Sunday, September 17, 2006

So I’m up late, & …. (Wherein I presume to try to pick a fight with the Powers that Be in the “Liberal Blogosphere”)

Now it might surprise some readers, 'tho it shouldn’t, to learn that I don’t spend a heck of a lot of time on the blogs that get a lot of attention in the blogosphere. I didn’t even know about the big pow-wow called by Hillary’s top advisor (and BTW, can you imagine having this guy as your chief political strategist? What the hell do think he gets per hour? I bet it is more than five hundred bucks!).

But I digress (or for those of you paying attention to the inside jokes, regress).

Anyways. Turns out, the Big Dog had Hillary’s top blogger call sort of a summit meeting of what apparently is the – and this is an important phrase and meme gang – "liberal blogosphere".

Daily Kos diarist kid oakland’s post is mostly concerned with the lack of color in the photograph of the bloggers with President Clinton. He wrote, in part:
It may well be, as we learned at Yearlykos, that the liberal blogosphere is significantly more white than the Democratic Party at large.

Thereby providing me with my point of departure, to wit:
The "liberal blogosphere" is an oxymoron to begin with (think jumbo shrimp). And whether the "liberal blogosphere" wants to hear it or not, the absence of people of color isn't the biggest problem it has. It is the extent to which it fails to represent the Democratic Party, period. Big, big problem.

Now one might reasonably think to oneself: Damn, good thing Chris MC has nuthin’ to lose, because he is practically thumbing his nose at the Power Players of the “liberal blogosphere”! And if you had that thought, you would be right.

My question to you, “liberal blogospherists”, is about the ideological divide that "liberal blogospherism" appears committed to creating in the Democratic Party.

To me, a candidate who cannot get elected if only the liberal blogospherists vote for him – which is to say every candidate – should be able to say that he will do what he believes is right for Connecticut not what’s right for either political party (much less an observably narrow slice of a political party, a number of whom don’t even vote here) without having to fend off a fusillade of insults, accusations and threats. Seems like a very sound way to represent your constituents, too.

By way of illustrating just how cut off some of these folks are from reality, this tidbit from none other than the illustrious Matt Stoller of MyDD in the wake of Ned Lamont’s historic upset of sitting United States Senator Joe Lieberman:
If white progressives, disaffected union members, and blacks strengthen the informal alliance that's being created in this campaign, there's not a Democrat anywhere in the country who can't be beaten in a primary.

What planet could Stoller be living on? What do these groups share other than perhaps a temporary and weak alliance of antipathy? News flash, big shot – we identified this as a strategic problem in the seventies (about ten years, not incidentally, after the Republicans published a friggin' manual on the subject)! Can you say Republican hegemony?

What could diversity in the blogosphere reasonably mean? If it doesn't mean diversity of opinion, diversity of doctrine, then what remains? And if liberal blogospherists do mean that, then they are coming right around and meeting themselves without, somehow, seeing it coming. The liberal blogospherists, if they are talking about diversity of opinion - which is what a truly liberal community would mean - are going to have a very uncomfortable "Pogo moment": We have met the enemy, and he is us.

Ideology is fundamentally, irreducibly, and always about power. All ideology develops within the metaconversation of dogmatism, that is the problem with all ideology. Dogmatism produces ideology, ideology demands intolerance, and intolerance justifies lots of nasty stuff like, say, hating someone because they have different color skin or facial features or religious practices than the ones you believe are correct.

Heads up "liberal blogosphere", your entire project is about to implode into a black hole of hypocrisy.

I guess there is good reason to be unfamiliar with the firmament of liberal blogospherists and their paralell universe...

20 comments:

MikeCT said...

Chris MC,

OK, call me dense, but I find your post incomprehensible. Liberals shouldn't support liberal candidates? Liberals are too "ideological"? Here are some dictionary definitions of ideology:

* The body of ideas reflecting the social needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture.

* a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture

* the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.

Should political debate not be about our body of ideas? You conflate ideology with close-mindedness. If politics is not about ideological debate, what else should it be about? That kind of debate would be much healthier than those we have now - debates about fear, hair style, sex life, religion, and fundraising.

the absence of people of color isn't the biggest problem it has. It is the extent to which it fails to represent the Democratic Party, period.

The local and national liberal blogosphere supported Ned Lamont, and so did the majority of Democats. Are the majority of Dems out of touch, too? Are they less fed up with Bush and the war than the rest of the country? What's the evidence of that?

Or maybe you think liberal bloggers never support someone who disagrees with them? Kos and other prominent left-of-center bloggers have supported many moderate Dems (even anti-choicers like Casey). It seems to me that the prominent bloggers like Kos are more notable for their orientation to finding "winning" candidates than supporting the most progressive candidates (not that I agree with a realpolitik orientation). And I have yet to find any candidate who agrees with me on every issue.

a candidate ... should be able to say that he will do what he believes is right for Connecticut not what’s right for either political party

This is straight out of Lieberman's talking points. Doing "what is right" for the Democratic party and not the country is a criteria for support by liberals? When has any liberal articulated such a view? Liberals are not interested in the welfare of the country? Looking for paper tigers....

What could diversity in the blogosphere reasonably mean? If it doesn't mean diversity of opinion, diversity of doctrine, then what remains?

There are, as I'm sure you've noticed, conservative and moderate blogs, just as there are conservative and moderate newspaper columnists and talk show hosts. Do liberal blogs have to host all of them? Do conservative columnists have to make arguments on behalf of liberals?

I do agree with you on the problem of reliance on identity/coalition politics. However, aside from your cite, I can't recall any liberal blogger making arguments on this basis. Also think that focusing on debating issues rather than personalities would help to elevate our discussion.

I've had many differences with liberal bloggers, but I honestly just don't get your point.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant blather Chris Mc. Now if only it were true. So many false assumptions, it's hard to know where to begin.

I guess it's easier to just say the reality inside Chris's head isn't the reality the rest of us live in.

Looking forward to CLP's next seminal moment.

Anonymous said...

PS If Chris Mc wants to come out with his support of Joe Lieberman, well, he just ought to. But to blame the "purists" of the liberal blogosphere for his lack of courage?

Could the real problem be that Democrats had their primary, and Loserman just plain lost? It's called party politics, and the only point I'll cede is that the blogs are now playing the role of enforcer.

Jim said...

MikeCT said...
Chris MC,

OK, call me dense, but I find your post incomprehensible


I wondered if it was just me. I read through it twice, and beyond the general hostility toward the "liberal blogosphere" (I suspect Chris typed this with the same combination of anger and paranoia that Janet Parshall (sp?) has when she talks about "secular humanists"), I really didn't get the point.

To answer what was perhaps the only contextually comprehensible sentence in the post:

If white progressives, disaffected union members, and blacks strengthen the informal alliance that's being created in this campaign, there's not a Democrat anywhere in the country who can't be beaten in a primary.

What planet could Stoller be living on? What do these groups share other than perhaps a temporary and weak alliance of antipathy?


Well, these groups, or many individuals within these groups, may share a desire for:
1) Better access to health care for all Americans.
2) an end to income/wealth disparity in the USA.
3) an exit strategy for the Bush-Rumsfeld-Lieberman mess in Iraq
4) a return to governing principles of this country as spelled out by the Constitution
5) real education reform, unrelated to giving federal subsidies to people who want to teach children that Adam and Eve spoke English while riding dinosaurs to Church for Christmas services
6) the correct spelling of "parallel"

all goals (with the possible exception of number six) about which Joe Lieberman has either done nothing or actively fought against (which I only mention b/c other posters seem to think this post is another "you're only picking on Joe Lieberman because of his noble commitment to his principles" rant. Those readers got more out of this than I did. I couldn't tell if Chris was a Republican or a Lieberaman supporter.).

Chris MC said...

MikeCT commented, in part:
This is straight out of Lieberman's talking points.
Better check again (heads up).

Mike, if it wasn't you I don't know what I'd say. I sat here for about half an hour because I want to reply, but I can't. You've commented, but you haven't responded to what I am saying. No sarcasm taken nor intended, I think you really haven't understood it at all.

Chris MC said...

Jim (and those of you who haven't commented but are absolutely sure that I am talking about the Lieberman / Lamont contest, am a closeted Liebermaniac, etceteras) -

Not once did I mention the Senate contest except in citing someone else's comment on the subject. This is not about the Senate race, or any other race per se. It is about the "liberal blogospherists" and "liberal blogospherism". Cumbersome terms, but distinct nonetheless.

cgg said...

Chris there is no place more open than the blogosphere. If you feel KOS doesn't represent your views then post diaries there yourself. That's the beauty of the blog debate. Anyone can log on and take part.

MikeCT said...

No sarcasm taken nor intended, I think you really haven't understood it at all.

With no sarcasm intended, I would say that's just what I was saying.

I also meant to say that progressives do need to frame their messages and agenda in a way that has appeal to moderates and conservatives. Now that's a real problem we have. (But I don't think that's what you were getting at.)

bluecoat said...

the other good thing about the blogosphere - left or right or center - is that it provides and promotes transparency. it's pretty trasnsparent that Chris likes Joe and he doesn't like the blogosphere exposing Joe for being the liberal neo-con that he is.

Anonymous said...

Telling is that Chris didn't wrap the intense partisanship of the Right into his treatise. It's not like Republicans are allowed anything resembling individual freedom. (Except maybe Ron Paul.)

And I remain curious about why Chris won't support Lamont. Is it because he no longer respects the two party system? Or is he simply convinced he knows better than the majority of CT Democrats? (And is therefore obligated by his superior intellect to break with the election results and reject the Nominee.)

Chris MC said...

CGG -
If I thought for a moment that I could contribute anything in the comments at Kos's blog, anything that would be welcomed and treated fairly, perhaps I would. But that doesn't get to the substance of my post.

The fact that liberal blogospherists have an increasingly identifiable elite, and that they seek to counter the right wing ideolgues with an ideology of their own (which is in part what I mean by liberal blogospherism), that they seek not just to define the debate, but to enforce adherence to their views and drive differing viewpoints from the Democratic field, is the substance of my post.

Liberal blogospherism, like its much more developed and established counterpart on the right, is a creature of dogmatism, and no better than any other ideology.

Although otherwise perplexed by my post, MikeCT was able to acknowledge the problem I am defining here (I do agree with you on the problem of reliance on identity/coalition politics). A11:22 acknowledges that the liberal blogospherists are consciously acting as enforcers. Jim provided an example (albeit a mild one) of the mindset and line of argument (listed a few issues, and asserted that there was some meaningful uniformity of opinion across three rather amorphous categories of individuals).

And you don't even look where I am pointing, instead telling me to passively accept my place in the status quo and join the happy mass of other dilettantes who've fawningly accepted the leadership of The Kos, et al.

True and classically oriented liberal that I am, I prefer to exercise my own judgement, and I challenge the legitimacy of the liberal blogospherist project in toto.

Chris MC said...

MikeCT -
With no sarcasm intended, I would say that's just what I was saying.
Yep, we're on the same page there.
I also meant to say that progressives do need to frame their messages and agenda in a way that has appeal to moderates and conservatives. Now that's a real problem we have. (But I don't think that's what you were getting at.)
Yes I understand/agree with you on the first two sentences.
But I am saying that there are stuctural reasons, unexamined by the liberal blogospherists, bringing the problem into existence, and that liberal blogospherism is the antithesis of the commitments that true liberals are the champions for.

bluecoat:
Really, I am sure you can do better than this. It has been a while since I posted critiques of neo-conservatism, and for the purposes of this thread, the issues I raise with liberal blogospherism are the same ones I raise with neo-conservatism. Neo-conservatism gave us the disaster in Iraq. Liberal blogospherism will in its turn produce its own unintended and disastrous consequences ("Can you say Republican hegemony?")

What do you imagine President Clinton was up to calling them all in to the Lion's Den for snacks?

Jim said...

Jim provided an example (albeit a mild one) of the mindset and line of argument

Which mindset did I provide a mild example of?

Jim said...

PS: the "liberal blogosphere" [even though I don't accept your narrow and slightly hysterical characterization] is a reaction to Republican hegemony, not a cause of it.

turfgrrl said...

Chris, You raise some good points about the liberal blogsphere which resembles the same core of demographics that the internet at large resembles, which is to say the younger, more educated and affluent sets. In the marketplace of ideas, this is not the sweet spot of the electorate, that remains the baby-boomers who don't dominate blogging as much as other media types.

There's a clash brewing between the young turks and the boomers. For now, it's safe to say that the bungling in Iraq, (funny how no one wraps that up into the bungling of America's military reputation), unites the groups, but the split is there. It's just a matter of time before it's a fracture.

Anonymous said...

I had a hard time understanding this post as well. I think Liberals have been kicked around so much that the fact that we speak out at all has the country spooked because I think they thought they were just kicking a label instead of a constituency with teeth.

However, I do think that Kos and a few other high traffic sites have allowed their egos to inflate blogospherically, that is, disproportionately flatulent.

No one can argue that in a perfect world all of the noble political platitudes of governance are oh, so desirable but I don't understand why, once again, Liberals are taken to task for sticking to their Liberal convictions. Nobody, NOBODY else governs fairly or without political bias yet Liberals who haven't been elected are accused of abuses they may never commit.

Are you incapable of separating the hyperbole of political gamesmanship from political process?

And why is the act of offering Liberal opinion so offensive? Do other political points of view have some kind of inalienable entitlement to representing self-evident, absolute truth?

As for the assertion that the Liberal blogosphere does not represent the Democratic party the same assertion reworded is equally true, the Democratic party does not represent the Liberal blogosphere. More importantly, the Democratic party does not even represent as many Democrats as the Liberal blogosphere does.

Furthermore, the issue of race is irrelevant. The pure, unadulterated evil of the Bush administration's policies on the American people can no longer stand unquestioned and unchallenged. The Liberal blogosphere, for all its flaws, has not only stood up to these monsters but bested them at the polling booths they manipulate.

You don't have to love them but you damned well better respect them.

Chris MC said...

Jim said:
"liberal blogosphere" [have your cake and eat it too caveat snipped] is a reaction to Republican hegemony, not a cause of it.

That is almost my point. Asserting that the Republicans have hegemony already, however would be consistent with a bona fide case of hysteria. They don't have hegemony, they have a slim margin of advantage that they press aggressively and capably.

Liberal blogospherism is a reactionary ideology. And as such it is no better than the reactionary right of the late sixties was. It is all dogma. And if the liberal blogospherists get their way and drive those who decline to accept their formulations from the field, they will have delivered the Republicans a victory they otherwise cannot win, a permanent Republican majority.

Chris MC said...

I think Liberals have been kicked around so much that the fact that we speak out at all has the country spooked because I think they thought they were just kicking a label instead of a constituency with teeth.

I am not talking about liberals. I am drawing a bright line around the liberal blogospherists and the ideology of liberal blogospherism. I am saying that liberal blogospherism is the antithesis of bona fide liberalism, very much the way neo-conservatism is the antithesis of bona fide conservatism.

Coming at it from a slightly different perspective, I assert that liberal blogospherism seeks the kind of dominance within the Democratic party that the religious right seeks within the Republican party. Both are equally bad and for the same reasons.

Jim said...

Asserting that the Republicans have hegemony already, however would be consistent with a bona fide case of hysteria,

um....you used the term Republican hegemony. I took it to mean that the Republican party controls all three branches of the federal government. I don't really see how pointing that out constitutes a "bona fide case of hysteria", whether you point it out or I do. (and I don't think the psychiatric profession still recognizes hyteria as a disorder; I could be wrong on that).

You keep harping on this notion of dogmatism and "reactionary ideology" in the liberal blogosphere. Could you, to borrow an argument from the estimable Lanny Davis, give an example of this dogmatism unrelated to Joe Lieberman or the Iraq War? cause your original post and your entire argument have nothing to do with Lieberman, right?

David in NY said...

Why does alliegance to Joe Lieberman get some people so upset? Look, the only thing at issue is that he's been wrong, wrong, wrong on the war, and wrong, wrong, wrong in sucking up to Bush. That's it. Period. And that's all the "liberal blogosphere" is saying. Now I can't understand for the life of me why that makes the liberal blogosphere unreasonable, much less wrong.