"On a similar note, I lament that comments like "woot!" "yeah!" and "fuck yeah!" have become not just acceptable, but actually the standard form of comment found on many major blogs. It's like Democratic Underground has taken everything over. ... Still, sometimes I worry that we have reached a size where it is not possible to functionally maintain the cohesion of our community."
A major reason why I participate on MyDD but not on Kos, DU, or Atrios. The quality of the information here is much higher, especially in the comments and diaries. It seems like once a community gets too large, the quality drops below the point where posting or reading comments is worthwhile anymore. DU all too often disintegrates into cliques, tag teaming, and juvenile Beavis and Butthead type behavior such as frequent use of "you suck"; Kos has long had a problem with in-groupy jargon and behavior that flies right over the heads of newcomers and leaves them feeling left out, not to mention chronic abuse of the troll-rating feature; Atrios is still infested with trolls. The diaries on Kos and the posts on DU fly right off the screen before most people even have a chance to read them.
No, I don't have any solutions...
Except maybe this. MyDD is just about the right size. I'm not convinced that a few really large communities are as effective as a large number of small communities that quickly pass along action alerts, news, and activism opportunities from other like-minded blogs. Nor do I see all that much value in blogs that only have one or two regular readers. The biggest political effect to effort ratio seems to come from the medium size blogs (MyDD, Nathan Newman, others of the same size) which are large enough to have an active, participating community but not so large that the community has become disfunctional.
First, identifying the rebellious Republicans, there are several types.
There are moderates who deviate from the Bush line a bit to the left: Chris Shays, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chafee, Arlen Specter. (Also Jeffords before he left the Repub. party.) These are good people to have on our side when the righties are pushing to dismantle Social Security, environmental law, and organized labor, because they won't go along with the extremist program.
There are those who don't, I think, really deviate from the Republican right as a general political orientation, but take some independent positions. The cynic in me thinks the most likely reason they do this is to try and make a name for themselves and set themselves up with bipartisan support for future runs for office. But they are potential votes on our side on crucial legislation all the same. Example: John McCain.
There are those who deviate from the Bush line from a libertarian or right-populist perspective: Ron Paul, Jeff Flake. They are especially good on such things as opposition to national ID cards and to more homeland-security legislation, privacy, and keeping the government out of our bedrooms and medicine cabinets in general. This is a potential area where we could actually find ourselves in alliance with some Christian Righties in the future over some single issues, if Bush keeps pushing toward totalitarianism the way he has been in the recent past.
One thing it is important to keep in mind is that these are just a few issues where we will find allies among rebellious Republicans, and different issues are going to find different allies. For example Ron Paul is an ally in the antiwar cause but I wouldn't count on any of the others; McCain and some of the moderates are allies on global warming but I wouldn't count on Paul or Flake.
The Repubs actually have a history of these kinds of rebellious Republicans, going back to the 1980s and 1970s and before: People like Mark Hatfield (pacifist, but otherwise a rock-ribbed Republican); Bob Packwood (zero population growth supporter, but otherwise a rock-ribbed Republican); Chuck Grassley (a gadfly against Reagan-era military waste during the 1980s, but otherwise a rock-ribbed Republican). In the end their rebelliousness came down to one or two issues, unfortunately. It still helped.
If we could succeed in targeting and breaking off some segments of the Republican Party against the Bush agenda in general, and not just on one or two issues, that would be something.
I was glad to see the way Cynthia Matthews gave David Dreier his closest call ever for re-election - and Matthews is an "out" lesbian as opposed to Dreier who is in the closet and has an anti-gay voting record. It's a shame Matthews isn't in Congress now. The support from John & Ken was a pleasant surprise but one that we can expect more of if Democrats will come up with concrete proposals to stop illegal immigration, H-1Bs, and outsourcing, which address those issues in a way that is both compatible with Democratic Party principles and meets the concerns of mainstream America. If we don't address those issues, Dana Rohrabacher, Tom Tancredo, and the Minuteman Project are going to do it for us, and it ain't going to be pretty. The way Cynthia Matthews went about it is an example for the entire party in 2006.
Dean is moderate, true. Liberals love Dean, true. There's no contradiction because Dean is willing to speak out forcefully against the Repug party and their agenda, that's why.
It's not about being "moderate" or "liberal", it's about standing up for the Democratic Party and being willing to take a stand against the Repugs. If certain "moderate Democrats" in our party aren't willing to take a strong stand in favor of our own political party, then to hell with them. I'll take Howard Dean any day. He's speaking his mind and he's done a lot to revitalize the grass roots energy in the party.
ACSR, partisan "yellow dog" Democrat and proud of it.
Dean hit the nail right on the head. The Republican Party is by definition the party of those who have never made an honest living in their lives.
One of the biggest farces in modern times is the Republicans convincing Joe Six Pack and Sue Silent Majority that they represent their values and we Democrats don't. We have to take back the image, language, and rhetoric of Regular Guyhood and Galhood as rightly our own, and we have to pound home the true nature of the Republicans as the party of the silver-spoon fed, prep schooled, extended pinkie finger, ultra-rich at every opportunity. Howard Dean knows exactly what he's doing and more power to him.
NevadaDan, I've given your posts the benefit of the doubt in the past. But the more I see, the more I'm convinced you're just here to troll.
The first thing that stands out is liberals have doubled in proportion since 1999. This is significant. Adding the three Democratic groups together (Liberals, Disadvantaged Democrats, and Conservative Democrats) we have 44% of registered voters. (This could be adjusted slightly downward by that 14% of Conservative Democrats who crossed party lines to vote for Bush).
I disagree with the study putting the Upbeats in the middle given their overwhelming party identification with the Repugs and that they voted for Bush over Kerry in the same proportion that Conservative Democrats voted for Kerry over Bush. It's also hard to tell if there's really a huge divide in views between the Enterprisers and the Upbeats, except for the Enterprisers being the most hardcore Repug voters while 14% of Upbeats are swing voters. Other than voting habits they both seem like two branches of the same group: the pseudo-libertarian, rich suburbanite, upwardly mobile crowd that includes "South Park Republicans", Instapundit, Tech Central Station and their ilk. Therefore, including Upbeats in the Republican camp, along with Enterprisers, Social Conservatives, and Pro-Government Conservatives, they have 46% of registered voters. Again, this could be adjusted slightly downward to account for the 14% of Upbeats and the 12% of Pro-Government Conservatives who are swing voters.
Adjusting both sides downward to account for swing voters, we have 42% of voters, and the Repugs have 43%. Essentially a tie.
This leaves the two big swing groups. One of them is the Bystanders who are apathetic and don't pay much attention to politics, the other is the Disaffecteds. Together those two groups make up the "broad non-ideological center" who are the most important swing group. Bystanders may be tough to win since they are politically apathetic by nature, but if we can win a few the more the better. We would have to give those people a reason to believe in politics, and specifically in us. More important is the Disaffecteds. This is the classic Perot/Ventura voting bloc. At one time the Disaffecteds were a Democratic constituency (which is how we were winning elections by such a wide margin from the FDR thru the LBJ eras.) Win them back and we will be the majority party once again. Looking at their votes today, it is clear why the Repugs have been winning - with all else basically tied 42%-43%, the Disaffecteds voted 42% Bush and 21% Kerry in the last election, with 23% not voting.
Others have already discussed using wedge issues to win over some Social Conservatives and Pro-Government Conservatives. That's a good plan but it looks to me like there are four more key points here:
Continue to grow liberalism.
Bring the 14% of Conservative Democratic swing voters back into the fold with policies that appeal to them, namely New Deal type economic populism.
Bring some of the Bystanders out of apathy to our side, to whatever degree possible, by giving them a reason to believe in us.
Bring the Disaffecteds completely back to our side. Find out what issues are most important to them and aggressively adopt those issues. Find out what wedge issues the Repugs have been using to court them, and aggressively counter them. Start encouraging these people to register Democratic or switch their registration to Democratic (may be the most important thing of all since right now they are very lopsidedly Repug in voter registration.) Maybe form a "Populist Democrat" caucus within the party to bring them in and make them feel welcome.
What I also find interesting is that the Enterprisers (not the Social Conservatives) are the most solidly Repug group as well as the most viciously anti-liberal in their views. This lends further credibility to the fact that the Repugs are the party of the rich, BMW-driving, brie-and-champagne, extended pinkie finger, suburban trophy home, preppie, private school crowd (and not, as the Repug noise machine falsely claims, the party of the little guy.) We need to drive that point home in the loudest way possible. The Enterprisers are the enemy. Other Repug constituency groups are possible allies who can be won over, wedged, allied with in tactical alliances against the Enterprisers, etc.
The difference between Antiwar.com and Tech Central Station is a good example of how wide the divide is among so called libertarians. They both call themselves libertarian but take a lot of positions 180 degrees apart from each other. Tech Central's pro-war, pro-globalization, anti-environmentalist, technology-always-good-even-if-it-threatens-privacy line is almost the polar opposite of Antiwar.com. Antiwar.com has a lot of the spirit of the old 1970s libertarians back when Murray Rothbard was their leading light, libertarian cooperation with the new left was still the norm, and the Vietnam War and Watergate were still fresh in peoples minds; Tech Central seems to be coming from the Virginia Postrel school of thought, which can probably be traced back to Ayn Rand.
Well I don't think of the "gimme my tax cut" crowd as being libertarians. Some of them go beyond just tax cuts into supply side economics, which puts them firmly in the Reagan/Gingrich/Kemp Republican camp; others are just greedheads who care about nothing but a tax cut. You're right about them being a larger group than any of the three I mentioned, and they are one of the Republicans' core target markets.
Can some of them be peeled away? Except for the true believers who want no taxes at all, everyone else agrees that there will be taxes. Except for the true believers who adhere to supply side voodoo economics, the others are just interested in a tax cut. It's just like the big government thing: both parties will be big spenders and that's a given, it's a question of how that spending is prioritized and which party runs up the federal debt. With taxes it's the same: our tax cuts (tax cuts for working families, while raising taxes on the rich), or their tax cuts (tax cuts for the rich while raising taxes on working families in the form of regressive tax schemes)? We could actually win some of the tax cut crowd by proposing tax cuts which are compatible with progressive principles, such as working to cut or abolish sales taxes and other regressive taxes. Another idea I like is to replace regressive taxes with a graduated asset tax on the wealthy.
Libertarians have always been split into three camps. The libertarian true believers will vote for the Libertarian Party regardless. They won't be won to our side unless we convince them that their no-government ideology itself is mistaken.
The "pragmatic" libertarians are the ones who can be won on the fiscal responsibility issue. Andrew Sullivan is an example, and he endorsed Kerry in 2004. Mostly they vote Republican on the mistaken belief that while both parties are big spenders the Repubs are more "fiscally responsible." Show them that this isn't the case and they will start voting Democratic. Yes, we're big spenders, so are the Repubs, but which party has proven over and over that they will run up the federal deficit when in power? It's not us.
There is a third group of libertarians for whom various other issues (anti-war, drug legalization, guns, the Patriot Act) trump economic issues. Lew Rockwell and L. Neil Smith are examples. I'd put Paul Craig Roberts in this group too; like Andrew Sullivan, he endorsed Kerry in 2004. They're a trickier bunch in that fiscal responsibility arguments will carry little weight with them. Come out strongly against the Iraq war, the war on drugs, and the Patriot Act and drop gun control from the national agenda and they may vote Democratic.
What I don't see happening is these people becoming Democrats (as opposed to sometimes voting Democratic based on fiscal responsibility or lesser-of-two-evils rationales.) As another commenter already said, there is a lot in the libertarian agenda that is at odds with the Democratic Party and will always remain at odds. At best I could see a sort of unspoken mutual agreement: "vote Democratic and we'll balance the budget, pay down the federal debt, bring the troops home, and protect civil liberties, so long as you let us keep our environmental regulations, raise the minimum wage, and pass national health care." The libertarian true believers will never got for it, but the more pragmatic ones might very well.
If NAFTA was any indication there will be some internicene warfare within the Republicans over this. Although...a lot has changed since 1994. The anti-globalization wing of the Repubs was led by Pat Buchanan back then, and I don't know if he has that much pull anymore since bolting to run on the Reform party ticket. Many other Repubs who voted against NAFTA did so strictly on economic grounds based on their own districts - the textile industry in the Carolinas for example - and I wouldn't count on them voting against CAFTA since protecting industries that NAFTA already destroyed is now a moot point. Even EDF (Perot's company) caved and started outsourcing their work overseas.
Tancredo: It'd be interesting to see which way he goes on this. NAFTA and the WTO have created a lot of economic dislocation in Mexico, causing a lot of people in the interior of the country to have to head north either to seek lower-wage jobs in the maquiladoras or to illegally enter the U.S. Mexico has its own problems with illegal immigration from Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua which CAFTA will undoubtedly exacerbate. Tom Tancredo looks a lot like a single issue guy, but too much of what I've seen offered from him on illegal immigration is law enforcement based solutions - troops on the border, stricter ID standards and such - and I really don't like that approach. If Tancredo truly has any understanding of the economic pressures that cause illegal immigration to increase he will come out against CAFTA. But we'll see.
The NAFTA vote in the mid 1990s actually saw both the Blue Dogs and the Progressive Caucus split. The DLC voted mostly in favor.
A lot has changed since then, and I would expect most if not all of the Progressive Caucus to vote against CAFTA this time around. In the mid 1990s a lot of the opposition to NAFTA was dismissed, even by some progressives, as coming from the leftist fringe or from conservative protectionists like Perot and Buchanan. I credit the anti-globalization protests of 1999 and 2000 with pushing the trade issue into the progressive mainstream. I still expect the Blue Dogs to split the same way they did on NAFTA, based on whether they think CAFTA will help or harm the economies in their own districts.
Who we really need to put pressure on is the DLC, plus some of the Blue Dogs and any Progressives who might be on the fence. If we can make this a partisan issue and make it clear that Democrats will be expected to oppose this, and hopefully get some isolationist Republicans (if there are any left) to vote no too, we can sink CAFTA. But it won't happen if the party splits the way they did over NAFTA.
The right wing may have their own ulterior motive for not liking Google, or might think their ad policies are biased, or whatever. But Jarvis got at least one thing right about Google's web caching. What else is that but a copyright violation? It's especially bad because if somebody decides that they don't want a web page of theirs up anymore, or they want to change it. The old cached version stays up on Google for weeks, or even months in cases where the web page was taken down completely.
I could foresee a time in the near future where privacy has been completely eradicated from society because of search engines, and Google is the search engine that has gone farthest in this direction already. Things could get to the point where people (say, people like us with progressive political opinions) have a hard time getting a job because employers will use Google as a matter of course, type a name in, and be instantly provided with every post ever made to the Internet under our real names, every letter to the editor ever written, every Usenet post, every appearance of a name on an Internet petition or a newspaper article, etc. If, as is likely, old (pre-Internet era) newspapers and newsletters begin to be archived to the Internet, or old versions of web pages are cached permanently in Google, old phone directories where somebody could type in a name and find out every address you have ever lived at in your life, or such things as arrest records or credit records or archives of old Fidonet echoes or BBS postings begin to be widely posted to the Internet, we can kiss privacy goodbye. Who needs J. Edgar Hoover to keep dossiers on people when a complete dossier on every person in the world will be available to any nosy busybody with a keyboard?
Google is already archiving every Usenet post ever made, going all the way back to the beginning of Usenet. Their removal policy is deliberately difficult, and even if you do manage to remove all your own Usenet posts from Google's archive, Google will not let you remove any posts made by others quoting your own posts. Why is this even allowed? Google should not be able to permanently archive posts like this without first getting the express permission of the poster; the poster shouldn't have to ask Google to remove old posts. This can especially be a problem with old posts that some of us may have posted when we were younger, expressing opinions or posting to newsgroups that we would now rather not be associated with (i.e. alt.fan.unabomber or any of the alt.sex groups...) Thanks to Google, if any of your old posts as a teenager were ever quoted by anyone else, there is a permanent record available to any busybody with a keyboard.
What happens in the future when facial recognition technology and the availability of public web access to images from the now-ubiquitous surveillance cameras gets to the point where somebody can type your name into Google and have instant access to every appearance of you on a surveillance camera? That time is coming unless we take steps to stop it now.
Let me put it this way, if there were proposals for laws restricting the archiving of anything on the Internet (say, requiring express written permission to archive anything more than two years old), or applying the current copyright laws to Google in such a way that caching of web pages or Usenet posts becomes illegal, I would be strongly in favor.
What Painter2004 said about Taft-Hartley. The most noxious parts to me are the sections allowing states to pass 'right to work' laws, and banning secondary boycotts. Those two in particular because they are blatant restrictions on, respectively, freedom of contract and freedom of speech. I'm surprised those sections of Taft-Hartley haven't been found unconstitutional. But I'd like to see the whole thing repealed.
There are several issues involved and felons voting is one of them. Right now there are still a small handful of states, mostly in the south, where ex-felons cannot vote, including Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, and Alabama. Some western states had such laws until recently but all of them, Nevada, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska, repealed theirs. That leaves the south.
The perhaps bigger issue (which is why a few rogue states still insist on the lifetime voting ban for ex-felons) is that voting is held as a "states right", not a Constitutionally protected individual right. This could concievably mean additional restrictions enacted by some states. The problems with unverifiable electronic voting, the mess in Florida in 2000, etc. are also issues that this would address, albeit indirectly. The amendment would also require all states to allow same-day voter registration, another worthy issue.
H.J.R. 28 was introduced by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in 2003 and had 45 cosponsors, but didn't make it out of committee. I think it should be a major issue for the Democratic Party.
As for the Patriot Act, is has only been on the books a few years. Is it too much to ask to restore the level of freedom we enjoyed in this country just a few years ago? I'd move for calling for the repeal of the whole thing.
I guess it depends on the purpose of the Dem Agenda. Is this something we would like to see the Party itself adopt as a platform for 2006, or something to use to hopefully push the party to the left, by promising extra netroots support for those candidates who sign on? If it's intended as a platform for the whole Party, we might still want to start out by advocating the strongest progressive positions at first, which could then be worked out and tested in focus groups to see which planks would be most appealing to the public and which might be problematic.