The Florida Squeeze has been hosting some interesting discussions lately, particularly regarding the role of activists and blogs like this one. With regard to the discomfiting loss in Jacksonville one notion repeated a few times was the idea that bloggers and activists need to be still.
Here’s a quote:
“Those who have real skin in the game are the only ones qualified to discuss things… “ said one commenter. “The consultants and Democratic Party staff are those whose careers depend on these races. You cannot claim that and thus have ZERO RIGHT to critique or criticize.”
No skin in the game?
This indicates we need more conversation, not less. It’s emblematic of what’s eating at the heart of our party. At the center of “skin the game” claim is the idea that you have to be paid to matter as a political entity. What do we stand for? Is it money? Careers? Or are we actually trying to do Democracy right?
Turns out we’re pretty good at naming the skins in political games. Political systems where “skin in the game” equals wealth or money, are known as Feudalism, Plutocracy, Monarchy and so on. Centuries of bloody wars were fought to overturn the Divine Right of Kings, in order that ‘consent of governed’ would be the new “sword,” and Democracy would confer legitimacy on our leaders and party elite.
Ironically enough, this means the Tallahassee careerists who are challenging others’ legitimacy, do so at our sufferance. The only reason they have a right to issue statements is because we give them the power to do so.
Not to belabor the point, but a system where the “skin” is a career, is theoretically called technocracy. It’s theoretical, because it doesn’t exist in real life. Sociologists like Thorstein Veblen thought that technocracy would be a stepping stone to socialism brought about by the natural decay of capitalism and the rise of an engineering class. Like the Rapture, technocracy hasn’t happened yet, and likely never will no matter how many Amazon drones drop packages off at your door.
But we still use the word to describe transactions between political careerists. If the only media you watched was CNBC you would come away believing we have a proto-technocracy with paleo-libertarian tendencies. And you’d want to die.
The fact is, progressives are winning on the battlefield of ideas. Elizabeth Warren is the de facto leader of the Democratic Party. These ineffective party careerists aren’t convincing anyone that we have “ZERO RIGHT to critique or criticize.” Instead they’re showing us disdain for core Democratic values, and how little mastery they have over the political moment we find ourselves in.
If Democrats wanted to support a structure of plutocrats and monarchs, there’s a whole other party for that. We’ve seen where this strategy gets us (cue Il Fortuna and let Charlie Crist know we’re ready for his close-up).
What’s OUR skin in the game? Especially as regards Memorial Day, “skin in the game” refers to real lives that were lost on the battlefield defending our freedom to live and vote in a Democracy. It’s our duty to honor that sacrifice by protecting what little bits of Democracy we have left.
We can’t let our party get so blinded by Wall Street money they forget the basic Democratic values, let alone the framework of Democracy. Supporting one lifelong Republican after another, that’s sure to vote with Wall Street against Main Street, isn’t working. Whether it’s John Morgan’s or J.P. Morgan’s “skin in the game” — they don’t trump the voter’s.
This Memorial Day let’s remind ourselves that the skin we have in this game is actual skin. Never forget that this is what Democracy looks like. It’s so much more than a job. It’s a sacred promise that we’ll do what what it takes to promote a shared future worth passing on to future generations.