More On The Netroots Difference

Over the past two weeks, I have been building an argument that the rise of the progressive netroots is responsible for a substantial, if not the majority, of the reversal of Democratic electoral fortunes in the 2006 election cycle compared to other recent cycles. My earlier posts on this topic include The Netroots and The Progressive Movement Are the Difference, Progressive Majority Rising, and Republicans Are Not Losing Because of Mistakes. The basic thrust of these articles is that every improvement Democrats have made since 2004, from fundraising, to the fifty-state strategy, even to making Republican scandals stick to the media, finds its origin within the netroots and the progressive movement. Today, there is even more evidence of other impacts the netroots have made on this election cycle.

Consider one of the great complaints lodged against the netroots and the blogosphere: we preach to the choir instead of trying to reach the swing. Well, when looking at voter enthusiasm this election cycle, it doesn't appear that preaching to the choir, and getting the choir excited, appears to be all that bad of an idea. Look at this recent data from Pew that measures voter enthusiasm by partisan identification (I can't post the graph because we are switching servers right now):Given a lot of thought to election:
2006: Dems 59%, Reps 48%
2002: Dems 46%, Reps 47%
1998: Dems 40%, Reps 50%
1994: Dems 40%, Reps 50%

More enthusiastic about voting than previous cycles
2006: Dems 51%, Reps 33%
2002: Dems 40%, Reps 44%
1998: Dems 38%, Reps 42%
1994: Dems 30%, Reps 45% Many will try to argue that the change in voter attention and enthusiasm are due to what are perceived to be improved Democratic prospects this year. However, Pew notes that Democratic enthusiasm was high even before it became CW that Democrats would do well this year. From the same study: Notably, the ongoing scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley has not had much of an impact on either the engagement or enthusiasm of Democratic and Republican voters. The Democratic advantages on both dimensions were about the same after Foley resigned as before the congressman stepped down. However, the idea of driving up excitement in the base, and resources from the base, by preaching to the choir is precisely the idea behind ideological and partisan media. From a 2005 study by the New Politics Institute:Let's review the issue of targeting. Our political objectives require us to think in these terms: base voters and swing voters, right? But our commercial success requires us to target the most valuable customers: the customers who spend the most money and can be acquired at the lowest customer acquisition cost.

Reaching swing voters and targeting the most [politically] profitable consumers [i.e., the unconverted] actually may or may not be the right thing to do in the short term. But successfully reaching already politically committed consumers can be achieved by reaching citizen customers over the long term.

Let's look at the conservative movement. The conservative movement energized and modified a base conservative constituency to generate significant revenue and build powerful media organizations. The commercial power of Rush, of Sean Hannity, and of Ann Coulter, made them mainstream media figures. These energetic base consumers powered the fast growing media companies of the hard right conservative movement and enabled them to then, in turn, on a business level, profitably target swing voter markets and influence mainstream media over the long term.

As we seek to build a progressive media able and visible way that then in turn enables us to preach to the unconverted. It's politics but it's also just smart business.

Democratic enthusiasm had seen a massive upward jump even before people thought Democrats were going to make large gains this cycle. It does not at all strike me as coincidental that the increase in Democratic voter enthusiasm took place concurrently with the rise of progressive media. I'd like to see someone try to explain how Democratic leaders have done a much better job firing up the base in 2005-2006 than they did in previous election cycles, especially since we have been frequently told by many in the Democratic leadership that we have to target swing voters instead of the base. Unless you are talking about a netroots figure like Howard Dean, such a contorted, hypocritical argument should be good for a laugh. The difference in Democratic excitement is not because of anything the leadership has done, but rather is the result of the rapid rise of progressive media. At the heart of progressive media, with the largest audience and the widest reach, is the progressive blogosphere. No one has been accused of needlessly preaching to the choir more than the blogosphere, but considering the vastly different levels of excitement among our base, I guess it wasn't such a bad idea to finally have someone doing that after all.

For a long time, the incessant focus upon the "swing" kept Democrats from viewing their own base as a worthwhile target, and kept form them viewing seemingly solid-red districts as worthwhile of any attention. Much, if not most, of the new found focus on the base, and upon districts than were generally abandoned by the Democratic infrastructure, was generated by the netroots. Both Markos and The Nation have good pieces today on the essential role the netroots played in helping to expand the playing field this election cycle. I think Markos's title, We Expanded the Playing Field, is particularly appropriate. I have been an advocate of the 435 district strategy ever since I have been blogging on MyDD, and it is important to remember how the political establishment once roundly mocked me for taking that position. After the OH-02 special election last summer, people stopped mocking us pretty fast. If the establishment wants to take credit for expanding the playing field, rather than only and ever focusing on the swing, I can dig up a lot more articles over the past few years where they criticized the likes of me and other netroots figures for taking just that position.

We expanded the playing field. We fired up the base. If the netroots and the progressive movement never appeared on the scene, the entire Democratic infrastructure would probably still be focused exclusively on about 10% of the electorate. Once again, the netroots and the progressive movement have made the difference.

Update: The DCCC has now bought media in WA-05. That is a part of the field the netroots absolutely played a role in extending.

Tags: Blogosphere, Democrats, Elections 2006, netroots, progressive movement (all tags)



Netroots Difference

One of the downsides of relying on an electoral strategy that seeks to attract swing voters is that you end up being a party that fails to articulate any clear message.   Appealing to swing voters requires that you put out a message that is fuzzy around the edges, so that you don't alienate anyone.  It's a defensive, timid approach and it obviously hasn't worked well for the Democrats.

by global yokel 2006-10-17 05:29PM | 0 recs

This is why I excect that Lieberman will fail.  Unlike Lamont and Schlessinger, who are passionate about their principles, Joe stands for nothing but himself.

by xtrarich 2006-10-17 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

I think you meant "has bought", not "has not bought"...

by HellofaSandwich 2006-10-17 05:30PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

Don't count the chickens before they hatch.  Polls are one thing, electoral results are another.  Be careful not to attribute the Dem "strength" to the netroots, because if the Dems don't perform well they will equally get the blame.

by MyDD Fan 2006-10-17 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

If Dems don't do well this time, there will be plenty of blame tossed around.

The downside of this surge now, is that expectations are higher.  Kos has tried to dampen this, but his cautious tone will be forgotten if dems don't take at least one house.

Personally, I will be extremely disappointed if Dems fail to take the house.  The senate would be a treat, but I'm really not expecting it.  49 or 50 seats would be quite satisfactory there...

by scientician 2006-10-17 06:24PM | 0 recs

For starters, we don't know what kind of conclusions we can draw from these enthusiasm numbers. "Given a lot of thought" doesn't seem to track with results at all, and the 98/02 numbers seem contradictory for  "more enthusiastic" having any effect.

I also wouldn't use the Foley revelations as the benchmark for when it started to look like Dems would do well. Judging from Pew's data, it looks like the big jump for Dems occurred between the end of the 9/6-9/10 polling period and the beginning of the 9/21-10/4 period. If I recall right, that's around when the 9/11 "bounce" started to fade, the NIE leaked, and we started hearing rumblings about Woodward's book. What do you think progressive media specifically did during that period to start firing up the base more than it was fired up before?

(And it's interesting to me that independents DO appear to have given more thought to the election post-Foley, although it has not affected their enthusiasm.)

I'd also be interested in seeing this data on a statewide level. How do Dems in PA feel, for example, despite parts of the base, or at least the progressive media, being split over Rendell and Casey? Did the Hackett/Brown conflict drive down Ohio enthusiasm? If it did, what brought it back?

Finally, 56% of the Dems are saying their vote is a vote against Bush. The Pew study is citing anger as a prime motivator for Dem turnout. I'm honestly not sure that the progressive media is what got Dems so mad at Bush and the Republicans. I have a hunch Bush and the Republicans accomplished a lot of that on their own. (Is the percentage of Dem voters reading blogs/progressive media going up at a substantial rate?)

It's going to be really interesting to see how all of these dynamics play out after 2006. The Dem leaders will have to give Dem voters a reason to truly support them in 2008 and beyond. That might be where the acid test of the progressive media rests.

by Dave Thomer 2006-10-17 05:51PM | 0 recs
the netroots has highlighted the difference

Finally, 56% of the Dems are saying their vote is a vote against Bush. The Pew study is citing anger as a prime motivator for Dem turnout. I'm honestly not sure that the progressive media is what got Dems so mad at Bush and the Republicans. I have a hunch Bush and the Republicans accomplished a lot of that on their own.

I'll second that... if Bush Jr. were a Reagan, a "great communicator" (or at least the appearance of one), and not as corrupt as Republicans are now, I don't think we'd be in as good a position today.  The netroots have been able to amplify negative stories by digging into the details, refining the message for Dems, and even finding the story occasionally (eg GannonGate).

But you have to have something to work with: if Republicans were not so freakin' corrupt, so incompetent, or even made sense occasionally, it'd be much harder for the netroots to make a difference.  For example, if Bush, for whatever reason, withdrawn troops from Iraq in Dec. 2004, the issue would have dropped off the media radar by now (or, at the very least, it wouldn't be the top issue nationwide).

Put another way, I wouldn't say, "The netroots are the difference", I'd say, "The netroots have highlighted the difference" between parties, but it was Republicans that have widened the difference between parties.

by aip 2006-10-17 09:28PM | 0 recs
Re: the netroots has highlighted the difference

I think it's pretty clear that the netroots gave a place for people's anger to be channeled constructively - into challengers' candidacies.

Without candidates in 425 out of 435 districts (Bowers kept the spotlight on this until the last filing deadline passed, and big props to him for doing so!), a lot of these districts which are competitive right now would not have even had a Dem candidate for people to vote for.

Scary thought, huh?

And Kos used his blog to raise the level of interest in a lot of these second- and third-tier candidates back during the spring and summer, so they were able to raise early money from the netroots, which allowed them to get the word out in their own districts that there was indeed a serious challenger this time.

As a result, people's anger with Bush had somewhere to go.

The netroots didn't create the flood tide, but the netroots had a lot to do with turning the tide into impact on actual candidacies.

by RT 2006-10-18 02:26AM | 0 recs
Re: the netroots has highlighted the difference

I think it's pretty clear that the netroots gave a place for people's anger to be channeled constructively - into challengers' candidacies.

Without candidates in 425 out of 435 districts (Bowers kept the spotlight on this until the last filing deadline passed, and big props to him for doing so!), a lot of these districts which are competitive right now would not have even had a Dem candidate for people to vote for.

I know MyDD and Swing State talked a lot about this. But what role did the netroots actually play in recruiting these candidates? To what extent did the general environment in 2005 and early 2006 simply motivate people to run who would not have run otherwise, in an environment like 2002 or 2004? Is this a repeatable phenomenon?

And Kos used his blog to raise the level of interest in a lot of these second- and third-tier candidates back during the spring and summer, so they were able to raise early money from the netroots, which allowed them to get the word out in their own districts that there was indeed a serious challenger this time.

This is quite true - although even there, the Netroots Candidates page started small.

by Dave Thomer 2006-10-18 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Correlations?

Great post, Dave Thomer. Actually, many terrific posts lower in this thread also.

I thought we had exhausted the "We are the heros, dammit" threads. Apparently not.

I host debate watching parties every presidential cycle, about 20 people. Within the past two weeks I've gotten in touch with many of the regulars, telling them I have a stash of recent debates from CSPAN on tape and asking if they would like to view them. As an experiment I asked about sites like MyDD and Kos. Without exaggeration, not a single person knew what the hell I was talking about. The progressive netroots does not exist to them at all. Yet those people are counting the days to go to the polls and vote against Bush. Almost all of them mentioned early voting and that it begins on October 21 here.

Today was my aunt's 64th birthday. I talked to her over the phone and she said this is the first time she is going to vote when it's not a presidential year. "Bush makes me so mad," she said. This is a woman who can barely find Google, and has never had cable TV.

by Gary Kilbride 2006-10-17 10:29PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

No one has been accused of needlessly preaching to the choir more than the blogosphere, but considering the vastly different levels of excitement among our base, I guess it wasn't such a bad idea to finally have someone doing that after all.

Try this fun thought experiment: You're walking down the sidewalk with a friend when you pass a church, it's doors open. You don't belong to this denomination; your friend used to, but years ago stopped attending. 3 parishioners are outside on the steps of the church. They engage passersby in conversation, and invite them in. Do you enter?

Now, scenario #2: As you pass the church with its open doors, no one is outside beckoning you in, but in the rafters out of view, the choir is in full voice, clear and strong, and from the top step you see many other people inside listening with great pleasure.

Do you enter?

by along 2006-10-17 06:47PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference
I have seen the influence and importance of blogs grow from of little importance to being a staple on the msm news programs.
It came into alot of notice during the Lamont victory.
I've heard news people say they read blogs and see what is being said and reported.  I've seen different bloggers pop up on segments on politics like MSNBC.  They have had people like Americablog on as the left viewpoint.  This says they concider the blogs to be important in the politcal sphere.
I like that politicans read them because this gives them direction, ideas and a chance to know what thier supporters think and want.  The democrats have become more muscular in responses due to the blogs.
And, the blogs have shown thier power to move stories they concider important.  Like the Path to 9-11 controversy.  We may not have gotten it taken off the air but, we stimulated the stories and trashed any hope of passing it off as fact.
The blogs are driving the elections.  The politics and alot of the stories.  And everyone is now reading them to know what is going on.  The politico and the newspeople have come to depend on them for alot of thing.
The best news is that no matter how hard the right tries to give thier blogs power, it's the left blogs that have the politics and media buzzing and reading.
by vwcat 2006-10-17 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Nope. I think you underestimate convergence

Several things are converging, IMHO:

1. Katrina, which was like the moment when Toto finally (and I do mean finally!!!) pulled the curtain aside and a lot of people were dumbfounded and horrified and unable to turn away from the absolutely shocking sight of Americans drowning in their own streets.  The psychic shock of that finally got the pendelum swinging back from the wingnut extreme set in motion by 9/11.  "Heckuva job, Brownie" was the icing on the Katrina cake.  That was MSM, not the blogosphere.

2. Better candidates for the Dems.  Smarter, articulate, with interesting backgrounds.  More of them, in more places. Hat's off to Howard Dean.  Partly the blogosphere; mostly good organizational dynamics and leadership.  (Plus credit to Howie Klein ;-)

3. Murtha (w/ Pelosi behind him) calling bullshit on BushCo's absolutely irresponsible treatment of the American military in Iraq -- IIRC, Murtha made his objections public AFTER the last Presidential election.   "Mr. Five Deferrments Cheney" smearing Murtha was stupendously dumb, aside from being blasphemous.    The blogosphere picked up Murtha's actions, but it remains a fact that he was a big MSM news story.  

4. Scandals Further Revealed since Nov 2004: Enron, PlameGate, Abramoff + K Street, Halliburton no-bid contracts... how many can you hope to keep track of...?  Even not-so-interested folks get this constant drip-drip-drip from late-night tv.  The blogosphere deserves credit for documenting these messes, but a reasonable person would need to credit FBI agents, attorneys, and the sloggy work of people who still believe in justice.  The blogosphere has helped communicate these moral victories, but it did nothing to create them.

5. Olbermann and other media -- Jon Stewart, Colbert -- who are living proof that there's an audience for 'anti-spin', and for anyone who can speak in complete sentences that aren't marinated in histrionic vituperation.  I do give Media Matters and related 'referee' websites a lot of credit in working toward making news reports more accountable -- and less dependent on gossipy 'unnamed sources'.

6. Members of the US military (retired) willing to actually provide testimony about what a disaster Iraq has become -- their credibility is simply not going to be undercut by BushCo b/c there are more of them every day. Although it is true that the blogs helped publicize their courage and integrity, it is also true that their actions were covered by a lot of the MSM.

7. The Medicare debacle.  I don't know a single senior who is pleased about that issue, and seniors vote.  Blogs shouldn't take credit for this dynamic, which I suspect is driving plenty of votes toward the Dems.

8. Federal deficits.  Blogs may talk about them, but this is also getting a drip-drip-drip in the MSM.  (I know several people who consume vast amounts of financial info, but have never, ever read a blog.  I doubt they're voting Republican this year.  But those votes are based on MSM subscription-based media and some rather grim numbers.)

9.  Foley is egregious -- it simply doesn't require rocket science to follow that plotline.  But the interesting dynamic in this item is the way in which blogs, email, the Internet, and MSM all converged and collided.

I think the blogoshpere is part of a huge convergence of factors.  It's a critical factor, but it's not the sole factor, and possibly not the primary factor.  The blogs didn't create the intensity that's happening -- they simply helped to shape, organize, and articulate the simmering wrath.

Whether that wrath actually turns into votes, and how those votes are counted, remain to be seen.  So have the blogs been psychologically significant? Probably.  

I'd argue they are part of a convergence that is reacting in response to daily outrages. Whether this outrage will translate into votes remains to be seen; I suspect that enough of it will translate into action to make a difference.

But get some perspective. Blogs can be great, but they do not exist in a social, technical, political, legal, or economic vacuum.

by readerOfTeaLeaves 2006-10-17 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Is There Really A Netroots Difference?

It is important not to forget that relatively few voters read blogs.  Activists do and much of the time they are speaking to each other in a sort of giant echo chamber.  A few voices in an echo chamber can give the impression of a vast choir.  Don't fall for the impression.

The vast majority of voters get their information from local media, newspapers and television, and friends and neighbors.  To some degree local media is a weak reflection of national media.  For instance, here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast the local ABC affiliate airs almost no news about l'affaire Foley and very little about Iraq.  Part of the dearth of political news is due to the lack of competitive races (Lott {R-MS} and Gene Taylor {D-MS 04}) and continuing Katrina woes but other than in so-called battleground states I would venture a guess that the situation is not much different.

I love the netroots movement and its stalwart activists here and at FDL, DKos, Eschaton, TPM, C&L, Americablog, Political Animal and all the rest, but lets not kid ourselves, activists comprise an insubstantial voting block.  

Wars are won (or lost) by the strength of the boots on the ground.  In elections that means actual voters in voting booths on election day.  If we don't canvass, phone bank, walk precincts or ferry voters who need transportation to their polling place on election day but rather sit on our collective asses and read or post to our own small community on election day, we don't deserve to win.

A fable:

Boudreaux went to mass every Sunday and prayed for God to let him win the lottery.  He made his visits and said his prayers religiously but was always disappointed.  He never won the lottery.  Boudreaux redoubled his efforts.  He started going to mass on Sundays and Wednesdays and fervently prayed for God to let him win the lottery.  He prayed until it hurt but he never won the lottery.  Finally, near despair, Boudreaux stayed after mass opne Sunday and prayed on his knees so hard tears were rolling down his cheeks.  All of a sudden God spoke to Boudreaux in a soft but clear voice, "Boudrreaux, meet me halfway.  Buy a damn lottery ticket!"

Moral:  You can only win if you play.

Don't just sit there, do someting!

by adaplant 2006-10-17 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Is There Really A Netroots Difference?

You sort of hit on my only comment on this.  I get very tired of the blog triumphalism, but I love blogs for the information they provide.

As someone who spends all day mobilizing and motivating volunteers, it certainly helps to keep the fires stoked as they say.

One good thing about spending way too much time reading blogs is I never run out of topics of conversation with local activists.

Part of getting boots on the ground in the voting booth is having boots on the doorsteps reminding folks to vote and talking up local candidates.  I honestly find that my blog reading provides invaluable fodder for conversation with activists who are perhaps less voracious news-readers than myself.  I think that helps keep them coming back.


by PortDork 2006-10-17 09:07PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

Reader of tea leaves does a great job with the convergence documentation, but I'll add a little about blog influence that I have experienced and continue to hear about anecdotally.

First, activists motivated by blogs become the feet on the ground that campaigns need so badly. In many areas of the country where local party organizations are moribund, aging, ineffective, or overwhelmingly dominated by a single interest, blogs and activist campaigns become an alternative and parallel option to creaky or broken party organizations. Candidates working with volunteers recruited online have energized and rebuilt party organizations.

Secondly, activists reading blogs regularly become far more likely to donate far larger sums of money to campaigns outside their immediate area. This can be the seed money for campaigns, a source that augments campaigns when they are very competitive, or in some cases, the very lifeblood of campaigns. Blogs allow a campaign to tap into a lot of small donations very quickly at times, and these donations come without strings, with the potential to free some winners from dependence on special interest.

Third, activists educated by blogs become very strong influencers among their circle of friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, which further motivates voting and other political activity. Progressives haven't had any media outlet to advance talking points and information in the way that the VRWC had almost exclusively.

Finally, and most importantly, blogtopia denizens have been willing to challenge the conventional wisdom and bet on the long shots, contributing tremendously to widening the battle front, and forcing the Republicans to play defense rather than offense.

by Aeolus 2006-10-17 09:34PM | 0 recs
Traditional democrats are learning fast

The netroots is the leading edge of trends in technology, communication, and financial organization. The successful democratic candidates are learning these patterns very fast -- 2006 is a key year for learning. This is a "Darwinian" learning process, so we're sure to see results!

My impression is that the netroots have grown so quickly this election cycle that the assumption that netroots = progressive may be starting to break down already.

The heart of progressism, liberalism, etc., is a willingness to accept the future at a faster pace than most people. Sometimes the future catches up with us faster than we expect, and 2006 looks like it may be one of those years.

by Mark Wallace 2006-10-17 09:46PM | 0 recs
Pelosi, Rahm
From the Chicago Trib piece about Rahm two days ago:
Pelosi praised Emanuel for his candidate recruitment, message development and knowledge of policy. "This election will swing on a number of different factors, but all of the success that we have will be attributable to Rahm," she said.
by Fran for Dean 2006-10-17 10:15PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

Somehow it always seemed to me that a major part of what the netroots has done to turn the tide comes from the incredible push for transparency that the netroots exerts. . .  similar perhaps to the open-source software "Linus' Law", "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," but here instead: "Given enough eyeballs, all corruption is plainly visible."

The simple fact of the amount of networked communication the liberal blogosphere (and the internet in general create) puts a tremendous pressure on anyone interested in lying, hiding information, or obfuscating.

And electronic communications in general have enabled the detailed tracking of the history of communication, whether its emails to Abramoff, emails from Brownie, or IM's from Foley.  

Would that kid who penned the line "sick, sick, sick, sick" have found the time to get the snail-mail address of the local news outlet, and written a letter to them about any untoward behavior engaged in by Foley in a prior era?  Would he even have had evidence?

The object lesson here (for Democrats and Republicans) is that corruption and immorality are much more likely to come to light now than ever. . .  

The netroots represents a powerful push for transparency in government, and, to me, this is a very, very beautiful thing.

by spacespace 2006-10-17 10:38PM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference
People vote from thier wallets. Prior to 2000 anyone who wanted to have money could find a way of making real dollars. Since 2002 the ability for the middle class and lower class to earn good money has been cut out. Unions have lost, Wal-Mart gained, Oil companies profits hit all time highs, 85% of the working class americans have seen a decrease in thier take home pay. Look around you two out of ten homes sold in the last five years are in foreclosure. Small town mom and pop stores are dying the average joe lunch box is worried about money.
The Democrats are now being charged to fix this. Religion, Gay marriage, Medical costs (insurance and drugs) etc. along with the WAR have pushed the averge person into saying I can not live on a Wal Mart income and you guys (Congress and Bush) do not get it and we believe you will not fix our wallets and our future.
Our time has come to lead to retake the middle to make everyone whole again the trick will be when peoples wallets are full again not to let them slip back to the dark side. This blog and all like is the tool to keep the focus!!!!!!
by KevinB 2006-10-18 04:15AM | 0 recs
even the devil's advocate has to agree

Even if you don't believe the causal force argument of the main post, you have to admit that y'all do make better calls. So we are each more efficient, more targetted, and more concentrated actors in the political process.

Of course, you still have to ask yourself: do I act out in politics more now that I read blogs, or less because I feel like reading blogs is all I have to do?

by msnook 2006-10-18 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

"I'd like to see someone try to explain how Democratic leaders have done a much better job firing up the base in 2005-2006 than they did in previous election cycles... The difference in Democratic excitement is not because of anything the leadership has done, but rather is the result of the rapid rise of progressive media.

I donno, I think a lot of it is Bush.  In 2002, Dems were mostly not Dubya fans, but in the aftermath of 9/11, it was pretty dispiriting to be a progressive.  That's worn off.

In your post on Republican mistakes, you point out that they are not mistakes, but are results of a philosophy of governence.  I think that is correct.  But most people see them as mistakes.  And when you pile them all on top of one another, from rare coin trading to katrina to foleygate to delay to abramoff to iraq to oh god i have to stop now before i kill myself...



The point is that after 6 years of Republican government, we have started to see results.  And people don't like the results.  We didn't really see those results yet in 02, and barely in 04.  Now we do, and so we get a swing our way.

I agree that blogs and the progressive movement make a difference, but let's remember we are the reality based community.  And reality is distinctly on our side right now.

by dansomone 2006-10-18 06:06AM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference
After the midterms, the progressive media will have several roles:
  • Competing in the contest of ideas and propaganda with the rightwing echo chamber.
  • Running interference against rightwing media when they go on the attack against Progressive politicians and their ideas.
  • Agitating against the paralyzed centrists in the Democratic party. Post-midterm, these people are going to curl up in a fetal position around bland, lifeless, nonconfrontational, meaningless, no-consequence positions and strategies. And they will be wrong, not only from a Progressive standpoint, but because a broad cross-section of the American public want the neocon executive to be challenged and keep honest--maybe even held  accountable for what they've done.
  • Going on the offensive against rightwing politicians (something those sensible centrists seem to have a hard time finding the guts for).
I am concerned though about how this new Progressive media is going to sustain itself. Where is your money going to come from to keep this going? And it's not just the blogosphere...the recent bankruptcy of Air America is a very real concern, as AA has a role to play in keeping our ideas out there, bringing in converts, whipping up indignancy, providing another media platform for Progressives, sustaining us (me) when my interest or morale get low, etc.
The question remains...where is our patient capital?
by johnalive 2006-10-18 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

Running interference is important, I agree.  It's made a difference, and is long overdue.

Agitating against the paralyzed centrists much tougher; if they have paychecks, they'll want to keep them.  Much more work needs to be done on developing the biz side of blogs, IMHO. Both for the financial security of those involved, as well as for the credibility signaled by healthy financials.

I'd hope the offense against wingnuts will be drown out by impeachment hearings, but that may be only my personal fantasy.

by readerOfTeaLeaves 2006-10-18 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Netroots Difference
I think you are absolutely right about the netroots leadership.  You folks are alive, you are out there, you are making a huge difference.
I love the way you ignore the do-nothings in Washington and go ahead and do it all yourselves from scratch. You are bringing the party back to life.
 No question but the Democratic Party's marriage to the corporations has killed our sense of meaning and our values.  The party became a moribund ghost that had forgotten what it stood for -- had forgotten its soul.
In the overreaching Kerry did, starting with his convention, to reach out to the right wing and to leap over the Democrats, counting on our support, he and his team of consultants succeeded in erasing, that is, killing, the Democratic Party itself, what it was, what it could be, what it stood for, and what it could stand for in the future.  They erased our ideology and replaced it with nothing-- giving out a simplistic message that they thought would appeal to what they thought was Middle America.  That is some mythical country from the 1950s that isn't out there any more.
We're still on life support, but it's your energy that is pumping in the oxygen. Please keep it up. We are inspired by your energy and we are all benefitting from your work.
by syolles 2006-10-18 10:12AM | 0 recs
Re: More On The Netroots Difference

I like all the points in the original post and a whole mess of the points in the comments.

But there are a lot of sweeping statements being made with only the author's perceptions and a few anecdotes to back them up. I'm not saying people are wrong, but I'm also not saying you are right.

Correlation is not causation.

I want progressives in general to be able to take credit for a Dem vitory, if one indeed happens. But there are a shit-ton of progressive base voters who don't know a thing about the netroots and don't even have e-mail addresses. I'm talking low-wage people of color for the most part. Show me how the netroots is mobilizing these folks and I'll be a lot happier buying into a "we are the reason we are winning" kind of arguement.

I want this to be the narrative, but I can't buy it unless I see concrete numbers. All I see right now is supposition about influence and the example of OH-2. I'm skeptical. That's not enough for me.

For me politics is aobut numbers of doors knocked, conversations had, and commitments to vote secured, followed by an analysis of the voter lists that track whether your contacts actually voted. That's the bottom line.

But one thing I will grant is the influence net activists have had on the 50-state strategy. That's gold right there and I'm convinced on that one already.

So convince me about the rest of it.

by nathanhj 2006-10-18 03:48PM | 0 recs


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