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Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:20 PM

5 Questions (re: "good" democrats)

One of the things that I find most interesting on this forum is the discussion of what makes a person a “good democrat” -- including opinions on party loyalty. I do not believe that there are rigid rules that define the answer. Indeed, the differences of opinion, and even the different value systems that individuals may have, makes the Democratic Party far more interesting than the republican party.

Yesterday, I read Tavis Smiley’s new book, “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year.” King was, of course, a registered republican up until the 1960 presidential election. The democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy, reached out to Mrs. King while Martin was incarcerated -- the situation posed a serious risk to King’s safety -- and by doing so, won the support of King and his father. The support of black citizens would give Kennedy the margin of victory in an extremely close contest.

King would go on to have a close, though sometimes tense, working relationship with LBJ when Johnson became president. Despite FBI Director Hoover’s obsessive warning that King was a “communist” and “sexual pervert,” LBJ would maintain close contact with the civil rights leader, and invite him to the White House several times. Even as King began to connect issues of race with poverty, President Johnson considered him to be a reliable supporter. And King recognized Johnson’s civil rights legislation as historic, and LBJ’s dream of a “Great Society” promising.

Yet, in 1967 -- against the advice of the majority of his associates -- King had connected the war in Vietnam with racism and unjust economic policies. LBJ began to ignore King. No more phone calls, much less invitations to the White House. In time, the president would come to side with Hoover; hence King, now considered a threat to national security, was monitored by military intelligence.

Thus, in January of 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr., would call his first press conference of the year. In it, Dr. King expressed several beliefs that many advisors thought were “risky.” Among them were the following:

-- he attacked the US Department of Justice for indicting Benjamin Spock and William Sloane Coffin for actively assisting young men in opposing the draft;

-- he expressed support for Senator Eugene McCarthy’s run against LBJ in the democratic primaries; and

-- he criticized Senator Robert Kennedy for not opposing the war as frequently or loudly as King believed he should.

Thus, my questions to other forum members are: Was King a “good” democrat? Should he have opposed the democrat president publicly? Was he wrong in wanting a choice in the primaries, other than the sitting president? Was he wrong to criticize the Justice Department? And was he wrong for attempting to pressure Senator Kennedy to speak out forcefully against the war in Vietnam?

Thank you,
H2O Man

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply 5 Questions (re: "good" democrats) (Original post)
H2O Man Sep 2014 OP
Tierra_y_Libertad Sep 2014 #1
H2O Man Sep 2014 #8
NYC_SKP Sep 2014 #2
sabrina 1 Sep 2014 #4
H2O Man Sep 2014 #9
Solly Mack Sep 2014 #3
madfloridian Sep 2014 #10
Solly Mack Sep 2014 #13
H2O Man Sep 2014 #5
Orsino Sep 2014 #6
geek tragedy Sep 2014 #7
madfloridian Sep 2014 #11
geek tragedy Sep 2014 #12
woo me with science Sep 2014 #14

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:34 PM

1. Pigeon holes are for pigeons. "Good" or "Real" are value judgements and subjective.

 

As for politics and political parties:

"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all." --Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, 1789.

"Were parties here divided merely by a greediness for office,...to take a part with either would be unworthy of a reasonable or moral man."
--Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, 1795.

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Response to Tierra_y_Libertad (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 06:59 AM

8. True.

Discussions about what makes a "good" democrat are always subjective, definitely including here on this forum. Yet, this does not diminish their significance.

Outstanding quotes from Jefferson! Thank you for adding them to this discussion.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:36 PM

2. I'm glad your book arrived and you've had the time to read it and share constructively.

 

Without having read the book, yet, I'm happy to reply briefly, if only to kick the thread and the discussion.

Was King a “good” democrat?
Yes, absolutely. IMO, a good democrat is principled and deliberate, and their actions match their words, even if they don't match the party platform.

Should he have opposed the democrat president publicly?
I believe a good and thoughtful democrat takes the long view, which may required taking action strategically, and this includes public statements.

Was he wrong in wanting a choice in the primaries, other than the sitting president?
No, I think full participation in the process requires honesty; compromising at the primary level is an insult to the dream.

Was he wrong to criticize the Justice Department?
One is never wrong in criticizing government if one is firm in their convictions.

And was he wrong for attempting to pressure Senator Kennedy to speak out forcefully against the war in Vietnam?
Oh, hell no. And this last question reveals, for me, the dual and truly opposite definitions of the term "good democrat".



I'll leave it at that, sir.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #2)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:53 PM

4. You saved me the trouble of answering each question. I agree with you.

Nothing great has ever been achieved by not speaking out at critical moments. But it takes a lot of courage to do so.

Few have that kind of courage. I have found another Democrat who had the courage back in 2003. She has again shown courage in doing so again.

But there are very few who are willing to risk their political careers or much else for that matter to speak out when it is necessary.

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Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #2)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:02 AM

9. Very good!

I think that King is a great role model for illustrating how we should -- and can -- behave as citizens to lift our society to higher ground. So I appreciate your answers. And fully agree with them.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 12:44 PM

3. He was a good liberal. :)

He was a man...a human....a person with a conscience.

He was principled. Flaws and all....still principled and ethical.

and a democrat....who should never have (or have had) to toe anyone's line to be one.

My 2 cents.

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Response to Solly Mack (Reply #3)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:29 AM

10. .....

All kinds of to Solly Mack.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #10)

Fri Sep 26, 2014, 02:27 AM

13. Thanks, madfloridian



Can always use a hug.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 04:27 PM

5. kick

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 05:08 PM

6. King seems to allied more with "good" than with "Democrat."

I really wish the two words were more synonymous, and that we were all King's sort of Democrat.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Tue Sep 23, 2014, 05:14 PM

7. King was an activist, not someone complaining

 

on the Internet.

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #7)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:31 AM

11. There is good activism that carries over to the internet.

.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #11)

Wed Sep 24, 2014, 07:32 AM

12. it exists, yes. nt

 

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Response to geek tragedy (Reply #7)

Fri Sep 26, 2014, 02:38 AM

14. Internet is communication.


That is one reason, in addition to profit, that corporations and corporatists are pursuing control of it right now, just as they have all other forms of media.

King would certainly have used the internet, had it been available then.

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