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Sat Feb 21, 2015, 09:32 AM

2016 Inner-Space Odyssey

I remember when I joined the Democratic Underground in December of 2003. I had read some of the discussions on the forum for months before joining, and found some of them very interesting; most of mild interest; and a few puzzling. On the 29th, however, a fellow named Will Pitt had published an outstanding essay on the Plame Scandal, which was of particular interest to me.

At the time, the corporate media was largely ignoring the Plame Scandal. In fact, even our elected representatives in Washington, DC, were remaining silent about what was clearly one of the most significant White House scandals of our life-time. Although there was evidence, for those paying attention, that the Plame Scandal was related to the two earlier series of scandals -- known as Watergate and Iran-Contra -- the democratic establishment was intimidated by the Office of the Vice President.

For those interested in the rule of constitutional law, the primary sources of information being reported were found on internet sites such as Truth Out; and informed discussions on sites like DU. I remember discussing DU with a couple of my associates -- a small, informal group that operated as a volunteer “think tank”/ activist center -- and learning that this forum had begun as a response to the US Supreme Court’s selection of Bush and Cheney as the “winners” of the 2000 election.

The DU community had begun as a collection of left-leaning Democrats, and members of the Democratic Left. There were a few members who could have been described as moderate Democrats, at least in some areas, but the majority of members were definitely to the left of center. And although there were plenty of heated debates on the forum, I can’t remember any that focused on defining a person’s need to be 100% in support of every Democrat in Washington, DC, in order to belong here.

Over the years, as the forum grew, a number of interesting things happened. DU would become one of the best under-the-radar Plame Scandal think tanks. A few journalists from the corporate media began to pay attention to the infamous “Plame Threads” (primarily those from MSNBC’s evening shows). A few relatives of presidential primary candidates joined DU, including Elizabeth Edwards, as well as relatives of John Kerry and Wesley Clark. A staff member of a NYS Senator -- who many believe will be the next Democratic candidate for President -- contacted me, to try to find the source of some Plame news I posted here, several days before it would be reported in the mainstream media.

Just as the “establishment” Democrats recognized the potential value of this forum -- including as a source of votes, donations, campaign workers, and yes, insightful thinking -- so did that dark force that is known in psychiatric and forensic circles as the “republican party.” Thus, there are at times waves of “trolls” joining to disrupt, much like nasty cluster flies or the biblical infestations of locus. Luckily, their life expectancy here tends to be short. This includes the 39 year old, sexually frustrated republican who inhabits his parents’ basement, as well as the likes of Michelle Munchkin and Sean Hannity.

There has also been an increase in the number of moderate to conservative Democrats. They are good people, as sincere in their social and political beliefs as anyone else here. In my opinion -- and this is admittedly speculation -- some are older folks, my generation, who were more liberal in their youth, and now are part of the middle class. Their contributions are of value, and likely let them get back in touch with their “inner hippie.”

The growth of the DU community has included an interesting number of folks who have diverse interests and values, which has resulted in a large number of “specialty” sub-forums. Each one of these groups adds an important voice to the larger whole.

However, especially in the context of the approaching 2016 elections, we witness some tensions on General Discussion, which is kind of like the village commons, or the city park of the Democratic Underground. Not surprisingly, much of that tension is about the anticipated run of Hillary Clinton for President. It is safe (I hope) to say that Ms. Clinton creates strong emotional responses in many people -- including those who support and those who oppose the idea of her becoming the President of the United States.

What strikes me as the most glaring about the arguments on DU:GD about Ms. Clinton is that so many good people -- people who are normally intelligent and insightful -- allow emotions to block their ability to recognize some of the most obvious of lessons from the past two decades. The single most obvious is that we are not on a fence, where some stand to win, while others lose. The only avenue to victory requires unity. It’s that simple. Yet we witness the pro- and anti-Clinton people engaged in a competition to see who can deliver the “best” insult.

The second lesson is that any President can only operate within the limits that Congress (the House and Senate) allows. If there are weak Democrats, a Bush-Cheney resolution allowing the invasion of Iraq happens. On the flip side, a Congress can handcuff President Obama’s efforts to pass meaningful legislation.

The question arises: realistically, is it easier to elect someone to Congress, or the White House? Again, both require united efforts on our part. And a heck of a lot of work.

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply 2016 Inner-Space Odyssey (Original post)
H2O Man Feb 2015 OP
Octafish Feb 2015 #1
H2O Man Feb 2015 #4
ND-Dem Feb 2015 #10
hunter Feb 2015 #2
H2O Man Feb 2015 #5
bigtree Feb 2015 #3
H2O Man Feb 2015 #6
bigtree Feb 2015 #7
H2O Man Feb 2015 #12
bigtree Feb 2015 #13
H2O Man Feb 2015 #15
salin Feb 2015 #8
H2O Man Feb 2015 #16
salin Feb 2015 #18
muriel_volestrangler Feb 2015 #9
randome Feb 2015 #11
H2O Man Feb 2015 #17
spanone Feb 2015 #14

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:24 AM

1. We need Unity, certainly. We need Leadership more, at present.

If President Obama had used the "Bully Pulpit" in January 2009 to explain to the American people why we need to get out of wars without end, why traitors, warmongers and banksters should be in jail, why we need Universal Health Insurance, why the nation needs massive government spending, why schools need more resources not less, why taxes on the rich must be increased; Congress would be flooded by popular support for the president and Congress would go along.

If Congress didn't support the president, it'd be a good bet the ringleaders and a whole bunch of their toadies would be out of work, if not in jail cough Phil Gramm.

All the president had to do was ask. Now, it looks like we'll never know.

As for the next president, I want someone more interested in reforming the Party and retooling the country. Wall Street and those fortunate enough to enjoy a piece of the action are doing well enough.

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Response to Octafish (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 10:57 PM

4. Well said!

I agree with you. More, in one of the books I have on President Obama's first term (I don't have those at my finger-tips), it says that he realized after about two years that he had not done enough to keep the energy of the grass roots focused. I know part of that had to do with the White House web site. But, for someone so gifted in communications, he definitely failed to use that bully pulpit.

Reform within the party is necessary before reforming Wall Street could hope to be accomplished. And that won't happen before the left-wing of the party is given its proper seat at the table.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 06:22 AM

10. he totally abandoned the grassroots.

 

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:56 AM

2. As I said in another thread...

... I'm probably never going to enjoy a U.S.A. president who fully represents my radical leftist self, but a competent modern Democrat always kicks ass over any pathetic alternative.

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Response to hunter (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:06 PM

5. I agree 100%.

I don't even expect a candidate who holds views close to my own to enter the democratic primaries. The closest to that was back when Rev. Jesse Jackson ran in the 1980s. It was interesting that, when exposed to Jesse's presentations (rather than the media defining him), a significant number of people began to support him. His support expanded far beyond what the media believed possible, despite the establishment's attempts to knee-cap his campaigns.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 12:01 PM

3. another lesser-of-two-evils, kumbaya thread!

 

...I like it!

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Response to bigtree (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:07 PM

6. Where?

That's certainly not what my OP is about.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:15 PM

7. kidding

 

...reacting, instead, to the nonsense abounding outside of your welcome call for reasoned unity and constructive debate.

Sorry to be so flippant in my response.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #7)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 10:10 AM

12. If you can't be

flippant in responding to me, we've got worse problems than I imagined! (grin) I am old, and didn't catch on. I own that error. I was confused.

I'm thinking back to 2008's primary season. We backed different candidates. But our discussions were always respectful -- even if one of us was flippant! That's the way it should be.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #12)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 10:28 AM

13. to be fair

 

...you're definitely on to something in encouraging that we respect and appreciate the presentation of differences of opinion (within reason) and differing rationales for supporting one Democratic candidate or the other. Certainly unity will be required to ultimately prevail over the republican's eventual nominee. A strong and unified coalition of individuals with similar issues and concerns is, I believe, the most compelling argument for associating ourselves with our Democratic party.

We come to the political process with our often disparate ideals and interests from diverse regions around the nation and we seek to reconcile those into action or law in our legislature. That effort should certainly be reflected in our efforts in discussions and debates outside of the actual political arena. I think we should be secure enough in our own beliefs and views to allow others to be represented beside them as we advocate and reconcile these among ourselves. The more we're able to allow other Democratic-minded views to air, the better opportunity we have to air our own agenda in response or even dissent.

Thank you for advocating in defense of those debates.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #13)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 10:52 AM

15. Thank you. And to be

accurate, in the '08 primary season, there were two times when a few people irritated me, and I reacted harshly; both of those times, although we backed different candidates, you took the time to e-mail me, and suggest that I calm down, and focus on what was important.

If I had been grumpy once, I'd figure no biggie. But twice? You caught my attention, and made me do a lot of thinking. I appreciated it then, and I surely have not forgotten it.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Feb 21, 2015, 11:27 PM

8. I feel like a bystander, this time around. A) it is so far off - while B) there is so little

exploration compared to the last several open primaries: 1988,1992, 2004, 2008 (not counting 2000 - as there wasn't much active challenge to Gore from within the party.) It almost feels surreal at this point.

Per the intelligent, well intended posters hurling insults at each other, while seemingly having some of that intellect having blind spots... Again I point to the open primaries in the era of DU: 2004 - BITTER battles the teams (in the speak of their in-party nemeses) Kerryites, Deaniacs, Clarkbars... and the Kucinich fans were so dismissed they didn't even get monickers. I don't recall the anti Hillary and Obama terms from 2008 because I disengaged from the attack threads (much as I do this time around) - and look at policy issues and other issues. However, I do recall that lots of folks stopped responding to each other on threads - in anything but snipes (based on differences of preferred candidates.)

Your second lesson - was also a lesson learned watching Clinton under the Gingrich/Contract for (on!) America Congressional majorities. I agree it is a tight rope for even a very strong political leader, when there are timid/nonconvicted dems in congress.

Per congress - the biggest shifts have been when the public discourse has diverged from the Faux talkingpoints (think post 2005-2008) - such that public "common wisdom" moves away from the media narratives. I think there are 3 areas - two of which you raise in your question (devote energy to working to elect the President or Congress). The third is public perception of issues (and esp distrust of rw extremism.) Here, perhaps we need our younger and more social media savvy members to teach us - how to push messages viral. How to change narratives (per public policy issues.) I think a greater impact can be had on both levels of federal elections - at the points of time when the public discourse/conventional wisdom is altered.

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Response to salin (Reply #8)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 11:02 AM

16. Very impressive post!

You have contributed exactly the type of thoughtful statement that illustrates DU at its best. I love it. Thank you so much.

I enjoy a good debate. And there are a heck of a lot of issues that good and sincere people here can and should be debating. But the tone of many of both the pro- and anti-Clinton posts suggests that serious debates may be few and far in-between this time.

Over the decades, I've always enjoyed working on presidential campaigns. Including the primaries. But I've become convinced that the congressional races are the ones (per the national level) where the grass roots makes the biggest difference. I think that if people start there, they will find far more common ground, than if they begin by focusing almost exclusively on the presidential contests.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #16)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 12:07 PM

18. I agree... especially since without a raucous primary (with multiple candidates)

the risk get's higher that folks stay all "HoHum" as usual - depressing turnout. I think you are right that at this level folks can find more common ground. Especially in light of the TeaPary-esque rising rhetoric on the right (which seems to keep escalating further and further - even when it seems that they can not get more extreme).

Plus - it would be grand to take control of the House of Representatives once again.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 05:22 AM

9. A good OP - thanks - but I wonder if a more indicative title might attract more attention

I had no idea it would be about politics, let alone DU, and I clicked on it more or less at random.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 06:48 AM

11. Same here.

 

[hr][font color="blue"][center]You have to play the game to find out why you're playing the game. -Existenz[/center][/font][hr]

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #9)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 11:04 AM

17. Thank you.

I suspect that you are correct per the title, although I think that a lot of folks pass over anything I post as an OP. Partly because my essays tend to be rather long and boring, and partly because they prefer the heated arguments that many other folks offer.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Feb 22, 2015, 10:31 AM

14. k&r...

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