Democratic Underground

Fighting Digital Division
March 13, 2001
By Jack Tenhet

For nearly a decade I have been a very active member of the DNC. When I was approached via e-mail to participate in the DNC sponsored message board "FreeDem", I was at first skeptical. I initially dismissed it as a waste of valuable time that could be better spent researching and committing myself to assisting my local chapter in winning elections. I couldn't have been more wrong.

On a whim, I signed up. It wasn't long before I found myself in the maelstrom of the newest form of political activism; the message board. There I found tools that made my job so much easier. People were posting links to articles they'd stumbled across left and right. With one click of a mouse, I had compiled more research in less than two hours than a thousand clicks and a hundred hours would have yielded.

The joy I'd felt at finding this place, however, was short lived. It wasn't long before the Republicans entered the scene, swarming like locusts. Soon, less information was being handed out. With their abrasive attitude and facist ideals, these Republicans had siezed complete control over the board.

It was then that I began paying very close attention to what was happening. It was clear from the start that their goal was distraction. If ever an attempt was made to have any discussion that would lead to activism, they would pipe in with certain key phrases or topics. I began to notice there was a little more than method to their madness. They seemed organized.

That was when I came up with a sort of guide to help my fellow Liberals on that board better equip themselves. The guide seems to have worked - though the rightist Plutocrats still try to attack, there is less bite to their bark.

This guide is very simple to follow and allows for complete freedom to either ignore them or confront them. The guide goes as follows:

1. Beware of "catchphrases". Remember that these Republicans ONLY know what they hear from Rush and the right wing media. Their attention is limited to soundbites and they seldom look any further than this. You've all heard the catchphrases before, "get over it", "class envy" or my favorite "it's our money". These can be ignored easily, disproven even more easily. A little research can pull the stinger out of any tired catchphrase very quickly.

However, be warned. Do not engage them unless you're prepared to go all the way. Even when proven wrong, they won't back down. This brings us to...

2. Don't trust any 'Pub polls. Remember, the Republicans have their own message boards, and they rig polls all the time by sending people to the sites they can cast their votes on and having them vote as many times as they can. Not only that, but remember that polls are only as scientific as the groups being polled. A truly scientific poll would require a random sampling of around 51% Democrat, 39% Republican and 10% Third Party.

The best example is the recent Gallup poll on Bush II's first address to the nation. The poll consisted of less that five hundred people, over 70% Republican (Source, Gallup).

3. Never allow them to claim any "moral high ground". Always remember, it is far more moral to insure that the poorest Americans are taken care of than to push a pork plan that pays back the oil cronies that backed you.

4. Never let them say you are not patriots. Nothing is more patriotic than to treat ALL Americans with equality. The blanket of freedom is supposed to cover us all, not just the chosen few. They hate homosexuals, homosexuals are Americans, part of America. America is a Union, to hate a part is to hate the whole.

5. When all else fails, they'll always bring up abortion. Either ignore this, or call them on it. Remind them that the ONLY reason abortion is an issue to them is because it grants them greater control over women. Their agenda is to keep women pregnant, in the home, and out of power. Do not fall for any "sanctity of life" rhetoric from people who support the death penalty.

6. Keep yourself more informed than they are. This is needed whether you choose to engage them or not. It's not so hard to do if you think about how little actual information they're getting compared to how much is truly out there. And finally...

7. ALWAYS try to steer the conversation back to liberal ideals and ways to implement these ideals in the real world. Pass out information, organize registration drives and protests, write to Congress, the Senate. Write six times a day if you have to.

As tempting as it may be to debate these thugs, we must not divert ourselves too much from the task at hand. America is in trouble and needs our help. We must not get suckered into pointless circular arguments when we should be using this digital landscape to paint the portrait of our future.

In the end, it will be up to us how these times are remembered. It will be up to us to ensure this never happens again.


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