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Liberals Finally Figure Out Why They Are Hamstrung

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Liberals sometimes have a hard time figuring out why they can't organize things and get things done as well as conservatives and David at In Search Of Utopia has shown us, on a small scale why this is. His latest entry describes the growth of the Progressive Blog Alliance (PBA) he co-founded a few weeks ago. The PBA's grown fast and it is simply incredible growth.

In his entry he noticed that other "high ranking" Liberals in the blogosphere don't give credit and sometimes rip off smaller blogs of scoops, don't link to them or don't even acknowledge them. This is where Liberals and Conservatives differ greatly. It goes all the way down to the roots of the Democratic party in fact. Let me explain.

The Conservative/Republican parties are different because their members belief systems are aligned. They simply have more issues that they all believe in. In the Democratic party you have a fractured group of belief systems that managed to come together in a "coalition of issues groups". You have the Homosexual issue group, the NAACP group, the welfare group, the worker/labor group, the environmentalist group, the minority group, the anti-war group, the hippie group, the legalize drugs group and the freeloader group (people who are lazy and just want a handout).

Most of these liberal groups have one single belief, or issue, and that is the reason they support the Democrats. It's a fractured coalition of issues rather than a solid base.

The Republicans on the other hand have multiple issues that most supporters believe in. The main ones are business ownership, work your ass off, invest, "you'll do better if you share a big pie rather than having all of a tiny pie", pick a leader and then get behind them and follow. You've also got the wacky religious right that pretty much believes all of those things in addition to the aforementioned items.

I've seen time and time again greedy Liberals who think the American dream is to get what you can and not share. To take, take, take and not perform. I've personally witnessed this in several companies I've worked in or been a co-founder of. They also don't have their base issues aligned so the party isn't as efficient and motivated in one direction. They are distracted.

David noticed this across the blogosphere.

Some things he struggles with in the entry are coming up with a mission statement and leadership. While fast growth of a group is great, not knowing why you're in the group other than to be "in the group" is kind of dysfunctional and can destroy that group. What you'll end up with is in-fighting over what the mission is, fractures within the group when a mission is finally defined and a general anger that they were duped into joining something if they don't agree with the mission chosen.

Imagine if someone came up with a group called The Great Group and everyone wanted in on The Great Group even though no one knew what it was, but their friend said it was cool! So everyone joins in and then they sit around wondering what to do. Someone steps up and says, "Ok, everyone lets do some exercise". Everyone does some exercise and then congratulate each other over how great their group is after one event (Wizbang event, ISOU's take on it). Still no one knows what the group's about though. Maybe the next thing that happens is someone steps up and says "OK everyone we're now getting in buses and heading to Mexico to start shooting everyone at random!". Ok a little extreme of an example of a mission being defined after the fact, but what's a group worth without a reason or a mission? Will personal animosity occur when a mission is defined and it's not what some thought it was? Possibly.

Something similar has happened with the PBA. They have a lot of members, but not a real mission other than their name being progressive and no leader as David doesn't want to be a leader. He wants it to remain just a collaborative undefined group, which is kind of counter to what I think he really wants it to be, which is a voice of progressives.

Lets contrast this with the conservative movement that is Blogs for Bush. Is there a mission? Yes. Is there a leader? Yes. Was there fast growth? Yes. Are all their beliefs in line with the mission ahead of time before they joined? Yes. Is credit given to other members? Yes, because share the wealth works better and is similar to how a small business is run.

Now I'm not bashing David on his alliance, I'm just pointing out some of the flaws in the thinking and how it seems to directly relate to how the Democrats are set up as a party. With so many differing issues and not enough centralized beliefs you get splits within the party when one issue group feels like people aren't paying enough attention to their issue and giving another issue, not important to them, attention. You have the internal fighting which makes the whole group less effective.

There has to be a leader. End of story. That's a personal belief of mine that maybe others don't agree with, but there has to be someone making the decisions. Lets just apply a "no leader" policy to state government for a minute. Imagine there is no Governor or other leaders in the state and that every single decision has to go to a vote. Suddenly productivity goes down and efficiency out the window as everyone is standing around casting votes all the time. Large portions of the people get angry because another group has now pushed them around and their issue didn't get taken care of.

Having multiple leaders doesn't work all that hot either. Take a look at the two triumvirates (3 leaders) of Rome. Both fell apart and dissolved into civil war. Only under a single leader did Rome truly grow, become productive and dominate the world. While I'm not saying a dictatorship is the most productive or efficient, there must be one decision maker that guides people in the direction the group set in its mission statement otherwise the group is doomed.

Ok you Liberals, Progressives, Democrats or whatever you're calling yourselves these days, tell me how wrong I am.

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Posted by Digger on October 16, 2004 08:26 AM (Permalink)

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You are Not wrong for the most part. I think you just misinterpreted some of what I was saying, and reading my post I can understand why.
We are very organized. The leadership issue is one that will resolve itself. Leaders tend to stand out, to define themselves over a course of time. In the PBA we follow more of a cellular approach to leadership, while there may be a person or persons who are looked at as the guiding lights behind the movement, no one needs to stand up and say I am the leader dammit. Do what I say. Instead the message superceeds the messenger.
One thing we have made clear is that no one is obligated to participate in any of our activities. We have several communication mediums and we use them effectively to mobilize our alliance when an issue becomes one of mutual concern.
I think you will be clear in the coming weeks how effective we can be.

Posted by: David Anderson on October 16, 2004 09:53 AM

Nothing there I will argue with, really. And it explains the "Hate BUSH!" program of the DNC . . That's pretty much the only link most of these people have in common. And Damn near everyone of them don't really understand why they "Hate BUSH!" except that Al Gore and Terry MacAuliffe told them to.

I suppose that's as good a stupid reason as another!

Actually "Centered" Republicans are really the people who make this country and it's economy work. Could you imagine Alec Baldwin as the leader of our country . . .? Or even a large Corporation? ('Course I think Alec's probably "Fringe" Far Left, or "wayyy out there!")

Posted by: large on October 16, 2004 10:20 AM

David, you have done an excellent job of showing just how diverse and inclusive the "liberals" are and how narrow, narrow-minded, and inclusive the Republicans/Conservatives are. Here's how you did it:

The Conservative/Republican parties are different because their members belief systems are aligned. They simply have more issues that they all believe in. In the Democratic party you have a fractured group of belief systems that managed to come together in a "coalition of issues groups". You have the Homosexual issue group, the NAACP group, the welfare group, the worker/labor group, the environmentalist group, the minority group, the anti-war group, the hippie group, the legalize drugs group and the freeloader group (people who are lazy and just want a handout).

You stated:

1. Republicans and anyone who agrees with the Republicans are all ONE type of people and all have ONE belief system

2. Democrats (or liberals, or whatever you were referring to) tend to be more representative of the US population as a whole -- real people with a host of difficult issues and concerns to address.

The USA is not a nation of heterosexual white males. Dream as long as you like. The Republicans would certainly like to govern the USA as if it is. It's not. Everyone needs a voice. And when you decide to let everyone have a voice, things get a bit chaotic -- especially since WHITE AMERICAN MEN have consistently bulldozed anyone who isn't a WHITE AMERICAN for about 200 years. When you have 200 years of wrongdoing to fix, and suddenly all these minority groups you speak of feel strong enough to say "enough is enough!" there will definitely be some chaos. But, who started that path to chaos in the first place?

Who decided that this country needed slaves to build it up and make it a great nation? Who decided that those same slaves had no right to learn to read? Who decided that women should be at home, barefoot and pregnant? WHITE AMERICAN MEN. Through the years, even after WHITE AMERICAN MEN were gracious enough to allow some rights and freedoms to women, Blacks, and other minority groups, there were still millions of roadblocks thrown in our path:

"OK, Blacks, we'll let you get an education, but you have to attend an all Black school in a poor neighborhood, while our WHITE kids attend good schools in good neighborhoods."

"Ok you whiney ass women, we'll let you leave the house and work, but you must accept jobs at a lower wage than men."

It was this systematic bulldozing over 200+ years that created a rather large amount of diverse and angry sub-groups of people in America. And as you have stated, Republicans (largely a WHITE organization -- something you pointed out by pointing out that the liberals consisted largely of minority groups) have a unified goal. And just what would that be? Since it obviously doesn't agree with the liberals (the more diverse and inclusive group you speak of). Is that goal to perpetuate the norm? If it is, then yes, your group will be more organized: you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again -- year after year. If I were you, I wouldn't brag about THAT.

Basically, one group is making a rather difficult attempt at fixing what another group broke in the first place. Care to guess which is which?

A Black Lesbian Member of PBA

Posted by: Genia on October 16, 2004 10:24 AM

You've written quite a comprehensive post digger, one I can't disagree with especially as far as the fractioned interests of progressives. Lakoff writes about it. In fact you echo his thoughts rather well. Everyone, including conservatives have areas that interest them more than others, and, I will venture a guess that the conservatives are becoming much more divided amongst themselves due to the events of the past 3 1/2 years.
The PBA is new, but there are many unifying and diverse points of interest. Absolute leadership can be divisive. Look how divided this country is under a leadership that fails to listen. The PBA is in the process of listening to each other. Expect to see results of this.

I would deem the alliance as 'collective wisdom'.
In fact, you may find James Surowiecki's new book, "The Wisdom of Crowds" to be an informative read.

Posted by: Cyndy on October 16, 2004 10:36 AM

I'll be the first lefty to admit that our side of the blogosphere has some problems. All of us are never on the same page like right wing bloggers tend to be. When Instapundit focuses on a trend and provides links to other bloggers covering the story, the ripple effect of that is huge on the right. Link diffusion from Atrios, dKos, Kevin Drum, etc., is not so great. There's hardly a time when everyone on the left is on the same page, and that's definitely one of our weaknesses.

While your criticisms of the PBA are certainly founded in reason, I don't think it's wise to write us off for dead while we're still in our infacy and learning what we should become. Something you didn't factor in is that the PBA is a strong effort to place all progressives on the same page, and the rapid growth of the alliance is a telltale sign that many of us marginal bloggers have had it with being lone voices. With the PBA, it just became much harder for a great story on a blog that only gets 2 hits a day to go unnoticed, and the PBA could very well serve as an "open source A-lister"; an echo chamber when the best stories become so strong that they can't be ignored by the exclusive club of lefty A-list blogs who currently set our agenda. The PBA, if developed properly, will have the power to magnify the ripple effect of stories on our side close to the power Instapundit wields on the right.

Just because we're a loose organization without a leader doesn't mean we're finished before we began. The rapid growth shows that there are many people interested in a common cause, and that's a positive in my book.

(This message was brought to you by the Progressive Blog Alliance, but you already knew that.)

Posted by: tas on October 16, 2004 10:39 AM

Whoa Genia, check your hatred of the straight white man at the door. I was in no way bashing any of the "groups" that tend to lean left in voting. Note one place where I said anything bad about any of those groups (well other than the lazy people group)? I simply said that when they get together their different focuses make the whole less efficient and effective.

"1. Republicans and anyone who agrees with the Republicans are all ONE type of people and all have ONE belief system"

I said nothing of the kind. I said the people in the Republican party have certain core beliefs that unite them. It doesn't matter their race, religion or age, their core beliefs of capitalism ring true with them all. A black Republican is just a Republican, we don't sit around in a group pointing out differences we focus on similarities.

"2. Democrats (or liberals, or whatever you were referring to) tend to be more representative of the US population as a whole -- real people with a host of difficult issues and concerns to address."

I don't believe that. Maybe in a city that is the case, but go across the whole country, as I have, and you'll quickly realize that the majority of Democrats live in cities. My guess is because these people require more services than someone in the Midwest whose making it on their own without as many required public services.

"And as you have stated, Republicans (largely a WHITE organization -- something you pointed out by pointing out that the liberals consisted largely of minority groups) have a unified goal."

I did not say the Democrats consisted of a majority of minorities. Sheesh. I said that was one of the issues groups in the Democratic party or are you saying that most in the homosexual group to also consist of minorities?

"Ok you whiney ass women, we'll let you leave the house and work, but you must accept jobs at a lower wage than men."

No one is forcing you to take a job. Also if you do a little research you'll find that the lower pay for women workers has been traced to the fact they are less inclined to negotiate for better pay when they take a job. Blaming that on the company that hired them is a "straw man".

You also seem to be claiming that all businesses are owned by white people that have some sort of network where they call each other and make sure you didn't hire "blackie" this week. What the hell. I'm a business owner and I'd take an intelligent black, hispanic or any other ethnicity who knows what they're doing over some slacker white guy who thinks he's gonna cruise through life without effort. In the business world the only color is green.

I don't know why you're so full of hate, especially over just my observations above. In no place did I put down the Democrats or the PBA, I simply pointed out why I think they are hamstrung by a lack of focus.


tas, I didn't write off the PBA, I simply was pointing out where things could be improved and it's only my opinion anyway. I could be wrong.


David said:
"In the PBA we follow more of a cellular approach to leadership..."

Like al-Qaeda!
(just joking, don't crucify me Genia)


I don't understand why my constructive criticism is being viewed as hatred, ill will or Liberal bashing. While I'm voting for Bush, please note I'm not a member of "Blogs for Bush" or any other Republican group. There are many things I disagree with Bush on like immigration, outsourcing and a host of other things.

Posted by: Digger on October 16, 2004 11:18 AM

Well, I can only speak to my experience with PBA thus far. I note that we share the same concerns about our freedoms, about a fair election, our desire for peace, our desire for honesty from our government leaders. I think our core values of social justice, equality, caring for the poor, and a healthy economy are aligned. As we talk about things we would like to do and changes we would like to initiate, there is a great deal of enthusiasm and participation. I think that any generalization such as all Democratic organizations are disorganized or Republicans all agree with each other are fallacious by nature. Hopefully a large group of people committed to putting the truth out into the blogosphere can only be a good thing.

Posted by: eva on October 16, 2004 11:30 AM

I don't recall saying I hated the white man. Why is it that you can point to racial groups, sexual minority groups, and other sub groups and use that as your example for why liberals can't get anything accomplished, but when I come back with a post that points out the obviously overbearing, Conservative White Male (the driving force behind reason the subgroups tend to clash and fall into this divide and conquer state), it's considered hate?

You didn't come right out and say anything bad about these groups, but your suggestion that it's BECAUSE of these groups that the Democratic party can't get anything done, was more than enough of a kick in the throat.

Digger, homosexuals are a minority group. To ask me if the group consists largely of minorities is like asking me if women's groups consist largely of minorites. Although the federal government itself does not define women or homosexuals as minorities, I would beg to differ.

Again, let's not make this an issue of hate. You're doing nothing more than trying to paint me out to your readers as a radical, anti-white man Black female. When I'm none of the above. Please, no diversions. The Republicans do that very well.

Posted by: Genia on October 16, 2004 11:46 AM

Good Points Digger. I have a post about the NEA (a legalized syndicate) the gist of it is that it is Political Correctism Run Amok. To all you liberals: Bring it on.

Posted by: EdWonk on October 16, 2004 01:24 PM

Looks like ED just wants attention. **yawn** Always stoopin' to the "you're just being politically correct" insult when ya just can't think of anything else to say. Or, was this just an attempt to get the PBA's attention over on your blog?

Posted by: Genia on October 16, 2004 01:52 PM

You tell em Genia! LOL! We will just ignore ol Ed, now wont we. LOL!

Posted by: David Anderson on October 16, 2004 01:56 PM

Conservatives are just as fractured as liberals (some are pro-choice, some lean toward the libertarian side, etc. etc.)...but it is true that they are quicker to chuck their diffences aside and band together. BUT THIS IS NO REVELATION, it's the reason why most of the protest groups in the 70s lost power...by losing sight of the forest for the trees.

While liberal groups based around issues such as women's rights, gay's rights or anti-war spend much of their efforts devoted to that one issue...it is ridiculous to assert that they only belong to the Democrat party for that one issue without providing any examples. Do you honestly think that groups devoted to gay rights, for instance, don't also support affirmative action or abortion rights?

As far as the tiff between you and Genia...I'd like to point out that in your original post you wrote "the Homosexual issue group" which some gay people might find a little bit offensive.

Another proud PBA member

Posted by: Ron Brynaert on October 16, 2004 04:12 PM

Liberal-minded people don't hate Bush necessarily, but we certainly disagree with much of the rhetoric and output of this administration. Contrary to the belief that we can only unite as anti-war folk, many of us see problems with the administration's use of a small portion of Christian faith on which to base much social policy, don't like the administration's misuse and false framing of scientific information and research, resent policies that give tax cuts to those who don't need them all that much, give out no-bid contracts to companies to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, tolerate institutional misogyny in countries we claim to liberate, among many other issues. Yes, we are a factioned party, but that is an ideological strength in my book. Most of the factions under the liberal umbrella agree with and support parallel movements, and most of them share similar ideology.

Regarding the PBA: the PBA is indeed an alliance, not a hierarchal, top-down structure of agenda-setting hegemony. It's a tool to dissemenate information, just as blogs are. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if I want to read a regurgitation of today's news, I'll turn to a site like Instapundit. If I want to hear original, lively debate and analysis, I'll be far more likely to find it in groups like ours.

Which sounds more interesting? The latter.

As for the accusations against the NEA, there are also plenty of ideological underpinnings to the NEA's decision-making regarding EdWonk's complaints. All of them have deep pedagogical research and ideals behind them. And why does the NEA tend to support Democrats? That's transparent. Because Republicans dislike unions.

Posted by: Lauren on October 16, 2004 04:52 PM

I should also comment to Ed that I don't entirely disagree with some of his comments on the educational system (to get off-topic). But I do take issue with a teacher who endorses an author who suggests conservatives talk to liberals "with a baseball bat."

Posted by: Lauren on October 16, 2004 04:54 PM

As a conservative I can safely say that there are many issues that divide Republicans and conservatives. The central point being that all conservatives are not Republican although the majority certainly are, if for no other reason than there does not exist a major party which conservatives can attach themselves to with any hope of being successful. That is why we tend to pull the Republicans to the right.

I do not entertain with any seriousness the notion that conservatives are as fractured as liberals. While certain complex issues of foreign policy are often debated Digger is straight on in the unity issue. Radicals are, by nature, more combative among themselves. That is no great defect, but rather a unique symbol of the left.

As for the "Gay" issue it is certain that many people in America are not wholly comfortable with staking out a thoughtful stand on the issue. It is divisive to some, less so to others.

Genia is ignorant in her stance because she is as unwilling to budge as her adversaries, for whom she exhibits unbridled disdain. Fine, you are a lesbian and proud of it and your association with this progressive group. You make the mistake of believing that you will garner any support, although you will deny that is the motivation, by proudly proclaiming your sexuality.

I am right-handed and I would look just as ridiculous running around proclaiming that fact and acting as if my very public pronouncement will make things better. In fact, for most thoughtful people, it causes them to ignore the shouter and concentrate on someone who can explain, not show disdain.


Posted by: J Thomas on October 16, 2004 08:34 PM

We are most certainly a unified body, and although the left side of the blogosphere seems to have problems, but the Progressive Blog Allinace is a notable exception and we will grow stronger

Posted by: Benjamin Solah (PBA) on October 16, 2004 09:01 PM

After re-reading my above post, I would like to apologize for its tone. I am looking forward to constructive dialogue with fellow bloggers, including Progressives.

Posted by: EdWonk on October 16, 2004 09:14 PM

I am not sure where you get the idea that PBA memebers don't know why they joined or what the purpose of the group is. We are very organized and working, out of your sight of course, on our mission, vision and goals moving forward. This is a collaborative effort driven by the incredible efforts of David and Nick as well as the rest of the group, they may not want to be called "glorious leader" but that does not dimish their leadership. Let our actions speak for how organized we are.

Comments From Left Field
Proud Member of The Progressive Blog Alliance

Posted by: Goose3five on October 16, 2004 09:20 PM

I find that the only things the Right really agrees on across the board are defense, national sovereignty, and the inherent decency of America. Everything else is up for disagreement. But because we on the Right realize that without security, everything else is irrelevant, we are very united.

If you peruse the Right-leaning blogs you'll find a lot of diversity: people of all walks of life, all religions and ethnicities and sexual orientations, all manner of philosophies (libertarians, evangelicals, Truman Democrats, 9/12 Republicans, neocons, isolationists, free-traders, protectionists, ad infinitum). But because we all agree on national defense, national sovereignty, and the inherent goodness of America, we stick together despite our differences.

It's been my experience in day-to-day life that a leader in any situation will arise, because the kind of people who are born leaders can't stand not being in charge. Don't worry; someone will grab the steering wheel.

Best of luck to you PBA guys. I hope your efforts are constructive, although I hope you don't win at the ballot box. ;-)

Posted by: Johnny Walker Red on October 16, 2004 09:36 PM

When you point out that progressives are a coalition of factions without unifying core principles, you might as well be describing the conservatives pre-Goldwater—and given the former congressman Bob Barr's and Senator Lincoln Chaffee's dissatisfaction with the current President Bush, what may be its future.

On the conservative side rifts are developing between corporativist and small-business factions, between Straussian expansionists and traditional foreign policy realists (a core difference because this goes to the heart of defense policy), between minimal statists and religious moralists. There are substantial differences between these groups that cannot be wished away.

When you cited Blogs for Bush, you described a top-down group that's practically Leninist in its organization. That's a sign of conservatism in decline. David and Nick are de facto leaders because they have taken the initiative to develop the group and encourage the diverse voices to action, not because they gathered together an already homogeneous bunch of individuals.

Meanwhile, progressives are discovering their unifying principles because of, not in spite of, vigorous debate and an agreement to disagree on certain matters. The points that can slide are the secondary issues; the ones we come together on are our priorities. Speaking for myself, I think the core progressive values are substantial, as opposed to merely formal, individual freedom and equality.

Posted by: et alia, PBA member on October 17, 2004 08:20 AM

I would agree with the characterization that the Left has let its ideology get watered down with endless coalitions. On the other hand, the Right often fails to be ideological at all. As you mention in your post, "The main ones (Issues) are... pick a leader and then get behind them and follow." In other words, let the CEOs of the top organizations create an agenda and simply follow it as our patriotic duty. As for hard work, the Left (in its ideological pure form, if there is such a thing) believes very much in hard work. For this reason, it believes that hardworking people everywhere should get more of the profits of their labor instead of being exploited by those who don't work (the owners of productive capital).

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