On Tuesday, Jan. 31, I was troll-rated into oblivion at the Daily Kos political chat site and lost access to participating at the site.
This has occurred twice before: Once during the famous primary wars of 2003, for defending Ralph Nader repeatedly and criticizing Gen. Wesley Clark and former Gov. Howard Dean, who I ended up voting for; and then again, in late 2004, when I stated early one Sunday morning that an "SNL" skit showing John Kerry to be a flip-flopper was funny and factual correct.
After the second banning, I took a break from the site for almost a year, although I did continue to glance at it now and again for news stories and other political nuggets.
But after talking to some folks via email who had participated in the site and missed some of my interaction, I decided to participate again. I also made it a personal policy that I wouldn't get into too much controversy, as to not anger those true believers which would get me troll-rated again into oblivion and start the whole process over again.
Well, I failed.
For the most part, it was a safe strategy and it seemed to work. My contributions were part of what I thought was a healthy discussion about politics in general, strategy, and other things that would empower people to be more involved in the process. The thought was that if you can get people to shut off their computers and learn how to run field campaigns, for example, they would be able to create more change than bitching at a blog site. Bitching on a blog site doesn't create change; it is just bitching.
Of course, anyone involved in campaigns in the past knows this to be true; field is everything. Information is everything. But anyone involved in campaigns in the past also knows that progressives and liberals, generalizing, have an adversarial relationship with the hard work that goes into producing winning electoral campaigns. They do a lot of pontificating about "movement building," but they rarely follow through with the work that needs to get accomplished.
It was hilarious when I was involved in the early days of the Massachusetts Green Party - after volunteering for Ralph Nader's presidential campaign in 1996 - and would talk about purging voter's lists to find the good voting residents. "Activists" would look at me and say, "What's a voter's list?" They were too busy Marching for Mumia to realize that the only way to influence voters was to actually find out who they were and talk to them. It was only until activist Iowa Karen Kubby put the process into a cartoon format and passed it around on the Web that folks inside the MGP and other places took the process of purging seriously. Later, in some of the smaller campaigns, Greens were able to take this process onto near wins - like Jesse Perrier's Selectman's campaign in Winthrop, Mass., in which he got 40-plus percent of the vote. Another candidate, Paul Lachelier, challenged long-time state Rep. Tim Toomey, a double-dipping Democrat layabout, and received 37 percent of the vote, in Cambridge and Somerville. Other Greens in super liberal areas of Western Massachusetts were able to garner similar numbers by actually going out and talking to voters. Statewide candidates - not really using the purging process but still significant - were able to garner decent vote returns too. James O'Keefe, who ran for Treasurer in Massachusetts as a Green, won more than 9 percent of the vote in 2002 in a climate where the state Dems were pounding Green gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. President Bill Clinton even visited the state telling voters not to be "Nadered" by Stein who was clearly more qualified to be governor than Mitt Romney or Shannon O'Brien. O'Keefe managed to skirt most of the damage from Democrats which was squarely aimed at Stein. But he didn't get much help from the mainstream media. Despite having a Masters degree in Economics and a background in computer software engineering, they didn't feel he was qualified. The major daily newspapers ignored his campaign, with the Boston Globe even editing O'Keefe out of a three candidate picture. The picture had all three candidates extending their hands jointly together in a sports metaphor with the Globe editing O'Keefe completely out of the picture ... except, of course, his hands! Some television stations were kinder; allowing O'Keefe to participate in some of the debates, probably because the Republican Dan Grabauskus had no chance of beating eventual winner "Tim for Treasurer" Cahill.
My discussions on Kos weren't about anything more than empowering people and chatting up political gossip, something I don't do at work very much and prefer to do online, during downtime.
But then, the blogosphere started to really let loose after the Alito nomination follies. Some of the more popular posters on Daily Kos started to openly talk about rebellion within the Democrat Party and even leaving the party to punish Senators who were supporting Alito. They'd had enough, especially after some Senate Dems smartly abandoned John Kerry's seemingly clueless filibuster attempt against Alito. In fact, some of the more popular posters, like MaryScott O'Connor, a former actress in California who also runs the My Left Wing site, called for a re-registration to "Independent" in an effort to influence the party [O'Connor is a super liberal poster who I happen to respect because of her thoughtfulness and deep convictions even if I may disagree with her rage]. She was particularly infuriated by southern and western Dems ignoring the dangers Alito might bring to Roe v. Wade. Kos himself seemed to stay out of this fray and allowed people to argue back and forth about it, although he did sympathize with the rebellious poster's anger at the lack of action against Alito. Kos even went so far as to brag that the netroots were organized in this fight. He mightily roared that now, Senate Democrats would take them seriously, even if they had little to no effect on the process.
While Kos has openly stated that he has little tolerance for indie voters or indie liberal parties, he has openly called on his followers to target Sen. Joe Lieberman - advocating and encouraging anyone, independent or otherwise - to run against him! This, historically, as anyone involved in the party knows, is a no-no. You don't eat your own, no matter what.
But with Kos and his posters, there is a bit of hypocrisy on this. Lieberman is a Republican with a big-D label by his name, they say, so it is different than a guy like Nader trying to bring truth and honesty to the political arena. Kossacks correctly think the same of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, labeling him: "Sen. Joe Biden, D-MBNA," after the big financial company from his state which he seems to serve so well - much to the detriment of credit card holders everywhere.
A lot of excuses were posted for this strange change in philosophy between no tolerance for indies and tolerance for them when they are against someone we dislike or someone who Kos targets. But, whatever.
Having worked in both Dem and indie arenas and have voted for Republicans against Democrat candidates I couldn't stand, I commended O'Connor and others, and encouraged them to think about the idea of abandoning the Dems. I didn't advocate for the idea; I just said folks should think about it. I shared some of my own experiences trying to reform the Democrat Party in the late 1980s when I was an active member of Ward Committee meetings in Boston, as well as my experiences with the Greens during the mid- to late-1990s. I stated that it was nearly impossible to reform the Dems and I did openly advocate not joining the Greens because of their unrealistic illusions and propensity to be totally disorganized [Sorry my Green buds still out there reading my stuff, this is the reality of the situation].
Sidebar: This dynamic of rebellion in the wake of the Alito nomination from within the ranks of this ragtag collection of people talking amongst themselves online has virtually received no attention from the press - despite the popular sentiment online. O'Connor did manage to get on John Gibson's Fox radio program after she posted a rant entitled "We are fucked." The audio is posted somewhere but I have yet to listen to it. There was little else in the way of press about this very interesting dynamic in the country right now. In fact, it is a testament to the lack of a political press interested in covering anything deeper within the party structures, something they always used to do in the 1960s and 1970s. Whole sections of books have been written about the intra-party struggles, like the move to diversify the Dems in the 1970s after U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s populist campaign for the presidency found itself completely shut out of the political process [Check out "Marathon: The pursuit of the Presidency, 1972-1976," by Jules Witcover, a fascinating read about this era of Democratic politics].
Unfortunately, during this very enlightening phrase of interaction at Daily Kos, I got into a side argument about Al Gore Sr., a southern Democrat who had a pretty bad civil rights record. Everyone knows this and it has been covered by editorialists from the left and right. Everyone knows that southern Democrats attempted to kill the Civil Rights Act and Gore Sr. was one of the leaders in that movement. Everyone knows that it wasn't until after years and years of fighting integrating that Gore Sr. finally came around, not unlike Alabama Gov. George Wallace and others later on. Everyone knows that when Vice President Al Gore in 2000 was talking about his father's legacy of civil rights advocacy that he was rewriting the history about his father [While the Bible does say, Respect thy mother and father, it doesn't say Fib about thy mother and father to rewrite history and cover your political ass]. Everyone knows that if it weren't for northeastern Republicans, blacks still wouldn't have civil rights today. All this information is in the Congressional Record. There are voting records and comments by other Democrats, like then-President Lyndon Johnson, who openly thanked Senate Republicans for their assistance in passing the Civil Rights Act. Going back a bit further, everyone knows that if it weren't for Republicans in the late 1800s, blacks would still be slaves today. It is fact. There is no argument about it ... unless you currently hate Republicans and are a part of the "liberal blogosphere" in 2006. You're drinking the Kool-Aid, like Jim Jones' followers did, as the saying goes. A cryptic metaphor but accurate nonetheless. The Dems can do no wrong, even after you are targeting Lieberman and others from your desktop.
Well, my comments didn't sit right with some folks and wham, troll-rated into oblivion again. This is what happens when you don't know your history - you are condemned to repeat it, as the saying goes. This is what happens when you hate so much that you can't look at the bright side of anything.
Personally, I'm not happy with the Republicans in Washington. I think the current bunch are corrupt as the day is long. They are a disgrace to their forefathers and Republicanism. It is nothing more than a political label now. But I'm not happy with the Democrats either. I see no difference in the hiding of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy plan and the crap that went on when Hilary Clinton - not an elected official, but the wife of the president - was meeting in secret to scheme up a supposed insurance policy for Americans. I won't even get into the alleged pharm market manipulation or other things from that era.
But this is what happens when you are so worried about political labels and less about political integrity that you are scarfing down that Kool-Aid. Any mindless following of political labels is a train ride to fascism and tyranny. Needless to say, I am going to probably give up on the educational dialogue of the blogosphere and will instead, spend time doing more fruitful endeavors. I will probably still cross-post at MyDD and have also been invited to cross-post at My Left Wing, despite my online debates with O'Connor, a class act in the blogosphere [She rages sometimes, it's OK though. She has come around].
But at some point, you have to give up and stop wasting your time trying to help people empower themselves. You can't make people see the truth. No matter how important speaking truth to power and "teaching" people the tools to change their lives, you can't force people to do it. You can't teach people common sense. It can be a lost cause.
I have always believed that lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for. But for now, more important writing deserves to be written.
I just thought my regular readers, many who were Kossacks and starting coming back to Politizine after I started posting again, should know why I'm no longer there.