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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Centrism, Triangulation and The Netroots

With this week's Netroots Nation starting today, there will be two viewpoints represented: that of the centrist (aka EEEEEEVIL) DLC (represented by DLC leader Harold Ford), and that of the virtuous, pure, liberal/progressive netroots (represented by Markos Moulitsas of the Daily Kos).

Or so they would have you believe.

When the "progressive" blogosphere burst on the scene several years ago, I could not have been more thrilled. I was so tired of the corporate media covering up for the Deciderer and his criminal and anti-American activities. Here, at last, with the help of Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos, Huffington Post and Eschaton, I could find like-minded individuals who wanted to know what was REALLY going on and who had the resources to find out. I also could take action by joining and Democracy for America. It was a heady, wonderful time for me, and I thought we were all on the same page.

Then, things began to change.

IOKIYAR, the ironic bloggy appellation for "It's OK If You're A Republican," suddenly morphed into IOKIYO - "It's OK If You're Obama." No matter how many rightwing frames and positions Obama took, no matter how he insulted women, gays or African Americans, no matter how much he lied about Bill Clinton's record and smeared him and Hillary as racists - It Was OK. He was Obama, and besides which, he was not a Clinton, and....because that's why! Nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh nyeh!

The incredible irony of it all was that Markos pretended he didn't like the Clintons because of their "triangulation." Yet Obama, that progressive Jeebus of the blogosphere, has been triangulating much more than Hillary and Bill ever did - and in ways that are destined to reach out to Republicans and Independents, not Democrats.

Take, for example, Hillary's AUMF vote. This was THE excuse for Hillary Hatred in the "progressive" blogosphere. Now, I can't tell you how much I disagreed with that vote, but I believe that Hillary was doing her job at the time. Why? Because it was what her constituents wanted. It's hard to imagine now, but back when Bush pushed that awful legislation on the Congress, support for an invasion of Iraq was very high. We liberal/progressive/dirty fucking hippies were in the minority. So, despite her misgivings, which she stated very eloquently on the floor, Hillary voted for the resolution. Had Bush abided by it, we would not be in Iraq now.

As badly as that vote turned out, it was aimed at the center. Not, however, the center of the rightwing conservatives in the Republican Party, at which Barack Obama seems to be aiming, with his massive outreach to evangelical Christian voters, abandonment of his promises on telecom immunity, and ever-fuzzier language on abortion, gun rights and Iraq. No, that vote was aiming at the center of the Democratic Party - which, I believe, is the center of the American political psyche.

Hillary Clinton's phenomenally successful Presidential run showed me that the center of the Democratic Party is where the country feels most at home. 18 million voters came out to say "Yes!" to Hillary's populist, New Deal-style platform. Hillary won more votes than any candidate, male or female, had ever won in a primary contest.

Senator Clinton's voters completely ignored all the machinations of the media and the DNC/Obama conglomerate. They were told their votes wouldn't count in Michigan and Florida, but millions voted anyway. They didn't listen to the grandiose pronouncements of Hillary's early demise after Obama's long run of victories in February. They didn't care that Obama was being declared the winner before all the votes had been counted. Time after time, Hillary showed her incredible strength with the poor and the working class, chalking up 40-point wins over Obama in West Virginia and Kentucky despite their lateness in the primary calendar. The enthusiasm of the Clinton voters could not be denied.

Yet Hillary was not good enough for the netroots. Her voting record was 91% progressive, her platform was more leftist than Obama's, and she had the experience and competence to clean up the giant pile of poop the Chimp has left on our country's carpet.

The netroots didn't care.

They called her every name in the book. They expected her to quit in February, although no candidate in such a close race for the nomination had ever done so. They said she was divisive and ruining the Democratic Party. They made up ridiculous stories about how she was darkening Obama's skin in a video and spreading a picture of Obama in "Muslim garb." They sneered at her physique, her clothes, her shoes. Obama called her supporters in Pennsylvania and Ohio racist, bitter xenophobes, and the netroots were more than happy to perpetuate with those stereotypes. They said she was crazy, a stalker, a character in a Monty Python movie. Are we to believe that a pure desire to purge the Party of "triangulation" and "centrism" are really the source of this unreasoning bile?

I certainly do not believe it, and neither should anyone who has been paying attention.

So where is the battle for the true soul of the Party being fought?

It's not at Netroots Nation, where the struggle is one of power rather than of principle. Markos is fighting for a seat at Obama's table, and he means to have it by hook or by crook.

No, the ones battling for the soul of the Democratic Party are Hillary Clinton and her PUMA supporters.

We aren't at Netroots Nation, because neither the Markos coalition nor the DLC speaks for us. We are here, around the "Internets", doing our daily actions, contacting superdelegates and the DNC, and fighting to keep the FDR/Clinton wing of the party alive.

Because that, my friends, is the true center. And I hope that after the November election, whatever happens, PUMA will keep fighting for that center, and pushing for the populist, liberal agenda that the netroots and the DLC have abandoned by backing Barack Obama at all costs.

The good guys are going to need all the help they can get.
Cross-posted at The Confluence


Timmy B said...

Interesting read about her campaign in the latest Vanity Fair. Mark Penn does not come off looking too good.

madamab said...

Timmy B - I'm sure! He was a huge mistake for Hillary and her campaign. He should have let her be herself from the very beginning. Stoopid Democratic "consultants."

In terms of the "we'll win it all by Super Tuesday" strategy, I heard that Patti Solis Doyle was responsible for the money end, and is the reason HRC has whatever debt she still has left.

Makes her hire by the Obama campaign even stranger.