Weekend Wound Up

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I've taken a few days to digest all the post-primary chatter, and found myself distressed by the discussion as it relates to Kay Hagan and Bev Perdue. At the center of the distress is the presumption that candidates "owe" voters answers to whatever questions are asked. From where I sit, candidates don't owe voters anything. Just as we can choose or not choose to ask questions, so can they choose or not choose to answer them. I may be upset if candidates decline to answer my questions, but that's my problem, not theirs. I can either vote for them or not vote for them, but that's pretty much the extent of my power.

Which brings me to the real question: What do I do when they're silent ... or worse yet, when I don't like their answers?

In the case of Hagan vs. Dole, I vote for Kay, no matter what. The Democrats need a filibuster-proof majority in the US Senate and Hagan is a Democrat. It's very simple. In the case of Perdue-McCrory, I vote for Bev, no matter what. We need a Democrat in the governor's mansion, not a hot-head who would veto the few progressive bills that might make their way through the General Assembly.

The alternatives are unthinkable. Vote for Dole? Vote for McCrory? Are you crazy? Sit the election out? No thank you.

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I don't think there's much to be gained by harassing a candidate now that the primary is over. And while I have no objection to anyone asking whatever questions they want, the presumption of entitlement to answers seems misguided to me. Before the primary, harassment was perfectly appropriate. I worked to push candidates toward more progressive positions, though I don't see a lot of impact from those efforts. Perdue's willingness to walk away from negative campaigning may be a small example, who knows. But the truth is, candidates are who they are, and most aren't going to be pressed into having opinions by anyone stomping on their heads.

It seems to me that the more effective approach is to build political capital with a candidate so that he or she at least feels obliged to listen and consider alternative ideas. That doesn't mean they'll agree with me, but maybe I can get them to start leaning in a new direction, maybe I can begin to educate them, maybe I can help them get what they want (to be elected) so that in the broadest sense, they feel like they owe me something: the courtesy of listening.

*********************

Once Hagan and Perdue get elected, the dynamic will change once again. Then they will work for us and we can demand, push, stomp, yell, coax, cajole, sweet-talk, scream, whatever is necessary to make sure ALL the people of North Carolina are authentically represented.

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People want to do the right thing, though they may not always know what that is. They want be valued and appreciated, whether they are candidates, elected officials, or regular citizens scrambling to make do. If you buy this logic, then the highest and best use of your voice is to enroll a candidate in your vision. Bring them along toward the light, powered by optimism that change is possible, that people do grow and evolve, and that with new authority comes a more mature sense of responsibility.

I am counting on being able to influence Kay Hagan and Bev Perdue and Walter Dalton and all the other elected Democrats. I am counting on being able to influence them to have more enlightened views on liberty and justice and on a whole range of policy issues.

I have no choice.

*********************

Just to be clear, these views of mine are not grounded in some Polly Anna delusions about politics. I am among the most jaded people I know. Nor are these view based on a lock-step commitment to the Democratic Party. I am not even a Democrat. I am a progressive independent with commitments that go way beyond what any party is up to these days.

I'm going to do what I can to help get Democratic candidates elected in November. And I'm going to make sure they know it, too.

Comments

Hold your nose and vote

I,ve done this for years. Works most of the time.

North Carolina voted for Obama. In BIG numbers.

I am very happy about that. It proves to me (and anyone else who would say otherwise) that we are not the state of Jesse Helms anymore.

I'd like to raise my glass and make a toast to the people in this state who care enough to engage in politics; the candidates who put their necks on the line, the volunteers and supporters who passionately worked and voted for the people who would best represent their values, and to the Democratic Party, though I curse it like a mad preacher at times, it is still the vehicle that puts more of the folks I want in place to represent me than any other party and to my fellow bloggers, without whom I would certainly have moved to Mars by now.

Progressive Democrats of North Carolina

Progressives are the true conservatives.

Bottom line for me is

I'm voting for the Democrat.

That isn't just because I don't like the Republican they're running against. It's because I know that even the most corporate or conservative Democrats, deep in their gut, share two core values with me that most Republicans actually campaign against ...

1) we are all in this together, and by extension ... what harms the little guys will always eventually come around to bite the big guys in the arse.

2) that government DOES work when it is managed by decent, intelligent, hard working people. None of us believes it's ever perfect and none of us believes it is always the answer to every problem, but when people of good will come together to make something happen or fix a problem, great things happen.

Still, with all my " rah rah Democrats woohoo!!! " ravings to everyone who will listen, after the January ceremonies are over and the crowds have gone home, I intend to still be here, and there, and on Jones street when that rare opportunity comes along, offering my own arguments and opinions when I have them ... once in a blue moon. ;)

In closing, for anyone who cops out and wants to declare that, D or R, they're all sons o'bitches, I'll repeat what a good Johnston Democrat (who once sat on Senator Sam's knee when she was a wee small tot) told me soon after I joined the county party,

"That may be so, but my D sonuvabtch is better than your R sonovabtch any day of the year."

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

That pretty much says it all.

For now anyway.

Can I get an answer to my question?

Is this blog a "think tank" meant to stimulate discussion and promote progressive ideals, or is this blog a prop for the Democratic Party, no matter who says what on that ticket?

No.

I'm KIDDING!!!

It's a think tank meant to stimulate discussion and promote progressive ideals.

It looks like we're having a discussion in this thread on whether or not supporting Democrats against Republicans in general elections, whether we supported them in the primary or not, is a worthy endeavor.

My personal guess is that somewhere around January/February/March 2009 it will become very VERY clear, (sometimes happily, sometimes painfully), to Democrats who win elections in November 2008 that blueNC is most definitely not a prop for the Democratic Party.

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry Truman

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Well said.

It looks like we're having a discussion in this thread on whether or not supporting Democrats against Republicans in general elections, whether we supported them in the primary or not, is a worthy endeavor.

That's right ... plus I'm also asking about "how" to support them. Could go many ways.

1. Support them by challenging them hard and calling them out on every little thing.
2. Support them by challenging them hard and calling them out on big stuff.
3. Support them by accepting them for what they are now and helping to enlighten them through education or seduction.
4. Support them with volunteer time and money.
5. Pander to their self-interests.
6. Ignore them and wait for the next primary cycle
7. Move to Oregon.
8. Move to Canada.
9. Move to New Zealand.

No one wants to shush anyone who wants to raise hell about reproductive rights or equity or whatever they want to raise hell about. I'm simply trying to have a conversation about the tone and substance of the hell-raising during the period between this primary election and the general election in November.

The closing song in Avenue Q is called For now. I'm talking for now.

Yes.

Whatever.

It is what it is. No?

It's only a think tank if you make it one.

Since you've been here the blog has focused almost entirely on primary races. Now, we can get back to discussing issues.

We have experts on education starting to provide weekly diaries on that topic.

We have National Guard/military experts that include Grier Martin, Pat Smathers, James Protzman, and Permea (I think, right?).

We have a Congressman who used to blog (hint, hint), that knows a lot and has done a lot about credit card companies, predatory lending, commercial credit, mortgages.

We have a nationally-recognized talking-head on LGBT issues in Pam Spaulding.

We have several people working in mental health and several people with families that are impacted, we need to hear from them once a week on the state of things in NC.

We have several high-placed environmental folks, some remain anonymous, some are Dan Besse.

We appear to have an alternative energy guru in scharrison - we need to hear something from him once a week.

We have a number of readers who are part of the MSM that we tend to blast so much, I welcome their analysis of the MSM vs. Blogs.

It becomes a think tank when people do more than comment on candidate diaries. What are other states doing to get ahead? Where are we on the issue in NC? How will federal laws effects us? What action can we get involved with to create a better North Carolina?

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

well said, Robert.

We have been viewing things through Primary Colored sunglasses, as it were. Sometimes those glasses will continue to slip over our faces - we've got some hard fighting ahead, and a lot of the people you mention above are also heavily involved in campaigns and in the Democratic Party.

Now it's time to look at issues again (thank you for pushing this), and begin working towards educating each other and our readers in the different ways we can make NC better.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

My 2 cents from out of state

I'm from Colorado, so feel free to ignore me but I love your blog/think tank and check in every day.

I find that no matter how hard I work it's most often the middle of the road Dems who make it through the process to the general election. I keep supporting and working for and donating to the progressive Dems and sometimes I'm lucky and it end up influencing the campaigns of the centrists in ways that are hard for them to ignore later on.

The best influence I seem to be able to exert is by continuing to involve myself in party meetings by volunteering for stuff so that at the off year meetings I still have a voice that is hard for the elected candidates to ignore. Like folks here I have strong opinions about what I want from them and it's way helpful to stand up and interrupt a speech when I disagree. That has an impact.

So like yall, I'll be voting for the democrats on my ticket this year though some of them are far from my ideal and afterward I'll be active and tireless in trying to squeeze something good out of 'em. It's practically a geologic time frame it seems but sometimes it is possible to shift the path of their opinions and voting choices.

Good job on your turn out for the primary and good luck in the general.

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Denny.

I disagree James

At the center of the distress is the presumption that candidates "owe" voters answers to whatever questions are asked. From where I sit, candidates don't owe voters anything. Just as we can choose or not choose to ask questions, so can they choose or not choose to answer them. I may be upset if candidates decline to answer my questions, but that's my problem, not theirs. I can either vote for them or not vote for them, but that's pretty much the extent of my power.

I disagree with your position that candidates don't "owe voters anything." In fact, they owe us everything - we're the ones who elect them and they need to be fully vetted. Candidates do not have the pleasure of deciding which questions they want to answer. Candidates are supposed to represent us - how are we to determine whether they share our values and policy positions if they don't answer questions? A candidate's refusal to answer questions honestly and frankly is a form of political maneuvering that I think we need to move past.

What does this mean?

A candidate's refusal to answer questions honestly and frankly is a form of political maneuvering that I think we need to move past.

Move past how?

You ask someone a question. They don't answer. What do you do? Take your ball and go home? Press them long and hard enough, until you train them to ignore you? Vote for a Bushbot like Dole?

Candidates do not have the pleasure of deciding which questions they want to answer. Candidates are supposed to represent us - how are we to determine whether they share our values and policy positions if they don't answer questions?

Candidates can do anything they want. If they don't care about winning your vote, they can ignore your questions all day long. Until they are elected and sworn in, they don't represent you in any way, shape or form.

The problem as I see it is that most don't yet care about the progressive vote. We have to change that, but I'm not sure how to do it.

At this point, it's not the candidates that I'm concerned about.

I'm more concerned about fellow "progressives" who try to sweep issues aside because of fear of them being heard. Frankly it saddens me.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors

Who's sweeping issues aside?

I don't see it.

I think I know where you're coming from, James.

You ask someone a question. They don't answer. What do you do? Take your ball and go home? Press them long and hard enough, until you train them to ignore you? Vote for a Bushbot like Dole?

The number and type of candidates that have chosen to interact with BlueNC is nothing short of astounding. Whether or not that interaction continues after November is at least partially up to us.

To be able to exchange ideas with the Governor, U.S. Senators and Representatives, General Assembly members, statewide officeholders, etc., is an incredible opportunity, and may be "ours to lose" if we don't approach this in a thoughtful manner.

If our goal truly is

dialogue
c.1225, "literary work consisting of a conversation between two or more people," from O.Fr. dialoge, from L. dialogus, from Gk. dialogos, related to dialogesthai "converse," from dia- "across" + legein "speak" (see lecture). Sense broadened to "a conversation" 1401. Mistaken belief that it can only mean "conversation between two persons" is from confusion of dia- and di-.

then we need to understand that dialogue requires at least a modest level of decorum to even take place. And a meaningful dialogue requires much more, including objectivity and empathy, with a healthy dose of faith and trust. In order for these to appear, we have to be able to turn the volume down a lot on the voice of cynicism in our heads. To say it's not easy to accomplish is an understatement, but it truly is impossible if one side (or both) refuse to try.

Were Pam's questions "indecorous?"

I don't remember any rude or otherwise indecorous features of Pam's questions.

Please refresh me on what phrasing in her questions might be considered inappropriate in polite company.

As she noted some posts ago, she did not even receive so much as a "thank you for your question, but we will have to devote considerably more time to the issues you've raised before offering a reply," or "we will do our best to answer you as soon as possible," etc . . . .

If I have followed the sequence of events correctly, she received no response at all, which is incredibly disrespectful. Yet the concensus you want to encourage is that "a modest level of decorum" should be observed?

Say what?

Pam always comports herself well,

as do most others here, except a select few (including myself). But of the 71 or so comments on Kay's thread, well over half of them were devoted to us arguing back and forth, beginning with the polite demand:

Please answer these questions now.

and as you'll notice, Kay did not come back to talk about that issue (or any other). She may not have been planning to come back and interact more anyway, but I have to assume she was testing the waters and found them way too cold.

And since I'm (apparently) in the mood to lecture, there's something else I'd like to observe: this is a community, not just a collection of individuals. As such, the behavior of each of us has an impact on the whole. Just as the desire of some to speak their mind should not be held hostage by those who seek conformity, the desire of those who want to engage in a positive manner should not be held hostage by those who seek conflict.

It is a conundrum, and one that's not easily answered. The Primary is over, and we are faced with a new set of realities. Those of us who supported Jim Neal should show him the respect of continuing to support his vision of what needs to be done. He has made it clear what he wants, and that is for us to help Kay get elected. Of course, we don't have to do what he's asking. But if we don't, what does that say about how we view his opinion?

"You lost, Jim, so apparently you aren't as smart as we thought."

I don't feel that way, and I'm pretty sure his other supporters don't either.

This was a nonanswer

So maybe someone else will come along and explain how it is that Pam's desire to have her questions answered is unreasonable, how it was that her manner of doing so could be construed as "indecorous," what makes you think she didn't want "positive exchange," and why it is that she is implicitly accused of seeking conflict by persisting in her question.

I'm assuming we're talking about Pam because it is her questions that several here have expressed keen interest in having answered.

Not everyone communicates in the same style, but not everyone interprets in the same style, either, so for each person who is reluctant to engage with me, for example, because of my manner, I've found there are others who aren't a'feard or offended, and who do answer. I'm fine with that.

And no, I do not feel that the behavior of any one individual on this blog affects the whole. This isn't a chorus or an orchestra or a classroom (where the naughty students prevent the good students from learning). It isn't even a miniature political party.

It's a blog that consists of individuals interested in exchanging ideas, not fretting about whether or not a given candidate or ex-candidate is comfortable with certain questions.

I'm sorry my answer

is deemed by you to be a non-answer that requires someone else to come along and rectify. It's just as well, though, because I'm not going to get into a back-and-forth with you and provide you with more words that you can set off in quotation marks to show your extra contempt for their usage.

I'm assuming we're talking about Pam because it is her questions that several here have expressed keen interest in having answered.

I was actually referring more to all that keen interest being expressed than I was about Pam's comments. And I was also thinking about someone who left a bunch of classy comments on Bev Perdue's thread, too.

And no, I do not feel that the behavior of any one individual on this blog affects the whole.

Of course you don't, and it's reflected in your behavior.

Well color me naughty

But I'm just a-typin', here. And while you're right that I've made comments I regret, so have you, Steve, and so have others. Like you, I've expressed that regret. Other have or haven't, but I'm not keeping a scorecard. I think we do get over it eventually -- or maybe you don't.

But you didn't really answer my point. You just sort of shot back with a crack. My point is that the observation that the behavior of one individual affects the whole is easy enough to accept if one is talking about a chorus, which is led by a choir master, and which is supposed to sing in harmony, or likewise, an orchestra, which is led by a conductor, and which has to play from the same page, or a classroom, where the students are expected to follow the instructor's lead in a given topic of discussion, etc . . .

And gee, Steve, you have to admit that your answer just kind of went around in a circle.
And then you came back, and instead of addressing the points, went into personal attack mode.

Well, ok. Have at it. I don't recall expressing contempt for your usage, but maybe I did. I do take seriously the complaint that I'm too harsh. I am still learning that I have a lot to learn about how my words may be received. Too often it happens that I'll rattle something off in a state of curiosity or even dispassion but find a response that suggests I drew blood. OOPS.

I'm not entirely confident that at my ripe old gray-haired (as Jerimee might note) age, this dawg is going to learn new tricks, but maybe there's hope.

So...

During the primary night liveblog, I mentioned that I had three blog posts that I'd been putting off, and this conversation has definitely lit a fire under me to get one of those done. Hopefully I'll have something up by Monday...

Here's part of my thoughts from that particular entry: With all due respect to Pam (and, as a longtime reader of PHB, I mean that sincerely), why are these particular questions any more important than any other questions that have been left unanswered in any liveblog?

Moreover, why Kay Hagan is subjected to a level of criticism on this particular issue that other candidates are not? I specifically refer to our gubernatorial candidates Bev Perdue and Richard Moore--both of whom were asked questions about their support of the LGBT community and neglected to answer them. Even when Perdue (and her staff) came back to answer questions she missed during the liveblog, they neglected to answer that question. Were Perdue and Moore less than or equally a disrespectful as Hagan? And, as such, why aren't their feet being held to the fire?

Those are rhetorical questions, of course, because I know the answers (I'll speculate more in my blog entry, of course), but it's something to consider.

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

----
There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of the comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. - Robert F. Kennedy

avoiding the larger issue

why are these particular questions any more important than any other questions that have been left unanswered in any liveblog

The questions aren't any more or less important in relation to any other questions asked and not answered during the liveblog. The issue for has always been that the equally polite follow up offline requests from me (and other BlueNCers) for clarification of the answer Sen. Hagan gave (and elaboration on the other questions) were not even responded to, or even acknowledged. That was extremely disturbing to me. What was also disturbing and bizarre in the other thread is that there was a call for Qs about LGBT issues to be silenced. I've been down that road before during the presidential race in 2004. Deja vu all over again.

Sen. Hagan was the focus of my questions because there is federal legislation being considered that she would vote on if elected.

As far as the gubernatorial candidates are concerned, that position is less important at this stage in terms of statewide legislation than the that of the LG - something to explore.

It doesn't let Perdue off the hook for the same reasons the questions are important to ask Sen. Hagan. Statewide legislation Qs will continue to be asked of both Perdue -- and Pat McCrory.

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

--
Pam Spaulding
Durham, NC USA

Pam's House Blend
www.pamshouseblend.com

RSVP

Ladies and gentlemen, may I preface my remarks by reminding you that I am just a CAVEMAN who fell on some ice, and was later thawed out by scientists.As such, it not my responsibility to ask questions about your modern ways? When I observe a total eclipse, Steve, can you fault me for asking you if the moon is eating the sun? When I am traveling on a modern airplane, scharrisson, would you not explain whether I have been eaten by a giant bird? Jerimee, ref. the above, am I being digested? I don't know, it's just the way I think. But this I DO know. Your answers to these questions would be most appreciated. Thank you. Sent from my modern blackberry communications devise.

Keyrock

Device.

Use the Googly machine, Cave Man. You can find it right there on your Blackberry device. It will answer all your questions, and then some. For example, you can find out whether you are a Neanderthal or just a run-of-the-mill, knuckle-dragging knock-off.

Good luck.

HARSH!

And you guys think *I'm* bad~

I didn't think Cave Man had feelings

being's as he's, you know, a cave man. Plus if he has a Blackberry, well hell. He ain't no cave man.

Plus on top of that, I wasn't trying to be mean.

Except I suck at funny.

Can't answer for Caveman,

I'm not sure how sensitive he is. Of course, 'round THIS place, a person has to STEP CAREFULLY -- or so I'm told.

Oh TELL ME ABOUT not trying to be mean and having folks get all riled anyway.

It's hard on a gal with a heart o' gold who sucks at stepping carefully~

If the Moon appears to be eating the Sun,

you must avert your eyes. It is a sacred and holy event, and cannot be witnessed by mere mortals. Many who have ignored this have been struck blind because their blasphemy angered the gods, and I would not have that fate befall you.

See, this is healthy

Steve relates to Caveman's perceptions.

Very nice. Gently done.

Hope you're paying ATTENTION, JAMES!

But I still dodged his question,

which was:

can you fault me for asking

And the answer is: yes, I can, but a much harder question is should I?

Post script

And don't be put off by uninteresting or unoriginal answers or what one might call "nonanswers," either.

thank you gentlemen

Thank you, scharrison, for your helpful reply. And "James" for the originality and individuality in your kind and well-meaning response.I feel I know you better now and hope that I may I call you Jimmy. Again, thank you. From Martha's Vineyard.

Keyrock

From Martha's Vineyard?

Dang, Cave Man. You must have one heck of an agent.

I'd be honored if you call me Jimmy. In fact, maybe I'll change my name again. Jimmy. That's pretty darn slick.