The Emergence Of The Dem Blogosphere

In August 2005, I posted Fighting Dems at Daily Kos:

Ed [Kilgore] is a sharp thinker and writer, but Ed lacks confidence in our Democratic ideals:

"We are more of a coalition party than they are," says Ed Kilgore, the policy director for the DLC. "If we put a gun to everybody's head in the country and make them pick sides, we're not likely to win."

Last week, writing about the critique I and others have offered regarding progressive political bargaining, Kilgore wrote:

I've never much liked the strain of progressive analysis that endlessly promotes "fighting" and "spine" and "cojones" as the answers to every Democratic political problem.

Well, I at least never said it is the answer to every problem, but it certainly is an effective bargaining tool. What strikes me about this though is that Ed Kilgore, of the once detested DLC, now is clearly more in tune with the progressive blogosphere than I am. How did this come about? I think it is pretty easy to answer - the progressive blogosphere has adopted the Democratic Party Establishment as its home team. The issues have been pushed to the background. The Party is everything.

Back in 2007, I wrote this piece at the Guardian warning of just such a development:

Today the netroots faces a new challenge of avoiding being seen as a top-down driven movement.

I think the answer is now clear. The progressive blogosphere no longer exists. There is a purely Democratic blogosphere now. I think that is a shame.

Speaking for me only

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    I Think that Jane Hamshire Would Differ With You (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by msaroff on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:13:52 AM EST
    I don't think that it means that Obama's policy of cock punching liberals whenever he can will result in a Teddy Kennedy style primary challenge, but there are people making effective moves against the squishes like Lincoln, etc.

    Of course, I'm a bit dubious of the whole "Progressive blogosphere," concept myself.  The internet is just another means of communication.

    Certainly, there are young up and comers from top schools (particularly the Ivys, see Yglesias, Matt) who have been coopted, but that has been the way since before there was an Internet, see any number of writers for the New Republican (such as Glass, Stephen).

    The fact that Ivy league pukes become part of the cocktail party circuit has been a fixture of DC life for years.

    "Ivy League pukes"? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:33:18 AM EST
    My, that's certainly insightful analysis.  How thoughtful.

    Meh (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:35:40 AM EST
    As an Ivy League puke myself, I'm not offended.

    Nor am I (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:58:52 AM EST
    Just irritated.  Juvenile name-calling and indulgence of personal resentment to avoid making at least an attempt to actually think.  It's pretty boring, actually.

    The term might be inartful, (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by msaroff on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:23:48 AM EST
    But it's pretty clear that there are a lot of people in politics and finance whose only reason for success is their, or their parent's, ability, ability to get accepted to one of the Ivys (using it more broadly than just the Ivy league).

    While there are plenty of people who are competent and accomplish a lot there, there are a huge people who seem to be recipients of Ivy League welfare, or, as Andrew Lahde put it in the best resignation letter ever:

    The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.
    Fundamentally, the Prep school => Ivy League trajectory is the US version of a heriditary aristocracy, and the outsized role that they have in our policies (cap and trade being supported over a carbon tax because it creates more employment opportunities for Harvard MBAs, for example) is something that is very troubling.

    the problem with generalizing is... (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by CST on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:29:02 AM EST
    I know that many people take that route - prep school => ivy, but that is certainly not the only group of people in those schools.

    One thing about Ivy league schools vs other private colleges, is they have the money available to offer very generous aid packages to lower income students, and they aren't afraid to use it for those purposes.

    So while it's true that many people take the traditional path to the ivys, they certainly aren't the only ones graduating from there.

    I knew a couple people whose only options were either state school - or Harvard.  Because those were the only schools they could afford.


    As I said (none / 0) (#30)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:00:42 PM EST
    juvenile name-calling and indulgence of personal resentments.

    Funny (none / 0) (#23)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:11:57 PM EST
    That you have zero problem with the quite denigrating term, cocktail party circuit.

    Is it that the characterization was over the line for you because it had to do with fluids that are ejected from the body rather than ingested?

    Or is just because you are an ivy leaguer?


    Well, what do you call the world of Sally Quinn's (none / 0) (#24)
    by msaroff on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:18:38 PM EST
    Parties in DC?

    And, no, I am not an Ivy Leager, I went to th Zoo (UMass).

    I actually had the pleasure of serving on the student council there, and called Tony Rudy, later of Abramhoff fame, "F%$#ing Stupid," in a statement on the floor of the body.  (I later apolpgized)


    No Problem (none / 0) (#25)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:30:13 PM EST
    On my part with "cocktail party circuit" or "Ivy league pukes", just pointing out the hypocrisy of selective outrage. It is quite  common some TL commenters in the last year or two.

    Check YOur Browser Settings (none / 0) (#26)
    by squeaky on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:32:30 PM EST
    The comment of mine that you are referring to was directed to gyrlfalcon, not you.

    Now that's funny. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 01:29:32 PM EST
    BTD is Frum (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by waldenpond on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:18:51 AM EST
    BTD sounds a little like Frum.

    Frum about Fox... (the left leanings of the party were disappeared by Fox - with a creative use of available medium to drive out a too liberal ideology)  We thought they were working for us.  We find out we're working for Fox.

    BTD... the left leanings of the party are being disappearded by the DLC progressive center - with a creative use of available media to disappear a too liberal ideology)

    Better shift... or you won't get access, on tv or linked.

    Too late (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:26:32 AM EST
    Access it is... (none / 0) (#40)
    by dkmich on Sat Mar 27, 2010 at 03:38:55 PM EST
    They are Democratic blogs now.  

    I think that depends on what you mean (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:11:06 AM EST
    by "progressive blogosphere." If you're just reading Ezra, Ed, and Nate, you'd probably get that impression. But there's more fight in other quarters (if ineffective).

    Even the right side of the page at orange has been battling for months over how much to cheerlead Obama's questionably progressive platform.

    I think it's pretty clearly hard to fight the head of your party when he's the President of the United States.

    I was at Daily Kos (none / 0) (#3)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:16:45 AM EST
    so frankly, I was thinking of it primarily.

    I was struck by the article in 2005 and how Kilgore was opposed to what the netroots supposedly stood for.

    Now of course, he should love them.


    My present opinion of this (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:20:01 AM EST
    is that there will never be the same unity of viewpoint as there was when the entire netroots platform amount to "out of Iraq and down with George Bush."

    It's much harder to agitate when "your people" are in charge. Heck, that was even true in January of 2007.


    Then let's be honest about it (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:26:08 AM EST
    Let the Party Stalwarts be party stalwarts and let the issue people be the Left Flank.

    To be clear, I personally fall into neither category in that my views fall all over the lot.


    I think it's hard to ask people (5.00 / 4) (#8)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:37:52 AM EST
    to try and be one or the other. Different circumstances require different postures. And often, our issue positions determine which is which.

    Well, there are an awful lot of people (5.00 / 7) (#11)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:12:37 AM EST
    hanging around orange these days who defer to Obama and the party on basically everything.  They don't have positions on issues.  One poster, who makes me wince every time I come across her, greets every new issue that is raised with a comment that is along the lines of, "Well, I don't know what to think, but I am sure Obama (or other Dem leader) will make the right choice.  I trust him."  Sometimes she even posts that sentiment to the point where I would consider it spamming.

    Just saw another one yesterday and it was attached to a fairly well written and in-depth diary.  Lots of information and links to process - most people with a brain would be able to respond to a diary like that one with something more than "I don't know. I trust him" as a response.  Gotta wonder why someone like that even bothers to be on a blog if they have no opinion or are incapable of forming their own opinion.  A part of me thinks that this person has got to be kidding - or that they are some sort of Obama plant posting a subtle "Trust Him" message in every diary that even remotely raises questions about the party's options - or maybe she really is a mindless follower.  Who knows.

    Anyway, my point is that there are more and more people populating those blogs that lack the depth - for whatever reason - that it takes to even consider taking their own, unique position on any issue.  Once the talking points from the White House are released though they sure do stick with "their" positions.

    I'm a team player, but if the team starts shooting at their own goal and racking up points for the other team, I think being a team player means that you are obligated to try to stop them.  Call me crazy.


    I trust Obama to make the right choice (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by MO Blue on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:44:21 AM EST
    relieves the poster that you referenced from having to "think" at all. No need to take time to understand what is in the legislation or ponder on the ramifications. Unfortunately, that poster represents people of both political parties and is the reason why corporations not people get what they need from the government.

    My other favorites are the people (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:03:54 AM EST
    who are constantly wringing their hands over disagreements on a political blog.

    They really confound me.

    What did they think they were getting into when they decided to get involved in a political blog?  A kumbaya contest?


    "Kumbaya contest" (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Zorba on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:27:03 AM EST
    Priceless, inclusiveheart- thanks for my laugh of the day! :-)

    Hopefully, there will be more laughs (none / 0) (#22)
    by inclusiveheart on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:04:37 PM EST
    than just that one. :)

    Seems to me that most main page bloggers (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by magster on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:35:46 AM EST
    are pretty frustrated more often than not of Obama siding with Rahm and Geithner and caving to conservadems in Congress. Firedoglake and Americablog certainly have been more about issues than party, IMO.

    Aside from Kos, what are the most heavily trafficked liberal blogs?

    (Tangent: dday's tab on firedoglake was something I never read regularly, but will now.  I thought he did the best work in the blogosphere these last 2 weeks.)


    I disagree (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 11:45:59 AM EST
    DKOs is mostly a cheerleader site now.

    Including Markos.


    There've been times when I've agreed with that, (none / 0) (#32)
    by andgarden on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:33:42 PM EST
    but I think he's taken a fairly sophisticated view of the healthcare thing.

    What you say about the right (none / 0) (#36)
    by BackFromOhio on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 07:43:28 PM EST
    side of the page seemed to be true, until HCR passed.  It's been one congrats fest since then.

    The Left doesn't end at liberal / progressive (none / 0) (#9)
    by polizeros on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:57:13 AM EST
    There's plenty of blogs further to the Left which haven't been drawn into that. My own, American Leftist, Lefti on the News, just to mention a few, plus Another Green World, Lenin's Tomb and a gaggle more in Britain. There's a whole radical / anarchist / socialist Left out there.

    In 2004 Peter Camejo wrote "The Avocado Declaration" in which he details how the Democratic often functions to channel dissent into itself where it is often rendered harmless or at least more manageable. And I think that's what's happening now. It definitely worth reading.


    Camejo was a major organizer in the 60's antiwar mobilizations, ran for president in '76 on Socialist Workers Party (and got purged later), then got involved with Greens. Decades of experience as a radical are in the Declaration.

    (The name is his little joke. He'd been accused of being a watermelon, green on outside, red on inside. No, he said, I'm an avocado, green inside and outside.)

    The Right hi-jacked populism (none / 0) (#28)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 01:36:53 PM EST
    and we've been left with a political fantasy football league of a few dozen doctrinaire, leftier-than-thou, perpetual grad students who generally embody all the life force and common touch of a two-weeks-abandoned bird's nest.

    The link between the Greg Palasts and Alexander Cockburns of the world and the poor and working class used to be organized labor, which is now, thanks to the corporate-run Republican right wing and the corporate-run Democratic right wing, on the endangered species list. So we're left with what the media loves to caricature over and over again as "the fringe" and "fever swamps", when before, when they seriously - and rightly - perceived a GENUINE threat from the left to the interests of the "too big to fail", we were pinkos and fellow travelers.

    And values and the sense of connection to others         have become so perverted that even half of "the left" will jokingly tell you they're one tax bracket away from voting Republican. Too bad we couldnt have voted Bush in for another eight years, rather than going with the slow-acting poison of Barak Rodham Obama, because obviously people in this country need to suffer a lot more before they start getting organized again.


    The Dem blogosphere (none / 0) (#29)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 01:40:33 PM EST
    or, the sound of one hand jerking.

    I think the dems (none / 0) (#31)
    by ZtoA on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:32:21 PM EST
    just gave populism away.

    The general feeling I was taught growing up was that dems believed in the government serving the people, and repubs believed in helping themselves usually via privilege. But now corporate powers have exploded. It is no longer people and government. Corporate power has to be factored in. Who sees the federal government restricting, balancing, reforming (whatever) corporate power? It is not really a dem/repub issue anymore.

    I think the only way I can make sense out of the whole "gov takeover of health care" #$%&$BS is that the view of government and corporate power is seen as completely merged! Actually populists who are social liberals/progressives also see government and corporate powers too enmeshed. DLC ideas of gov/corp partnerships has morphed into ownerships.

    We really do not have anywhere else to go other than that major parties. The whole structure is set in place. I didn't want to see that, but I think it is true.


    Did Obama drive populists away?His strong Bankster (none / 0) (#33)
    by jawbone on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 06:12:21 PM EST
    support and flood of money to banks surely indicated his allegiance to the monied class.

    His lack of any real aid for people losing homes and jobs indicated his lack of interest in the non-monied class.


    Sure he did (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:19:02 PM EST
    but the trend didnt start with him.

    Do you honestly believe Clinton's pushing through of NAFTA, signing those WTO treaties and going along with Wall St deregulation was done in the interests of the common man?


    Hard to say (none / 0) (#38)
    by ZtoA on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:34:30 PM EST
    but interesting to speculate. He also had similar economic advisers to Obama and was also in a bit over his head (IMO). It makes a difference who one has as an adviser.

    Do you think the corporate trend started with Clinton? Of course one could point to Reagan --that was basically his thing, and also 'feel good talk'. I'm trying to think back and LBJ did a pretty good job at the populist thing (except for getting the populace killed in a stupid pointless un-winnable war).

    Corporate power has been around for many decades and before that it was the barons. Just translates into 'money power'. I think Clinton opened doors that should NOT have been opened, and it was the greed and party nature of the 90's and he fit right in. I liked him and I liked the 90's but accessing, he listened to the wrong advisers and made many wrong choices.

    Interesting show on Brooksley Born - Front Line, I think. Did u see it?


    I did indeed (none / 0) (#39)
    by jondee on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:12:59 PM EST
    obviously in many ways, these problems are bigger than any one person and, at this point, imo, any person or persons who might theoretically make a major difference are filtered out before they get through the gate of "the club". But, unforeseen positive developments have occurred before, so there's always a chance they could again. Nothings set in stone for all time.

    I don't know (none / 0) (#34)
    by ZtoA on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 07:02:15 PM EST
    I think its bigger than just the leader of the party. But- he did choose his economic team. But- we chose him to chose his administration. And as far as the $ to run for office, well, roasted chickens did not just fly into his mouth.

    Honestly, I think 99% of politicians are afraid of corporate power. I'm not trying to sound like a conspiracy nut but I think upper level leaders are also afraid/controlled by the military and corporate interests.

    My personal take on Obama is that he is in a bit over his head and is trying to appear in control and is trying to actually be in control. But, these days, I think the position will always put a human being a bit over his/her head. He is an interesting study.


    From my limited perspective (none / 0) (#35)
    by ZtoA on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 07:17:07 PM EST
    the parties really have changed over the past several decades. I've heard that LBJ said "well, we just lost the south" as he signed civil rights into law.

    Populist means 'for people' - but what people? The poor, and working classes are divided and pitted against each other. Poor whites poor AAs and poor immigrants. The demographic of TeaPartiers (white undereducated working class women) used to be the demographic of the dem party. So I agree that racism is a factor but I think it is just as much that people want a sliver of that pie. And throw into that religion ... whew. RR protestants, catholics, jews, some muslims, and actually, lots of religious left - the new-agers (should not be overlooked). So no political party has a clear demographic or 'spirit' -if you will.

    Both parties have gone for the $$ and it has been pragmatic and even necessary. Candidates have to appear to be interested in people (and the great majority of people are not wealthy) but still have to get the money. And it is secretive. And both try to goad and control their poor demographics into action. That keeps all the under class people busy and distracted.

    OK, rant over!


    My feeling (none / 0) (#12)
    by lilburro on Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:16:45 AM EST
    is that someone needs to explicitly call out the 11th Dimensional Chess folks (again).  And ask them:

    WTF Did 11th Dimensional Chess get you?

    Exactly what ends were served by believing Obama would do the right thing and shouting down people who did not?  Where did blind faith get you, exactly?

    I would think people would conclude from this debate that blind faith in Obama is not smart, but I do not have a lot of confidence that we're not going to have the same fights over climate change, for example.  John Cole will just say "He passed the f*cking health bill for Crissakes, so STFU."  It will go on and on.