Off to the salon to have my netroots done
Guest post by Betty Cracker
The vacationing Liberal Girl made a great suggestion awhile back for those of us who are in Red State hell without a snow flake’s chance of voting for a candidate who actually represents our views – she urged us to support candidates in other districts who do.
I took that suggestion to heart and made modest contributions to two candidates who cannot directly represent me because they are in distant states, but whose presence in congress might actually advance some of the causes I hold dear, including getting the heck out of Viet-raq. It was the first time I ever contributed money to the campaign of someone for whom I cannot vote. But it wasn’t my first foray into online political activity.
Anyway, according to some, online political activism makes me, and others who engage in it more robustly, enemies of democracy or at least of the Democratic Party. Read this screed by Jonathan Chait of the New Republic for a sample flavor of the criticism. Here’s a snippet:
"Doesn't this [Lieberman’s petulant decision to run as an independent if he loses the Dem primary] suggest that the whole Lamont crusade has sort of backfired? Although I'm no Karl Rove, it seems to me that turning a rock-solid Democratic seat into a potential Republican pickup represents something less than a political masterstroke.
The whole anti-Lieberman blog campaign has a self-fulfilling quality: They charge that Lieberman isn't a Democrat, they drive him from the party, and they declare themselves to be correct. The more ex-Democrats they create, the more sure of their own virtue they become."
Of course, what Chait fails to acknowledge is that Lieberman wasn’t driven from the party; he voluntarily left it by marching in lockstep with Bush on just about every single issue important to his constituents. It’s not a rock-solid Democratic seat if it’s occupied by a Republican disguised as a Democrat; Lamont’s candidacy therefore represents the only hope that a Democratic seat can be gained in Connecticut.
Others have tackled this aspect of it in much more detail than I can attempt here; I recommend the indispensable FireDogLake for those wishing to learn more. But what I find most fascinating about this is the reflexive fear and loathing on display from establishment journalists and politicians. They’ve been sniveling and wetting their beds in consternation about the netroots ever since Howard Dean made a splash in the 2004 primaries, and as far as I can determine, the main reason is fear: They are afraid (rightly) that they are losing control of the political apparatus.
I say establishment journos and politicos are right to fear the netroots because it represents an alternative to the innane political narratives they formerly served up to a captive audience. That’s the real danger for them – that they’ll lose their exclusive king-making privileges. But they can’t forthrightly recognize this real threat to their authority and debate it on its own merits (i.e., you should shut up and listen to us because we know best) because it would expose their rather unattractive elitist thinking.
So instead, they’re attempting to shape the narrative about the netroots, painting us as an unwashed horde of wild-eyed kooks who will destroy democracy as we know it and deliver a perpetual Republican majority. What a crock that is. The fact is, the netroots are as diverse as any other political movement. I notice the establishment hacks employed in journalism and politics didn’t have any trouble cynically kissing the butts of fundamentalist Christians when they emerged as a political force to be reckoned with – adopting FOX News-style formats and falling all over themselves to profess their faith and organize prayer breakfast. So their cries of alarm now ring hollow.
No, it’s all about control. Long live the netroots! In this corporatocracy, the netroots' many kooks and genuinely thoughtful analysis and activism alike may represent the last hope for individuals to make a difference. And what could be more democratic than that?