A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Democracy Begins At Home

There has been a lot of pointless blather about the "value of democracy" on conservative blogs lately. That is, when they haven't been busy witch hunting a stupid, offhand remark by a reporter of a major news organization in their relentless pursuit of "almost treasonous liberal media bias".

Now I value democracy quite a lot, and I do think that it has been a nice by-product of an insanely expensive and ultimately unwise invasion of Iraq. Unwise because it will eventually result in a nuclear Iran, which we could have forestalled had we not invaded Iraq chasing after the chimera of Weapons of Mass Destruction there.

But Saddam Hussein is deposed and the Iraqis had a successful election. Hooray. That's really all that needs to be said, and I said it here.

There is much more to be said, however, about the state of democracy in America. Howard Dean has just said something significant about it to his own followers on the occasion of his triumphal march to occupy the DNC chair:

I have been talking to individual members of the DNC for weeks now. This has been one of the most public races for party chairman in a long time. But it's still been a campaign of person-to-person contact. It reminds me of campaigning in Vermont. You talk to people where they live, attend town meetings and respect their role in our democratic process. This race has been very different from the type of national campaign where TV ads and pundits do the talking, leaving real problems and real people on the side.

That's one of the things we need to change. We will do a better job understanding people's problems and a better job communicating solutions that reflect our values if we talk directly to the people. That is what all of you have done so well and that's what we need to keep doing. Growing our party from the ground up in every neighborhood.

Real democracy. With real people. Doing real political things rather than merely ranting on blogs. Like giving money:

In 2000, 8 percent of those who voted for George W. Bush said they had given money to Republicans, while 7 percent of those who voted for Al Gore gave to Democrats. This year, a post-election survey found that twice as many Bush voters (16 percent) had given. But the Democratic side tripled its rate and overtook the GOP, as 21 percent of Kerry voters gave to Democrats at various levels.

The Washington Post, February 6, 2005

(Hattip to Chris Bowers at My DD)

Now I'm not inclined to pry into the financial affairs of my acquaintances, but I really do wonder how often my friends in the conservative blogosphere actually gave money or really participated in local Republican politics in the last election, as I did in local Democratic politics. Did they even give any money and legwork at all for the national party and its White House champion?

Or are they merely content to trumpet opinions of the following kind:

What Cicero seems not to realize is that the Left does not support democracy and in fact is inimical to it. So right off the bat the question assumes that the Left and the rest of us have a common regard for democracy that is not actually there.

Donald Sensing

I already suspected that Jordan indeed said what he was accused of saying, and that he meant every word it. As an anti-war liberal who hates Bush, he probably wanted to say the most shocking thing he could think, that Bush's warmongering military was trying to squelch freedom of the press by doing away with the press. When I first heard about Jordan's statements, I could almost picture him saying it....The bigger issue is CNN's anti-military, anti-America coverage to begin with. Eason Jordan is just a cog in the machine....And to get to the bottom of it, to push for congressional hearings, letter-writing isn't enough. It will take more blog swarms like this to finally crack Big Media's wall of silence and show people what the founders really meant when they wrote these words: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech..."

La Shawn Barber

Anybody here believe that Kurtz didn't receive a single question about Easongate today? I sure don't--I sent half a dozen of them myself. You're a coward, Howard. Your silence, your outright stonewalling in failing to even mention a developing story about one of your bosses isn't just deafening, it's damning.

Will Collier

So, it seems that all of the stunning work being done by Captain Ed and Hugh Hewitt and LaShawn Barber and Roger Simon and so many others will be for little-to-nothing...unless this tape turns up...and I would bet that the thing is roasting merrily on a fire, or sinking into an ocean, even as you read this. Dirty Harry sums it up best, and bitterly.

The Anchoress

How about it, guys? Did you work to elect a county commissioner, like I did? Do you even care about any other issue facing this country than the one or two which are your own private hobbyhorses?

There's a real debate, in a real democracy, going on out there about the future of real people, who will be retiring in the future. About the Social Security System and a pattern of policy that will shape whole decades of America's future.

A real debate. Democracy in action. How come I see so little on your blogs which is part of that debate? Out here on the Left we have plenty to say about it. Out here on the Left we do believe in democracy enough to actually participate in it.

Democracy begins at home. Democracy is what you do with your freedom to participate in the political process. You are what you do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You just don't get it...

Republicans/Conservatives are businessmen, entrepeneurs, movers, shakers...we're too busy ACTUALLY DOING THINGS every day to protest the latest "outrage" down at the town square. Actions speak louder than words, and through participating in the world's most dynamic economy, we're "participating in the political process" in ways that go well beyond handing out flyers for a local candidate.

We don't see government as a means or an end. There is a whole economy that operates outside of any consideration for the everyday machinations of Howard Dean. Does Social Security matter? Does Medicare matter? Yes, but many of us are too busy taking our own retirement and healthcare into our OWN HANDS to worry too much about it. We don't need Social Security...because we're too busy moving the economy forward - and saving for our own future and healthcare - too rely on government for those things.

Pick up a Wall Street Journal on any day. Read. You will see a world that is foreign to most Democrats. We're not outraged, because we are actively making our own lives on the ground level every waking moment...irrespective of government.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Hoodlumman said...

And don't forget real Wisconsin democracy where you can vote in as many districts as you like on election day. Just provide an address, real or fake, and vote away.

Washington State democracy is neat, too. Just keep counting and digging until you win (and make sure the areas are Democrat controlled.)

God bless the USA!

2:09 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Thanks to both of you for stopping by.

I am perfectly well aware of that other economy, thank you. I know that it is run by "net worth" invested speculatively in the equities market. I also know that about 40% of this country has little to no net worth to participate in that econmony, and, as of now, almost no chance to acquire it since America has now become the "land of customer service" and our unionized manufacturing jobs have all gone to China.

That is the problem. That is what we on the Democratic side of the house want to get fixed--a level playing field for all to acquire net worth if they so desire.

I repeat, you are what you do. If your political involvement consists of only managing your mutual fund, giving no money or time to the party of your choice, and little thought to any issue which doesn't scratch your back, you are hardly participating in a democracy as far as I can see. If you were looking closely, you would see that the Iraqis did far better than you.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Donald Sensing said...

Jospeh, thanks for the link (as always), but you're being disengenuous in your quotation of me. I made a clear distinction in the post between the American Left and American liberals and how some liberals oppose the war on grounds other than those held by the Left.

I am not the only one who distinguishes between an anti-American Left and a pro-American liberalism. I posted about the distinction twice. If you wish to honestly cite my thinking you would have seen this distinction evident in my post.

Besides, your own post misses the point entirely of what I was saying. Yes, I do say the Left is opposed to democracy anywhere. It seeks, as Michael Totten has written, revolution, not reform, and grasps for its own power. But the American liberals who oppose the Iraq war (and not all do) basically do so from either an isolationist position or a partisan political position. Certainly I have seen no minimally competent strategic paper by a liberal opponent of the war.

Hence, it is perfectly (though disappointingly) clear that a liberal such as yourself may be an active participant in American democracy while simultaneously opposing the war that brought it to Iraq. Frankly, old friend, if "Hooray" is all you can say about Iraqi democracy, then your position seems pretty clear to me.

As always, though, you move the discussion along without ad hominems or mere polemic, and that's always welcome!

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a free country, and we have all been given free will by our Maker, so we all are free to participate in this democracy (republic?) to the extent that we choose to, not to the extent that you wish we would.
As well we are all free to talk about things to the extent that we wish. Eason was free to say what he did, but there are consequences to what we say and do.....and right now part of the consequence for him is being vilified for what he said....Truman...heat....kit-

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