Friday, May 01, 2009

Proposing, Not Opposing

I've noticed a few people on my blogroll who have remained mostly silent or at least severely subdued since Obama took office. Though it is nice to not have a daily reason to express righteous indignation (i.e. eight years of the Bush Administration) it appears to me, at least, that that awful time in our recent past made it all too easy for some to slap up a post. Take one part facts, two parts opinion, one part outrage, shake well, and then spew forth onto a monitor. Done.

I have faith in the creativity of fellow bloggers even if they might not have faith in themselves. My advice is to not limit yourself to politics, nor reserve the focus of your blog to merely one or two topic areas. Let your imagination take you places and then document the results. This blog focuses on music, movies, social commentary, opinion, and a variety of other topics that aren't limited to a strict focus on politics. The rules are few out here in the blogsophere, though we'd sincerely appreciate that you back up your strong opinions with a few well-placed facts here and there.

There are, of course, others who have never stopped complaining. They remind me of the critical theorists of my graduate school days, who always had something to gripe about, no matter how minuscule or banal. These people will never be satisfied, since they expect to have absolutely everything they want without compromise. This attitude is simply unrealistic and borderline delusional. This way of thinking runs contrary to the whole way politics is run or the way that humans resolve conflict and propose reform.

A friend of mine put it best.

The Green Party only knows how to oppose, not to propose. And I mention this truism as a person who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 and does not apologize for it. Everyone I've ever met who is a Green Party member or supporter is a genius at griping, identifying the problem, elucidating the background injustice behind the rhetoric, but their tragic flaw is that they propose few practical solutions to fix these matters, aside from steadfastly advancing their party's rise to power, which is a highly unlikely outcome owing to the fact most Americans are simply not that liberal, nor that progressive.

Here's an example of the sort of oppositional, not propositional thinking that one often encounters. I have mentioned U.S. Representative Artur Davis on this site before. He has recently begun the lengthy process of running to be this state's highest elected official. If elected, he would be Alabama's first Black governor, which is no small feat considering the deplorable history of racial inequality with which this state is automatically tagged by the rest of the country. The General Election will be held in November of 2010 and, true to form, Davis has already begun to position himself as a moderate. Regrettably, this means that certain concessionary measures must be made and when hate crimes legislation came up for a vote a few days ago in the House of Representatives, Davis completely reversed his prior stance and this time voted against the establishment of criminal prosecution laws for hate crimes against LGBTs.

I received a series of vitriolic e-mails from LGBT Alabamians and their allies, one claiming that Davis was not the Alabama version of Barack Obama after all and furthermore that he was not going to support him in his campaign after all. This seems a little short-sighted to me, honestly, since Davis, if elected, would be a far more effective ally for the LGBT community than any Republican good old boy. Don't get me wrong. I understand the plight of LGBT citizens, who have frequently been promised basic rights by politicians, only to find yet again that their concerns have been jettisoned at the first sign of potential conflict for the sake of political expediency.

In a predominantly white, conservative, Republican state, Davis really has no choice. Recent fratricidal behavior aside, the GOP still reigns supreme in this state and it will take the votes of rural whites for him to defeat whomever will be his Republican opponent in the General Election. If he does not aim for the center, he will be immediately pegged with the highly pejorative label of "liberal", which spells automatic political demise here. Though I was disappointed by Davis' vote, I understand it, though I certainly lament that his decision was made for transparently political reasons. In times like these, I recognize that I could not be an effective politician because I would often have to go against my personal convictions or resort to opportunistic tactics to win and then to stay in office.

Still, life requires give-and-take, not all take-take. Some activists seem to wish to believe otherwise and when they remind me of spoiled eight-year-old children, I make a point to take a step back and use my sense of pragmatism as my guide.


Suzi Riot said...

I really like your thoughts on this. That being said, I think that each of us blogs - or stops blogging - for different reasons. I absolutely found it easier to oppose than propose on my own blog, but that's the reason I started it. Working in social services advocacy, I literally spend my days proposing and, less often, opposing. I spend a lot of energy on building new community partnerships, trying to get support for new initiatives, etc, all in an effort to positively impact people's lives. But that means I have a lot of anger and frustration that I don't get to express. My blog was a way to let some of that negativity flow. With a new administration, my job has changed a little and my blogging has changed a lot. Right now I'm in a more absorbing kind of phase. I have less anger and frustration and I definitely have less to say. I'd rather read and hear what others are saying for now.

Also, I'm very very busy! But that really is not a good excuse for not blogging! :)

Batocchio said...

Good points, and Suzi makes several, too. It all has its place, and different bloggers will have different strengths and styles. One question is whether one wants to aspire to - being a prophet, or being an advisor. We need both.