Saturday, Deaniac had a post up titled “With Friends Like These” where he discussed his disillusionment with the direction several of the “establishment bloggers” of the Left have taken.
It’s a moment of truth. A truth about where the establishment Left bloggers stand in this battle. Do they stand with these people causing these firestorms and calling Obama stupid, dangerous and a Republican? Do they stand with race baiting against the first African American president? Do they stand with calls for radicalization? Do they stand with calling the President a coward? The old “I’m not responsible for what’s prominently featured on my site” excuse will no longer do. President Obama once said that free markets were a good idea but wild markets were not. The same applies to free-wheeling discussions. This is no longer about free-wheeling conversations but about ginning up a wild virtual mob to destroy Barack Obama, and thereby irreparably harm the modern progressive movement’s ability to make progress. This is hate speech being condoned, promoted and made money off of on the big blogs.
Having looked at what these site owners are writing themselves – not just what they’re tolerating – I have to say that they stand with those people causing the firestorms. Markos, Jane Hamsher, et.al. have made a decision. It’s ideological in good part, but it’s also financial. Ginning up the outrage drives hits to their sites, it creates more ad revenue, and they can use the frustrati as a reliable source of donations to their PACs. All well and good for their pocketbooks, but they’d better enjoy it while they can.
Why would I say “while they can?” Because they’ve set themselves on a path towards irrelevance when it comes to political influence. They’re figuratively reenacting the cliche movie scene of the car without brakes heading down the curving mountain road. One of the commenters over over at The People’s View pointed it out – that they are in a “lose-lose” situation. They’re already seeing – or will in the next year – the pushback. Many of their respected regulars who were there through 2008 and into 2009 have packed up and left. The “quiet exodus” which began early this year has turned into a stampede as more and more decide that they don’t need the outrage and venom. That, in and of itself, will impact their revenues eventually – but their answer will be to increase the outrage level. That’s a pocketbook hit, but the main reason they’re potentially facing a lose-lose situation is: 2012.
Here’s the reality of the situation. If they keep up their actions, and President Obama wins re-election, he will have proved that he – and Democrats in general – don’t need them. They’ll be irrelevant as an interest block. If, on the other hand, he loses, Democrats are going to be handing out blame – and guess which group makes a handy target for their ire. This is the what I call the Nader effect. Ralph Nader went from being a fairly respected consumer advocate and liberal voice to being a pariah with many. Rightly or wrongly – and there’s competing analyses on both points – he was blamed for Al Gore’s loss in the 2000 election. The result of that was that for the most part, his standing as a significant voice on the left, someone who is relevant in the policy debates is virtually non-existent. That’s the cliff they’re heading towards.
I pointed out earlier that they’ve been attacking for a long time. It’s one thing to criticize a specific action or policy, and promote a specific solution, another entirely to write off an entire presidency. Which, as TiMT over at TPV pointed out, is what they’ve done. Right now, they still have a choice. They can return to – or switch to – a measured approach, promoting specific policy agenda items, and focusing on the real obstacles to them – the Republicans. They can promote candidates for office in congressional districts that Democrats lost, and focus on redistricting battles. In other words, constructive efforts. That’s how you continue to build influence and make yourself relevant. Sadly, I don’t think they’ll do that. They’re locked into their stance, and, after all, outrage sells. So enjoy it while you can, Markos, Jane, Glenn, Cenk, and the rest. After November 2012, you’re going to be irrelevant.