Why The Lack Of Respect For The Netroots?

Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers discuss the Netroots and its actions. Bowers uses the provocative title "Why Should Anyone Respect The Netroots?" It is a good question. I know I personally lost a lot of respect for the Netroots in the past 2 years. But Bowers rightly is not concerned about whether I respect him - he wants respect from politicians and the Media. But what does he want them to respect? The power and influence of the Netroots is what seems uppermost on his mind:

The point is that just doing something beneficial to a politician does not mean that politician will end up respecting you. This is especially the case when you are viewed as a bunch of amateurs who will work for free . . .

(Emphasis supplied.) Therein lies the problem. Most of the Left blogs work for politicians, not for issues. THAT is why the Netroots gets no respect. Stoller makes the point well:

I've maintained for quite some time that Obama is not a progressive and isn't interested in pushing progressive policy, which is shocking to most Democrats. Perhaps my sentiment was excessively provocative, but behind that statement is a belief that there are strong ideological disagreements between partisan activists and Democratic leaders about where the country needs to go. There are no forums for respected ideological debate within the Democratic Party, and there are strong tendencies to equate 'grassroots' with progressive to avoid discussing differences openly and frankly.

I agree with most of this. And I tried to address it in my own way in my post at Corrente:

It surprises many people to know that I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I considered the two to be identical on the issues (except for health care, where I felt too ignorant to take a position on which of the two positions was superior) and preferred Obama because I believed him to be more electable. Weak tea for many people I imagine, but that was my view of the race.

Why does this surprise people? Because I have been extremely critical of Barack Obama since 2005 and was before, during and after the Presidential primaries. To some people, support requires blind devotion and adulation. It does not to me. But in many was, that is irrelevant. Because I am not a Democrat because Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or FDR or JFK inspire me. I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party comes closer to my personal views and values than the other viable political party, the Republican Party. I tried to express my approach in this post from December 2007:

As citizens and activists, our allegiances have to be to the issues we believe in. I am a partisan Democrat it is true. But the reason I am is because I know who we can pressure to do the right thing some of the times. Republicans aren’t them. But that does not mean we accept the failings of our Democrats. There is nothing more important that we can do, as citizens, activists or bloggers than fight to pressure DEMOCRATS to do the right thing on OUR issues.

And this is true in every context I think. Be it pressing the Speaker or the Senate majority leader, or the new hope running for President. There is nothing more important we can do. Nothing. It’s more important BY FAR than “fighting” for your favorite pol because your favorite pol will ALWAYS, I mean ALWAYS, disappoint you.

In the middle of primary fights, citizens, activists and bloggers like to think their guy or woman is different. They are going to change the way politics works. They are going to not disappoint. In short, they are not going to be pols. That is, in a word, idiotic.

Yes, they are all pols. And they do what they do. Do not fight for pols. Fight for the issues you care about. That often means fighting for a pol of course. But remember, you are fighting for the issues. Not the pols.

To gain respect, fight, with the truth, for what you believe. Not the politician you believe in (as I said it is a mistake to believe in any politician). The "Netroots"/Left blogs stopped doing that for the most part. They became a Wurlitzer for Barack Obama, during the primaries against Hillary Clinton and now of course during the general election - without regard to issues.

When it comes to McCain, the choice is easy it seems to me. While I strongly disagree with Palinpaloooza for political reasons, I must say that I owe the Netroots a modicum of respect because they are acting in detriment to Barack Obama's political fortunes because they despise Sarah Palin. Palin seems standard issue to me and I REALLY despise John McCain and what he stands for so it is easy for me to do the politically smart thing - focus on McCain.

Credit where credit it due, the Netroots has been doing the politically stupid thing focusing on Palin because they really hate her. If they stick to issues on Palin (hard to arguer against "lipstick on a pig" if you are going to focus on tanning beds), then more power to them.

By Big Tent Democrat, speaking for me only

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  • Display: Sort:
    Unfortunately, the progosphere ... (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 07:28:02 AM EST
    is mainly made up of Court Jesters.  Not very amusing Court Jesters at that.

    The (5.00 / 8) (#3)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 07:51:22 AM EST
    netroots has a problem with women sorry to say. We heard with Hillary that it's not women "just that woman" now it's the same story. McCain knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he picked Palin.

    I think the netroots have become the new busbots. Some sort of worshipful cult that believes Obama can do no wrong. It creeps me out and reminds me of the "Bush is our savior" stuff that the GOP put out a number of years ago.

    Yet they love love love Claire McCaskill. (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by Teresa on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:15:44 AM EST
    Explain that one on the issues. Their devotion to Obama is blind and it worries me about the future. We should hold our own a little accountable at least.

    Claire McCaskill (4.57 / 7) (#9)
    by tootired on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:23:47 AM EST
    knows "her place". As a woman she can aim high, just not "too" high. And she recognized that when a man and a woman are in competition with other, the man deserves to win and deserves her help doing it. If Claire ever tries to run against a man for president, it will be "whatever happened to Claire McCaskill? She's lost her mind. Must be that post-menopausal thingy."  

    That's pretty insulting to McCaskill. (none / 0) (#18)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:06:29 AM EST
    I am stunned that someone would criticize her saying that "she knows her place" when supposedly arguing against sexism.  From what I can tell, McCaskill and Obama are ideologically very much in synch.  It is insulting to McCaskill to suggest that she is supporting Obama because she "knows her place" - really insulting and wrong imo.

    Any grown woman (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by tootired on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:14:45 AM EST
    who has been elected to the senate and publicly states that she is supporting someone because her teenagers have told her to deserves ridicule. And McCaskill has behaved like a groupie. Sebelius has also supported Obama, but she's been adult about it.

    Now that I do think is valid (none / 0) (#39)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:11:39 AM EST
    criticism, but accusing her of "knowing her place" I think is extremely sexist.

    The criticism that I have about her story about her teenaged daughter pressing her to support Obama is that it seems that she is ideologically in synch with Obama and wanted to support him, but considered Clinton to be the politically safe move which honestly troubles me the most about how she makes decisions.  The fact that her teenaged daughter had to tell her not to be a wimp rather than figuring out on her own that she should follow her own beliefs regardless of the political consequences in this particular context - which would not be bad especially for a newly elected Senator - the fact that she couldn't do what she thought was right on her own makes her one of the worst of what I call the "blow dry" Democrats.  

    I was impressed with McCaskill when she was first elected.  She came out right on a lot of issues - she went after the Walter Reed scandal - but as far as I can tell she didn't follow through - once the WR issue sort of faded so it seemed did her pursuit of the issue...  I imagine that had to do with political pressure - at least that's what I imagine after she told that story about how she had to be pushed by her daughter to support the candidate she seemed most ideologically in synch with.


    RE:Now that I do think is valid (none / 0) (#42)
    by Badtypist on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:38:19 AM EST
    When you say McCaskill is "most ideologically in synch with" Obama, is that because she supported the FISA Bill and opposes UHC?

    They seem to have similar (none / 0) (#53)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:34:02 AM EST
    voting records and theories of the role of government.  They have that midwest midset that is somewhat hostile to government intervention.  Neither is terribly populist in their thinking.  I thought her support of Obama made sense overall.  I also sort of always felt that she kind of felt a bit divorced from politicians like the Clintons and other "establishment" Democratic politicians - that's just an impression I developed watching her in her first few months after she was elected - but I get the sense that she is inclined not to self-ID as a Dem unless she feels that there is a really good political advantage to doing so.

    If Clinton and Obama were almost (none / 0) (#44)
    by hairspray on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:42:23 AM EST
    the same in policies as most have reported, what was the issue that Claire made her decision on?

    I suspect that the role of (none / 0) (#55)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:40:49 AM EST
    government was/is an issue for McCaskill.  I don't think that Obama and Clinton were "almost identical" on the issues.  Clinton's healthcare plan was far more progressive for one thing - and gave a greater role to government than Obama's did/does.  Most of Obama's more progressive positions that involve government intervention have been foisted upon him I think.  Today he is talking about more regulation for Wall Street for instance, but he is still pretty timid imo - because at his core he's a midwest bootstraps guy - as I think McCaskill is.

    Re: Being sexist (none / 0) (#58)
    by tootired on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:20:28 PM EST
    Who is the female face to the Obama campaign? With what kind of authority can she speak for him? I think the women in the Obama campaign know their place, and it's not out front and in charge. Look at the way Carly eats Claire for breakfast. You can call me sexist for noticing that there is no female surrogate who speaks with authority other than Donna Brazile in the Obama campaign if you want to, but it doesn't change my perception.

    So your perception of the Obama (none / 0) (#59)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 12:37:44 PM EST
    campaign gives you license to lob a sexist insult at Senator McCaskill?  Makes no sense to me at all.

    No lie (5.00 / 14) (#17)
    by herb the verb on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:05:46 AM EST
    When I follow BTD's link to Bowers article and am faced there with one of the most disgusting advertisements I have ever seen for an anti-Palin t-shirt where McCain has her bent over a desk and she is screaming "Drill baby, Drill!", it tells you all you need to know why the "netroots" don't git no respect.

    They don't deserve any.


    Exactly (5.00 / 7) (#22)
    by Klio on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:20:08 AM EST
    I am so glad you brought this up.  I have been debating with myself whether to mention it -- I didn't want to get called out for being off topic and I certainly don't want to start a pie fight here over an ad there ....  But that is one of the more disgusting things I've seen this entire season.  And there's been no shortage of disgusting, as Melissa's sexism and racism watches prove.

    Thanks (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by Dr Molly on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:17:39 AM EST
    And why does this sexism keep happening? Because so few speak out against it. And why do so few speak out against it? You tell me.

    When something like that gets a negative reaction from 1 or 2 or 3 'progressive' men out of thousands, you have to wonder why they're all silent. There really can only be one explanation - they're OK with it. And that's why the netroots won't ever get any respect from me again. It's the worst of all possible worlds for a lot of women - no rules of decency and no respect.


    Rape stats stay the same Dem or Rep. (none / 0) (#65)
    by VicfromOregon on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:07:02 PM EST
    Dr.Molly and the other brave and well, plain fed up with sexism this election people-

    as a retired service provider to women and children survivors or various assaults, one thing i notice is that regardless of whether the democrats or the republicans are in power, rape stays about the same because the party platforms rarely address any issues for women accept the right to privacy with your doctor and family leave.  And, while young boys may be abused as well, we will never see ads on Netroots showing boys like to get it in the back over a desk without instant public outcry.  There would be no problem recognizing the image as demeaning.  But, if a woman is the one straddling the desk, many still say to themselves - "but, don't they like it like that, afterall...I mean, secretly?  Television tells me so each and every day."

    Sexism is so pervasive that even third wave feminism ignores it for the most part.  In fact, even bringing up the subject is considered "antifeminist" in a strange and twisted sort of logic.  A sexist act isn't something that occurs within an institution that oppresses women, thus negatively influencing the attitudes, choices, and opportunities for females. The sexist act is now simply believing that a woman would ever act from any place other than her own strenght and full awareness of all her actions, choices and motivations at all times.  This belief is the culprit - that any of us would think a woman was disempowered or influenced in any way by institutional oppression. That is to say, the new logic wants us to believe that the only shackles of sexism is believing there are shackles.  

    While this very existential argument born from the Left lets Netroots display degrading and demeaning ads on their website and few speak against it, its purpose is to undermine years of effort to remedy real life occurances such as women still earning less, a woman being raped every 11 seconds in this country, and the 3rd leading cause of death for women around the globe being death at the hands of their lover or family.  Netroots, and many on this site might not think these so important, or they simply don't want to let these nightmares reach their consciousness, or believing that if real sexism existed they would risk feelings of powerlessness...or, or, or.  It is far nicer to pretend that all women act from their best and most empowered selves and that to suggest otherwise is sexist.


    I really don't think most them (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:38:11 AM EST
    have a problem with women, I think that they lose their way when they become devoted to a candidate instead of the issues. Then they end up saying something in defense or support of this candidate they are all worshipping and low and behold, it is vile and/or sexist and in many cases almost inhumane.  The parts of the Netroots that really get to me are the ones that remain self righteous when someone points that out to them.

    Lack of respect (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by TimNCGuy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:09:31 AM EST
    for bloggers was the reason one of them (Aravosis at Americablog) for treating Clinton like crap.

    He actually admitted in one post during the primaries that the Clinton campaign met with a group of bloggers once at the very beginning of the campaign and then didn't "keep in touch".  Never kept coming back for advice.  Never said a formal thanks if they wrote something complimentary.  Basically, Hillary wasn't nice enough to them.  So, they started to "trash" her.

    Chris Matthews made a similar statement on his show during the primaries.  He said journalists could justify treating her poorly because she wasn't nice enough to them.  And here I thought journalists (not bloggers) were supposed to being providing non-biased info to voters no matter how the pols treated them?  I thought journalists (not bloggers) were supposed to be working for us?  I don't care hol politicians treat them.  I still expect accurate and complete information.

    So the netroots (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by votermom on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:14:04 AM EST
    has turned into the Village?

    Bingo (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by ruffian on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:42:25 AM EST
    They want to be the village, or else they would not be worrying about why they get no respect.

    But I feel like Fox (none / 0) (#13)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:47:08 AM EST
    tries to run them into the ground before they can even do that.  And MSNBC hosts more bloggers than anyone (further pigeonholing the blogs as liberals in the echo chamber).  And when you can't prevent becoming a personality cult, as some of the blogs have over Obama, it is hard to keep fighting for exposure and respect.

    Problem is (5.00 / 6) (#16)
    by rooge04 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:51:51 AM EST
    that they should fight for democratic values and progressive ideals. Instead they fight for respect, influence and their chosen leaders.

    Bingo! (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by lambert on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:50:33 AM EST
    Which is why the self-appointed "Rotisserie Roves" are so laughable....

    I like to think I have (5.00 / 11) (#5)
    by Jjc2008 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:13:06 AM EST
    been a "issues" activist.  When the dems primary race started, I said "I can support ANY of these nominees" because I believed we just needed a leader to steer to the left on issues. I have always understood that no one pol will echo all of my beliefs and that even if they did they could not publicly because they could not get elected.  The closest to my views was Kucinich and while I admired his honesty, I know that the media, the easily duped voters would never go for him, not on the right, not even on the left.

    So I was comfortable, or so I thought.  When the media starting their sexist, Hillary trashing game, it pressed a button I did not know was there.  I saw through their sick humor, their spin.  They could not stand the notion of a strong, mature woman being "the one."  And the silence of the DNC angered me.....and then their dishonesty, their betrayal put me over the top in anger.

    I am scared for our country more than ever.  That anyone, after the last eight years cannot see through the sanctimony, the hypocrisy, the spin and lies, and the egos of our media is beyond comprehension.  And so many of the blogs are just amateur versions of ego driven gamers.

    How did we get to where people can call themselves "Left/liberal/progressive" and still say "sure a woman, just not THAT woman..."  It was another spin on the old canard of "sure a black, just not THAT black" about Jesse Jackson.

    So Barack is hailed as their proof that they are not bigots?  Even thought they are and remain so.
    And Palin is the proof that some on the right are not sexist, even though they are.

    I wish I could go on.  But I have to work.  The economy has sent this over sixty person back into the workforce.  DAMN!!!

    They get no respect (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by rooge04 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:14:29 AM EST
    because they deserve none.

    They push individuals instead of progressive and Democratic ideals (in spite of what they claim above, save TL).  They were a big part of tearing down the Clinton legacy (or trying to anyway) and attacking a Democrat with vile and venom that we haven't seen from Democrats before.

    This is a great point (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:38:53 AM EST
    "If they stick to issues on Palin (hard to arguer against "lipstick on a pig" if you are going to focus on tanning beds), then more power to them."

    Respectful debate on the issues is more convincing than headhunting...even if headhunting seems like it may have a bigger payoff, it is hardly a guarantee and can backfire (see:  New Hampshire, Dem Primary, 08).  

    I think Stoller's point about the conflation of "grassroots" and "progressive" is also well-taken.  Unfortunately, that seems to be a recent realization on their part.  Obama's "50 state strategy" for instance.  Many bloggers seemed to support him because of that strategy.  Even though it did not necessarily build up the party and local candidates, as Dean's actual 50 state strategy does; even though it did not have an ideological core that could prevent Obama's right hand turns as the GE began.

    One can think of many reasons why the netroots would like Obama (among the reasons thrown out on Open Left is that Obama is more creative class, closer to the average netroots member's age - or at least, the Open Left writer's age).  Many of those reasons stink of elitism, ageism, and basic intolerance of dissent.  Anybody can use the internet, but the netroots seems sometimes determined to not reach out beyond the "creative class."  

    The netroots has done a lot of good too.  But I think it should try to broaden its readership as well, focus on issues not just of interest to 18-35 year old bloggers, and attract new blood to continue with integrity.

    Also, I think the more actively (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by lilburro on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:40:35 AM EST
    the netroots tries to diversify by age, gender, and race, the less easily they can be pigeonholed as a bunch of dirtymouthed left wing fanatics by such friends as Fox News.

    Totally agreed (none / 0) (#62)
    by JonPincus on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:14:07 PM EST
    Unfortunately, there's a lot of resistance to that in the progressive blogosphere -- well, perhaps not resistance to the idea of diversity per se, but some real denial of the current situation.  See Chris Bowers' The Myth Of The Non-Diverse Netroots for an example of what I'm talking about ....

    Doesn't their worrying about (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by ruffian on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:50:19 AM EST
    influencing the Media and the politicians directly stray from the whole idea of net-roots? I think they would be better off building advocacy on issues from the ground up. I thought that was the whole idea - build a groundswell of support for issues that the pols could no longer ignore.  Expecting pols to respect and respond directly to their blog posts is backwards.  

    I know we all give unsolicited advice to the campaigns, but that is just what it is. I don't expect them to take it.

    I expect politicians to pay attention (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:57:36 AM EST
    to the blogs as much as I expect them to pay attention to the tv, radio and print media because this is an emerging medium that will not go away and they have a more direct line on what people are thinking beyond their own campaign bubbles full of consultants and power-players.  

    I understand that some people think that the leading bloggers are the ones to watch, but I think what is useful is how the commenters and the "rabble" respond to leading bloggers - taking into consideration that fact that the greater audience of commenters are often more coarse, emotional and irrational in some ways actually may give a more accurate snapshot of the general public than many people are able to comprehend - much less interpret properly - particularly politicians.  

    When the message is clear - "End the war" comes to mind - the politicians understand it - but faced with a Palin or the complexities of the economy analyzing and harnessing the information that is coming through about how people feel the politicians still aren't getting it.  I think that is because they don't understand how to analyze the trends that are emerging - the analysis requires more than a simple polling formula and pat questions - they analysis requires an approach that would be more likely to come from a sociologist or anthropologist - because it is coarse, emotional and irrational - but the passion is rooted in something and identifying what "something" is is the trick to figuring out the right message - the message that will resonate and break through.  

    If leading bloggers want to do their part, they should stick to issues, but based on what I've seen that isn't what makes bloggers popular as the netroots membership grows.  The blogs are being propelled by a membership that is more National Enquirer and less New York Times everyday.  That doesn't mean that they are useless - at least not in my mind as a marketer who has spent my career trying to divine popular trends - it makes them useful in a different way than they used to be.  

    Some blogs will cater to the elite few who are more interested in issues and governance while others will - as we've already seen - will go the way of maintaining large audiences by being the shock jocks, tabloid writers of the political world on the net.  That second group aren't going to get the "better Democrats" they claim to want out of the tabloid approach, but they'll sell ad space at a higher dollar value I guess.  Tabloids sell, Americans love bullies and cheap shots pay off in campaign season.  What kind of government this approach will bring will probably only be marginally better than what the Republicans have offered mostly because the more popular sites have accepted Obama's decision to avoid specifics and issues in their mis-guided approach to winning this election.  They thought not talking about issues was a good idea during one of the most intense eras with respect to issues in my memory since the Nixon era.  Shaking head. They thought "hope" and "change" was new!

    If the big orange had allowed any criticism of Obama's lack luster and uninspiring approach to the economy for instance, I am pretty confident that they could have pressed the Obama camp into action months ago and that we would not be in such a close race right now.  Yesterday would not have been an "opportunity" for the Obama camp, it would have been a defining moment that would have underscored why Democratic governance is the only option for America at this point in the game.  It is funny how so many leading bloggers felt the need to avoid criticizing the Obama camp when it would have been very safe to do so - even helpful - and now when it is not nearly as safe this close to the election, they're starting to wonder about these issues - maybe they finally figured out that our "It girl" needs a bit more substance - even amongst the rabble-rousing tabloid readership - in order to actually get elected.


    True, it would behoove pols (none / 0) (#47)
    by ruffian on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:52:00 AM EST
    to pay attention to the blogs to get a feel for what is out there.  I think they do use blogs for that. But they are more influenced by what happens on TV, print and old media in general because they believe that opinions expressed there influence voters.

    There have been a few examples of blogs influencing voters, and that in turn influencing politicians.  The Social Security battle may have been one example. I think that is the model that politicans respect, and that should be the model moving forward.

    Is joining the Village Media the only way bloggers can expand their audience and influence?  It seems to be the main way they have tried.


    They will fail if they try to join (none / 0) (#56)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:48:52 AM EST
    the media village because they lack the discipline that they complain the MSM does not have all the time - they will just make the situation worse if they don't follow the rules of journalism more closely than the MSM because they will marginalize themselves and won't be taken seriously by anyone - which is sort of what is happening now on some blogs.

    As far as I am concerned, the Dem blogs lost a lot of their real power when they picked a candidate and discouraged real debate on issues that we could have pushed all of the candidates and the Democratic leadership in general to focus on and address.  Instead of claiming moronically that everyone in the Appalachian region is a racist, the Obama supporters should have pushed their candidate to adopt the populist economic messages that were working for the Clinton campaign - that would have been a productive use of their power - but instead they frittered away their opportunity to help not only their candidate be better, but also to make our government work better for Americans.


    The FISA fight (none / 0) (#34)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:00:35 AM EST
    is the strongest counter-example.

    We didn't defeat the Bill, but we did move a non-trivial number of Senators in the 2 weeks Feingold's delaying tactics bought.


    Do you think we moved them (none / 0) (#48)
    by ruffian on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:54:48 AM EST
    by getting through to voters, who then got through to the politicians? Or by some more direct influence - the pols, or more likely their staffs, read the blogs and were moved by the arguments?

    Both, and also (none / 0) (#54)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:39:18 AM EST
    moving media. quite a bit of coverage of the MyBO FISA group.

    The Facebook side too.


    I think the blogs also advanced the (none / 0) (#57)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:55:24 AM EST
    debate on the war - moved it ahead by at least five years.  The blogs gave voice to what eventually turned out to be a majority of Americans who oppose the war in Iraq - in part because the blogs pushed the media to cover people who were dissatisfied and the reasons for that dissatisfaction.  I don't think the media would have gone there for years had it not been for the blogs.  The GOP really has the MSM in lockdown for years - had people not had this modern day version of pamphleteering - I really think we'd still be watching happy stories about the war and pretending like it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    It's ego. (none / 0) (#49)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:00:17 AM EST
    Demanding respect and earning respect are two different things.

    Two kinds of people in politics:  the showhorses are the people who 'want to be somebody' while the workhorses 'want to get something done.'

    Always makes me think of Lily Tomlin's musing:  "I always wanted to be somebody.  I should have been more specific!"

    Lily can laugh at herself.

    The netroots?  Ha!  Too busy taking themselves too seriously.  Too many who think it's all about them.

    It's not.  It's about the issues you say you care about but too few bloggers live the values they espouse.

    I don't know why anyone is surprised by that...look around at your friends, family, neighbors.

    There's a reason they call them 'the ME generation.'


    "Power and Influence?" (5.00 / 4) (#19)
    by jb64 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:10:05 AM EST
    I'd say the only power and influence that the net roots have had is managing to divide and conquer the Democratic party. If that was the plan, it has succeeded beautifully. How many solid "activist" Dems are sitting on the sidelines, or just sitting this election out? Might that have something to do with the polls being where they are?

    many of us still have a hangover from the primaries. Many of us are still dismayed at the ugliness of the treatment of Hillary Clinton, by many in the netroots, and the utter contempt that they have shown to her supporters. Why indeed should they be expect "respect" from anyone?

    Niche (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Addison on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:14:30 AM EST
    As far as constructive political action -- not the social networking function -- the lefty netroots are mostly good for fundraising/awareness for relatively unknown candidates in the primaries and to a lesser extent the general.

    This causes a personality-based foundation to what blogs do because that's what their niche currently is.

    I don't think there's any way to reason blogs in general out of their current existential circumstance.

    Additionally, the discussion/networking portion of most blogs is not adequately integrated with the part that has the political leverage (fundraising).

    My take (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by wasabi on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:20:56 AM EST
    I don't think a Democratic politician can seem to be embracing the netroots because if they did, the right wing crazies would come out in force and condemn the association.  

    Look what happened with Amanda Marcotte and the Edwards campaign.  In that case the Kathryn Lopez's of the world could point to writing of hers that included "profanity" and her views critical of the Catholic Church's position on birth control.  The MSM is more than willing to stoke the controversy and have no problem with placing the right wing gasbags on our living room TVs.

    I have always thought that the netroots were a little too vain and a way too thin-skinned.  They want to fully reject any politician who is not seen as embracing them.  In this media environment, anything that is ever written on a "progressive" blog, by either an author or an anonymous poster, can be elevated quite easily to manufacture outrage.  It does not seem to hold true for the poison that is spewed on the hate radio stations or on the right wing blogs.  For the most part, the wingers seem to get a free pass.  

    Until the media decides that controversy is not the end all of reporting I just don't see how established Dem politicians would want to take the risk.  

    Respect is where you look for it (5.00 / 7) (#24)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:24:08 AM EST
    When the candidates (even Hillary!) showed up at Yearly Kos, that was respect.

    When the candidates, led by Chris Dodd, vowed to filibuster retroactive immunity for the telecoms, that was definitely respect.  There was virtually no opposition to immunity outside the netroots, after all.

    Of course, when Obama won the primary and immediately reversed his position on retroactive immunity, that was utter disrespect.  Imagine if a candidate won the Democratic Primary and then turned right around and voted against the Employee Free Choice Act, how would the unions respond?  One of the ways any constituency EARNS respect is through its reaction to being disrespected.

    There are, I believe, much smarter ways to register disapproval than by switching your vote to Nader any time a promise gets broken.  For example, Markos responded to Obama flipping on FISA and throwing Wes Clark under the bus by announcing that he wouldn't max out to Obama and would be sending the $2300 to downticket candidates instead.

    Perfectly sensible IMO, although any individual's donation is a drop in the bucket.  The test was whether the netroots would follow Markos' lead, and they failed miserably.  Commentors immediately accused Markos of "undermining" the ticket, as though they have a God-given right to his $2300.  (You don't really want to click that last link, there are over 1200 comments!)  People wrote diaries like this one, vowing to raise thousands to make up for Markos' withheld donation.

    This, to me, is the sign of a constituency that doesn't WANT respect.  If you're not going to make any effort to reward good behavior (did the netroots ease up on Hillary even an iota when she stuck her neck out to oppose the MoveOn resolution?  heck no!), if you're not going to make any effort to punish bad behavior, then why should any rational politician do anything except take you for granted?

    The netroots don't have to be a joke.  They represent real people, real activism, and real dollars, and those are things that matter to any politician.  But unless they learn to act in a rational and organized fashion, they're consistently going to get less respect than they could claim otherwise.  This is the simple reality of politics.

    I was with you until (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by oldpro on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:25:31 AM EST
    you suggested that the netroots must 'learn to act in a rational and organized fashion.'  That would require monitors, editing and the exclusion of morons who trash the home they are visiting.

    That is why TL is appealing to thoughtful people.  They don't allow bad behavior and send the rude and childish packing in short order.

    Manners are not required on some blogs -- it's counterproductive to the numbers game to exclude the rude and obnoxious.  It costs the blog revenue and 'numbers clout' not unlike the ratings on radio and TV...and that may be the end goal of some -- rather than any progressive/liberal policy/issues goals.


    Presidential forum (none / 0) (#28)
    by Klio on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:39:15 AM EST
    one candidate didn't come, remember?

    Yeah (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Steve M on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:42:42 AM EST
    Getting all the major candidates, and all the minor candidates except one, is definitely a sign of respect.

    Of course, I hope it goes without saying that "respect" is being used in the political rather than the emotional sense.  Clearly most Republicans think the evangelical movement is a bunch of yahoos, but they show them "respect" in the sense of supporting their issues, which is all that really matters.


    I was agreeing (none / 0) (#38)
    by Klio on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:09:24 AM EST
    sorry that didn't come through.

    I just think it telling and relevant to remember that Biden didn't care enough even then to show for YK.


    Great post (5.00 / 3) (#25)
    by Faust on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:37:16 AM EST
    And one of the reasons that you have won my respect and are one of my favorite bloggers. I may disagree quite strongly with you from time to time, but I know that you have a deep belief consistency and integrity and that gives you crediblity that a lot of bloggers don't have imo.

    Great post (none / 0) (#29)
    by Stellaaa on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:39:51 AM EST
    Why you are one of the last, oops, the last I read.  Somerby does not count.  Or should I say one of the two?  

    Why doesn't Somerby count? (none / 0) (#31)
    by Faust on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:49:11 AM EST
    Just curious?

    I don't think of him (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Stellaaa on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:43:32 AM EST
    as one of the blog boiz.  I think BTD is now in his own category.  

    I see. (none / 0) (#50)
    by Faust on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:12:50 AM EST
    Yeah I see that. Somerby kind of have his own thing going.

    Netroots were tested: Failed (5.00 / 7) (#27)
    by Stellaaa on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:38:32 AM EST
    On two accounts the netroots failed miserably:  
    1.  The treatment of Hillary:  they took on all the right wing talking points and started the Clinton's are racist attacks.  I believe that was a manipulation by the Obama campaign.

    2.  The Pallindrome races:  they were manipulated by the McCain camp.  Pallin was and is a distraction and they fell for it to derail the issues.  

    3.  The MSM listens to the netroots cause they are too lazy or too cheap to do their own investigation and analysis.   So, the MSM picks up their stories, for free, and creates the jumble of noise and distraction.  

    So, the netroots have become the group think visual of the creative class.  If I read once more about how they "hate Pallin" I will barf.  What, is she the first Republican they met?  They act like any other Republican would be acceptable.  

    I like 'palindrome'... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Exeter on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:09:24 AM EST
    can we have a palin-themed-pun contest?  ; )

    Putting most of my effort into Assembly races (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Ben Masel on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:07:28 AM EST
    because the Candidates are more likely to notice, and I'm left with a chance to persuade them on my issues after November.

    Tier Two (5.00 / 3) (#41)
    by lambert on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:33:59 AM EST
    BTD writes:

    the Netroots has been doing the politically stupid thing focusing on Palin because they really hate her.

    Sorry, BTD. I think the netroots are Tier Two of the Obama campaign, 527s except for free, so it's the Obama campaign that's doing the politically stupid thing, and not for the first time. (That's why it took Biden to rule Palin's family off limits. They didn't believe Obama when he said it, because they know whatever he says is for plausible deniability. Sorry. I lost total faith in the boiz after the doctored War Room video, and the lack of subsequent self-examination for running it.

    You really nailed it BTD (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by hairspray on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:38:43 AM EST
    The netroots are so full of themselves and it has seemed silly when they are simply partisan.  They can selectively and in great detail, find political information to puff up their candidate (in this case BHO) and selectively and in great detail find what they need to destroy those whom they despise (HRC & SP) but that doesn't make them great thinkers who can utilize large amounts of information to make a cogent case for their point of view.

    In politics, power = respect (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by pluege on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:47:41 AM EST
    netroots has little muscle as yet. The more it could organize to wield power, the more respect it would accrue. (Kinda self-defeating of the 'roots' part whereby netroots morphs into yet another interest group trying to get its way.)

    I'm reminded of a line from one of my favorite (none / 0) (#2)
    by vicndabx on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 07:34:11 AM EST
    movies, The Hunt for Red October.  It's the scene in the officer's mess where Sean Connery reveals he's sent a letter to the Russian Admiral indicating he plans to defect to the US.  One of his lieutenants asks, ".....or was it something deeper captain?  was it ego captain?"

    Something that fascinates me, (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 09:57:18 AM EST
    any of us who blogs about politics has a component to our personalities that attempts to control our environments that is built into us.  I was thinking about this reading your post because someone posted a link to the Slate article about the candidates personalities.  I remember moons ago reading a diary about and sharing what your Briggs Myers was and I was really shocked that most of the netroots responding in that diary were introverts.  I'm very much an extrovert.  I'm house bound and I care about political issues, I am both of those things to the nth degree due to my disabled child, and without contact with humanity I literally shrivel up and die. The Netroots community has allowed me to have those things while home bound.  All rockstar pols are giant extroverts as well.  Does the netroots end up following the pols instead of the issues due to the fact that their idols really are somewhat idols to them?

    Yay! MB types! (none / 0) (#40)
    by votermom on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:16:18 AM EST
    I remember reading somewhere that most leaders (pols included) are TJ's and tend to be controlling (duh, I guess).
    Sorry for the OT'ness.

    netroots has three uses (none / 0) (#35)
    by Exeter on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 10:06:21 AM EST
    of any import:

    1. Fundraising
    2. Being the difference in electing candidates at the primary level
    3. A major player in how people get news, information, and misinformation.

    That's a considerable amount of power in the political arena, but it is a power that is almost always overstated.  


    I hate meaningless labels (none / 0) (#60)
    by Kevin Hayden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 01:13:31 PM EST
    Including 'netroots'. It permits too much vapid thinking and stereotyping. We are not a monolithic amalgamation of a like mineral compound, welded by any set ideology.

    Progressive is another generalized label, as is liberal (though the latter is less so).

    So the notion that we are some sort of joint force that the politicians should listen to is absurd. There's so many opinions that a politician trying to listen would just get confused.

    My general belief is that politicians of all stripes depend on volunteers, especially younger ones with free time to burn and extra passion for celebrity worship.

    Some politicians have admirable traits that add some appeal to me, but if I wanted a messiah, I wouldn't be an agnostic.

    So trying to paint the netroots as sexist, racist, mindless, zombiebotic is really pretty lame. Everyone has certain biases and rarely are two the same. And I usually skip such discussions because the premises at the outset are insulting and simplistic. They demand that we 'prove' at the outset that we're not the 'oppressor idiot du jour' when, in fact, all such proof... isn't.

    Respect? I'm with Rodney Dangerfield on that. Respect can't be earned in politics. It has to be bought.

    However - and I think Matt's wrong - I think Team Obama does respect the netroots precisely because his bread is buttered with netroots grease. If Matt would like Obama or future politicians to demonstrate it with specific policies, then it might be wise to convene an online convention of a sorts and cobble together a list of specific policy solutions that most of us agree on, so the politician of the moment will know exactly what is being asked of her/him.

    Well before the Net, the Democratic party has factionalized accordinng to single issues or demographic demands. That hasn't changed at all with the onset of the Net, or blogs or anything else.

    And I, for one, grant no respect for any folks making polarizing demands. I just think: there's no progress in that notion of progressive at all. The fact is, despite our biases and imperfections, there's workshops and other ways to address them. Asking that we become perfected within the short space of a political campaign is the path to multiple and repetitive defeats.

    The major influence that can be wielded comes after a candidate more prone to liberal ideas gets elected. Conceding to campaign as an unvarnished  liberal borders on political suicide.

    Just as there's some sexism and some racism within the progressive blogosphere, there's age-ism and classism and other divides present. And if we put our central effort on 'curing' those divides amidst a presidential campaign, we're advancing the continuation of those divides, despite thinking we're accomplishing something else.

    This year, we saw two talented and savvy politicians campaign against each other. One won, one lost. That fact doesn't have to set us back as a party or a nation. And if it does, and one group says "see what you've done you a$$hole" to the other, then we're really not deserving any more respec than that given to a class of middle-schoolers.

    This isn't about 'wait your turn' vs. 'we're tired of waiting." This is about seeking a compromise for the common good that actually does advance specific changes that benefit the aggrieved. But compromise requires some sophistication and a modicum of haggling skills to reach such desirable ends.

    In the meantime, when perpetual quibbling replaces that, lumbering tyrantosaurs are only too eager to exploit the gate left open, throwing all demographics backwards, even more.

    And that deserves respect? Puh-leaze. That breeds cynicism and withdrawal from political activism as a giant waste of time.

    As a liberal, long experience keeps reminding me to focus on the local where real change can be accomplished and I'm regularly tempted to leave the ballot unmarked in presidential campaigns.

    Color me unimpressed with netroots activism that continues to press for unrealistic immediate reforms at the expense of four more years of crap.

    I don't see it that way ... (none / 0) (#61)
    by JonPincus on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:09:04 PM EST
    Just as there's some sexism and some racism within the progressive blogosphere, there's age-ism and classism and other divides present. And if we put our central effort on 'curing' those divides amidst a presidential campaign, we're advancing the continuation of those divides, despite thinking we're accomplishing something else.

    First of all, it seems to me that it's failing to put effort on those divides that assists their continuation; arguing that they shouldn't be the central focus risks sending a strong message to women, persons of color, older and younger voters: "your needs are not our priority".  

    Instead of falling into either-or thinking, the key is to look for an approach that helps make progress on these divides while also contributing to winning the presidential campaign.  These issues in the progressive blogosphere mirror those in the broader media and society as a whole, and are having a major effect on the race.  Effort spend addressing them could have a significant impact on the Obama's campaign to attract these groups, especially women and older voters.  


    Sure. However... (none / 0) (#63)
    by Kevin Hayden on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 02:49:41 PM EST
    If while addressing those very real concerns, you're not offerring something to maintain the support of a major demographic -in this case, white males - we all lose in the aftermath. And the polls clearly show that the shift in support to McCain is largely from that demographic.

    Increasing the appeals to liberal women or Blacks, or Latinos, at this specific moment, offers no counter-strategy to what is being documented by pollsters. So is it more fruitful to suggest that waiting two months to press those cases forward might yield happier results than if we wait four more years before such progress can take hold?

    I predicted the Palin pick would draw more white guys, as well as motivate the fundie GOTV base. And while I agree with BTD that the major focus should not be on Palin, I also think the identity politics focus breeds an unnecessary backlash at the present.

    I'm not suggesting we be silent on Palin or such issues. I'm just saying the greatest weights and most repetitive messaging should be on the economy and the wars and what Obama and McCain are offering on those things.

    Women have become the dominant demographic in US politics, but strip away the redneck and conservative ones and they can still lack the force necessary to get the next important step done. And that's the McCain strategy: forget the issues... how can he divide and conquer?

    Let's not make it so easy for him.


    It has been my experience (none / 0) (#64)
    by Matt in Chicago on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 08:45:17 PM EST
    that much of the netroots participants are made up of people who want to be heard (no surprise) but who put little to no value on listening to others.

    As a result, they very quickly stratify and wind up only surrounding themselves with like-minded and right-thinking individuals.  In this environment, ideas, outrages, etc. quickly become magnified until every action and every input is a perceived threat.

    Those people who do not take part and/or who are not participants look at this and dismiss it as crazy and unrealistic.

    Those two crack me up sometimes (none / 0) (#66)
    by Maryb2004 on Tue Sep 16, 2008 at 11:10:30 PM EST
    (when I'm in a good mood).  When they put their minds to it they get it. On a macro level they get it.  

    But then one of them has to come up with an action plan. And their ideas always have something to do with their readers - oops, this is probably a time they refer to their readers as activists -- giving money to or through ... them.

    This means donating to progressive blogs and progressive netroots organizations at least as much as you donate to Democratic campaigns and progressive issue advocacy organizations.


    But Stoller made a great point when he said there are no forums for respected ideological debate within the Democratic Party and that there needs to be places to discuss differences openly and frankly.