So a few people asked me to maybe post something about liberals and money. I read SusanG's post, and despite all the very thoughtful philosophizing it so nobly engendered, I read it as merely being a pretty straightforward response to something that I've seen here and there, lately... this nagging notion that if a liberal blogger meets with much actual success, then, well, they were not really liberal. They were sellouts. That if someone makes a living in the progressive cause, they're then the enemy. John Aravosis has gotten a bit of this... Markos and Jerome... Atrios... even our treasured Armando got the rough backhanded reverse of it. (YearlyKos, too, questioned as a movement, here and there around the edges... are we sufficiently pure, after all, if the politicians we asked to listen to us actually do?)
We like our leaders pure, but more than that, is a leader a worthy leader if they are successful at it? As in, if they can make a living at it?
So with the utmost of respect, I'd like to give my enlightened two cents on the matter of purity, of money, and of the general way that progressives, in general, treat their own movement.
Oh crap. What's that? It looks like a fuse...
Hey, folks, you know what? Thanks a lot. No seriously, thank you for blowing purity smoke out your assholes to such an extent that the entire progressive movement looks like a scene shot on the Scottish moors. Thank you for the flowering nobility that says any member of the movement that meets with success might be -- might just be -- a sellout, because really, who would actually pay for any of the crap that we publicly call a "movement to be reckoned with" but we privately think of as just puttin' on a show in the ol' barn fer all our friends and family pets?
You know, it's nice that people like Gina dedicated a year and a half of their lives to coming up with a nice big party for us all. And fuck it all if that wasn't just the nicest thing to do, and goddamn her if she thinks that maybe she doesn't want to blow the rest of her life, her family time, her career, and any thoughts of retirement doing it again, and again, and again, for absolutely free, so that she can do a really nice thing for a movement that is very, very impressive in their purity of Not Selling Out to the Man! What, was there thought of paying people to work in the movement? What are we, a bunch of political opportunists? Needing cash, what the hell part of politics is that, and how did we get to such a foul point?! Do Republicans do that shit?
I mean, what the hell? Isn't the true progressive movement all about bleeding people dry and then thanking them profusely for it? Isn't it all about bleeding people until the point when they simply can't do anymore, can't write anymore, and suffer from (tsk tsk) "burnout" -- thus proving all along they weren't really dedicated to the cause, not like the tremendously pure among us who do jack-shit for years on end, but do it with purity and style and the perfect aplomb achievable only by the perennially sulky and ignored?
Because let's face it, the purity of the whole progressive movement itself depends on no bloggers or authors or humorists or activists actually making a living at it unless they can somehow "sneak it in" under our upturned noses with things like --gasp!-- advertisements! Or pledge drives! Or book deals! Or, gasp upon satanic gasps and horror among ultimate horrors, advertising their own demonic books, on their own foully commercialized, Dantean sites! The vapors, you say! The sulfurous fumes! The sad creak of two pennies, rubbed together!
But you know what? I'm such a fucking progressive that I don't need to eat, and neither do any of the rest of us! My mortgage gets paid in flowers, and my child eats good feelings for dinner! I confess, though, sometimes I'm a traitorous bastard, and work at an "actual job", meaning a career where the people who read what I have to say will pay me in cash instead of Karmic Good Waves of Destiny, and it's true that during those times my child seems to gain weight and grow and stuff, but what the hell... if you can't eat purity, maybe you're not evolved enough to live, right?
Yesser. And this new push to do "original reporting" by the blogs -- frikkin' awesome, the amount of work people are putting into it. Just don't ask us to pay for it. A new comment system that blows everything else away? Pretty cool, especially since the free high-powered servers that run it are made of chocolate and hosted in the Land of Magical Unicorns. This movement stuff is great, but it can only be great if it is a popular and economic failure, because then we'll know Just How Pure We Are! That we're better than everyone else! Surely our movement can survive the minor detail of not actually being available as a career choice for anyone but the independently wealthy or people who eat corn flakes for dinner?
So don't sell out by becoming more popular then others, or being on the hated TV. God forbid a politician pays attention to you, you slutty whore, simply because we've all been demanding that attention be paid. Don't develop a cult of personality, in which more people listen to you than listen to the insane half-illiterate bullshit ravings of barely sober protopundits that we should be promoting equally here and elsewhere, in order to float every German Shepherd turd of aromatic wisdom in the same pure and level pond.
And above all, please, don't achieve any sort of success that would entail people outside of our core movement actually being able to hear what we all have to say -- on the radio, on television, or in print. Don't be so stuck-up of a billygoat snot as to think you're better than the rest of us, or have ideas, or should express them. Don't get out there into the mainstream with real-world results for all the ideas and framings that we bicker among ourselves endlessly about -- we're not about having a successful movement, didn't you know? We're about having an online debating club! It's like Quake Three, except instead of big guns and stuff we shoot ponies at each other and try to trap each other with our heavily armored cleverness! Until the next day, that is, when we reset the box and can start right over again!
So thanks, it's nice to be loved, and bite us all, each and every one. When being part of the progressive movement doesn't mean living in a hole in the ground with your own sense of enlightened self-worth, give me a damn call. Until then, you'll excuse me, but I have a family to take care of. I'm currently writing a book called I Hate You All You Goddamned Purity Snots, and I'm hoping that some Republican group picks up a few hundred thousand units in bulk sales, so I can put a gold-plated pagoda with a soda fountain in back of my progressive mansion, a.k.a. behind the termite-riddled workshop. And me and all the rest of the most wildly successful voices of the online progressive movement will then pool our vast sellout resources and buy a '74 Impala with a light-up antenna ball that looks like Karl Rove's most prized hemorrhoid, and we'll cruise the boulevards showing you all the pavement-cruisin' high life that we bloggers can aspire to when we finally "sell out".
Do some progressives have a problem with money? You bet we do. We have the central problem of not treating our own movement seriously, not valuing our own leaders, be they large or small, and not striving for the kind of self-sufficiency that is required in order to take netroots influence onto a wider stage. For the well-funded movements of the right, in which books, blogs, and even entire magazines and newspapers are run at substantial losses in order to get the conservative message out, that's all fine and good. But we don't play that way. And as a result, we've got to pay our own way. So we will.
Thank you for listening.