This is the Archive site for Firedoglake. To go to the main site please click on the following link

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Letters, We Get Letters

Preznit's social security plan proving unpopular

I've been cleaning up my blog roll, and one of the criteria I've been using for removal is sites who don't enable comments. Comments keep you honest. I like to leave 'em, and I like to get 'em. They don't allow you to exist in some preternatural cocoon of deluded isolation -- people call you on weak arguments, sloppy thinking, poor spelling and sometimes just plain bad writing.

One of my favorite frequent commenters is a guy named John Perley Huffman, who tends to come down on the more conservative side of most issues than I do. This week takes me to task over my last post about the Freeway Blogger:
This may be therapeutic for him and the other sign painters... but being "seen by hundreds of thousands of people" isn't the same as changing a single mind.

These signs are eye sores and their politics are so trite and simple-minded. You really think someone driving to work down the 101 is going to see a "Bush Lied" sign and suddenly reconsder his position on invading Iraq?

If the left is ever going to make a difference again in this country they have to give up this inane street theater and move on to developing compelling and attractive policies. And then effectively selling those policies to the public.

Right now all this does is contribute to the left's accelerating marginalization. And while that's a bad thing for the left, it's a worse thing for the country.
I didn't really think about it until John brought it up, I just see spirit like that and I go "woo hoo, good for you, buddy." But now that he mentions it, I've been thinking about it, which is a good thing.

And I don't think the purpose of those signs is to change anybody's mind. Half the country didn't vote for Bush. And if you only relied on the main stream media to reflect what the temperament of the country was like, all you would hear would be "mandate, mandate" and you'd think you were alone. That's how I felt during the Reagan years, really isolated and powerless to do anything. What good would it do me to write one letter when I knew that Ralph Reed could bat an eyelash and the Christian Coalition would write 10,000?

That's why I blog, both on my own site and on DailyKos. It makes me feel a part of something larger that is moving collectively for change. The Christian Right have never been a majority, and yet they move together in a way that gives them influence that far exceeds their numbers. Reading other blogs and doing it myself gives me hope. It motivates me to write that letter that I didn't bother to write when Reagan was in office. It makes me realize that there are other people out there like me, and that we can change something.

But there are tons of people out there driving to work every day who don't have the luxury to spend hours online, or they may just not know that there are other people out there who feel like they do as they sit in traffic breathing exhaust fumes and feeling alone. Seeing a sign by a freeway blogger lets them know that somebody is still out there fighting, nobody is giving up, that as much as the white house tries to choke all dissent out of a feeble fourth estate people will take to any means possible to get their message out.

And as to the left's accelerating marginalization -- I beg to differ. The New York Times poll today finds "Bush Priorities are Out of Step With Americans." The Democrats have been incredibly successful at putting across their message on this one, and Bush is going down -- 69% of respondents now think privatized Social Security accounts that result in a reduction of guaranteed benefits are a bad idea. His number just continue to slide.

A fully 90% of respondents say the deficit is a very or somewhat serious problem, and 60% disapprove of how Bush is managing it. Would anybody be questioning this if Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi weren't holding the Democrats in line and speaking as a pretty well united front? Only three Democratic senators failed to sign the letter that essentially told Bush he could take his Social Security plan and shove it, and one of those was Russ Feingold who would have signed save for a death in the family.

Even the Freepers today turned into a bunch of goddamn socialists after Republican Chuck Hagel proposed raising the retirement age:
. That is the only thing I am completely against is raising the retirement age. What about people who do hard, manual labor? Something Congresspeople would not understand. I plan on emailing my Senators concerning this matter.

. I agree. I don't want to retire any later than I have to. I don't want to have to drag my butt to work at 70 years old! I think it should be optional. I want to enjoy my retirement and not be too old for it!

. So let's see here, the government says that the retirement age is 65 when you start working (and contributing) then gets to unilaterally change the deal? Hmmm.

. You are right. I am 32 and am totally against them raising the retirement age. They have already raised it. Have some compassion for those who do hard, manual labor...I am assuming you do not.
Boy, if you can't even sell your crappy program to the freepers, what hope do you have?

Now BushCo. seems to be backing off their marquee second-term issue, having hung every Republican who supported it out to dry and given Democrats something powerful with which to pummel those who are up for re-election in 2006.

So once again, John, thanks for keeping me on my toes. 'Cos now every time I see one of those signs, I'm gonna think to myself -- it's working.

(Photo courtesy stock.xchng)