Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bloggers and Parties

Henry Farrell has a very strong analysis of the "netroots" in the Boston Review; particularly the tension between liberal bloggers' attempts to be "non-ideological" and their constant citing of the Goldwater Republicans as a model, whose success was built on a ideological foundation.

It's actually quite ironic. Described as ideologues by their opponents, the one thing that high profile bloggers like Markos Moulitsas seem to agree on is that the drive to win should be non-ideological. Markos is quite well known for being quite impatient with policy and ideological discussions, and is laser-focused simply on having the Dems be more forthright in expressing their views, whatever those views might be. Farrell is right, though, when he points out that that can only go so far- there needs to be an underlying core of belief in order for any mass movement or political party to operate, and it must be more than a belief in "the people" or "the grassroots" or some other nostrum.

(After all, you can't please all of the people all of the time. You need to know where the big tent stands so you can figure out who doesn't belong in it, and you need to know that to know who does.)

Look: the Foley thing is a gift, no doubt. It'll probably give the House to the Dems. What it doesn't do is give the Democratic party its raison d'etre- that bedrock of belief that sustains the organization. A lot of that is because the Republicans have successfully pushed the discourse to the right, and the traditional Democratic bedrock beliefs go against that discourse. Moving the party clearly doesn't work; at this point, the mountain needs to come to Mohammed. Foley's follies have given the Dems the opportunity- now that they're within striking distance of finally having an official voice again, they need to use it for something.

As the Canadians can attest, a liberal party that doesn't govern as a liberal party just isn't going to be able to keep things going, no matter how weak the opposition.

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