Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

"Politics is not an expression of your moral purity"

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:10 PM
Original message
"Politics is not an expression of your moral purity"
A number of us have been trying to share some version of this concept with some of our more hardcore DU brothers and sisters, but rarely have I seen it so well put as in this Mother Jones interview with playwright Tony Kushner. Apropos of no particular thread or post, just the general atmosphere, I offer up this quotation:

TK: I have said this before, and I'll say it again: Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies. Money should be thrown at that candidate. And if Ralph Nader runs -- if the Green Party makes the terrible mistake of running a presidential candidate -- don't give him your vote. Listen, here's the thing about politics: It's not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.

The GOP has developed a genius for falling into lockstep. They didn't have it with Nixon, but they have it now. They line up behind their candidate, grit their teeth, and help him win, no matter who he is.

MJ: You're saying progressives are undone by their own idealism?

TK: The system isn't about ideals. The country doesn't elect great leaders. It elects fucked-up people who for reasons of ego want to run the world. Then the citizenry makes them become great. FDR was a plutocrat. In a certain sense he wasn't so different from George W. Bush, and he could have easily been Herbert Hoover, Part II. But he was a smart man, and the working class of America told him that he had to be the person who saved this country. It happened with Lyndon Johnson, too, and it could have happened with Bill Clinton, but we were so relieved after 12 years of Reagan and Bush that we sat back and carped.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
cyclezealot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
1. Half agree
Yes, this country elects totally f--ked up politicians.Very few real people would put themselves through this ritual;but, elections are about ideas. We have problems we want problem solvers. That is the only reason I bother to vote. Just to keep the more F--ked up out, and elected semi-****** up people. Might as well stay home.The Repugs. do have a consistant philosopy. To privitize everything so the privitizers can make a killing, let the greedy become more greedy and rape and pillage the land. The REpugs. put on a front that government has brought you our downfall. While it is the multi-nationals that are selling us out, for whom the Repugs. represent.
Elections are about ideas. We loose because we have done a poor job of revealing the Repug.agenda, I just outlined.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DinahMoeHum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. I recall Doris "Granny D" Haddock saying just as much. . .
last spring.

Link:
http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=15789

(snip)
"...There are many among us on the peace trail who will not support a candidate unless that candidate is perfect on every issue. Politics is about winning. For us, it is about winning to save lives and raise people up from poverty and illness and loneliness and injustice. Those posturing on the left sometimes forget that. Don't tell me that you can't support a particular candidate because of this or that. This isn't about you and your precious political standards. It is about saving nature and our people. We are coming out to win, so please don't stand in our way..."
(snip)


:kick:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
maha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
3. Human Beings are all f***ed up.
Even the best of us are f***ed up, to one degree or another. That's human nature. Only fools and hypocrites expect perfection from other human beings.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 02:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. There is a difference. Anyone who says there isn't, is lying.
Edited on Mon Jan-05-04 02:49 PM by Mairead
I'm not willing to listen to 'rally round the flag' appeals when we have people voting for a Bush-Lite status quo. When everyone is eager to vote for the best rather than the worst, then let's talk.

It's all about ideals, or their vicious antitheses. Don't dare say it's not. The kids in the Weisse Rose didn't die for a prank. Pastor Bonhffer didn't speak out and die for a triviality. Admiral Canaris didn't sacrifice his life for fun.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
RichardRay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Nobody says there's no difference...
but I'm not so enamored of my own rectitude that I can't compromise in order to get an improvement. I don't believe in revolution anymore, just incremental change. It's called politics, sorry it's not what you want it to be.

My ideals are not worth telling someone else to starve to death for the sake of moral purity, are yours?

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Mairead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #5
12. When you 'compromise' by embracing the least difference,
you *are* telling someone else to 'starve to death' for the sake of your idea of moral purity.

You're saying there's nothing to be done about Iraq, so everyone will just have to go on suffering and dying, killing and being killed.

You're saying that there's nothing to be done about the vicious drugs war, so kids like Esequiel Hernandez will just have to die when some psychopathic Marine corporal decides to see what it feels like to murder someone.

You're saying that there's nothing to be done about the gaping maw of the war industry, so kids will just have to go on getting a crummy education that doesn't prepare them for a good adulthood.

You're saying that there's nothing to be done about people too poor to afford even the least adequate health insurance...who are too poor even to afford a place to live, fachrissake. They just have to die young, too bad.

And you're saying that there's nothing to be done about our Constitutional rights...that we'll just have to give up our freedom and accept corporatist hegemony and the police state it spawns.

You're saying that the only people whom we can and must stroke and take care of are the wealthy elites who own the war industry and the prisons industry and the banks that launder drug money and the HMOs and insurance companies, and that the rest of us will just have to go on paying and paying and paying. And dying if we can't pay.

That's what it means when you tell yourself that the best you can get is the guy who stands for no real change at all. That's not compromise, that's selling out.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
indigo32 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Actually Mairead
I see it quite differently. First of all... NONE of the guys/gal who are up for nomination are for no change at all. Thats a huge overgeneralization IMO.
Second...it's the little guy who might have been helped by one of these people who looses when I refuse to compromise. The whole world is holding their breath waiting for Bush to be out... not me...I can't stand the man but I stand to loose little in a Bush win. Noooo it's for the rest of the world that I vote for the one I see as a winner.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Cute li'l manifesto there
...and as nice an example of strawman argument as anyone could want. Or "ignored middle" if you prefer.

That's what it means when you tell yourself that the best you can get is the guy who stands for no real change at all. That's not compromise, that's selling out.

Sure is. But, um, I don't see ANYONE on claiming they are supporting a candidate who stands for "no real change at all," and I don't see ANY of the Dem candidates as representing no improvement when compared to the ruling regime. Including Lieberman.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
quaker bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. For once, we basically agree
There is a position that lies between an absolutist approach and complete relativism. Were I only to vote for those candidates that agreed with me on every moral issue, I would rarely vote at all.

If on the other hand, there is no moral dimension to selecting a prefered candidate, the process would hardly be worth the waste of time.

In the primaries, I vote for the candidate who I feel is best suited to lead the country in the manner I find moral. Usually, that candidate loses.

In the general election I do the same with a more limited palate of choices. Unfortunately, that candidate often loses as well.

Nonetheless, while the candidate I supported in 2000 lost the election, I do feel good for not having voted for Bush*.

I commend you in your stand for morality
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
RichardRay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #12
23. Sorry, that's not what I'm saying....
I'm saying that I'll take what I can get if it's better than what I've got even if it's not everything I want. I'll keep trying for more of what I want even if it seems unacheivable.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:27 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. But...
To me, the 'I'll take what I can get' comes in the GE.

The 'trying for more of what I want, even if it seems unachievable', again, just speaking for myself, would seem to be more about voting for what you really want in the primary.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. :shrug:


And regarding 'more of the same':

True, any of our candidates look like Nobel Prizewinning Geniuses compared to Bush. But what kind of contest is that? Looking smart next to bush is no major feat.

The issue of continuing the status quo vs. real change is highlighted in issues like these:

- getting ourselves out of the Iraq occupation (the reason we can't get help is because we want to hog / control the spoils)
- getting our country back on track labor-wise (ending destructive trade agreements which were created to favor corporations)
- cutting the bloated pentagon budget so we can fund some more bread and butter programs (why is this even debated?!)
- etc., etc., etc.

When you look at the direction this country is headed, there really is a very big difference between Kucinich and the 'frontrunners'. A very, very big difference.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
6. no idealism permitted
If anyone expresses some, accuse them of moral purity. Repeat until everyone believes you.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Actually, I think Kushner is fairly idealistic
I suppose it depends on what you mean by "idealistic." But just being a playwright requires a certain degree of it--there are certainly easier and more pragmatic ways to put food on the table. And he's written one of the most important plays on AIDS.

I think he makes a valid point.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #8
22. complete non-sequiturs
Those facts have no bearing on the merits of the argument.

His comments will stand or fall regardless of his other writings or line of work. His point is valid, but ends at a convenient and arbitrary point.

The idea that someone else's pragmatism is the only permissible focus is an opinion, not a fact. It is a particularly shaky - but sly - opinion, since it seeks to encode its own narcissism by attacking presumed narcissism in others. Fortunately, not everyone is so suggestible.

In any representative structure, idealism will be legitimately present to the extent that the participants want it. Not everyone is seduced by the argument that killing one baby is better than killing one hundred, and so in the name of pragmatism we should celebrate killing the one, since letting them live is beyond the pale.

Not only can I do the math that the pragmatists want (100>1), but I can also do the ethics that make them uncomfortable (not killing > killing), and which ultimately provides the pragmatists with their justification.

I won't hold my breath for a thank you note.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 04:24 PM
Response to Original message
7. Horseshit.....Basic Right and Wrong is not "moral purity"
I get so tired of people trotting out this mantra that wanting something better than we've got is "moral purity."

I know I'm not an example of purity, and I'm not looking for someone who epitomizes that in politics. But I DO know how screwed up things have gotten because we have turned society over to the most amoral, greedy, power crazed and blind among us. And we as a society have bought into their message -- to our own detrement.

There is a midpoint between total right and total wrong. But we are so far from that in the direction of wrong that we have to inject and demand better than we're getting.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Kinda hard to parse this
Since BushCorp, as you say, are "the most amoral, greedy, power crazed and blind among us," then any of the present Dem candidates--including Lieberman--qualifies as demanding "better than we're getting," yes?

That's Kushner point, and it's one I agree with. I think the target here is people who say they won't vote for a certain Dem because he/she has transgressed on some particular issue, maybe even more than one. Shit, a week or so I saw some numbskull calling for the ouster of Barney Frank--Barney Frank!--on the basis of some single-issue transgression.

But you react as though this comment were aimed at you. I don't see why.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
rucky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Stereotyping of progressives, maybe?
progressivism & pragmatism are not mutually exclusive

Kushner - bless him - is either making a strawman arguement, or hangs in waaaay too tight of circles.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #10
16. Never seen any examples of what he's talking about?
Hm.

Anyway, he doesn't say progressivism & pragmatism are mutually exclusive. In fact, there'd be little point making his argument if he thought that. He's merely asking that progressives exercise their capacity to BE pragmatists.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Armstead Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:19 PM
Response to Reply #9
18. No, it's larger than BushCo
My objection is not personal. But I do identify enough that it does rub me the wrong way because it is the reasoning that got us into this mess.We've become so "pragmatic" that we let the larger evil slip in and take over without a fight.

I will say one thing for the honest conservatives. They are true believers and they DO believe politics is about right and wrong.

But on our side, it seems that anyone that tries to press for principles gets slapped down with this "moral purity" nonsense.





Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:14 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. hey, Armstead
Check your inbox, por favor. :hi:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
11. "The system isn't about ideals."
Bullshit. Politics is about nothing but ideals.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DrBB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. Politics is a way to get things done
...without resorting to violence, despite the fact that people's ideals may differ violently.

Unless you're a totalitarian.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #13
19. well sure.
But in a system of self-governance such as we nominally have, those "things" are what someone wants, a reasonable facsimile of an ideal. There are those who like to talk about politics as if the whole affair is divorced from human desire and it's just not so.

Even totalitarians have to deal with politics.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
adadem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-05-04 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #11
21. Agree
Casting a vote for a politician that you, in your heart, believe is without integrity is the utmost form of hypocracy.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
CWebster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:17 PM
Response to Original message
24. Folks carped purity when Dems turned to the Greens
Edited on Tue Jan-06-04 02:08 PM by CWebster
and supported Nader due to the Dems wholesale sell-out. No one complained about the DLC--how they alienated the base and held them hostage. No one complained about all the Dem voters who bought the Republican's moral purity pitch of "bringing integrity back to the whitehouse" after Clinton. Now you have Greens to Conservatives backing Dean, but again we are told that by having any standards to base our votes on, we are being purists, EVEN THOUGH we realize the candidate we support may not be ideal. Seems we are too pure by wanting a Democrat for a choice. Will we be hounded with the purity accusation until we hold our nose and vote R?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:29 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. There is no U in compromise, only an I is the maxim by which many here...
operate.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
corporatewhore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-06-04 01:31 PM
Response to Original message
27. There is no perfect cannidate but there are some issues i cant compromise
Free Trade (every issue is tied to this SLAVERY environment privatisation labor and human rights militerazation)

Gun Control

Israel/Palestine
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Thu Dec 25th 2014, 03:05 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC