Some habits are hard to break. Smoking. Drinking. Whoring. Eating dark chocolate. (Okay, I don’t know about the first three.) Another bad habit I have developed is going to snarky political web sites. While there are plenty of them out there, arguably DailyKos.com is the snarkiest of them. I wish I could break my addiction to DailyKos but there I am many times a day, obsessively reading the site.
Giving up DailyKos is much easier said than done. I go to it all the time, not so much to read comments (who has time for that, although plenty of people do) but to get the political news I care about. Only it’s always delivered in the most ultra-sarcastic of tones. For a site that supposedly celebrates the diversity of people and values skills like critical thinking, it sure paints all Republicans with the same whitewash. Granted that as a class Republicans seem to be all cut from the same cloth. And yet there is variety among Republicans and conservatives. What is almost universal about Republicans in office is they are almost all intensely weird. But arguably they are no weirder than the denizens on DailyKos. Like, um, me? Am I one of the damned?
You have your socially conservative Republicans. You have your fiscally conservative Republicans. You also have your libertarian-leaning Republicans. Of course, most lately you also have your Tea Party Republicans. They are quite a bit different. On DailyKos though they might as well all be wearing identical Ku Klux Klan robes and burning crosses. They are all portrayed as bizarre, which is obvious from the way they are characterized in posts and captions. They are objects for derision and for our entertainment, so weirdly and objectively wrong that they occupy a unique zone of utter wrongness, not even fit for scorn although of course the scorn is ladled out in extremely generous portions.
Birds of a feather, perhaps? DailyKos’s dirty secret is that its denizens are objectively just as weird and bizarrely opinionated, just in the other direction. I don’t hang out much on conservative websites like redstate.org. I doubt though that their arguments get as heated as they do on DailyKos. Few posters will be taking socially conservative positions on DailyKos, mainly because they are not suicidal, but boy they sure do a lot of arguing about nuances on stuff that just does not matter. The really egregious flamers eventually get banned. Arguments can be both enlightening and disagreeable at the same time. Overall they are a passionate bunch, but they can often take great offense over differences in opinion that really are quite minor. So mostly I read the articles and skip the comments. Who needs all that indigestion?
So why do I bother? I bother simply because the site has political news that is very topical. I bother because they raise a ton of money for progressive candidates, and were instrumental in getting candidates like new Senator Elizabeth Warren elected. I visit because they may be super snarky, but they are endlessly reading polls, assessing candidates and digging into dry facts about various politicians’ political war chests. These things matter in the long run. If you are trying to field better progressive candidates you have to know a ton about your candidate, the competition, and the state or district’s demographics. They have done the research, they have some top notch analysts and they endlessly comb the political news of the day for the nuggets that really matter.
Too bad there is so much chaff in the wheat. Today Marco Rubio’s “water” incident is all over DailyKos. In his response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, this rising star of the right drank from a bottle of Poland Springs while water on camera, without using glass and subsequently grimaced. There is today endless hilarity and comments about this on DailyKos, as if it mattered. I guess it gives them something to talk about, even though Obama’s speech was far more relevant and interesting than a minor imaging mistake by a rising Republican star. Yeah, I watched the clip, and then I tuned out the subsequent discussion. It doesn’t matter at all, except to the super politically charged progressives on DailyKos.
I also look and read most of the recommended diaries. Some of them turn out to be piffle, but about fifty percent of the time they are topical and contain relevant news I generally haven’t seen elsewhere first.
For the most part though, DailyKos is a 24 hour a day carnival show for hypercharged progressives that is chock full of snark and antipathy. Yet, I haven’t found a satisfactory alternative. What I want is a site without the snark but with similar content. I need a site like this where Republicans don’t need to be endlessly lampooned and skewered. Most Republicans simply have to open their mouth. It’s usually the same as putting their foot into it anyhow. However, Republicans are not stupid. They just have wildly different opinions and ways of seeing the world than I do. They may be declining as a political party at the moment, but they are generally astute at where they place their time and money. They know how to gerrymander with the best of them. Like it or not many of our most successful people are hard core Republicans. They may have flunked the course on empathy but they have figured out how to succeed financially and professionally. Their perspective is one that I largely don’t share, but it is one worthy of tolerance, especially from a community that calls itself progressive. (I make exceptions for the Todd Akins among them.) It’s not necessary to say they are wrong about something. Usually it’s simply a matter of documenting what they say and do and let the record speak for itself.
Clearly I haven’t found the site I am looking for, although I like sites like ThinkProgress.org somewhat better when it comes to the tone of their material, but not as much when it comes to variety and depth. At some point though I need to go cold turkey and quit DailyKos. Maybe I just need to read real news sites again, like CNN. Too much partisanship and analysis is probably not a good thing. Preaching to the choir can be fun, but like smoking, drinking, whoring and dark chocolate it’s probably not too healthy.
Wait a minute. Dark chocolate is healthy. Pass me another bag of dark chocolate M&Ms.