Wednesday, November 14, 2007



Hey, I've been really out of the loop here, why is there so much bad blood between the DCDP and Progressive Dane? Both parties have their pluses and minuses, but generally, I mean, isn't this like a feud between people who like their toast butter side up and people who like their toast butter side up with a dash of jelly?

Ye Olde Blogosphere has been exploding in the last few days with debate over who should win the DCDP chairmanship, incumbent Wayne Bigelow or challenger Russell Wallace. Honestly, I didn't know a lick about this before a few days ago, so my opinion on the matter is pretty malleable.

But I do have a bit of an opinion about how the debate has been carried out. Poorly. Which is a shame, because most of the people involved have similar, progressive goals and just want to be on the winning side of an election for once (2006 being a notable but rare exception, but only in terms of people, not policy). If we're this divisive and divided for a simple party chair election, imagine what we'll be like when the big one roles around next year?

Here are a few of the choicer comments from area blogs:

The Critical Badger is feeling pretty critical of Wallace.
A source has informed me that Russell Wallace dropped off over 40 new memberships ($10/piece) to the Dane County Democratic Party last night, just before the deadline to ensure he will have a healthy majority in the race against Wayne Bigelow. A typical PDesque way to ensure victory. Unfortunately, it’s widely predicted that Wallace will win.
I've been gathering that PD makes it somewhat of a habit to employ these kinds of methods come party elections, and they seem shady to me, but that's the extent of my opinion. Someone would have to help lay out any other past alleged transgressions by PD members for me to get a better idea as to whether such criticism is warranted or not. Also, it should be noted that apparently, Wallace isn't even a member of PD. Huh.

Caffeinated Politics doesn't much care for Wallace, either.

Wayne Bigelow understands that driving the car off a cliff does not encourage others to be passengers. He cares about the county party and deserves to be elected again.

Russell Wallace is smart and energized, but the wrong choice for Democrats who wish for more than a litmus test on political purity.

OK, so that's a bit more reasonable of a response. But what about Bigelow? Is there anyone out there who doesn't think he's the bees knees? Apparently so.

This comes from TDP forums, courtesy Vicky Selkowe:

It would indeed be nice to have a DCDP Chair who is actually focused on building a stronger local Dem party and who does more than continually foam at the mouth about Progressive Dane.

Yet another example of Wayne's blinders-on obsession with PD can be found in his response to an email I sent him and others on the Dane Dems E-Board titled "New Member Outreach," in which I asked Wayne what was being done to reach out to and engage all of the people who had recently joined the party as a result of the spring elections. A snippet of his response is below, am happy to share the full email exchange with anyone who's interested.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Wayne Bigelow
Date: Apr 22, 2007 5:17 PM
Subject: Re: New Member Outreach
To: Vicky Selkowe [and others]

Let's cut to the chase up front: It's about PD members flooding our meeting to take over endorsements and now you want them them to take over more. I'm not sympathetic. What PD can never achieve on its own you want to take over and run for yourself -- even though it was achieved by the endless labors of Democrats. Success you could never achieve on PD's own.
It strikes me as supremely silly that such a rift exists between PD members are Bigelow/the DCDP. I'm glad there are two distinct parties, because having more than a 2-party system generally makes for a healthier political climate. But I'd rather they be fighting over major differences in policy than in personality. Neither one of these guys comes off looking particularly clean. Then, you also have to consider that anyone who so actively seeks a position of power in the first place may not be someone you'd really want to see in that position at all. But that's a debate for another day, I suppose.

In the end, I'm left feeling more confused than ever. I'll be curious to see how the vote goes tonight, but I'm not a member of the DCDP (or PD) so I have no say in this anyway. As to why I'm not a member? Because of petty rivalries like this taking up more time than the actual important issues of our day. Because a lot of the "leaders" we've been getting are more interested in their own egos than they are in seriously unifying like-minded folks who want to work for a better city, county, state and country.

I think that's why, when I look at my friends (in their early twenties to mid-forties), very few of them are officially affiliated with any one party. They're politically and socially active, but they (wisely, I think) don't pledge allegiance to any one group. Heck, I'm about as liberal as can be, and I've voted for a few Republicans (gasp!) in my day.

So here's what I wish: I wish that the DCDP and the PD would both get over themselves and learn to work co-operatively when it was possible, and to disagree constructively when necessary. I wish that whoever wins tonight's vote really does work to solidify the party and point it in a progressive, smart-minded, daring, Greater Good direction free of petty in-fighting and finger pointing. And most of all, I wish upon a freakin' star that people would stop leaving ridiculous anonymous comments like this one. Yeesh.


Critical Badger said...

This is a good post, and frankly, you're right. I would like to add three things to clarify some items.

First, there is a legit argument that PD is in fact, by definition, not Democratic. Yes, if we drew a Venn-Diagram, there would be some sharing similar feelings, but a number of the PD types are on record supporting the Nader-types. Just because we're all left of center does not mean we should be in the same party.

Second, the anon comment you are referring to was someone mocking the use of "Gay Gerbil" as a way to smear my blog. It is from a post I had this week. I do not think they meant to call Wallace "gay" by any means.

Third, there is an argument lost in translation to many who sit on the sidelines of the DPDC-PD-Wayne-Wallace debate: the college democrats. I implore you and your readers to go through my old posts and read our position against Wallace. It is less to do with the PD-meeting packing BS and more to do with issues of honesty, integrity, and hackery. The UW-Madison College Democrats were called a group of racists by Russell Wallace last year when we did not endorse his supported candidate for Madison's Common Council. We're scared what he might do to us next! That is my main critique; not the usual DPDC-anti-PD position, although certainly I am sympathetic to it.

Luke said...

"So here's what I wish: I wish that the DCDP and the PD would both get over themselves and learn to work co-operatively when it was possible, and to disagree constructively when necessary."

You did mention this above, but it is worth repeating: Wallace isn't even a member of PD. And at least some of the "hard core" PD members don't want to have anything to do with this.

This isn't PD vs. DCDP, it is DCDP vs. DCDP.

Emily said...

CB - thanks for the clarifications. Like I said, I'm relatively ignorant of the issues with the candidates and it's something I'd like to correct, so I'll be sure to take you up on the recommended reading.

Luke - good point.

Critical Badger said...

I disagree with Luke. Yes, not everyone in PD will vote, but you will see the meeting tonight packed with PD faces.

See the debate between Luke and I carried out on my blog.

Forward Our Motto said...

There was never a Progressive Dane effort to stack the meeting. Don't believe the hype.

Progressive Dane is an independent and local political party. Since we're primarily focused on Dane County, a group of members (I have no idea how many and I'm guessing the critical badger doesn't have any idea either) belong to other parties to stay connected with state and national issues. PD doesn't require a loyalty oath or any other such thing. So yeah, I'm sure there were PD members there, but that's because people can do whatever they want. That does not make it a policy of Progressive Dane.

Because a lot of the "leaders" we've been getting are more interested in their own egos than they are in seriously unifying like-minded folks who want to work for a better city, county, state and country.

...which Progressive Dane leadership are you referring to, if I may ask? Progressive Dane is dedicated to working for a better city and county (and by extension state and country).

Emily said...

FOM: You may ask, but I wasn't talking about any specific PD member, or any specific party member. I was speaking of many (not all) of our "leaders" in general.

I have no real beef with PD as a party. Like I said, I like the idea of having more than just two parties working in politics, and I agree with many of PD's ideals and goals. Same goes for the DPDC. It's the sniping between individuals that gets me.

Thanks for your input.

Forward Our Motto said...

Ah, but you said you wish PD would get over themselves. And while I can't speak for a few years ago, I feel that now at least, PD has gotten over itself and is willing to work together w/the Dems when we can and agree to disagree in situations where we won't agree.

Critical Badger said...

...except when it comes to working with College Democrats, an organization whom PD-member politicans have called racist.

Forward Our Motto said...

S'okay, except for the UW-Campus.

And CB you've called Ashok supporters homophobic (or strongly hinted at it...almost Russel Wallace like - hah!) and goons. And not necessarily you but then there's Ashok Watch....etc.

So I don't know if all the college Dems are angels either.

So um yeah, I really don't know who started it, but I guess there's some difficulties in some spots. But when people actually get into office on the city council, say, alders worked together when they agreed.

Critical Badger said...

Excuse me, but this is outrageous. I am shocked you'd even stoop so low as to post such things.

First of all, I was nominated for UW-Madison ally of the year in 2006 and I maybe put in 100+ hours volunteering for Fair Wisconsin. As President of a UW-Madison fraternity, I worked hard to establish ties with the new gay fraternity AND welcomed gay members into our primarily straight/jewish fraternity. So I am sensitive to the issue you have brought up. I know it's a few months old, but for historical record I am going to reply.

Someone who attacked me on my blog when I wrote about ashok in (they posted in defense of Ashok, therefore a supporter of Ashok, I know, shocking logic, right?) called bloggers a bunch of "gay gerbils" or something along those lines to attack us. The use of homophobic rhetoric was utterly sickening to me because I would expect that from a GOP supporter, not someone who claims to defend a member of the Green Party and Progressive Dane. So yes, that is SHOCKING and HOMOPHOBIC and WRONG.

Do not question me as a way to smear the College Democrats, either. I am a member. I have NEVER been elected to anything in the organization. I speak as myself. What a cheap rhetorical trick that is of you. It justifies applying anything GWB says to you. After all, you're both American, right?!? You must both speak officially for one another, right?!? Oh, wait, you don't. Just like I don't. The College Democrats just so happen to have their own website, blog, facebook group, meetings, etc. Try those locations for their message.

As for Ashok Watch, I have no idea what you're talking about.

The Lost Albatross