In my last post I talked about the nay-sayers on the left, the ones who cannot find anything to praise about a Democratic administration. At the end of it, I said that:
They don’t want the work and responsibility of making their ideals a reality, to do the dirty work of getting people elected. They’d much rather sit and complain. For people who claim to be “the future” when it comes to organizing an effective political movement, of being “reality based,” they’re not very effective or based in reality.
I didn’t make that claim idly, based on no evidence. I have seen them in action, over the past two years. I talked about one of the major factors in disillusioning me in one of my first posts here. A little over a year ago, there was a special election for an open congressional seat – my congressional district, in fact. The candidate the party selected was not “progressive.” Daily Kos erupted about that. To be honest, I wasn’t tremendously happy either, as my local Party chair will attest. However, after meeting him, and getting to listen to him, I realized that yes, while he wasn’t “progressive,” he was a very impressive candidate, and I was willing to support him. This was a district that had portions which had not had a Democrat representing them in 150 years. The problem? Daily Kos, and in particular Kos himself were not willing to get behind the candidate. In fact, Kos more-or-less endorsed the Republican candidate in that race.
Real Democrats and progressive organizations turned out and worked, and helped along by a truly horrific Conservative/Tea Party candidate’s series of blunders, managed to elect the Democrat. Representative Bill Owens has done a fine job for this district, and has stood with the Party on several crucial votes.
I mention this not to demonstrate my remarkable capacity to carry a grudge, but because there are some aspects of this that bear examination. There was a lot of vituperation directed by the Daily Kos and Firedoglake crews against the Democratic Party apparatus in this district. Mostly because the Party chairs had failed to select a “true progressive.” The idea that the Party chairs might know their regions better than the bloggers was not something they considered – or brushed aside. The amount of actual “work” – get out the vote efforts, donations of money, etc. – the “netroots” did was non-existent. There was a lot of talk about how losing this race would be “good for the Party.” Those of us who objected to that were derided.
There were several take-aways from this. First off, it turned out that it really didn’t matter to the voters or party officials what Daily Kos or Firedoglake thought. Most of the people in this district (and I’ll bet in most congressional districts) have never heard of them. The idea that their opinion mattered to the party officials and voters here was remarkably arrogant. Second, they weren’t any help before, they weren’t helping then, and they’re not to be seen now. If one is trying to build influence in a party, or make them notice you and take your views into account, it’s one of those things you really should do. Third, the idea of “party loyalty” on their part was flushed down the toilet. It’s not that they were disappointed – it’s that they immediately dumped on the candidate selected, and threw bouquets at the Republican nominee.
One time deal? No, they’ve been doing it for quite some time. Read all the gushing comments about Charlie Crist in the Florida Senate race. You’d think he was a staunch progressive, wouldn’t you? Except he’s not. He’s a life-long conservative (mostly) Republican (now Independent). It should be hard to believe that the people who screamed so much about the Blue Dogs and “ConservaDems” would ignore a fairly progressive Democratic candidate for the Senate in that state, but they’re demonstrating that consistency is not one of their virtues. At the same time, they’ve managed to be … absent … when it comes to fielding challengers to their “enemies.”
In a comment on another blog a while back, I said that the netroots needs to remember that there are times to be less “net” and more “roots.” Unfortunately, they think the “net” is sufficient. Even worse, in inhabiting the echo chambers of the Internet, they’ve convinced themselves that they matter. They’ve made a lot of noise, they’ve pontificated endlessly, but in the end, they signify nothing.