I’ve really learned a great deal over the last couple of days from everyone who participated in SallyCat’s excellent diary “A Question”- Conversation Continuation yesterday and my diary From A Political novice; A Question from the day before.

I’m still a novice however, in the realm of grassroots political activism and awareness, and as such, I continue to have questions. One sort of large question, or perhaps more accurately, a large but perhaps important set of questions that have arisen in my mind out of all the great exploration and discussion in these two diaries has to do with how we variously view the Democratic Party and what we expect of it.

It seems to me there is wide divergence of perspective on the Party, and I think this is essentially a good thing, yet I sense that a joint exploration of our views on the Party, as we did in those other two threads on so many other aspects of the political calculus, might be very useful.

As I’ve been reflecting on my own perceptions of the Democratic Party, the more I think about it, the more complex, even contradictory, it all seems to get. As an acknowledged novice this makes sense; a sort of first plunge into the deeper teritory of familiairizing oneself and intensifying one’s understanding of things frequently entails lots of work resolving conundrums and perceptual ambiguities, often with surprising results. But it struck me that, in general,  maybe most of us could gain more clarity in our own views through a productive discussion about all this party stuff, and with that in mind, I want to put forward some ideas and questions that might lead to fruitful discussion.

As regards the (Democratic) Party itself;
As regards the Party itself;

Who’s party is it?

Does the Party serve us or do we serve the party? (And if both are true, how can we help insure that it works to our advantage?)

Who runs the Party? Who’s responsible for defining the Party’s  principles? (Do we get screwed when we let the elected offcials assume this responsibility?  Do Al From and the DLC gang have any legitimate standing to define Democratic Party positions or are they usurpers who need to be ignored?)

What function do we expect the party to serve?

How do we determine when Party politics and mechanisms help us exercise our democratic freedoms and when the party hinders us from exercising those rights?

Can we make the money work better for us, rather than working against our own interests like it seems to do so often?

Can “we the people” wrest control of the Party from the various hijackers and blowhards who’ve claimed authority to speak for it?  Can we differentiate between those who claim to represent the party from those who actually do represent  and stand up for the ideals and principles we believe the party should represent? ( In other words, can we recognize that someone like Joe Biden represents the “Joe Biden Party”, and Lieberman the “Lieberman Party”, etc. Can we effectively separate these types out, disqualify them from claiming the capital “D” mantle as their rightful identifier?

My own expectations of the Democratic Party are quite small and low, and given  the enormous threat posed to us all by the excesses and insanity of the Bush regime, I regard my low expectations  as unfortunate, almost tragic.  It just seems to me that we all should be able to expect more, that we should be able to  use the party structure  as a far more effective tool for stimulating and propagating honest and meaningful debate drumming up strong support for people who can challenge the lies and deceptions of the Repub juggernaut in a way that wil lead to us regaining control of the country. And, it seems to me that, (with the notable and important exception of Howard Dean), the people currently running the Democratic Party machine, along with the hordes of overpaid and failed strategists and consultants, the elected leadership of the party and the most prominent contenders for the ’08 elections, are our biggest obstacles to moving forward.

But I’m a novice always looking for new illumination.

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