"How the Democratic Netroots Died"
The founding members of the progressive blogosphere envisioned a movement distinct from the left-wing activists of yesterday—aggressive, but not beholden to ideological purity. As described by Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong in their 2006 book Crashing The Gate, netroots activists wanted progressives, and their favored politicians, to be “fiercely partisan” but not “ideological” because “there is actually very little, issue-wise, that unites most modern party activists except, perhaps, opposition to the Iraq War.” They wanted not litmus tests on policy but a style, an attitude: a tougher Democratic Party that could better beat Republicans.
In July 2008, Obama provoked several leading bloggers when he supported legal immunity for telecommunication companies that abetted warrantless wiretapping by the second Bush administration. In the 2008 primary against Clinton, Obama, then a U.S. senator, promised to filibuster any bill that gave the companies retroactive immunity; but he stood down after winning the Democratic presidential nomination and voted for compromise legislation that included it. That helped him avoid being tagged as soft on terrorism, but Glenn Greenwald charged Obama with supporting “a full-scale assault on our Constitution.” Duncan Black, who stills blogs—and tweets, naturally—under the handle Atrios, dubbed Obama his “Wanker of the Day.” Moulitsas, ahead of the switch, fretted, “We may worry that he’s just another one of these spineless Democrats” and fail to give Obama the full “intensity of support.”
Once Obama won without the “intensity” of the blogosphere, the relationship between the online left and the Democratic establishment reverted to fractiousness, with the purist outsiders taking potshots at the compromising insiders. In December 2009, as it became clear that a public health insurance option would not be part of Obama’s Affordable Care Act, Moulitsas lambasted the legislation as “a turd of a ‘reform’ package, potentially worse than the status quo.” When Obama tried to boost morale for the slowly recovering economy and credited his stimulus package, Atrios scoffed at the calls by Democrats to “clap louder you stupid hippies.”
As the Bush-era blog leaders struggled, the decentralized nature of the online political world gave oxygen to newer factions, including a robust democratic socialist left that viewed the founding members of the blogosphere as insufficiently progressive. “Once Obama took office, Kos went soft” wrote the “Chapo Trap House” podcasters in their best-selling book, based on Moulitsas’ negativity toward Sanders in 2016 (and ignoring his many attempts to boost primary challenges against establishment officeholders.) Oversimplifying the community of Bush-era bloggers, the “Chapo” gang dismissed the netroots as “a league of pathetic, repulsive morons who mastered a technology every child knows how to use” and “piloted journalism into a newer, even more idiotic frontier of toxic hackery.”
this article’s generally annoying, but it really shows the relatively easy institutionalization and then hack-ification of the “clicking classes”–how Obama opposed Iraq but that was all, so their leaders’ endorsing Clinton and attacking Sanders eight years later wasn’t surprising
but what I bolded also shows awareness that these blogs’d been were where you’d get news, investigations, historical writing that exposed just how Obama wasn’t just refusing to hold up his end of the bargain but actively fighting his own party membership
Salon, Slate, Vox, Vice, Daily Beast, DU, DKos, HuffPo, RawStory, AlterNet, ThinkProgress, TPMemo, Smirking Chimp, Lawyers Guns Money, Mother Jones, The Nation, The Daily Show team, Tom Tomorrow, The Guardian were then taken over, bought out or #wither from the get-go: even The Onion went to Saban: people weren’t going to get the sort of scrutiny of Clinton they got with Obama (and PropOrNot was there to get the rest)
July 17, 2019 at 9:12 PM #88224Mick063Participant
- Total Posts: 578
JPR is evidence that the Democrats are playing whack a mole with the blogosphere.
Another example is Caucus 99%.
When the authoritarians take custody of a forum or blog, another rises in it’s place, and it is typically, more radical than the one that was coopted before it. Probably because the displaced members are slightly pissed off. Probably because some of the brightest minds and skilled communicators are driven off, leaving blind followers behind.
It harkens back to a favorite saying from the days of #Occupy.
“You can’t kill an idea.”
"I welcome their hatred" Franklin D Roosevelt
July 17, 2019 at 10:04 PM #88247
I mean ideas can be quashed, but that takes as much effort as it does propagating them: them tearing off the mask and unleashing the goons (well HOFers) forced the reformers to adapt–we were exiled, we had to deploy everything they could, probe every weakness, and now we know how to come after them
they on the other hand have nothing except sending orders to battalions that don’t exist any more
July 17, 2019 at 10:00 PM #882413fingerbrownParticipant
- Total Posts: 3,354
Money, and falling in love with political personalities over progressive policies, is how too many of these once readable internet sites and publications, have lost so many allies in the fight against the right.
All governments lie to their citizen's, but only Americans believe theirs.
July 17, 2019 at 10:19 PM #88254
it also mentions how Obamism struck many people as a vacuous cult, blind hope with a little liberal guilt mixed in; many in 2016 also wanted to avoid the nauseating 2008 primary fight, figuring that if it’d stained a victory then it’d lead to disaster now
July 17, 2019 at 10:09 PM #88248RufusTFireflyParticipant
- Total Posts: 2,488
A somewhat related topic was recently addressed on my favorite radical radio show, Against the Grain
If I asked you to picture a digital activist, I’d wager that you’d envision a progressive. But sociologist Jen Schradie says that’s misguided. In fact, the typical profile of an internet activist is a conservative. Schradie discusses the internet and the left and right.
Jen Schradie, The Revolution That Wasn’t: How Digital Activism Favors Conservatives Harvard University Press, 2019
July 17, 2019 at 10:26 PM #88257
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