So the navel-gazing stupidity du jour in the blogosphere is whether the recent Democratic victory is due to the "netroots" or the "party insiders". The web side says the netroots did it, the more conventional punditocracy says the insiders desrve the praise, while the dead armadillos in the middle of the road say "No, no, you *both* helped!"
Oh, please, give me a fucking break.
The carping and backstabbing done by both sides probably caused us to lose the Tennessee Senate seat and a big chunk of the really close house seats. The conflict between netroots and establishment allowed Joe Lieberman to return to the Senate by keeping the party from uniting to smite that lying little rat bastard. Yes, Atrios, YOU helped re-elect Joe Lieberman by making his defeat a referendum on your personal enemies in the world of Democratic operators. Of which you are one, no matter how much you pull your Butterfly McQueen "I don't know nuthin' 'bout bein' no popular blogger" crap. You are not grassroots - you are part of a competing power center among the left political elites.
The "netroots" is more to fault for our heart-breaking losses because their attacks were more personal and deliberately aimed to inflame, as well as coming from people who have little more than a blog or column to risk. They attacked candidates directly and told people not to vote for candidates who weren't annointed by their blogs. Politics is not just money - it is relationships and deals. It is projecting an image of power, and being able to deliver a smack-down. The personal rancor of the demagogic left is no less than that of the right and it serves to undermine our leadership. It doesn't change minds in the middle. Most who end up joining the blogosphere are already inflamed. It doesn't encourage the left to vote or turn out. It encourages the fringe to stay home and refuse to vote for "tainted" candidates, too caught up in displaced moral outrage to engage in cold-blooded politics.
The victory on Tuesday was delivered by people who don't even know who Rahm Emmanual is, let alone Markos. It was delivered by the call center worker pictured with Claire McCaskill. It was delivered by people who said "Enough is enough, y'know?" It was delivered by people who don't own computers and who listen to Fox News. It was delivered by people who love Bill Clinton to pieces because he really, honestly gave a damn about them and appeals to their better angels. It was delivered by single working mothers who never went to college and will never read or listen to a word written by Bradford J. DeLong, Ph.D. (or even by Paul Krugman), and are scared for their children.
It was NOT delivered by people who post comments on blogs (or, worse, have their own) because we are already counted and committed. The only thing we can do is act as know-it-all, holier-than-thou spoilers. The Democrats who voted for Lieberman or refused to vote for Duckworth are equally reprehensible. They probably read blogs and know the difference between the DNC, the DLC, the DCCC and the DSCC. They were using candidates as proxies for their own ideological infighting.
Anyone who is actively engaged in political debate at the level delivered on, say, TPM Cafe, is not an average voter. Regular posters and columnists are simply part of the elite punditocracy, no matter how often they say "fuck." What the last year's blogospheric ins and outs have done to me is make me less likely to read blogs, less likely to try to stay up with the breathless "Who is selling out the left *this* week!" screeds, less likely to give a flying fuck who is backing which candidate. What has become very clear to me is that people like Arianna Huffington and Markos and Jane Hamsher are trying to develop cults of personality and derive political power from it. Not by winning office, but by managing candidates and campaigns. These are the back-room power brokers of the next round. Or so they like to think.
What they don't see, because they are too caught up in their own egos, is that, to a schmoe like me, they look, sound and act like Rahm the Prick. My way or the highway. They honestly do not perceive that the choice they offer is not between netroots and insiders, but between the current faction of insiders and those who want to take their place. *That is how you appear.* When Jane Hamsher decides that my senator, Barbara Boxer, is not worthy to represent California because she is *gasp* friends with Joe Lieberman, that's when I tell the bitch to take a hike and go back to stalking Quentin Tarantino.
Howard Dean is a distinct outsider to both groups, in an odd way. He uses both as necessary, with less success dealing with the entrenched power elite who (rightly) see him as a threat to their dominance than with the up-and-comers, who look upon the good Doctor as a stepping stone for their own ambitions. Mind you, Chair Dean is establishing his own considerable power base that is not contiguous with either of the others. I rather like Dr. Dean's way of doing things, as it is inherently more democratic, which is better for the Democrats.
We are up against fascists. Yeah, Rahm's preening pisses me off. He's a prick. So what? That doesn't make him a Republican. It does give us more control of the government. Spend less time trying to "bring down the DLC" and more time leaving your keyboards behind and volunteering at the local party headquarters. You know, supporting Howard Dean? To the degree that the Democratic political elites are more interested in fighting each other than beating the Republicans, I say pox on all your houses.