the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Democrats

Is the Blogosphere More Democratic or Republican?

Note:  From the comments I have already received on this post, I can tell that this post doesn’t really work — at least the way it was intended.  Now I know why people avoid writing boring political posts.  What I was trying for — and didn’t succeed — was to broaden the terms of liberal and conservative into ways that don’t necessarily follow political lines.  So, just because you like Sarah Palin does not automatically make you “conservative” in the way you act in the world on a daily basis.    It just makes you Conservative politically if you have her beliefs on abortion, etc. 

Is the Blogosphere more Democratic or Republican?  Liberal or Conservative?  These are the type of questions I ask myself when I wake up on a Tuesday morning.

I am looking for something more than the party politics of Liberal/Democratic and Conservative/Republican.    I want to think about the core ideologies behind the labels.  I am going to be overly-simplistic here.  Feel free to call me an idiot for trying to make sense out of this topic.


Respect for Authority (tradition, family, values)
Personal Responsibility (the free market, small government)


Freedom (openness, rights of underdogs, lack of tradition, free speech)
Social Responsibility (social programs, public schools, striving for equality, big government)

Who do I consider a liberal?  My mother.

On Sunday, my mother and I took a walk to the local Catholic Church, which has a flea market each week.  It is a pretty lame flea market.  It is mostly locals selling their crap.  We never buy anything, but it is fun to look at the old toys, albums from the 1970’s, touristy dishes bought on vacation at Niagara Falls, etc.  It reminds me of  the joy of reading blogs, getting a chaotic slice of each person’s life and history.  What did this woman do at Niagara Falls?  Why did she buy this plate?  Was it a gift?  Was the trip an unpleasant one so she is now selling it to overcome the lifelong trauma?

As we were walking to the flea market, we passed a yeshiva for young religious Jewish boys.  We were surprised that they had school on Sunday.  It must have been lunchtime because they were outside in the playground, running around and acting like energetic boys.  If they weren’t wearing yarmulkes, you would have no idea they were Jewish.  The games and rough-housing was the same as in every other school.

My mother noticed that one boy was sitting by himself in the corner.

“How sad.  I feel bad for him.  No one is playing with him.”

I found her statement odd, because she was reading so much into the scenario.

“How do you know this?”  I asked.  “He could be eating his lunch, or tired.  Or maybe he broke his foot last week so he needs to sit.”

“No, he clearly wants to play.  And the others are not nice.  They should ask him to play.  But you know who really is at fault here.  The teacher.”

A young rabbi was standing by the gate, watching all his students.

“He should get the others to play with him.” said my mother.

My mother is a liberal who clearly believes in the government (the teacher) getting involved.  She is registered as an Independent.  She even flirted with voting for McCain because she is worried about Obama’s inexperience.  But in ACTION – and her daily THOUGHT process, she is “LIBERAL.”

Sophia is a registered Republican.  Every once in a while, people email me asking, “How could you MARRY a Republican?”  The truth is she is very LIBERAL in the way she acts towards others. She is not anti-minority or anti-gay or anti-abortion.  She is conservative in her view of personal responsibility, but I have noticed that that has even changed through the years.  After dealing with our crappy and expensive health insurance, I think she is much more in favor of some sort of socialized health plan.

If a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who has Pacificare for their medical insurance.

Diane of Of the Princess and the Pea recently had an experience where her young daughter and her friend revealed their political leanings when they met a homeless man.  One girl wanted to help him with a social program.  The other was cynical, thinking he would abuse the system, and not get helped at all. 


In July, right before the BlogHer conference in San Francisco, I read this popular post by Schnozzfest. In the post she addressed all the shy introverts who were attending the conference, trying to motivate them to overcome their wall-flowerness.  Rather than getting angry at the popular girls “ignoring them,” she suggests that they should get some balls and be more friendly.   It was a very well-written post, but I was in a bad mood that day, so I wrote a semi-obnoxious comment:

This was a powerful and well-thought out post. As someone who fights his own insecurities, I’m going to copy this onto my laptop, because – like you say — this is about more than BlogHer.


…I find myself feeling a little uncomfortable with the thesis. I come from a long tradition of bleeding heart liberals, and your message sounds very much like that of a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” conservative. In any social environment there are going to be hierarchies and social groups. Of course, it is up to the insecure to fight their “high school” fears and speak up. But I would like to hear from the “cool kids” in this imaginary high school. What is their responsibility to others? Do you just talk amongst yourselves, or do you reach out to a newbie? I strongly agree that people should stop acting like victims. This is an excellent message to send to those who are shy and insecure: stand up for yourself! This is something I work on all the time. I just hope that everyone who comments on this post saying, “I wish I said this” will ALSO take the time to reach out, since we are supposedly a “community of bloggers.” While it is the individual’s responsibility to put herself “out there,” there is nothing wrong with going to the wallflower hiding behind the plant and saying hello, especially when we’ve all been in that position before.

Do you see how much I am like my mother?   If you go to Schnozzfest’s site, you can see her reasoned response.

Can we really think about political labels such as liberal and conservative out of the political arena?   Would it add anything to the typical over-heated political discussions we usually have if we acknowledged that some Democrats act more conservatively and some Republicans are more liberal in the way they deal with others?   Some might think Lieberman was a traitor to his party to speak at the DNC, and others as the ultimate “liberal” in his blowing off the authority of the Party and following his beliefs, no matter how unpopular.  

In some ways, the blogosphere is Democratic/Liberal — not only in politics — but in form.  Anyone can start a blog.  There is freedom of speech.  There is lack of censorship.  The “little guy” is given a chance to speak out against the powerful.  There is respect for all races, religions, and beliefs.  There are a great many grassroot communities online where members care about each other and help each other learn and grow.

Of course, most of the blogosphere grew up during the Bush administration, so it isn’t surprising that there is also strong Republican/Conservative bent to this imaginary world – especially in the way it operates.  There is a whole lot of focus on making money, concern for own niche about others, old boy and girl networks, marketing, corporate sponsorship, links, authority, the free market, etc.  The white faces, corporate sponsorship, private parties, and swag of the RNC reminded me of… BlogHer. 

So, if you had to describe the leanings of the blogosphere,  would you say it leans more left or right — to community first or a system of haves and have nots?   Or is everyone a little bit “liberal” and “conservative,” leaving behind the politics of the terms, in the way we live our lives both online and in the real world?

How Bloggers Can Help Obama Win

A few nights ago in Denver, Hilary Clinton put aside her own ambitions for the sake of the party, and the country — and made a great speech supporting Obama’s nomination (I mean, what else is she going to do? But she did a good job.)

I’m a supporter of Obama. I was impressed with his speech. With the polls showing a close race, and a large percentage of independents undecided, I think politically-minded Democrats should take after Hilary, and think of the future election rather then themselves.

Here are some blogging tips to help Obama win —

1) While the Republicans are stereotyped as selfish businessmen only caring about links and ad revenues (oops, sorry, that’s bloggers themselves — I meant money and power), Democrats like to promote themselves as caring for the regular folk. Unfortunately, very few people believe this. Half of what I read from those in Denver, writing on Twitter, was about sightings of Ben Afleck, Sheryl Crow, network anchorpeople and wealthy tech executives at invitation only parties. Is this Blogher all over again with everyone Twittering about seeing Dooce in the elevator? Rule #1 — Avoid making being a Democrat like being a blogger listed on Alltop. This makes the regular Joe think Democrats are elitists who like to talk about the regular folk (Joe Biden takes Amtrak!), but in reality, only know regular folk as the cashiers at Whole Foods.

2) Much of the discussion online about Obama is the converted preaching to the converted. We know that you love Obama. We are not going to put you on “Don’t read this blog anymore because she is a Republican” list. WHY do you love him so much — besides the fact that you are a Democrat? How can you persuade you Independent friends to vote your way? Maybe you can help me persuade Sophia to vote for Obama. She is a registered Republican, but not crazy about McCain.

3) Avoid McCain jokes. “McCain is old” jokes (we all get old). “McCain is wealthy” jokes (and Democrats aren’t?). McCain is like “Hitler” jokes (I saw that on Twitter!) What’s the point? These joke are about amusing your fellow Democratic friends rather than changing history. These insider gags turn off independents, many who respect McCain.

4) “Vote for the Democrats because Bush sucked” is not enough to convince anyone to vote for Obama.

5) Towing the party line as a blogger is only important if you care more about your blogging career with the Huffington Post or some future job with some liberal magazine than ACTUALLY winning the election. Independents are smart. They know that Obama is somewhat inexperienced. You know he is somewhat inexperienced. So why bullshit? No one respects that, and it doesn’t win any Independents. Obama is a great speaker. He mentioned Martin Luther King. Big deal! You know what — I’m a pretty good speaker. When I was the valedictorian in my elementary school, I also mentioned Martin Luther King in my impassioned graduation address in front of the school assembly. Does that make me worthy of being President of the United States? Obama’s color is historic, but it is not enough. Independents will actually vote AGAINST him if the race issue is touted too much, not out of racism, but because most Independents are Independents because they are strong individualists who dislike labels such as Democrat, Republican, Black, and White. They want to know that Obama is a leader, not a symbol.

By the way, I liked Obama’s tie.

Update: Clearly the Republicans are trying to use some symbolism of their own — the choice of Sarah Palin as the VP.

Are Obama Supporters Too Elitist?

Did you ever notice that the humor in the the site “Stuff White People Like” is not really about “white people,” but about upscale, educated white people? They are the ones interested in New Balance shoes and ipods. Of course, most of us don’t really care about the OTHER white people — the ones who live in trailer parks in Kentucky — they’re off our radar anyway, so it isn’t a big issue. Not working class minorities. Those we do find interesting. But working class white people.

Can we add “Supporting Obama” as “Stuff Upscale, Educated, White People Like?” (at least the ones I read all the time on the blogosphere)

While I usually don’t write much about politics, I have been fascinated by the growing class distinctions in the Democratic race. You would think that this year’s election would be manna from heaven for the Democratic party, as the candidates include a woman AND a man of color. Instead, upscale white people, meaning most of the media, academia, and Democratic blogosphere are crazy over Obama, leaving Clinton with the underbelly of the party. Ironically, this group is helping Clinton win the nomination.

Obama is a great orator, someone who inspires the intellectual with visions of hope (which means living in a country that isn’t run by George Bush), but the actual working class seems to be voting for Clinton. They gave her the victory in Pennsylvania. Why isn’t the working class inspired by Obama? Is it because Clinton gets down and dirty and speaks to the real-life issues that face these citizens rather than speaking in flowery tones about hope? Is it racism, where the Archie Bunkers of the world feel more comfortable with a woman than a man of color?

I think we should partly blame ourselves… and our own elitism, which is affecting the whole election. While the Democratic party was once the strong hold of the working and middle class, most of the upper middle class now look on them with disdain. Our issues are not their issues. Maybe we are embarrassed about our own humble backgrounds, wanting to maintain a certain sophisticated image as we Twitter away in our loft/office in San Francisco. Obama has been criticized as elitist, but I think he is only trying to appeal to his followers — us.

Here are a couple of Twitters I just read after Hillary’s victory speech in Pennsylvania:

Watching a Hillary Clinton “victory speech” is like watching puppies raping kitties.

Let me rephrase that, Hillary’s audience looks like the crowd that got turned away at the Jerry Springer taping.

“blah blah blah day one, blah blah blah gas prices, blah blah blah give me money”

I love watching the idiots behind Hillary… they are funny to look at.

I really want to understand how anyone can look at Hillary Clinton & think to themselves: “You know? I think she should be president!” WTF?!

Not only did I notice a hatred for Clinton, but also for her followers, as if they were stupid. They are described like the unwelcome family members from the deep South that you hide from your children. I even read a blogger calling Clinton the candidate of “old saggy women,” and this was written by a woman! Great, let’s add a little ageism to the mix!

Why do people who always complain about lack of equality in life, always turn around and act just as pig-headed? Maybe someone working hard to care of their family doesn’t have the time to go to seminars about global warming or Darfur, but it doesn’t mean that we both can’t be part of the Democratic party. That’s what politics is all about. If the Democrats really want to win, they need to get the working class under their wing. Without them, first Clinton will win, and then McCain will be President.

Too many people think supporting a candidate is akin to following some cool band. I don’t think it is a good idea for Obama supporters to be dismissive of the lower middle class, calling them ” gun-toting trailer trash.” This is not an effective way to win voters over to your side. Supporting a candidate isn’t feeling good about yourself. It is about winning elections.

If I were some hard-working blue-collar guy working in Pennsylvania, there would be no way I would vote for Obama after reading some of the things Obama supporters write about ME on Twitter. It’s like when Simon Cowell trashes some singer on American Idol, and the bulk of Americans vote the opposite way just to sting him. Why are we mocking those necessary to win an election? At some point, hipsters have to listen to at least one Randy Travis song if they want to win the election.

Modern Politics


While I was over at Sophia’s place today, she played me all the political messages that were on her answering machine relating to Election Day.  California always has hundreds of confusing initiatives on the ballot, and frankly I’m not sure how most people even understand what they are all about. 

Sophia is a registered Republican and got several messages from her party, including one "directly" from Governor Schwarzenegger himself.  I received messages from the Democratic Party since I’m still registered here in Redondo Beach.

All of the messages contained no clear reason to vote one way or another other than party identification.

As we sat down to catch up on a week’s worth of "All My Children" episodes, Sophia had a sudden urge for watermelon.  We took a walk to the supermarket.  As we left the supermarket with our overpriced watermelon, we were stopped by a scraggly-looking guy who asked us if we wanted to sign a petition against redistricting.  You show me a petition – I think it must be for a good cause.  I agreed to sign it.

Sophia wasn’t as easy a customer.  She asked the Scraggly Petition Guy all sorts of questions.  Even after the guy gave some semi-reasonable answers, Sophia didn’t buy it.  She said she didn’t believe in the petition, so she couldn’t honestly sign it. 

"No problem," said the guy.

He pulled out another petition and handed it to her.

"Then maybe you’ll sign this.  It’s for the opposite side."

Sophia and I glanced at each other.

"What’s going on?" I asked the petition guy.  "You’re petitioning for opposite points of views at the same time?  I’ve never seen this before."

"I’m not petitioning for anything," he answered.  "I get paid a buck a signature by both sides.   He-he-he.  Sweet deal.  You’re sure you don’t wanna sign?"

I Married a Republican!


Sometimes, I wish I were more political.   I love the passion of some of my readers like JJ and Tatyana, who if they met in real life, might have a fist-fight over George Bush — is he good or evil?

I was brought up in a liberal, union-oriented family.  My grandparents had a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on the wall with the rest of the family photos.  During the summer, I went to Camp Kinder-Ring, a liberal Jewish summer camp in the Catskills.  It was not a religious place.  In fact, it was an anti-religious Jewish-Yiddish socialist-oriented camp.  On Shabbat, we gathered around the flagpole wearing all white and singing Yiddish socialist songs.  Of course the meaning was totally lost on most of the campers, who were mostly from Long Island and cared more about sex and soccer than socialism.  On the other side of the lake was a rival camp that broke away from this camp sixty years ago because while we were “socialist,” they were “communist.”

I went to Columbia College in New York.  There was one Republican in our freshman dorm.  All he ever did was complain that he didn’t get into Yale like his father.  We used to make fun of him relentlessly.

I didn’t really associate with many Republicans in Los Angeles when I first moved here.  Then I met Sophia.   

We may have fought over many things, but I don’t think we ever fought over politics. 

Actually, that’s not true.  There was once.  One election day a few years back, we promised not to vote at all, since we were going to cancel each other out anyway.  Later, we bumped into each other at the polling station.

Of course, I never considered Sophia a “real” Republican.  No real Republicans go skinny-dipping in Spain.  And I’m sure she never thought of me as a “real” Democrat.  Although I voted for Kerry, I wasn’t upset that Bush actually won. 

Here’s something we always talk about — which party is nastier, Democrats or Republicans?  Both of them create outlandish political ads – from Willie Horton to that recent ad accusing John Roberts of strangling women who wanted to have abortions. 

Sophia frequently gets phone calls from the Republican Party, trying to scare her into thinking that “liberals” are taking over the country.  Excuse me, Karl Rove, but where exactly is this happening?  Do Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore really control everything from their “love-pad” on the Upper West Side?

I also get calls from the Democrats.  They always are trying to scare me into thinking my “civil liberties” are disappearing.   Recently, some woman called about some teacher initiative that Schwarzenegger is trying to get passed:

“If this passes, God help us all!  California will become like Mussolini’s Italy.”

These scare tactics drive me crazy.  We Democrats are supposed to be the "smart ones."  So why am I always spoken to like I’m an idiot?  I’m sure there are many valid reasons for this intiative to be rejected, but I certainly didn’t hear any from this caller.   How about teachers will lose jobs?   It will hurt the economy?   But I really doubt the governer is about to bring over some of his goose-stepping family from Austria.   When I was on the phone with this woman, all I could think was that she should get a job writing movie ads for the studios:

“This is the one film you MUST see this year or you will DIE!”

Charlie once linked to a Slate article where writer Richard Rushfield did a little social experiment during the 2004 campaign. 

He visited Republican strongholds such as Bakersfield and Newport Beach sporting a Kerry-Edwards ’04 t-shirt and button, as well as Democrat bastions such as Silverlake and Brentwood in Los Angeles.

The result:  The Republicans were much more tolerant of the Democrats than the other way around.

Of course, it was a heated time during that election, but it got ugly at times.  Remember the whole red state/blue state thing?  Or that website that suggested that half the country break away from the ugly Bush states?  Whatever happened to rational dialogue?  I find conservative talk show hosts like Sean Hannity to be pretty depressing and unpleasant, but I expect more from liberals. 

I’d like to think that liberals haven’t become as nasty as some have said, but recently, one of my friends asked me:

“Did you know that you have a lot of conservatives on your blogroll?” (saying it in a tone usually reserved for child molesters).

I said that I didn’t really notice.  My only real criteria for putting someone on the blogroll is either the person:

  1. Has a sense of humor.


  2. Is a woman.

So far, no one has made any comments about all the “liberals” on my blogroll.  Is it because we expect liberals to be smart, sexy, and fun blogging pals?   Why can’t a Republican be smart and sexy?  After all,  I did marry one. 

Republicans are not so bad when you get to know them (except the crazy anti-abortion ones).   Through Sophia, I learned to better understand and appreciate “Republican” culture.  They have some valid ideas on economics and international affairs. 

Now, excuse me… I want to go and replay this Pat Boone album I have playing on my iTunes —

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