Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Village, Stimulated

The Netroots are getting their footing back a bit, thank heavens, shifting gears from what seemed to me painful weeks of unproductive paranoid mining of Obama's utterances and appointments for signs of betrayal of progressive principle and evidence of naivete foretelling failures to come and so on, and now they are returning their focus to their strengths, exposing and deriding the foolishness and deceptiveness of the corporate broadcast media they also happen to be supplanting before our very eyes.

Many of the best left blogs have been criticizing the stunning gap between the assessments of the punditocracy that Obama is embattled and error-prone and struggling an uphill slope to implement his agenda, while in reality he seems to keep getting pretty much exactly what he is asking for while his actual approval numbers remain steady or even rise. The Republicans keep losing elections, their "ideas" (trickle-down economics, climate-change denialism, exploitation and scapegoating of labor and immigrants, aggressive pre-emptive unilateral militarism, politicized evangelical Christianity, anti-choice and homophobic cultural politics) are discredited and unpopular, their vaunted "unity" appears to amount to an eager self-marginalization into a Confederate Rump Party, and yet they still surreally dominate the airwaves and editorial pages of Establishment and Beltway media outlets, every word another nail in the coffin they are fashioning for themselves.

Many of my long favorite blogs are becoming readable again, now that the Netroots are shifting from opposition to the bloodcurdling evil and incompetence of the Killer Clown Administration to the facilitation and pressing of a popular brilliant center-left Obama supported by Congressional majorities that can be made stronger and more effective with the right support, however critical, but can also be undermined to the benefit of nobody if they are opposed uncritically.

Here is Jane Hamsher offering up an especially pithy variation of a theme I am pleased to see popping up all over the Netroots these days,
There appears to be a pretty big gap between what DC journalists think Americans think, and what Americans actually think. No better example of this can be found than the "winners" and "losers" that DC media are proclaiming in the wake of the passage of the stimulus bill…

MSNBC's First Read lists among its winners "the Republican Party (which demonstrated unity after its big losses in November), and No.2 House Republican Eric Cantor (who raised his profile during the debate)." Reid gets a win, Pelosi gets a loss.

Chris Cillizza also declares Eric Cantor a victor for maintaining party discipline… and House Democrats are deemed losers, because "it appeared as though this was a Senate-run production."

DC lives in an economic bubble and remains largely insulated from the troubles hitting the rest of the country. No matter who is in power, no matter who is on the receiving end of taxpayer largesse, the money finds its way there. Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in VA and Howard County MD (where lobbyists and contractor beneficiaries of the defense/homeland security boon of the past 8 years live) are the top three wealthiest counties in the country, and seven more DC suburbs chart in the top 20.

The people who live in DC, who pretend to speak for the rest of the country, have no direct experience with what is happening there -- and their attempts to handicap DC politics have more to do with the inside baseball games that seek to protect their own interests above all else. The fact that three and a half million Americans will have jobs as a result of the passage of this bill, or that people who are unemployed or living on food stamps will continue to be able to eat, doesn't seem to graze their analyses.

The American public looked at DC, they saw the Democrats trying to do something, and they liked what they saw. People who are deeply worried about staying employed and taking care of their families do not seem to have the universal high regard for House Republicans who stood together to oppose helping them out that the DC establishment do.

Now, this is an Age of Obama Netroots that can get some work done. More like this, please.


Robin said...

I agree completely - we need WAY more like this.

I also would like a way to get this sort of thing on the old-fashioned news outlets, though. People like my mother will continue watching Fox News and the Today show and believing what they say because this sort of literate and supported commentary is still missing from mainstream news. I can only beat her over the head with her computer so many times to no avail, and I feel like an enormous number of otherwise well-intentioned people just have no idea what is going on in the world. (Not that I'm convinced my mother is well-intentioned; she just came to mind first.)

I don't know where this is going, other than to say this is the perfect first step, and the right place for US, but I still wish this was also the sort of thing my mother (and those like her) could hear without assuming it's a whackjob with a soapbox on a streetcorner.

Apparently I have a serious grudge against television news. And the people who still trust it.

Dale Carrico said...

Can your mother be persuaded to watch Rachel Maddow on the teevee? She's the tip of the spear that would reasonablize broadcast media for them as get heeby-jeebied by the intrawebs, seems to me.

Robin said...

Will definitely have to probe this. Good suggestion.