I suppose by now you've all seen the letter from Mel Giles, an advocate for victims of domestic abuse, that Michael Moore published on his site. I just Googled the letter and came up with 199 hits for it. Giles sees parallels between the people she works with and the reaction of certain Democrats to the election. Though she makes her point a little melodramatically, the point is a good one. We should pay attention.
Listen as Donna [Brazille] and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the ‘new’ language of America. Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated, confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"
As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve the beating.
It's not just the Democrats who are falling into this role, the Republican leadership, winger pundits, and self-proclaimed speakers for the radical religious right have all enthusiastically embraced their role in this sick relationship.
Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior. Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned; the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will go well for us (it won't; we will never be worthy).
Let me pause here to modify Giles' metaphor. self-blame isn't the only characteristic of victims of abuse. The abused often become abusers. This is the basic principle of bullying, pass the pain on down the food chain. The boss humiliates Dad, Dad pushes Mom around, Mom yells at the son, and the son goes to school and beats up on a nerd.
The Democratic party has its mid-level bullies. Al From, CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, demanding that the party denounce and purge Michael Moore and all two million MoveOn members is no different than the bullied Dad telling the abused Mom who her friends can be.
The truely bizzare thing about the DLC and it's friends, is that they not only have the wrong position in this fight, it's that they want to fight the wrong fight. Most Democrats are not unhappy with what the Party stands for. There is no big ideological battle going on in the Party, even though the DLC wants one and the mainstream press wants to cover the post election debates as if that was the story. The main divide within the Party is over tactics. Should we appease the Republicans or confront them? Should we try to limit the damage of their legislation through quiet compromise or try to lead public opinion through presenting strong alternatives? Should we concentrate on capturing the White House in the expectation that presidential coattails will help us elsewhere on the ticket or should we concentrate on strengthening local and state parties in the expectation that they will lift our presidential candidate into the White House? (The answer to all three questions is B.)
The corporatists and shrill moralists who scold the Party and tell us we need to be more like Republicans if we are ever to be relevant are showing contempt for the 57 million people who voted for the Democratic Party and what it stands for today. I've said before that this is a bad strategy. Why do we think people will vote for fake Republicans when they can have real ones? Why would the 57 million voters who like what the existing Democratic Party stands for, keep voting for us if we stop standing for that? They show contempt for our beliefs and for us if the think we will just go along. The Democrats who want to become Republicans Lite have become the abusers in saying to the Democratic voters "you’ll stay with us because you don’t have anywhere to go, bitch." Meanwhile, the Greens are running a nice little battered voters' shelter…