The point of this post is not to gloat that I never believed Anthony Weiner’s story, because actually I’m very angry and disappointed with Weiner right now for doing damage to progressives and Democrats. The fact is, what Weiner did was incredibly stupid, and the lying about it after he was caught means that it will be hard to believe another word he says about anything ever again. But that’s not what I want to write about.
Instead, I want to focus on another issue: the tendency of all of us to form up into “teams,” and then to reflexively/knee-jerk defend anyone on “our team,” and attack anyone on the “other team.” I mean, look, I’m as proud a progressive as anyone, and I’ve bled Democratic “blue” since the 1980s. Also, I despise the Breitbarts of the world, everything they stand for, how they operate, what they epitomize, you name it.
But…(you knew there’s be a “but,” right?)…just because someone’s on “our team” doesn’t mean they’re automatically good, moral, truthful, etc. And just because someone’s on “their team” doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re wrong. In this case, I never believed Weiner’s story, for several reasons. For instance, after the story broke, I immediately went to Weiner’s Twitter account to see who he was “following.” It turned out, several of the people he chose to follow were…uh, questionable at best. I mean, why would a married, male congressman follow several attractive, (far) younger women with no political connections whatsoever, and who have descriptions like, “Nerdy/tomboyish chick but with a penchant for fashion & all things fabulous.” Or, “I have the face of an angel and the body of a truck driver.” Just weird. Plus, Weiner’s explanations just didn’t ring true, sound credible, or stay consistent in the days following the news. My gut told me strongly that something was just not right.
All of which brings me to the main point of this diary, which is that I said I didn’t believe Weiner to many people privately, but I did NOT post about it on Blue Virginia. I was talking to my wife about that today, and I realized the reason I didn’t do it was simple. I felt like if I “broke ranks” with the “blue team” on this one, that the only thing it would accomplish would be to piss off my allies, start a war, and get people bashing each other (and me, which I can take, but what was the point?).
The problem is this: if we never break ranks with our “team,” even when every fiber in our being tells us the person’s wrong, unethical, crazy, whatever, then where does that lead us? If, as what apparently happened big time at Daily Kos, we “hide rate” (aka, “troll rate”) anyone who questions the “team” member, then how does that make us “reality based” people? More pointedly, how does that make us any better than the other “team,” the one we don’t want to be like? In this case, the stakes were relatively trivial, true. But what about in more important cases, like when someone with a “D” next to his name votes against health care reform and clean energy legislation, then bashes his own party leaders – not to mention progressives – in running his (losing) race for reelection? Or when someone else with a “D” by their name betrays core Democratic and/or progressive values, such as shilling for an industry which preys on poor kids, veterans, and minorities? I’m sorry, but just because we’re all on the same “team” doesn’t mean it’s ok. Personally, I’m going to take this Weiner story as a lesson learned, and not forget it anytime soon. How about you?