Saturday, November 13, 2010

Netroots memory hole

"Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of the influential Daily Kos blog, said the netroots played a major role in the special election victories of Reps. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) and Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) in 2004 and were also prominent (and early) backers of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) during his 2004 campaign." -- Crying Foul, Netroots Note Some Big Wins, March 30, 2006

"I went through and compared his predicted Democratic losses to the membership of the Blue Dogs, and got the following list: [...] Herseth-Sandlin [...] If the worst-case scenario comes to happen, we can enjoy this silver lining -- the brunt of the losses will be felt by the very same people who helped obstruct the Democratic agenda, who fought middle class tax cuts and the Public Option, and who fueled the "Dems are divided" narrative. We'll get rid of the hypcorites who, like their Republican BFF's, scream about "fiscal responsibility" while fighting desperately to cut taxes on the wealthiest." --Dem Blue Dogs obstructionists set to bear brunt of losses, October 28, 2010

I have a good deal of respect for what the netroots tried to do. They were really the only sign of life in the Democratic Party for some time.

But I haven't seen any explanation from Kos or any other prominent netrooter of why they should be happy to get rid of the same people that the netroots struggled to elect only one cycle earlier. Or, rather, I can understand why people would be happy to get rid of Blue Dogs -- I can't understand how that also means that in the next cycle people should go out and again try to elect "more and better Democrats", as the saying is. The netroots make a point of their loyalty to the Democratic Party. This is a good thing, in the U.S., since U.S. electoral rules mean that really only two parties can exist. But the Democratic Party is not loyal to them. How many cycles can this continue -- jubilantly electing Democrats in places where there hadn't been Democrats before, and then finding out that they are actually harmful?

I don't think the Herseth-in-2004 and Herseth-in-2010 kinds of comparisons can stay in the memory hole forever. I don't expect what worked for the netroots before to really work again. I expect that they'll start to focus more and more on primaries. If they're successful, they'll be just as successful as the Tea Parties have been for the GOP -- in other words, a net loss of seats. Places like North Dakota will never elect a Democrat who is better than the Blue Dogs.

This problem could have been finessed with old-fashioned party loyalty, enforced from the top. It can't be done from the bottom. Obama and the Democrats generally really screwed over a lot of their supporters, but the netroots, I think that they've done a real job on.

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