states, anyway), never mind the big regions - helps to flavor and color this. Democrats tend to not be lock step - it is one of our strengths, and when faced with having to go up against a party whose very nature is authoritarian, lock step - also a huge disadvantage.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 08:44 AM

9. Right.

I can remember when I was a little boy, without much of any understanding of "politics," listening to my father explaining something on the news to my older siblings. Discussions on politics took place most every evening when we ate supper. He told my oldest brother, "Remember this: republicans will always get out and vote for their candidate."

Over the years that followed, he and I discussed that in greater detail. He explained that it didn't matter if an election was on the local, state, or national level ....that the republican party was a machine, where every part played its role. How they had made use of the telephone to ensure that each cog got out to vote in each election, no matter if the individual cog liked the candidate or not. He told me that this resulted in the election of politicians who did not serve the interests of the majority of the party.

When my father bought the property and started building the house where I spent most of my childhood, I remember about half of the neighbors on the rural road put up "For Sale" signs. This was their protest against having an Irish-Catholic family moving in. I remember one older kid yelling at me about the pope, which confused me, as I had no idea of who or what the pope was. My family associated this stuff with the reaction to JFK running for president.

I suppose that all of this influenced me then, in a manner that still impacts the way I view things today.

Thank you for your response!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2018, 11:44 PM

2. I read that article earlier today and your thoughts mirror exactly what I was thinking.

Thanks. I hope this post is widely read.

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Response to jaysunb (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 08:46 AM

10. Thanks, jaysunb!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:01 AM

3. The Democratic Party does move in cycles.

Personally, I belong to no organized political Party.

I'm a Democrat.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 09:42 AM

11. Ha!

Same here! Of course, I'm so disorganized myself, that any group unfortunate enough to suffer from my membership would not be fully organized anyhow.

My paternal grandfather came to the US from Ireland in 1879. He and his extended family -- others were already here -- found that the Democratic Party provided the best way for them to establish themselves in this country.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #11)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 09:12 PM

22. Somehow I have always felt that the House of Representatives should always be Democratic...

...the House of the People.

The House should stay in the hands of the people.

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Response to kentuck (Reply #22)

Mon Jul 23, 2018, 09:04 AM

23. That it should.

The number of members, and the length of terms, indicate that the House is distinct from the Senate in many ways. Yet, just as it has the potential to exercise its power to represent the people, we witness its having the same potential for abuse of that power. It's high time that the people exercise their power over those who abuse that power, and that includes confronting those non-government entities that capitalize on the abuse.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:16 AM

4. we all gotta live together

why don't we just set the example?

✌🏼️

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Response to dweller (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:30 PM

13. Right.

We need to be setting an example that serves as the standard for civilized people in this country.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:24 AM

5. Thank H20 Man.

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Response to CentralMass (Reply #5)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:30 PM

14. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:29 AM

6. We'll have to get big money out of politics first.

Besides being undemocratic to the core, this racket is what keeps our politicans, as a group, so far to the right of average Americans.

It suits the bankrollers, after all (or so they believe) - but certainly not the rest of us.

Excellent essay, H2O Man. Really sums up our biggest political challenges as a nation.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #6)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:36 PM

15. Well said.

I think we have had examples of how campaigns can actually be financed by the grass roots since 2004. While not all of the individual campaigns were successful, they all showed the potential benefit of transforming the manner in which our party operates.

I remember a friend ....a carpenter and activist from the Middle East .....stated about 2,000 years ago that an individual could only serve one master. I'm convinced that he was directing this to, among others, future politicians in the US. They need to make a choice between either serving the people, or serving corporations. They really can't serve both.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #15)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:52 PM

17. They indeed really can't serve both

So, for the last 20 years at least, they - as a group - have opted to serve the bribeocracy to the exclusion of anyone else.

I don't expect them to be Jesus - but something better than the Roman Empire would be nice.

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Response to sandensea (Reply #17)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 07:15 PM

18. Well said.

To be honest, I am convinced those children being separated from their parents, and incarcerated in cages, are Jesus. In fact, I know that each one of them is.

This nation is in its failing empire phase. The only question is: do we bring new life to the constitutional democracy, or do we decay to a point where nothing grows? Our land, water, and air is poisoned, and people are suffering. Yet too many leaders are concerned about the sequences of digits in financial statements.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 01:29 AM

7. Why people even think we have a ''Democracy" now is beyond comprehension.

 

Maybe all of the components of the Democratic Party can come together on that issue alone. People of middle to lower incomes are struggling to to carry on, while the top tiers of moneyed interests are doing grand. How are we, as a Party, going to fix that?

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Response to YOHABLO (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 12:40 PM

16. Definitely.

Economic inequality cannot be addressed in any meaningful way, unless and until we openly recognize the undeniable reality that the 1% has been engaged in economic warfare against the vast majority of the population for generations. That's one of the reasons I'm proud to be a part of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign. She is honest, and speaks openly.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 02:08 AM

8. I'm a bit troubled by this BNC deal.

I spoke of this on a different thread, but perhaps it is relevant here.

In terms of that square where we get classified as to whether we are liberal or conservative on one axis and libertarian or authoritarian on the other, I'm as libertarian and liberal as you can get, pretty much.

Now, I'm not asking anyone to believe as I do - I'm just saying that so you know where I'm coming from.

If you've studied your 20th century history, you know that you can make a serious and compelling argument that the 20th century didn't really begin socially until 1919. At that time millions had died in the horrible First World War, followed by a flu epidemic that took many more lives.

In the meantime, Marxism had taken root in what became the Soviet Union and the reds were fighting the white tsarists in a bloody civil war.

When the reds won, the guy in charge was Vladimir Lenin. Now, for Lenin, power was the important thing, so he, and later Stalin, developed a totalitarian state.

So, you see, they were liberal in terms of social policy, but about as authoritarian as you can get. In the end, that lock-step approach doesn't work worth a hoot because it takes away individualism and individual achievement and replaces it with a statism every bit as bad as the right wing fascist brand. We saw that in 1991 when the old USSR collapsed.

To me, BNC's lock-step, authoritarian approach calls up red flags all over the place. 'Primarying' middle of the road Dems from the left might be fine in normal times, but we're not in normal times. I'm not saying that someone who is a Dem in name only but by rights should be caucusing with the Republicans shouldn't be primaried by someone more in tune with our platform, but what I am saying is this isn't the year to do it. We need to paste these Republican charlatans good, and get Trump out of the WH. THAT is the priority.

Now, the BNC is free to do what it wants, but I'm saying I'm kinda sad to see this approach being utilized against less liberal Dems. I'm kind of disappointed in their leadership.

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Response to PatrickforO (Reply #8)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 08:47 PM

19. Very interesting.

Thank you for this. Much appreciated.

I remember Malcolm X discussing why the communist Soviet Union and communist China were not "getting along" in the early 1960s. He viewed I thought it was a combination of influences, including cultural factors and centralized versus de-centralized approaches, along with racism.

With today's Russia, there is no doubt that the leadership -- or establishment -- displays a high degree of white nationalism. It's as much part of Putin as it is of Trump. Two peas in a pod. Today's technology has created a way different landscape, both domestically and internationally. One negative is that it allows far too much power to those who are happy to abuse it. A positive is that the grass roots can use it to exercise their potential power. While not everything important can be accomplished on a computer, they are surely good for education and organizing.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 09:50 AM

12. point I've been making

..is how much of an opportunity these progressive supporters of these challengers can be.

Incumbents (read: 'establishment' for some) can either demonize these progressive candidates or work to empathize with and embrace the concerns these folks who are inclined to vote against them are raising.

Many of these people looking for someone new to vote for may well have sat out the general election, save someone in our party who actually spoke directly to the issues and interests which concern them.

That's what's missing from the criticisms here. What will these incumbent supporters do to draw these recalcitrant progressives into their fold? Will they spurn these votes in favor of appealing to moderates, or will they work to embrace some of the tenets of these progressive campaigns that they may not have been willing to highlight before?

I truly hope the destructive effort here at DU against AOC, her supporters, and the candidates they support, isn't reflective of some actual campaign effort on the ground.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #12)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 08:52 PM

20. I've been reading

a lot of your posts on DU:GD. I've enjoyed every word, and appreciate your insights.

Progressive candidates tend to create more excitement, especially among the diverse populations that often feel disenfranchised by our political system. These include inhabitants of society's margins, who usually find no positive relationship between their daily lives, and government. And more than a few are aware of negatives.

I imagine that, had there been a DU in 1984 and '88, we would have seen similar negative comments about Jesse Jackson.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #20)

Sun Jul 22, 2018, 09:10 PM

21. Jesse's run was an inspiration for me

...a real personal renaissance.

It made me feel connected to politics and party in a way I hadn't been before.

Of course, this was a different era for Jackson and our party. I used to bombard the WP with letters in support of Jackson and his initiatives. Right after his bid, the party closed ranks and adopted rules basically hindering a run like he had.

I argued that representation of Jackson and his initiatives was good for all Americans, not just the folks he was focusing most of his energy on to enfranchise into our party politics. There were just a handful of black legislators in Congress at the time.

I haven't forgotten a moment of that and how grudging the party was to his effort to expand our political base of voters.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #21)

Mon Jul 23, 2018, 09:29 AM

24. "Keep Hope Alive!"

Jesse re-ignited a spark in the American consciousness. One of the things that stood out to me was that, as his 1988 campaign message began to spread, he was gaining a surprising level of support among white people working in the factories of the Rust Belt. And that led to a surprising amount of support among white farmers in the mid-west. This wasn't simply because he could give better speeches than any of the other Democratic primary candidates. It was because people wanted to hear what he had to say ....and wanted what he was saying to be the Democratic Party's platform.

When, in 1988, it was apparent that Jesse might not only place second over all in the primaries, the other candidates -- starting with their advisors, of course -- started putting their heads together, to determine how best to coordinate their efforts to prevent Jesse from being more than a speaker at the convention.

I've spoken before about being in the park in Boston on July 4 when Michael Dukakis had his infamous "unity" meeting with Jesse. I documented how Dukakis felt pressure to pick Jesse for VP, despite not wanting the much more charismatic and well-spoken Jackson on the ticket. How Dukakis had sent mixed-messages in the days leading up to their meeting. And how insulting his behavior towards Jesse was on that day.

Hindsight is 20-20, of course. But one can make a strong argument that by removing the excitement from the Democratic campaign tanked Dukakis's efforts in the general election, in a manner that wearing that helmet in a photo-op came to symbolize. He entered the general election with a significant lead, that would soon evaporate. It's still worth considering what might have been -- both in 1988 and 2016 -- if our party's nominee had picked a Jesse or a Bernie for VP.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2018, 02:09 AM

25. KnR!

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Response to Hekate (Reply #25)

Tue Jul 24, 2018, 09:51 AM

27. Thank you!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Jul 24, 2018, 05:32 AM

26. Again.....when H20 Man speaks, I listen.

The people in my immediate family are all Democrats, from moderate to very progressive. There is a police officer and a defense attorney in the mix.

We're an issues-oriented family with many examples of the moderate taking progressive positions at times and the progressives taking moderate positions on certain issues. We learn from one another including awareness of nuances and varying degrees. I've learned the most from the most progressive one who is an excellent mediator who always considers both sides.

We're like a quilt. No two squares are the exact same color or pattern, but all together we get the job done.







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Response to democrank (Reply #26)

Tue Jul 24, 2018, 09:58 AM

28. A quilt!

That's a fantastic description. It covers everything from families to what our party's best potential is.

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