Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Life Is Real
Early Anniversary Post

May 10th will be the year mark of my blogging effort. Looking back over a year of posts, both here and at Echidne of the Snakes, I notice some serious lapses in following my original intention. That intention was to focus on the practical, on those things that would win elections for the left. That means trying to figure out which are the candidates closest to the left who have a real chance to win the election and hold the office, nominating the one with the best chance, protecting them from lies and smears from the right and impractical, posing jerks allegedly on the left. It means once they are elected, working with them to try to find those positions of the left that they can support in a way to keep the office out of the hands of worse people. Only a position that has a hope of being adopted during the present term is worth that level of effort and risk. Other issues aren’t ripe for prime time yet, they need to build grass roots support first.

There was that big diversion that started last September with my pre-election post advising that the left couldn’t hope to win elections if it could be tarred with the charge that it was anti-religion. A string of elections had proven that to be an effective tactic of the Republicans and their kept media. The things said about that post by another blogger of much greater readership than myself were false but that didn’t keep them from both damaging my credibility and starting a stream of attacks that continue to this day. That has lead to many posts which, perhaps, held their own in the arguments they made, had rather pitiful practical results. I tied up a few threads on those subjects here the other day and am going to end detailed consideration of them for more important matters.

I will, however, fight like hell any futile or trivial trend or practice of the left that will damage our chances with the voting public and I don’t care how strongly I have to make that case. Winning elections, making laws that improve lives is more important than any hurt feelings of people who are being jerks. If they insist on their right to be jerks, they are asking for it. They are not the center of the universe, none of us are. The goal of improving lives is more important than anything, certainly more than whatever credibility or popularity is lent me. While I am grateful for that and find it gratifying, I am ready to sacrifice it to achieve political progress.

Politics is the art of making compromises. But it is an art only worth doing in an effort to move things in the right direction. Everything I’ve got is on that bargaining table except reality and justice. Those are non-negotiable for one simple reason. Life is real. Nothing is more real than the biosphere. Nothing is more important than real living beings. Nothing is more important than the real lives of people starting with the most common sense meaning of that phrase. Beginning with their physical well-being, their education and their spirits. Reputation is a bubble which is about to burst, life is real.

I don't understand why your position on Democrats and religion set off bombs. It seems self-evident to me that the Demopcrats have a religion problem, one not of their own making. The difficulty for the Democrats is in keeping the Rethugs from painting them as anti-religion without trying to be something they aren't, namely mealy-mouthed snakes who use religion for political purposes. That can be accomplished to some extent by using the techniques JFK used in 1960 (yeah, I'm old enough toi remember when the idea of electing a Catholic president had the Protestant establishment in vapors). It's important to point out in so many words how the Rethugs are using religion as a bludgeon instead of living what claim to be their values. And then it is very important to point out that traditional Democratic Party values--succoring the poor and sick, equality before the law, economic opportunity, preserving the earth--are values common both to most religions and to the value systems of people who do not have a religion. This broader appeal will mollify moderate religious/spiritual people as well as people who do not claim a religion. (The real fundies won't vote Dem anyhow.) It would be more useful if people had read what you had to say on the subject and digested it before going off half-cocked.
Soprano, I think that trying to explain a position as nuanced as the one you set out in the course of the campaign might cause trouble. I know it’s a pretty clear and simple statement but don’t forget that the Republican apparatus, including effectively the entire broadcast and cable media as well as a lot of print will pounce on it, de-clarify it, distort it, etc. It’s what they’ve done with just about anything a Democrat has said which isn’t a blunder.

My original piece referred to was a response to the tone on the blogs I visit and the growing fashion of religion baiting. It’s hard enough to deal with political problems not of our making on important issues. Dealing with new ones of our own creation, on issues that aren’t properly political issues and which have a guarantee to cost us the winning margin of the vote in key races is too much for the religion baiters to ask. It is irresponsible to blow an election for something like that.

Your point about not needing to worry about fundamentalists is one I made last September, it was the secondary point of the piece whose distortion has caused me no end of trouble. But we do need to worry about alienating religious voters who might vote for us, as you note. The simplest way to put my concern is that the position represented by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett (now, I see rejoined by Christopher Hitchens) insists on pretending that religions moderates and even liberals are no different from fundamentalists. Other than being untrue, clearly by the actions of the people involved, it is a position that will guarantee our failure at the polls. That last name in the list, by the way, Hitchens, he should seal that case. Hitchens is a stinking Republican quisling.

As I said I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already said on these issues. You can look on my blog under religion, atheism, atheist, Dawkins, Harris, Dennet.... to see what I’ve written.
Happy 1st (almost) blogoversary!
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