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2005.06.12

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Phantom Scribbler

Hear hear!

Shakespeare's Sister

GREAT post! Love it.

Kenneth Quinnell

Well, I agree with everything on your list except the third party thing. I don't think comparing the prolems third parties face are in the same league as the rest of your list.

Rana

But, see, you seem to assume that I am unaware of those problems. You also assume that these are different orders of discrimination and dismissal, and that some are more important than others. I DON"T AGREE. Your assumption that I should is EXACTLY what I'm complaining about here.

I am actually _very_ aware of the obstacles faced by third parties in this country, which is why, even though I'm a Green, I don't vote blindly for Green candidates across the board. I'd be the first to admit that the Green Party, as currently constituted, is not ready to compete on the national level.

But, hello, none of this is fixed. A hundred years ago, women couldn't vote. Two hundred years ago, black people were enslaved. At one point the "United States" were a bunch of very un-united colonies.

One has to start somewhere, and just because there are short-term goals to reach doesn't mean that I don't have long-term goals as well. And continually selling out my interests in order to pick the lesser of two evils because it is "practical" in the short run even though they work against my long-term interests is bullshit. I am a Green first, and if the Democrats don't court my votes they should NOT expect to get them.

Especially since, as I see it, the Dems in office are doing doodly-squat to defend my interests; in fact, they seem far more interested in making nice with the Republicans and their corporate sponsors. So, how, exactly, is this any better for me than voting for a third party candidate?

Yeah, the Dems have the infrastructure on their side. But they are not making use of it. They are coasting on the notion that they are _the_ alternative to the Republicans.

Why should I let them get away with it?

Why shouldn't I direct my energy toward a fair voting system, eliminating the electoral college, funding alternative lefty organizations, and the like?

Why should I try to change a party that doesn't want me, and which ignores me except at election time, when I can work to build up a party that treasures me and insists that my interests are of paramount concern? Why shouldn't I vote for Greens, if the alternative is corporate Democrats and anti-woman Republicans? Or corporate Republicans and anti-woman Democrats?

See, you _THINK_ you know what my priorities are, and assume that the best way for me to serve them is to vote Democratic, or to change the Democratic Party.

But you're wrong.

Rana

Or try this on, if you don't think these issues are equivalent:

It's a man's world/two-party system. Women/third parties are a waste of your time.

All the infrastructure, laws, money, are in male/Democratic hands. Why should we promote female/Green candidates?

Democrats/Men know how to get things done on a national level; Greens/women are best suited for things like serving on school boards.

You need a Democrat/man to go toe-to-toe in the political arena and win; Greens/women aren't strong enough.

Green/feminist issues are not something the mainstream is concerned with; you need an electable Democratic/male candidate.

A vote for a Green/a woman is a wasted vote.

Assumptions are just that -- assumptions. Things change.

Kenneth Quinnell

I think you are guilty of the same assumption problem you accuse me of. I don't assume you are unaware of anything. I also didn't suggest that you should do anything, I said what I believed without suggesting that you should agree with me. My point was that saying that discrimination and dismissal based on a choice -- party affiliation -- are not the same thing as discrimination and dismissal based on who you are -- gender, sexuality, race. I respect the fact that you disagree with that, but you haven't made the argument, to me at least, that these things are the same.

I also don't think I have ever been discriminatory or dismissive of Greens. I respect them and agree with them on most issues, I just don't think they are very practical in their suggestions for making our country a better place.

I'm a political scientist and American historian and my study of these things in the past leads me to believe that the Democrat-Republican thing is fixed. I understand that others can study the same things as me and come to different conclusions, that doesn't mean I shouldn't argue for my viewpoint until someone convinces me that my viewpoint is wrong. Keep in mind that the success of abolishing slavery and passing the 19th Amendment came through the two-party system we have today.

I understand the difference between short-term and long-term goals, I just think that trying to establish a third party diminishes the chances for both to succeed in our lifetime. I'm not suggested that Green-minded people should vote for bad Democrats, I'm suggesting that we get rid of the bad Democrats and have the Greens take over the Democratic Party because we are in a two-party system that is established in law.

I agree that the Democrats should be seeking your vote, but the only way they are going to do that is if you force them to. The only way I can see to do that is through the primary system, the same way the religious nuts did it with the Republican Party. The way to end the two-party monopoly is to tear down the laws that enforce this system, something that can only be done from electoral office.

Do you think Howard Dean and his kind are ignoring you except at election time? What about Barbara Boxer? Nancy Pelosi? Like I said, I agree with almost all of the Green agenda and I think these people are taking steps to help this become the mainstream of the Democratic Party. Sure, others are fighting against them, but that's why we need to fight against those Democrats that are holding back the progressive agenda (or agendas, if you think they are different).

I think you should try to change the Dems exactly because they don't want you and ignore you. They are, in my estimation, the only party that we have a shot of controlling that has a chance to control the government at multiple levels. They are wrong now and we can change them a lot easier than we can establish the Greens as a viable electoral party.

I don't suggest that I know what your priorities are, but I do know that we have a two-party system and the evidence points to the fact that we will for as long as we are all alive, so whatever your priorities are, I think the best way to achieve them is to change the Democratic Party. I don't think it is best to just vote Democratic, because I agree with you that most of the Democrats today are not worthy of our vote, but a few of them are. I'm also not suggesting that we put aside any priorities while we take over the Democratic Party, I think we should take over the party by pushing for our priorities, by pushing for women's issues, gay rights, racial equality, etc. As far as I'm concerned, these are the most important issues in America and they should be our top priority.

As for your metaphor, I think it is very creative, but I don't agree with it on a substantive level. I think the first half of each slash is much more offensive and immoral than the second. I understand that you feel otherwise, but I will respectfully keep my opinion on this one unless you can provide something else to convince me. Not, of course, that you have to convince me of anything, I'm sure that isn't something that is high on your list of priorities.

Rana

See, now this is the kind of response I was looking for. I apologize that you got caught in the backwash, but, honestly, the usual retort I get is "Well, you're just an idiot." or "My, aren't you shrill."

I can understand that you want to make a distinction between discrimination based on a person's choices and discrimination based on their biological characteristics, but I have to say that they feel very very similar when you're on the receiving end. After the last two federal elections, the amount of angry vitriol spewed in the direction of Greens by Democrats -- those very people who would claim to be my allies -- was HUGE. Even Republican voters got more slack, since it was assumed that their choice, though wrong, was still valid. The choices made by Greens, though, were nearly universally seen as fatally flawed, and, worse, as "traitorous" -- as if voting for one's chosen political party instead of some other one was an act of treason. I hope you can see that this makes absolutely no sense, and that the effects of that venomous, angry attack are not easy to shake. And given that my "choice" of poltical party rests on deeply held, personally relevant beliefs, ones which I could not give up without changing who I am, it's not as easy to leap to the Dems as you seem to think it is.

I think too, that you are a bit too quick to dismiss a point that Diane made in the thread over at Shakespeare's Sister -- that even if your point that a two-party system's not going away any time soon, there's no reason that Greens will always and inevitably be a "third party" party. I think it's great that folks like Boxer and Pelosi are fighting to bring the party back from the rightwing cliff, but that doesn't make then leftists. Dean, in particular, is not a leftist by any stretch; he's a centrist at best. This isn't to say that Dems can't lean Green -- in fact, I wrote in Kucinich when I voted in the primary (and was thus restricted to Green votes) -- but as it currently stands, they have little incentive to do so (so I definitely agree with you on that point).

Yeah, it'd be nice to drag the Dems leftward, but, honestly, I don't see it happening. They are at base a conservative big-government group that has some left-leaning social platforms, but those are pursued weakly at best, and easily sacrificed for their long-term, big-funds supporters in the form of corporate donors and unions. Can you honestly say that you can imagine someone like Kerry deciding to risk his voting base by challenging free trade? Or standing up for gay rights, including marriage? He's okay, but I really do not think the man is capable of moving any more leftwards than he already is -- and I voted for him, and admire many of the things he's done -- and he's pretty typical for his crowd. These people voted for the bankruptcy bill, didn't fight Bush's nominations (instead agreeing to an in-name-only compromise), marched in lockstep with Bush on the matter of the war.

These are not people who have the courage of their convictions -- even Howard Dean is more loud than strong, for all that it's good to hear a loud voice now and then -- and I honestly don't trust them to have the courage to defend the things _I_ believe in.

Strategically, I also doubt that trying to change the party "from within" is the most effective way to move the Dems leftward. If, say, a third of the Dems are former Greens, then there are still two-thirds who are not. They might listen to those leftist viewpoints, but there is not much incentive to move the party as a whole into the leftist camp. Nor is there much incentive to entice those voters to "vote Democratic" -- they've already made that choice, by choosing to register Democratic instead of Green. These would be "Green" votes that _can_ be taken for granted, and if those voters protested, then they would not have a leg to stand on if the majority accused them of party disloyalty.

On the other hand, if those voters are members of an actual non-Democratic party, they become a threat to business as usual. They become a group to _court_, not a group to ignore -- _because_ they cannot be taken for granted. The Democrats would have to put their money where their mouths are to persuade people to abandon their party for the Democratic one -- this is the same sort of dynamic that operated with the Reform Party and candidates like Buchanan and Ross Perot.

A third party is a lever, while a group within a party is simply a minority voting block.

I would also add that the logic that one has to change a party because it ignores you or disagree with you is strange logic -- it could be argued, using that logic, that leftists should infiltrate the Republican Party and try to change _it_.

I think what it comes down to is -- I don't see the Democratic Party as having as much in common with the Green Party and the leftwing as you think it does or could.

yami

You know the noises and extravagant hand motions you make when you're excited about something someone just said, and you're trying to agree with it, but your mouth is full of muffin? I'm making those right now. Aside from being patronizing, these arguments are usually also asking someone else to make sacrifices for the sake of pragmatism, which is super irritating. I'm sick of always being the one who has to make all the political sacrifices.

On the substantive issue of thirdpartyisme - it bothers me that "change from within" and "change from without" are seen as opposing and incompatible strategies, instead of complementary ways of moving forward with a progressive agenda. I do think we need both the force of a credible external threat and an influential progressive Democratic caucus with the potential to either move the Democrats sufficiently leftwards, or break off and lend legitimacy to a burgeoning Green movement. And I definitely don't think the extra payoff from finding the exactly correct distribution of "within" and "without" is large enough, or certain enough, to be worth the cost of this endless intra-left warfare!

Particularly when we're working at a grassroots level, we need to be able to trust people to gauge their own political microclimates and make good faith attempts to put their efforts where they'll be most useful... I've lived in blue states or "blue dots" all my life, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on local progressive politics (or whatever passes for it) when you get to Red State.

Chris Clarke

First off:

dumb as a post with a turtle on top of it

How do you usually say it? "BWAH"?

Secondly - and this is a point that I don't think I've seen made elsewhere - um, no, wait. This will take a few hundred words. I'll write it on my blog tonight and trackback here.

Most importantly: Nice job, pal. Very well put.

Kenneth Quinnell

I was angry at the Greens over the 2000 election, but not in 2004, since they had no impact on the race this time. I was not, however, to the point of spewing vitriol, as I realized that we are on the same team, even if we don't already agree. While I respect other people's electoral choices, I feel that they are almost all invalid, that's I why I didn't make those choices for myself. And treason is one of those big words that people almost always misuse, and I would likely never use it against anyone on the left.

I would hope that everyone's choice of political paty rests on deeply held, personally relevant beliefs that are not easy to give up. And I'm not suggesting that anyone jump to the Dems as they exist now, I'm saying make the Dems like you and then the choice becomes an easy one.

It seems like I am quick to dismiss the Green's chances only because we are new to each other. For most of my life, I was not a Democrat, but was registered no party. It took years of study and thinking about these issues to come to this conclusion. The biggest reason that I think the Greens won't become a major party is that they aren't doing any of the things that major parties do to get to that level. Add that to the fact that the system is totally set up to exclude third parties and the only way to change the system (by which I mean the laws) is to have governmental power and the fact that the Greens are quite unpopular with both the right and the left and I just don't see how it's possible.

I would say that Boxer, Pelosi, Kucinich and numerous others are leftists. They may not be as left-wing as us or as we would like them to be, but they certainly are leftist. Dean, of course, is not, but he is currently in the process of transferring the power in the Democratic Party from Washington insiders to the lower levels, which will do more to transform the party than anything you'll see in Congress or the White House. He may fail and many in the party want him to, but he's already having some success, especially in showing Democrats that they can raise as much, if not more money, by going to the people and not the corporations.

I disagree with your characterization of the Dems, who to me are an extremely varied group. I think most Democrats are hugely different than Republicans, although there is a sizeable contingent who is not. I think the party can be moved to the left. They used to be there and most of their constituents are further to the left than most of the candidates. I think we can definitely pull them to the left. It is already happening at the presidential level. Look Carter-Clinton-Gore-Kerry, each one further to the left than his predecessor (excepting, of course Dukakis and Mondale who lost in landslides).

You and I probably disagree on free trade, so I won't speak to that. But Kerry did stand up for gay rights, with the exception of marriage. Beyond that, I've never heard him oppose any gay rights. He supported civil unions. And I don't think it is a matter of moving current politicians leftwards, I think it is a matter of replacing those who don't. And you can't do that from outside the party.

And while many Dems voted for the things you are referring to, but significant numbers did not. Some of them do have the courage of their convictions, although many do not. I tend to disagree with your evaluation of Dean, and I think he is loud because he is strong. I may be proven wrong, but having met the guy and looked him in the eye as he shook my hand, I got a different feeling from him than I've gotten from every other politician I've met or seen speak in person (with the exception of people like Sharpton, who are obviously different). Certainly, they won't defend all of the things you believe in, but the more pressure you put on them, the more likely they are to do so. As Democrats, their constituency is Democratic voters, so why would they take the words of outsiders? Greens tried to put this pressure on in 2000, telling the Dems that if they lost the election, it would be their own fault and it happened. Did that make the Dems move any further to the left? No.

I think you underestimate the number of people who are registered Dems who were never Greens but are totally sympathetic to Green causes (take myself and my wife, for instance). I think that if all the people who were Greens registered Dem, they would be close to a majority of the party, when combined with those of us who are already in the party, if not an outright majority. Most of my friends are pretty close to the Greens on most issues and almost all of them are lifetime Dems and I live in a "red" state (Florida). We can't be unique. I think the party leaders would be more likely to pay attention to party members who are voting, as a bloc, for Green candidates then they would be to pay attention to thouse outside the party. I may be wrong, but in the Democratic Party hear in Florida, at least in the counties I've worked with it in, they pay little attention to people outside the party.

Outside the party, Greens would be a threat if they had any electoral viability, but with the law the way it is, that just isn't likely. Greens are ignored by Democrats now, how is that going to change? My argument, and the reason I am registered Democrat, is that they won't pay attention to external groups. Again, I could be wrong, but I've yet to see any evidence that I am.

The Reform Party is a better example for my argument than yours. The infrastructure wasn't there despite massive funding and without changes in the law. They were able to garner a huge amount of attention with little to show for it and a party that is smaller than the Green Party now and is on its way to being a historical footnote.

A third party can be a lever, but not until it gains a mass movement (which the Greens are far from being) and not until the winner-take-all electoral system is dismantled, which it won't be, because the people who can dismantle it are all Republicans and Democrats. Remember that the Christian Conservatives are only a minority voting bloc within the Republican Party, yet they control the whole thing.

I would argue that we infiltrate and take over the Republican Party if there were any chance of success and there were no other options. Such a plan, though, would have no chance of success and their is a better option -- the Democrats.

We obviously disagree on this, but I think much of the rank-and-file Democratic Party does have a lot in common with the Green Party. The party leaders are afraid to recognize that because of their reliance on campaign funds to the big corporate donors. Maybe if Dean is successful in moving the bulk of campaign funds to the people, this can change.

Yami -- I'd love to see a way to coordinate those within and those without, but I just don't know how it would work at this point.

Kenneth Quinnell

As for how to survive in a red state, I don't think it will be an issue. Even the reddest of red states is only in the mid-60% range as far as Bush-voters, which leaves many hundreds of thousands of lefties in every red state, so it shouldn't be a problem unless you really live in a really rural area.

Rana

I already find it difficult being a Green in a very blue state, so I expect it will be a long exercise in patience.

It's not simply a matter of getting candidates in; it's the culture. Even here in California it is acceptable to make fun of "the PC police" and to mock those nutty "tree-huggers" and "pacifist granola-flakes." I have yet to pick up a newspaper _anywhere_ that includes my point of view in any proportions greater than 10%, and usually that's in cutesy little "cultural" sections, not the main pages. My views are considered to be freakish, naive, and unrealistic even among "mainstream" people, so I don't see how that situation is going to improve moving to a redder state.

See, you have different perspectives on what it means to "survive." Yeah, I'll live. No, I probably won't be stoned to death or fired from a job. Instead, I'll find myself having to avoid the local news, gritting my teeth when the hairdresser makes casual references to "those liberals," pretending I didn't hear when employers talk about "what's wrong with this country" and they list the very things I value most...

I think Yami made the point best: it's people like me who are always and forever asked to "survive." To "compromise." To "help others." We're never allowed to put our own interests and wishes and values first. Oh, no. That wouldn't be "practical." That wouldn't be "strategic."

As if laying low every day of our lives in general conversation and in discussions with our redder family members and bosses and co-workers and supposed allies wasn't doing just that.

I understand what you're saying, Kenneth -- but I think you're still missing my point. This isn't about tactics.

It's about feeling alienated, about being _made_ to feel alienated, even by one's allies, and not being allowed to think that one's beliefs are as important as others' agendas. It's about being told, time after time, that my interests are best served by promoting others' first, not my own. It's about being made to feel like my issues are second-best, and that they always will be, because they are not "practical" or "mainstream" enough.

I didn't write this to give Democrats advice on how to win over Greens, or feminists, or gays, or environmentalists.

I wrote it because I'm tired of having my values judged against others' privileged yardsticks, and told that not only is this something I should put up with for the time being, but something that I should learn to accept as inevitable. I wrote it because I am always sitting in the back seat of the bus, and I'm tired of being told that I should be grateful to be on the bus at all, or that I shouldn't worry because the bus is going to take me where I should go after it stops at everyone else's stop first, if it doesn't run out of gas first.

I don't want advice. I want affirmation.

yami

Kenneth: I'm thinking of things like coordinating voter registration and GOTV efforts - at the local Democratic Party headquarters last November, we worked to turn out registered Greens and Socialists as well as Democrats, knowing that they would probably vote for Democrats in races without third party candidates. I'm not sure if this was standard practice, but if not, it should be. Joining forces for issue-oriented activism is another way to go, though it's probably most effectively done through nonpartisan advocacy groups. In general, I'd like to see people acting as liasons between local Green and Democratic (and Socialist, etc) party chapters, who're in a position to identify and act on very concrete ways to make common cause.

I don't think Dem/Green coordination would work on a national scale, or from a top-down perspective, but at the grassroots we need to build networks of allies we can rely on for specific, short-term work.

And - to tie in to the Red State thing - I'm guessing that these networks will look and act a little different in a town where local government is majority Republican than where the city council is six Democrats and a Socialist... but that's really just a guess.

yami

Rana: d'oh, jumped you!

Why lay low, though? Certainly it's quite taxing to defend one's beliefs day in and day out, but I found with my last batch of coworkers - some of whom were quite conservative indeed - that once they figured out I would vigorously argue if provoked, they started watching their mouths around me. Wingnuts also like to keep the peace on a day-to-day basis, and a reputation as "touchy about politics" can work wonders.

Rana

Believe it or not, I don't really enjoy arguing. That's why.

Rana

(I _am_ preparing a collection of withering comebacks, though.)

yami

You'll share all the good comebacks, won't you?

Rana

Of course. :)

Kevin T. Keith

OK - you're blogrolled.

Great post.

Rana

Thank you.

manxome

Hear, hear. I am no one's monkey.

Rana

btw -- You see that trackback to Chris' post, above?

Click on it. It's really good.

Amanda Marcotte

Awesome--I had a similiar thought about how I loathe having men with half my intelligence talk to me like I'm a small child.

Rana

Yup. Heck, even when I _was_ a small child, I resented adults who assumed I was incapable of understanding complicated ideas.

Kenneth Quinnell

Rana, the problem is that I think you are lumping me in with other people. Like I said, I am not telling you that your issues are second-best, that they aren't practical or mainstream enough. Now, I've only read your blog in the last few days, so I don't know specifically beyond that what issues are most important to you, but you don't know what issues are most important to me, either. I have a feeling, if you are a Green, that they aren't that different. My argument was that most people on the left agree with Greens on most issues -- including most registered Democrats -- and that the issues that you and I support should be what we are pushing in order to take over the Dems. That's not saying you should make your issues are second best, that's saying that they are the most important issues and that we should force the Democratic Party to agree with us, their natural constituency.

And the red-state comment wasn't meant as advice, it was meant to point out that the red state cocnept isn't really all that accurate.

Kenneth Quinnell

Yami - In Florida, it is illegal, when registering people, to preclude anyone based on their choice, so even if someone is registering Republican, you have to register them. I would assume it is the same in other states. I definitely think that such coordination and outreach can work at the local level, although I think there are probably people in each party that are quite territorial and may be hesitant to work with the other groups.

Rana

And I am disagreeing with you. Still. It may well be that the Democratic party would benefit from having people like me in it, but the same could be said for the Green party.

I see your points about tactics, about forcing the Dems to go more left, and so on. I appreciate that there may be people under the Democratic banner who agree with Green principles on a number of issues.

But, honestly, it feels like you're trying to convert me.

And that says to me that you don't ultimately think that my choice of political party is a valid one.

And _that_ is what starts to annoy me. I'd react the same way if someone came up to me and said, the Catholic church needs more feminists and pro-gay people, so why don't you become a Catholic? It's a bigger church, with much more influence than that Unitarian Universalist one you've been going to. And they really need people like you! They even do work with the poor and stuff! And when I protested, that person kept handing me descriptions of other progressive programs Catholics are involved in, and reiterating how valuable my contribution would be, as if that was the basis of my protest.

Can you see where I'm coming from now?

I'm perfectly willing to work _with_ Democrats on issues of mutual interests. I am NOT willing to abandon my party in order to do so, and I am getting tired of the implication that I am screwing up somehow because my choices are not the ones you would make or wish I would make.

I would appreciate it if you would be decent enough to respect my choice.

_Then_ we can talk tactics.

Mychelline

Rana,

I'm a Green from a Blue area (Chicago) who has been living in a Red state for the last 10 years. I *so* get where you are coming from! I'm also a Neo-Pagan, and it seems like I have to hide *that* critical aspect of my being more than anything else. Because central IN is 90+% evangelical Christian, and they all take for granted that of course everyone in a state agency will want to listen to me singing Gospel songs at my desk audibly (one of my coworkers does that every day) or introduce Jesus into every conversation or hear people talk about how the US is a Christian country and all the godless heathens need to move to Europe where they belong - no one could possibly be offended by any of that, right? or feel like that creates a hostile work environment.

Every g*ddmned day, I have to hide my core essence from coworkers, my boss, people on the street, my rightwing in-laws (in central KY), my own family. It just gets so friggin' old.

Rana

Oh, I feel for you. I'm a UU with leanings toward the various nature religions, so I'm used to people being confused by my religion (when it comes up) -- but I do benefit from people not really having many preconceived notions about it, aside from jokes by Garrison Keilor. And, yes, the Jesus talk rankles. Or, I should say more accurately, the "why, doesn't _everyone_ talk about Jesus?" talk.

Mostly I get the hippy tree-hugger crap, like when people start going off on what a scam organic food is, or boasting about the low gas mileage of their bloated SUVs. I suspect that it's going to be fun being a former Californian, too!

yami

Kenneth - it's the same in California, you turn in all the registration forms you get. But you can still choose to target or avoid, say, an ANSWER-sponsored protest rally. There are definitely territorial and highly partisan local organizers out there, on both sides - and the incessant arguments about which party we should join to be "strategic" help reinforce those attitudes.

Rana: Organic food *is* sort of a scam, it serves to greenwash the fact that even organic produce is being shipped hundreds of miles away and doing far more environmental damage in the process than something that's non-organic and locally grown... but that's a rant for another time ;)

Rana

Yami- good point. Local organic is always the best choice. :) And Horizon organics are something that are almost as bad as the "regular" stuff.

I was thinking more of the "Why would you pay more for organic food? It's weirdo hippy food." line of "argument." Or the one that claims that organic food is somehow less tasty, or more likely to be filled with bugs, or just all around inferior, simply by dint of its not having been made with toxic chemicals... granted, some "health food" is an, um, acquired taste -- but that has nothing to do with its organic status. An organic fair trade brownie can taste just as good as a GMO, big agro one.

(Sorry for slipping into ranty mode. I know you know this already.)

Chris Clarke

Yami, maybe we can make that a joint rant.

yami

Actually, local non-organic can be just as good, depending on the farming techniques used. The Amish farmers back home in Iowa failed to meet one or two of the organic certification standards, they don't let their manure rest long enough IIRC and of course don't bother with the USDA certifying bureaucracy.

My greater beef with organic labeling is that it's an arbitrary line in the sand that obscures the difference between fresh manure or a little Roundup now and then, and super-toxic insecticides sprayed onto the backs of farm workers... but yeah, choir, preaching, amen.

Rana

Well, if we're talking _USDA_ organic standards... that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. What with the loopholes and all...

(It'd be nice to be able to buy from Amish folks. Around here, as you know, a lot of the local folks are going organic (as a marketing tactic as much as out of concern for the environment) so increasingly local does equal organic. I realize that's not the case elsewhere. As always, when in doubt, ask the farmer...)

Partly I'm interested in organic for environmental reasons, partly for social ones, and, increasingly, as a way to reduce my load of toxics. (I figure I'm already well over my quota, given my current proximity to large polluting machines and California tap water -- so why add more?)

Unfortunately, the USDA is far more concerned with how many calories food has, than whether its actually safe to eat or low-impact in its production and distribution. (There's yet another great rant -- the whole issue of having regulatory and promotional functions managed by the same damn organizaton.)

options

Here's the problem. Nancy Pelosi is my Congressperson, I've sent her thousands of dollars and worked thousands of hours on here campaigns. I love the woman. I'm extremely proud of the fact she is House Minority Leader.

The problem is, she has no leverage. She goes to the meetings with the DLC guys and they whip out their charts and polls and say "drop the social issues", "tread carefully" "triangulate this" "quiet down about that. Don't piss off big business. Get photographed going to church. Never ever say the word abortion."

And there is absolutely nobody on the progressive side providing any kind of counterbalancing pressure. The party is siezed up in such a state of fear, the DLC crowd looks like a beacon of light! Even though they do not in any way reflect the values of the Democratic voters.

It's obvious the pressure is going to have to come from the outside.

Nancy needs to be able to go into a meeting and say "Look, we are bleeding money and talent to the Green party. They have the ability to be spoilers in Congressional races. They aren't coming back just because we call them names. Let's take a look at those Green party 10 points and see if we can recapture the passion of this party."

Or we can all follow the Kos strategy and pretend to be Republicans for the next year and half.

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Ravens