The Right Blogosphere and the Netroots

The right blogosphere and the “netroots” supporters of Ned Lamont are in similar positions today. Both believe passionately in particular approaches to the defining issue of the day (the War on Terror) and agree on a broad array of more or less unrelated issues. In their passion, both see themselves as the true heirs of the best in their parties. Both are learning fast: the right (among others) successfully championed the “Porkbusters” transparency legislation; the left unseated a sitting senator from his own party’s nomination. And both itch to seize the levers of power from the professional leaders of their parties, whom they see as unprincipled and compromised.

There is an energetic discussion underway at the new Powerline Forum on the role of the mainstream media and the appropriate posture of conservatives toward the Republican Party. At the same time, there is an after-action review of related issues underway at MyDD. Matt Stoller says that the netroots’ work is far from done, and lays out a two-year tactical framework.

1) Don’t fight for a better parking spot: Hoyer or Murtha? I have my preference, but this fight isn’t a place that we can affect all that much. And it’s not a hugely important contest. …

2) Expand our netroots base: Let’s get more people involved. Let’s build bridges to different communities, and bring their influentials onto the internet to engage in dialogue. That will set us up to build more people-power and ultimately govern the country.

3) Break the blog box: Register voters. Measure and run GOTV. Break out of the blog box, explicitly, by tying our work on the blogs to work offline. This is the key to showing that we are the people who make campaigns and governance work.

4) Build web-based leverage points: Let’s make sure bills are put online at least 72 hours before a vote. Let’s see if we can get a copy of the bill is put on a wiki for annotation. It would be great if there were public webcams in the halls of Congress. … There’s a lot more here, obviously. We can write the House rules now. Let’s write them so that they work in favor of people-power.

5) Primary, primary, primary: Primaries make the party stronger and better. Let’s support candidates who want to run primaries, and force Congressional candidates to answer to the Democratic primary voting universe as often as possible. … Could any number of lazy progressives continue to do nothing in the face of a real challenge at home?

I have trimmed this excerpt somewhat for length and added emphasis. It’s worth reading in full, and scanning the comments, too, especially these from Karl and randompost.

Like a good general, Mr. Stoller sets out an audacious goal for the troops: “build more people-power and ultimately govern the country.” He is at pains to keep this discussion away from “laundry list” platforms:

The basic principle is that our power comes not from insiders but from expanding the number and quality of people involved and participating in our party’s debates, elections, fundraising, policy-making, and GOTV.

What can the right blogosphere learn from the netroots? I would submit that the netroots’ emphasis on insurrection (“not from insiders”) is a long-term weakness. Conservatives should engage the GOP, not infiltrate it. The source of our strength is be our ideas, not our tactics. Nevertheless, we should take to heart Mr. Stoller’s words on infighting, message discipline, and technology leverage.

UPDATE: Conservatives will be bemused to learn that, according to commenter msobel on the same MyDD thread, they are handicapped becuase they “are inherently… rigidly hierarchically organized as a matter of belief.”


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