A Netroots Identity Crisis

At the Big Orange Satan, our old friend from Wales provides strong evidence that he does not understand the only effective role the Netroots can play to promote progressivism. He bemoans the mean attacks on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, arguing, more or less, she is doing the best she can.

It is unfortunate though that the critques of the diary in the comments thread are rather wild and ineffective. Impeachment? Raising money for Al Wynn? Is that really where Pelosi is failing? Puhleeeaze. The reason Dems won in 2006 was the promise to end the Debacle in Iraq. It is obvious, as I have written in the past, that the Congress can not enact its agenda. But what it CAN do is stop the Bush agenda. It can end the war  – by not funding it. It can not grant extraordinary powers to the President to engage in warrantless surveillance. It can disapprove of torture and not approve an AG nominee who will not say waterboarding is torture. It can prevent the most egregious excesses by the worst Administration in history. The Congress has done none of these things.

But let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, the Welshman is right. That Pelosi is doing all she can. If the Netroots wants to change the field of play, what would be the smartest course of action. Should it rationalize away the failures of the Congress, as the Welshman suggests? Should it say, ‘oh well, that’s all they can do?’ Should it settle? Of course not. The Netroots and the progressive base is the left flank of the Democratic Party. If they accept the status quo, then no progressive change will EVER occur. The proper role of the Netroots, in my opinion, is NOT to cheerlead and rationalize Democratic failure. The proper role of the Netroots and the progressive base is to pressure, cajole, push and prod for progressive movement in the Congressional agenda. If it does that, Pelosi’s job (assuming she really wants progressive change) becomes easier. She needs to feel and see pressure from her Left. Some would see the Netroots and the Progressive base as just an arm of the Democratic Party, there only to support Democrats in elections. I’ve discussed this phenomena in the past. It is wrong and will lead to the utter irrelevance of the Netroots in particular.

It’s funny because if Welshman understood the quote from Nancy Pelosi that he defends, he would not have written the diary. Pelosi said:

“They are advocates,” she said. “We are leaders.”

Advocates do not excuse the failure of leadership on the issues they care about. Advocates ADVOCATE for the issues they care about They do not worry about being “fair.”

In essence, the Welshman chose to be an advocate for PELOSI, not for progressive issues. This is a variation of the Cult of Personality that infects the Presidential primary season. The Welshman demonstrates the flip side of the coin of Hillary Hate. It is an Apologia for a Politician. It demonstrates another aspect of what ails the Netroots.


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  1. … that diary.

    I do think impeachment is an issue and Pelosi demoralized a whole lot of activists when she took it “off the table.”  It was a stupid thing to do and it foreshadowed the rest of her actions in capitulating to politics as usual when it came to the War in Iraq, FISA, etc.

    I can’t understand anyone writing such a thing and it being promoted to the front page.

    Agree completely this is “another aspect of what ails the Netroots.”

    • Armando on November 6, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    that the diary was promoted AND ENDORSED on the FP of daily kos by its CEs.

    See, for example, this comment:

    Perhaps because it’s one of my own preoccupations, this points me back again to the difference between movement and electoral politics.  That’s a difference that’s often not seen (or at least not remarked upon) by people at this site; why I don’t fully know, though I have some guesses.

    It’s a distinction DHinMI made the other night:

    The second thing to keep in mind is that unions don’t exist and thrive so they can do politics, they do politics so they can exist and hopefully thrive.

    And one I see here in this diary:

    She did not dismiss, insultingly or otherwise “anti-war progressives and moderates”. Those who read the article will find no such emotive colouring of her comment. She made a simple statement of fact – a simple reminder of the reality of political life. We are indeed advocates, we do not have to compromise in the way that our leaders do, because they have the responsibility of treading through the entanglement of the political web. If there is a need to gently remind us of this fact, then we should not react like it is two years before we have come to understand the difficulties of exercising political power in our countries by condemning out of hand those to whom we entrust this task.

    Sometimes we have to batter at the walls of these distinctions, but assailing people for acting as they should given their roles in this, whether as leaders or as advocates, is counterproductive.

    by MissLaura on Mon Nov 05, 2007 at 06:27:48 PM PST

    (Emphasis supplied.) With die respect to Miss Laura, this makes no sense whatsoever. Whatever respect she is giving to Pelosi’s role, she has completely disrespected the role of the advocate.

    The end of her post is sheer nonsense:

    >Sometimes we have to batter at the walls of these distinctions, but assailing people for acting as they should given their roles in this, whether as leaders or as advocates, is counterproductive

    Sometimes we have to batter the walls of these distinctions but when we do it is counterproductive?

    Her reference to DH’s comment seems to me exactly backwards. The proper insight I thik is to say that unions do politics to achieve their ends – not to be Democrats. Not to defend Nancy Pelosi.

    I think DH’s comment argues against her point, such as it is, not for it.

    Think of it this way. Think of us as a union whose only objective is to end the Iraq War. This is just an example.

    Should we be defending Pelosi’s performance if our goal is to end the Iraq war? OR we it be more productive for us to criticize her and pressure her?

    Frankly, I thought this was one of the Welshman’s POOREST efforts. There is no thinking involved in it. That CEs at daily kos heartily endorsed it demonstrates how bad the identity crisis is there

    • Turkana on November 6, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    she is doing the best that she can. but that’s the problem.

    • nocatz on November 6, 2007 at 6:20 pm

    But Schumer, who suggested Mukasey to the White House in the first place, countered that the nominee’s statements against waterboarding and for purging politics from the Justice Department amount to the best deal Democrats could get from the Bush administration.

    and these two quotes contrasted are just sad….there already is a law……..

    …The 11-8 vote came only after two key Democrats accepted his assurance to enforce any law Congress might enact against waterboarding.


    Legal experts cautioned that if Mukasey called it torture, that effectively could have constituted an admission that the United States engaged in war crimes. It could also commit him to prosecuting U.S. officials even before he takes office.


  2. politicians who are doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done…otherwise you undermine their ability to keep doing the exact opposite of what needs to be done.

    And of course the conflict of interest of a certain CE there remains glaring…as does the fawning over him. Inexplicable. Saying that Congress was only elected to ‘prevent more damage’ was very telling of the beltway mindset. And of course they haven’t even done that.

    On the plus side, I got a very good nights sleep after a satisfying ‘exchange of views,’ lol.

    NPK and I talked about the Center vs. Left divide last night in her dairy…I am writing something now on one of the other divides, perhaps the most critical one, in the netroots now.

  3. “to talk about our internal affairs the way Americans do.”

    Or so I was lead to believe by this front page post last year…

    Finally, this is a site about American politics and will remain so. Apologies to our non-American friends, but foreigners don’t have the standing to talk about our internal affairs the way Americans do. Thanks for any moral support and constructive criticism you might send our way, but ultimately, we have to take care of our own house.

    I’m confused, but I’m pretty certain that Wales is not in the United States.

    • TheRef on November 6, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    manipulate the process. The electors of this country, unfortunately, seldom study the issues, almost never have a thought-out position on any issue of the day. Consequently, the electorate makes their decisions based on bumper stickers, opinion setters instructions for whom to vote. The majority of the public is lazy, politically care free and just not interested in solving the nations problems. The Pols understand this reality of human nature (circa, 2008). Obviously, this infuriates those of us having an abiding interest in issues, in getting the right things done, etc.

    Politicians, Democratic, Independents and Republicans alike understand the malaise of the general public. The politicians are little concerned about the desires of splinter groups (e.g., the left …the net-roots …or other loosely affiliated interest groups ). Only when a sizable number of “splinter” groups are able to come together and coalesce around an issue, an individual candidate do candidates in general pay attention.

    As an example, I believe that many constituent groups are concerned about the war in Iraq. Unfortunately, there are many views on how to get America out of the debacle.

    The more liberal net-roots community has one approach, one view [stop the funding, pull out now, tar and feather Bush and Cheney, etc.].

    The more conservative  center-left has another view of ending the war [throw up legislative road blocks, resolutions; whine about the far-right and all of their wrong-headed and extreme policies; feed Bush more rope and hope that he hangs himself; thumb their noses and by inference defame the far left, mildly scold Bush and his ilk; while running rapaciously through the net-root ranks hoping to sway and expecting the far left to vote with the center-left at the next election]. Is there any doubt that the center-left is correct on their analysis?

    The center-left understands how the game is played much better than does the so called net-roots society. Come November, 2008, the net-roots will shape up and vote for the Party candidate or the chances are more than fifty-fifty that the Republicans will ride again. Sad but true. So what will it be …purity or compromise? 

  4. always fried my ass but he does write well. The comments were once again the usual suspects, toadying about both the pols and the FP’ers. The crux of the net roots problems seem encapsulated in this diary, at least big oranges, slice of the net. For me one of the big problems is allowing these political hack types to minimalize the problems, and to call anyone who doesn’t advocate rule by shady polls, cowards, and the continued empowering of criminals, radicals.

    Why should the general public who are not die hard partisans, or wonks, have any faith in the Democrats to be anything more then more of the same, politically alone it’s suicidal. The cult of personality is just a symptom of whats going on it’s the blind cult of party loyalty, along with denial. 

  5. of Welshperson’s aromatic bouquet of flowers to the FP is the greatest blow struck for freedom and democracy since his grandfather went down with the Maine in Havana harbor singing “My Old Kentucky Home”.

    I’m fucking IMPRESSED! 

    Nancy is the best TREE STUMP we’ve got, so crank up the homage, people!

    I think it’s time to institutionalize several prominent idiots at Orange ‘R Us, beginning with Mr. Hijack Impeachment Diary Threads, DHinMI. 

  6. I just wrote this as a comment on Dan Froomkin’s column today, but I think it’s also applicable as a response here:

    The USA isn’t recognizable as a republic. Describe its current government without using the name of the country and poll people here and around the world to name which country is being referenced. Likely candidates: Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, Syria, Iran. We are second to last in the quality of healthcare in the western world. Scientists and researchers are fleeing us for countries which don’t deride, suppress and oppress science. We are almost the leader of the third world, but I don’t even think we rate a first there, either. And still, impeachment is off the table.

    The only cure for this terminal cancer?

    Eliminate each and every elected and appointed official who is not supporting and defending the Constitution – what’s left of it, that is. This is sure not pre 9/11 – but how we desperately need to return to the ethos of pre 9/11 and stop this run off the cliff of fascism.

  7. Armando,

    If you read this, I have a theory over what was going on over there politically on the Big Orange last night.

    I believe DH promoted W’s diary as a bit of a protest vote over the direction kos himself has been taking in his own FP posts lately.

    Markos has been very critical of the Dem Leadership these past few weeks. Much more so in the past. Also, I think kos has been trending towards your opinion on many issues out there today.

    I think DH is wondering what has gotten into him (Markos) and promoted that diary as a way to test the editorial waters of Teh Big Orange going forward.

    That’s my theory anyways.

    As an aside, I made two posts in that diary. One to show the recent polling on the impeachment questions, which is surprisingly strong (near 50% in favor in a national poll). The second was to remind readers we have had little to no actual progress on the issues of the day in the past year, including stopping the war in Iraq.

    That said, I do believe my theory on why that post was promoted yesterday, and it’ll be interesting to see the editorial direction of the mothership going forward.


  8. … infects all political races. I hate the whole “we need a hero” mentality in politics. I’m not looking for a politician who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. I’m looking for a politician who will represent my concerns and do so in a way that is smart and effective.

    Pelosi’s “We are leaders” comment was offensive to so many because it smacks of the same arrogance of Bush’s “I’m the decider”. The subtext of the comment is that she knows better than us and we should just STFU and let her get the work done.

    I don’t expect my party’s leaders to always do what I want. But I’d like it if they wouldn’t be so dismissive of the anger that their supporters feel.

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