Monday, March 13, 2006

Will you still love me tomorrow?

Tonight you're mine completely
You give you love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow?

Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment's pleasure?
Can I believe the magic of your sighs?
Will you still love me tomorrow?

That’s the song that ran through my head as I read a few posts about the role of the blogosphere in aiding and shaping the Democratic Party and its message. (Much of this talk seems to have been precipitated by the release of Crashing the Gates, a book by dailyKos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and MyDD founder Jerome Armstrong.)

First, I read TPain’s chat with John Lapp, executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and organization that is one part central bank and one part hall monitor for Democrats eyeing the House of Representatives. Lapp speaks of his love for the likes of dKos and MyDD, and “the larger blogosphere,” but does so in a way that really keeps coming back to money—even though he claims the opposite.

We would love to fully-fund every prospect, every candidate, and fully contest every race in a meaningful way, but we do offer all candidates advice, training, and general consulting on message, fundraising, research, and organization. Unfortunately, just as with any organization or enterprise, resources are not infinite. That is why MyDD, the DailyKos, and the larger blogosphere are so important. You are critical in the effort to expand the playing field well above and beyond the 30 or 40 districts typically in play. I would be lying if I said we had the resources to compete in all 200+ Republican districts. It simply isn't possible.

Netrooters, blogs, and the progressive movement have the flexibility to pick and choose where they support, defend, and fight back. And they can activate progressive Democrats at a moment's notice in a unique way - above and beyond what we can do. To view the DailyKos,, and other progressive, activist movements as simply Internet-based ATM machines is to insult them and underestimates their power to inform, activate, persuade, and mobilize. They are fully-loaded message machines. Let me be clear - I value not only your financial support to our candidates, but also the larger role you provide in the Democratic activist community.

Sure, at the end there, he says “I love you for your mind, not just the size of your. . . um. . . wallet,” but it is always in that juxtaposed construct. He’s talking to your ear, but he’s staring at your bulge. Of course I care about what you think, baby, now can we go to bed?

And if I didn’t already feel like John didn’t love me for me. . . I’ve got Rahm and some anonymous Senate staffers to let me know how those EstDem guys really talk when I’m not in the room.

Jane at fdl sees the muscle-flexing of Rahm Emanuel, grand pooh-bah of the D-triple-C as particularly disrespectful of bloggers’ efforts, “For everything we do trying to back progressive candidates, Emanuel and the DCCC seem to be doing everything they can to undo it.”

As case in point, she cites Rahm’s open assertion that the Democrats will not use the South Dakota abortion ban as a campaign issue moving towards November. Jane also directs us to Down With Tyranny, who has some very unkind things to say about Emanuel’s choice of candidate in Florida’s 13th (about to be vacated by Katherine Harris).

Those anonymous staffers (as referenced by Glenn Greenwald, posting on C&L) are even ruder to their hot, new internet dates. Greenwald had some back and forth with the office of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV), ranking member on Intelligence, and was a little disheartened by the response, so he reached out to some offices of Democrats on the committee with a very diplomatic “help us help you” message. This was the response he got:

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.

What, are they worried we’ll get too clingy? Time and again, you get the feeling the establishment Democrats are afraid of the passion of movement liberals (yeah, I just said “movement liberals”), as if the only way to win the hearts of “average” Americans is by being careful.

Tell me, how good would your relationship be if you spent twenty years being careful instead of being you?

The other possible explanation for this behavior is battered spouse syndrome. The Democrats are so afraid of incurring the powerful (and, admittedly, effective) wrath of their Republican masters that they try to either stay quiet and blend in to avoid being singled out, or they go out of their way to praise—or even go so far as to mimic—Republicans in an attempt to gain some token of appreciation from the tools in the punditocracy.

But, as any sane person outside of an abusive relationship could tell the abused party, nothing you do is going to make this relationship any better. The abuse is the fault of the abuser—abusers attack because it’s in their nature. They will always find something to go after—they need to.

Voters aren’t mean or stupid, but they sense a vibrancy that comes from a strident, aggressive Republican Party that is too often missing form the Democrats. (That imbalance is magnified by the now supplicant corporate media, who need the approval of the Republican regulators to continue the profit-driven consolidation of their industry.) I’ve said it before: reactive brands are not compelling brands. Worse, in a battle between an original and a copy, the original has a decided advantage. “First to market” just inherently says “leader,” doesn’t it?

Or even worse, still, in a battle between a Republican and an ersatz Republican, the Republicans win. . . either way, if you get my drift.

Of course, it might be in the nature of any establishment to mistrust those outside the “gates”—after all, they are, by definition, not established—and, perhaps, there is a bit too much of that “so bad it’s good” love of the rebel thing coming from the blog movement (what’s the fun of crashing if you’ve already been invited inside?), but the Democratic Party organ would be foolish (if not sociopathic) to attempt to chasten all that passion (rather than to get down with it). In fact, Adam Cohen, in Sunday’s New York Times, questions if the Party even can, “The Democratic establishment could not hold the netroots back even if it wanted to.”

I think Cohen is right, you can’t fight the feeling. If the establishment Democrats want to once again become the democratically elected establishment, then it is best they get to know their new partners. And I mean really get to know them. Learn their names, learn what makes them feel good, learn what they want, not just for dinner, but for breakfast, too. Not to sound too much like Dr. Phil (or The Shirelles), but that’s how you turn a night of pleasure into a lasting treasure.


Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Thanks for linking to my piece about the DCCC interference in FL-13. Anyone interested in how Rahm Emanuel and his DCCC have become agents for anti-democratic centralization and ardent fighters against progressive and grassroots challengers to Republican incumbents, can find dozens of instances like the one you refered to at Down WithTyranny. Let me especially suggest that people look at what the Inside-the-Beltway power-mongers did to drive Paul Hackett out of his primary race for the U.S. Senate. Tyranny is bi-partisan.


8:31 AM  
Blogger J. Clifford said...

For a new example of how Rahm Emanuel's moves to consolidate his own personal power within the Democratic party are hurting the democratic process, you might want to take a look at what's going on in the 24th congressional district of New York State, where Rahm Emanuel is pushing one of the candidates, Michael Arcuri, before voters even get the chance to learn about all three candidates, including Les Roberts, the famous researcher who smuggled himself into Iraq in order to get a real picture of civilian deaths there.

This interference from the DCCC stinks. We ought to have the ability to choose for ourselves what kinds of Democrats we want to represent our own districts, without the national Democratic Party trying to buy its way out of the primaries we are entitled to.

8:48 AM  

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