The Daily Whim

The Daily Whim

Sun. Mar 16, 2008

Who's Divisive?

In what probably should have been a predicted development, political weblogs are mirroring the campaigns they write about and advocate. In other words, it’s ugly and divisive blue on blue action, and portends what could be coming this fall: no matter who wins, a large portion of the Democratic party may decide to take their ball, go home, and stay there:

This is an open letter to the progressive blogosphere…

I’ve been posting at DailyKos for nearly 4 years now and started writing diaries in support of Hillary Clinton back in June of last year. Over the past few months I’ve noticed that things have become progressively more abusive toward my candidate and her supporters.

I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our on-line community has tried to accomplish in this world. No more. DailyKos is not the site it once was thanks to the abusive nature of certain members of our community.

This is a strike – a walkout over unfair writing conditions at DailyKos.

Alegre: Writers Strike at DailyKos

First off, these people have the right to express whatever angst they are feeling in the above manner. But they make it sound like they are being deprived of some God- or Constitution-given right. I don’t follow the DailyKos web site with any regularity at all, but I doubt they have a contract they can claim has been violated.

This is about feelings. And about how “politics” can turn someone who is really your fellow traveler into someone you willingly call an “enemy” (once reserved for blue on red, but now those of “your color” can be enemies, too). And about how the political blogosphere is in many ways a mirror of our society and current political reality.

But back to feelings.

Writers need a safe place to reach out and exchange ideas, to communicate and challenge one another. DailyKos should be that place, but its tone, its essence has evolved into something ugly and destructive. Good writers can’t survive in that kind of atmosphere. Democrats shouldn’t have to put up with that from fellow Democrats.

Harsh attacks from Democrats upon fellow Democrats? Well, where could that have come from?

Listen, I’m not quite as guilty as those who are more invested in this, like the above, but I’m guilty of some of this as well. I made my political choice, and then I’ve watched the Clinton campaign behave in what I consider a disreputable manner against the person who, by all likely outcomes, will be the party’s nominee. And, indeed, “Democrats shouldn’t have to put up with that from fellow Democrats.” The result is that thousands of bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, or Kos himself, or even me, have stepped up to call out these acts for what they are. And it hasn’t been pretty, as one of the commenters in the above thread points out:

“Why should this site and Kos profit from the traffic we add to DailyKos, and the sense by outsiders that it represents the netroots as a whole?” the blogger asked, adding later, “But I just don’t see how people come back together on a daily basis after a falling out like this.”

Which perfectly mirrors what many have been saying about the Clinton “kitchen sink” attacks and tactics; how can the party come back together after this? But, much as one might hope this would be a chance for blogs to “show the way,” don’t expect any healing any time soon:

“First, these people should read up on the definition of ‘strike.’ What they’re doing is a ‘boycott.’ But whatever they call it, I think it’s great. It’s a big Internet, so I hope they find what they’re looking for.”

Markos Moulitsas

In other words, don’t let our logout crash your browser as you take your butt somewhere else. And this has always been the risk with group blogs or community sites (and why you’ll never see me in one). At some point there may be a falling out, and you may have to pack your digital bags and move on. Luckily for you, the digital real estate market is unlimited. Get your own domain and let no one tell you what to do.

But, still, don’t expect it to go away…

The hate-filled emails and comments from Hillary Clinton supporters show up every time I criticize the Clinton campaign strategy. They’re always the same: rage-filled, reflexive, and personal. Sometimes I suggest that people look in the mirror and reflect on what factors in this campaign have made them the kind of people who write hate mail to strangers.

RJ Eskow: Holding Up a Mirror To the Clinton Cult

On … the … nose. Now, how many calming voices have we heard? I count one:

“I noticed over the last several weeks that the forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again. And I’m not here to cast blame or point fingers because everybody, you know, senses that there’s been this shift,” Obama said.

“It reminds me: We’ve got a tragic history when it comes to race in this country. We’ve got a lot of pent-up anger and bitterness and misunderstanding. ... This country wants to move beyond these kinds of things.”

Obama decries racial rhetoric

And it is clearly not just race or gender causing this “anger and bitterness.” I’m a nearly 50 year old white guy, self employed, from the south. I don’t exactly fit either Clinton’s or Obama’s “core” constituency, nor am I part of the “anger and bitterness” constituency. But I have been angered by much of what I’ve seen over the past month or two, purely on the facts, not any bias of genetics or upbringing, and that anger certainly has been reflected on this web site.

As much as we can blame the protagonists for what’s been injected into this election, we in the audience have played our part as well. It’s becoming the way our society interacts on the web.

Offering paparazzi photos accompanied by gossip items updated as many as 20 times a day, all three sites encourage visitors to become part of the story by defending their celebrity favorites, spewing bile, and attacking each other in obscene and frequently scatological terms whose proper interpretation often requires an anatomy textbook and a dictionary.

Shooting Britney

Lohan versus Spears offers the same online fan bile as Clinton versus Obama. The only difference is that with Clinton versus Obama, we can console ourselves with the concept “This Is Important.”

And therefore, all is fair. Or, not fair, depending on your point of view.

Look for leadership on this topic of divisiveness. Those who benefit most from it, will be the most silent about it.

Peanut Gallery

1  Robert Rickover wrote:

Obama needs Clinton, Clinton needs Obama

If Clinton and Obama want to behave responsibly to make sure one of them actually makes it to the White House, they both need to stop flinging dirt at each other. Here’s the way to make that happen:

Both publicly pledge that if are nominated for President, the other candidate will be their first choice for the Vice Presidential spot.

This immediately puts a stop to personal attacks or calling their rival’s ability into question – you don’t dis you choice for second-in-command.

They can and should debate the issues and clarify their differences. But they are now free to direct their shared anger and outrage where it belongs, at Bush’s policies, and at the policies of the man endorsed by Bush.

For either Obama or Clinton to win his fall, he or she needs to lead a unified party. And this requires the enthusiastic support of the other.

Clinton needs Obama, Obama needs Clilnton. That’s just the way it is.

Obama-Clinton, Clinton-Obama – either “dream team” is McCain’s worst nightmare. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can make that nightmare a reality for him now.

2  Todd++; wrote:

Putting Clinton in the VP spot would be the worst mistake Obama could make. Putting Obama in the VP spot would be the best strategy (and likely the only winning strategy) that Clinton has. I agree Clinton needs Obama, but I think Clinton would be the most incredible weight around Obama’s neck that anyone could imagine.

The Republicans haven’t started slinging dirt yet, but I’m sure they’ve got a few landfills worth of garbage in store for Clinton. What’s scaring them at present is the lack of ammunition against Obama.

3  Jeff wrote:

This blue-on-blue childish rancor seems to validate my impression of who is to blame for a lack of Loyal Opposition in this country.

4  Reid wrote:

Robert, as a strategy for stopping the bickering, it’s the best one I’ve heard, kinda of a campaign version of Mutual Assured Destruction. Unfortunately, I agree with Todd, Clinton may need Obama (and who would want to be the third wheel on team Billary?), but Obama would be better off with someone like Sam Nunn as VP, not Clinton.

Plus, I just don’t think these two like each other. Too much brown sludge under the bridge. Others point out that LBJ and JFK didn’t like each other, but JFK probably wouldn’t have won without him. A few suggest JFK might not have been assassinated in Texas without him, too.

Hardly a strong argument, either way.

I understand the instinctive appeal of a Dream Team in many ways, but I think it would also smell a bit like Kerry-Edwards, i.e. a marriage of political convenience between two who are not exactly in love with each other.

And I also have a hard time with the second place runner being the instigator of the idea. Huckabee may have indeed been running for VP, but he didn’t come out and suggest the best way for voters to get both of them was to vote for him, and he’d make McCain his VP.

He would have gotten laughed off the stage.

And, Jeff, as for “Loyal Opposition,” so much of the past two years of “Democratic control” of Congress has been blatant positioning, both as a party and as individuals running for office. And, no, it doesn’t exactly speak well for the idea of “change” being a Democratic principle this year.

Comment by Reid · 03/17/2008 09:21 PM
5  emcee fleshy wrote:

Jeff: Yes, of course, because opposition is basically treason unless you do it just right.

Comment by emcee fleshy · 03/19/2008 05:19 AM
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