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What Would People Think?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mine's Not a High Horse

Yeah, that's a title of a Shins song. Thanks to David for getting me addicted to Chutes Too Narrow. On to the substance of my post.....

I read Daily Kos a lot. It probably holds the title of Reigning Left Wing Blog. I have mixed feelings about it. I go to it on occasion to get quick updates on political news and the latest progressive ideas and arguments. It's a good resource for that. People on it do a lot of good research and sometimes help me see things in a new light.

But, despite the fact that I agree with them on 90% of the political issues, I don't consider myself a "Kossack." Why? First, because they brook no dissent on most issues. Any time I look at a post, I look at the comments and find near-unanimous agreement. Sometimes, buried deep in the comments, someone pipes up with a disagreement...and is often roundly condemned as a DLC, Republican-Lite sell out. This isn't true all the time...but it happens too often. I realize this is a liberal blog and it has no responsibility to air conservative views. But there's plenty of room for honest, principled disagreement over here on the Left Wing. As I argued elsewhere, a willingness to tolerate dissent, disagreement, and dialogue is one of liberalism's primary strengths.

It's embarrassing to note that the conservative blog Red State tolerates a greater diversity of views.

And damn, those Kossacks are so self-righteous sometimes! When Thomas Friedman wrote a column calling for the immediate closing of the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay (which I fully agree with), the reaction on Daily Kos was "no shit Sherlock. You're an evil idiot for not realizing this from the beginning and just because you agree with me now, don't expect me to accept you."

There's a recent post about Dick Gephardt similarly having a change of heart. Gephardt earned my contempt when he co-authored the resolution that gave Bush the power to invade Iraq. But now Gephardt admits that was a mistake....that he was wrong.

The blogger, Kos himself, actually accepts Gephardt's mea culpa, arguing it's better to make it easier for pro-war Democrats to admit their mistake and come over to the anti-war side. This strikes me as plain common sense. The more people who come out against the war, the better. If a prominent hawk admits his mistake, that's more ammunition (pardon the war-based metaphor) for the anti-war camp. More and more people are realizing this war was a mistake and they want out. After the vote on the Constitution, many (myself included) are wondering what else we hope to accomplish by leaving our soldiers to kill and die over there. If Gephardt wants to add his voice to that mix...and by doing so may convince other former hawks to pipe up.....more power to him!

But the commenters on Kos think otherwise. For once, there is some dissent from the main blogger. The commenters proceed to tear into Gephardt. "I can never forgive him for the innocent Iraqi deaths." "Of course he says the war is wrong now, when it's unpopular." "Self-Serving Has-Been Spineless Dem Admits He Was a Tool. Stop the Presses." "We don't need to give pro-war Dems a graceful way to change their minds."

Gee, I thought the point of all this was to end the war, and anybody who helps do that should be encouraged. Now I see that the point is to remain on our moral high horse, to glory in our righteousness, and to harshly reject anybody who changes their mind because of their past mistakes. My mistake! Oops, I made a mistake. I guess I'm not worthy of you Kossacks.

Note to my friends: If I ever get that self-righteous, do me a favor and call me out on it!


  • "'Don't ask for his opinion
    They ought to drown him in holy water'
    Will you remember my reply
    When your high horse dies?"

    Dissent and dialogue is one of the cornerstones of liberalism, isn't it? At least it should be. As I've learned more and more conversing with my more conservative friends, this is exactly what bothers them about liberals: they are just as guilty as conservatives at taking the Limp Bizkit "my way or the highway" approach to issues. Too often nowadays, there is no desire for discussion and debate, but rather heads screaming about how each other is wrong.

    In their defense, such people tend to seek shelter among others who share their views, so they can commisserate about how right they are. Frequently, these also tend to be the people who would rather bitch than actively seek to make a difference.

    By Blogger Mike, at 10/18/2005 6:28 PM  

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