Why The Edwards Situation Means So Much To Me
by Chris Bowers, Wed Feb 07, 2007 at 04:34:25 PM EST
- It is important that people note that this is a deal breaker for my support in a primary election. When it comes to the general election, I will support the Democratic nominee, no matter who that is. As a Demcorat who plays by the rules of the party, and as a movementarian who views the Democratic Party as an unavoidable vehicle, I always support the Democratic nominee.
- Yes, Iraq, is also a deal breaker for me. However, there are multiple Democratic candidates whose Iraq position I find somewhere between tolerable and quite good. It would be more accurate to say that throwing the netroots under the bus would be a deal-breaker for me among those candidates with whom I share an affinity on ideological and issue-based grounds. Both filters are important. For example, in early 2003, I was undecided between Kucinich and Dean for a while. However, when Dean clearly demonstrated his movement-building capacity in the summer of 2003, it became no contest in my mind. In other words, there is more than one important filter, but this is one of those filters.
- I have spent nearly the last four years of my life working on full-time progressive movement building. I do this because I believe a vibrant, healthy and mature progressive movement is the only way to counter the conservative movement, and to achieve the sort of change I want to see in America. Given this, I would rather find a new line of work than, in a Democratic primary, support a candidate who first courts the progressive movement, and then throws it under the bus at the first sign of pushback from the right-wing. We do everything we can to help Democrats, from raising hundreds of millions of dollars, to fighting every single negative media story, to innovative activism, to generating huge amounts of volunteer hours, to putting up with compromise after weak compromise in D.C. and on and on and on. If, despite all of our tireless efforts, someone only views loyalty as something that flows uphill and shit as something that flows downhill, then quite frankly I feel supporting that candidate in a primary election would be self-destructive. If one of the main goals of the progressive movement is to help make the Democratic Party more open and accountable to its grassroots supporters, how can we still achieve our goals as a movement by helping someone who doesn't value his grassroots supporters to become the leader of the party? If you give someone your time, energy and support no matter how he treats you, why would that person ever respect you? What reason would he ever have to treat us as anything but an ATM machine? I can't think of a single one.
And I agree with what Kagro X wrote about this as well. Other campaigns are not off the hook if they just stay silent on this, and wipe their foreheads in relief that their bloggers weren't attacked (this time). Any campaign that wants movement support in a primary election should show that it supports the movement in return. If they don't, then we just don't share the same vision for the Democratic Party, and as such won't get my support in a Democratic primary. If they do share that vision, and especially if they demonstrate an ability to help make that vision a reality, then I will take a long look at that campaign, and almost certainly end up supporting it.
Anyway, I hope that answers questions on this matter. I especially hope that the Edwards campaign makes the right decision, and realizes who its friends are.
Update: I had hoped that when reading this piece, more people would consider that I almost never get so worked up about the news of the day. Seriously--go back through the 3,000 stories in my archives, and find even five times where I have reacted like this to a news story. I don't do this unless I have both deep feelings about something and I have spent months, if not years, thinking about and working toward. I had also hoped that before calling me some sort of naive, wide-eyed Edwards lover, they would have taken the entire body of my work into account, and understood that I have often supported candidates who I find less than perfect. Others might have noticed that I have repeatedly said that my support for Edwards before this point was already pretty soft, or even that I recently moved back into the undecided column. Maybe I am being too sensitive or maybe I am just tired, but if I can't get the benefit of the doubt from my readers on this stuff, how can we ever expect anyone, including Amanda and Melissa, to get the benefit of the doubt when the right-wing comes-a-smearing?
I also want to note that I guess, way down the road, it would be possible for me to forgive the Edwards campaign for this if they make the wrong decision. After all, I have forgiven him for his war vote in October of 2002 because he has since admitted it was a mistake, consistently supported withdrawal, and vigorously opposed escalation. Since another goal of the progressive movement is to change Democratic behavior, it would be self-defeating to permanently blacklist someone from receiving support in a primary, no matter how much that person could change. There have to be carrots and sticks. There have to be behaviors that can be rewarded and punished. There have to be ways that people can change that would be acceptable. To tow a permanent, hard line would be a bad move. But make no mistake--throwing two bloggers who staunchly support you under the bus as the result of pressure from right-wing bigots would hold serious and lasting repercussions.