Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, April 05, 2018

BooMan Is Making Sense...

Though I am almost certainly located to his political left (I doubt he is a prison abolitionist or ecosocialist like I am and I know he is wishy-washy on the politics of any actually queer feminism) I used to read Booman all the time and do still appreciate his pragmatism about winning within party politics and then using party victories as a tool to deliver more progressive outcomes. As we move into a crucial midterm election in the midst of insecure voting systems, antisocial media, foreign meddling, and ever more brazenly authoritarian Trump-Republican partisan politics, this bit of practical advice for a more united front in support of Democratic gains (small d via big D, in this instance, tho' of course there is much more to real, sustainable, equitable, participatory, multicultural small d than anything that big D can ever provide) is worth repeating:
[T]he left is doing the most harm to itself by willingly participating in an effort to depress turnout by picking fights with people who are broadly on their own side. As the Russian effort to interfere in our elections is re- and deconstructed more and more each day, we’re learning how they feverishly worked to prevent reconciliation between Clinton and Sanders’ supporters. They took some of the more heated ideological battles on the left, like the Black Lives Matters movement, and weaponized them to pull socially conservative Democrats out of the coalition. They sought to depress black turnout, to prevent socialists from holding their nose and voting for more of the same, and looked to exploit leftist critiques of capitalism and American foreign policy to promote apathy and third-party voting.

These are weaknesses and fissures on the left that are to some degree always with us, but the best time to wage ideological battles is when you’re already in power and trying to decide what to do with it. When you’re out of power, these wars are a luxury the left cannot afford. That doesn’t mean that people can or should stop fighting for what they believe in, but they need to be self-aware about how their actions can be self-defeating and a great aid to the opposition...

Probably the easiest way to look at this is as a matter of using your energy and resources efficiently and avoiding doing the work of your adversaries for them. Why pick fights with people on your side of the broader fight to take back control of Congress from the Republicans? Is it the best use of your time to sling insults at Bernie Sanders supporters you encounter on social media, knowing that you’ll need them to turn out to vote? Or, if you are a Bernie Sanders supporter, do you really need to continue to bash Hillary Clinton and her supporters? What good does it do?

Likewise, if you’re trying to get a Democrat elected in a conservative district or state, why waste time and energy complaining that someone somewhere said something that’s going to be useful for the other side? If you’re an ideologically purist liberal, do you really need to police every Democratic candidate in the country for evidence of apostasy?

The other side (and the Russians) will once again spend much of their effort this year trying to get Democrats to pick fights with each other in an effort to hurt turnout. Why would you willingly do their work for free?

... The solution isn’t to hopelessly attempt to control what other people say. Look to yourself, first. You have control over what you do, so that’s where your focus should begin. Are you being helpful or are you creating a disincentive for someone to work with you on your common goals? Are you getting someone to vote or basically making yourself an uncompensated cog in the Republicans’ apathy campaign?

The left will always fight with itself, but it must do it in an intelligent way. And that’s starts with each individual making sure to focus their energies where they will help rather than hurt.

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