More Politics of Fear

My eyes have been opened to the truth about so many varying issues this year that’s it’s difficult to process it all, let alone articulate it all. One of the most surprising things to see this election season is how elitist so many people on the left are. This happens even when you don’t expect, even when the blogger is normally writing about such issues as the working class and fighting against the elitism of the upper class left. The response to Palin in the PUMAsphere and the femosphere is exhibit A here.

Even as many of them have been kicked and screamed at and virtually beaten up (if not physically so in some cases), even as the Democratic Party threw parties celebrating their demise, they are still making the argument that a progressive will always vote progressive and that is the definition of progressivism. They argue that anyone who doesn’t vote for a Democrat or a third party leftist is not a prog. If you vote for Palin, you have misidentified, you were actually conservative or independent and too stupid to realize it. What this argument ignores is that it is relying on the same old shame arguments the left uses against women every election cycle. Is this really what they want? What you want? To be the victim of shame arguments? Will the PUMAsphere turn into a suburb of Obotopia? It looks like that could happen, judging from what’s being written at those blogs we’ve been visiting all summer. Check out some of it:

Anglachel, surprisingly enough, subscribes to this argument. To wit:

The political issue is bigger than Palin herself. There are a wide range of reactions to her selection and her ability to garner votes (as opposed to generate buzz) is probably narrow, though wider than it should have been. With regard to Democratic voters, putting Palin on the ticket should have had the same effect with Dem and Dem-leaning Independent women voters as putting Alan Keyes on the ticket would have had with Dem and Dem-leaning Independent AA voters, to wit, negligible. However, with the misogyny and Hillary-bashing of the primaries and the out-of-the-gate misogyinistic reactions to Palin herself, the Obamacans will suffer measureable attrition from this constituency. Among Hillary voters I have read and/or emailed with, most are laughing their asses off at the hysteria of the Obamacans, but most also are saying they won’t vote for a conservative. A significant number who were considering voting McKinney or simply leaving the ballot blank say they will vote Palin. None who said they would vote Obama are changing their minds.

That was mild enough, but she wasn’t done. Later that day she put this argument from Shakes front and center on her blog:

Now, there was never a real risk that progressives would vote for McCain en masse; those Hillary supporters who show up in polls as planning to vote for McCain may very well be Republican and Independent women who were voting for Clinton, not for the Democrats.

There has been, however, a real risk that progressives who are sick of the misogyny and sick about the direction the party was taking would sit this one out. And the Republicans were counting on that continuing.

I called her on it and she shot back a confusing response, claiming offense. And how am I supposed to feel, Anglachel, when you just rhetorically kicked me and those like me out of the Progressive group. That makes you like the Democratic Party in miniature, no?

Alegre has basically told people who will vote for Palin that they can be on her blog, but they can’t talk about their vote. They must focus on issues. No Palin or Obama, she said. Then the next day, after honoring her request (it is her blog after all) I dropped by for just a second to see a hit piece on Palin front and center on the front page. That one is full of sloppy rhetoric too, but it’s also definitely a hit piece on Palin at the end. So apparently, you can talk about Palin at Alegre’s Corner, as long as you’re willing to trash her. You just have to say something nice first, then you can dig in the dirt all you want. But don’t even think about promoting her, even as a strategic choice, because Alegre’s still got cooties from the last time she was anywhere near a Republican. That is how she comes across, ftr.

It’s sad really. I really had a lot of respect for her, but I wasn’t surprised by her reaction in the least. Anglachel, on the other hand, really surprised me.

Someone in comments here said they had noticed a decidedly authoritarian mindset descending upon the PUMAsphere (here used as shorthand for disaffected Hillary bloggers), and after what I’ve seen this weekend, I have to say, I can see how one would think that. People like Anglachel and Alegre and Zuzu at Shakes are using shame-based rhetoric to suggest to you that if you vote for Palin, you can’t be a progressive, and that is categorically untrue. It is a lie, and a dangerous one at that, because they just present it as opinion. (They would claim, I think, that they aren’t trying to persuade anybody, but that’s a bit disingenuous considering most of us are already well aware of how rhetoric has been used against women throughout history.) If you believe in free and fair elections, one person/one vote, the secret ballot, if you believe in the value of choice (which applies to more than JUST abortion), if you believe in diversity and equal pay and equal opportunity, you are a progressive, regardless of how you vote this time around.

I don’t quite understand the reason for this mindset . It’s not like progs for Palin are posting that if you don’t vote for her, you’re enabling misogyny everywhere. We seem to be some of the few disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters left who actually understand the rhetoric of “I own my vote.” FTR, I haven’t seen anything like this over at The Confluence or at PUMApac. They aren’t saying they’ll vote for McCain, but they appear to at least have respect enough for the movement and all we’ve been through, and an understanding of just how untrustworthy today’s leadership Dems are, and they aren’t inclined to help them rhetorically beat or shame women into submission. They understand that they have no authority whatsoever to identify people politically that way based on one vote. Bottom line: A progressive who votes for a non-progressive is still a progressive. Otherwise, we’re into the old racist one-drop territory. I mean, for christ’s sake, isn’t that one of the major characteristics of a progressive? An open mind?

UPDATE: Check out this great video from commenter and blogger Carpetride:

A fantastic LIVE version of Chain of Fools (I love me some Aretha), as well as a good message. Thanks CR!


18 comments on “More Politics of Fear

  1. annabellep says:

    I’m not buying the politics of fear from anybody this time around. And I’m not going to allow anyone to assign me to whatever caste they think I belong to.

    P&L readers are free to promote any candidate they want here, as long as they are respectful of other people’s choices. Readers are free to disagree as long as they are respectful in doing so.

    If you are an obot, however, I will put words you never intended to speak into your mouth, so don’t even go there.

  2. katiebird says:

    As someone who isn’t planning to vote for McCain but can see the possibility of such a vote by November 4th, I really appreciate this post.

    I WILL NOT vote for Barack Obama. But, my vote has always been meaningless in the Presidential election. A Democrat living in Kansas is casting a symbolic vote. We could all stay home for all it matters.

    At least until the 2000 election. When Gore won the popular vote by just about the same number of votes that he got in Kansas.

    Suddenly our vote while still “meaningless” as far as the election went became symbolically extremely important.

    And after watching Kerry concede the election without the final count from Ohio in 2004, I’m damned if I’ll give that to anyone as easily in the future.

    So, I’m uncommitted today. I don’t get how that makes me less of a progressive than anyone else. But, I’m not sure I want the same label as those guys anymore anyway.

    Health Care for Everyone, anyone?

  3. kenoshaMarge says:

    I will vote McCain/Palin because I believe that Wisconsin will be very close and I want Obama to lose here. I particularly want to poke a sharp stick at the Wisconsin Democratic Party for what they did to Debra Bartoshevich.,0,928278.story

    In addition I want to vote for a woman. If AA’s can vote for someone out of pride then there should be nothing wrong with me doing the same thing as a woman. Since I don’t believe either of the men that are running will make a great President I choose to vote the way my heart takes me. Actually now that I have become an Independent I can vote for anyone I damn well please without a moment’s angst.

    At first I missed being a Democrat because it had been a part of my identity for so long. Now, I am liking the freedom.

  4. apishapa says:

    I am torn as I have been for months. I refuse to vote for Obama, but I have been voting Democrat for 35 years and I don’t know if I can vote for a Republican. I have looked at Republicans as the enemy for my entire adult life.

    I have trusted Democrats to represent my values, and I just don’t know how to react to this betrayal I feel in my heart. My family was always Republican and was furious when I registered Democrat at 18. I have slowly over the years convinced most of them that Democrats represent women and working people. Now they are calling me a traitor because I say I have been betrayerd by my party.

    So, Idon’t know if I can vote for McCain, but I do think he and Palin represent as close to my values as Obama and Biden. I don’t even know who they represent or what they stand for, except Biden loves him some credit card companies. Obama is a complete mystery because he has gone to incredible lengths to prevent the kind of vetting he is demanding for Palin.

    I know Palin is anti-abortion. Obama has a very murky record on that, too. I do believe that abortion for the most part is safe, because most Americans support choice. I do not believe she can take away birth control. She has already stood up for gay rights is a way that most Democrats have failed to do. She has taken on her own party’s corruption. Democrats? No longer believe in conting votes and are guilty of blatant vote stealing. So, who reallyrepresents me.

    Obama (along with the DNC) has attacked everything that defines me as a person again and again over the last several months. If McCain wants to sweet talk me, I’ll listen. Why not? My party is trying to force me iinto voting for Obama and I am tired of being abused by my party. Why do I owe them any loyalty?

  5. carpetride says:

    Great new video response to Greta wire…

  6. CognitiveDissonance says:

    Thanks for the post, Annabelle. I, too, am getting upset that the Obot authoritarian mindset seems to be also creeping into the Pumashpere. I saw that story at Allegre’s place and it just hit me between the eyes. I was so offended that I left and may not go back to her blog at all. Whether the writer would ever consider voting for McCain/Palin is not the point – it was a despicable story and should not be found in ANY progressive blog, but especially not one of ex-Hillary supporters who fought this very thing all these long months.

    What really gets me is the fact that Obama is in no way a “real” progressive. So why would any “real” progressive even consider voting for him. If they want to stand on strict definitions of the term, they should either be voting for Nadir or McKinney. If you tell them that, I suspect they’ll tell you that would be throwing away their vote, therefore they must vote Democratic. But that’s a false argument, since the democratic candidate is not a progressive. And it also points out that they are talking about voting strategically.

    Ah, now we see the hypocrisy. Because many of us are going to vote for McCain/Palin as a strategic vote to push the reform of the democratic party – a very important and progressive goal. Their strategy gets us nothing but more corruption in the future and a president who will not govern progressively. Our strategy hopefully gets us change that will allow us to nominate a real progressive in 4 years. So who is really the enemy here? Who is really doing what is best for the democratic party in the long term?

    This is exactly why I will vote McCain/Palin, though I’ve never voted for a republican in my 55 year life. That was a hard decision for me to make. But what makes it more palatable is the fact that McCain is a moderate republican, and both he and Palin are sending out the message that they are going to reform their party. To me, that’s icing on the cake. We are all better off if the republican party gets some reform right along with the democratic party. Because frankly, neither any longer represent the people.

    As for anyone who wants to throw me off their blog for my decision, f*ck them! It’s my vote and I’ll give it to whomever I please. And if I decide to write my dog Katie in, I’ll do that, too.

  7. joanie in Brooklyn says:

    I am becoming confused. First I have to say that I was never into the whole blogging thing before Hillary’s campaign. I heard about Just Say NO Deal on tv and visited their site and that led me to many others. I didn’t now where to look first but something about the name “Riverdaughter” spoke to me, so I went there first. I was truly delighted and now visit there every day. From there I found Alegre and Anglechel. I came to enjoy those sites as well. At the end of the campaign, I particularly liked the “action” items we got from Alegre.

    But now Anglechel finds the need to make a point that she is not a PUMA. Why? I didn’t understand her rationale. PUMA is a unifying for for women’s issues ( I am deliberately being careful not to use the word “feminist” here) and the Democratic party’s attitude towards women. It began about Hillary but is no longer about her. Why did she feel the need to say she’s not a part of that? and how do we go forward from here when people are beginning to separate themselves and thereby weakening our strength? Why the snark for people like myself who want to, and will, cast a protest vote for McCain/Palin? There was an element or condescention/superiority in her (Anglechel’s) post that I resented.

    Anyway, she can write whatever she wants, the rest of us don’t have to read it. Anyway, you look at it, there’s not a progressive in the race any more. So the best we can do is not allow the person who robbed us of having a one, win.

  8. grlpatriot says:

    Anna Belle, thanks for this piece. Trying to inject some reason into the fear mind set that has taken hold at AC since the Palin announcement has left me both exhausted and saddened.

  9. CMike says:

    I was a Clintonista for a season, though I’m to the left of the Senator on economic and national security issues [and, I suppose I’m to the left of most of the readers here on those issues]. These days I still read Anglachel faithfully, every couple of days I get caught up at Peacocks and Lillies, and I take a look at “The Confluence” and Alegre’s site now and again.

    As an outsider let me say, I think some Clinton supporters are falling into the trap of walling themselves off from each other by becoming uncompromising over what are rather minor doctrinal (and strategic) disagreements. In a democracy, to be effective, one wants to be in the habit of disagreeing, with one’s allies, agreeably. Religion, that’s different, then you do have to burn the heretics at the stake.

  10. Masha says:

    Obama is NOT a progressive. No self-respecting progressive would have voted for FISA.

  11. CognitiveDissonance says:

    In a democracy, to be effective, one wants to be in the habit of disagreeing, with one’s allies, agreeably. Religion, that’s different, then you do have to burn the heretics at the stake.

    Hilarious, CMike (the last part), but I think the first part is a very good point. That’s why I’ve liked that Murphy, Riverdaughter, and some others have mentioned the fact that we will all react differently to what has transpired. Some of us will skip voting for a President. Others of us will vote 3rd party. And some of us will vote McCain/Palin. But whatever we choose will be respected.

    This, I believe, is the wisest course for the PUMA movement, and will in the end be the best for the party long term. All 3 courses of action refuse to enable the party or help them disenfranchise us. For some, not voting will be as much as their conscience allows. For others of us, we will go all the way and vote for McCain. We really need to respect the fact that this is a difficult choice. None of us thought we would be put in this position by our party. None of the choices are ideal. So let’s respect and support each other. I think being Pro-Choice should be about a lot more than just abortion.

  12. Palomino says:

    Anglachel is an astute political analyst, and I never miss what she has to say. I would be sad to see a pie fight start up with her just because she says she’s not a PUMA and has staked out her position on what a progressive vote means.

    And I agree with her. A vote for McCain is not a progressive vote. It’s the only guaranteed-effective PROTEST vote, period. I respect a vote for McCain on that basis and would cast one myself if I had to.

    Because I’m in California–not a swing state, unless Obama’s situation is more dire than it appears–I have the luxury of making my point in one of several ways (voting Green, voting downticket only, staying home). But if you’re a voter in a swing state, you don’t have that luxury. If you really want to defeat Obama, as I do too, then you really have to suck it up and vote for McCain. There’s just no other way in a tight race.

    Yeah, politics is a dirty business. We already knew that. And this year, we’ve also had our faces rubbed in the slime on the Democratic side.

    If you do end up voting for McCain in your swing state, you’ll be doing the dirty work for all of us, and you won’t hear any “more progressive than thou” scolding from me. I’ll still be banging my head on my desk on the morning of November 5, but not as hard as if Obama were to get himself elected president.

  13. annabellep says:

    Palomino, you have some valid points, but I think you misunderstand what I’m saying, and also what Anglachel is saying. I don’t think any disaffected Hillary supporter would ever claim that a vote for John McCain is a progressive vote. And indeed, the argument with that assumption is, with all due respect (and thank you for your thoughtful tone), a bit of a red herring. Our argument is clearly articulated to object to the fact that what the people referred to in this post are actually saying is that a progressive can’t vote for John McCain. If they do, they weren’t progressive to begin with.

    That’s a purity argument on par with the old one-drop rule, or the cast system in India. There’s also another institution that uses this kind of argument, it’s called a church. I mean, are we swing-state McCain voters supposed to do the heavy lifting of making the collective goal (nobama) happen, while those of us who live in comfortably blue states preserve their reputation, even while those same blue-staters say we are the new political untouchables? I mean, how valuable is that reputation if someone won’t even stake their own convictions on it?

    Maybe it’s a silly argument to make out of hurt because of the value of Achlachel’s knowledge (which I agree is both great and valuable). I think someone could validly claim that. I would argue that while it is hurtful, it’s also more than hurtful, it’s dangerous, because it reveals the actual depth that authoritarianism has infiltrated on the left.

  14. susannunes says:

    The problem in a nutshell is we have NO choice in this election; corporate America and the media, both in the tank for the GOP, rigged the whole thing so we would have both McCain and Obama.

    It stinks, and it’s going to get worse until people wake up.

  15. Palomino says:

    Annabelle, the point of my post was to express my full agreement with YOU. Evidently I didn’t get that across.

  16. annabellep says:


    Thanks for clarifying. I’m glad for the misunderstanding though, because it reminded me that Anglachel’s contribution is more valuable than this issue. I don’t think I was seeing that clearly, but I did after reading and responding to your comment. FTR, you might have expressed your sentiments perfectly. I might have been reading too hastily.

  17. ugsome says:

    I come the discussion too late, but let me leave a couple of thoughts.

    A seismic shift in political sensibilities is underway. A lot of people are shedding, questioning, clarifying, or reaffirming their Democratic identities. Each of us will draw her own conclusion. Anglachel simply reaffirmed her self-identification. Stating that she remains a Clinton Dem, not a PUMA, also affirms that she is in the business of analysis from a liberal viewpoint, not advocacy of a course of action.

    I don’t pay much attention to arguments about who oughta vote for whom. What happens in the voting booth is between me and God (and the Board of Elections) and the same goes for you.

  18. Gazzed says:

    I am a Puma from Pa. and I am voting for McCain and Palin I don’t care that a few have decided to leave Puma’s or vote for Obama thats their own choice if they can live with it right on, I can’t in my heart vote for Obama something is not right about him and it scares me, I have voted democratic for 25 years and it was a hard decision to make, but I’ll hold my nose and vote.

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