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What America Thinks

by asdf Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 01:04:52 PM EST

Here is an extremely succinct and well-written article by one of the rising stars of the Democratic party in the United States, Barack Obama. I think that this article captures correctly the way our governmental leaders think, and reflects an accurate reading of the American electorate. It's worth a read, and I will only quote very briefly:

"From traveling throughout Illinois and more recently around the country, I can tell you that Americans are suspicious of labels and suspicious of jargon.  They don't think George Bush is mean-spirited or prejudiced, but have become aware that his administration is irresponsible and often incompetent.  They don't think that corporations are inherently evil (a lot of them work in corporations), but they recognize that big business, unchecked, can fix the game to the detriment of working people and small entrepreneurs.  They don't think America is an imperialist brute, but are angry that the case to invade Iraq was exaggerated, are worried that we have unnecessarily alienated existing and potential allies around the world, and are ashamed by events like those at Abu Ghraib which violate our ideals as a country."


Of course, the comments tend to veer off into the ozone, as usual...
by asdf on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 01:07:19 PM EST
I thought that Obama has read the mood of the USA exactly right.  I live in a state that is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, and my neighbors are naturally trusting people.  They believed GW Bush was honest, and they were genuinely frightened by 9/11, and it has just taken them a long time to start to see the true nature of this administration.  
by corncam on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 04:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The comments not only veer off, but inspire their own diaries, some of which have also made it onto the dKos Recommended Diaries list:

These discussions once again spotlight the debate between two major camps of thought:  those who believe in purity of message and ideals, and those who believe in accommodating practically anyone who's working toward restoring the Democrats to power.  In a nutshell, it comes down to whether it's better to appeal to the party base or to the undecideds and independents in the middle.

With the former group, one tends to get regular purges of those who don't hold fast to the "one true faith", as it were.  With the latter, positions on "core" issues tend to get diffuse and result in questions of "what do we really stand for?"

These types of debates are, in general, a good thing, but they certainly begin to become dangerous when they occur to close to an election.  The party's base has to be fully engaged and enthusiastic, but most elections -- at least on a statewide or national level -- are won or lost in the middle.  Play too much to the middle, of course, and there's the risk of splintering.  In a system based on single-representative districts (and not proportional representation), that kind of splintering can be fatal.

by The Maven on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 05:01:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mandatory "prickly" comment about recent splintering in German politics...  :-)
by asdf on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 07:21:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a third rung in all this. You can accept a variety of points of view in one party, a big tent. But those views need to be freely and openly discussed. We also need Democrats who STAND for something. But lastly, there is no multiplicity of views when it comes to corruption, malfeasance, incompetence, illegality. That's why Obama rubbed people the wrong way. He talks about appealing to a nice kind American voter who thinks, while Bush is disappointing, he's a nice man personally. This is the sort of American who has his head in the sand as the country is burning. They should be ignored. It's time for people to speak truth to power, not a time for tiddlywinks. That doesn't mean I should kick you out of the party because you are anti-abortion. I'm very liberal, but Harry Reid (who is anti-abortion) is one of my favorite politicans. At a team when we have witnessed a debacle in Iraq, a nightmare in New Orleans, multiple cases of corruption in the congress and the White House, it is time to separate the patriots from the greedheads.
by Upstate NY on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 09:19:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This debate often bogs down because it degenerates into a false choice - defeat Republicans by watering down the Democratic message for fear of offending anyone in the "middle" wherever the hell that is these days, and losing while patting ourselves on the back for our far-left "purity."

Americans like me are tearing our hair out because we see - in discussions while those we know outside the blogosphere - that "Vote for me, I'm inoffensive" is not going to win us elections. My comment on RenaRF's diary at BooTrib

How do we WIN? (4.00 / 2)
I am absolutely in agreement with Markos, Obama, and whoever else that we must WIN - starting in 06 - or we will lose what little hope we still have for our country. The damage that is being done by the Republicans is a nightmare and must be stopped as soon as possible. As it is, the repairs will be a huge task.

Where I part company with them is on HOW we can win. Last, oh say December, when we were all in a state of shock that Bush could get enough votes to even make it possible to steal that election, it might have been reasonable to argue that the majority of Americans were too ignorant of what was happening and too content with their comfortable life styles to question much.

But that has changed now. Even last December I would have argued that we had a better chance of winning with candidates that do not come across as "I've done the polling and the focus groups and don't worry I won't say or do anything that might alarm or offend you, dear tepid, uninvolved voter. Just vote for me because I'm not a Republican. And the Republicans are not nice folks." That even then, that there was a huge pool of voters who didn't vote or picked a candidate at random because, "All those politicians are alike. It doesn't matter if I vote or who I vote for."

Now - after Katrina, the endless war, the coming fuel shocks to our economy, etc etc etc etc - "Let's don't offend anyone" is a sure loser at the polls. And Markos, Obama et al are right - losing would be a horrible disaster. I just hope that they don't "lead" us right off that cliff.

The number of comments that your diary has garnered, Rena, I think is a sign of people's hunger for real leadership from the Democrats. And that hunger is not being felt by just us liberal politics junkies who hang out on the blogs. Talk to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, family. It's everywhere.

Please read her her letter to Sen. Obama. It's not about "purity." It's about leadership.

by Janet Strange (jstrange1925 - that symbol - hotmail, etc.) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 02:50:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In 2004 there were other choices: Kucinich during the primary and the Greens during the election. Neither get more than a tiny fraction of the vote.

Are you actually prepared to vote for a liberal candidate? Will you abandon the Democrats for the Greens if Hillary is the 2008 nominee?

I thought not...

by asdf on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 09:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
American politics, at this point, has little to do with issues. It's all about competence. If we wanted liberals, everyone would have been on John Kerry's bandwagon. He was the most liberal candidate out there other than Kucinich. But Kerry did not communicate effectively. And the Republicans were able to portray him as an incompetent. Kerry was more liberal than Howard Dean, and he had also taken a lot of tough stands in his career. But his inability to vent his anger or wear his heart on his sleeve allowed the Republicans to paint him as a liberal AND a patrician.

One of the most popular Democratic candidates for 2006 right now is Paul Hackett from Ohio. He's a conservative Democrat, a maverick, who simply tells it like it is, and the netroots absolutely love him.

by Upstate NY on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 09:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was this a question directed at me personally, or rhetorical?

If personal - due to the insane way we stagger primaries, Kerry had the nomination locked up before I had a chance to vote. I may have voted for Kucinich - I honestly don't remember. I remember voting for "not-Kerry" and a quick google reveals that only Kucinich and Sharpton were still in the race at that point, and I think I would remember if I had voted for Sharpton. What I do remember is being royally pissed that the whole thing was so completely pointless. Democrats like me in late-primary states have NO VOICE at all - through our votes anyway - in who is chosen to be the party's nominee.

Hillary in 08? Who knows and who cares, is my opinion at this point. Right now I'm focused on the 06 races - both state and federal. I have a truly slimy US rep at the moment that I want to help defeat, and fortunately a truly admirable and truly progressive candidate running against him that I can work for. To me, taking back the US House ASAP is absolutely critical.

I have no idea who will run for president in 08 - too much can change in two years.  Hillary, or anyone else being looked at at this point could get run over by a bus in the meantime. I think we in the blogosphere are too focused on the Presidency - of course it's important, but the Congress is also important and we mustn't lose sight of that.

Hell, by 08, I could have been run over by a bus, or have moved to Canada, or we could be under martial law and there won't be any 08 elections . . . . I just don't see the point of all of this speculating. There are progressive/liberal candidates already running who need our help now.

by Janet Strange (jstrange1925 - that symbol - hotmail, etc.) on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 11:49:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Senator Obama.  One thing I think is forgotten by most folks who are absolutists, or believe in a "true faith", is that their representatives are supposed to represent all of the people in their districts whether or not all voted for that rep.  To me that makes it impossible for a rep or senator or even President to be an absolutist.  This I belive will lead to a break in the grip on the stranglehold the repugs have now.  People are realizing that the reps they have elected to office are not representing their views and actually subverting the interests of their districts in the drive to reach  some  "absolutist" objectives.  
by btower on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 08:54:14 AM EST

I think a 'absolutist' positions on the left in the USA were thrown out of the window seventy years ago, and what remained was decreased ever more over the years, as the Right moved Right, the Left moved center, and the centrists hunted the moving target. I can't recognise any true leftist objective in what the current Democrat leadership advances, not to speak of a markedly leftist agenda.

Moreover, this is not just a question of representing voters. If you want to represent a bad opinion, you'll execute bad policies, and it will hit you back. And since the Republican machine won't fall dead, it will hit you back damn hard.

If you want four years of stagnation, followed by a real Republican landslide (and a Preisdent who is not just vile but has an IQ over 100, say Jeb Bush), then vote for the tepid DLC Democrats.

Dear Americans on the Left, if you want to achieve what the Republicans have, changing public opinion in their direction and creating a voting majority on their side, then quit arguing about electability and start arguing for your positions. Here is an example that it can work, from Italy:

Regional elections were held in 14 provinces in April this year. People voted for party lists for the regional assemblies, and separately voted for a regional president. In Puglia province,  (the 'heel' of the Italian 'boot'), a certain Nichi Vendola won the presidency, against these odds:

  1. Vendola was selected in a US-style primaries vote by the base, rather than chosen by party leaders as the one seen most electable,
  3. he is a communist (and attacked for it),
  5. he is openly gay (and rather strongly atacked for it),
  7. he won in a Southern province (where people are more conservative),
  9. he won with 6% more than the last centre-left candidate,
  11. he won by more than the supporting L'Unione coalition on list votes (0.1% more - that must have come from the right!),
  13. he won while the L'Unione vote included 3.28% vote for the Christian Democrat UDEUR and its centrist allies!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 3rd, 2005 at 06:23:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obama seems to have forgotten that ALL elected officials on the national level have sworn to put the US and the Constitution first. When any pol allows these primary goals to be subverted, they should be recalled or impeached. And it is also the responsibility of others to hold their colleagues to these high standards, and to call them out when they don't meet them.

Reasonable compromise is fine between reasonable parties, but not with fundamentalist extremists. There have been some good counter-diaries on dKos, that clearly articulate the inadequacies of of Obama's position.

Obama should ask himself why 40%+ of the eligable voters in the US don't bother to vote. Perhaps if they had something to vote for, or felt as if it would make a genuine difference we'd have more participation.

Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.

-Jerry Garcia

by US Blues on Sat Oct 1st, 2005 at 06:10:55 PM EST

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