McClatchy's David Lightman has an interesting post about Netroots Nation and the current state of the liberal blogosphere. He begins by pointing to the contribution of the Netroots to the electoral success of 2008, but then turns to the frustration many are feeling, as the Democrats fail to enact a more liberal agenda. There is supposed to be a question as to the Netroots' approach going forward.
"We get better results when we advocate for what we believe in. I don't think everyone in Washington gets that," said Arshad Hasan, the executive director of Vermont-based Democracy for America, founded by former Gov. Howard Dean, the Democrat whose unsuccessful 2004 White House bid often is seen as the first major Internet-driven presidential campaign.
And then Lightman falls into the false framing that it's a question of idealism or pragmatism, that super-majorities are necessary, for enacting a party's agenda. This thinking always begs the question of how Bush and Reagan succeeded in enacting the bulk of their agendas with nothing close to super-majorities. It also glosses over the question of how a party sells its agenda to the public, and how an administration sells its agenda to Congress. Any student of history knows that some leaders have been more successful than others-- and not because they had more partisan or idealistic legislatures. Pragmatism is in the eye of the beholder.
Lightman finds the usual compromised quotes from supposed centrists, and DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen rightfully pays homage to the party's diversity. But Darcy Burner gets more to the point, when she points to Democrats' excessive ties to corporate America at the expense of the public good. And Rep. Raul Grijalva accurately identifies the strategic mistake that was made in trying to woo supposed moderate Republicans, when it always was clear that Republicans only were interested in scuttling the Democrats' agendaand destroying the Obama presidency. He also pointedly criticizes those who worry about the deficit during an economic crisis that always demanded larger stimulus.
"That's fool's gold," said Grijalva, referring to money saved by not passing those bills. "By not investing in job creation and state support, the economy's going to get worse."
While the Democratic moderates and liberals clashed — and Republicans stood solid in opposition — some 2.5 million jobless workers have lost extended unemployment benefits.
Lightman closes by quoting Netroots Nation Executive Director Raven Brooks:
What people in the netroots want is bold action to solve the problems
The Netroots should be about pushing the Democratic Party to the left. It should be about agitating for real change. When incrementalism occasionally is necessary, there should be no backing off, as if an incremental step is acceptable. The next step is at least as important as the previous one. And we never should accept incrementalism when there is no time for it. But more than anything, it is the job of the Netroots to push for bold action. The internet provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to speak truth to power, to challenge both the traditional media and entrenched political and economic structures, and to make of the American experiment a truly democratic ideal. If we in the Netroots accept less than the ideal, there will be no one left on the left to define the ideal.