Can blogs change the world? No.
As Armando has said, articulating the despair many of us feel, even having one of the biggest bullhorns on the internet made not one whit of difference in the Roberts confirmation.
Can people who visit blogs change the world? Hell, yes.
Blogs, in my view, are simply a tool, a place to meet, strategize and refine our message. They are a meeting hall, if you will. And a meeting hall doesn't change the world. People do. And if one person can (as is the case with Gandhi, MLK Jr, etc.), think of what 60,000 dedicated people can do.
With that in mind, and with the acceptance of the fact that changing the politics of this country will be a long-haul proposition, I'm going to throw out some strategies to consider, some of them off-the-wall and dumbass (perhaps all of them, who knows?). I'm not wed to any of them; I'm simply bringing them up for discussion purposes, with the hope of moving forward. Feel free to criticize, reject, repackage, etc.
1. If we believe we can afford to lose an election cycle or two (which we seem very good at doing even when we're trying
to win), contest weak-kneed Democrats in the primaries who are betraying our beliefs, even if they are popular incumbents (i.e., Lieberman). This strategy would mean we'd probably lose some general elections for a cycle or two, but in the long run a message would be sent to the Democratic leadership - we want strong candidates who articulate our beliefs, and it's up to the party to move in our
direction ... or lose us.
2. Take over the local Democratic Central Committees. Not all of us are gifted with the special extroverted qualities that make a good candidate (if we are, we should be running, damn it), but most of us here are dedicated, creative, passionate and smart. If each one of us here could get placed on local Central Committees, we could exert an internal pressure to move the party away from its timid capitulation history.
3. Connect the personal with the political. One of the main reasons people don't bother to vote is that they just don't "get" that policy impacts their personal lives. After Katrina, they may get it. Attending New Orleans Levee Board meetings, boring as it may have seemed a year ago, could have made a difference in forcing the local authorities to come up with a solution, either through pressuring the feds for funding or floating bonds of their own to solve the problem.
4. In keeping with number three, learn to tell personal political stories. Those of us who can write should be digging up personal stories of people whose lives are directly affected by policy and publishing them here, there and everywhere.
5. Get back to populism, stripping it of its xenophobic and racist tendencies. There is no logical reason on earth that populism has to go hand in hand with racism. A fair shake for the working man and woman, communal pooling of resources for the good of all, attacking policies that promote the interests of plutocrats and corporations over the average citizens ... these are all basic populist stances that we need to re-take and shout proudly.
6. As a gilas girl pointed out, social movements drive politics, not vice versa. Concentrate on shaping the culture outside of the political arena. Use the arts. Use film. Use documentaries. Use music. Use downtown murals. Use novels and short stories. Anyone with any creative gifts should be using them to articulate our vision of what America could and should be. And for fuck's sake, somebody infiltrate country music with some populist messages and begin to "soften" the resistance to change in the rural areas by emphasizing the community aspects of our liberal vision - that we work hard, play hard and take care of our own.
Those are my initial thoughts. Feel free to add any of your own, or point out problems with the ones I've listed. Perhaps over the next few months, we could have diaries getting more and more specific about how to carry out action on ideas we come up with here.
Something's gotta give, people. And we've got to figure out how to take our party back - and then the country. In that order.
[Title edited to remove all reference to He Who Shall Not Be Named, and to get focus back on what we need to do to move forward from a despairing position.]