Political Paralysis of the American Weenie Social Democrat

I feel politically defeated. I’m on the left end of the Democratic party, more of a social democrat type. My adult life began just as we started to lose ground, and my country has gone inexorably to the right since.

When I was younger, I voted and volunteered and protested, and wrote. Now that I am older and more established, I vote and volunteer and protest and write, and contribute. It doesn’t seem like enough.

At this point I consider my country’s government illegitimate and lawless. The opposition, my party my whole life, is both weak and collaborating. There are very few individual legislators who represent anything like my point of view. I wonder what cause my contributions to the party will support, other than the personal careers of some prominent traitors.

Worst of all, the actual opposition seems totally fragmented. There are various small organizations who all want money and support from me and appear to have my values, but they’re tiny and ignored. The radical left has been navel-gazing since 1969 and the more moderate types I resonate with have no voice.

My question for the group mind is: What can I as an individual do that makes the most impact on this situation? I’m horrible at politics and I do so poorly in political organizations that the whole prospect of getting more involved is both frightening and depressing. It’s like church; as soon as you think you agree with your compatriots someone will bring up a divisive issue and the whole thing falls apart.

Is there a single-issue or focused group that deserves my entire financial and personal support, that’s making a big difference? A candidate or politician perhaps not in my locale who deserves that kind of focus? A cause where I can work without being disillusioned in 30 seconds? I invite suggestion and comment.

I am tired of feeling defeated and marginalized. I’d like to take some ground.

Editorial Note: flamewars in the comments will be deleted. so don’t even.

17 thoughts on “Political Paralysis of the American Weenie Social Democrat

  1. a lot of my friends write on daily kos, but you’re really preaching to the chior over there. or not–they seem to be very moderate a lot of the times, and the more liberal blogers and posts get alot of negative comments.
    honestly, tho, i think there are more of us than let on, us traditional pink-commie liberal dems. we need to unite and become a force as annoying and vocal as the crazy neocons. maybe you can figure out a way to do that on the inernet. most of the “liberal” blogs are not liberal enough for me.

  2. a lot of my friends write on daily kos, but you’re really preaching to the chior over there. or not–they seem to be very moderate a lot of the times, and the more liberal blogers and posts get alot of negative comments.
    honestly, tho, i think there are more of us than let on, us traditional pink-commie liberal dems. we need to unite and become a force as annoying and vocal as the crazy neocons. maybe you can figure out a way to do that on the inernet. most of the “liberal” blogs are not liberal enough for me.

  3. Can you summarize your point of view? Can you do it succinctly enough that it’s not too lengthy?
    According to all the political web quizzes, I keep falling just slightly left of “centrist” or nearly “libertarian.” I’m curious to hear what a “social democrat” values. Then, it might be possible for me (and others) to come up with suggestions for single-issue or focused groups that might be a good fit.

  4. Can you summarize your point of view? Can you do it succinctly enough that it’s not too lengthy?
    According to all the political web quizzes, I keep falling just slightly left of “centrist” or nearly “libertarian.” I’m curious to hear what a “social democrat” values. Then, it might be possible for me (and others) to come up with suggestions for single-issue or focused groups that might be a good fit.

  5. bear with me, im typically a-political
    I think you hit the nail on the head with the term ‘group mind’. The repulicans have it, and the democrats don’t.
    a small example would be the new torture/habeas corpus bill that just passed. For the past year McCain has been actively speaking against bush and his torture policy. When it came time to vote, McCain voted in favor of it.
    Now take all of our friends, being mostly center or left of center. And lets throw in a fairly inconsequential issue in… say vegetarianism. If a vegetarian bill were to be brought up, our friends would be about 50/50 on the issue, and the votes would reflect that.
    essentially, in a nation divided, the democratic party is a party divided. For one man to fix this, it would look like helping people set aside their egos, and voting for the greater good of the party, even if they don’t agree with specific bills or policy, just like McCain did for the torture bill.

    1. ‘group mind’. The repulicans have it, and the democrats don’t.
      This has actually been measured, empirically, both as mass behavior and on the level of the individual voter. Check out the work of a political scientist named John Zaller and a psychologist named David Sears. Both at UCLA.

  6. Be the change you want to see, work in your profession to finance the best approaches, and keep it local if you can. You must remember that politics are like glaciers, changing almost imperceptably for weeks or months, and then violently snapping and re-aligning. And it will be good.

    1. I can’t really see anything to laugh about, I’m afraid.
      As far as candidates worthy of attention go, I’m a big fan of Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold. He’s notable as the only senator to have voted against the “let’s invade Iraq” resolution, and has been in general a total mensch during his career. There are some noises about him being a candidate for the 2008 presidential elections… I’d be very happy if that were true.

  7. Do what you do well. You’re an excellent polemicist and, by force of circumstance, an adept observer. Write important essays. Publish them anywhere people will accept them. Fight bitterly with the editors over every change.
    Lewis Lapham won’t be with us much longer, after all.

  8. Yes, keep writing political polemics. You’re far better at it than I suspect I shall ever be. I’m a fiction guy. Until I read ‘gcrumb’s’ comment, I had just stared at this post lost in my own ennui. Write. And laugh at the bastards until they go down or come to take you away.
    ~M~

  9. There seem to be two important Americas who don’t understand each other. There is Christian culture and secular liberal culture. This divide creates an opportunity for fear-mongering politicians, particularly on the right, who lie to one group about the other’s evil agenda.
    You’ve been deep inside both cultures as an adult, and you are a gifted writer, and you are passionate about these topics. This combination might be almost unique in American life today.
    Would it be possible to write a book that could bridge the gap somehow? Something that would make a conservative Christian feel a common bond with a secular Jew? Or a San Franciscan lesbian? I’m not talking about reversing years of prejudice with one little book, but every little bit helps. And it might inspire others to carry the same message to their fellow Christians. You know the sort of language they could respond to.
    I don’t know what form the book could take. Maybe a sort of long letter, an ex-Christian to former co-religionists. Maybe stories from your life and those you’ve known — we all find them fascinating. Maybe a combination of the all the above, much like your blog.
    I think it could be a beautiful book. With luck it might get on people’s reading lists, maybe even among more open-minded Christian book groups.

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