Please pardon my recent silence. The past two weeks have been a wild combination of school starting up, taking a little vacation to my previous residence of Olympia, and several days incommunicado while on a road trip to the Western Worker Co-op Conference, hosted at an off-the-grid worker-owned resort called Breitenbush Hot Springs. No phone or email is lovely, until it ends.
I have also been procrastinating, because this is an awkward post to write: A few months ago, I started cross-posting at the Daily Kos, in response to a high concentration of inaccurate statements by bloggers there, on the subject of healthcare co-ops. My WordPress blog is fine, but doesn’t seem to get much traffic, and certainly not any vigorous exchanges of comments.
At first, my Daily Kos posts were pretty focused on the co-op controversy in health care reform, but I gradually started including some of my other posts about my pet topic of how people are collectively improving their situations. All seemed to be well until a comment in response to my most recent post informed me that I was actually off-topic.
It turns out I had been laboring under the impression (from the “about” link) that the site is simply
the premier online political community with 2.5 million unique visitors per month and 215,000 registered users. It is at once a news organization, community, and activist hub.
I can totally get behind that, and offered my posts in the spirit of sharing news, building community and fostering activism. However, it turns out the site is also
a Democratic blog with one goal in mind: electoral victory.
I encourage Kos to post this part of the definition somewhere more prominent than the FAQ wiki but nevertheless will respect it since it has been called to my attention. It certainly explains a few things, and in retrospect, I’m surprised that I missed the deeply electoral focus of the featured blogs.
It may not seem like it from my main position (that the co-op plan is worth considering and the public plan is fundamentally flawed), but I have a reasonable political overlap with this crew. However, I’m not going to join the cause of electoral victory for its own sake.
I offer my explanation of why this is so in the spirit of dialogue. I respect people who have chosen to express politics through a party structure, but I don’t share that choice. I hope my thoughts here can help Democrats improve their work, which I hope includes creation of a more democratic society.
I would rather have the Democrats in power than the Republicans, but that’s not saying much; I’ve been deeply and repeatedly disappointed by the Dems’ conservatism, especially in the face of the recent economic crisis. I’ve never registered as a Democrat (or Republican). I would prefer a vibrant multi-party system that isn’t based on the cynical and divisive quest for 50% +1, and know that will only happen if we vote for what we really believe. My voting record has included Democrats, but more often Greens, Libertarians, and all sorts of independents.
I have generally steered clear of direct involvement in electoral politics, other than the occasional letter to Congress. I did work on a Democrat’s campaign once, but that she had previously run as a Green, and her platform included a plank against gun control (ahh, Alaska). Her opponent (who won) was particularly obnoxious and it was a small town, so I made an exception.
I’ve got two main reasons for steering clear of electoral politics. Each of these could use their own separate essay of support, and I’m not seeking to convince anyone in this post. Just trying to explain myself a bit.
First, my life’s work is in building a society in which the control of government is not very important. Co-ops thrive in both liberal and conservative communities; while I have a lot of issues with how conservative politics are expressed in this nation and time, I share the basic conservative desire to let people work things out instead of relying on government for solutions. On the other hand, conservatives generally fail to come up with a compelling idea of how social needs can be addressed with democracy and accountability (for example, through cooperatives).
Second, our political democracy as a whole is severely degraded. Unless we find ways to rebuild our democratic skills from the grassroots while confronting the concentration of wealth in society and politics (again, cooperatives can be very helpful), we’ll be doomed to choosing the lesser of evils and mostly settling for politicians who are beholden to corporate sponsors.
I am glad that there are folks like the Kossacks trying to improve the Democratic party. There is a lot of work to be done in getting our society back from the brink, and we all need to be toiling away at our respective stations, whether those are inside or outside of the political system.
So where does this leave me and the Daily Kos? Should I go with the broader definition of the Daily Kos as general hub for news/community/activism? In that case I would still keep my posts in line with electoral issues like health reform (where the co-op option is still on the table against all odds and my own expectations), and blog about other groovy cooperative things at WordPress. Or should I accept the partisan concept and leave it to the Democrats?
Since I’m a zealous democrat (if not a Democrat), I’m going to turn that over to y’all, with my first poll.
For my fellow non-Democrats reading this at WordPress, I encourage you to abstain from voting unless you are already a member of the Daily Kos, since I’m trying to get a reading on whether I’m welcome among the Kossacks. Thank you.