Thursday, February 16, 2006

Fiddling While America Burns

From Kos:

DISCLAIMER: Front pagers don't have an obligation to write about what is important to me. Neither do other diarists. Other people don't have an obligation to act on what is important to me, and I have the power to write diaries on subjects of import the same way everyone else does. This is not going to be an accusatory complaint about Markos or our front-page writers, nor am I going to make any demands.
What I am going to do, is engage in a little introspection, about what I perceive to be our apparent inability as a blog, or a party, to focus on the big picture in a timely fashion.

stephdray's diary :: ::

The best and most recent example of our strategic chaos was the Alito Filibuster. The party's collective failure to mobilize on its own, without a call from John Kerry, ultimately crippled the filibuster attempt. At one point, we had at least 37 votes for a filibuster, maybe as many as 39.

How many more could have been flipped with an early, concerted effort that did not start in Davos Switzerland?

There was a lot of defeatism on this blog about the matter, as if we were disinterested observers instead of invested participants. Armando thankfully joined the fight, albeit late, and his act propelled the broader community to action. He claimed it was the community that took the leadership role, and he was right. But I'm not sure it should have been that way.

The logic of group action requires leadership--a tipping point. Like it or not, the front page of this blog can provide that tipping-point, or they can enable the inertia of depressive apathy. I'm not saying they have an obligation to avoid making posts that encourage apathy and defeatism, I'm just observing the fact that sometimes they do make such posts.

Today, the USA Patriot Act may have gone down in flames. Russ Feingold may have held together a filibuster. He had the will. He had the fight. He did everything we asked him to do, including coming to this blog and discussing it with us. Begging us for action, in fact.

And yet, look at what's all over the blog today. Cheney and a Hunting Accident. And who could blame people for the fascination. I mean, it feels a bit like the Wizard of Oz. It's a big joke. How is it possible that our Vice President just shot a man? I get it. It's salacious. It's fascinating. It's almost fun.

But it's also not the least bit useful to us. We are often so obsessed, as a group, with our hatred for this administration that we forget they can never be elected again. We will never be running against them again. We're unlikely to get the votes for impeachment when we can't even get the votes to filibuster lunatic judges and bills that authorize law enforcement to enter our homes without going to a court.

I wonder if, as a party, as a blog, we have a collective myopia about the Bush Administration that may be costing us precious victories in battles that we could win were we to focus.

A blog like this one has limitations--front pagers write about whatever interests them, diarists do too, and you hope that the most important stuff stays at the top in the recommended diary section, but you never know. We have a bit of a cult of personality around Markos, and that's fine, but he's disavowed the role of a leader. And that's an important limitation to acknowledge.

As a party, one would hope that the elected leadership would do more than post here... perhaps invite our activism, tell us how to get things done more efficiently. But it seems that we're a bit rudderless at the top. Even Senator Feingold, who has been a tireless advocate, and intensely focused, failed to provide key strategic information to us in our activism, such as which senators to target.

What we don't need, I'm fairly certain, is ten million new little small activist groups. We need some sort of Activist Central, big and influential.

Giving credit where credit is due


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