Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Marketplace Of Ideas Is Short On Big Name Shoppers

The need for leaders to carry the message of liberals in this country has reached its pinnacle, but who those leaders will be is yet to be determined. There is a democracy of ideas that is growing on the net, with so many lefty bloggers putting out new ideas and the readers of the blogs who give right back. It is a marketplace that is growing every day and the products being sold are hope, ideas and an opportunity to have your opinion heard. It can’t be long before some smart upstart is able to capitalize on the vitality and passion that is ripe for the picking and free to whomever chooses to harvest the best ideas and whittle them down into a cohesive platform with populist appeal.

Bernard Henri Levi wrote a wonderful article published in the San Francisco Gate titled, “When the left is not right in America: Lifeless liberals show a hunger for leadership on their causes”, in which he outlines the lack of political or cultural leaders willing to espouse liberal ideals. While I disagree with some of what he puts forth in this piece, for example his narrow scope of who is considered an “intellectual writer” and his chastising of Gore Vidal for not speaking out when I have read several great writings from Mr. Vidal recently (like this, this, this and a bit earlier, this), I do agree that we are sorely lacking in leadership. But with the advent of the Internet and the surge of liberal and progressive blogs, the landscape of political thought, protest and dialogue has changed dramatically. It’s not just the books, paintings, poems and music from the most well known artists where the energy is found. It is now found on the tens of thousands of lefty blogs that have anywhere from several hundred to several hundred thousand readers a day and independent artists and musicians who can now sell their wares on their own terms, bypassing the corporate censor machine.

This new political force is being resisted by old leaders who see any threat to their entrenched power in purely negative terms and the media elite who see their readership being plucked away by blogs that offer a more realistic view of our world and that often delve into subjects considered taboo by the corporate owners and the editors who are too meek to fight their bosses on behalf of their reporters. And unlike newspapers and television news shows, there is an opportunity for readers and viewers to be actively involved. They can instantly critique what they read and even throw in their two cents with the added satisfaction of having their opinions known to the author and other readers. This creates a dialogue that can only help hone the ideas and grow the community of people who are willing and able to make a contribution.

William Beutler wrote an article for The Washington Examiner on Friday titled “Politics and the risks of online activism” (that was beautifully picked apart by Matt Stoller at MyDD by the way) and in it he equates liberal bloggers with the conservative group Club For Growth, but without the accountability factor. Beutler contends that by encouraging readers to contribute money to primary challengers to incumbent Democrats that have failed us, bloggers are unnecessarily bloodying the Democratic candidates with the best shot at winning. This is just more beltway conventional wisdom crap that defies reality and refuses to acknowledge that we the people have a role to play in the democratic process.

Politics is not merely a numbers game. While it is important to know the numbers and to know where the best chances of winning are, it is more important to appeal to the voters in every district of this country. Calculating exactly what position they should take on any given issue based on the number of votes gained by that position is hallow politics plain and simple. Inside the beltway politicians, lobbyists, staffers and the reporters who cover them for the mainstream media may be getting bent out of shape by liberal bloggers who are changing the rules of the game, but they better adapt to the new political landscape or risk being left behind.

Lefty bloggers are making elections more about the process and the people and less about the strategy that has been traditionally hatched by the party elite. Where the message of candidates used to be tightly controlled and beltway reporters were the only avenue for getting the message out, the lefty bloggers have changed the face of politics and it is beginning to resemble democracy again. When individual bloggers can promote primary candidates that would, in the past, have been easily relegated to nearly anonymous status, the voters have more information at their fingertips and this tips the balance away from the traditional power holders. Easy to see why there’s so much resistance to the new political system but hard to see how this is bad for the Party or bad for democracy.


Blogger Howard Martin said...

I'm sitting here in Hawaii in my shorts and flip flops and all I can think about is how the rovian empire is cracking and "we" don't seem to have exciting leaders to take them down. Then I see this post. Now what?

6:53 PM  
Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door said...

Howie--Like I said, it's only a matter of time before someone (or more likely, several someones) figures out that there is a base here that is dying to be tapped. But on the proactive side, I think we can encourage the upstart politicians and those with close access to power to start capitalizing on the seemingly endless supply of great ideas and energy that is out there participating daily in the discussion and fight to make things better. The sooner they realize that we are not the enemy but rather their biggest asset, the better.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

Brilliant post ...

Over at peace chicks there’s a link to an article in which:

[Rumsfeld] said today's weapons of war included email, Blackberries, instant messaging, digital cameras and web logs, or blogs.

"Our enemies have skilfully adapted to fighting wars in today's media age, but . . . our country has not adapted," Mr Rumsfeld said. "For the most part, the US Government still functions as a five and dime store in an eBay world," Mr Rumsfeld said, comparing old-fashioned US retail stores and the online auction house.

Mr Rumsfeld said military public affairs officers must learn to anticipate news and respond faster, and good public affairs officers should be rewarded with promotions.

The military's information offices still operate mostly eight hours a day, five or six days a week while the challenges they face occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mr Rumsfeld called that a "dangerous deficiency".

Liberal Girl, what you said here makes me feel optimistic, but also scared that this cyber garden of eden in which will dwell is gonna get ugly ...

yeah, thanks for the vidal links ... it's good to know you're out there as Gore is getting on toward the end of his race (I hope not too soon)

8:37 PM  
Blogger Rory Shock said...

not sure what happened with the link ... trying again ... if this doesn't work oy vey, her link through her comment to me latest post works ... here goes:
peace chicks

8:41 PM  
Anonymous roberta kelly said...

American Jingoism

According to a February 15, 2006 speech by United States Representative Ron Paul,14th congressional district of Texas ~ The End of Dollar Hegemony . . Since printing paper money is nothing short of counterfeiting, the issuer of the international currency must always be the country with the military might to guarantee control over the system.

Ron Paul’s speech however, is not our number one news priority and why not? Those who rule know that Al Qaeda is the depreciation and potential collapse of our USD and our failing US economy is the WOT. But who shall tell the people?

Tragically, for about 100 years a select few with money and power basically gambled America’s money and power away through globalization. George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court, with its coup d’etat of 2000, scrambled in desperation to save it all, but they’ve only managed to put it into the intensive care unit on a life support system. Terri Schiavo is America’s spiritual mirror. But who shall tell the people?

A nation-state collective of American citizens and the Constitution of the United States of America created by our forefathers has been decided by this select few as passe and no longer in the best interest of our country, and these few US select plus certain others in European and Middle East Nations ~ smarter, richer, stronger and more deserving than the lesser people ~ have determined the future of America and Earth. These clandestine rulers have many acronymic names for their governing bodies and it’s not about fair, honest or balanced by any stretch of the imagination. America home of the free and land of the brave is no more. But who shall tell the people?

The notion of aristocracy has been recycled throughout the history of civilizations, however it has been the gene of altruism which in the long run has served humanity, but survival of the fittest has not. Our intelligence isn’t comprehending this truth and there are still a select few who can’t be deterred from believing they are the power to distinguish between the fittest and the weakest. Nuclear war to those who believe they decide the fate of humanity is justified by the Empire, the fittest.

Human beings who are clearly oblivious to the balance of nature and humanity betray our species’ basic survival so their insatiable ego pathology can be fed incessantly. Ultimately, their own demise is inevitable, but because of the holocaust of avarice the many suffer the consequences which should justly be visited on the few.

And it looks like those who own the media are in control of choosing the fate of our planet and species in this Twenty-First Century. In a word, jingoism: An extreme nationalism, characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism. (thank you Congressman Ron Paul!)

Dr. Helen Caldicott is the Founding President of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). PSR was the co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, and Dr. Linus Pauling individually nominated Dr. Caldicott for the Prize. Dr. Helen Caldicott's Presentation to the Perdana Peace Forum, Kuala Lumpur, December 2005, addresses the symptoms of psychic numbing and displacement activity.

Denial about the fakery of the spreading of democracy, liberation, free market trade, and the heavily sedated people who are true believers in these fairy tales, defines some of the multiple symptoms of the sickness. We have been brainwashed into identifying a predatory empire as a healthy society and the diagnoses made by Dr. Caldicott is indeed America’s reality at this time. But who shall tell the people?

How long before the realization that the selling of false information, toxic shame, fear and terror, racism, bigotry, prejudices and gluttonous consumerism, as a legitimate viable civilized modern model, is nothing more than anti-human ~ cultural, financial-economic and global suicide?

How long before fooling all the people all the time dooms us, each and every one, to the collapse of civilization and the annihilation of the planet Earth? What is the global American product that we sell as the super power ~ “full spectrum dominance” and the highest paid sales people are those who own the media, but not for long and who shall tell them the products they are selling ~ a nuclear winter, global devastation and the end of life as we know it, is NOT "democracy and freedom on the march."

Who, then, shall tell the people the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth?

We are clearly demonstrating to the entire world that psychic numbing and displacement activity is America’s state of being, and we do not intend to take responsibility for being a bright and intelligent nation of people and leaders, able to solve the incredible problem of being dis-eased ~ mentally, emotionally, physically, economically and spiritually.

The proof is as plain as the nose on one’s face, and The End of Dollar Hegemony is vital, legitimate news.

Nuclear holocaust is not the answer and America's dead, wrong, policy problem, is ~ who shall tell the people?

I honor: Larry Olstad (brilliant writer, who got me involved in politics and edits my work); William Greider; Dr. Helen Caldicott; F. William Engdahl; Michel Chossudovsky; et al, with this letter to America.

Roberta Kelly and

I am faxing, emailing and snail mailing this letter to every Sentator, Congressman, and news media outlet.

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Craig said...

Excellent post.

There's still a lot of work for liberals to do and I would like to see more done in terms of how to create common ground with moderates and moderate-conservatives since liberals probably don't have enough votes to win by themselves.

For the moment, common ground might be as basic as saving our democracy and fighting the corruption in Washington.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Lily@Consider The Boot said...

You rock, liberal girl. Great topic and post. I think that technology HAS changed the way we connect, collaborate...I think we need inspiring leasership and more 'walking of the walk'.

And more access for third parties to get onto the ballot.

11:14 PM  

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