Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My how the meek are inheriting the earth

So three to four years ago, you and I (and every other progressive) were essentially frozen out of American politics. Sure, we could work hard on individual campaigns, get some pats on the head, maybe those who were interested could get staff jobs, but overall an entire segment of American society had been shut out of the process.

A venal political and media elite had taken complete control of our democracy, and regular people were only beginning to fight back.

Looks like that has changed. From The San Francisco Chronicle via the P-I:
"These guys (the liberal political bloggers) have power now. They can change elections," said Michael Cornfield, adjunct professor in political management at George Washington University and author of "Politics Moves Online: Campaigning."

In last year's midterm elections, Cornfield pointed to how liberal online activists helped dump incumbent Republican senators in Virginia and Montana, and led the effort to defeat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut (although he won election as an independent).

Clinton's campaign, Cornfield said, "made the judgment that they can't get the nomination as long as the netroots oppose them. They don't want them to hate her; they just want detente with them."

The netroots have come a long way from the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when it was big news that bloggers were given media credentials.
Now, gloating for very long is a dangerous thing, but ahead of the YearlyKos Convention it's nice to recognize that things are moving a positive direction. As another source in the Chronicle article noted, conservatives haven't embraced the web like progressives have:
Most of the partisan political blogs that attract more than 1 million page views a week tend to be liberal, said Justin Abbott, vice president of Blogads, which places advertising on liberal and conservative blogs.

"Maybe it is because conservatives are still plugged into talk radio, and a lot are still using it as their primary source of news," said Bluey.
This presents quite a problem for the cons, since theirs is a top-down model that doesn't require very many people to much do original thinking. In other words, beyond the damage the occupation of Iraq and wide-spread corruption and incompetence have done to the conservative movement, it now faces the very real prospect of being mired in a kind of movement stasis. Astroturfing and advancing corporate or right wing agendas only works when enough citizens are not paying attention or have been fooled.

Call me an optimist, but there is some chance that the American people will not be fooled en masse by the conservative movement for some time to come. All one has to do is start ticking off names: George, Dick, Donald, Condi, Alberto, Brownie, Doug Feith, Wolfie, Josh, the two Johns (Ashcroft and Bolton.) We could go on, and on, but you get the idea. That's just in the Executive Branch.

Even the most lizard-brain, reactionary types will someday get bored and realize they've been sold a bill of goods. It's also dangerous to underestimate hippie-hatred, of course, but after about 30 years the intensity just can't be sustained. And since many in our movement either weren't born or viewed the Summer of Love from bicycles and tricycles, the hippie-hatred attacks start to become a pronounced non-sequitur. You kind of expect someone to demand we bomb Cambodia and mine Haiphong harbor. (Okay, attack Iran? Some things never change.)

The attacks on YearlyKos and the netroots by conservatives are a sure sign that the opposition is worried. But the strength of the progressive blogosphere is that it is comprised of thousands of individuals, each doing the best they can. So when Billo attacks, it starts to become even more ridiculous, given the wide-ranging and diverse nature of our ranks. In the old blog shorthand, the question becomes "why does Billo hate America?"

So as NPI prepares to send two representatives to Yearly Kos, give yourself a pat on the back, loyal readers, because without you the progressive blogosphere would be nothing.

PS: And Markos sends this secret hate message along: "The Sea Otter is full of fish." I repeat, "the Sea Otter is full of fish." Set your decoder ring to "10."

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