Why Not Build A Movement?

Over at Netroots powerhouse MyDD, Jerome Armstrong railed in frustration as the juggernaut that is mainstream politics pushes the Netroots away from the levers of power that they so closely crave.

I don’t have a dog in the race, and voted “other” in the MyDD poll. But I gotta tell you, this race is Hillary Clinton’s to lose at this point. I wish to be wrong, and see Obama or Edwards get the nomination, but I honestly don’t see it happening from this vantage point, and it’s very frustrating. The Edwards candidacy was a longshot to begin with, and that he is still in it points toward how sound a strategy (combined with the luck of having Fiengold & Warner drop out), that he laid out; the frustration is more directed at Obama because he has the opportunity to lay claim with what’s grown in the netroots this decade and hasn’t grasped it at all, and it shows.

Then Chris Bowers announced that he and Matt are leaving MyDD and partisan politics – to start a new, unnamed site that will instead focus on building a progressive movement.

So, why am I moving on? I hinted at the reason in yesterday’s post, Expanding Beyond Just Partisanship. As much as I have enjoyed writing about politics and elections from a partisan Democratic viewpoint, my political background is in the social justice movement and decidedly on the left. I want to write about more than just elections and political infrastructure, and I want to explicitly work toward building a progressive governing majority. However, to do so would be to take MyDD too far away from its longstanding purpose. I have always argued that successful blogging is focused blogging, and MyDD won’t succeed if it loses its niche and its brand. Also, I want to do much more extended writing on single campaigns, ala Googlebomb the Elections, Use It Or Lose It, or The Inflated Clinton Poll Theory, and join in discussions with a wider variety of individuals and organizations in the progressive movement. Structurally speaking, that means moving somewhat away from the rapid, chronologically backward scrolling format of traditional blogs.

I ought to be filled with schadenfreude, but I’m actually kind of interested and impressed.

I’ve been harshly critical of the Netroots before there was a formally identified Netroots, and of the thinking of those who went on to become the Netroots – criticizing them as “the suicidal lemming branch of the Democratic Party”. But shockingly enough, I share many of their perceptions and some of their values.

Modern politics has become ossified; you need look no further than the ways in which elected offices – from local government to the White House seem to have become dynastic, which power handed down in families from parent to child. That is – forgive me, David Blue – fucking absurd, and antithetical to everything this nation was founded for.

An aristocracy has grown up, exploiting the nexus of social connection, governmental power (and spending) and private greed to perpetuate itself and the increasingly brittle web of allies, sycophants, courtiers, and bagmen who both serve as farm clubs for that aristocracy and as its enablers. One huge strike in the Netroots’ favor is that they saw this and when they did, they called a spade a spade. They gave voice to the frustration that the average American feels when they look at our political class.

That class ossification is – in my mind – a far greater long-term risk to this country (and by extension the values of liberal human society worldwide insofar as we are their primary defender) than any Islamist movement. They are a less acute risk (which is my rationalization for the balance of attention I spend on this blog), but a chronic one that saps our ability to do everything from educate our children to build infrastructure to defend our country and values.

That aristocracy is increasingly detaching itself from the interests of the modern proletariat – those who sell their labor a day or month at a time in a cubicle or restaurant uniform. The modern proletariat is the richest in the world – but in a flattening world, that can’t and won’t persist. To those who ride in Town Cars, that’s not a horrible thing – the help gets cheaper, after all, and more docile as it realizes how close it is to the edge and how their island of social and economic stability is shrinking. That detachment – the realization that an industrial and administrative elite can do just fine while everyone else sees their prospects narrowing – is what I call the Lizzie Grubman factor.

The elites blind themselves to their comfortable detachment by maintaining an overwhelming interest in identity politics – politics that center around every distinction except class. Race, sex, sexual orientation, language and culture – all are groupings the defense and interests of which the new aristocracy is happy to promote. Why not? Middle-class Marxism costs them almost nothing. And middle-class Mexican American Princes (the title of a great article in the LA Weekly) can suddenly ride racial and identity politics to a seat at the Big Table and all the goodies that brings with it.

So let me make a few suggestions to the disillusioned Netroots folks out there.

First, understand that you’re being used. You’re a moderately successful fundraising channel, and a dedicated but small and uncoordinated pool of volunteers and campaign workers – kind of the equivalent of a small labor union. You are blessed because of the information reach of the Net, and more, because your peers who went and got jobs in the media are fascinated with you and so will feature you and your thoughts in the frame of Big Media.

Sometimes (Amanda Marcotte) that spotlight makes you look like you have a bad complexion, and you get tossed under the bus.

But your belief – that there is a big pool of other people pissed off at Politics As It Is and just losing interest in playing – is absolutely right. Have the levels of disillusionment been higher at any time in our lives? Have as many people felt like standing in their windows and shouting “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it any more!!” ? You’re 100% right about that, you’re just looking in the wrong place for the people who ought to join your movement.

You’re looking in the wrong place because you’re arrogant jerks (hey, I read all your stuff – trust me, you’re arrogant jerks) and instead of looking out your window at the American people and thinking about their dreams and hopes and how you can advance them, you persist in looking in the mirror (or looking on your computer screen and reading all the blogs that make you go “Yeah!” (new acronym: BTMYGY!) and believing that Of Course everyone thinks that Catholics are repressive assholes, and Of Course the average Rethuglican is a gender criminal, and Of Course typical Americans who worry about people who cut other people’s throats on video on the Internet are bedwetters.

You believed that if you swore undying loyalty to the Party – and ignored Democratic beams while criticizing Republican motes – you’d be recognized and rewarded.

Some of you will be – you’ll be the next generation of direct mail wizards – but for the most part, you’re going to get kicked to the curb as soon as the NRE is over. So why declare loyalty? Why wait for a magic figure – black, white or female – to embody your movement for you?

Why not build a movement?

But you’ve got a choice. You can build a movement of the soy-latte drinkers who know tats, startups, and hip underground bands and represent a highly visible 15% of the country and consider themselves madly progressive. Or you can accept the challenge laid out years ago by John Schaar, who wrote of the failure of the early New Left in America:

“Finally, if political education is to effective it must grow from a spirit of humility on the part of the teachers, and they must overcome the tendencies toward self-righteousness and self-pity which set the tone of youth and student politics in the 1960’s. The teachers must acknowledge common origins and common burdens with the taught, stressing connection and membership, rather than distance and superiority. Only from these roots can trust and hopeful common action grow.”

So here’s the suggestion. Move to the suburbs. Buy a minivan. Reach out and understand the hopes and fears of the average American. Help them reclaim our country.

Can it be done?

We’ve had three notable electoral successes where the political walls were scaled in this country. Wellstone, Ventura, and Schwartzenegger. What can you learn from that, and what can you learn from their struggle to craft an effective platform from which to govern once elected?

There’s a task for people who would build a movement.

49 thoughts on “Why Not Build A Movement?”

  1. Modern politics has become ossified; you need look no further than the ways in which elected offices – from local government to the White House seem to have become dynastic, which power handed down in families from parent to child. That is – forgive me, David Blue – fucking absurd, and antithetical to everything this nation was founded for.

    I agree.

    Unfortunately I don’t think this is fixable. “first past the post”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FPTP voting system used in the USA (and for that matter the UK) means that you are going to get two big parties that are very hard to dislodge. Putting it in economic terms, it’s as if an industry was structured so two big firms have a comfortable duopoly and it’s very hard for new entrants to be successful.

  2. Philip,

    I think the two party system, though sometimes problematic, is preferable to parliamentary systems. Stasis in the political class is not the same as the two party system. To me, it seems that the true challenge for both parties (for their own survival as well as the country’s benefit) is ensuring that “insurgent” or “startup” candidates and operatives can advance at the expense of careerists. We need fresh ideas and real world experience in our legislators, not to mention disinterest. This seems like a different and more limited goal than launching a new party.

    That said, I’m certainly in favor of improved voting and “districting.”

  3. AL —

    In some ways you are correct, in the class ossification and hereditary class. However You are wrong about the Nutroots.

    The Nutroots represents the class of the wealthy liberals, and those who aspire to high status from cubes to the “cool kids.” It’s an immature group of people who care only about status and achieving status markers. Their particular status markers might be parading around ala the Black Bloc instead of driving Volvos to Trader Joes, but it’s the same race for status.

    Fundamentally this class is in conflict with the middle and working class which does not care about status so much as money, the ability to form families and see them prosper, secure their future, and so on. The Nutroots for example would love to see higher housing prices to force everyone into cities to “save the planet.” Middle and working class people dream of a safe house in the suburbs so they can form families. The Nutroots is all about finding a sexual partner with the right status, so city life where other young single people are is their ideal. Lizzie Grubman IS the Nutroots. The goals of the Nutroots are the goals of the Lizzie Grubmans and Angelina Jolies.

    Total social control until the middle and working classes of the nation are eliminated or replaced (hence Open Borders) and the threat of upward mobility eliminated. In the meantime Affirmative Action (using minorities to block working class white people’s advancement), Identity Politics (demonizing in particular the “boogieman” aka the Straight White Male) will continue. Nutroots WANT to be part of the Aristos. And pull the ladder up behind them.

    The effeminancy, degeneracy, lack of belief in anything other than themselves are markers of both the Aristos and the Nutroots. Defense of the nation, it’s values, and it’s peoples would make people like Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Jerome Armstrong, and Amanda Marcotte useless and obsolete. What do any of them have to offer in stopping an Al Qaeda plot? Moving from “prestige cubicle” to a Georgetown dinner party? Knowing the “right” people? How does that kill the killers before they kill a city? We need “Jack Bauers” and of course the Nutroots and Aristos know that. So they will deny the danger until it’s too late. Determined to have Inflatable Scrotum Man and the Naked Bike Rides and really cool Georgetown salons.

    Political reform, will only come from a Jacksonian perspective, i.e. the Right. It will be represented by the Average American in the form of a new Andy Jackson. A man of military background, who believes in the nation and it’s people, and the ability to improve from the good to the better without demanding God-like standards of perfection and screaming and crying when it is not achieved. Political reform will proceed from the Right and the interests of the Average American because it is impossible on the Left. The Left and Nutroots HATE America, the average person, and more than anything else craves status, “coolness” and being different than their parents. The internet amplifying their influence beyond measure only makes them worse. It’s like Slashdot. If you visited only that site you’d think everyone ran Linux. When most of the world runs Windows.

    Change IS coming. But it’s coming from the Right. As it mostly has in this country. It will come largely because people see their fundamental interests threatened, i.e. the elites wish to replace them (with Third World serfs). And react accordingly.

  4. That class ossification is – in my mind – a far greater long-term risk to this country (and by extension the values of liberal human society worldwide insofar as we are their primary defender) than any Islamist movement.

    It’s not just the political class, look at Hollywood, look at academia. Heck, look at the national labs and, to some extent, the military. Specialization and hereditary position are natural developments in a settled civilization. It takes war, revolution, or new economic niches to really break up the ossification. And then the cycle repeats. I think you would find it difficult to point to a civilization that didn’t follow that cycle.

  5. Armed Liberal: _Modern politics has become ossified; you need look no further than the ways in which elected offices – from local government to the White House seem to have become dynastic, which power handed down in families from parent to child. That is – forgive me, David Blue – fucking absurd, and antithetical to everything this nation was founded for._

    Of course, you are right.

  6. Part of the problem may well be the gigantic amounts of money needed to get anywhere at all in an American election – certainly a presidential one, and probably at Congress level.

    This promotes oligarchy/plutocracy, simply because there aren’t all that many people who have the sort of money required. This means that either those people get elected (e.g. Kennedy or Bush family) or the people who do get elected have to toe the line drawn by their sponsors or get dropped next time.

    This also leads to those who really make the laws not being elected at all.

    Solution? Simple. Put a cap on campaign spending, and a low cap on individual contributions – with a severe penalty for cheating. This would lead to political parties that have to engage with their grassroots supporters to get any support at all. And therefore a government that does what at least some of the people actually want.

    I’m British. This problem is one that we have as well – it’s not worse than it is, simply because of rules like those above.

  7. It’s terrifying to see anyone wishing Edwards to be nominated. I fail to understand how someones thought process could lead them to conclude that he would be good for this nation.

  8. I’ll add, more relevant and to the point, that the courts have allowed the two party system to garner the vast amounts of power they currently hold. One need only look at the parties abilities to gerrymander their districts solely based on their own best interests as a key factor in why its almost impossible to dislodge an incumbent.

    Once again, I am puzzled as to why the Presidency has a term limit and Congress and Judgeships do not.

  9. This is the inflection point I’ve been talking about Mark. Now it’s time for you to help me look for funding of XRepublic.

    I knew that the wonk energy of the blogosphere would ultimately be wasted because blogs and webchat and all other inventions to date are structurally incapable of facilitating consensus. You can go back through 1 million posts at MyDD or DailyKos or any other blog community on the planet, and you will never be able to generate a consensus document on any issue. That’s because blogs are best at exposition, not collaboration.

    As Fermat said, I’ve already solved this problem. Like Huggy Bear said, I need a little money to jog my memory. I told you this day was coming two years ago.

  10. There is a lot of truth to these procedural limitations, but I don’t think they meet the substance of A.L.’s piece. I take it that he is interested in a progressive governing majority. Which would require the progressive movement to broaden its base. To the extent a movement focuses on the procedural problems, it becomes an excuse to do nothing.

  11. There is a lot of truth to these procedural limitations, but I don’t think they meet the substance of A.L.’s piece. I take it that he is interested in a progressive governing majority. Which would require the progressive movement to broaden its base.

    I suppose it depends on how one defines “progressive”. If they mean the far left, it will never happen.

    If they mean democrats, it already has. Oddly enough spurred on by
    Republicans (and not a few “neo-liberals” like Marc).

  12. So everything is coming up roses for the Democrats?

    I would saying waiting for the other side to screw up is a classic strategy to avoid trying to form a majority governing movement.

  13. I find that any new movement goes through the following process vis-a-vis the entrenched aristocracy:

    -Ignorance (genuine)
    -Ignorance (intentionally)
    -Irritation
    -Mild curiosity
    -Irrational exuberance
    -Disregard
    -Disdain

    If the movement has genuine value, it can benefit from each of these stages over the entrenched. If not, its a moot point anyway.

  14. Oh don’t fret PD Shaw, the GOP has a proven track record of self destruction. The Bush Amnesty plan and its backers in Congress have pretty much guaranteed a GOP minority for 2008

  15. Oh don’t fret PD Shaw, the GOP has a proven track record of self destruction. The Bush Amnesty plan and its backers in Congress have pretty much guaranteed a GOP minority for 2008

    I wouldn’t count on it. The bill has more Democrat support than Republican support in Congress and a substantial portion of the Democrat’s base is also opposed to it. Moreover pretty much all of the Republican contenders for 2008 have come out against the bill which enables them to distance themselves from the administration while courting the base on a major high-profile issue.

  16. We have an intellectually bankrupt left.

    The Military Industrial Complex (that a reasonable Midwest conservative warned us about 50 years ago)is now running rampant hand in hand with the delusional Empire builders, the Neo-Cons.

    We have a culture that is built around shopping (not anything as sophisticated as consumerism, but the utter banality of shopping.

    We have an electorate that has accepted the packaging of politicians for decades.

    We have a political process that substitutes the derisive use of the words “Liberal” and “Conservative” for intelligent political debate.
    We have an election funding process that essentially shuts the Guilani, average voter out of the political process.

    We have an economic system that more and more shifts political power into the hands of corporations.

    We have no Eisenhower or TR that has the moral fiber to speak out against any of this. Yet Republicans blame the problems of the country on the left. It seems to me, what has happened over the past 3 or 4 decades is that the Republican Party has caught the Democratic disease. It has no coherent policies. It has abandoned its principles and its “leaders” if we can include the present menagerie of Giuliani, Thompson, Romney, et. al. as leaders rather than performers.

    What does the party stand for other than wanting to get elected? Sounds more and more like the Democrats every day. The country is ripe for widespread social unrest.

  17. We have an economic system that more and more shifts political power into the hands of corporations.

    Really, are you sure it isn’t the Bilderbergers and the Free Masons?

  18. TOC makes a good case. All I have to add is that perhaps we end up with the government we deserve. Not enough of us seem to care to do anything about it. Maybe thats just rational apathy, i dont know. As long as nobody screws with our 401ks or social security who really cares?

  19. “The Military Industrial Complex (that a reasonable Midwest conservative warned us about 50 years ago)is now running rampant hand in hand with the delusional Empire builders, the Neo-Cons.”

    I’m getting sick and tired of this. First it was people claiming that Reagan’s supply side economics was a completely new and radical concept, even though JFK had been a big supporter of it. Now its the whole, Eisenhauer opposed the Military Industrial Complex meme. It drives me nuts.

    I wish someone that would cite this would bother to read the whole bloody speach, to say nothing of the fact that most people that cite it don’t really ‘Like Ike’. Anyway, the speach doesn’t necessarily say and advise what you think that it says and advices. You have to read the whole speach to understand what that reasonable Midwestern conservative was getting at; you can’t just sound bite it because a single sentence berift of context sounds like it supports your position.

    Or rather you can, but I won’t consider you much in the way of a serious thinker.

    Does ANYONE other than me actual read first person sources anymore? Sometimes I feel terribly alone. Sheesh.

  20. Really, are you sure it isn’t the Bilderbergers and the Free Masons?

    I could have sworn it was the Pentavirate? I saw a zombie version of Colonel Sanders the other day, and you know the Queen recently visited.

  21. I’ve enjoyed your comments on other blogs for some time; I don’t know why I come here to read the original so rarely. I must be far more anti-netroots than you because I can’t imagine actively reading DailyKos and I’d rather have my eyeballs eaten by ants than read MyDD for even 10 minutes.

    That said. I agree with what you say here and look forward to reading your new stuff. As for the XRepublic Manifesto, I look forward to reading that as well, but find that the British version of the Euston Manifesto covers what needs to be done to make progressives progressive again (the American version is too partisan and therefore useless, but the British version in my opinion is excellent).

  22. bq But your belief – that there is a big pool of other people pissed off at Politics As It Is and just losing interest in playing – is absolutely right. Have the levels of disillusionment been higher at any time in our lives? Have as many people felt like standing in their windows and shouting “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it any more!!” ? You’re 100% right about that, you’re just looking in the wrong place for the people who ought to join your movement.

    And there is a terribly large fraction of the electorate who are frustrated with the idea that “Social justice” is even possible, they believe only individual justice _can_ be had, if any.

    They will never be your allies, and without them no 3rd party can be successful; a good third of the electorate will–if they lean away from the established parties at all–only lean AuH20/Libertarian.

  23. #19 from Thorley Winston at 10:14 pm on Jun 18, 2007

    Really, are you sure it isn’t the Bilderbergers and the Free Masons?
    _____________________________________________________________

    I am very sure. I am also sure that you would be better off thinking issues rather than wasting your time and everyone else’s with Hopelessly sophomoric comments.

    _____________________________________________________________

    #22 from Gabriel at 11:02 pm on Jun 18, 2007

    Really, are you sure it isn’t the Bilderbergers and the Free Masons?

    I could have sworn it was the Pentavirate? I saw a zombie version of Colonel Sanders the other day, and you know the Queen recently visited.

    _____________________________________________________________

    I am glad to see that Thorley has a soul mate who can discuss things on his level. May I suggest a topic?

    What do you think the lobbying industry is? why do you think Billions of dollars are spent on Elections in this country? When you two geniuses come up with an answer to those that would not embarrass a 19 year old college student, re-enter the debate.

  24. #17 writes:

    “We have an intellectually bankrupt left.”

    … followed by precisely the kind of “ideas” that tell us that they are bankrupt.

    Who was it who said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results?

    If you get in your car in Denver with the intention of driving to Los Angeles, but the road you are on leads to New York, the solution is not to return to Denver and start again *on the same road*, as if all you have to do is keep repeating to yourself that you *mean* to go to L.A.

    Yet that’s all Bowers is doing. He observes the end results of his ideology, notes that they are not the results he *wanted*, concludes that something must have gone wrong somewhere, and proceeds to start over with *the exact same basic ideas and process that got us here in the first place* — ideas from the Left.

    He will get nowhere that he and his ilk haven’t already been to a thousand times.

    We are all responsible for knowing what our chosen ideology’s end-of-road is, apart from where we *hope* it ends. I hold Bowers and all his fellow travellers responsible for their role in getting us where we are, and no amount of screaming “but I didn’t mean THIS!” will absolve them.

  25. Two words that seem lacking here – term limits.

    Not just for the Executive. For the legislative, particularly. 3 terms for Representatives, 2 terms for Senators.

    Certainly not a cure-all, but a good first step. Get the electorate accustomed to changing the faces of their reps in DC more often, de-emphasize (for half of their period of tenure for Senators, a third of the tenure for Representatives, for those gaining incumbency) the pressure of re-election, and break the decades long, iron clad grip on these seats exercised by life-long, professional politicians.

    Professional politicians. Concerned more with retaining their seats, their positions of authority and power, than truly serving (protestations of the desire to perform such service, altruistically, aside) the American people or the interests of the country as a whole.

    It isn’t the whole answer to what is wrong with Washington, version late 20th/early 21st Century – but the presence of a quasi-permanent “political class”, a phenomena remarked upon, and just as quickly shrugged off as “the way it is” across the full spectrum of opinion on the blogosphere – isn’t that a common, underlying component to a lot of the symptoms bloggers spend countless hours and posts lamenting?

    Certainly, there are downsides to the approach, probably several which can’t truly be appreciated at present, and probably several that can be conceived or debated that are nothing more than red herrings, never to materialze. Still, we know the downsides to the current system – they are reported upon, discussed, and ranted about on a daily basis.

    This last electoral cycle, the American public spoke, and “threw the bums out”. Did we? Not really. Certainly, enough incumbents lost seats for the ‘majority’ to change hands – however, the movers and shakers, the “pros”, almost all returned without serious worry. And, well, has anything really changed? Not so much. The leadership of the party in power is pressing an agenda, which, while it may represent the views of either some of their more outspoken supporters, or their more generous financial or organizational backers, is it really ‘representative’ of the desires of the American people? Not truly, if you’re looking at a large cross section of recursive sampling, when adjusting for injected bias within the questions or selective demographical coverage, and not simply searching for support for your own pet issues.

    Yeah, there’s a reason these guys’ approval numbers are in the teens.

    Mark Twain was correct about this about 150 years ago – that politicians and babies diapers should be changed often, and for the same reasons.

    Somebody wants to start a movement – one that lives up to the dictionary definition of “progress” – let’s get on with it and amend the Constitution.

  26. I’ve proposed a few times a different group as a governing coalition.

    The Socons and the Libertarians make common cause against the Rino/Country Clubbers of the R party (the R half of the aristos that Armed Liberal is justifiably upset at) and demote them from their post atop the R party pile to a much lower seat, or just boot them out altogether.

    However, this requires a clear perception of reality. The Libertarians are not a third of the electorate. They are perhaps 1-2% who punch above their weight. Now, there is a much larger percentage of the R party that is quite sympathetic to many Libertarian aims, and principles, but eschews doctrinairianism.

    But, if this deal is not accepted then perhaps another deal might be. After all, I voted to my surprise for Bredesen a Democratic governor twice, and Ford a Dem senator not yet to be. It helped that our preceding Governor, a R, was a crook, and wanted to turn Tenn into one more State Income Tax abuser by adding this tax.

    So, if I saw some Dems that wanted to really look after the little guy, both for his economic and moral interests, and prosecute the war vigorously, well, I could be persuaded. If I could find a Progressive group that really was progressive instead of “Full Speed Ahead to the Dark Ages!” I’d be interested. Probably a lot of Social Conservatives would be interested.

    Worst case for the A.L plan from my POV? He builds the Dems into a reasonable Opposition Party instead of the Asylum they sometimes seem these days.

  27. Repeal the 17th Amendment. I’ve come to believe that it’s even more evil than the 16th.

    The Founders intended that the House of Representatives would represent the people, and that body is popularily elected. The Senate was supposed to represent the STATES’ interests, and were originally chosen by state legislatures, which were also popularily elected.

    Today’s Senate is made up of self-absorbed multimillionaires who are completely immune from either the people’s or their state’s interests. They serve only themselves.

  28. The defining features of the nascent aristocracy are a blindness to the concerns of the proletariat–okay–and an interest in _identity politics_? I take it you believe the political and economic elite are mostly New Leftists, despite the fact that those with incomes over $100,000 voted 60-40 for Bush over Kerry. How odd.

    Odder still is your characterization of the netroots as anti-authoritarian and anti-aristocracy. I’d describe it more as a reaction by one group of privileged elites against another. Chris Hayes, in an all-around excellent “post,”: http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/specialguests/2007/mar/30/the_internet_alinsky_and_the_bourgeois_revolt accurately called the netroots pheonmenon a bourgeois revolt: a movement made up of people who are not used to feeling disempowered, and who are not shy about responding with demands.

    The idea that a new populist liberal movement might be formed by the urban secular white expensively-educated progressive indie-rocking netroots (hey, that’s me!) is just completely absurd. The netroots and the populist left are united by things like universal health care and a non-batshit crazy foreign policy, and that’s more than enough to make us a part of the same broad coalition, but that’s as far as it’s going to go.

    And that’s fine. John Kerry showed us a privileged white dude play-acting as a populist, and we all know how that worked out. The good news is that, given the extremism of the contemporary right, there’s a decent chance that a coalition of elite progressives and populist liberals will catch hold. I’ll enjoy that from my gentrifying urban neighborhood, reading Yglesias on the train while eating a burrito. Heh.

  29. I could have sworn it was the Pentavirate? I saw a zombie version of Colonel Sanders the other day, and you know the Queen recently visited.

    You know if you look at the Last Supper long enough and at a 38 degree angle, you can see the Colonel’s secret recipe . . .

  30. The Founders intended that the House of Representatives would represent the people, and that body is popularily elected. The Senate was supposed to represent the STATES’ interests, and were originally chosen by state legislatures, which were also popularily elected.

    Perhaps but the Founders also gave us the ability to amend the Constitution and 2/3rds of each House and 3/4ths of the States did just that in order to have members of the Senate popularly elected. Good luck convincing people that they shouldn’t be able to vote for their Senators and that we’d be better off when the State party machines basically hand-picked the next Senator.

  31. If sucess of a blog is determined by wether or not it can tip an election then maybe you’re setting the bar too high. The Netroots is shaping up to be the most important grassroots movement since the rise of the Christian Conservatives. And they’ve done it with less people and no money. That’s a tremendous sucess by any measure.

  32. *Chris Bowers announced that he and Matt are leaving MyDD and partisan politics – to start a new, unnamed site that will instead focus on building a progressive movement.
    *

    Wha? That will be different how?

  33. _the White House seem[s] to have become dynastic_

    That raises an interesting question, at least as it pertains to Clinton II. Would Ms. Clinton get the party’s nomination in the pre-primary system?

    Perhaps not. The party bosses would have taken one look at her unfavorability polls and realized federal jobs were in jeopardy. They would have attempted to orchestrate a convention in which (a) respect for Ms. Clinton was shown and (b) the real contest would be between her challengers. For example, Clinton might win an overwhelming plurality of votes in the first round, but in subsequent rounds votes would move towards her challengers, resulting in a run-off between Obama and Edwards.

    If that scenario is plausible, then dynasties are not the result of cronyism. Clinton’s probable success has as much to do with her popularity among rank-and-file Democrats and the condemnation, if any, has to go to the absence of strategic-thinking in the primary system.

  34. The Founders intended that the House of Representatives would represent the people, and that body is popularily elected. The Senate was supposed to represent the STATES’ interests, and were originally chosen by state legislatures, which were also popularly elected.

    The only thing that scares me more about allowing the party in power to gerrymander voting districts, would be to allow the party in power to pick a Senate seat. I like popular vote choice for Congressional members, I do not like party declaration of Congressional Members. What happens to the third party candidates ability to run for Senate (yeah I know, what third party)?

    #33

    You know if you look at the Last Supper long enough and at a 38 degree angle, you can see the Colonel’s secret recipe . . .

    A little known fact, the eleven herbs and spices are found written in tiny latin script at the bottom of Abe Lincolns feet one the back of the $5 dollar bill.

  35. Well, I pooh poohed the procedural stuff earlier, but I agree that district gerrymandering is serious. How can a majority progressive movement form when line-drawing concentrates as many Democrats in a district as possible? I hear its for civil rights purposes, but the Republicans like to help too. Nothing suspicious here.

  36. I actually agree with the class ossification analysis, in a rather large way. I will explain below.

    As much of a liberal as I am, I don’t tend to view historical progress of U.S. politics, and the world’s, in terms of left/right. I tend to view it in terms of plutocracy versus participatory democracy.

    But the “latte liberals” are by and large NOT – repeat NOT – the problem!

    Now that regulated free markets have won the economic conversation, finally and absolutely, my view is, like Armed Liberals’, the long struggle is between liberal government and authoritarian, plutocratic government –

    The values that I struggle for in my government, and would like to see around the world, ARE the values of the enlightenment – the constitutional values put in place by the founding fathers.

    1. A participatory, middle class agency economy, not centered in only the elites and plutocrats.

    2. The same common man participatory agency in elections and the democratic process.

    3. The light of reason, and rationality.

    4. The belief in strong civil and civic institutions.

    5. The rule of law, not men.

    6. The respect for the individual, from the first declaration of the Magna Carta, through the Bill of Rights.

    7. Emphasis on meaningful production – producing what is needed/wanted. PURSUIT (an ACTIVE tense) of HAPPINESS. Reflected in the economic arrangement.

    8. The freedom of the individual – in religion, and in the pursuit of happiness.

    All of the above give real power NOT to the plutocratic elites, but source that power in the democratic process, and in civic institutions, and a say to the individual.

    Funny enough, by luck, by chance, or divine will, those values , and then the arrangement of government meant to preserve those values, DID orginate from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Governmental organizations that reflect those values – whether in the U.S., Latin America, Asia, or Europe, by happy chance, simply work the best in the world.

    That is a historical fact – particularly the values of the Protestant Reformation, although I do believe the first inkling of this is the Jewish tradition of complaining against God, for outrages against an INDIVIDUAL.

    Also, The eight values above are, luckily:

    a. Colorless – black, white, yellow, red – anyone can adopt the above 8 principles – they originated through Judo-Christian values as then transformed by the Enligtenment – but certainly, those values can STAND APART from any religions tradition – be adopted by Muslims, Christians, Atheists, etc.

    b. Genderless – for the same reason.

    c. Free of tribalism.

    The enemies that those who stand for liberal economic democracy, are many:

    a. Religious fanaticism.
    i. Clearly the worst currently, in terms of completely rejecting liberal democratic values and institutions, is Al-Queda and related. But others can be bad.
    ii. Christian, Hindu, etc, fanaticism. Much less dangerous, but if the religious values REPLACE, or substitute, or compete with, any of the above 8 values mentioned above.

    b. Authoritarianism/royalism – a whole host of these are dangers to liberal economic democracy:

    i. Banana Republicanism – as we see in the U.S, Republicans have begun to drift to this mode, so common in Latin America. Rig elections to your favor, and then basically letting the moneyed interests write the laws, to benefit themselves. Rig the law by placing in power those of your partisan type (US Attorneys scandal anyone?). This type of activity WEAKENS both the liberal and the conservatives belief in the rule of law, and the ability for MORE of “the people” to participate in a meaningul way, in the nation’s political discourse.

    This is the most dangerous in the U.S. today – the Banana Republicans, who basically are gangsters in suits, simply scream “liberal”, then steal from government coffers (HOW MUCH MONEY went missing in Iraq, with no oversight?) the cash, and rig the system in ways that weaken the balance of powers, (or in the case of signing statements, simply declare that the President doesn’t have to respect the laws that the Congress makes.)

    ii. Democratic Royalism – the fact that TWO BUSHES, and maybe TWO CLINTONS both get elected, is a real problem. What the hell? This type of in-the-club-ism again weakens our constitutional system.

    iii. The rise of authoritarian capitalism

    It’s going to be interesting to see, what happens with China, Russia, India, etc, in terms of an authoritarian form of capitalism, rather than a liberal democratic form of capitalism.

    Like Germany before it (in terms of being an authoritarian capitalism) there is no guarantee that, in economic performance alone, that liberal democracy capitalism can “beat” authoritarian capitalism. We should remember that and REMEMBER that the European model – French included – are still examples of liberal capitalist democracy, and so much closer to our liberal enlightenment values.

    iv. Authoritarians who use fear of one enemy, to weaken liberal democracy.

    We see this with Guantamo – where people can simply be DEEMED terrorists, at Bush’s order. Our founders were wise enough to build a system that essentially divides power, and respects the rights of an individual absolutely. When the state is against the individual, our Founding Fathers say, with Reagan “trust but verify”. Everyone gets a trial. Evidence has to be shown. Rights have to be respected.

    I wish you guys would FRACKIN REALIZE that this is an assault on our shared american constitution, and the shared values (liberal and conservative) that are the foundation of this nation. No man is above the law, including the president, whose sacred duty it is to ENFORCE the nation’s laws (as provided by Congress!) and everyone has evidentiary rights.

    All this hangs together. And we’ve gotta get back to this bedrock of shared values and tradition as embodies in the Constitution AGAINST –

    a. The religious fanatics. Those who fundamentally reject our shared enlightenment values.

    b. The moneyed elites – who steal and write laws to their benefit, and RESTRICT the economic’s benefits and flow to the few, rather than the many.

    c. The authoritarian “protectors” – who hide behind God and Flag, while actually weakening the laws they are supposed to be upholding.

    Latte liberals have their own issues, but like the working class that Armed Liberal is exalting, we liberal intelligentsia pretty much SHARE in the values above. We work for our money, we question, we stand up for the rights as embodies in the Constitution, we believe in the rule of law.

    You RightWingers have to decide – if you buy into the values 1 through 7 above, as reflected by the U.S. Constituion – then latte liberals are NOT your enemy. Your enemy IS a classist one – the plutocratic big money class, who are more and more governing the Republican party like Banana Republicans. If you believe in the values of this country – they are YOUR enemy too!

    Don’t let your righteous fear of one enemy – Al Queda – blind you to the other enemy in your midst!

    End of rant.

  37. “Latte liberals have their own issues, but like the working class that Armed Liberal is exalting, we liberal intelligentsia…”

    I don’t trust anyone that declares themselves the ‘intelligentsia’. If you are, then write as if you were and not as if you have never took a class in rhetoric in your life.

    “You RightWingers have to decide…”

    Ok. Tell you what. You spend your time denouncing the George Soros of this world, and I’ll go after the Pat Robertson’s of this world. Your rant would strike me as being alot more knowledgable and balanced and alot less shrill if you recognized that the very upper class in America is majority Democrats, not Republicans.

    “Don’t let your righteous fear of one enemy – Al Queda – blind you to the other enemy in your midst!”

    First of all, I don’t have righteous fear of anyone on this Earth. I do not fear monger. I cannot be made afraid by any power on this Earth, so anyone else’s fear mongering would be useless. I’m not buying, but for that matter I don’t know anyone on the Right that is selling. I often wonder that anyone on the left mistakes what anyone on the Right, even the loudest and most prone to bombastic drama, for fear-mongering. It is most certainly not fear-mongering. That doesn’t necessarily make it a good thing to do, but I assure you that it is not fear-mongering.

    It is in fact, if it is anything negative, anger mongering. I am angry with Al Queda. I can easily be stirred to anger against the Islamists. I would like to think it is a righteous anger, but I don’t know if it really is. I know of a few on the Right wing that do try to stir up anger against the Islamist terrorists and against other groups that they percieve to be thier enemy.

    But I don’t know anyone doing fear mongering except for Al Gore.

    Second of all, I assure you, I won’t be blind to the other enemy in our midst.

  38. celebrim –

    fine, take out the “intelligentsia” – I’m simply talking about people who, for the most part, have bachelors, masters, and PhD’s. These types populate greatly, the people of Kos, or MyDD, computer professions, etc, and nowadays, and act from a faith in the enlightenment and the rule of law.

    And then drink lattes.

    And they enjoy shows like 6 Feet Under.

    These types tend to be moderate, smart liberals.

    The point is, their value system is enmeshed in the “smart work ethic”, in alignment with expanding “knowledge capital”, which is aligned with, and a necessity of, our liberal participatory economic capitalism.

    I’m glad you bring George Soros up – he is a perfect example of someone who has a deep faith in enlightenment values, those same values that power our Constitution.

    For you to classify him with – of all things – Pat Robertson – is a deeply flawed analysis.

    He made money the old fashioned way – on his own, through smart use of liquidity and capital.

    He has promoted, world wide, liberal enlightenment and democracy promotion – to the tune of millions of dollars.

    He is AGAINST authoritarian democracy.

    He is also AGAINST leftist “there is are no fundamental values” postmodernism. (that is also an enemy, btw. The belief that there are no fundamental values, easily leads to an amorality, then exploited by corporate authoritians.)

    You simply have mis-classified Soros. He fights the authoritarian royalist, and those drifting towards authoritarianism, the banana Republicans.

    Re: upperclass dems, again, the issue seems to be the corporatists – authoritarian by nature – whether democratic or republican. Whosoever games the system, to limit the flows of capital to the elites, and the political actors who enable that gaming. These definitely don’t have the interest to expand capital to the working and middle class.

  39. re:dynasties

    Is that all that new? Adams, Harrison, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Taft, Lodge, Stevenson all predated modern ossification (depending on when you date that from). The same at local level, there was a dynasty in Flatbush/Crown Heights brooklyn in the mid to late 20th c, though there name escapes me at the moment.

    Some of the current dynasties (the assort younger Kennedies, for ex) are just the extension of that older phenomena, and Dick Dailey is hardly more ossified than Chicago politics under his father. Then theres the younger Jackson in Chicago, but why should blacks follow the white lead in forming dynasties?

    I dont think theres really anything new here. Theres reaction against the rotation of clintons and Bushes. But the Clintons arent a dynasty, theyre a couple, and way back in ’92 there were folks longing to vote for Hilary rather than Bill. That basically leaves W, and his brother Jeb. W won the GOP nod in 2000 out of a combination of the folks around his dad wanting to maintain influence, and an attempt to thread the needle between the GOP hard right, and the GOP moderates (ironic as that may seem now) Very similar to the origins of the JFK candidacy in 1960 (whats that about history repeating as farce?)

    As for Jeb, I dont know enough about Fla politics these days to know how he got there, and I very much doubt hes headed any higher.

  40. hr: I have long had a general rule that anyone that thinks they make their point better by sprinkling all caps into thier writing is worth ignoring.

    I have not misclassified Soros. You have merely misinterpreted what I said. My intention was to suggest that the left police the dangers to personal liberty from the left, and the right police those from the right. I don’t equate George Soros with Pat Robertson. I equate George Soros with Hugo Chavez.

    There are so many things wrong with your little manifesto that I hardly know where to begin. I could write whole essays on the problems with each sentense, but I just don’t have the time. So I’ll focus on the one thing I think is most important.

    You claim to be against authoritarianism. Yet, you are clearly not. You are against authoritarianism when it comes from someone who isn’t ‘your kind of people’. If I had a biggest problem with your rant, it is that you clearly separate the world into ‘my kind of people’ and ‘not my kind of people’. You define good as, ‘people like me’. George Soros is guilty of every sort of sin you denounce, is indeed the very embodiment of what you claim to oppose, and yet he is given a complete pass because you percieve him to be ‘on your side’. Quite similar may I suggest to those over on Daily Kos who praise Hugo Chavez today, and were the same ones who in earlier years praised Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, and going back further even Stalin. They are the ones who have Noam Chomsky posters on the wall, not because of thier great interest in the mathematics of context free languages, but because they think he’s an expert in politics and foreign affairs. They are the ones that know the hip phrasing, the hip shows, the hip places to go and they think themselves better, smarter, and even more moral because they wear the right clothes and eat the right kind of foods.

    But I do not think you can hold up Daily Kos as a bastion of intellectuality and rational thought.

    I’m very familiar with that crowd. I’ve hung out with the half-baked intellectual frauds on many occassions. And the single biggest problem that I have with them is that they wallow in thier own sterotype. They say that they are avant garde, rebels, inconoclasts marching to thier own drum, but that is just what you are supposed to say and think and they are lock step with everyone else in that crowd and terrified to get out of rhythm. They are the memebots, and to a certain extent everyone is just running thier memes, but the really annoying thing about the memebots is that they don’t know they are just running someone elses memes.

    For my part, I kid you not, I’d never even heard of ‘Six Feet Under’. I had to google it to know what you were talking about. I’ll try not to take too much pride in that. After all, I have been known on occasion to drink a latte.

  41. The yearned-for movement is just another variation of the fallacy, “If only my virtuous hands were on the levers of power, all problems would fade away.” But Lord Acton is not mocked.

    The liberal or progressive view never seems to take the next step in the analysis and recognize that government is infested with influence-peddling and moneyed interests because it has power and money. Reduce those, and the corruption you deplore will fall proportionally. Yet the centerpice of the progressive agenda is to give the federal government control over healthcare, with enormous amounts of additional power and money.

    Hayek foretold the end state of “progressive” politics in The Road to Serfdom.

  42. celebrim,

    Give me some proofs of why George Soros is equivalent to Hugo Chavez.

    That claim is so loopy, so devoid of truth, so outside the realm of fact and deep into the realm of fantasy, it’s just silly.

    You continually refer to a straw man of a thinking, intellectual liberal. Not liberals as they exist in actuality.

    I even granted you a point, re: I’m open to the fact that there are authoritarian leftists, or liberals.

    And I’ll resist those, as much as I can. As I say again, respecting sensible rules, and a civic society, is a foundation for this country. Lawlessness is not.

    And yet the current administration doesn’t think it has to uphold, or follow the laws of this country – “such as Cheney making arguments that he isn’t part of the executive”:http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-cheney22jun22,0,5258219,full.story?coll=la-headlines-nation

    and yet you still obsess about powerless “authoritarians” of the left, with the clear lawlessness right in front of you.

    I’ll agree with you about an organization like A.N.S.W.E.R, of course. Those idiots should be laughed down with extreme prejudice. I think they fit your stereotype.

    But Daily Kos, isn’t equivalent to A.N.S.W.E.R. , in terms of being stupid leftists. Not by a longshot. Daily Kos does have problems, but to make an equivalence with the “radical authoritarian leftists”, as – I agree – does fit an organization like A.N.S.W.E.R., is simply flawed.

    And then to extend that argument, by implication, to most Dems, or most progressives, or even George Soros, is again not the reality.

  43. Quite similar may I suggest to those over on Daily Kos who praise Hugo Chavez today, and were the same ones who in earlier years praised Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot, Chairman Mao, Fidel Castro, and going back further even Stalin.

    As opposed to those at Red State who in earlier years praised apartheid, colonialism, General Pinochet, Jonas Savimbi, and going back further even Hitler.

    Two can play at this silly game.

    Soros financed the end of Communism and the orderly transition of the Soviet satellite states to democracy. If he were so interested in authoritarianism, why didn’t he support it in Hungary?

    The opposition to Soros (to the extent it isn’t driven by anti-atheism and anti-Semitism) is because he has correctly identified the messianic, anti-democratic trends in the Bush Administration, with its contempt for the rule of law.

  44. 1) Both are openly opponents of capitalism and private property. Soros is simply the more subtle one, in that his rhetoric is not classical Marxism, but something new and not as obviously flawed.
    2) George Soros spends much of his money in the US on efforts to increase gun regulation, which is hardly a libertarian position and one at odds with his libertarian front. In fact, this alone would be enough for me to be at odds with him, since of all the things that Soros does, its the one that directly impacts me and my present liberties.
    3) Under George Soros own theories of capitalism (Reflexity), George Soros efforts constitute less as philanthropy than market manipulation. My impression is that George Soros is endeavoring to change the biases in the system to ones which would favor the power and influence of George Soros. That isn’t to say that I’m opposed to everything that he does, only that I think much of the good that he does seems incidental to the goal of increasing the power and influence of George Soros.
    4) George Soros claims that removing Bush from power has become the “central focus of his life” and “a matter of life and death” and also that he would sacrifice his entire fortune for this goal. This is a good example of something which, if George Soros’s goals were actually his stated goals, would represent disproportionality of responce to the point of being insane. Nevermind the difference in purchasing power partity that would allow Soros funds to do more good elsewhere in the world than in the US, in the list of threats to persons liberties GWB for all his flaws should come way way down the list. Why not insist that removing Chavez or Amadinjihad or Mugabe or Kim Jong Il from power is the central focus of your life? After all, GWB will be removed from power in a few short years whether George Soros does anything or not, while far more serious threats to persons liberties will continue in Cuba, Venezuala, DPRK, China, Russia, and elsewhere in the world. This calls into question the veracity of George Soros when it comes to his goals. And in this, he shares alot in common with say Chavez. In fact, it puts George Soros in alignment with Chavez, Amdinejihad, Kim John Il and the rest of the ‘progressive alliance’ of petty dictators that rail continually against GWB and the threat to thier liberties that they percieve in him. If you are looking for a real ‘authoritarian democracy’ (an odd term) in which people vote but doesn’t really matter, you should look at the ones where the leaders consistantly wins 90%+ endorsements, not ones like America with a free press where the party supposedly in charge is on very shaky political ground indeed.
    5) George Soros prescription for fixing the problem with globalism, capitalism and every thing else he thinks is wrong is a so called ‘open society’. But once you look at the details, there is nothing at all open and accountable about the sort of mega-government that George Soros wants to institute over world affairs. One only has to look at other unelected and unaccountable supra-governments like the UN or the EU to see what a real danger to personal liberty they represent, and that’s only a foretaste of the sort of government Soros wants. When you look at who would control such a government, its undoubtably exactly people like Soros himself. I personally don’t think Soros has nearly the funds to bring about this sort of super-government, so such megalmania doesn’t bother me much, but it tells me alot about the character of the individual in question.
    6) George Soros has been a major backer in the US of MoveOn.org, which is very closely in bed with A.N.S.W.E.R, which you admitted to be authoritarian in outlook.
    7) If George Soros was an openly conservative billionaire of say the Friedman school that made his money manipulating foreign stocks and currencies and was spending billions on what he claimed was promoting democracy, would your instictual responce to him be the same? Why are you letting yourself be swayed by what he says are his goals, instead of what he has actually done and does? I compare George Soros to Hugo Chavez and the like because of the difference between what they say and what they do. I’ve no reason to believe that given the same relative power that George Soros would not be the same sort of authoritarian as Chavez, and based on Soros on descriptions of his ‘open society’ have every reason to believe that he would. That he’s a smooth talker doesn’t impress me.

    As for the Cheney argument, its neither here nor there. It is typical lawyering in my opinion, and nothing more. A good constitutional case can be made that the VP is not part of the executive branch and only has duties at are explicitly in the legislative branch, but I’m not likely to give much of a hearing to that case when it is being used hypocritically and I oppose such lawyering in the loopholes whomever is behind them. Of course, your hero Soros is pretty good about finding loopholes in the election finance laws when it serves his ‘life purpose’ of removing Bush from office, but Soros is I suppose above reproach?

    As for ‘powerless’ authoritarians from the left, they are certainly more powerful than I am.

    “But Daily Kos, isn’t equivalent to A.N.S.W.E.R. , in terms of being stupid leftists. Not by a longshot. Daily Kos does have problems, but to make an equivalence with the “radical authoritarian leftists”, as – I agree – does fit an organization like A.N.S.W.E.R., is simply flawed.”

    Put up a poll at Daily Kos, asking simply whether or not they admire Hugo Chavez and we will see how distanced Daily Kos is from authoritarianism. Put up a poll asking whether or not the Kossacks support or oppose A.N.S.W.E.R, and we will see how unequivalent the two groups are. Put up a poll of how many Kossacks have donated to A.N.S.W.E.R., and we will see.

    Just out of couriousity, what do you think are the problems over at Daily Kos?

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