Democratic Underground

TygrBright Responds
July 4, 2001
by TygrBright

Bravo, birdman!

I can't really count this as a "rebuttal," since aside from clearing up some apparent reading comprehension issues (or, to be fair, perhaps they were writing clarity issues—we'll flip a coin and split the difference), I agree with you entirely.

In fact, your article "The Cynic's Approach," is an excellent reinforcement to my original message in the "Blueprint for Taking Back the Democratic Party."  You're advocating, in slightly different terms, very much what I was attempting to advocate.   And I hope that anyone who might have been put off by the unapologetically populist tone of my article is able to identify solidly with yours.

But let's get those reading comprehension/writing clarity issues cleared up first.

I sort of thought I covered the Green Party in "Part Two: Is it Worth Saving," with the following: "And it's certainly more pleasant to be in substantial agreement with the great majority of your party colleagues, because you all fall in the same narrow band of the ideological spectrum and share many of the same priorities and opinions. Much more pleasant than spending hours and hours deadlocked at a Party caucus where a dozen different subgroups and opinions are duking it out."

In other words, I'm not advocating that the Democratic Party turn into an ideologically homogenized entity. You're quite right, that's not only a death wish, but it's contrary to the great traditions of the Democratic Party, which has been able to successfully incorporate ideas from the most visionary socialist thinkers to the Boll Weevil Democrats into our platforms.

Birdman states: "To play in the political big leagues these days requires a party with name recognition, a large population base, and unfortunately a hefty pile of money." It's never in my memory (and I've been active in the Party for more than 40 years) required anything else. None of those elements is antithetical to the truly populist Democratic Party of my vision. We simply need millions of smaller and medium size donors, as opposed to (or maybe in addition to) dozens of massive corporate bribes.

The beauty of this, of course, is that in developing the vast base of citizen support needed to produce the necessary cash, we both strengthen and affirm their stake in our Party's success, and increase the necessary name recognition for our Party, our issues, and our proposed representatives. It's a win-win situation.

When I speak of "populist" I'm referring to "populist" in precisely the sense you mean, birdman, when you refer to "the growing minority community... the educated suburban population that's started to feel that the Republicans are controlled by fetus-freaks and gun nuts (nice phrasing, that—may I steal it sometime?)... the aging population... the expanding Hispanic community..." and so on. We're on the same page of the hymnal, apparently. I refer to it as "populists" taking back the Party, you seem to have a slightly different semantic twist thereupon. I think the net result will please us both.   (If we can pull it off.)

I don't recall referring to "activists" or "activism," much less ideological activists. You referred specifically to the Greens using the term, but I won't interpret that as an imputation that I am a Green Party ideological activist since I certainly hope I made it clear that my personal perspective is considerably broader. (Did I? Feedback much appreciated, Democratic Underground readers and friends... maybe I blew this one...)

However, it would be fair to conclude that my article (manifesto?) was a call for activism—political activism, based on that very same populist broadening of the Party's base that we both advocate.

While I have great respect for people whose ideological passion and creativity might lead them to "demonstrate in Seattle dressed in turtle suits," I'm not advocating that as a method of reclaiming the Democratic Party's dominant role in American politics. The activism I propose—studying Party platforms and constitutions, participating in local Party committees, building participation in the Party through communicating at the grass roots level—is of another order altogether. A pragmatic activism, informed, perhaps, by an ideological commitment to what has always been the center of the Party's philosophy: That America's government should be controlled by all Americans, to the social and economic benefit of all Americans.

It's as simple as that.

I don't advocate "cleansing" anyone from the Democratic Party. Not even the bought-and-paid-for servants of the corporate interests and the "salesmen" to whom you so aptly refer. They are welcome to participate in the Party, and to place their competing interests in the stew of ideas and strategies from which we distill our Party's policy and actions. Rather, I advocate that we balance these interests—okay, I'll be honest—that we overwhelm these interests by returning to the Party its role as champion of America's working people, America's small businesses, America's urban dwellers, America's recent immigrants, America's minorities, America's farmers, America's elderly, and a few other tiny little special interests like that. I'm betting that they will more than balance the greed and expediency of the big money and their unprincipled whores.

If there is an ideological bent to the Blueprint, that is it, in a nutshell: That we must turn on the vast numbers of voters who have been turned off by the six-of-one, half-dozen-of-the-other corporate-driven agendas controlling both Parties (but especially our Democratic Party.) That we must use massive numbers and, yes, active participation to counter the power of business bucks and regain control of our Party and our government. That this will be done by defining our Party's platform and agenda based on our interests and our well-being, rather than allowing slick PR and corporate hucksters to define it for us.

My personal ideological and philosophical viewpoints on all the issues you specify isn't relevant to this greater goal—which is why I carefully avoided articulating any views on affirmative action, "parental notification," dressing up as a turtle, or any of the other issues that you raise. You are correct, we must have the pragmatism to horsetrade, to give-and-take in the fetid trenches of legislative action. Nor can we allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the right wing's viciously successful (up until now) tactics of obsessive focus on linking essentially irrelevant detail with a sacred ideological gold standard.

You're also right, birdman, when you state: "...big tents win. Small ones lose." The Democratic Party's tent is in danger of shrinking to an expensive rented pavilion keeping the harsh rains of economic reality off the preferred stockholders of the corporate American government.   Now is the time for each and every one of us to head straight out to our local Party committee and begin the process of sewing our own uniquely-colored patch onto the edge of that tent.

Enough patches from enough American Democrats, and we'll be able to keep all Americans economically and socially secure—AND in charge of our own Party and our own government.

 
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