Welcome to the first post of Left-Hand View, a blog project of Keith Berner. I am a proud resident of Takoma Park, Maryland, which Utne Reader once called “the leftiest ‘burb anywhere.” We’ee sometimes called the “Berkley of the East” but that has it backwards: Berkley is actually the Takoma Park of the West.
I have been a political activist my whole life. In 1963, my parents moved to the only purposely integrating community in the country (the Ludlow community in Shaker Heights, Ohio) and promptly dived into the Civil Rights Movement. At age 8 (1968), I was going door-to-door raising money for the “Chicago 7” (victims of Mayor Daley’s police riots at the Democratic convention that year). My first trips to Washington, DC came the following two years, as the whole family protested the Vietnam War. I had my picture in Time as a 12-year-old campaigner for George McGovern in 1972.
It was only after I moved to Takoma Park in 2000 that I became active in local politics. In the years since, I have worked on issues specific to my community, as well as the political campaigns of local, county, and state candidates. I also served for four years as precinct chair for the Democratic Party, quitting in disgust in 2006.
During this time, I have become increasingly cynical about politics and politicians. What I have seen up close is that even the politicos who tend to vote the right way in their respective legislatures are almost all driven principally by self-aggrandizement. They often (usually?) put political calculus above principle.
As for the Democratic Party, I have concluded its national cohort is spineless and inarticulate, unable to communicate purpose, and consistently adopting the rhetoric and policies of the right, out of fear, narrow (and short-term) self-interest, or shear idiocy.
On the state and county level, the party is all and only about the pursuit and maintenance of power. The party has utter contempt for (small-d) democratic principles in its governance and no sign of any principles when it comes to policy. The people who make it up are mostly petty autocrats and cowardly automatons, the latter blindly carrying out orders and adding nothing to the political debate.
(Note: I’m speaking here of party officials, not the rank and file. The rank and file consists overwhelmingly of people who are doing their best to change the world one voter at a time. Hats off to them!)
There are only five politicians left I can think of who are sufficiently driven by idealistic purpose to merit my financial and shoe-leather support. More on them in another post.
I will continue to vote for Democratic candidates the overwhelming majority of the time (and will never, ever, ever vote for a Republican). But I no longer support the party and am a great deal less likely than I used to be to advocate publicly for candidates who pander to the right or otherwise lack integrity.
The name I have chosen for this blog is obvious. I plan to present a progressive view of the world.I’m likely to focus heavily on politics, though, not exclusively.And, yes: I’m left handed. (Apologies to those of you who aren’t local: though I hope to write a lot about national issues and personages, it is also likely that many of my posts will have local themes that will mean nothing to you.)
I would love to hear from readers (being optimistic that I’ll have some!). Tell me if you want me to update you every time I post something new. Tell me if you agree with me. Tell me if you don’t (and let me know why!).
Warning to the politicians I know: though you may well be able to count on my vote, you cannot count on my gentleness in this blog. One of the great advantages of not being an aspiring or actual elected official is that I can tell it like it is. And that is what I plan to do.
I don’t have any illusions that the dialogue I hope to engender here will change the world. But maybe it will make those of us who engage in it feel a little better.
Feel free to contact me directly: email@example.com.
©2008 Keith Berner
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