Without George W. Bush, division tears apart the online left

In the ‘old days’ of the Bush administration, life in a online liberal discussion forum was great. Everybody was having a great time bashing the president and marveling at each other’s brilliance. But in the age of Obama, these once fertile fields of partisan rancor have been tainted by ideological dissent.

The latest news from Democratic Underground (DU) is a perfect example of what’s happening to the left online.

Earlier this year, the moderators of DU angered users of the forum after they issued a lengthy “censored list” of online behavior that would be banned and deleted from the site.

Now, matters are worse, as their latest fund drive has come up short.

In the face of dissent and division, website administrator Skinner took to the web to issue a angst filled lament over the loss of the ‘old DU’

You don’t like what DU has become. Maybe you have very specific complaints, or maybe you don’t really know exactly what it is that you don’t like. But what you do know is that you wish it was more like the old DU. A community. A place that was special. Where we had big disagreements, but at least you felt like we all had something in common.

Yeah, I miss that DU, too.

I miss it so much that it makes my heart ache. I lie awake at night agonizing over it. I can barely bring myself to read my email anymore. I’m burned out and tired.
. . .
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: Back when Bush was President, he represented the center of gravity in politics — the focal point that determined “Which side are you on?” — and everyone on DU actually was on the same side. Now that Barack Obama is President, he has become the center of gravity. I think it’s clear that we still broadly agree on the issues, but we disagree on how best to get there, how long it should take, and how much compromise we are willing to accept. Those are the disagreements that matter now. To be blunt, we are not all on the same side anymore.

Imagine if during the Bush Administration, Democratic Underground had welcomed people who thought the president was doing a bad job, *and* people who thought the president was doing a good job. DU would have sucked. Sure, it might have been worth the effort to stop by every once in a while to argue with conservative idiots, but nobody would have felt like DU was their home, their safe-haven, their community.

So what is a lefty web haven to do when change causes division? Skinner proposes the following: “I am starting to think that much more radical change is necessary.”

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