Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Comment Rescue: Anonone and the best comment of the month

Anonone has become one of the ubiquitous commenters of the DE blogosphere: loved or hated depending on ...

... well, depending on a lot of things. A1 and Tyler, obviously, can't stand each other. But despite the fact that A1 has a habit of going for the throat (like comparing GOPers to Nazis on occasion), intellectual consistency forces me to admit to his/her having scored the Best Comment of the Month in response to another comment by Pandora:

I am surprised that you repeated the idea that "political parties have to control their fringe." Even upon a moment of reflection, it is clear that such an approach is the antithesis of nurturing free expression of ideas within a political party.

Who represents the "fringe" that should be controlled in the republican party? Sarah Palin supporters? Ron Paul supporters? John McCain supporters? Mike Castle? RSmitty? Tyler Nixon?

And on the Democratic side, who represents the "fringe" that should be controlled?

Russ Feingold supporters? Robert Casey supporters? Evan Bayh supporters? Tom Carper? Ben Nelson? Jessie Jackson? Jason330?

My point here is that one person's "fringe" is another person's deeply held or even principled position. Furthermore, political parties have multiple fringes. I could argue that the republicans have controlled their liberal "fringe" quite successfully - it just isn't the same group that you consider as "fringe."

Next, how does a political party "control" their "fringe"? Kicking them out? Censoring them? Returning donations? Denying them a vote? Questioning their patriotism?

So, which "fringe" of the Democratic party do you think should be "controlled" and how do you propose doing it?

The republican party has overwhelming supported its leaders and their policies for the last 30 years. They like who they are. The only thing that could possible save them from political obscurity is the emergence of national leaders from the fringes of the party that they have tried desperately to control, so I don't see that happening any time soon.

It occurred to me that effective parties don't control their fringes, they exploit them and (occasionally) empower them (usually by accident).

Think about it: for years, and it has not changed completely, people whose main issue was gay rights had no choice but to vote for Democratic candidates. As my friend Waldo would point out, when you have to choose between people who are actively out to persecute you and people who will make you promises, get your vote, and ignore you after the election, then you support the people who will at least not actively attack you. You have no choice. Do it long enough and you may, however, slowly accrete power.

Sometimes the fringe takes over: evangelicals were a minority bordering on a fringe in the GOP in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and eventually they managed to grow their way into virtual control of the party. This did not turn out well for the party or the country.

What's happened, unfortunately, is that we have become too imprecise with our language. Fringe in the way pandora was using the term was meant to refer to people so far to the edges of American values that they are potentially violent, while A1 correctly points out that all political parties have fringes, and those fringes are not necessarily pathologically dangerous. In the 1840s, the fringes of American politics were calling for the abolition of slavery.

So I can honestly say that today was one of the times when a comment has forced me to say to myself, Geez, I wish I'd thought of that first.

Notes to Anonone:

1) I will be back to busting your chops tomorrow, so don't get complacent

2) If it wasn't already the 29th of the month, you might still have competition for the best comment of the month, but hey--we all get lucky from time to time

3) This still won't make Tyler like you any better

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the comment rescue and your kind words. I am glad that I was able to contribute something useful to the discussion today.

I would like to make the point that I have no personal animosity or dislike of Tyler. I do disagree with him very strongly on a number of issues, and I also agree with him strongly on others. Unfortunately, we have not found a way to disagree with one another without becoming disagreeable. I certainly own half of that. If you pardon the mixed metaphor, I think that we both have short fuses on our rhetorical triggers. Under different circumstances, like sitting together at a GD concert, I am certain that we would actually enjoy each other's company.

I am looking forward to continuing the dialog, and don't worry, I won't become complacent.

Don't you, either.