I really wanted to title this "Get over yourselves," and figured that probably wouldn't be the best way to start this. But no matter what I titled this, there are going to be folks who won't take this as it's meant to be taken (especially after the Gibbs comments): Tough Love.
I don't know if the a very loud segment of the netroots and the professional left (not to be confused with the base) reads too much of their own press but NEWSFLASH: the political world doesn't revolve around you and your every need. You very well may not be the ultimate activist you think you are. You also may not be representative of other progressives, let alone other base Democrats.
I can tell you right now that some of the Democratic campaigns in the best shape this year have had almost no relationship or outreach to the national netroots beyond being on a press release list. They don't go ask MoveOn for help getting people to events. They make a phone call to the local Democratic women's club.
I know that in 2008, some of the most effective organizations did their work with not one bit of coverage from the national netroots, and even some of the Obama campaign's best ads got next to no coverage from national.
Reality is that after the 2006 elections the national netroots have (on the issues) generally moved further and further away from being reflective of the overall Democratic base which was united in fierce opposition to Bush on Social Security privatization, Iraq, the economy, GOP corruption, etc. (Of note though is that how different parts of the base arrived to their positions on that issue and/or how they talked about them differed.)
You certainly saw this in the presidential primaries, where most Democratic base voters didn't think Hillary or Obama were too centrist or corporate tools, and didn't give Edwards a second thought.
And in many of the netroots' most successful endeavors or at least the ones the netroots would like to take more credit for than they should, it was the very organizations that come under fire in the netroots and the professional left... it was those organizations that did the heavy lifting in those races (e.g. Donna Edwards, Carol Shea-Porter, etc.)
And do I really have to bring up the demographics of the netroots compared to the overall Democratic base? Or that it does affect how someone thinks/feels/talks about issues and candidates? The average progressive netroots participant is more likely to have more in common demographically with Republicans than with Democrats (race, socioeconomic status, etc.)
[Side note: Many African Americans don't like how the Republicans never gave Obama a shot and just said no to everything. Some of them also feel the same about white liberals who never had Obama's back on anything.]
So, really. Get over yourselves. The world doesn't revolve around you. You can make an impact and can influence -- I'm certainly not suggesting otherwise. However, any rational, realistic analysis would give due credit to some forces that maybe you're not fond of, and there's a TON that happens outside the purview of the netroots. There's also no correlation between how much knowledge someone has about an issue and how much outrage one can gin up. And certainly, analysis of issues and choosing of strategy/tactics/messaging should be done without the self-referencing, self-serving and selective BS that has increasingly populated the national netroots to its own detriment.
I'm not one to say 'never' a heckuva lot, but the netroots as a whole will never progress beyond being media organs and oppo dumps which is where it's been the last few years if it doesn't stop the myopic, self-serving analysis of every little f***ing thing.
Speaking of messaging and activism, I wish more of the netroots and professional left would argue their positions with the courage of their convictions and not like a middle child trying to get attention from their parents. You have to be willing to make your case on the merits and come to the table with an implementable plan, and not make it about whether you get exactly what you want, when you want it. You have to make a reality based assessment of the situation and start from there.
The "me the people" crap isn't helpful. There are a lot of people who vote and don't like you or the tea partiers and don't think like any of you.
And you don't get anywhere without those people.
Don't just cling to magic activist-only buzzwords. Carbon pricing was my favorite after Obama's oval office address. Uh, memo to those folks, a lot of Americans aren't clear on how it would affect them or what the purpose of carbon pricing is. So you're making a big deal over the fact that he didn't use the words carbon pricing? You want to know why Obama tends to speak about goals? Because he's communicating to the public about where he wants to go and what he wants to do.
Sitting in front of a computer telling everybody else how to do this or that without getting involved online and offline (involved as in, learning how stuff works and working to bring more people on our side) isn't activism and isn't going to help progressives move forward.
Understand that you can only get what you want when you convince more people to agree with us. The biggest single obstacle to more progressive legislation isn't Obama, Pelosi, Reid, [insert pol's name], corporate money, or whatever -- it's that there are twice as many Americans who self-ID as conservative than those who self-ID as liberal. This won't change unless liberals are out there making sure that Americans know what liberals stand for and just as importantly, why liberals believe what they believe.
The professional left doesn't know how to make the big broad case. The professional left is awful at big, broad macro messaging and strategy. You have to make a broader case. Don't assume that it's self-evident or that folks out there won't think that your solution is a bunch of pie in the sky stuff. (Newsflash, very few people think that we can transition overnight to alternative energy and believe that whether they like it or not, more oil drilling in the near term is a necessity, not a choice, especially in getting off foreign oil and because of the jobs in oil-drilling states. They want less pollution but think cap and trade just means giving other countries an economic advantage since they'll get to pollute all they want while we pay for it. Similarly, )
Taking smaller steps or compromising doesn't mean selling out. After decades of anti-government messaging from the right, how are you going to get folks to be more pro-government if you can't champion small victories and say, let's do more of this!
Look at the anti-choice activists. They've made it harder and harder for women to get abortion to the point where in some places it's impossible to get one. So while Roe v. Wade hasn't been overturned, they've made it impossible to get an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest in some places. It took them decades to get to this point. They didn't say, oh but Roe v. Wade isn't overturned yet, Reagan is a sellout and I'm staying home! They realized that overturning Roe v. Wade was unrealistic and found another way to achieve their goal. (That's right. The goal is not overturning Roe v. Wade. The goal is making abortion nonexistent in the U.S.... just like the goal on energy reform or health care isn't cap and trade or the public option, it's getting us off oil addiction or covering more people for less.)
The netroots can complain all they want about individual politicians, consultants, orgs, corporations, the media, etc... but until they learn to be persistent and make their case to those beyond the echo chamber in addition to everything else, they will be yelling into the ether for another couple of decades.
If the netroots are unable to champion even small steps to the left, then, they won't get big steps to the left. You have to build on small accomplishments to get big ones. There are no shortcuts. (One of the biggest obstacles to very progressive governance is widespread cynicism about government intervention in anything, and if progressives can't praise when government works for the better, they'll never get much more than what they've gotten.)
If the netroots won't get the backs of those Democrats who voted to the left of their districts/states -- whether that's in pushing state/local media or with contributions/volunteering -- then, they won't get bigger steps to the left... if anything, all it tells Democrats who go out on a limb for the netroots and the professional left is, why bother doing that again? (If anything the netroots have gotten good at criticizing the very organizations and infrastructure that have aided progressive achievements big and small, locally and nationally -- without building anything that comes close to being comparable in reach or effectiveness.)
It's that bleeping simple.
And on these fronts, the netroots have largely been a massive collective fail after the 2006 general election and have moved further and further away from being representative of the beliefs of the overall Democratic base.
It's an unfortunate truth, and very little will change until the netroots start assessing its own efforts instead of just blaming the man for all their frustrations.
Take Elizabeth Warren for example. Looking at the message that has come through the media filter, it's not about the CFPA being a triumph of progressives protecting consumers or about Warren's qualifications. If it's made about what the CFPA head does, then, it's about telling people out there what progressives are for and what good they can do. Instead, her potential nomination has now become all about whether the Obama administration throws a bone to the appx. less than 5% of Democrats who know who the heck Warren is. It's a selfish, short-sighted message.
So that's the question. Does the netroots and/or the professional left (netroots have become a channel for the professional left) want to be a productive partner for progressive change? Or are they more interested in fighting for their own personal legitimacy and power? Isn't the answer that being a productive partner IS power and legitimacy?