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The Problem is We Lack a Leader(s)

chicago dyke's picture

Avedon got me thinking and commenting on something that's been in the back of my head for a while now, so I thought I'd turn it into a post. Put on your thinking caps, Corrente. This is the hardest problem we face.

We need a leader. Several of them, in fact. How do we get that? Grow them? Make them? However you want to phrase it, the need right now isn't "how do we fix these problems?" but instead is "who will be the face of the reforms we already know must happen, and who will inspire people to take us down that road?"

This isn't a silly question (at least to my mind). A friend of mine and I like to joke: "But he's blaaaaaaack!" /whining white liberal voter or progressive activist voice/, which is short hand for what I am saying. That is: most people who voted for Obama, a slight majority of the country, in other words, voted for him because they couldn't see past his color. Which by being brown, became in their minds a symbol/proof of his interest, passion and dedication to Cause X, cause X being whatever liberal or progressive reform said voter cared about the most. People like Booman are a perfect example of this, to this day (see Avedon) they will make the most ridiculous excuses for Obama's essentially Republican behaviors, because he can't see past what Obama stands for in his own mind. So the desire, the passion, the, um, belief is all there. Obama just isn't it. TPTB chose him for exactly this reason, as I think most of here know.

So, let's agree that despite being a nation of lazy, fat, drug-addled sheeple, most Americans really do hope for change, and are willing to at least go to the polls, if not the streets, to get it. And I'm still not convinced that they won't go to the streets, either. Although Joe B calls them fake media revolutions (see Cmike's comment on page 1), and I agree, it's not entirely clear to me that the American people are utterly worthless when it comes to "peaceable assembly to redress the government." And anyway, I'm not sure that's exactly what we need. The French may be superior to us and all that, but their legislature still passed a bill upping the retirement age, despite widespread strikes and shutdowns. This is the age of technology and nuclear weapons and surveillance that would make the Nazis cum with glee; we need to think outside the box of previous models of resistance and indeed we mostly do here in the blogosphere.

But getting back to my central point: the problem isn't that we "don't know how to fix this mess." Obviously, we do here at Corrente, as do the vast majority of people who are facing one or more problems. Homeowners know that if they sign an agreement with a bank, and keep to its terms, they should be able to stay in their homes. Job seekers know if they train in a skill and get internship type experience, they should be able to be employed in the field of their choice. Everyone knows that they should have the right to pay a fair price in exchange for real health care that keeps them alive and healthy. Everyone agrees that clean air, water and food are what we all want for ourselves and our children. I keep harping on it, but I really want progressives to stop calling the teabaggers "stupid." Yes, many of them are. And yes, a lot of them are flat-out racists, but not so many as the media wants you to believe. What they are not: wrong to be angry. I'm angry, you're angry, so rather than bragging about how much better and different we all are from them, let's ask the simple question: what do we have in common with them, and how can we use that anger to accomplish our common goals? Because believe it or not, we do have them. Go talk to a teabagger with an open mind, it may surprise you.

Again, the issue at hand is leadership, not a lack of understanding about what will solve our problems. I'm way too young to know much about FDR, but I suspect a similar person is probably the only type who can fill the role that we need right now. Only a very rich person would be protected from TPTB well enough to survive the inevitable CIA/Blackwater assassination attempt as said person rose up the ranks into the position of power that is required for real change. I despair when I think of Dean, because there is no better modern model for how the SCLM destroys progressive leaders (Clark is right up there, too, and pre-Rachel Edwards). This is where I want you to apply your brain- how can that be overcome? It is probably the first step before even trying to coalesce around an individual or several of them; counter-media strategy is sadly lacking in progressive circles right now. I think it's a simple matter of telling the truth, like Grayson is doing. 20% of Republican money attacking House Dems is directed at him. Nuff said.

I hate posting like this, because I'm vain and I like to pontificate and demonstrate I have answers. I don't. Julia Williams is doing what people like me can't, and just jumping in, warts and all. I sincerely hope she and others like her succeed, for all I understand why there is great pessimism for such efforts. As I told her, "you're not running to win, you're planting the seeds for a win next time around, when you will be able to go back to the doors of voters and say, 'So, is your life better since the last time I knocked?' and the answer will be even more painfully obvious to them." Some people believe working within the Dem party is the answer; I'm not cold to that idea but I confess a great deal of skepticism, given how much that organization is controlled by monied interests. Some people think revolution is the answer, but I tend to think that's a romantic dream that will more likely molder into a neofascist nightmare if that is the path this country must go down. And indeed, my Doomiest friends think that's where we're headed at this point no matter what. Still, there's a sliver of optimism in me, call it "the fighting spirit," that I can't seem to kill no matter how much political information I consume, and as an historian, I don't forget that surprises do happen, and the unexpected is not only possible but occasionally changes the course of human events in a big way. No one could've predicted the Spanish Inquisition, goes the joke, but then again, no one could've predicted Abe Lincoln, or Alexander, or even MLK.

So: what are we talking about here? Progressive Leadership School? Begging the most liberal rich person we can find to stand up for us, because it's romantic and historic and will make them immortal? Backing Grayson and Feingold with every last dollar we have? Cloning Nader with a few ego-reducing modifications? Looking outside the country for an ex-pat ready to come home and be a shining knight? If you don't agree with this thesis, please say why; I could be totally wrong and maybe we don't really want or need a single (or few) people around which a movement could coalesce. But I really think we do, I think America is a nation of followers and they want to be led. After all, that's what got Mr. Hopey Changey elected; most folks really did believe he was something very, very different than he was. He's not, obviously. So who can we elevate to replace him?

Let me be clear: while I'm very enthusiastic for a primary challenge in '12, I don't think it will happen, and even if it does I don't think it would be successful, and even if it was almost by definition that person would be utterly hamstrung and incapable of getting much done, given the Senate and Supreme Court as currently constituted. Mostly, I'm thinking more in the long term, for several reasons. Joe B is right, and this is still, despite the crisis, a really rich, fat nation. I believe a lot of wealth has to be shipped off to China and elsewhere before enough people wake the fuck up and are willing to be more like we are: angry, informed, and motivated. I also believe a lot of white middle class people have to go through what people like me have gone through before they can break with the addictions of comfort and false security; nothing opens your eyes to the unfair and predatory nature of modern capitalism like bankruptcy and unemployment, yo. But that seems to be happening to a lot of folks right now, so I think now is a good time for us high-brow types to start strategizing about how to find someone/some people who will be ready to point to the cool, clean forest pool in when the frogs start jumping out of the boiling pot.

Because that's the critical flaw in TPTB right now: they're Stupid! No, really! Look at all the signs; these aren't people to fear except in the sense that they have the power to call down Blackwater on us. OK, well, they've always had that power, and I take comfort in Gandhi's "They may jail me, torture me and even kill me. Then they will have my dead body; not my cooperation." You may not be willing to go that far, but you sure would support someone who was. Anyway, the point here is that it's nowhere near as hard as the propaganda stream is telling you it is, to get involved in projects that actually change things. Think about it: billions and billions of dollars are being spent in the media stream on the effort to keep the banksters out of jail, and it isn't really working. Plenty of people aren't convinced that TPTB should be allowed to operate without the Rule of Law. Hell, even the FL AG is being forced right now via public outcry to stand up (a little) to the banksters. Sure, we're not going to see justice for their crimes any time soon, but the groundswell has started. As I keep saying, TPTB are stupid and foolish and don't understand what they've unleashed by giving angry white guys a faux movement. It's going to coalesce into a real one, and soon. Smart progressives will step in and co-opt that, and I mean really soon.

Blech, that's probably enough. Your thoughts?

No votes yet


basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

I think we have to have an idea how a liberal executive responds to a dominant conservative culture and dialogue. What do we want a liberal president to do when a very conservative bill has the votes to override a veto? We have to have an answer to that question because that's the only way for a liberal to feel confident that the support will be there.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

keeping phuqued up hours. lolsob.

i guess i don't really understand your point. or rather, i disagree. we don't really have a "dominant" conservative culture, imho. most americans are left of center on the issues, when polled in an academic and scientific fashion. obviously, that's not what the SCLM says and far too many uncritical people just accept that narrative (not calling you 'uncritical' btw, just sayin).

as to overriding vetoes: meh, i'm not so worried. i really thought obama was going to sign that "banksters get to make up their own notary law" bill, but he didn't. it was heartening. obviously, that was a bridge too far, and public outcry was clearly the reason.

propertius's picture
Submitted by propertius on

No matter who ends up controlling Congress. They'll doubtless hide it as an amendment to some highly popular piece of legislation, like Medicare funding (as they did with the Patriot Act renewal). I wouldn't read too much into the pocket veto itself.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

of the conservative culture. My point is that we need an idea of how a liberal president handles that in order to facilitate that person stepping up to the challenge. In Clinton's case (and I believe she will be the closest thing we see to FDR for quite a while), she already knows what she wants to do, so it's not as critical - but no one else has the perspective she does.

So many on the left just think the obstacles are going to melt away and liberal legislation will just get passed, but I don't believe that. Corporate America has a tremendous amount of money and they will use it to protect their interests. The health care industry had $600m set aside to defeat any kind of health care proposal that threatened their bottom line. They spent $300m defeating Clinton's plan in 1993.

My question is - what do want the next liberal president to do when their Gramm/Leach/Bliley comes along to undo Glass/Steagall? Veto and let their veto be overridden on the crudest and most destructive form of the legislation, or do we expect them to move it left and sign it? That's a question that resolved, would likely draw some very worthwhile candidates to the table.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Then we can get all kinds of good people back into public service. Edwards, Spitzer, are the latest casualties. But there are probably a whole lot of highly qualified FDR types who would do it if we said we didn't care about their private lives. We didn't use to care. Hence Jefferson, FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jesse....

I just finished 6 years of trying to work within the Democratic Party. Didn't work. .

Submitted by Hugh on

Our political system is completely corrupt. We need to keep that in mind from the very start. There are no real leaders or potential leaders on the political scene, period. Instead we get looting for the elites, and kabuki for the rest of us, the rube-tariat. Part of the kabuki is the game of revolving heroes and villains to which we are treated. Oh look, Sanders, Feingold, Franken, Grayson, Kucinich nailed it on issue X, but where were all these guys on healthcare? or more particularly their votes? And of course it isn't just healthcare, and it isn't just their votes. On how many issues is it that they could have spoken out, that they could have shown leadership on, that they did not? Sure Grayson is scoring points on some of the economic scandals but most of what I see him doing is reactive. I don't see him opposing Obama or organizing other like minded Democrats to oppose him. I don't see him putting out a coherent and reasonably comprehensive alternative.

I see the next wave of "leaders" coming from billionaires, like Bloomberg. Even Donald Trump was talking recently about running for President. I see these as just a way that our looting elites have of presenting us with yet another pseudo-choice. Rather than the standard fare of corporatist Democrat versus corporatist Republican, we are regaled with the choice of a real honest to God corporatist outsider!

If the current system was still capable of producing leaders we would have seen some of them by now. I think the most likely place to look for new leadership is from the grassroots, but so far those roots remain fairly disorganized and suppressed by the Democratic party and by its adjuncts in both the netroots and grassroots, the veal pen and the elite progressive blogs.

I remember writing back in 2007 as the 2008 Presidential primaries were taking off how odd it was that the Democrats who had had nearly 7 years to groom and develop a group of candidates had done nothing of the kind. We had just whoever was around (Hillary Clinton) or who showed up (Obama). I pointed out, not to support, but as an example Richardson. He had served in the Clinton Administration, in Congress, and was a sitting governor. He also had foreign policy chops serving as an intermediary with North Korea. I wondered why the Democrats didn't have another 5 or 6 like him or in the pipeline. Again they had had years to build reputations opposing the worst President in our history, but they didn't do it. The reason as we now know is because they by and large agreed with Bush and the Republicans.

So we ended up with the corporatist insider (Clinton) against the corporatist outsider (Obama) and a handful of other marginal and/or fatally flawed candidates.

Personally, I am moving to favoring a parliamentary system. A party runs on a platform and its staying in office depends upon its delivering on its promises. When it loses the public's confidence, there is not an arbitrary timeframe until the next election such as we often have to endure here, and are enduring now. The threshold for third parties can be relatively low. New leadership is constantly in the pipeline with politicians gaining experience as junior ministers while in office and as shadow ministers when they are out of power, and gradually working through to more senior levels. It is far from being a perfect system as the last years of the Labor government in the UK and the current government demonstrate. But it is better than what we have now where politicians only remember their promises when they are running for office and promptly forget them once they are elected.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

of being a corporatist insider. It's just a preposterously cynical thing to say and reveals you as someone who really doesn't do their homework. All that charge is is fashion. it's chi-chi to claim she's a corporatist insider - just a fad. It's the Pet Rock of political talking points and people who use it are about as clever as people who still own Pet Rocks.

If you haven't read it, then you should eRiposte's 3 part series on The Left Coast on whether she is a corporatist Democrat. I don't think you can take a voting record closer to Boxer's than to Feinstein's and turn that into a pro-corporate Dem. Certainly corporations don't think of her as being in their camp.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

Read all three parts. Even my socialist friends walked away from the article with a different perspective.

This is the kind of shit - categorizing someone as pro-corporate when their record doesn't rise to that label - that drives good candidates away from the table. It's bad for people to do this. It's destructive. Why run for office or vote with a clear conscience if you'll be smeared as pro-corporate anyway?

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on


any formulation that begins with "we should" or "they should" or "it should be that..." for crying out loud, that's the entire history of the progressive blogosphere. it's the easiest thing in the world to say what should happen. the real work? planning a strategy of how to make that happen, exactly and specifically.

that's the football i'm trying to kick in this post. maybe it's futile, maybe we're all doomed. but still, "we have to try." right? right? if not, please bring me my next batch of medical mj and de-instate my blogging privs. i live for the fight; i've realized that about myself. maybe you don't, but "going out like a bitch?" not for me.

so... (and i'm sorry if this seems harsh to you, i'm speaking of a meme that infects all of progressive blogging and not your comment in particular) what are your solutions? your pathways to achieve what it is that you think we should have? that's the hard work, innit? well, step up to the plate. what you got, my friend? i think you're really smart, so i'm listening. like i said, i don't know if any ideas i have are worthy. anything/the best i can come up with is begging a would-be FDR to come and save us. if there's a better option, i'm all ears.

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

While I feel the frustration of everybody writing about what somebody else should do, I still think it's important to keep analyzing what has gone wrong and to try to define where we want to go. We will not have a parliamentary system tomorrow because some of us comment on blogs that a parliamentary system is preferable to what we have now. Continuing to talk about what we see as helping is important so that we don't trot a little way down the road with supposed allies only to find that we all want different enough things that the we fall apart in a sense of mutual betrayal. "We should. . ." is necessary before "Aux ces barricades-ci. . ."

And one big question for me is whether any effective action is possible now or whether the best we can do is try to raise consciousness. When an oligarchy is in charge, it seems to take much worse suffering than we have now to get a lot of people consciously resisting. Food riots led off the French and Russian Revolutions. So my tendency is to think that we'll suffer the kind of collapse that the Soviet Union did. Some threats of violence, but it doesn't actually materialize. Instead, the social infrastructure that supports the society simply stops working. If you think people will fight before they lose access to food, you organize in a different way than if you think collapse is more likely. There isn't any one "Here's the strategy that will pay off".

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Clear thinking and honest commentary about problems is always deprecated in favor of a rush to activism, "pragmatism," shovel-ready "solutions," etc.

And yet, it's a vital first step. The journey of a thousand miles starts with facing in the right fucking direction.

See also:

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

from its beginnings to 1943. Brilliant writing by a journalist, Joseph Kinsey Howard. "Montana High Wide and Handsome". The 1920s were horrible in Montana. All these "honyockers" who were conned into buying land here where it rains less than 14 inches a year. Then they arrived at the beginning of a 7 year drought. So the banks ended up taking everything. It sounds like the policies of FDR then saved a lot of lives in Montana. So its possible with great leadership to get out of a mess.

But Hugh is right that we have no "left" anymore. Our union movement is a shell whereas the labor movement in the 1930s saw the rise of the great John L. Lewis of the CIO who in some ways was a co President, labor was so powerful. It was not just redistribution of wealth in the New Deal, but redistribution of power (Geoghegan). But the union movement was almost dead in the 1920s. So if it can rise again, we have a shot.

So I suggesst looking at renegade labor leaders. And I think it will come from the Latinos.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

I did opposition research on him in 2007. Son of a Beacon Hill banker and a Mexican aristocrat, Bill Richardson was a great example of the Peter Principle. Not that smart but very connected. When you take a close look at his "diplomacy", you find that he was basically a bag man. He was not sent to Russia or China. He was sent to deal with thuggish dictators with bags of cash to get hostages back. He offended Saddam by crossing his legs and showing the sole of his shoes. Very undiplomatic.

Then there was his thuggish behavior as Chair of the 2004 convention. Had his minions take the peace scarfs off of peace delegates. The whole atmosphere was militaristic. Ick.

Submitted by Hugh on

I agree. My point then as now is that Democrats don't develop potential candidates. Richardson was a putz, but he was also the only Democrat running who had real experience working in multiple levels of government. Getting empty suits and one dimensional candidates is a feature not a bug. Put simply the Democrats don't want competent, experienced Democrats in office. It's not the objective. They want good corporatists.

From further up thread, it is amazing that there are still rabid Clinton supporters out there. Even more surprising that they would hang out at progressive blogs. Clinton supported the Iraq war. Her main criticism was only they she thought she could have run it better. Her failure to apologize for such an incredibly bad decision is enough to disqualify her from any serious public employ ever. But then there was her overtop bellicosity toward Iran. As for corporatism, it would be mighty strange if Clinton was the only member of Congress who just happened not to be a corporatist. Even stranger as she was the Senator from New York where the financial industry is so influential. Oh, and she has no problems with working for Obama, one of the biggest corporatists going. But somehow she's not a corporatist. Seriously, you can back Clinton all you want. Just don't expect the rest of us to mainline the koolaid too.

Re chicago dyke, monatana maven expresses my point of view. The left has been co-opted. I don't see any centers around which we can effectively organize. I think this makes another crash and depression inevitable. I would like to think that maybe conditions after a collapse would be more disposed to meaningful progress but in such conditions the worst rather than the best usually rise to the top. I don't see any leaders or heroes saving us this time. I don't even see any organizations or movements from which they might spring. In a word, I think we are fucked.

Submitted by lambert on

In fact, as I said ad nauseum during the 2008 Bataan death march, I viewed the policy differences between the two as marginal (as in terms of policies like "end the wars" or "soak the rich" they surely were) but that marginal was not the same as insignificant.

1. Clinton was an advocate for HOLC (an FDR-style home loan Federal takeover policy) which is so much better than HAMP it's not funny.

2. Clinton was also better on HCR. She wasn't a single payer advocate (unlike Obama, who lied about that) but least she was honest about her support of the mandate, which Obama attacked her for, and then put in place (lying again). Advocates for real health care solutions would have started on the 30 yard line of universal coverage as a policy, instead of at the 10, with Obama's gauzy insubstantiality.

So, if you want to argue that better housing policy (in light of the mortgage meltdown) and better health policy (when 45,000 die each year for lack of health care due to lack of heatlh insurance) were insignificant, be my guest. Knock yourself out.

3. When in doubt, vote the base. In terms of values and interests, Clinton's women, elder, working class supporters (smeared by the OFB as racists) are far more likely to back policies that forward my values and interests than are Obama's "creative class" types.

4. The wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) are a wash, since the empire as such is fully supported by both parties in Versailles, including Clinton and Obama. (Obama's famous speech against Iraq for which oddly, or not, there is no contemporaneous recording, was given when he hadn't even announced for US Senator, and so had no skin in the game. Obama has also said that if he were in Clinton's position, he too would have voted for the war. That's what I said during the primaries, and this has been amply born out by our permanent presence in Iraq and our escalation in Afghanistan. The wars are, again, a wash.

5. Supporting Clinton also struck a blow against the vile use of misogyny, the vile false smears of racism, the caucus fraud in TX, and the RBC violations that handed Obama FL and MI, all of which were perpetrated by the Obama organization.

6. UPDATE I also came, during the course of the campaign, to greatly admire Clinton's grit and determination in persisting in the face of calls for her to quit that were near universal in the press and also among the career "progressives" who shat the bed so badly on HCR, FinReg, and everything else (although they did successfully collect funding for acting as meme laundries for D factions).

I fail to see how any of this is "rabid" or "Kool-Aid." Perhaps, Hugh, you can explain?

NOTE To me, "Kool-Aid" is pure projection. It wasn't the Clinton organization that trained its advocates to focus on personal conversion narratives and to deflect all questions on policy by saying "Check the website." That was the Obama campaign.

UPDATE Of course, 2010 is not 2008. The deterioration has been incredibly swift, with the elite looting everything they can, right out in the open, and Obama looking on and doing nothing. So I don't think it's a matter of the Ds rectifying their errors in 2008. Things have gone way beyond that.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

3 part series on why she isn't a corporatist Democrat. Why don't you provide a link to an overall view of her history as both a social activist and as a legislator that accounts for her pro-union votes and her anti-corporate stands and still manages to find enough votes at odds with the progressives that can sustain her as pro-corporate. Explain why Obama was so well funded by Wall street if Clinton was to his right. explain why the CEO of a health insurance company arranged to disenfranchise the voters of two states to ensure that Obama, rather than Clinton, got the nomination. explain why the mainstream corporate media went out after Clinton rather than Obama if she was so thoroughly in their camp. And then find an equivalent to eRiposte that accounts for her progressive voting record as defined by Progressive Punch and the unions that still manages to paint her as pro-corporate.

As for her over the top bellicosity towards Iran, that's fiction. I don't know anyone serious who believes that Clinton has any interest in anything except getting Iran to back away from the possibility of building nuclear weapons (yes, we all know that they don't have any and that they are cooperating with the IAEA) and that will require tough talk. Still, she's the one who went on endlessly about the need for diplomatic relations with Iran and they take that seriously.

I doubt you know anything about Clinton that you didn't learn from the Obama campaign. But go ahead, put together a solid case. It's not about Bill or about Mark Penn - it's about Hillary, her social activist background, what she's accomplished and her voting record.

Submitted by lambert on

But if the metric is a platform something like danps's"

1. Medicare for all

2. End the wars

3. Soak the rich

Then Hillary's quite a bit to the right of that, eh? And it would take something on that order to cure what ails us, no?

Also, wouldn't you say that if you don't oppose an end to corporate personhood you are, by definition, a "corporatist"?

I think that Clinton was and is the best of the bunch. However, it's really not clear to me that being the best of what's on offer is nearly enough.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

Hillary was discussing the fact that we need to raise taxes on the rich just a few weeks ago. And she also compared her public option to Medicare. What she said over and over again is that it would be a Medicare-like structure that would be available to everyone. And lastly, she planned on being out of Iraq within 16 months with a contingent of about 11,000 left behind. Afghanistan is a different ball of wax because of feminist concerns.

What I'm rejecting is the idea of Clinton as a corporatist. It's clear Hugh has no idea what her voting record is or that he has no knowledge of her history of personal accomplishment.

While I am not accusing Hugh of this, I do know that a lot of guys who are lefties used the corporatist tag to justify their opposition to Clinton's candidacy. It allowed them to feel high minded while engaging in simple, ugly bigotry.

Submitted by Hugh on

I'll not call you a drunkard although that is the general opinion of all your friends and acquaintances.... Thanks for the qualification.

Maybe you should skip pushing Clinton for public office and go straight to canonization. I hate to break this to you but politicians lie. And most votes don't mean a thing. It is the leadership that counts. It is speaking out. It is the willingness to fight and go down fighting even if yours is the only voice in opposition. We are never going to get to better policies and politicians if we cling to all this deadwood. Clinton was never part of the solution. She was always part of the problem, of the old discredited crony politics, of the Senatorial club, of hack ideas. Hillary worship is just the mirror image of the Obamabots and Bushbots. We can see how corrupt the political scene is. We can see how deeply involved in it Clinton was and is. There is nothing in her history that shows she ever rebelled against that corruption, but then we are supposed to dismiss all that and only look uncritically at a handful of distorted, cherrypicked examples, not so much of what she did or where she made a difference, but essentially her political campaign. And while Democrats have demonstrated to us over and over again that campaign rhetoric is the most unreliable on the planet, in Clinton's case we are supposed to make an exception. I'll pass.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

because you cannot back your opinion up. I don't know of a single wholistic assessment of her voting record that comes to the conclusion that she is a corporatist - especially once you factor in the bills she sponsored and co-sponsored.

Until you can demonstrate some actual knowledge, rather than Obama camp talking points, about Clinton's record, your disinformation is going to get challenged.

Submitted by Hugh on

There is no challenge. My criticisms in the above comment stand. You hear only what you want to hear and believe only what you want to believe about Hillary Clinton. You talk about holistic assessment. There are Clinton critics all over the place. Yet apparently anyone who is critical of Clinton obviously isn't making a "holistic" assessment. Only people who think she's great can make one of those. When her foreign policy stances on Iraq, Iran, and Israel are brought up you ignore or deny them. When the rather obvious fact that no Senator from New York is going to stay in office without the strong backing of Wall Street, you know the place that has run the country into the ground, again more silence or denial. You are what the French call parti pris. Evidence and argument have no effect on a belief that is nearly religious in nature. It is a trait you share with the Obamabots and Bushbots. It is all political tribalism: My candidate is the best just because, and I will hear nothing to the contrary. Such stances are a great way to destroy one's credibility. It is what sites like this one I thought were trying to move beyond.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

You can't put one together because you don't know anything about her that you didn't learn from the Obama campaign, apparently. I point you to eRiposte, who uses assessments from Progressive Punch - same standards for Clinton as everyone else - Americans For Democratic Action and several unions. You? You got nothin. No knowledge. No ability to process information. All you have is accusations and you can't flesh out your opinion. You hurl insults, you spit bile and you produce nothing except regurgitated talking points.

Go ahead - account for the fact that you agree with her votes as senator most likely well over 90% of the time. Explain why a corporatist would walk picket lines and co-sponsor the EFCA. And while you're at it, talk about some of the bills that she introduced and her accomplishments as First Lady of Arkansas. And why would a right wing corporatist like Obama oppose her so violently if she was the corporatist you think she is? Why would Wall Street feed Obama the money they did to get rid of her?

I'm still waiting to see some actual knowledge on display from you.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

while i was not and remain not a HRClinton supporter, i can understand why some continue to crow about her virtues, such as they are. as an abused woman, it's hard for me to correctly express just how bitter and hurtful the primaries were, to us women. the american "left" is so stuffed with sexism (and racism) still and despite all its claims to the contrary, it's very difficult to overlook or forget. meh, the stories i could tell you about racist, sexist A Listers and other "leaders" of the left, natch.

that said, HRC isn't the answer. she has the Potential, but i agree with you, Hugh: she isn't really interested in doing the right thing, most of the time. still, yet, it's so easy for us Little People to judge and say "i'd never do that, nor sign my name to that" while we don't actually have the power and/or opportunity to affect big decisions. meh, i guess i just want my cake and to eat it too; i really want to like her even as i can perceive her flaws as a political actor.

and getting back to the point of the post: "we're fucked" may be true, but it doesn't put food in my mouth, you know? ok, so we're fucked. and? what is to be done, day to day, minute to minute, bill and rent to bill and rent? that's the heart of my question. yes, some of us are going to starve and get shot and be shipped off to camps. is there any way to avoid that? is there any strategy that can help the more motivated and aware survive WWIII? really, isn't that what we're all talking about?

some of you have middle class comfort and wealth and believe it won't be taken away from you, and i hope that's true. some of you are like me, barely hanging on via a whorish dance with powers beyond your control, in order to make sure there's food on the table every day. we may even have some truly wealthy readers here, i don't know. but it seems to me there are some unavoidable realities barreling down on *all* of us, and i'm very serious in trying to prepare for that. am i being too hysterical? tell me if i am. it's just that i tend to think of the people of Corrente as the only people i know who are willing to go there, talk about this stuff, lay it all out without fear and by using reason.

are politics a waste of time? if so, what else should a rational person be focused upon? there has to be at least some good answers.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

about her career as a senator or what she did as first lady. It simply cannot be reconciled with the statement that she's doesn't do the right thing most of the time.

So, I ask again:
1. What do you know about her history as First Lady of Arkansas and of the US?
2. And how much do you know about her history as senator? Do you know what initiatives that she worked on?

Clinton is a woman who has been getting up everyday for decades now and she goes to work on initiatives for ordinary people. Do you know that? Can you list any of them?

Name another presidential candidate from any party that has the history of making life safer and more manageable for ordinary people than Hilary Clinton. Nader's the only one I know of. Now, name another and tell us what they did.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on


which is to say of course the SoState's positioning on the israel/palestine situation. you want me to believe she's a "real liberal?" well, she can tamp down on the bullshit wrt that situation. or iran, on which she's said many a warmongering thing. yes, she's better than obama; no, she's not the progressive heroine we need right now. i'm sorry that it's so hard to overlook the many ways in which she might have been a better democratic president than the one we have right now, but this is like... heh. it's like those russian doll thingees. an argument within an argument within an argument, for progressives.

it's so hard to know what HRC would've been like had she been granted the option of "being her own woman." i really want to believe, but i just can't forget all the dead people in the middle east, people who are dead because of mushy mouthed crap like she and her husband are always spouting on those issues. yes, i am fairly sure she would've done better on many domestic issues. but i'm not a nationalist. i don't forgive those who believe that iraqi children are less valuable than american ones, or who cave to the mercs and DoD's endless appetite for taxpayer money. she's "more liberal" than obama, but in truth, and in many ways that i don't want to get into here, just as much of a neocon as he is. i agree with those who say the 08 primary Death March was created, and on purpose, to splinter progressives. it worked, and it is still working. let's move on and not be such "brand loyalists," yo.

Submitted by lambert on

.... to wave a magic sword or weave some spells?

I think you know better than to respond to a very specific series of points with verbiage like "you want me to believe she's a real liberal"? Well, no. What I want you to accept is that the points I make are legitimate and worthy of some sort of considered response.

As for the mighty I/P sword or spell, that particular sideshow, of which there are many, comes under the heading of "the empire." If you will reread my comment, you will see that I stipulate that Clinton is no better (and no worse) than any other denizen of Versailles on that policy. I said the same during the primariez and I believe that subsequent events have fully born me out.

Oh, and "brand loyalty" is, in fact, more insulting than Hugh's "rabid Hillary supporters," since it's a more subtle way of denying agency to Clinton supporters -- an old old game with whose tactics I am more than fully familiar. Don't you agree that the burden is on those who use verbiage like yours to make their case, rather than on those who simply try to set the record straight about their decision making process? And in that process, may I suggest a closer focus on the words I actually posted?

Joe's picture
Submitted by Joe on

If FDR was president right now, I guarentee you he would get about as much through this U.S. Senate. as Obama has. Which is to say, practically none. Two main reasons for this: 1) The existence of the filibuster rule, which has completely altered how this country is governed. 2) The overwhelming control mega-corporations have on congress.

A single great leader, or even a few of them, CAN'T get past these problems. So, in order to respond to your question, I need to take a trip through time, until I reach a period in our history where 1) The filibuster is gone and 2) public financing of elections ALLOWS a great leader to be heard.

By the time that happens, we won't need to do any "progressive training" because there will be thousands of great potential leaders. In my vision, they come right from - or are popular within - our own bloggy communities. Why? Because that's where political leaders SHOULD come from. They should have a long and establishd WRITTEN record of their opinions on things. They should have been able to build large communities who actually LIKE what they say.

For example, I see no reason at all why someone like Duncan Black wouldn't have the ability to run for U.S. Senate. He's got hundreds of thousands of readers. He could raise millions of dollars if he wanted to. With the help of other blogs. He's never really seemed like the type to go "all in" like that though. So then it'll be someone else. Greenwald, Krugman, Hamsher, Wheeler, Yves Smith, Yglesias, Brad DeLong, Simon Johnson, Bill Black, Elizabeth Warren, the list goes on and on. The great progressive minds (and potential leaders) already exist. Any one of these individuals would be FAR BETTER to have in the Senate than 95% of trash in there right now.

The leaders already exist and are right in front of our eyeballs.

Submitted by Hugh on

I have moved beyond Democrats and Republicans. I find discussions comparing which neocon corporatist, Obama or Clinton, would have been better for ordinary Americans about as relevant as the color of the shoes, red or blue, of the angels dancing on the head of a pin.

It means nothing to me that candidate X was good on this issue or that. It's all just more revolving heroes and villains. But did Clinton ever introduce legislation, did she fight for her position, did she oppose what was going on, did she exercise leadership? The short answer is no. No Democrat did. All of this Clinton had some good ideas reminds me of all the other sometime heroes the left wastes their time on, Kucinich, Sanders, Feingold, Franken, Grijalva, etc. This is the problem that the left just can't seem to get over. The Democrats can leave you, but you can't leave the Democrats. You keep replaying these meaningless fights, trying to find and often inventing redeeming qualities in people who sold you down the river years ago.

Oh, and Joe, they're matryoshka dolls.

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

I think we need an alternative generator of political power that doesn't need great quantities of funds to operate in the way it was intended to operate. Lately, I've been blogging here about Nancy Bordier's Interactive Voter Choice System, and also posting some of her stuff.

These posts haven't gotten many comments. That's been a surprise to me because if this system were available it would be possible to organize political voting blocs in a very short time and with little money. The efforts of people to do that would produce new leaders outside of the customary channels who could then cross-over to formal electoral positions. Anyway, it seems to me that a system like Nancy's is our best hope for overcoming the financial advantages of the corporatists.

On people who can be trusted, I think I know of a few with public personae, Jamie Galbraith, Bill Black, and Elizabeth Warren, who would not compromise with what had to be done. But among politicians, I cannot name one I really trust.

On the other hand, looking at things from the perspective of 1929, who would have thought that a scion of old wealth like FDR, would become the champion of the working man by the middle 1930s. Roosevelt ran on a balanced budget platform in 1932. And he had not been a radical Governor of New York before that. Also, when FDR became President, there was not much evidence of ideology driving him, just a desire to really solve problems and a very strong will to win out over opposition. Is there anybody who fits Roosevelt's profile today? Maybe Grayson. He's not that far out in his thinking, but he has the gift of argument, and of tagging opposition. And he's pretty rich for a Democrat, I guess.

Submitted by lambert on

I like these posts and I really think that a completely parallel system would be a great way to go. But accidents of timing have meant that when posts about Nancy's systems come up, I've always been frantic about something else...

I'm wondering if a more narrative approach might be better? How "Mary goes to the polls" under the new system? Just step a protagonist through the process and show the outcome (possibly contrasting it to the current system at the end ("Meanwhile, on the TV....").

letsgetitdone's picture
Submitted by letsgetitdone on

Thanks Lambert. That's a great suggestion.

chicago dyke's picture
Submitted by chicago dyke on

And lastly, she planned on being out of Iraq within 16 months with a contingent of about 11,000 left behind. Afghanistan is a different ball of wax because of feminist concerns.

16 months? how many dead American soldiers does that mean? How many dead iraqis? please, spare me that whole "we have to leave slowly" crap. it was crap in Vietnam, and it's crap today wrt Iraq and Af'stan. it makes me sad to see good liberals adopt such ridiculous "logic." 11K left behind to do what? enforce Halliburton's will on the Iraqi political class? tell me again why anyone would want to support that. if she's really progressive or liberal, she'd agree with what i'm saying.

and jeebus krist don't even go there. "feminist concerns?" this is me laughing really hard. one my next door neighbors is an Afghan woman, and her sister is a member of the Afghan government. from her, i actually have an informed source about what is happening there. if you really think we're making any progress in advancing the cause of women's rights in Afghanistan right now, you're smoking better shit than I can get. seriously, that's just ridiculously lame. i won't even bother to talk about the explosion of the sex slavery/trade in the region that's resulted from our wars there.

if that's the best defense you can do for your grrl, then i rest my case. it's kinda sad, BA. i don't mean this to be any sort of personal attack, but really, i don't think logic is on your side, if you're going to defend what HRC has said wrt to foreign policy. this is the woman who said Iran is the Next Big Evil with a vote, and never apologized for agreeing with those who said we need to invade Iraq. altho lambert doesn't want to hear it, she also has made exactly no progress as Sec of State wrt to the I/P situation, and she's the most powerful diplomat in the world who can affect that in a positive way.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

And the only way it gets done in that time frame is if we leave all of the equipment behind on the field - which, for the very well-funded American military, is the cheapest, fastest way to go. How quickly do you think 120,000 can be pulled and what are you basing that assessment on? I'm not defending our policies there. What we did was horrific and murderous.

What Afghan women who live here and don't run any risks think isn't of much interest to me. Around 65% of Afghans don't want us to leave. And I don't know of any Afghan feminist who wants us out. Women will be killed, perhaps by the thousands - and that isn't happening now. It's real easy to push for leaving when it won't cost your own life, but people who are there, after having survived the slaughters of the nineties, by and large, don't see it that way. And before you go on about how many people we're killing now, document how many that is - because I don't think you know.

What's happening in this discussion is that you aren't putting anything on the line. You have opinions but you can't explain what they're based on. So, you're talking pot shots. And if that's all you got that, then you pretty much prove me point that all you and Hugh are doing is hacking up talking points left over from the Obama campaign.