Netroots:Relegated to the backroom once again

I’m going to be honest and say I haven’t really followed the dust-up between Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League, and the Edwards campaign. However, when I initially heard that Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister fame and Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon were hired by John Edwards I was thrilled. I thought to myself “Awesome! People I know (through the intarwebs) are finally making an impact on the national political scene directly!” Well, for most of us on the Left, we are all too familiar with what happened next. Nearly as soon as it was announced, some right-wing fringe group had to start taking pot-shots at the Edwards campaign. In typical right-wing fashion, they attacked the messengers instead of the message. In this particular case, those attacked were Melissa and Amanda instead of Edwards’ campaign platform. Mr. Donohue claims

that they are “anti-Catholic, vulgar, trash talking bigots.”

As a regular reader and occasional commenter at Melissa’s blog, Shakespeare’s Sister, I can only remark regarding her site. The outrageous claims made by Donohue couldn’t be further from the truth. If being anti-Catholic means standing up for women, women’s reproductive rights, criticizing the “official” role of women in the Church, and calling out the hypocrisy of Church hierarchy, then I guess Melissa is anti-Catholic. But then again, so am I, as are many of us on the Left of the political spectrum. Melissa’s and Amanda’s rants had nothing at all to do with the regular everyday Catholic, but rather everything to do with the Catholic Church’s policies. It’s a damn shame that folks like Bill Donohue can’t see that, but then again, too many right-wing fringe groups think the world is and always was black and white. If you really wanted to get down to brass tacks, Donohue could himself be called an “anti-Jew, vulgar, trash-talking bigot”. But since he’s not on the staff of any candidate’s campaign, I guess his hate-speech is A-OK. [ed. note – you can do your own research on some of things Donohue has said in the past.]

Unfortunately for Edwards and national political discourse as a whole, and as a result of threats made toward both women and the criticism levied by the likes of Bill Donohue, Michelle Malkin, and others, both Amanda and Melissa have resigned from Edwards’s staff. Citing concerns for their own well-being and that of the Edwards campaign, they stepped down; Amanda first and Melissa soon after. Because of this non-issue issue, I question how those of us who consider ourselves political bloggers can influence the political arena directly. It is very unfortunate that the very campaigns political bloggers want to help, on both sides of the political fence, continue to place us on the back burner. We are constantly told, via the media barrage that occurs during campaign years, how much bloggers and the netroots community influence politics as a whole, but when the candidates themselves are called to task for something “offensive” we may have said on our personal blogs, they instantly try to distance themselves from us. Like the old saying goes “Dance with the one that brought you“. Edwards chose not to do that by issuing this statement:

…”the tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte’s and Melissa McEwen’s posts personally offended me.”

“It’s not how I talk to people, and it’s not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people,” Edwards said in a statement.

“But I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake. I’ve talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone’s faith, and I take them at their word.”

However politely he worded it, he basically “backed” them without backing them. He acknowledged and affirmed, in a way, what Donohue was saying all along. And that’s what gets me pissed. I like Edwards. I think he’s a pretty stand-up guy who has some great ideas for how to fix what’s broken with this country, but I refuse to relegated to the backroom. I refuse to have my voice stifled because someone may disagree with the particular words I use on my own site. So at this point I don’t know whether I will continue to back Edwards or not. It’s gonna take some time before I make up my mind. However, one thing I will do is add Amanda’s Pandagon to my blogroll. Shakespeare’s Sister is already there and will remain there if not for a show of solidarity, then definitely because I like her style. Melissa, and the other contributors there, have no fear of telling it like it is. Their fearless championing of equality, women’s reproductive rights, and gay rights are something that all of us as lefty bloggers should aspire to.

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