An Open Letter on NARAL, Message, and Polarization
by Falsehood, Thu May 15, 2008 at 09:30:26 AM EDT
*Users who are bashing or attacking any other user on the site, including authors of diaries and frontpage postings, will be banned. *Titles of diaries should not be inflammatory, call out other users or the site, and will be deleted if not edited out, and the user banned.I don't think I'm calling out Alegre in the way the rules describe, nor do I think I am attacking Alegre. This diary is, in essence, a giant comment. However, I can understand that interpretation of the title rules, so I've changed the name. /Update [2008-5-15 15:44:38 by Falsehood]:
As I write this, your diary "Tell NARAL They're Wrong,"http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/5/14/2324 41/858 is coming down off of the rec list, where many of your diaries reach. I certainly haven't been blogging here for a while, and I'll be the first to say that I don't have any progressive blog "cred," but I hope my comments and thoughts over the past few days have shown me to be someone who is approaching you honestly, without looking to disrespect or troll.
I'm also male. I don't have a sense the way you do of many of these issues, and I don't have the same experiences for you. I don't know what it's like to be forced against brick while standing in a line, protecting a clinic. I don't have much choice cred either, and I'm not going to pretend that I know more about this issue then you do.
But even with those caveats, I don't understand how your stories of trial justify your feelings of outrage and betrayal NARAL's endorsement. I hear you that Clinton has done hard work to support choice, and that you value that, especially given your own experiences. However, NARAL's goal and purpose is to defend abortion rights - and they endorsed the candidate they felt would do that best.
You wrote that you weren't sure why the national PAC made the call on their own. Don't most national PAC's make a solo call? Aren't individual states groups free to make their own statements, like Chicago NOW? You would have had a problem with this decision even if NARAL had reached out to state groups, because you are a supporter of Clinton.
You wrote that you felt NARAL betrayed you by endorsing a well qualified woman's opponent in the race. My sense is that there's a compounding factor here for you - that NARAL, a group formed to support womens' rights, endorsed the woman's opponent. Alegre, NARAL isn't a group advocating for women - it advocates a right that applies only to women. In this way, it is extremely different from the national organization for WOMEN, the WOMEN'S campaign forum, and the Women's political committee. Yes, these groups share goals, but should a pro choice organization support a candidate based on sex? If an anti-choice woman runs against a pro-choice man, should the woman get NARAL's endorsement?
Alegre, you went further in pushing the idea that Obama has been weak on choice at any point in his career. I know you support Hillary, but that doesn't mean that you can say such things, because they are FLAT OUT NOT TRUE. Remember Lorna Brett Howard, the former president of Chicago NOW, who endorsed Obama because of the very same claims you are making, and did it in January? Remember the quotes from Planned Parenthood, who coordinated strategy with Obama, and defended him against those same allegations you still push, months ago?
There are plenty of justified concerns to have about Barack Obama, but any weakness on choice is not among them. Supporting Clinton doesn't give you the right to selectively ignore that those "present" votes, (which have the same weight as no votes), were coordinated with Chicago pro-choice groups!
When you paint with such a broad brush, and pick facts in this way, you make it really, really hard for Obama supporters to not do the same. You don't help a productive conversation - when you introduce such nonsense that Obama was weak on choice, you stifle the dialog that we need so badly on real problems he has, like your diary on the way he's blamed his staff several times.
Who wrote that Obama's nomination means that McCain will enter the White House. In fact, you said that I could "bet my @ss" on it. That is an opinion that you can hold - but it is a polarized one. It is one that says: "A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for John McCain," and I'm darned certain of it. Do you really think that he stands no chance? I don't think so.
Alegre, this polarization is everywhere, and goes far beyond any conversation between us. It is the polarization that Karl Rove marketed so effectively in 2004 as to create a giant gap in the country - but one where Bush has 51% of the territory. The Rove comparison is not an accurate one, and I do not mean to imply that you are following his example in any way, but you are using the same concept: You are for Hillary, or you are for McCain!
I reject that. I reject any and all attempts to draw lines and declare an "us or them" approach. We are not a country of us and them. We are a country where there are people on all sorts of sides, and just as many in the middle. We're a country where I can sit down with two extremely pro-life friends, and have a long conversation without screaming and shouting. We're a country where the process is built for conflict AND a productive resolution.
This polarity of for women or against women, for Hillary or for McCain, for good or not for good, cannot continue. Please consider this a plea not to change your opinions, but rather the way that you express them. Words and phrasings matter - and "WTF" isn't going to get a Democrat in the White House, though I recognize that you're angry, and that you have the right to express yourself as you choose.
Thank you for your time and dedication to your candidate. You are a model for the kind of positive diaries that help everyone out, and you are a "hero" to many bloggers who support Clinton. I hope you can use your hard-earned status to model a discussion that bridges gaps instead of creating them. That is what I seek to do at MyDD (though I'm certainly not perfect), and I hope that you see this as a critique of your methods instead of an attack on your beliefs.
With great sincerity and humility,
PS: If this dairy receives no recognition from Alegre or "major" Clinton supporters, I ask that Obama supporters refrain from baseless accusations of cowardice or anything of that sort. Thsi diary uses Alegre's name, but it doesn't require a response from her (though I would appreciate it.) No one is under any obligation to answer this - I'm not looking to persoanlly capitalize off of someone else's name.
"Criticizing Obama on the basis of `present' votes indicates you don't have a great understanding of the process," said Thom Mannard, director of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence.
Or you are willing to pretend you don't to score cheap political points.
There's dirt here all right. It's all over the hands of those pointing the finger.
http://blogs.chicagotribune.com/news_col umnists_ezorn/2007/12/disparagement-o.ht ml
Pam Sutherland, president of Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said Mr. Obama was one of the senators with a strong stand for abortion rights whom the organization approached about using the strategy. Ms. Sutherland said the Republicans were trying to force Democrats from conservative districts to register politically controversial no votes.
Ms. Sutherland said Mr. Obama had initially resisted the strategy because he wanted to vote against the anti-abortion measures.
"He said, `I'm opposed to this,'" she recalled.
But the organization argued that a present vote would be difficult for Republicans to use in campaign literature against Democrats from moderate and conservative districts who favored abortion rights.
Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general who was in the Illinois Senate with Mr. Obama from 1998 through 2002, said she and Mr. Obama voted present on the anti-abortion bills.
"It's just plain wrong to imply that voting present reflected a lack of leadership," Ms. Madigan said. "In fact, it was the exact opposite."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/20/us/pol itics/20obama.html?_r=3&hp=&adxn nl=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=prin t&adxnnlx=1210871130-/EwkR1wRh0jR4LJ SmyReWg
Thank you so much for helping to make the 2006 EMILY's List Majority Council Conference such a great success. Our Majority Council members told me again and again how energized they were to hear directly from you and how much they appreciated your spending time with us. You truly inspired our members and reminded them why they support our work to elect dynamic pro-choice Democratic women - especially after hearing you speak about how you're fighting to make change happen. I appreciate your commitment to EMILY's List.
Letter From Ellen Malcolm To Barack Obama, 5/18/06
"I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton and an EMILY's List donor, but this line of attack is unacceptable. While I was the president of Chicago National Organization for Women, Senator Obama worked closely with us, could not have been more supportive of a woman's right to choose, and there was no bigger champion in Illinois on our issues. What's important is that the candidates do not cannibalize each other on issues we all agree about because we need to win in November."
-Lorna Brett, former president of Chicago NOW
More recent Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVuMYKs8i Js
"During his years in the state legislature, Barack Obama was a strong and consistent supporter of women's reproductive rights. He worked hand-in-hand with Planned Parenthood in developing and executing strategies to make sure that women had access to reproductive health care. I also want to thank him for standing up with us in the effort to open the Aurora clinic and for his introduction of legislation guaranteeing access to low-cost birth control. Planned Parenthood/Chicago Area has proudly endorsed Barack throughout his entire political career."
-Steve Trombley, CEO & President, Planned Parenthood/Chicago Action