Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dean, the Dems, and the Liberal "netroots"

Just got done reading Howard Dean's address to the Canadian Liberal party. I wasn't expecting the guy to switch into French.

Very nice speech, too, focusing on that key thing that the Dems seem to be finally acknowledging (if grudgingly) and the Liberals are having trouble with: the importants of grassroots participation in government. Ideology aside, the Liberals have demonstrated consistently that they really need to work harder to build up grassroots support. (Hell, the unpopularity of the "nation" motion demonstrates THAT.)

Then again, I think the progressive blogospheres in the two countries demonstrate it, too. The American progressive/liberal movement online has developed an impressive sense of self- Kos, Atrios, et al have built up a "netroots" that not only helps to represent a point of view, but a consistent community. It's not about supporting individual candidates or even ideologies- it's about the party as a whole, and ensuring the health of the party.

Sadly, I haven't seen much of that north of the border. By and large, Canadian liberal bloggers have been apologists for various leadership candidates, both overtly and covertly. What positions they take, what beliefs they espouse, what they see as forgiveable or beyond the pale... all is dependent on who they're backing, and there seems to be little sense of community beyond that. You're either with Iggy, or with Rae, or with Dion, or with Kennedy. Even though that will end after Saturday, what bothers me is the possibility (if not likelihood) that all they'll do is just turn into apologists for the leader.

That's not what a progressive movement is supposed to be about. Conservatives, sure: until he self-destructed Bush was fawned over this way, and every self-described conservative in Canada with a weblog fawns over Stephen Harper.

Not progressives, though. Not when there's such a better, more vital model out there, one that gets things done and makes things work. (And raises a little money, too.)

Here's hoping that Saturday serves as an end to the factional BS, and the real northern netroots start growing.

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