Monday, July 10, 2006

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?


Anonymous lester said...

I don't think lamont is much of a candidate. He had some good points at the debate, but if someone is so awkward they make me nervous that's bad sign. You don't have to be like the smoothest character ever, but it helps if you can string two words together without looking like a huge nerd.
But hopefully it will give lieberman a kick in the butt, which he needs. the eno con age is over, theres no reason to kowtow to the whole imperialist warmonger thing.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen! I'm going to support Mike DeWine's (R. OH) opponent, Sherrod Brown. DeWine, a Senator who never saw a Constitution busting initiative he didn't like, deserves to be defeated about as much as Bob Ney.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

btw that should be neo con not eno con.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan said...

I recently sent $500 to Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign. It was the very first time in my life that I had donated money to a politician. You can bet the mortgage money that it will not be the last. She is running in the district I live in and I am hopeful she will represent me beginning in January 2007. I have no respect for Sweeney, the current holder of this Congressional seat. He is a Bush lapdog. He is the House member who led the “citizen’s protest” that shut down the recount in Florida in 2000. He is the main reason my father left the Republican party after being a registered Republican for 50 odd years. I lack the words to express how proud I was of him (Dad not Sweeney).

On the somewhat bigger picture, I have made a private pledge to myself to never vote republican again (or at least until this Constitutional crisis has long since passed). That pledge would include even a Republican running for village dog catcher unopposed. Up until this President I was a non partisan Democrat. I sometimes voted for Republican candidates. I didn’t think there was much difference between the two dominant parties. Now I know better. I wonder how many others there are out there, who, like me, have been polarized to this extent by this president and Republican controlled Congress?

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

Lester, I didn't see the Lamont-Lieberman debate. I read a couple of accounts of it, and I gather Lamont wasn't all that smooth, as you noted. It's too bad that's a prerequisite for success since many really competent peope don't excel in selling themselves, but that's politics.

Lieberman, aside from his many reprehensible policy stances, irritates the hell out of me with his delivery too. I remember when he was Gore's running mate. My husband called him Senator Eeyore. But he's certainly been in the game long enough not to get rattled.

Kvatch, hey there. I agree that DeWine is a tool and needs to go. I was kind of disturbed by the Paul Hackett incident in Ohio, but I don't blame Brown for it, and it looks like Brown has a great chance of unseating DeWine. Good riddance to that bad rubbish!

Jonathan, good for your dad! That "citizens' protest" was such a choreographed load of bullcrap. I know a lot of people who have been polarized by this administration and the Republican controlled Congress.

I'm a long-time lefty, but like you, I believed there wasn't that much of a difference between the two dominant parites, and now I too know better. I think corporate influence is a huge threat to the system, and the Democrats are susceptible as well. But the Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary already.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous everyman said...

On the other side of the argument, I admire Lieberman.
He and I do not agree on Iraq or the support of surveillance activities. But that is not sufficient enough to castigate the man.
It may be enough for some to choose another candidate but if I were in CT I would stay with Lieberman.
If the Dems excoriate and villify every dem who sided with the President, they would have an empty party.
Do the drums beat of revenge as loud as they beat of war?
Leiberman's vote never mattered on any outcome that I recall. So if the leftists wish to nail a scalp to their totem, they may get one, but it may be the wrong thing to do.
Sometimes the left makes petulant decisions and not wise ones. This may be one.
I hope the dems choose wisely and do not make Lieberman a scapegoat in the party to validate their hatred of Bush and the war. Political mobs are ugly creatures whatever their color.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Betty Cracker said...

Well, Everyman, we must take a very different view of the war and surveillance activities, because I cannot so blithely dismiss disagreement on those two issues as if they were an agricultural subsidy bill or a vote on funding a prairie dog museum in Findley, South Dakota.

To me, supporting the war -- particularly at this juncture -- is perpetuating a collosal mistake built on a foundation of lies that has resulted in the deaths of more than 12,500 people and counting, the wasting of billions of dollars and the incalculable loss of American prestige and credibility for a generation at least.

I also see supporting the surveillance programs as tantamount to endorsing unchecked executive power to the detriment of the liberties this country was founded to guarantee.

Now, having said that, I don't think every Democrat who was originally manipulated into authorizing the war should be tossed out on his or her can. I can also respect (though I disagree with them) those who have more nuanced views about how to get out of the Iraq quagmire (as opposed to immediate withdrawal).

However, Lieberman is unapologetic for his past and present support of Bush on the war. He was the lead sponsor of the resolution authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq, and he would do it again tomorrow. I find that more than sufficient reason to castigate the man, and despite what ugly comments might surface on blogs, I don't consider the effort to overturn Lieberman a "political mob" but rather a perfectly understandable attempt to replace someone who doesn't represent his constituents' views with someone who does.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous lester said...

It is the height of arrogance for republicans to bully democrats into nominating Joe Lieberman. Virtually every malkin- type blog has a topic about how the democrats will kill themselves if they doin't nominate him. it's OUR choice.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous david said...

I think supporting candidates running where they have a chance if you live in a area where they don't is a good idea.

But I also think that if you're stuck in a one-party Red State it might make sense to join the Republicans. Curiously, party membership is never as diverse as one imagines and a small number of dedicated liberals can steer a Republican party back to the center and give support to moderates.

The concept here is that of controlling interest. One doesn't need to own 51% of a company's stock to control it, and this is how the neo-cons have had their successful run of the past 25 years. The secret is to put the important issues onto the table. Republicans don't all have horns and tails. A dozen or so liberal Republicans could cause chaos in a Red State.

I think you can see this in the case of Lieberman. Liberal Democrats finally said "Enough!" And now the turncoat is threatening to run as an independent if he loses. That kind of sour grapes attitude should see him kicked out of the party. It exposes his reluctance to "represent" his constituents.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous geocrackr said...


Digby has a great post today deconstructing how the TNR/DLC apologists like "everyman" misinterpret (deliberately or not) and vilify the populism that manifests itself in blogsylvania. I don't have much to add, except that you shouldn't make the mistake of adding "on the war" to the phrase "Lieberman is unapologetic for his past and present support of Bush." To paraphrase the Rude One, Lieberman has had AWOL's cock so far down his throat for so long on a multitude of issues, it's a wonder he's not actually blue from lack of oxygen. Of course, considering AWOL's classic symptoms of minipenisitis, maybe it's not such a wonder after all...

3:52 PM  
Anonymous everyman said...

BC, I love your writing and I think you made my point about the reaction to Lieberman. Your paradigm is exactly what I was referring to.
There will likely be room in the Democratic tent for other Iraq supporting dems once blood has been let over Lieberman.
He is still competent and effective though. He was also wrong on Iraq and executive powers.
Single issue politics will likely rule out this year and Lieberman will leave the Democratic Party excoriated.
I,too, was against the Iraq war; and demonstrated against it. I am incensed over the surveillance issues and I do not take this transfer of power from Congress to the President lightly. And yet, I would support Lieberman if I were in CT.
I can also understand that others would not.

6:20 PM  

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