Saturday, December 31, 2005

Stand or fall, state your peace tonight

My friend RJ Eskow, writing both at his own place as well as at HuffPo, has started a little 'thing', wherein he asks us to be self-critical. Starting here he says:
Some Democrats would rather be victims than losers, like those who wrote me angry emails after this recent piece. In it, I call Democrat leaders "perennial losers" who lack nerve and don't act tactically. Democrats don't lose, say my correspondents, they win - only to have the elections stolen from them by Diebold, a crooked Supreme Court, and other conspiracies

Fellow HuffPoster Jane Smiley responds thus:
I was thinking that the spy scandal was being expertly taken care of without my input, what with Martin Garbus, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and Barron's magazine hot on the "president's" tail. My plan was to continue reading Les Rougons-Macquart in peace, but then I read RJ Eskow's blog about the Democrats, and while I thought it was insightful and well-argued, there was one thing I disagree with, and that is that the point of the whole spy scandal, now that Bush has been caught and has admitted breaking the law, is not whether the Democrats can find a way to be electable, it is whether the Republican Party is a criminal enterprise, and whether average Republicans, both in and out of the government, are going to countenance and support unnecessary and shamelessly unlawful behavior.

Not being one to give up without a bit of contrast, RJ answers back here:
Jane Smiley has posted an eloquent and well-written piece in response to one of mine entitled "Democrats: Losers or Victims?" In it, she suggests we not concentrate on the Democrats, but on the venality of the GOP, the "winners and perpetrators."

Jane summarizes the lawless and immoral state of the Republican Party well - but, then what?

Who's going to defeat them and take their place? There's no effective and meaningful opposition party. We may agree on who the villains are, but there's no hero in sight. And that means we know how the story's going to end.
I try to define an objective for each post I write - not because I think I'm a world-shaking influence leader, but because somebody's going to read it. So I stop and think - am I trying to cheer up the discouraged, suggest a new perspective on an old issue, encourage the growth of another writer's "meme" that I consider important, or hector progressives and Democrats into more effective and meaningful opposition? I'd put the "Losers or Victims" piece in that last category.

See, the thing is, I think they both have "rightness" in their arguments. Jane's point is well taken, that the current administration blah blah, well, we know their perfidy. As the Abramoff debacle unfolds, heads and careers will likely roll and asses will be carted off to jail.

Bur Richard's premise is, I feel, really important, Certainly, as some of his commentors said, Progressives and Democrats don't need snappy sound bites and slogans, we already have most of the good ideas. But Jack & Julie Sixpack hear those soundbites, as well as those of the opposition, and they have effect, whether we like them or not.

So as a form of New Year's Resolution, I ask/challenge any and all, readers, commentors, fellow bloggers, to state our goals. What exactly do we stand for? And if you do it in a clever CNN-ready sound bite, what the heck, go for it. Let's have some big ideas.