Note: this diary contains numerous inaccuracies about the author’s relationship to FDL. He is not nor has he ever been an employee of FDL, and his views are his own. He says on his profile that he is an “Assistant Editor” at FDL. This is not true. He has been asked to remove these inaccuracies. — Ed
(To clarify – When The Seminal merged into FDL in 2009, I was one of several writers who were actively part of the editorial team. At the time, we had access to the site beyond the normal members, and one of my roles was to review and promote reader diaries. I rarely did this, but was a member of the team that formulated strategy and shared editorial function.
My status changed to regular member, without me being notified in any way, once The Seminal became My FDL. I also managed the “Watercooler” segment on a nightly basis for almost a full year. So to be technical, I have never been a paid employee of FDL. But I have certainly functioned on the site at an editorial level. Nice try with the ad hominem attack, though. – Jim Moss)
Last January, I decided to take a break from political blogging. Spooked by the Arizona shootings and frustrated by the hopeless liberal-conservative dogfight, I determined that my message of “let’s start a new movement that appeals to the disaffected from both sides” was falling on mostly deaf ears.
I sensed that the leadership at FDL was not in tune with my new post-partisan outlook. Once I began my “campaign” to primary Obama and then to abandon the Democrats altogether, I suddenly stopped appearing on the FDL front page (which may or may not be a coincidence – I’m honestly not sure.)
Now please allow me to qualify that last statement. I was in no way ostracized or chased off by anyone at FDL. But something started to feel a bit funny to me, something I’m still trying to sort through after six months away from the daily grind of the blogosphere.
On the surface, FDL appears to be a fiercely independent progressive outlet – ready to challenge Republicans and Democrats alike – to challenge the status quo system as a whole. Obama is regularly criticized on these pages for his plethora of betrayals. One finds here some of the most intelligent and passionate articulations of progressivism that run the gamut of social and political issues.
But after writing for the site and managing the “Watercooler” segment for a year, something began to bother me. It wasn’t that people here are all talk and no action. That accusation has been made by others, but it is patently false. Many of the folks here are heavily involved in direct activism. What concerns me has to do with the continued support, implicitly and explicitly, for the two-party system that is slowly grinding our economy and our culture into oblivion.
Progressives have always detested the Republican Party. That’s a given. But more and more of us feel the same antipathy for the Democratic Party – especially since “The Revolution” of 2008 has proved to be such a hollow victory. Our enemy is not just the GOP, but the entire two-party structure. Not surprisingly, many on the other side of the aisle are feeling the same way about their traditional party.
How many times, on these pages, have the failings of the Democrats been recounted – only to be shouted down by cries of “the Republicans are worse”? How many times have we progressives had to swallow the bitter pills of compromise, delay, and defeat – even when the Democrats held the White House and historic majorities in Congress in their hands?
Think back to the day Obama was elected. I remember sitting on my couch, pounding my pillow and crying tears of joy when the results were confirmed. I thought the world was going to change. But think how many times since then we’ve had to make excuses for another broken promise and another shattered expectation. Ask yourself what has changed.
No action on climate change. Health care mandates. No public option. No action on climate change. Tax cuts for the wealthy extended. Bailouts to save big corporations, but no real financial reform and very little help for the struggling people. No action on climate change. Continued militarism and empire building. No action on climate change. A weak stimulus that is constantly underfunded. No action on climate change. Social security and Medicare on the ropes. No action on climate change. The desperate need for jobs downplayed in favor of “debt reduction.” No action on climate change. Corporate power completely unchallenged. And did I mention, no action on climate change?
It’s the same old shit in a different bag. My bag finally burst when Obama gave a speech on Afghanistan, and his talking points could have been lifted directly off an old George Bush speech. Virtually nothing has changed, except “Don’t ask, don’t tell” – and that’s not even close to enough to justify re-election.
What I realized, over time, is that FDL – despite all the good it does – is a part of the very system that it so often speaks against. In implicit and explicit ways, it condones the Democratic Party structure that has proven to be so ineffective to progressive aims. FDL, on the whole, is not willing to tear down the system, because in many ways, it and many of the people who write for it benefit from the system. When the chips are down, most of the people here will run back to the Democrats and will not support a true reform movement. FDL, on the whole, is not interested in discarding the old two-party system and building something new and better.
Which is what became clear to me in the weeks after the November election. With the Democrat vs. Republican hate fest in full bloom, I began a series called “UnCommon Ground.” It outlined reasons why progressives and certain conservative should align against the two-party system, and even sought to redefine the old paradigm of liberal vs. conservative with new categories.
The series generated a lot of discussion. After two months, however, I realized that discussion was all it would ever be. FDL was not to become a launching site for a new type of movement. Not a single installment of “UnCommon Ground” was promoted to the front page, and the boss herself expressed skepticism at the idea of a third-party movement the one time I succeeded in receiving a comment from her.
So why am I back? I’m not really sure. I’m starting some other endeavors within my church circles, but I want to maintain a conversation with FDL. I believe that as time goes by, and as the Democrats continue to disappoint, this argument will gain more traction. And then, maybe we can start something…