From Montpelier, With Love
Since my last post, I continued my travels from Colorado to Vermont and back home to Virginia.
In Vermont, I helped facilitate a DLC "values-based agenda-setting" training session for a large group of Democratic elected officials, most of them part of the party's new majority in the state legislature. As has been the case in many of the sixteen or seventeen similar trainings I've co-facilitated over the last seven years (all in all, nearly 500 state and local elected officials have gone through this program), some of the participants came in with pre-conceived, and often mixed or negative impressions of the DLC. This was particularly true in Montpelier where, as you can imagine, a lot of Democrats are big fans of their former Governor, Howard Dean. But I'm reasonably sure just about everyone left the training happy, and with a very different view of the DLC, since the whole purpose of the training is to help Democrats wherever we go better articulate their own values, and develop policy goals and ideas tailored to the particular needs of their states. There's no "left, right or center" in these sessions, and nobody postures as the only "real Democrats;" we treat each other with equal respect.
Why do I mention this? Because the blogosphere is beginning to crowd up again with some intra-party venom, much of it related to the DNC chairmanship competition, and a fair amount aimed at the DLC as a favorite whipping boy. But I saw none of that in Vermont, in Colorado, and in Alabama, the three wildly different places where I've work with diverse groups of Democrats over the last two weeks.
Don't get me wrong: I am not for party unity as an end in itself, and if there are real matters of principle, strategy or policy we need to fight about, then let's choose up sides and have at it.
But I am tired beyond belief of fights among Democrats based on nothing more than labels, stereotypes, conspiracy theories and name calling. I didn't see that in traveling round the country, but it's never more than a click away online, and in Washington.
So I'm glad to be home, but after many fine days of working with elected Democrats of every stripe who are rediscovering their common values, I'm sad to be back in the land where my immediate challenge is whether to dignify the likes of David Sirota with a response to his latest round of baseless ad hominem attacks on me and my colleagues as evil corporate agents selling out working people to the Bavarian Illuminati, blah blah, bark bark woof woof. This sort of "dialog" is a lose-lose proposition, and it makes me want to go back out where Democrats are more interested in win-win discussions. --