"Obama Worship"

This is a topic that's been bothering me for quite some time now, and I think that writing a diary about it will be the best way to get it off my chest, rather than endlessly debating it in the comments.

As a fairly regular reader of MyDD, and as an Obama supporter, I can't help but notice a recurring theme in the comments about the presidential race. There seems to be a tendency for the supporters of other candidates to sometimes dismiss Obama supporters as so uninformed about or charmed by or enamored with Barack Obama that we clearly overlook the real issues. I've even seen it referred to as "Obama Worship." The gist of this idea is that because Obama is a charismatic and captivating politician (some might say "rock star"), then hi supporters are drawn not to the issues he stands for, but to his star power. I've seen comments that say Obama supporters are blind followers of a media creation. A diary I wrote was referred to as "the Church of Obama." One lovely commenter even went so far as to suggest that I didn't know the meaning of my user name (if anyone was wondering, it comes from the famous sticker that Woody Guthrie would put on his guitar), because one of the tenets of fascism was the blind, rabid support of a single leader.

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Open Left Is, Um, Open

So, three weeks ago, Matt and I announced we were leaving MyDD to start a new project. Today, I am pleased to announce, that after a period that feels much longer than three weeks, a $250,000,000 budget that included the construction of a full-size replica of the Titanic, dozens of script re-writes from modern super-writer Stephen Bosco, a long-awaited soundtrack by Toto that precisely captures the mood of the galaxy eight thousand years in the future, a thirteen episode reality television show hosted by Tim Gunn to find our graphic designer, twelve simulations monitored by Gary Kaspaov and Deep Blue to work out the strategic kinks, an accelerated citizenship process for our ringer, Freddy Adu, and a worldwide race to find the Ark of the Covenant before Belloch and the Nazis, the new website from executive producers Chris Bowers, Matt Stoller and Mike Lux, the Open Left, is making its public launch today!

What can you expect on Open Left? Well, overall, we are dedicated to building a sustainable, progressive governing majority, not just a Democratic one. In some ways we are quite familiar, in that you know our names and in that we run on Soapblox. In other ways, we are an experiment, trying to bring progressive activists and professionals from "inside" and "outside" the political establishment into regular, thoughtful, and active connection with one another. There will be a wide variety of progressive people and organizations posting content, some of whom will introduce themselves as we roll out many of our soon-to-be regular features this week. We have innovative new posting protocol, epitomized by the "Right To Respond", where, in the interests of openness and a desire to foster more conversation among progressives, any progressive individual or organization we blog about in a front-page post will have the opportunity to respond with a front page post of their own. With both Matt Stoller and myself, you can expect much of what we provided at MyDD, only expanded into other areas. Mike Lux will be able to provide a wealth of professional political experience and an inside viewpoint rarely seen in our previous work. Also, there will be more topics we write about both for an extended period of time and in great detail, rather than relying on singular posts and off-the-cuff analysis. We will write more about legislative policy, as well as strategy on how to pass progressive policy. Further, there will also a lot of talk about progressive culture and lifestyle, since there will never be a sustainable progressive governing majority in America unless that governing majority is accurately representing a more progressive America.

Anyway, enough talk about what we are going to do, since it is by our fruits that ye shall know us. Rather than gradually rolling out our first few articles this morning, we have instead loaded up the site of with lots of new content so you have plenty to dig through right away. Already, with much more on the way for this afternoon, you can check out the following articles and permanent pages:
  • The Birth of a Movement, where Mike Lux gives an inside view of what it was like to be part of the Clinton impeachment fight. Spoiler alert: the Democratic and progressive advocacy group establishment was not very helpful.

  • What Is OpenLeft.com?, where Matt Stoller offers some perspective on why we chose the name Open Left for our new website, and on where our contemporary movement of left-wing activism fits into a broader historical picture of American politics. This article will be permanently linked in our About section.

  • New Establishment Rising? The End of the Flat Blogosphere, is my opening, lengthy theoretical piece for Open Left. If I may be so bold to say so, it is one of the best, if not the very best, piece I have ever written on the progressive, political blogosphere. It is also the first step in a collaborative project with JONI: Journal of Netroots ideas, which will take place over the next weeks and months on Open Left.

  • Towards A Universal Neutral Internet, where Matt Stoller offers a broad perspective on the progress of the fight for Net Neutrality. It ties directly into, among other things, the primary challenge Donna Edwards is running against Al Wynn in MD-04, and to the political interplay between labor unions and the Democratic Congress.

  • The Self-Identified Progressive Candidate, where I look at how often each of the eight Democratic campaigns for President use the ideological term "progressive." Content warning: this post might cause you to conjure up images of me dancing at home in my underwear.

  • In the Nomination at a glance page, you can find the latest national and early state polling averages, along with fundraising numbers, primary calendar info, and general analysis, for both the Democratic and Republican nominations.
And that is just for starters--if you sign up now, you can still secure a low user ID! Not a day goes by when I don't derive a smug sense of satisfied, superiority from having user ID of 217 on MyDD, and 123 on Dailykos (I'm #9 on Open Left). Now, you too can be one of the user ID elite!

So, please, keep reading MyDD every day, but also visit Open Left. Bookmark Open Left. Tell your friends, family and co-workers about Open Left. Purchase billboard space on behalf of Open Left. Start another blog to triangulate against Open Left. Whatever you do, please stop by. I miss you guys, and it would be nice to see you all again.

What's a Blog For?

Last weekend, I wrote about how the progressive youth movement - its organizations and its individual members - were disconnected from the progressive blogosphere.  I got some pushback in the comments and elsewhere about that, with criticism generally raising two questions:

  • Why do youth groups need to engage the blogosphere?

  • How could existing youth org blogs change to make most effective use of the medium?

There's no one answer to the first question.  Not all youth orgs need to engage the blogs, and for different youth orgs, it would make sense to engage different types of blogs for different reasons.  As Matt noted in the comments to my post last year, the blogosphere isn't any one thing, and lumping all blogs in together and saying that "youth orgs need to know what's going on" isn't all that helpful.  Reading the Daily Kos every day isn't going to make our youth organizations or their members any more effective than they already are.   There are many types of blogs written for a variety of purposes by a diverse range of people.  Some of these will be helpful for youth orgs, some won't.  

The Young Democrats, for example, have chapters all over the country.  Typically their work (canvassing and GOTVing young voters) is supportive of local candidacies, and often they work on local issues that can be aided by help from the broader progressive community in that area.  It would make sense for local chapters to have their own blog (and in fairness, many of them do) that covered YDA Chapter X's involvement in their local politics.  It would make sense for that blog to be in dialogue with local blogs about local issues.  There are partnerships to be formed there, local media narratives to change/establish, volunteers to be recruited, etc.  And it's a relationship that could go both ways, benefiting the local blogs, local progressives, and young progressives equally.  Such a relationship would also help de-"ghettoize" youth politics, which is frequently siloed away from the activities of the "adults." 

Another organization, The Roosevelt Institution, for instance, probably won't care so much about what YDA is doing or about local candidates.  But they're probably very interested in what policy bloggers are talking about.  Reading Ezra Klein, Max Sawicky, Brad DeLong, etc. would be instructional for a lot of RI's aspiring policy wonks.  In this case, the benefits are educational - reading the blogs and creating a forum for discussion on the organization's own blog serves to educate all members about the intricacies of various policy issues.  It will also probably increase their familiarity with the D.C. policy world.  

I'm not going to run through each type of organization and what might work best, but there are clearly benefits to be gained for youth organizations to selectively engage the blogosphere based on their goals.  The second question - how can existing blogs change to better serve their members and utilize the medium - is the more interesting one to me.

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Thoughts on Obama vs. Edwards

A brief introduction/disclaimer: a popular topic on MyDD recently has been the increase in the number of 'hit diaries' dealing with the presidential race and the lack of diaries focus on the issues of substance. While I don't think this is a hit diary, it is certainly focused on the race rather than the issues. The issues are important, but it is also important for us to analyze why we obsess over the campaign minutiae, and why often discussion of the campaign turns nasty.

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Progressive blogosphere diversity

If you've been dropping by MyDD on Fridays recently, you've probably seen this progressive blogosphere diversity series before.  If you haven't, here's the rundown.  Every Friday, I post an entry encouraging MyDD readers to follow, comment on, link to, blogroll, and otherwise support blogs written by women and/or minority bloggers.  I also solicit recommendations from MyDD readers for the next week's round.  I'm not keeping count, but I think we've hit something like 50 blogs in the time I've been doing this.  Way to go, readers!

Last week's request for women and/or minority labor bloggers didn't yield a lot of responses (I'm saving the one response I got, Working Californians, for next week); so I'm holding the response period open a little longer.  If you've got a favorite female/minority labor blogger you'd like to see promoted, drop a link in the comments.

And now, on with the show!  Follow me over the jump...

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