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The Broken Triangle
January 13, 2006 8:53 AM   Subscribe

The (Broken) Triangle: Progressive Bloggers in the Wilderness. The Huffington Post's Peter Daou, whose dour forecast of how Bush and lazy media would spin away the NSA scandal proved prescient, on why "netroots activists" can't get traction: "It's slow-motion-car-wreck painful, and most certainly NOT where the left's triangle should be a half decade into the new millennium, as the Bush-propping machine hums and whirrs, poll numbers rise and fall, Iraq bleeds, scandal dissolves into scandal, terror speech blends into terror speech. The landscape is there for everyone to see, to analyze. Enough time has elapsed to make the system transparent. It is dismaying for netroots activists to see the same mistakes repeated..."
posted by digaman (19 comments total)

 
Oh, big surprise, more fodder for metafilter liberals to complain abou... waitaminute.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:08 AM on January 13, 2006


$
posted by fleetmouse at 9:16 AM on January 13, 2006


If the goverment is accountable to the people, but the people are too lazy to care, bad things happen. What should we do to fix the system?
posted by parallax7d at 9:16 AM on January 13, 2006


netroots activists. hee hee.
posted by quonsar at 9:31 AM on January 13, 2006


*snicker*
posted by quonsar at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2006


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!
posted by quonsar at 9:32 AM on January 13, 2006


Sadly, a personal, immediate disaster is likely to be the only thing that will seriously motivate people.

And by disaster, I do not mean something like the three thousand American casualties of the September 11 attacks, but more like the fifty eight thousand dead in Vietnam.

I have rarely wanted more strongly to be wrong.
posted by Richard Daly at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2006


After posting... have I missed the joke?
posted by Richard Daly at 9:39 AM on January 13, 2006


“After posting... have I missed the joke?”
- posted by Richard Daly

I dunno either. But ‘netroots activist’ does seem sorta oxymoronic to me.

There is a major disconnect not only between Dems and their roots, but between knee jerk Bushco apologist/fanatics - the administration message - and pretty much everyone else. I’m a huge William F. Buckley fan. I’m so openly pro-gun I embarrass Charleton Heston. I make Russell Kirk look like Ralph Nader. And I see none of the principles of conservativism being adhered to or indeed even being given lip service. Kirk in fact says “a state in which an individual or a small group are able to dominate the wills of their fellows without check is a despotism, whether it is called monarchical or aristocratic or democratic... It is characteristic of the radical that he thinks of power as a force for good—so long as the power falls into his hands.”

Sound familiar?

I was watching a sports show in which the hosts were positing that fans would root for the opposing quarterback to be taken out of the game with an injury.

I believe this is a symptom of our current society at large (in the US, anyway).

This, lack of sportsmanship, if I can label it simply, means that we no longer want a good game or even an exciting well played contest. We only want victory. Even by default. The game itself is irrelevant.
In certain settings such an attitude has it’s place. If I’m fighting for my life I’m not going to be very choosy in how I eliminate the threat to my life.
But in any contest in which less than fundimental human needs are at stake - in the contest of ideas, of ethos, of social meaning/relevence, of philosophy - there is the need for vigorous opposition.
It is this opposition, this competition that eliminates weaker arguments and typically shakes the chaff of opinion from the kernels of fact.
In science we have peer review. If it’s weak, bad ideas get out there and we have applications that fail.
Even the law recognizes the need for a strong defense in a trial in aiming at justice.

In that spirit, much as I want my opponant to bring his best game so I can be a proven champion, so too in an argument or contest of ideas I want the strongest possible resistance to find and eliminate the flaws in my ideas and strengthen my grasp of the facts in the case so to better determine the truth.

I want that consensual validation which includes a critical eye on my ideas.
Partly because I know I’m not God on the throne and I’m not omniscient, but mostly because of the opposite - as brilliant as I might (or might not) be, I can’t think or percieve everything. The permutations have to be worked through.
Reality has to be experianced. As such it is the game itself that matters, triumph is merely a part of it. If that triumph is not hard won, if the opposition is weak or phones it in, or if they are paid to take a dive - then what the hell is the point of playing?

From the NYT article you have an unnamed official who declined to comment on the results of the review...it just doesn’t get weaker than that.

I would think then the idea would be to get a new game. Shouldn’t be too hard to ween folks away from either party. And the net allows for greater access to and expression of political thought.

There’s a green party - why not a ‘net party?

God knows there are enough of us with enough money, ideas, juice - there are certainly enough people with organizational skills online.

You wouldn’t need a core set of values because it would be more or less open source. Party direction could be determined by online vote or some such. There are myriad ways in which it could work.

Enough money, enough votes - the two parties would start taking it seriously.

The trick is to snap people out of the “fan” mentality. “I’m a democrat...even though I’m against abortion - because my parents we’re democrats” - etc.

Shouldn’t be too hard to set the thing up though. Especially with the baby boomers retiring (with some $) and lots of time to spend online.

Breaking people out of thinking dichotomy all the time...might take some work. But hell, I don’t know anyone who’s happy with their leadership - Red or Blue.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:54 AM on January 13, 2006


Thanks for the thoughtful post, Smed.

In certain settings such an attitude has it’s place. If I’m fighting for my life I’m not going to be very choosy in how I eliminate the threat to my life.

The GOP has depended on this.
posted by digaman at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2006


Netroots activists??!!!! Oh for cryin' out loud. Once upon a time the left in this country took to streets, organized, and worked for real change.

It is probably bad form to quote myself, but:

I am pretty sure the internet was invented by Karl Rove as trick to get people on the left to waste their time in enormous virtual circle jerks while the right takes over the country.

"Look son, I made huge post about Guantanamo on MetaFilter! And someone linked it on DailyKos! I got a blogroll going!"

"Dad, the new school board is making my teacher tell us that Jesus rode a dinosaur and gays are the devil."

"Be quiet son, Daddy's working on something important."

posted by LarryC at 11:25 AM on January 13, 2006


That's jive, Larry, not to put too fine a point on it.

Netroots activists??!!!! Oh for cryin' out loud. Once upon a time the left in this country took to streets, organized, and worked for real change.

I grew up during that once upon a time, and my parents were major organizers of real change -- using mimeograph machines and phone-trees, fergawdsakes.

The Net is a marvelous tool, and it's time we start thinking hard about how to use it more effectively, and about the specific forces hampering its effectiveness at sparking real change, as Daou does in the FPP, rather than dismissing the Net and this generation of activists with a sneer.
posted by digaman at 12:32 PM on January 13, 2006


Excellent post, Smedleyman.

And LarryC, your point's taken - sort of.

Because while the "netroots" can resemble a big circle jerk full of online sound and fury but ultimately signifying nothing, it has also proven to be a very efficient way to, say, raise money for candidates, bump up volunteerism, etc.

It has to translate into real-world action, or it's utterly pointless.

But that said, I think the Democratic Party might have to go the way of the dinosaur before there can be any actual change. There simply cannot be this level of disorganization, this inability to take advantage of the tactical advantages that the netroots could have provided during the course of the Alito hearings in the face of a political movement as shrewd, and as coordinated, as the Republicans are.
posted by kgasmart at 12:59 PM on January 13, 2006


There just hasn't been enough pain yet. When the average person is getting screwed so bad that it hurts all the time, THEN they will finally get pissed. Right now, they think all the bad stuff is aimed at someone else.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:22 PM on January 13, 2006


I don't get the depression here, unless it's related to Alito's apparently greased nomination. (For what that's worth, I considered that a shift to the right was inevitable after November 2004.)

Bush is at 38% and falling. Even the military thinks his performance in Iraq is barely tolerable. Katrina was the big turning point; after that he finally lost the Teflon. The NYT finally got the balls to publish the NSA story. Libby has been indicted, and the investigation of Rove remains open. Delay has been indicted, and has resigned. The house of cards is beginning to be affected by a brewing topical storm.

Yes, this has been predicted many times before, but this time the polls bear it out. Bush has engaged in two solid months of pushback, including an Oval Office address without his customary malapropisms and cornpone, and it hasn't moved his numbers.

Now, the Democratic leadership is still feckless in many ways. But Harry Reid is no Daschle, and Murtha and Feingold are emerging as non-usual-suspects strong critics of the administration. They've stuck their necks out, and the Swift-Boating hasn't scared them. Dean has been a strong new voice in the hierarchy, and is starting to be listened to.

Sad to say, the netroots people are only beginning to penetrate the awareness bubble of the leadership. But Kos and others have smarter voices about what the Democrats need than almost any elected Democrat. People like Dean are actually listening to them.

Right now, that's what netroots are really about -- getting the party to listen to the people again. There are many more optimistic Democrats out there than Congress seems to reflect.

The Net is a marvelous tool, and it's time we start thinking hard about how to use it more effectively, and about the specific forces hampering its effectiveness at sparking real change, as Daou does in the FPP, rather than dismissing the Net and this generation of activists with a sneer.

Huzzah, digaman.
posted by dhartung at 12:23 AM on January 14, 2006


posted on the editorial page of our local newspaper: "There is little point in making valid criticisms of President Bush. He is the most accurate reflection in presidential history of the average American, who reads little, who thinks even less, and who has an even greater lack of intellectual gravitas. When the American democratic replublic chooses one of its mediocre own as president, it's merely fulling its destiny."
posted by cedar key at 5:04 AM on January 15, 2006


Alternative theory: Leftist funhouse mirrors and magnifying glasses are being used to make non-scandals into inscandals, and minor ones be perceived as big ones.

But keep trying, eventually you'll get some traction...
posted by ParisParamus at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2006


Until someone comes up with something better than "The other party is real bad," I'm done with politics. Scandals, blah, lies, blah, media, blah. Offer me alternatives. If the Democrats came out and said they wanted to get the U.S. off of oil, then maybe I'd be like "GO Democrats!" If the Republicans actually had any real ideas at all, I'd be like "GO Republicans!" From what I can tell they both seem to just want to keep their jobs.

Except maybe that old guy from West Virginia who said he loved Ted Stevens. That guy I'd vote for.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:34 PM on January 15, 2006


here’s a green party - why not a ‘net party?

We've had several postings about the Free State program of the Libertarians, right? That seems to be the biggest such program along this line, though not explicitly anti-Bush.
posted by billsaysthis at 6:35 PM on January 15, 2006


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