Dumb Dems

That’s about as bluntly as I can put it. The Democrats are just being flat out dumb about the blogosphere.

Pam takes a look at a great post by Glenn Greenwald, and I’ll excerpt a little of each, but both posts are worth a read in their entirety.


Within the last two weeks, I had some extensive communications with a high-ranking staff member in a Democratic Senators' office (whose identity I promised not to reveal before the discussions began) in which I argued that systems should be created to enable Democratic Senators to work cooperatively with the blogosphere in order to prevent the Bush Administration from continuing to suppress investigations into its wrongdoing, including as part of the NSA scandal and other scandals.

I explained that there is a bursting and eager energy among the literally millions of people who write and read blogs to take meaningful action against the Bush Administration. The people in the blogosphere are highly motivated, informed, and politically engaged…

This was the response I ultimately received:

I think there is an opportunity for us to figure out a better way to work together. But, you have to understand, my ultimate goal is to help [the] Senator [] achieve his objective of real oversight on national security matters by the Intelligence Committee.

Even with the best of intentions, I’m not convinced that bloggers can help us meet that goal. In fact, I worry about it hurting our efforts given the increasingly partisan environment.
…It's as though they think they need to remain above and separated from the poorly behaved, embarrassing masses…

Bush followers, along with their media allies, recognize the lurking power of the anti-Bush component of the blogosphere and -- for that very reason -- have been expending considerable efforts recently to demonize it as nothing but fringe, extremist lunatics who are political poison. Rather than combat that demonization, national Democrats -- as usual -- have meekly acquiesced to it -- even internalized it -- and are now intimidated to go anywhere near one of the very few vibrant, living and breathing instruments of political activism available to them.

Based on this condescending, frightened behavior, one would think that Democrats are enjoying one success after the next and don't want to do anything to jeopardize the great political machine they have built -- especially not do anything as risky and bizarre as work with the lowly throngs of people who are activated, interested, energized and eager to wage the battles against the Bush Administration. Despite their glaring need for new strategies, so many of these national Democrats are completely closed off to new ways of working because, it seems to me, so many of them are, at bottom, personally satisfied with their chronically defeated, minority status. They prefer to protect the safety of their own individual political positions than to try to find ways to end the string of victories by the Bush Administration.
I guess there’s no need to be worried about standing on the bow of a sinking ship as long as you know you’re guaranteed a lifeboat. Not especially reassuring, however, to those of us in stowage trying to halt the breaching ocean with our buckets.

Pam takes particular issue with the Dems’ determination to keep progressive activists at arm’s length with one hand, while holding out the other for contributions:

Those of us who represent the rich, uncouth cousin known as the blogosphere will just expect to continue to get solicitations to help pay for the party that we won't get invited to.

…[T]he dance of continually asking the uncouth cousin to remain silent yet foot the bill for their party of friends is over. There's no going back, unless the dolts in both parties want to try to ignore, or if scared enough of blogs, attempt again to legislatively crush or regulate the netroots. And don't think it couldn't happen, given the established political culture in Washington that has everything to lose when speech is free.
I once wrote that while conservatives who vote against their own best interests don’t seem to understand their leadership, that we on the Left seem to suffer from the opposite problem—our leadership doesn’t understand its base. Glenn’s post seems to cast that assessment of the Democratic Party in stark relief. Not only do they not understand us, subscribing so mindlessly as they do to the Right’s attempts to marginalize us as weirdos; they have allowed that fundamental misunderstanding to metasticize into contempt.

And from such a defensive posture, it’s easy for them to find alleged evidence of the extremism that they suspiciously expect among their blogospheric base. The void of rigorous opposition left by their inaction, by what Glenn describes as their willingness to feel secure in defeat, has radicalized us by comparison. “A mere few years ago, I was hardly considered a radical lefty. I’m a social liberal and an economic conservative (though, admittedly, my hardline on balanced budgets has a liberal bent; less on pork and weapons development to fully fund necessary social and intelligence programs). My most ‘radical’ position was support of gay marriage, which never seemed all that radical to me, even when over half of voters didn’t support, at minimum, civil unions. Now they do, making my ‘radical’ position that much less radical—but nearly the entire Democratic Party is to the right of me on most issues, even though my positions haven’t changed. That’s a pretty significant shift in a couple of years.” The party that created a vacuum now resents those who have risen to fill it.

So we find that our choice is between a party we loathe and a party who loathes us, a party who exploits the fears and prejudices of its base for votes or a party who exploits the passionate desire for change of its base for cash. Quite a choice indeed.

And sure there are bright spots—as I write, I have received an email from Russ Feingold* about his introduction of a resolution to censure Bush for his wiretapping program. But it ends with the usual solicitation of donations, and all I can think about is Chris Rock: “Men braggin' about shit they s’posed to do anyway. 'I take care of my kids.' Whatcha want, a cookie?!?” The Democrats have been so thoroughly, scandalously lackluster at doing their fucking jobs that now every time they lift a finger, it’s turned into a fundraising opportunity. And that offends me. I’m a voter and a taxpayer. We pay their salaries. They’re supposed to work for us, though they have clearly forgotten. We didn't send them to D.C. to be enablers, but defenders and advocates of what we hold dear.

The Dems, in their inimitable way, are great at giving lipservice to the blogosphere as “an untapped resource,” but it’s becoming increasingly, unavoidably evident that their sights are on our pockets, not our passion. That’s their decision to make. My decision is whether I will use either to support them. If and when that answer is finally no, I will withhold the only other thing I have, the thing they have taken for granted, as have I, for 14 years—my vote.


* Feingold being one of the very best at doing what he was elected to do and one of the most conscientious about campaign financing, I hate to single him out for this, but there you go.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus