Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Democracy does not belong to elitists

Recently, Chris Bowers wrote on MyDD about the establishment's hostility to Ned Lamont's challenge of DINO Joe Lieberman:
Too many of our elected officials, consultants, advocacy organizations, and staffers feel they are not accountable to anyone. They are particularly appalled when forced to confront plebian, outsider, progressive activists.

Not only is this a main reason why establishment candidates are starting to fall like flies to progressive movement candidates, it is a reason why Democratic candidates in general have had so little success against Republican candidates lately. If you believe you are entitled to your position, how can you possibly hope to wrest power from a group of people -- the conservative movement -- who wrested it from you through a series of driven, innovative political techniques during the past few decades?

If you don't like campaigns, then get out of politics. If you don't like innovations in politics, then step aside for the good of the party. If you can't handle a little competition, then you are simply going to sink to the bottom as political entrepreneurs rise to the top.
David Sirota sums up our reaction to the Beltway pundits who can't stand the idea that Joe Lieberman isn't entitled to his Senate seat:
[H]ere's a newsflash to the bitter naysayers in D.C. - this is still a democracy, whether that's good for your business, your careers and your relevance or not; whether you and your let-them-eat-cake friends like it or not.

You attack "bloggers" and the "netroots" as a monolith of lunacy and anger - but take a look in the mirror and you'll get a frightening glimpse of the people who really need anger management therapy. The more you keep freaking out like lunatics over the Lamont candidacy, the more you walk into your own stereotype as totally out of touch with the ideals this country was founded on.

The more you spew such acidic bile, the more you let everyone know that despite your billing as "experts" you have positively no understanding of the populist sentiment brewing all over America. In short, the more you throw your temper tantrums, the more you embarrass yourselves and provide a good comedy show for the rest of us.
Sirota's perspective is on the money. (He expands on this topic today in writing about the New York Times' review of his recently published book).

As most readers of the Official Blog know, the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) is and has always been a grassroots, volunteer driven organization.

We're netroots because we utilize the Internet - the most democratic medium ever invented - to communicate with fellow activists, opinionmakers, political observers, and the general public.

I myself been actively involved in politics for about four and a half years now, and I've definitely encountered my fair share of opposition from established, entrenched interests. Mostly Democratic leaning single issue groups, who seem to see me and NPI as an annoying nuisance - not help.

I'd describe it as this "how dare you" mentality.

It's not so much our presence on the Internet, but when we're approached by the local traditional media to share our perspective on something. Anything. Right wing initiatives, a major federal race, a Supreme Court decision.

That's what gets some of the people running these single issue interest groups mad. They feel like they have to have control at all costs. It's their issue or their fight - so get out of the way. Let the "professionals" deal with it.

I've been told several times by various people (none of them grassroots activists) that unless I take marching orders from the established players (basically, the political elite) I'm undermining the entire Democratic cause.

Sound familiar?

The Internet, as Markos and Jerome correctly pointed out in Crashing the Gate, is revolutionizing politics. NPI would not exist, and neither I nor the other members would likely be involved in politics, if it were not for this incredible medium. The Internet gives us the ability to organize and affect change, and pursue our own destiny - without needing to be wealthy or well connected.

I didn't jump into this for the heck of it, either. I became involved slowly over time because I saw that Tim Eyman's initiatives were threatening my community. Initiatives that the single issue groups, the political elite - the established players - failed to stop from passing.

It's true enough that many of Tim's initiatives (that have passed) have been invalidated by our court system.

But two (I-747 and I-776) have already had a devastating impact on our communities, and a third (I-695) has also been felt because the state legislature and then Gov. Locke decided to cave in to Eyman instead of attempting to find a solution that would have saved some transportation funding.

I wasn't willing to sit by idly and watch my quality of life start disappearing. I could not stand the thought of continuing to do nothing. So I did something. Four and a half years later, I'm doing a lot.

Democracy is not a spectator sport. It does not belong to corporations and it does not belong to an elite. Democracy belongs to the people - all the people.

This organization is fighting every day for healthy, vibrant communities and neighborhoods....for public services that strengthen and protect our quality of life.

This organization is fighting every day for a freer, safer, cleaner America. An America where all citizens are treated equally under the law and get the opportunities they deserve to be successful.

We have only just begun to reclaim our democracy from the hostile takeover that has ensnared our government. We're putting the "democratic" back in the Democratic Party and backing progressive candidates who embrace, not reject, people powered politics.

Whether the state and national political establishment likes it or not, the netroots is here to stay - and only getting stronger. Efforts by the "elite" to silence our voices are pointless.

A new era is dawning in America - an era which will see our country transformed into a stronger democracy. A nation that serves all of its people, not just a few.

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