Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I’m Not Interested in Figuring Out Whether I’m Leaning Left or Right—I Have a Hard Enough Time Remaining Vertical

The notion that netroot Democrats are a radical protest group may be politically useful spin, but it is analytically inaccurate. The center of gravity of the dissident bloggers is located in the middle, not the periphery—Kos, Atrios, Brad DeLong, Marshall and many others are liberals, not leftists. The occasional old guard types that do surface in the comment sections from time to time stand out as a bit quaint, blue-dog Marxists among the irritated pragmatists. Remarkably few commentators are dreaming about nationalizing the toilet paper factories. The funny thing is that many of the bloggers think of themselves as more leftist than they actually are, perhaps unconsciously buying into the right-wing way of conceptualizing things. For the right, after all, Eisenhower was a pinko.

You also read that the Democrats on the web have no positive program. This too is spin. Precisely because the developing consensus of the netroots is anything but radical, its values and policy preferences are bound to be less dramatic than the revolutionists on the right. If you don’t want to repeal the Bill of Rights and you aren’t proposing an invasion of yet another foreign country or attempting to establish a national church, you’re bound to have more trouble making headlines than your photogenic opponents with their amusing pathologies. Even universal health care, a traditional Democratic goal sometimes featured as radical, obviously is anything but groundbreaking. It’s catch-up—Indoor plumbing! What will they think of next! Taking the energy crisis and global warming seriously isn’t daring innovation either. It’s what we obviously ought to do.

Unfortunately, a manifesto composed almost entirely of sensible proposals aimed at managing real problems is not going to make very inspiring reading. Maybe I’ll take a whack at composing one. I’m told I’m good at dull.

No comments: