Looking inward at the politics as self-expression

Josh Marshall puts very eloquently what is a major annoyance of politics on the left side of the center for me:

Whittle this discussion down and I think what you have is a fetishism of street protests. Or perhaps more generally politics as self-expression rather than political effectiveness.

He asks:

Maybe the question shouldn't be why aren't there more demonstrations and protests, but why should there be? Would that be more effective in changing the situation on the ground in Iraq?

I think this applies broadly to the left as a whole. The anti-war protesters aren't willing to evaluate how effective their activities are in actually achieving political success, the key motive is to express to the public their opposition to the war – regardless of the effect it will have on political success, and, furthermore, the effect it will have on the lives on the men and women serving in our military.

I would further state, that anyone who puts their own self expression and their own moral satisfaction above what could be politically successful, aren’t really putting what is progressive first. Anyway, Josh Marshall put it better than I could. I think this is an excellent point and a very important gut check for the left to have if we are serious about winning in 2008 and putting our country back on the right track.

More on "the limitations of a utopian politics disconnected from governing"


I just read a good article

I'll find it...can't remember if it was in The Nation, Newsweek or where. There were polls conducted of the men and women in the military and the basic gist was that an overwhelming majority said their morale was not harmed by protests and people speaking out against the war. That really is a right wing meme that doesn't appear to hold up when you ask the troops.

The right of center expresses themselves through politics in a far more annoying way in my opinion - Think of the church in Charlotte that put hundreds of tiny white crosses out on their lawn to symbolize aborted embryos. Better yet, think of the protesters that stand outside abortion clinics. Better even than that, think of the people who protest by bombing abortion clinics or who gun down doctors who perform abortions.

The right of center expresses themselves politically in a far more dangerous way by illegally inserting their religion and religious views into the laws that govern all people of this country.

I would hope you could agree that the right of center's actions to subvert our Constitution through their form of political self expression is far more harmful than holding up a few signs and standing outside on a street corner.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

I share your concerns

and often wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life that I spend six or more hours every day doing exactly what I'm doing right this second.

And the whole protest thing? Well I can't stand crowds, so that's a no brainer for me.

In all this analysis, though, I think it's easy to gloss over the importance of community and camaraderie. At some level, it doesn't matter whether it actually impacts policy in the moment, because large gatherings have a long-tail impact of connecting people, building relationships, inspiring passion, etc.


To extend SD's comment

I think that this is simply a trait of human nature, and of youth in particular. For the left, the manifestation is more likely to be protests because we have a history of that kind of thing: we are either of an age to remember protesting Vietnam and nukular power, or we were raised on glorified tales of the 60s/70s protest movement. For the right it's more likely to be other things. But it's just human: it's always about me.

For the right

It's more likely to be Klan meetings or cocktail parties at country clubs.

Uh huh

I still have my copper peace sign ring, but I don't know what happened to my love beads, head band and my tie-dyed poncho.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.