• comment on a post The Realignment We've Been Waiting For over 6 years ago

    This is all well and good on paper, but it's like fantasy baseball or something. How is this supposed to work in practice? It'd be literally a three-ring circus, between him, her, and Bill. Then you've got the utter incompatibility of their campaign strategies and tactics, their messages, their foreign policy approaches. Is she prepared to essentially be subordinate on everything important and to stay totally on-message? Are her staff and hangers-on? Is Bill? Because that's what it would take. Obama's crew has earned the right to run their own campaign the way they see fit, and they've proven incredibly disciplined and organized and with it. Can they do that if you try to graft the Clinton apparatus(and apparatchiks) on to it? We can't have her running around talking about obliterating Iran when Obama's trying to define himself against McCain with a new multilateral foreign-policy approach. We can't have her emphasizing her experience because that in turn emphasizes his perceived inexperience and muddies the message of change. We can't have Wolfson / Mcauliffe / Ickes et al fighting their own intraparty battles for control and spoils from within the campaign. We can't have some people trying to run a 90's-style swing state triangulation campaign and others trying to run a 50-state-strategy enlarge-the-tent one. And we can't have Bill going off the reservation all the time and spouting off whatever comes into his increasingly-addled head. And that's before you even get to her negatives and potential power to rile up the GOP base, all of the dirty laundry of the Clinton era getting aired all over again, etc.

    If I thought it could work, I might still go for it, even after all that has happened, but it just won't. Most of the positives that could be had by adding her to the ticket could be had without any of those negatives if she would simply retire gracefully after all of the votes are counted and the fait is accomplis-ed, and then make some efforts to reconcile her own voters with Obama and campaign vigorously for the nominee in the fall. If she really cares about the party and about the issues, that's what she'll do. It's as simple as that.

  • Look, this is a Democratic primary election. Democratic primaries are decided by the Democratic base and Democratic activists. How the hell do you expect to win them if you do things like write off 3 million of the most intensely engaged voters, volunteers, and donors in the Party out of hand? This would be bad enough in a general election, but in a primary, it's worse than bad, it idiotic. If she disagrees so strongly with MoveOn on foreign policy, she should have made the effort to convince them, or failing that, at least tried to throw them a bone or show some sort of respect for their concerns. That's how you win elections, dummies.

    It's not like MoveOn is a highly ideological, totally intractable organization. It's very diverse and makes decisions democratically, which is how they made their endorsement decision as well. She should have been courting them just like campaigns court unions and dozens of other important groups within the party. I'm sure lots of MoveOn's membership would have been more than willing to march into hell for her if she had just asked them. Christ, the organization was founded to defend her husband during the impeachment, and is in many ways based around a philosophy of pragmatically and doggedly fighting back against the right. She should have been their natural candidate going in, but she failed to take them seriously and cultivate them, and paid the price.

    And argue what you will pro or contra the merits of caucuses going forward, but for this cycle everyone knew the rules going in and should have planned their campaigns accordingly. Thinking you can win caucuses while pissing all over the people who do the grunt work to run them and get out voters for them is not very bright.

    The fact is that they got greedy. I'm sure they appreciate the help of netroots and other party activists, but they don't want to be truly beholden to us if they can avoid it, and the Clinton campaign thought they could get an early knockout on Super Tuesday and have their cake and eat it too. They thought wrong, and have nobody to blame but themselves. All ideological or personal differences aside, they ran a stupid and shortsighted campaign that utterly failed to recognize and account for the vast changes to the political landscape and process since the 90's. I admit to disagreeing ideologically with HRC rather strongly from the beginning, but I never doubted her political acumen and have been almost shocked at how inept and out of touch they have been. They're running a 2008 Democratic primary election campaign like it's a 1996 national election campaign, and they're surprised that they aren't doing so well? Sheesh. What I can't quite understand is how strong her online support still is, in spite of all of this.

  • comment on a post Taking Options Off the Table over 7 years ago

    These non-political blogs are political, these non-political networks are political.  And they should start learning about politics and approaching it with respect.

    This respect thing is a two-way street. There is some level of resentment on the techie/creative side that the political people think and act like they invented the web. The people who built many of the tools and invented the forms and mediums have kind of been shunted aside by this vast explosion of blogging into a mass medium. However, these people and their expertise and influence are still potentially very valuable, and SXSW and other places where the two groups coincide are an excellent opportunity to build bridges, one that I feel like the political wing has wasted terribly so far. Part of it is indeed political apathy or obliviousness from the techie side, but when most of the political web contingent flies in, does their talk, and then quickly heads off for the next stop, or has mostly private parties that don't mix with the web contingent, and when others cough*Kos*cough are more interested in hawking their book than in learning from all these brilliant people they have the privilege of speaking to, the state of affairs you lament is not surprising. The results-oriented political ethic when it comes to the web is a big turnoff for many creatives and techies, especially when we meet on neutral ground in places where the hard-sell is not expected or wanted.

    Things like SXSW are not about hawking your candidate(the Warner people were especially egregious about this in 2006) or your site, or your issues, they're about a meeting of the minds, and a rare opportunity to learn, build relationships, and hatch projects with the best in the field, on neutral ground. Until some of the political people start staying around and really engaging with the tech/creative people as peers and potential allies, I don't see the situation changing much. As someone with a foot in both worlds, I really wish it would happen, but I've been disappointed with both sides so far. I dunno, I didn't make SXSW this year, so maybe it has improved a bit, but the 2 years before that were pretty lousy and disappointing in this regard.

  • comment on a post Is the Democratic Party Pro-War? over 7 years ago

    There is just no way that she can say that she will end the war and that she will continue a military mission in Iraq to contain extremists and ward off Iran.  Those are mutually exclusive.

    No, they're not. Though I'm wary of the source and of her history of hawkishness, there isn't much I can find to disagree with in the quoted statements. I think this entry and thread reveals that we on the left had better have a good long debate about just what "ending the war" actually means, and about what we think our role/responsibility militarily and otherwise in the Middle East should be going forward.

    Withdrawal is not going to magically make all of these messes go away. I had assumed "ending the war" meant something along the lines of "a phased withdrawal from the contested areas of Iraq over six months to a year, with non-negligible forces remaining in Kuwait and possibly Kurdistan for some years afterward to keep a lid on things, provide security guarantees to our regional allies, and keep an eye on any incipient Al Qaeda activity in Anbar or elsewhere." This also seems to me to be the basic position of most of the Party, including the non-Kucinich presidential candidates. If that's "pro war," then so be it. I don't think it's very controversial or at all wrong. There are tough questions we should be asking... getting pledges for no permanent bases, no escalation to Iran or elsewhere, asking for a real idea of what they think we should do going forward regionally and globally, etc, but litmus tests this strict and confining are not the way to get those other things on the table.

  • comment on a post Apex Reached? Moving From Bloggers To Communities over 7 years ago

    I think diversity is the key here. The kinds of political blogging that predominate now have probably reached or are reaching a plateau. I think that goes for both single-author and user-generated sites. There are only so many people out there who are a) Progressive/Liberal, b) interested primarily in national, partisan politics c) interested in nuts-and-bolts policy stuff and/or horse-race and message stuff d) have the time and resources and background necessary to contribute to the netroots as currently constituted. And there are only so many blogs those people can read and write.

    I personally don't see much value in user-generated content for informing myself about national politics. I'd much rather pick a spectrum of strong individual voices who are amenable to me or who challenge me in interesting ways, and use them as my filter. For most group blogs that I read, I only read one or two particular authors, and ignore most of the other posts. And I haven't found comment sections to be very fruitful at most larger blogs, though a few of the mid-tier ones(slacktivist, making light, and obsidian wings come to mind) have very good signal-to-noise ratios in the comments, and are worth the effort.

    But, user-generated content is good for lots of other things, most of which we aren't taking advantage of in the political sphere yet. Fundraising, for one, which we've gotten a taste of already. Covering local issues and building local grassroots communities is the biggie, though what that really amounts to in national politics is kind of debatable. But in local politics, this is going to be the new huge thing, I hope, and the effects of that will eventually have huge ramifications for the national picture as well if it does happen.  

    The current range of uses and users are a pretty narrowly-defined group, and just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible. First, you have digital divide issues, which probably exclude a big chunk of the Left's potential or actual economically-self-interested constituency. Not many working-poor-single-moms are going to have the time and the money and the access to really be able to contribute, or often even to find out there is something to contribute to. Add lots of rural folks, the elderly, and people for whom English isn't a first language, and so on and on, and that's a whole lot of room for growth in the long run.

    There is also the restrictiveness of defining the netroots as just the traffic that goes to the blog format, when at this point, there are tons of other networked tools and mini-mediums out there to fill a huge number of niches and needs. Email, IM, Social Networking, Wikis, SMS, Video, Audio, etc. I think the totality of social software gets overshadowed a bit too much by just blogging. Blogging is one of the easier-to-master and engage of these technologies, so that's understandable, but it's probably not even going to be the dominant networked medium of the next 10 years.

    But if there is a serious digital divide in even the fairly low-barrier-to-entry medium of blogging, then getting people to the point where they can take full advantage of all of these technologies to meet their own needs and build their own communities and movements(and without getting overly bogged down in learning and maintaining it all) is going to be a huge, huge task.

    I think going local, and starting to use the web more as a holistic organizing tool to facilitate and lower barriers to entry for ongoing local movements and groups, which would bring on board both the organizers who are pounding pavement and the people they are trying to organize, is a big piece of the puzzle. But so is obtaining access and computer skills for the kinds of people who would most benefit from taking part in such communities. Maybe using whatever existing grassroots infrastructure there is to help teach/evangelize is a start, but more blogosphere support for mostly apolitical digital divide and computer education initiatives would probably be a good thing, and more dialogue between the (also often relatively apolitical) people building the tools and the people using them is a must. More of us getting down in the trenches and helping local groups get themselves online and learn to use the tools and participate in the conversation, or, better yet, start their own, different conversations would be a great thing as well.

    But, that's easier said than done, and a lot of it is indeed going to come down to money. And if the equivalents of mass-media in our little corner can't sustain themselves, then it doesn't bode well for the bigger and more difficult projects to come. We need a steady source of funding both for grassroots community work and national/mass media message work, and ways to let people who have these in-demand tech and communications skills get out there and use them for political and social ends, on a professional basis. Volunteerism is great, but in my experience, without some sort of permanent professional presence to guide it, a lot of the effort goes to waste or is redundant, and even moreso with tech-related stuff. I've lost count of how many utterly wrongheaded and hideous small candidate and local group websites I've come across. And I'm sure lots of effort and maybe even money went into making those, for little or no tangible return. From the techie end of the equation, volunteerism is also frustrating because you often just can't put in a consistent enough effort to sustain and nurture what you are trying to build, when you also have a day job and lots of other things eating up your hours. I believe the web can be a great multiplier and engine of effort and connection, but we've got to figure out how, when, and where to best use it, and how to pay for it, before that hope can bear fruit.


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