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Friday, January 27, 2006

this moment

{This post is a dkos diary that I'm publishing here since dkos is currently slow as molassess.)

There are times when the tide changes, there are generational shifts. This is one of those times.

There are times when you lose that you pick yourself up and promise yourself to fight harder next time. There are times when you lose...and it sure as hell looks like we're gonna lose...that you pick yourself up and say to yourself, "It's not just about fighting harder next time, we have to find a new way to fight."

This moment is one of those times.


::

John Kerry came to dailykos yesterday to call for a filibuster. In essence, the Senator called on all of us to fight harder. That is his right.

But I want to point out that Markos came to dailykos yesterday and reiterated his call for finding a new way to fight. Markos called on us to bring a heavy dose of pragmatism to the battle...to see the political and media battlefield, the balance of power in Washington and in the states, with clear eyes. Even if we go along with Kerry's call for a filibuster, we will not do so in the same way when we see the battlefield in light of this "reality check."

Not to create opposition where there is none. I must say, however, with all due respect to Senator Kerry, I'm with Markos.

Our position in the Senate is weak. Defeating Alito, given those who've gone on record already, will indeed involve pitching a "no hitter." We should not ignore that reality, or lose sight of the fact that, win or lose on Alito, it is our duty to make the stakes and consequences of this nomination clear to the nation as a whole. No citizen should be able to say "they just didn't know" about Samuel Alito. This is, I think, what Senator Kerry is getting at with this late effort.

When I look out at the situation we find ourselves in as Democrats and Americans today, it is crystal clear to me, however, that we need to do more than simply fight harder. We need a sea change in how we fight.

Simply put, we need a generational shift in strategy and tactics and leadership. Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court is the fruit of the old way of doing things. We need to define new strategies for a new Democratic party.

In the wake of our losses in November 2004, I wrote a diary titled To Be a Fighting Democrat. In it, I said this:

When we look out to the broad playing field of Democrats, in the short term, the single most important characteristic to judge someone on is whether they will fight for our party and help us retake legislative majorities in the legislatures of this nation...

I don't care if you're liberal or progressive, and vote for everything I support...if you can't get out there, stick your neck out and pitch in to our common fight, then, sad to say, we don't need you.


Understanding the precarious reality facing some swing-state Democrats and our weakness in the Senate, I want to revisit those words in support of Markos' post.

Like many here, I am a progressive and a liberal. You don't have to agree with me on every issue or every vote for me to call you a 'fighting Democrat'...but you do have to roll up your sleeves and put our party and our principles first to the best you are able...you do have to join us in the struggle to take back the Senate and the House in 2006.  If you do this, it's safe to say, we've got your back.

But when our leaders spout GOP talking points on the floor of the Senate, or time their announcements to distance themselves from our party for their own convenience, or stick it to our most vulnerable elected officials for inside-the-party gain, they do none of us a favor. Honest disagreement is one thing, posturing against your own party from the right or the left is another. That must change.

Frankly, we need a new generation of Democratic leaders committed to winning majorities. We need, in Chairman Dean's words, fresh horses. We need unity and pragmatism in finding strategies that win.   Party discipline is a value that should apply to the left and the right side of our coalition.

That is our focus. That is what I took from Markos' post yesterday.

The task facing our generation is to take back Congress and our Courts from a conservative movement that has swung this country far, far to the right.  We can't seem to do that with the "old Democratic party." And if we can't defeat the nomination of Alito...and as Armando notes we likely won't...then we must reforge our party in the crucible of that failure.

::

The stakes are clear.

I can live with people of all points of view, I'm a tolerant person.  But Rev. Dobson should not have more of a say over our Supreme Court than the elected United States Senate.  A fundamentalist preacher should not have more say over the laws that apply to me here in the State of California than my fellow Californians and our elected representatives in the Senate. None of us elected Rev. Dobson; yet it seems pretty clear that he and his conservative cohorts are the ones who rejected Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, who blocked her from getting an "up or down vote," who pushed for a more ideologically acceptable nominee, someone more clearly opposed to Roe v. Wade.

In essence, the president has handed our nation's Supreme Court over to his fundamentalist conservative base. Our president has given a new twist to what our framers meant by advice and consent.  In doing so, the message Bush and the GOP Congress sent the nation is this: If you don't like Reverend Dobson running your country and nominating your judges, win some elections.

As Markos highlights, and Armando reiterates, this moment is about exactly that task.  I would point out to the community here at dailykos that this moment is also asking all of us a question:

What are we doing here?  What does the netroots, and the Dean movement, and all the work we've done on and offline these last years really mean? What do we choose to say and do now?

I hope that our answer is that we are committed to coming together to take our country back, come rain or come shine.  I hope that we are the kind of movement that embraces a "reality check" because we are united in a common goal:  reforming our party and winning back the legislative majorities that represent real power in our country.  I hope that we understand that with outrage comes responsibility...responsibility to communicate and advocate effectively for one's cause.

I have not always agreed with everyone here, but I can say this, I know that every last one of us, from kos and meteor blades to the newest userid, are committed to coming together to win back majorities in Washington D.C. and in the states.  That's why we're here. That's why we are kossacks.  In my view, this is the kind of moment that defines us.

::

I recently wrote a diary about Democratic strategy in 2006 entitled, we are the change you're looking for. As folks pointed out, my title was a paraphrase of Gandhi's great quote: "You should be the change you want to see in the world."

There is another quote from Gandhi that I think is appropos: "It's not too late at all. You just do not yet know what you are capable of."

In my view, we must be about more than just winning for the sake of winning. We are Democrats because of our core values. Those values don't change when we lose, or even when we fail to live up to them. It is those values, in fact, that define what we are capable of, that define who we are as Democrats.

Win or lose on Alito, we know who we are, and we know well the challenge of the task ahead. The stakes, indeed, are clear.

This moment, which is unfolding as I write, is about facing that reality and getting to work regardless of our immediate success or failure. To paraphrase Gandhi, we have yet to discover all that we are capable of when we work together.

When it comes to our deepest values, it is never too late.

3 Comments:

  • Great post. I'm a big fan of the Mahatma. And I'm also a big fan of massive civil disobedience, where approrpriate.

    I think winning elections is key. But, in the meantime we're in a world of shit. And I think things are going to get worse, and maybe even much worse, before they get better.

    By Blogger Ratprick, at 5:30 PM  

  • There is another quote from Gandhi that I think is appropos: "It's not too late at all. You just do not yet know what you are capable of."

    You brought tears to my eyes. It's too bad posting it at dKos didn't work out. This is one of your best.

    By Blogger katiebird, at 5:57 PM  

  • As you know, I hope, I am completely with that 1) we need a generational change of leadership (folks my age get to retire!)and 2) we have win majorities.

    And I remain, as usual, slightly uncomfortable with the idea that our party and our principles are co-extensive. I am afraid it will always be the role of progressives to fight for our principles within our party. That's okay, unless our allegiance is simply exploited.

    Big losses are tough to take. But so far in this country's history, periodic popular eruptions have trumped plutocracy and systemic inequality. Whether we can do this again in the context of a declining empire is the question for our times. We don't really have any choice -- that's what I would mean if I said "we have to fight differently." There is creativity out there that marshals force. Gandhi found it not in the comfortable but in the poor. This is certainly true today. And when the people lead, our leaders eventually follow.

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 9:17 AM  

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