(Update: link to e-mail fixed)
I’ve avoided this topic partly because I’m not sure what to make about John. I think the list he provides is an incredible resource for the community, and there’s been a link to the Gila Community (which, unfortunately, was attacked) on my blog since day one. At the same time, he’s in a unique position in that he can dish out criticism of an open process, but is immune to the same charges. The list is, after all, “his,” and ultimately, he decides what is published and what is not (I guess the same applies for me, though anyone can comment on individual posts and in the forums).
Runnels, too, is a cause for concern. He hired me as KNFT news director in 2004, and is a frequent commenter on this site. I imagine some might say that makes this a little too close to me for comment, but, this thing is happening within the community (and that’s what this site is all about). So, I’m going to say what I have to say regardless.
The latest spat (see e-mail exchange here) reveals some of the problems the Democratic Party faces. There are clearly people who “express discontent” at some of the positions adopted by the party’s leaders and elected representatives, and there is also disconnect between the party and a large segment of its liberal base.
At the same time, while these individuals often criticize the party’s actions, very rarely is recognition bestowed when the party accomplishes something. An example is found in Fridinger’s response to Runnels:
It is clear as a bell to a lot of people that the national Democratic party is not doing or saying anything of significance primarily because it is waiting for the Bush Administration to self-destruct and take the Republican party down with them… That way the Dems don’t have to really change anything at all, keeping an incredibly faulty system, along with their own privileges, access to, and means of power, intact…
As they say, if you repeat something long enough, people will start to believe it, and, in this regard, I wish John would get his facts straight. Yes, the Democratic Party may have been weak in the past, and it is far from perfect, but they’ve made great strides since 2004.
President Bush was forced to abandon his Social Security privatization plan because the Dems in Congress showed unity, refusing to lend “bi-partisan” support of any kind. It was Democrats who slammed Bush for the way he prepared for/ responded to Katrina, and they led the charge in calling for troop withdrawals from Iraq, something a majority of Americans now support.
Howard Dean has done an incredible job at building support for local Party activities, something that has a lot of Washington D.C. insiders upset. He’s taking his lumps from Republicans and the media as well, but he’s spending money on the states and in the states, and that’s something I can get behind.
Govs. Richardson and Napolitano brought immigration to headlines by declaring border emergencies. And just last week, Harry Reid showed spine and refused to allow Republicans an opportunity to pass incredibly regressive immigration legislation. The “compromise” Senate bill was bad enough, but Reid knew any Senate language would be removed by the conference committee.
For sitting by and watching the Republicans make off with the babies’ lollipops, Democrats sure are branded as “obstructionists” pretty often.
Nonetheless, John’s right about at least one thing: concerned local residents need to get active, and they need to become involved. And the Democratic Party, at all levels, needs to welcome and encourage this involvement.
Perhaps I’m being too optimistic, but maybe it’s time these two got together to discuss their differences. As fragmented as the Democratic Party is (see, now I’m repeating the B.S.), progressives and Democrats should be working together whenever possible. E-mail is misinterpreted almost 50 percent of the time; maybe some actual conversation is in order.