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September 16, 2005

Now This Is Something I Can Get Behind

Nathan Newman made this statement in my comments, and it's something I can support:

"I am all for supporting primary challenges to Democrats who vote badly and where the district will support a more progressive alternative. That seems a more reasonable approach-- supporting someone better than the average Democrat -- rather than supporting a Republican who is actually worse on most issues."

I don't think Nathan is being entire fair to me when he wrote in another post that I "condemned" Democrats. I didn't condemn them. I criticized them. I also didn't think entitling his post "A Feminist Double Standard" was entirely fair, at least regarding me.

I understand why single-issue groups like NARAL would support a Republican who was pro-choice over a Democrat who was anti-choice. However, I don't think doing such a thing is the best move, especially when the Republican choice is so backwards when it comes to other progressive issues that are also important. I understand why Nathan would rather choose the anti-choice Democrat - there's the possibility that that candidate's personal beliefs would not interfere with existing law, plus that candidate is likely to stand up to Bush administration proposals. That said, the Democratic choices available aren't the best ones out there. Too many Dems have supported welfare reform, NAFTA, and the TRAP laws. We need more progressive Democratic candidates who aren't going to sell out important single-issues such as choice. Progressive women are tired of seeing their issues get placed on the back burner, yet the Dems who abandoned them manage to hold out their hands when an election is on the horizon.

When I say I might not be a Dem much longer, it's not that I want to leave the party. I don't want to leave. As I had said earlier, I was registered as an Independent for many years. It wasn't until the last election that I switch to Democrat. At heart, I'm a Democrat. I'm a progressive. I live in a very progressive state - Massachusetts. I'm happy with my Dem representatives here. I don't want to vote for a Republican who is pro-choice but very backwards on other important issues, such as labor, the economy, and the environment. However, too many Dem candidates don't address issues important to me, or they place those same issues on the back burner, or they openly oppose issues important to me (such as choice). Too many Dem candidates seem like Republican Lite. The choice between a Repubican and a Democrat doesn't seem like much of a choice. I'd rather have a better batch of Democrats to choose from, but at the moment it seems like I'd be choosing the lesser of two evils.

I'm no expert on politics. I don't know how to attract a better batch of Democrats. How do we attract more progressives to run for Democratic office?

Posted on September 16, 2005 at 05:28 PM | Permalink

Comments

Not fair to you? He basically called you a racist, or at least more racist than HIM, and called out any feminism that he finds offensive to be "separatist" and useless. Both are traditional antifeminist rhetorical devices.

Altogether, I'd say you're the one being fair.

Posted by: rich at Sep 16, 2005 5:49:18 PM

I'm trying to be fair, Rich. Believe me. I don't want to get into any silly fights with bloggers. I've seen too many of these pointless fights crop up every couple of months. Life's too short. I thought I'd rise above all that nonsense and try to make a valid point.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 16, 2005 6:01:03 PM

Right, I just wanted it on the "record," for whatever it's worth, that Newman's powerplay was not a legitimate one.

All his stuff about the 14th ammendment (never mind that black men got to vote, at least in theory, before all women, even white ones) basically boiled down to "you spoiled white princesses need to shut up, now" -- something that liberal white men [I'm unaware of Newman's ethnicity, but he seems more privileged than God based on his bio] are wont to do, playing a race-card to which they have no right: they'll bring up racism just to shut down feminist discussions, positioning women as the privileged party, when more often than not the person engineering such a "hierarchy of oppressions" is white and male himself. It's quite the effective scam. And when it comes to "hierarchies of oppressions" feminists always lose out: they're both taught they have no right to engage in such powerplays (webs of oppression being the WS 101 tact now that male-oriented Queer Theory is dominant), and yet many young women especially seem to be guilted into allowing such plays to be made against them, even by Mr. Lawyer of the Year or whatever.

And yeah, a lot of the male dems have buggered Roberts over abortion; nevermind that the dems themselves would never go for a constitutional ammendment guaranteeing choice: both parties have conspired to keep the issue in limbo because it's the only thing that makes women subject to the two party system. Kinda like how at the March for Women's Lives in DC there were white dudes with bullhorns saying "Thank YOU for showing up! But all of your silly little nonsense doesn't matter UNLESS you pledge allegience to the dick--Kerry--we chose out of the seven other dicks that ran in the primary!"

Posted by: rich at Sep 16, 2005 6:13:38 PM

As far as Democrats go, I'm in agreement with you. I HATE the idea of leaving the party but the Democrats just don't always represent my political values. For me, the Green party plaform is much more representative of me. I'm sick of feeling like I'm part of the Democratic fringe because I'm pro-choice and pro-gay rights. The Democrats are moving away from choice and they don't support gay marriage and they DID vote for this ridiculous war AND they keep losing. Honestly, the only reason I've been sticking around is because I realize that the Democrats are more of the compromise and the best way to unite against the Republicans. Of course, that hasn't helped anything since we're still losing. If I wanted to be a loser, I'd join the Greens so what's the difference?

Posted by: stephanie at Sep 16, 2005 8:03:35 PM

I'm going to lay a lot of this crap at the DLC's door--they and the "New Democrats" (aka conservatives in tie-dyes) have fucked things up royally, dismiss progressives, workers, women, gays,and people of color, and then expect our votes as fucking tribute.

They might not be all of the Democrats, but they're setting the tone, and it's killing the party.

The 2000 election debacle showed some pretty damn horrific indifference to the disenfranchised constituents in Florida. The majority of whom were Black. It wasn't until the 2004 election, with objections to the count in Ohio, that Barbara Boxer decided to give her signature. I recall her saying something about F9/11 as the reason for her doing this--she was ashamed that not one Democratic Senator signed a complaint presented over the disenfranchisement in Florida. I don't think it's divisive to point out that ignoring this was a slap in the face, and that it potentially alienated a lot of the rank-and-file.

Posted by: Sheelzebub at Sep 16, 2005 9:30:22 PM

The Green Party doesn't appeal to me, but I'm disappointed in the Democratic Party. I'd like to see Dems running for office who support choice, labor, the environment, social policy, the poor, people of color, and gays and lesbians. Too many of them sell out these issues. I agree with Sheelz that a lot of this can be laid at the DLC's door. We have Reid in a leadership position, and he's anti-choice. Why the hell would the Dems have approved someone with that kind of record for such a top spot? It's no wonder pro-choice women are disillusioned with the Dems. We're tired of seeing issues that affect us, that are important to us - since we're the ones who get pregnant - get placed on the back burner. What the Democratic party needs are progressive leaders who consider all of these issues important because those issues are important to the Democratic base. I get a little tired of being told how great the Dems are working for women's issues when it's clear that too many of them aren't. We need better leaders, not a lot of "be grateful" nonsense from progressive men who seem to tell us that we aren't being fair, or that we have a double standard. Rich mentioned powerplays. I'm tired of them. I'll wait and see how many Dems give the thumb's up to Roberts, and then I'll probably end up angrier. The Dems can't ignore an important issue like choice for years, only to pull it out claiming they support it when there is an election on the horizon. The liberal male bloggers can't expect pro-choice women to be happy that an issue so important to them gets the short shrift in order to support Dems that are just not up to snuff. We need better Dem candidates. Once we have Dems who really stand behind their base and aren't Republican Lite, I'm sure more of the public will back them.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 16, 2005 9:40:16 PM

This is just a theory, but maybe the reason why the Democratic party is putting choice on the back burner is because it's not the primary issue for enough people in the party, today. I could see how it could have been the #1 issue 20 years ago, because birth control devices weren't as effective and people didn't use them nearly as much as they do today, so the number unwanted pregnancies was probably a lot higher. So as the risk of unwanted pregnancies deminished with technology and education the concern for choise deminished. Most of the women I know either aren't worried about getting pregnant, not that they want to right now. Or they're more than satisfied that their method of birth control won't fail. Just a theory, what do you think?

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 16, 2005 10:13:15 PM

Trish- Part of my point is that people get caught up with symbolic language, so I'll happily withdraw my description of your position as "condemning" and substitute "criticizing." And I'm all for people criticizing the Dems; it's what keeps the pressure on elected leaders to counterbalance the far right. But the scariest thing to most Dems by progressives is not a threat NOT to vote in the Democratic primary, but the threat to bring your friends and vote against them at the next election. As I said, I think Kos is wrong to oppose most primary challenges, since that's the best tool to keep Dems honest and keep our own folks mobilized election to election.

I'd also ask why you keep saying choice gets short shrift? Dems in states around the country have been fighting for access to "day after" pills and a range of other pro-choice legislation. I cited examples like California where they've recently written Roe into state law and expanded medical training in abortion procedures at medical facilities. In Congress, where the Dems inherently play defense, they still overwhelmingly vote against the rightwing initiatives on this issue, as this National Right to Life scorecard shows. Yes, there are defectors, usually in states like Texas or West Virginia but what sense does it make to blame other Dems for the defections of that minority.

Which makes the focus on Roberts as a litmus issue seem strange. You act as if Roberts is only a danger to abortion rights, when he is actually the only management-side anti-union lawyer nominated in the post-war period. He represented the coal industry in the largest and possibly most important strike of the last two decades trying to destroy and bankrupt the United Minerworkers. You can cite a few of his anti-abortion cases in private practice, but for most of the 1990s, his main work was representing corporations against workers interests. So while there are arguments for making a symbolic vote by Senate Dems against Roberts, I don't see why you see that as uniquely showing Democratic indifference to abortion rights versus any other issue. And there are reasonable arguments -- not ones I support but ones I understand -- that with another nomination coming up, it may be better to save energy and political capital for the O'Connor seat, which is the actual swing vote on a number of these issues. These are debates on tactics not on principles, and accusing someone of selling out principles when they have a different strategic view is not really fair.

Rich- Who's shuting down discussion? I was responding to a piece that said women had the right to abandon multi-racial progressive coalitions after the Civil War because blacks had been privileged in political treatment, which was inaccurate for the historic period. The point is not that there are "hierarchies of oppression" but that history is made up of American elites splitting progressives and luring different groups into opportunistic alliances to undermine other marginalized groups. I could cite similar examples of racism by unions matched by african americans allying with corporations to help break strikes; mentioning those examples doesn't create a "hierarchy of oppression" between class or race. It illustrates how both groups allowed themselves to be pitted against each other to the advantage of rightwing.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 17, 2005 7:19:27 AM

I'll happily withdraw my description of your position as "condemning" and substitute "criticizing." Nathan Newman
Pete: Don't worry about it. People tend to exaggerate a lot while blogging.

"The point is not that there are "hierarchies of oppression" but that history is made up of American elites splitting progressives and luring different groups into opportunistic alliances to undermine other marginalized groups"

Pete: Something I've learned from reading a lot and talking politics with a lot of people. Almost everyone sees things the same way, reguardless of their party, but we all have our ways of describing the same problems when you down to it. In others words you two are saming the same thing.

Posted by: at Sep 17, 2005 1:31:58 PM

Nathan, I believe it's the Dems in the DLC that have been giving choice the short shrift. My Dem reps in Massachusetts just overrode Mitt Romney's veto to allow emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter. I'm very happy about that, and I'm not surprised the Dems here stood up for what is right. As I had written previously, I'm very happy with the Dems in my state.

Choice isn't the only issue I decide on, but I was talking about it in my post. I realized it might have seemed like choice was the only issue that is important to me. It isn't. What I'd like to see are fewer Dems aiming for the center, and trying to appeal to more conservative interests. There are plenty of people aside of myself who are disillusioned with the Dems because they feel the Dems aren't talking to them. I understand why you defend the Dems, but you have to accept that there are people in their base who are disappointed with them. I'd like to see more progressive Dems who don't abandon social issues and labor issues run for office. We have a minority leader who is against choice, and the more conservative Dems who are running the party have joined with corporate interests. I'll wait to see how the Dems vote on Roberts, but it looks like he's going to get a pass. I wish the Dems had more backbone. The lack of backbone has been a sticking point with the more progressive base, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. It seems that the DLC is the problem. I'd support progressive Dems who ran for office. I think that progressives need to take their party back from the more conservative Dems who have leadership positions. Once you get more progressives who support the base regarding a wide range of issues, I'm sure the Dem party will get more support, and you won't feel a need to defend the party so much.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 17, 2005 2:55:15 PM

Rich: "Right, I just wanted it on the "record," for whatever it's worth, that Newman's powerplay was not a legitimate one."

I understand that, and I'm glad you made your point. I do get tired of powerplays.

"All his stuff about the 14th ammendment (never mind that black men got to vote, at least in theory, before all women, even white ones) basically boiled down to "you spoiled white princesses need to shut up, now" -- something that liberal white men [I'm unaware of Newman's ethnicity, but he seems more privileged than God based on his bio] are wont to do, playing a race-card to which they have no right: they'll bring up racism just to shut down feminist discussions, positioning women as the privileged party, when more often than not the person engineering such a "hierarchy of oppressions" is white and male himself. It's quite the effective scam. And when it comes to "hierarchies of oppressions" feminists always lose out: they're both taught they have no right to engage in such powerplays (webs of oppression being the WS 101 tact now that male-oriented Queer Theory is dominant), and yet many young women especially seem to be guilted into allowing such plays to be made against them, even by Mr. Lawyer of the Year or whatever."

Yes, black men got the vote before any women, white or black. That didn't please the feminists very much because they had worked hard for the abolishionist movement, and they expected that black men would help them out in return. They didn't, and that grated on them. They worked hard during the war, and were angry that their war effort was not recognized. Women had to work on their own behalf to the get the vote for themselves. I've learned over the years never to take anything for granted. Feminist women being ignored by progressive men has a long history. I myself may be a bit obtuse when it comes to progressive, liberal white men playing the race card. I didn't recognize it much before, but I do now. I've noticed it more when white conservative women who support the white male establishment bring up race to bash white, liberal feminists. The way my comments stand, I try to address what someone is actually saying, and try to not get dragged into a defensive reaction. What I'd really like to see, as I've said, is for more progressive Dems to run for office. Progressive need to take the Dem party back from the more conservative Dems that hold leadership positions. Until they do, I don't think the base is going to be very happy with the party.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 17, 2005 3:06:49 PM

"I believe it's the Dems in the DLC that have been giving choice the short shrift. My Dem reps in Massachusetts just overrode Mitt Romney's veto to allow emergency contraception to be sold over-the-counter. I'm very happy about that, and I'm not surprised the Dems here stood up for what is right"

Pete:Don't you think you're maybe trusting corporate pharmaceutical companies a little to much with this product? It did get approved under the Bush Administration. And you there's nothing more they'd like to do than prove the morning after pills are unsafe for women! If a bunch of women get ill from these pills and they are forced to be pulled off the shelf we won't see another morning afte pill for 20 years.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 17, 2005 9:21:39 PM

Trish- For the record, I think you and Pete referring to my discussion of Reconstruction and black disenfranchisement as "playing the race card" is itself pretty damn offensive. As someone who has written extensively professionally on the issue of the 14th Amendment's history (see here) in the context of the Rehnquist Court's assault on women's rights, the only use of the race card I see is harping on "liberal white men" as if you can then insult someone's motive as dishonest without compunction. I wish people could have discussions on the merits of arguments -- which doesn't mean anyone has to agree with them -- without insulting the people making them.

Posted by: Nathan Newman at Sep 18, 2005 7:39:46 AM

Nathan, you aren't hearing what I'm saying. Progressive men have a history of sidelining women's issues. That's why I brought up the suffragists in the first place. You went on to bring up Jim Crow, which ignored my point. This, after you wrote a post linking to me in which you said feminists have a double standard. I could have felt very offended by that, but I wasn't. It just wasn't all that important to me. You don't seem to understand that single-issue groups do not exist to rubber-stamp what some progressive bloggers see as "the bigger Democratic issue".

I'll keep repeating my same main point. The Dems need to see that the DLC drive to carry the party farther to the right is alienating their base. The Dem leadership has far too many right-leaning Democrats, and the base is very disillusioned with them. It doesn't help that a liberal blogger like Kos referred to women's issues as "pet causes". Until those "pet causes" such as women's issues (for one example) are taken seriously, the Democratic party is going to continue to lose ground. We need progressives to run for office that represent all issues that are important to the Democratic base, and drive the party farther left, where it belongs. Until that happens, the Dem party isn't going to gain any momentum.

Posted by: The Countess at Sep 18, 2005 2:22:11 PM

Nathan Newman::Trish- For the record, I think you and Pete referring to my discussion of Reconstruction and black disenfranchisement as "playing the race card" is itself pretty damn offensive.

Pete: How did I get accused of playing the "race card"? Don't try to tie me in with white racist feminists, OK!

And the thing I don't think you understand countess is the reason why the Democrats are swinging to the right is because the "base" as you call them is swinging to the right. I talk to a lot of long time hard core Union men and it surprises me how conservative they are. And a lot of it has nothing to do with racism or sexism. I've always heard white males make deflamatory remarks about women and minorities. That never really surprised me, growing up in and living in predominently middle class white communities. What surprises me is hearing middle class minority men make the exact same comments as if they were white males themselves. Instead of males being prejustice against minorities, they're prejudice against the lower class poor. But Americans don't have derogatory names specifically for the poor. So they use the popular slangs like "nigger", "mexican", "wetback", "low-life" ect. But the more people moving into the middle class, the greater the split we're going to see and the more the move to the right. When people get comfortable and spoiled they don't like to look back were they came. A good example is right here on this web site. The lack of understanding of the women's rights movement.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 18, 2005 6:28:59 PM

Let me add. I don't talk to very many women. So I can't tell you what they say. But I imagine many of them probably feel the same way as their husbands. Maybe even about abortion. If you're husband and you are making over a hundred thousand dollars a year, and you learned how to use birth control and never had to worry about getting pregnant, why would abortion be a big issue for you? And if it's not an issue for you then why would you care if it's an issue for other women? I know there are millions of middle class women who have had abortion themselves, but now they are anti-abortion. Hypocrites? They look at it like, "if I got drunk and killed somebody with my car, would I be hypocrite if I said I think it's wrong for anyone to get drunk and drive?" We live in a 'me,me,me' society.

Posted by: pete kaplan at Sep 18, 2005 6:43:05 PM