How (not) to win friends and influence voters

How (not) to win friends and influence voters

: The obnoxious self-inflicted orthodoxy of some on the left is hurting the cause and the party and any chance of getting elected again.

Today over at Kos, Armando calls me a “right-wing media gadfly.” Commenters then pile on, as is their sport, and say that because New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has been hanging around me, he must be right-wing, too. What liberal media, indeed. And then my bete taupe, Eric Alterman, uses his column in The Nation to call me “a self-styled evangelist for right-wing bloggers.” And when I say that we’re all journalists now thanks to the internet, he says: “That, of course, is nonsense. Journalists aspire to standards of fairness, accuracy and research that are not generally observed by Jarvis’s pajama-clad army.” These are standards not generally observed by Alterman in his spreading of innuendo not backed by the slightest reporting or fact. But I digress.

What does my right-wing look like?

: I voted for John Kerry, though reluctantly.

: I voted for Bill Clinton, eagerly.

: I am dying to vote for Hillary Clinton.

: I vote Democratic in local races in my corner of New Jersey, when they have the guts to run.

: I am pro-choice.

: I opposed the Bush tax cuts.

: I am against school vouchers.

: I am for gay marriage and quit the Presbyterian Church over its bigotry against gays.

: I am for universal health care.

: I fight for free speech in America and elsewhere.

: I wrote a cover story for The Nation.

So why do these guys want to drum me out of their corps (or what they think is their corps)? What are my crimes of political incorrectness?

: I didn’t support Howard Dean.

: I supported the war in Iraq on the humanitarian grounds that we had a duty to finish the job of removing a tyrant who had murdered millions and bring democracy to an oppressed people. I call that a liberal, humanitarian, nation-building cause. These guys don’t.

: I didn’t support Howard Dean.

: I dared to criticize Koz for attacking Americans who were murdered in Iraq and dared to repeat Zephyr Teachout’s recollections about the Dean campaign trying to curry favor with Kos via a job.

: I didn’t support Howard Dean.

: I choose to be civil to bloggers who would call themselves conservative and though we disagree they are usually civil to me.

: I didn’t support Howard Dean.

: I do support the notion that we need to bring democracy to the world and that without it, terrorism will continue.

: I didn’t support Howard Dean.

And for these sins, Kos calls me right-wing, Alterman calls me all kinds of things, and Oliver Willis rises to the rhetorical heights of calling me, as he calls anyone with whom he disagrees, “stupid.”

Is this the left, the caring, human, open, inclusive, warm, huggy, humanisitic left? Or is this just its wackier, ruder wing of the party? I vote for the latter.

But this is how liberals treat our own if we don’t agree with ever syllable certain folks proclaim or if we don’t seethe and spit at the other side.

This is no way to win elections and no way to enact change and no way to influence policy. If this wing continues to be the loudest voice of the party and, in fact, takes over the party, then you can bet that the Democrats will forever be in opposition — a role these folks love like cultists who feed on attack — or, worse, even sink into extinction. I’m not a third-party guy; never have been, never want to be. But being attacked for daring to disagree on one issue or with one self-proclaimed leader is no way to win friends and influence elections. I hope the Clinton wing retakes the party from the spitting fringe.

I’m no right-winger. But I’m not their kind of left-winger. I’m proud to sit in the center with most of America, in a country that isn’t at war, red v. blue, but is getting sick of the fringers who are.