The progressive Internet space changed because Obama convinced it to change

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 20:14


One of the least enjoyable aspects of getting older is the almost inevitable urge to complain about how things were better in the past.  You start noticing how much more stuff costs, how you consume different cultural artifacts than younger people, how the neighborhoods and places of business you frequent have changed, and how the means by which you accomplish things in life have either become antiquated or obsolete.  Before you know it, you are starting to use lots of inappropriate definite articles ("the HBO" was a favorite one of older people when I was a kid), and you sound like an old Dana Carvey character, even though none of the kids these days even know who Dana Carvey is:


That's kind of how I feel when I read articles about how the progressive blogosphere and / or netroots have changed for the worse, such as the one Big Tent Democrat put up this morning.  Believe me, I understand the feeling that BTD expresses. I spent much of 2008 exasperated by a progressive Internet space that had seemingly reversed itself overnight on things like the value of triangulation, bipartisanship, appearing Fox News, allowing Joe Lieberman to keep his seniority, sending more troops to Afghanistan, retroactive immunity for telecom companies, replacing local state party organizers with ones who answer directly to the DNC, and much more.  It seemed as though numerous policies and strategies that had held near-consensus stature within the progressive online ecosystem had been either scrapped or reversed simply because Barack Obama said it was a good idea to scrap or reverse them.

Back then, the urge to call people who reversed their positions lobotomized "sheeple" was almost impossible to resist--and I frequently did not resist it.

However, that is not an impulse I feel anymore.  This is because I realized Barack Obama persuaded progressive activists to change their minds not because those activists are sheeple or because activist organization leaders operate in "veal pens," but rather because Obama developed new messaging that was more convincing than the likes used by myself, or BTD, or anyone else on the left who was making contrary arguments.  He just beat those old arguments, plain and simple, and the progressive Internet space changed.

More in the extended entry.

Chris Bowers :: The progressive Internet space changed because Obama convinced it to change
The turning point in my sentiments came in late 2008.  During November of that year, then President-elect Barack Obama was loading up his cabinet and senior advisors with Third Way, center-right DLC types. (Even many supporters of President Obama's appointments conceded this was happening at the time, but argued Obama was making these appointments to placate the establishment with symbolism so he could govern from the left.)  I became just about the leading national spokesperson against this trend in Obama appointments.  My writing on this topic was appearing in national newspapers on a daily basis, and I was receiving lengthy interviews on the subject in news outlets like NPR and MSNBC.

However, after about five weeks of high-exposure public argumentation on this front, polls began coming out showing that an almost absurd number (90%!) of self-identified Democrats approved of President Obama's transition.  And it wasn't just abstract numbers: even my Kucinich-supporting, sister-in-law-to-be sounded kind of peeved when she told me "you're not giving Obama a chance," or something to that effect.  Seeing those polls, and having her say that to me, was the epiphanic moment when I realized almost no one agreed with me and, most importantly, that they did so because I wasn't being persuasive.  It wasn't that I dealing with sheeple--I had simply lost the argument to other people, mainly President Obama, who were more persuasive than I was.

The progressive Internet space didn't change because it is filled with lobotomized sheeple, or veal pen online leaders craving access to power.  It changed because President Obama persuaded it to change.  Starting from virtually nothing online, President Obama quickly built the largest online progressive, political organization in existence.  In late 2008, his email list had 13 million members, all of whom joined voluntarily.  In two years (2007-2008), he nearly tripled what MoveOn.org did in a decade.  He accomplished much of that long before he was the Democratic nominee, or even before he won Iowa.

The progressive Internet space changed because President Obama was more persuasive to the audience of the progressive blogosphere than even the most prominent progressive bloggers.  It changed because his message was more persuasive to the membership of large progressive email organizations than the leaders of those organizations.  President Obama took his message--and message is more than just policy, it includes all the cultural signification coming from a campaign--to the same online channels that are available to all of us, hired a bunch of smart online organizers, and ended up convincing many millions more people to voluntarily join him than any other online progressive organizational leader had ever done in the past.

As such, my situation during the transition would not have been different if a few large, Internet-based progressive organizations had taken my side.  The leaders of those organizations would have been pilloried in the same way I was, because President Obama meant much more to the progressive base than any and all of his left-wing critics, myself included.  He won the argument among the progressive base, and did so in dominating fashion, as is demonstrated by the fact that he got way, way more people to join him than any online progressive organization has ever done before.

Now, just because President Obama persuaded more people so far does not necessarily mean he is right in every case, that he will win in every case, or that his persuasive power is total.  And it certainly doesn't mean that, if you disagree with him from the left, you shouldn't try to fight back   However, it is important to recognize that President Obama has in fact won the argument among the base so far, and not because of veal pens or sheeple.  He convinced 13 million people to voluntarily join his online operation.  In order for a more left-wing force to displace, or at least shift, Obama, they have to do something comparable.

Something will displace President Obama's power among the progressive base eventually, as the ground is always shifting online, and always shifting in politics.  However, longing for the good old days when a more left-wing viewpoint held a stronger position online is not going to put anyone in a position to take advantage of that shifting ground.  While the landscape will change again, it simply won't just change back to a pre-Obama Eden.  We have to start to formulate what new, workable strategies there are for left-wing messaging and organizing in the future.  


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It's not a matter of arguments (4.00 / 19)
It's a matter of power.  If I stand before you snd say the moon is made of green cheese, you would likely dismiss that argument.  If I stand before you -- while whacking a lead pipe into my hand -- you might well reconsider.

Our arguments are pretty good.  What's lacking is the power to enforce them.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


This completely ignores the point, and leads to no other suggestion. (0.00 / 0)
This front page post made points.

I have no idea what correlations exist between your images and Chris's words.

I wouldn't ask, or criticize if I weren't interested in the answers.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
it questions (4.00 / 5)
the question itself

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...

[ Parent ]
cough (4.00 / 1)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Perhaps he speaks in Tibetan or some such language you do not kenn? (4.00 / 1)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
lol (4.00 / 1)
This is like having a fan, only not so much.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It's not right. (0.00 / 0)
It's wrong, and he NEVER persuaded me!

[ Parent ]
the implied suggestion is that (4.00 / 8)
power and hegemony are important (i.e. have a social analysis), not just ideas (i.e. be a liberal lower case l).  if you put a trillion dollars behind an idea (e.g. the 'free market' is free and fixes everything) then it might beat out a better idea (the 'free market' depends on heavy political intervention and fixes almost nothing - it may manage to not f"£k up some things).

and i would go further and say that depending on what post you occupy or what race you are or what gender you are or what your nationality is perceived to be or what your class background is perceived to be etc etc etc your argument will be received differently.  

the same argument can be made that will not be seen the same way - and so there are sevearl things that you are being called upon to do -

1) examine your own views of others' arguments
2) make sure if you are winning an argument that you are really winning on the merits.
3) try to understand what motivates others
4) be aware of the influence of power outside of arguments that come in and influence their outcomes.

just a starting point.  after that, you can change your home page from the ny times to al jazeera, watch POV documentaries on PBS, and use google reader to keep track of news in other countries (like iraq, but also haiti, panama, brazil, russia, poland and really everywhere else or at least a few places of interest to you).


[ Parent ]
I am not sure I asked those questions. (0.00 / 0)
power and hegemony are important (i.e. have a social analysis),
I dont understand why the ie refers to the preceding words, unless you mean are deserving of analysis, or need analysis, or come from analysis and/or they contribute to hegemony

not just ideas (i.e. be a liberal lower case l).  if you put a trillion dollars behind an idea (e.g. the 'free market' is free and fixes everything)

Obama didnt, and the internet did about, almost exactly a trillion dollars in free advertising for other ideas, including but not limited to a billion dollars raised online and spent elsewhere.

The rest seems to be a list of things "one" could do, as in "you could try this" as if I were asking "How do I become less of a hopeless douch and more like the grrrrr grrrr semirelting mass of the balck block.

Which would be odd if it were true. On Al Jazeering, instead of NYT, the old grey mare who ran the NYT has passed
on and it is no longer merely the outlet of a Kingdom (queendom?) unless thats not yourmy mainstream news is to the left of PBS.

Although, thats not what I hoped for, but a discussion not of where to get 'truer' less biased news sources, but how best to build a dialogue that alters rather than merely denounces the CW.

And thank you for taking the time to answer.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
sorry it's 2 a.m. here - not writing clearly i guess :) (4.00 / 1)
there's a basic distinction posed in the comment you responded to:

1) a liberal way of looking at the world, which conceives of a person arguing with another person and whoever has the best argument wins.

2) a more left way of looking at the world (on a variety of fronts), which looks at differences in power in the world, the way that money works, institutions function, the way that the media works, the way that 'culture' operates, etc., and examines how those affect how the same argument in #1 plays out.  It's the 'looking at differences in power in the world...' that i'm calling 'having a social analysis.'

and what i am suggesting is that unless you develop a social analysis of your own you can't challenge the conventional wisdom.  How can you if you can't post to yourself questions like: how important is race in this context and in what ways?  what role does money play?  how does the digital divide affect these issues?  is obama buying people off, coopting them ideologically, or succeeding through some other means? and many many others.

And what I was offering at the end of the comment were a series of first steps to do that.  I think you sound uninformed, and in the last few threads, very defensive.


[ Parent ]
thanks again (0.00 / 0)
Obama beat Clinton.

But the ruling class still rules.

However, the power that exists in a democracy is more than who chooses the wallpaper.

America broke up the banks. America, not very long ago, had laws that said, no branch of your bank further away from your head office than a few miles. Canada has a handful of Banks. Right now about 7, and a bunch of tiny ones. That was histoirically the people who ran the country, in the US during hsitory it was more the manufacturers. This simplified of course. The things a finacial economy country does are different from a manfacturing one.

Capice?

America's banks failed, after they destroyed the manufacturing sector. Who rules America?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Who chooses the wallpaper? (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Since we have left kansas (0.00 / 0)
I have heard that the final words of Oscar Wilde were:

"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
"However, the power that exists in a democracy is more than who chooses the wallpaper." (0.00 / 0)
Sorry for the delayed response and the excessive impoliteness earlier- I haven't been well.

To be crass, there are three ways the ruling class holds power that i believe there's evidence for: coercion; indoctrination (persuasion); and giving money/resources.  Obviously including combinations of these.

I know of people who argue that there is a fourth-sometimes including myself-and  I think this is what you're doing.  The fourth one is "consent" or "free will."  But I think that believing this is possible and believing it has historically been evident are two different things.  'America' did not break up banks - on a narrow level, political structures led by the ruling class broke up the banks.  there's probably a deeper level.  what is most clear about the banks being broken up is that not breaking up the banks threatened the interests of capitalism and therefore the ruling class!  In my opinion, it has very little to do with acting in the intersts of 'the people' let alone 'the people' making choices- if that is who you mean by 'America'?

so what i would kindly suggest is that you are buying too much in american myths (for example, not thinking about who you mean by 'america') and this is really useful for maintaining the energy to move forward, but it is not as useful for coming up with a realistic understanding of where you are today and where you want to go.  

The reality is that ruling classes kill people.  Ruling classes indoctrinate people.  Ruling classes themselves are constrained by things (like hegemony - which they themselves help shape but htat constrain them too! - and institutions that they themselves help rule but constrain them too!)  It's not as simple as you're making it out to be and it makes more sense to take the commplicated explanations and simplify them rather than to coast on the basis of the explanations that are largely given to you.

After all, no one in america remembers what happened during the bank break up in the early 20th century - all we have is study and asking elderly people what their parents told them to try to understand it.  

I don't understand the purpose of the comparison with Canada, but I agree with you that the financial sector is predominant in the United States. and globally.  i suggest considering this globally because the economic system is and has been since the 16th century transnational (immanuel wallerstein is really good) and lately global.


[ Parent ]
Read Foucault: Power/Knowledge for starters (4.00 / 1)
We are blowing it all away via interpretation.

[ Parent ]
Foucault is the icon of the pseudo-intellectual (0.00 / 0)
You seem like a smart person.  Think for yourself.

[ Parent ]
That's downright silly (4.00 / 2)


[ Parent ]
What's silly? (0.00 / 0)
Thinking for yourself of Foucault?

[ Parent ]
Your ignorance and Foucault-baiting is silly (4.00 / 4)
Nothing more needs to be said.

[ Parent ]
He was a phenomenal researcher. Researched information allows one (4.00 / 4)
to reach one's own conclusion and, if so desired, reject the analytical conclusions made.  

[ Parent ]
Foucault Made A Great Deal of Historical Mistakes (4.00 / 3)
that call his entire enterprise into question.

I've always believed that one has to understand different country's philosophical traditions in light of their basic tendencies. The Germans do philosophy in the spirit of architecture, building enormous structures.  The British do philosophy in the spirit of billiards, combining mathematics and competitive sport.  The French do philosophy in the spirit of literature, creating ideas like characters.   I've enjoyed reading French philosophy, but I don't mistake engaging fictions for enduring truths.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
so you believe in enduring truths? (4.00 / 1)
you should read some foucault. :)

:P


[ Parent ]
I Did (0.00 / 0)
It was fun.

But, philosophically, I'd put more faith in Philip K. Dick.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
lol (0.00 / 0)
did you author this?

Oh...right never mind

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
also are you saying that foucault made MORE historical mistakes than other social philosophers? (0.00 / 0)
in any case, his contribution is more in terms of how we think about power- the concepts - than in taking the history he uses and applying it.  the concept of power itself as more fluid and dispersed than traditionally conceived of is enormously enormously useful in thinking about concrete situations.  to dismiss the entirety of his work because you think he's a bit shady is not really to your best interests :)

also, you could read chomsky, who is like the american foucault.  in fact you could read them both in chomsky vs. foucault - you may even be able to find video of the debates.  if you like pigeonholing people by their nationalities, that's a good place to do it :)  chomsky sounds very 'american' and foucault very 'french' when they talk about morality vs. class/group interests.


[ Parent ]
Chomsky Is The Anit-Foucault (0.00 / 0)
It's interesting, in that Chomsky himself identifies with French philosophy--he characterizes his view of language as Cartesian--but he's empirically painstakingly meticulous.

Foucault?  Not so much.


"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
As meticulous as you were in your narcissism essays? (0.00 / 0)
Hymen Spotnitz is the major one on narcissism. He was a psychoanalyst. Your info came from psychology and psychiatry.

Spotnitz cured schizophrenics instead of medicating them. And schizophrenics are narcissists to the nth degree.


[ Parent ]
There's Always More To Learn (0.00 / 0)
And as a non-professional observer of psychology, I've never pretended to anything close to omniscience in the field.  So I'm not sure what your point is.

But the approach Spotnitz developed certainly was generally congruent with the Kleinian understanding of pre-Oedipal positions.

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
Power, money, organization and control of the bully pulpit in the media (4.00 / 6)
Three strengths that comes with being in the establishment.

[ Parent ]
No, they don't. (4.00 / 2)
It isn't power and money that control the media. It isnt bribed to have a viewpoint, they arent bought off. they don't change their minds because a phone call comes in.

Media is not the pawn of large corporations.

Media is large corporations. they are speaking the truth as they see it. From on high, from the commanding heights of the economy.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Explain to me a) what you think I am saying and b) how you (4.00 / 4)
think your post is a response to what I am saying.

[ Parent ]
Media is not the pawn of large corporations. (4.00 / 4)
Media is large corporations.

Am I spelling tautology correctly?


[ Parent ]
Yes yes, sorry for all the negatives, in what is more than agreement. (0.00 / 0)
NealB2 answered for me I hope.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
You contradict yourself (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Follow the $ (0.00 / 0)
What difference whether M$M is owned by or is a corporation? You don't control either one. Its a shell game designed to keep you (and me) from controlling, holding accountable, or profiting from the M$M. Which mix of strings are pulled is not relevant to the current discussion beyond the fact that "we" have so few in our hands.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
We dont understand the world my friend, if we dont see it clearly. (0.00 / 0)
Seeing "papers" and "TV" as being controlled by soemone else, when seeing clearly is recognizing that those organizations are themselves the ones in control.

On can 'see' without glasses, but focus is important, if you can do it.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Do I? (0.00 / 0)
Thank you for noting what you think you see.  This doesn't count as a contribution however, if that's what you wanted to do.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Sometimes, contribution lacks for want of acceptance (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
A contribution has to seen as a conversation. (0.00 / 0)
If soemone is speaking in Italian, to soemone who only speaks Inuit, it is not a conversation.

So yes you are right. Its a two way street.
\

És un carrer de dues vies.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Yeah (4.00 / 5)
And Obama was always the President, always had millions of donors, and always had the whole party behind him.

In reality, he started 2007 with virtually no organization, at least compared to the one he has now. He built it up by convincing his supporters to supply the resources necessary.

He wasn't always this powerful. He built it. And if anyone is going to supplant them, they have to do the same.


[ Parent ]
sarcasm ill become you (4.00 / 12)
The key persuasions were of Wall Street and the insurance companies.  And I'm sure he was great at explaining how he would be their tool.

As for the public, well, he lied a lot.  I guess you could call that persuasion

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


[ Parent ]
It is odd when this ios exactly the point he mnakes in post!!! (0.00 / 0)
This is why I didint understand your comment, because you ignore this and tghe original post!!

What do you think is being discussed that this is sarcasm?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Sarcasm is what Chris does when he does not have a response to an argument (4.00 / 3)


[ Parent ]
I love your personal attacks (3.33 / 6)
They are really my favorite part of you being here.

[ Parent ]
You think your sarcasm is not an attack? (4.00 / 3)
Someone says something you don't like. You become sarcastic. Its a pattern with you. But I am attacking you to point out that you attack by being sarcastic. How many people along this thread you already becoming sarcastic with rather than address their point?

[ Parent ]
I have no idea what contribution your time wasting is making here on OL (0.00 / 0)
I have no idea why your time wasting and insults are allowed.

Its beyond me.

Its like there is a demo, and you followed soemone that helped organize the demo home and sat in their living room hurling insults about how ineffective they are at organizing demos. At some point they need to say, "We dont have anymore coffee, thanks for coming over."

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
the contribution is stirring up debates like this without ruining the space (0.00 / 0)
it's hard to do and it is being done.  

[ Parent ]
Chris, if you read the comments to Cedwyn's diary that BTD refers to (4.00 / 2)
You will notice that unlike many of Cedwyn's recced diary the comments were 2/3 to 3/4 negative.

Most of the comments were very negative about Cedwyn glorifying triangulation - equating the left with the right. I had never read one of her diaries whihc was so poorly recived.

Even Daily Kos which is the site on the blogosphere most susceptible to unquestioning adulation, questioned Cedwyn asserting that if Barack Obama triangulated it was a good thing, but when Bill Clinton did it was a bad thing.

I actually take the diary to tell us the opposite of what both you and BTD have drawn from it.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
There are over 852,000 diaries on dkos (0.00 / 0)
Literally.

One diary isn't the story. The specific example doesn't really matter much. I agree with the general sentiment that things really have changed.


[ Parent ]
"things really have changed" (0.00 / 0)
Yeah, they have changed somewhat. I think that can partly be explained because when Repubs were in power, it was easy for everyone to be united in our opposition to BushCheney and friends. The fact that some people are now going to be cheerleaders for the star quarterback for our team would have happened anyway. I don't see the need for some supposed superiority of Obama's persuasiveness to explain this. I really don't see Obama having actually won any arguments with the left on the merits. He persuades people who accept the message because they like the messenger. A lot of people see things in a dualistic way - if you criticize "our team" as personified by Obama, you must be on the other team.

And his success at online organizing during the primaries probably has a lot to do with his cultural significance, especially to young people who view racism as more of a thing of their parents generation. And also, many of the people he attracted online were not previously involved with online politics. So it's not like he converted the already existing netroots so much as bringing in new people. I bet that a lot of them were brought in by the personal charisma, the cultural identification, and the fact that his message was very similar to the reform message that attracted me to Ross Perot when I was the same age as many of these voters: "Reform. Washington's broken. Kick out the lobbyists. etc." And as someone upthread pointed out, that stuff turned out to be mostly pandering, so I'm not sure how saying one thing and doing another can be considered being more persuasive on the merits. Though to be fair, I'm guessing that the bipartisan schtick and downplaying ideology is what you are referring to regarding persuasiveness.

miasmo.com


[ Parent ]
We can defeat him but then what will we get instead (0.00 / 0)
Punk'd!

[ Parent ]
you don't have to defeat him (4.00 / 1)
as much as i would enjoy 'president kucinich.'  what you have to do is mount enough of a show of force in the primaries AND in the general election (paging third party candidates) to alter the shape of the debate and make Obama in particular realise that we have power.

But that means we actually have to build power :)
and the reward is a more cooperative obama - he responds to entrenched interests and we would be one then.


[ Parent ]
It will be his last term with nothing to lose (0.00 / 0)
except his historical image.

I'm so disgusted with him I can't stand myself.


[ Parent ]
why are you disgusted with him? (0.00 / 0)
as opposed to disappointed but relatively unsurprised?

[ Parent ]
I expected so much more (0.00 / 0)
as I was punk'd by his campaign. I felt anyone that could do what he did had to be intelligent. Ha!

He is just in over his head and taking advice from people whom he thinks know more than he does. But he picks the wrong ones.

Bush I expected disaster from from the beginning. Only I definitely underestimated his ability for destruction. This one had so much promise all squandered.

But then I hadn't studied Foucault then and didn't know what I know now. Obama is in the meat grinder and doesn't realize it.


[ Parent ]
he IS intelligent (0.00 / 0)
in a general sense - that's not the point.  A lot of intelligent people do particularly insane things, for a variety of reasons.  

And his comfort with appeasing powers-that-be (which is unsurprising given that he ran for president) is not something that has to do with intelligence per se (if such a thing exists) though it can probably impede certain kinds of thinking and awareness.  

I mean - the guy's only a guy - he could only have had one life experience and is limited by that.  Just don't get fooled again.


[ Parent ]
Obama received $99 million in 2007 (4.00 / 6)
More than half of it came from big money special interests like Wall Street bankers and health insurance company executives.

[ Parent ]
He didn't win the argument. He won the election (4.00 / 9)
The win shapes the argument, not the persuasiveness of the argument.

What do they say about history?  Winners write history.  

But there is still a strain of counter history, counter narratives.  

And even those who disagree with Obama's arguments mostly still want him to succeed because they see the danger of the right succeeding totally and completely.

Even a feeble defense against the right is better than no defense. Even an inadequate defense is better than no defense.

However one difference is that among engaged women, now only women old enough to know what it means to have to still fight like hell for women's rights, we don;t feel we've won...just been put to the side at best and at the worst with more losses to come.

I don't find his arguments prsuasive.  However I am not trying to undermine him, only to make him a better version of what he led us all to think he was.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
There is no difference (0.00 / 0)
Winning the argument and winning the election are the same thing.

Winning the argument among the base and having 80% support among the base is the same thing.

This isn't an abstract argument. He has convincing a lot more people to follow him than his left-wing critics have.  That's winning.

And there aren't bonus points for having fewer resources. Political arguments aren't graded on a curve.


[ Parent ]
You seem to be intentionally (4.00 / 6)
ignoring what you yourself use a a peg for the piece: Armando's argument about the changed netroots.

You could argue (inaccurately) that the netroots hasn't changed, but it's simply beside the point (and very old news) to keep saying that Obama has won over the Democratic party.  


[ Parent ]
I see (2.00 / 2)
The real burning issue is a diary that BTD discussed. But arguing, in the wake of a huge blow-up with the left, an issue to which you have devoted a lot of writing lately, is somehow old news and besides the point.

Noted. thanks for the editorial tip. I'm sure an article arguing over the minutia of that diary would have generated nearly this much interest. That would have been today's news, but  this is yesterday's news in which no one is interesting.

what the frak ever Mizner.  


[ Parent ]
You should offer Mizner a front page slot (4.00 / 4)
It would improve the website.

[ Parent ]
Oh no please for the children's sake please no. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
No one forces you to read any diary (4.00 / 2)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Think of the children! (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
What children? (4.00 / 1)
I notice childishness at times, but not many children.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
lol (0.00 / 0)
no you are

lol

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Oh, boy (4.00 / 4)
One final try: you keep conflating his 1) winning over the Democratic Party (his victory: old news) with his 2) winning over progressive groups, institutions, and individual (newish news), of which the transformation of Daily Kos is one egregious example.

We can talk about 1, but then we'd have to revisit 2006-2008. So I think it makes more sense to talk about 2. And I don't agree with you that "messaging" is responsible for number 2.

That's all.  


[ Parent ]
Bill Clinton seemed to win the argument in the 90's about what kind of party the Democratic party was (4.00 / 4)
Seems....A win is always a win and doesn't necessarily stay a win...and sorry this isn;t going to be what I wrote before my computer decided to go bizarro..so I will just for the second thime have to write it again.

And there are 2, no 3 answers, to whether he did or didn't seem to have won the argument.

First he seemed to win - after all his vision of a thrid way, won not only the election in 1992, but at least for a decade or more he seemed to win the argumant that the third way was,  not only the right way, but the way for Democrats to win.

But second he seems to have lost.  Many of the people who refused to support Hillary Clinton did so because they were angry with his vision of th eDemocratic party, his triangulation, his freindliness to a more corporate vision of the Demcoratic party.  Lots of those people hated Hillary clinton for her husbans's vision of the party.  Millions of those people supported Barack Obama because they thought he embodied a less compliant, less third way more Democratic party.

Third he once agsin seems to have won because our present president embodies a lot of what Bill clinton did in the 90's...

But just as there was in the 90's and the noughts, there is an undercurrent, a strong undercurrent, of disagreement with this vision.  A strong strain of those who still want a more progressive answers to the problems we have today.

Some who want more than small wins...but it does seem like small wins aren't going to be enough to get us where we need to be.  Re my Stoller tag line.  And in that 80% base figure of support for Barack Obama right now are many of the ones who want more.  

And as someone who was there in the 90's it is encouraging that there is a much stronger progressive infrastructure to keep going.

I know you're tired..and you may not think so now, but the work you've done had had an effect and will continue to help make this presidency more likely to fulfill why you supported this president in the primary.

And your theory of supporting a fighting Dem is part of why this president won this last battle...

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
My first, more elegant version before my computer went nutso (0.00 / 0)
Now there are 2 ways, no 3 ways to look at this.

He did win the argument in terms of redirecting the party toward a 3rd way of governing and a more centrist  Democratic party.

He lost the argument because so many of the people who refused to support Hillary Clinton reacted to their distaste and their anger toward his third way, his triangulation, his corporate frienly policies. Because of that they decided to support Barack Obama instead, because he was supposed to not be that kind of triangulating Democrat.

And I guess 3rd, you can say that this image of the party that Bill Clinton projected as a third way kind of Democrat has still been succussful because our present president does still seem to be believe in terms of policy that this is the way to go.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
So if voters in later elections reject the Obama way (4.00 / 3)
then did he retroactively lose the argument Chris now thinks he won?

[ Parent ]
Obama isn't going to change (4.00 / 6)
He seduced us, we got fucked and now who is going to allow it to happen again?Do you see hordes of young people in offices making calls? I don't.

The loss of Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts? Can anyone tell me why Kennedy didn't have a mini machine in place to fill his shoes since he knew for a long time he was sick? What a dope.

No he was working on getting Obama to get the kind of dog he wanted the Obamas to have. A Portuguese Water Spaniel.

We have idiots running the govt no matter who is in. I am surprised anything of value ever gets done.


[ Parent ]
Wrong dog would have been tragic. (4.00 / 2)
Imagine the depression that would have caused in Obamaville.  

I did not support Hillary because of Bill.  I did not support Obama because I thought snake oil salesman was tatooed on his forehead.  Obama won because of power, not his argument.   His arguments are Rorschach tests, and he'll say whatever you want to hear.   That's manipulation, not winning an argument on its merits.

The netroots didn't lose because it never fought.  dailykos didn't even endorse a candidate for the primary.  How safe is that?   I think the netroots changed with Clinton's first invitation to lunch at his Harmlem office.   Shortly after that, it became about rubbing shoulders and access.  I think the netroots got seduced by power.  


[ Parent ]
"Winning the argument and winning the election are the same thing" (4.00 / 1)
Then you must think Reagan and Bush were right.

[ Parent ]
Not "right", but they won the argument (4.00 / 3)
Sometimes the winning side is wrong. This ain't sports. The best team does not always win.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Ding. (0.00 / 0)
This counts as a contribution.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It isn't that he won the argument (4.00 / 2)
It's that he had a prospect of actually taking power. I might have agreed with the netroots more, but I didn't see any way that Chris Bowers was going to become President, nor even a serious kingmaker - not in the 2008 timeframe at least. Obama was a contender. I never seriously "believed" in him, but I did have hopes he would be better than Clinton, and he may yet be; it is debatable. Obama offered a path from the comments section to actual power. And hismessage seemed as close as we were going to get from a contender - or, for some of us, Edwards' did, but he stopped being a contender.

For the sake of pulling it all off, we united behind Obama.  I did feel it was a serious mistake to go along with his refusal of campaign spending limits on the notion that grassroots support amounts to the same thing. We've left the case for finance reform in much a weaker state. And defunding everyone else to centralize all funding in him; let's never do that again. Keep the movement strong and the candidate weak.  


[ Parent ]
It isn't that he won the argument (4.00 / 2)
It's that he had a prospect of actually taking power. I might have agreed with the netroots more, but I didn't see any way that Chris Bowers was going to become President, nor even a serious kingmaker - not in the 2008 timeframe at least. Obama was a contender. I never seriously "believed" in him, but I did have hopes he would be better than Clinton, and he may yet be; it is debatable. Obama offered a path from the comments section to actual power. And hismessage seemed as close as we were going to get from a contender - or, for some of us, Edwards' did, but he stopped being a contender.

For the sake of pulling it all off, we united behind Obama.  I did feel it was a serious mistake to go along with his refusal of campaign spending limits on the notion that grassroots support amounts to the same thing. We've left the case for finance reform in much a weaker state. And defunding everyone else to centralize all funding in him; let's never do that again. Keep the movement strong and the candidate weak.  


[ Parent ]
outcome oriented, eh? (4.00 / 1)
if you're defining winning the argument and winning the election and getting people to go along with you as the same thing, then that's reasonable.

what's not reasonable is then to assume that the entirety of what has been done has been on the basis of 'argument' - which i think is what people have objected to.  as has been pointed out above, people with more power have several different ways of being 'persuasive' and 'winning arguments' from sending airstrikes to bomb your community to jailing and deporting people to shaping and using predominant media and other cultural narratives (like 'election results = popular will) to providing subsides, earmarks, etc., to talking to people lsitening to what they say and trying to implement it.  The last one is a little vacuous because people with power rarely try it.

Any number of other things and combinations could be come up with, I'm sure so if you're going to aruge that 'winning the argument' is equivalent to 'winning the election', 'winning the health care bill' is equivalent to 'persuading people' etc' - then you're doing one admirable thing - operating within the society you're in rather than placing yourself above it and one nonadmirable thing - not examining closely enough and presenting what methods actually were used in securing the election outcome that obama wanted, the move of the netroots, etc.


[ Parent ]
Other points (4.00 / 15)
You touched on one reality: The people in the community is not a fixed set. Some people come and others go. So the fact that a Democrat won the Presidency may have brought more people online who already agreed with him and pushed others away.

The other point I want to mention is that many of these divisions among the left were probably always there, but we were so focused on the evil President Cheney and his sidekick that we didn't notice.

The good news is that things are very different from 1992.  Back then, I got all of my information from the Sunday talk shows and from magazines like The New Republic (shudder). Bill Clinton was the Democratic Party to me. It was not as easy to find alternate voices. Back then, when I disagreed with Clinton, it felt hopeless to even consider fighting against him. But now I know we can fight. It won't be easy, but I have hope we can influence policy even when the President isn't "one of us".


Nice. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Experience also Counts (4.00 / 3)
As your future (now) sister in law seemed to point out, Chris, she wanted to give Obama a chance to prove himself. He has. On health care, Obama's policies are traditional moderate Republican policies in that they reflect Republican core values (e.g. free market solutions by default are better than government solutions). Obama could change course but at this moment Democrats can see clearly that Obama's health care policy does not reflect core Democratic values. We now can respond as we see fit.

So, yes, a big persuasive organization helps. But experience over time counts more.

Progressive Democrats need to realize that some/most of our political leadership push Republican policies. Their bias needs to change. But it won't change overnight. We need to start to pick our issues to battle, pick races to primary, candidates to back, and push ahead together to achieve what reflects core Democratic values. We also need to educate all Democrats about how we see Obama's policies, that they enrich private interests at the expense of the public. But even the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Paul Krugman agree: Obama's health legislation is a moderate Republican solution. That's a start.

Being a corporate tool no longer makes you a Democrat. And I suspect many (most?) online progressives eventually will respond to the experience of Obama as a President with a legislative record. They will engage. We will see change towards progressive, traditional Democratic ideals if we continue to push and don't give up.


[ Parent ]
He showed his colors with his appointments. (4.00 / 1)
Wait for what!  From there, it went down hill fast.  I think there are two kinds of people.  Those who lead with their heads and those who lead with their hearts.  Obama captured every heart he ever ran into.  

[ Parent ]
Obama Lost Me at FISA (4.00 / 5)
When Obama voted to immunize telecoms for illegal warrantless spying a few days after Independence Day 2008, with no hearings, no accountability, I felt Obama was a corporate sell out. I would have to hold my nose to vote for him, which I did. His post-election appointments, especially Rahm, simply confirmed his bias.

All we could do then and now is to make Obama do the correct thing through constant pressure. The right wing solutions are so bankrupt they can only lead to public outcry for more progressive solutions. Witness the public support for the public option. If we keep up the pressure, we will get small wins followed by bigger wins.


[ Parent ]
Damn I sure wish we had rallied around the PO when it was part of the full package. (0.00 / 0)
Damn I wish we recognized that Obama was right about what would pass, and what wouldn't. We would have the PO now. But it didnt happen.

I think we need a lot more analysis of what happened in the betrayal, what preceded and what could have been done differently. A strong win then, with the PO, would have set us in a different place than we are here.

Is outcome important?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Outcome Comes from Conviction (4.00 / 2)
The fact Congress took single payer off the table immediately, with no public hearings, no real debate, doomed the public option. The die was cast in favor of a free market solution (the Republican ideal) over a government solution, even though as we all know the government does health care better, cheaper, and with more transparency and accountability.

At this point, we should hold Congress accountable. Democrat corporate tools should face primaries as long as it takes to get rid of them and put in Democrats who promote core Democratic values. Progressives also should find Senate sponsors for Grayson's Medicare buy in so we're ready at the first opportunity where buy in seems likely to pass. There are many other strategies and tactics progressives also should pursue, for example, filibuster reform.

A positive Democratic outcome to all the problems this country faces will only happen if Democrats have the conviction and the endurance to promote our core values year in and year out.


[ Parent ]
I am not taking issue with anything you said, but (0.00 / 0)
the main point is did we miss the opportunity when Obama was traveling the countryside, working with his volunteer organization who called hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people and made personal appearances and an appearance at congress all including the PO. And what might have happened if we, the broad angry "smart" "committed" left had rallyed too, called too, written too, convinced relatives as well,

would we have a PO now?

Did we guess wrong?

Has anyone else asked?

Are we about outcome?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Hah, Don't Get Me Started (0.00 / 0)
I was so disappointed last August when Obama chose to play golf with some newly convicted (indicted?) CEO of a Wall Street firm (UBS?) instead of showing up in LA for a Remote Area Medical event that offers free health care for people who need it. A real Democrat would've found that sort of event and show boated it for all the publicity it is worth. You know, force the media to cover real working people who cannot afford private health care, especially with tea baggers in full throttle. Obama went golfing instead. What a loser.

I believe progressives did an awful lot to make the public option viable. But the fish rots from the head. We need to change the fish.


[ Parent ]
I'm listening, how do we change the fish? (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Pick a different lake. n.t (4.00 / 1)


[ Parent ]
That would be moving to Canada or Britain I assume. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
or president, or party, or county. n.t (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
The chance of getting another president is pretty high. (0.00 / 0)
The chance of getting a another president who is more shovable than Obama, is near zero.

Any thought otherwise comes from pony-cool-aide-land.

Just naming one, is difficult enough. Naming one that could participate without being an embarrassment is harder. Naming one who could win the nomination harder again.

There are places to push, places where pushing actually gets something done are fewer. While I don't prejudge plans, who could have foreseen the incredibly brilliant Salt March of Mohandas Gandhi for example, I am sure that pushing Senators and Representatives is very (VERY) effective in bringing about change.

On a "new" party, as I have said a few times why create a new party when there are already so many to choose from:


   * America First Party (2002)
   * American Party (1968)
   * America's Independent Party (2008)
   * Boston Tea Party (2006)
   * Communist Party USA (1919)
   * Independence Party of America (2007)
   * Moderate Party (2006)
   * Modern Whig Party (2008)
   * Objectivist Party (2008)
   * Party for Socialism and Liberation (2004)
   * Peace and Freedom Party (1967)
   * Progressive Labor Party (1961)
   * Prohibition Party (1869)
   * Reform Party of the United States of America (1995)
   * Socialist Equality Party (2008)
   * Socialist Party USA (1973)
   * Socialist Workers Party (1938)
   * United States Marijuana Party (2002)
   * Unity Party of America (2004)
   * Workers Party, USA (2003)
   * Workers World Party (1959)
   * Working Families Party (1998)
and
   * American 3rd Party (1990)
   * American Conservative Party (2008)
   * American Centrist Party (2004)
   * American Heritage Party (2000)
   * American Nazi Party (revived) (originally 1959)
   * American Patriot Party (2003)
   * American Populist Party (2009)
   * American Reform Party (1997)
   * American Third Position Party (2010)
   * Center Party of the United States (2009)
   * Christian Socialist Party USA (2006)
   * Communist Party USA (1919)
   * Conservative Party USA (2008)
   * Freedom Road Socialist Organization (freedomroad.org) (1985*) (Note: both Freedom Road Socialist Organization factions are the result of a 1999 split in the original party)
   * Freedom Road Socialist Organization (frso.org) (1985*)
   * Freedom Socialist Party (1966)
   * Independent American Party (1998)
   * Jefferson Republican Party (2006)
   * Labor Party (1995)
   * Libertarian National Socialist Green Party (1997)
   * National Socialist Movement (1974)
   * New American Independent Party (2004)
   * New Union Party (1974)
   * Pirate Party of the United States (2006)
   * Populist Party of America (2002)
   * Reformist Party (2008)
   * Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (1975)
   * Socialist Action (1983)
   * Socialist Alternative (1986)
   * Socialist Labor Party of America (1876-2008)
   * World Socialist Party of the United States (1916)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...
So you could just join one.

Not having some avenues as open to effectiveness as we hoped is not depressing is not the fault of the person who brings you the news. Knowing where to push, if you want to be effective, is good news. Knowing what isn't going to work is also good news.

Being awarer of the drawbacks and risks of our efforts increases our power.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It's Been Said Before (4.00 / 1)
Electing better Democrats and making DINOs extinct, reforming the filibuster, building some basic progressive infrastructure that can get out progressive messages, working in our communities to make positive change, taking over state Democratic parties, holding government officials accountable, and so on. The steps are clear. The question is whether or not we'll follow them. I'm confident we will but it'll take at least a decade more of hard work.

[ Parent ]
My hope is th]at rather "taking over" we out organize, and organize those who dont normally vote. (4.00 / 1)
Most of the not normally voting are cynical and hopeless about change and influence. If brought on board they would be demanding and ready to split, but if they get a voice they trust and feel that she is fighting hard for them, even if not always winning, they can stay.

But over all I completely agree.

Our job is to learn how to and commit to being the best demanding organizers of all time. Demanding as in "organizing demanding people"

100% agreement.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I am not taking issue with anything you said, but (0.00 / 0)
the main point is did we miss the opportunity when Obama was traveling the countryside, working with his volunteer organization who called hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people and made personal appearances and an appearance at congress all including the PO. And what might have happened if we, the broad angry "smart" "committed" left had rallyed too, called too, written too, convinced relatives as well,

would we have a PO now?

Did we guess wrong?

Has anyone else asked?

Are we about outcome?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
it's not entirely betrayal (4.00 / 2)
Betrayal assumes that someone on your side is acting against your interests.  What was betrayal was letting people believe that he was on their side when he wasn't - and largely through symbols (hope, change, etc.) rather than statements (if i say something, then believe that i mean exactly what i say).

The reality is that Obama is who Obama is as President of the United States - and he is not on our side, but he is not trying to overtly destroy us either - indirectly maybe, but he's not going to put people in jail or rile people up to kill people who support single payer health care.

what he will do it slowly sap away the potential base and energy of progressives and get people like chris's sister-in-law - or chris! - to move in a direction that they would otherwise not do.

and that is where i think chris has a point - attempting to appeal to people by saying htey're victims of structure and power is disempowering and demoralizing.  Some people will respond to having it pointedo ut - others need ot be engaged on the level of 'issues' - others have more to teach us than we do them or at least equal amounts (e.g. see paolo freire).


[ Parent ]
Now, we barely notice Cheney (4.00 / 2)
He's be forgotten were it not for his daughter and the Brits.

Obama has an opportunity with the left (some elements of it anyway) if he'd take one the Bush Doctrine, Poindexterists, and the Yoo Coup - head on, with his fellow citizens behind him.

It will give him alot of room in Pakistan and Yemen. It really will. He has to apply the "hearts and minds" initiative on the home front. Do something outside the box - like take Kucinich up on his "Department of Peace" idea. Hell, appoint Dennis the first Sec. of Peace and Justice.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Like this too. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
except he won't do this (0.00 / 0)
at minimum until the 2010 elections are over and then only if progressives somehow have a wave of victories and this is actually recognised in the popular media / Versailles.  Which it won't be.  i don't know about afterthat - i'll let other people read tea leaves I can't even speculate on.

If we continue to believe that he will choose conflict over not choosing conflict, that he will take on entrenched powers except where they currently get in the way of getting something like health care reform done, we will always be disappointed.  This is who he is - a get along, go along kind of politician who will get along go along his way to being loved, being hailed as a hero, deserving none of those accolades in political terms, but being a nice guy - the kind you might want to have a beer with.


[ Parent ]
Hmm (4.00 / 23)
I appreciate this post even I mostly disagree with it.

Obama's success winning over segments of the progressive movement can't be chalked up to "messaging."

I must draw a distinction between the base at large; liberals support Obama and they always will, just as they supported Bill Clinton. The core group of high-info activists, however, they're another story. Many are negative about Obama: that's clear if you step outside Daily Kos. And up until the minute John Edwards dropped out, people at Daily Kos were not high on Obama, and even then progressive rallied around Obama only because of Hillary-hatred.

But Obama slowly coopted liberal institutions and groups. How? By winning. He won by winning, it wasn't messaging; it was power.

Consider the diary Armando talks about. Do your really think Obama persuaded progressives that triangulation is awesome? Of course not. He's in power, so a number of progressives will support whatever he does. That's why it's so important for progressive groups to be rooted in principle and to resist the temptation to hop on board, and for individual progressives to both speak out and to defend those who are demonized for speaking out.


He won by winning? (0.00 / 0)
Am I spelling tautology correctly?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
He won by default (4.00 / 2)
Purple was the color of 2008. Purple won. What is purple? Discuss.

[ Parent ]
Meaning he won the message war (4.00 / 1)
by winning power.  

[ Parent ]
Didnt he win the power war by messaging? (4.00 / 2)
Isnt messaging, even the message of his "being" beat the other messages.. Clintons? McCains? Kucinich's?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
short answer: no (4.00 / 4)
The longer answer is that in 2007 we here and elsewhere were not on board with Obama, but once it became 2008 and our choice was Obama or McCain the messaging war really wasn't relative.

I can say honestly that Obama won my vote in the primaries with messaging straight out of George Lakoff's playbook BUT only AFTER Edwards and Kucinich were out of the race.  Furthermore, he certainly isn't walking the walk he was talking in 2008, and that doesn't mean our messaging is bad just that its been co-opted.

I think if we really want to trace any sort of progressive-blogoshpere failure in health care, EFCA, etc., it's that we hadn't come to any sort of consensus about which candidate we wanted to support early enough.  Early in this sense of the word would have meant somewhere around Oct or Nov 2007!

But hey wait, aren't there primaries going on right NOW!?  Who are we backing and why?  I sure don't know most of them, but I donated to Andrew Romanoff (CO-SEN) tonight.


[ Parent ]
replace "relative" with "relevent" in the first sentence. (0.00 / 0)
whoops.

[ Parent ]
but there is a problem here (4.00 / 3)
i think the dichotomies between principle and pragmatism, ends and means, are false ones to an extent.  what obama is doing, and doing quite well, is balancing what is possible ideologically with what he is willing to sign into law.

what we are not doing well is responding in kind.  i think if you ultimately care about the end goal, then you aren't wedded to absolutes, but you maintain a critical mentality and always try to determine what the best short, medium, and long term strategies are without being consumed by the media machine / the obama machine or any other machine and losing your ability to reflect.

i say this because ultimately, principle dictates that we get something useful done, and pragmatism dictates that we do things for some reason.  and what weds them together is perhaps ideology or perhaps how your social identity and class and nationality and all that or perhaps it is simply 'belief' in something or another.


[ Parent ]
He won by winning? (4.00 / 3)
You can't win by winning from the very beginning. You need some sort of starting point that has nothing to do with winning.  An unmoved mover, if you will.

Obama had a million donors even before Iowa. He didn't win those by winning. He convinced those people to supply his organization with the resources necessary to win. And then he kept building from there.


[ Parent ]
This isnt sarcasm. (0.00 / 0)
Its so obvious, that I wonder what is missing in analysis that doesn't see it.  

here are HUGE splits in the power block, not inside the Democratic Party, not the Repubies either, but the people who feel in PR's words part of Versailles, part of the place that is "the leading edge of civilization" that is the empire of America, whether it wants military control or not.

And there were huge splits in the British Empire, right to the last days when Churchill couldnt get re-elected after WWII on "I did not become Prime Minister to oversee the dissolution of the Empire." (Emmpaah)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Which is why I drew a distinction (4.00 / 5)
between Dems at large and the netroots.

Up to and after Iowa the netroots was generally cool to Obama for reasons that have been vindicated. Now much of netroots is loudly pro-Obama, to the point where a rec diary at Kos celebrates centrism. What happened in the interim? Obama won.

By the way, there are benefit, both emotional and tangible, to aligning with Obama. And risks for failing to do so. Which is to say that you needn't be a sheep (or a coward) to hop on board. Really, all you have to be is human.  


[ Parent ]
Your definition of netroots is indefensibly narrow (4.00 / 2)
Obama hit over 1,000,000 donors, most of them online, before Iowa.

Anyone who can get 1,000,000 donors is not receiving a generally cool reception among the netroots. Quite the opposite.

The netroots is a lot bigger than the Daily Kos rec list. A fuckload bigger.  And that is what the Obama campaign realized from day one: they can make their own organization, and a bigger one, than any existing netroots orgs. They didn't have to work with them--they could make their own.  And they did.


[ Parent ]
Well, of course (4.00 / 7)
But that's an old story.

I thought we were talking about Daily Kos cause that's what you talked about in your piece.

And you say that his winning over Kossacks (to the extent that he has) is due to messaging. I think that's absolutely wrong.

It's due mostly to power. Incidentally, it's also because Obama supporters are well-organized online. Cedwyn, the diarist, is a member of a Facebook group who sole purpose was to try to enforce the party line at Daily Kos.(demonizing-stalking Obama critics; promoting pro-Obama diarist, etc.)

That's arguably fair game, but it ain't messaging.  


[ Parent ]
Yeah, its all power (0.00 / 0)
Obama won over supporters on Daily Kos by twisting their arms.

Or, he won them over because they are sheeple who fall in line with power.

Maybe there is something that I am missing. But please explain to me how Obama won over a bunch of people on Daily Kos who didn't actually like him, through "power," without simultaneously arguing that those people are idiots.


[ Parent ]
Those people are idiots (4.00 / 3)
SASQ

[ Parent ]
Actually, that is the fulcrum (4.00 / 7)
The attraction to power, that is.  It's not the use of power to force people onto a side I see at work here, it's having achieved power that makes people want to come to your side.  (There's a reason the polls go up on the health care bill as soon as it's a law -- people want to identify with the winners.)

But the thing is, you don't have to be an idiot to want to be on the winning side.  It's not really that unreasonable -- after Bush and the psychological wasteland we were all emerging from -- that many people joined Obama (before, during, and after his winning elections) out of a sense of hope, desperation, relief, or just plain eagerness to finally be on the winning team for once.  

(Obama's messaging played on that brilliantly, and you're right when you say he was more persuasive than anyone else -- partly, of course, because of what was at stake.  He was a fresh face, a "new hope", and even before IA that was enough for many.  But it isn't all just winning or just messaging, and I don't think you and Mizner disagree as much as you seem to think.)

But in any case, who can blame the steadfast Obama folks now, for not wanting to jump off the wagon and keep fighting against the winning team that they were so excited about a year ago?  I wish they were as comfortable with ambiguity as I am, but I can definitely understand why so many would still feel so strongly.

Tim Wolfe


[ Parent ]
Exactly (4.00 / 1)
Chris is either ignoring what I wrote or not reading the comments to which he's responding. I just wrote:

By the way, there are benefit, both emotional and tangible, to aligning with Obama. And risks for failing to do so. Which is to say that you needn't be a sheep (or a coward) to hop on board. Really, all you have to be is human.  



[ Parent ]
Good to know you don't just lie (0.00 / 0)
about people on one blog, david.

Let me explain something to you, david and address Chris's point at the same time -

I was attracted to the Obama campaign for a few reasons:

1. Issues - Of all the candidates, Obama's positions on issues aligned most closely with mine.

2. Strategy - the campaign had a clear strategy and they spelled that strategy out for their volunteers. It wasn't a secret. I don't ever recall being told by anyone - "you're on a need to know basis and right now you don't need to know" - which has occurred to me on other campaigns I volunteered on. As a volunteer, I felt empowered.

3. Energy & message - I put these together because they GO together. This campaign was inspiring from the get go. I went to Camp Obama #16 - one of eventually hundreds to be held (if not more than that) where people shared their stories. The campaign wanted to know why people were there. It was fascinating to listen to people talk around the room about how they were there for their kids, for their communities, for their Grandparents, for their mom, for themselves, and for others. The most moving moments were those where people just said, "I'm here for all of you - I've lived a long life and I want to see this country move forward so that all of you can succeed." Obama's message was clear. He had a story - a personal narrative. That connected with people. That was POWERFUL.

So no, it wasn't "power" over people. It wasn't about "enforcing a party line" or any particular messaging. It was about personal stories.

Every good volunteer knows that if you're going to convince people to support your cause/candidate, you have to give them a reason - you have to connect with them. You have to hear what THEY are concerned about. The Obama campaign taught volunteers that important lesson and gave them the tools to move forward and communicate with people. We were given the Blueprint for Change - we had the website which gave specifics about Obama's position on every issue. If I talked to someone whose concern was transparency, I could talk about Obama's record on that AND his position moving forward. Iraq war? Obama was against it from the beginning and would have voted no. I have these statements MEMORIZED because I repeated them so often. I repeated them so often because I wanted him to win and I wanted him to win because I saw a candidate that inspired people and that EMPOWERED them.

Respect, empower, include. That was SO important in the campaign and it's still important now in the way the Administration acts every day.

I can't speak for other bloggers, but I can tell you why I was attracted to the campaign - because it was the absolute opposite of what the last 8 years offered us. Because it inspired people to be better and to become active in their communities to improve the lives of those around them. It was Community Organizing on steroids. No one on the campaign ever TOLD me what to do. They gave me the tools to help Obama win and I moved on it and convinced everyone I could to do what they could to help Obama win.  


[ Parent ]
Are you serious with this? (4.00 / 3)
So your definition of netroots is that a campaign used technology that in prior elections had not fully met its potential? Think about it. What else do you have to compare what the president did in regards to prior presidents on the front of donors online?

[ Parent ]
Isn't this how politics works? (0.00 / 0)
networking with people that can supply finances, then using those finances to gain power? At least we don't employ weapons as readily as in the past [!].

I seem to agree with everyone in this "debate". Guess i miss the point.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
i think you agree with everyone because (0.00 / 0)
a) you're nice :)
b) the distinctions are more graded than completely explicit - which is for the best, because it means we can still work together and the blog still functions.

there's a major disagreement about how influence and power work together that's playing out in this conversation.


[ Parent ]
You correctly (0.00 / 0)
pointed out a couple of weeks ago that what appeared to be argyuments over strategy were in fact arguements over substance.  With respect to HCR, Obama has won the substantive argument among rank and file Democrats AND with a majority of blogsphere that HCR without the PO represented a siginficant improvement over the status quo.

You can debate this point, but the tendency of articles like the one at FDL argued today simply have been unable to come to grips with this fact.  In the end not many on the left believe that the passage of HCR was not significant.  When Noam Chomsky and Jacob Hacker support the passage of something, arguing that the acceptance of the HCR by progressives is a simple example of caving to a corporatist agenda is an uphil fight.



[ Parent ]
A different issue (4.00 / 2)
Most of the netroots--including Armando--support passage of the bill, and not because of Obama's superior messaging. That's a different issue from a diary receiving celebrating triangulating receiving support in a forum where such a sentiment would've been greeted with howls.  

[ Parent ]
As I said, winning team. They want to be on a team that's winning (4.00 / 2)
As you said, that's human nature. I don't think it tells us anything more than identity politics.

[ Parent ]
winning team (0.00 / 0)
Yes lets not worry about who wins the election its sooooo boring.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
no let's worry about who wins the election AND also what the election is ABOUT. (0.00 / 0)
If we have two shitty/corporate choices (e.g. every election starting with 1992) and a two-party system that precludes any others, then we're pretty screwed, eh?  that would be a good time to focus more on the 'shifting the cultural terrain' if it's possible - or if it's not possible, to give up on politics for a while an acquire some skills and follow from a far.  or best yet - to try to directly assist and support the people who are being f"£ked over as ACORN, a lot of NGOs, labor unions, progressive churches, and many others did - most often in good ways, less frequently in not helpful ways.

there's nothing wrong with the wilderness if you can hack it, esp when you don't have a choice because the political conversation (discourse) has gone so far off the rails.

anwyay, what's past is past.  worth examining, not worth obsessing about too much.


[ Parent ]
Controlling the Dominating Discourse is power by definition. (0.00 / 0)
That's how you do it. then nothing outside of the controlling discourse can be admitted or discussed. It determines who can say what, and what they can say.

It is why Rove controlled every issue.


[ Parent ]
else (4.00 / 1)
why bother talking about frames and overton windows?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
"We have to start to formulate new, workable strategies" (4.00 / 1)
.... it simply won't just change back to a pre-Obama Eden.  We have to start to formulate what new, workable strategies there are for left-wing messaging and organizing in the future.

Reject and denounce is a grand old tune. It feels so very moral and it lets the singers off the hook of engaging in... or rather, it allows the singers to feel that the failure to successfully engage in a dialogue that's convincing and effective is part of an unassailable construct.

A new effective strategy that does more than deny blame for failing would be great.

I hope for more.

Thanks CB.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


Comrades, come rally (0.00 / 0)
An new strategy that knows what it is to succeed, and cares passionately about it, would be better.

[ Parent ]
Yes, buit we are a block on the left of the Half of the Ruling Class that calls itself (4.00 / 2)
the democratic party.

Our job is to formulate ways to keep democracy and stop suffering. We aren't going to be THE power, till, well I dont know when.

The left, during FDR, wasn't "in power" it was a critic, who forced actions, some actions, that most of "the left" called selling out.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Change the Dominating Discourse. (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Please expand on this sentence (0.00 / 0)
A new effective strategy that does more than deny blame for failing would be great.

Who is denying what and how?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
An example might be: (0.00 / 0)
"It was Gore's fault that Bush won."

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
or this (0.00 / 0)
  As I said, winning team. They want to be on a team that's winning   (4.00 / 2)
As you said, that's human nature. I don't think it tells us anything more than identity politics.
by: bruhrabbit  @ Tue Mar 30, 2010 at 00:35


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Not sure I get it yet (0.00 / 0)
Does this fit?

"Bush won because Nader ran as a third party candidate"


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
You have the deny part right. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
what if that's accurate? (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
I'm coming to realize (4.00 / 4)
that clarity trumps persuasion. Especially in online communication. How clear your message is, is more important than how persuasive your message is. And dissonant messages tend to be un-clarifying no matter how persuasive they are.  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

Not Obama persuasion. It's people's projection of their own views. (4.00 / 8)
In the election race and transition aftermath Obama excelled at what makes a great, winning candidate -- presenting a broad enough 'canvas' of himself so that people could successfully see in him their own views of what they want him to be. The 90% that approved of the transition is really only reflective of how they want to see Obama, not a cold, reality-based look at the people chosen and what that might mean.

In short, it's not that Obama was more persuasive -- i.e. affirmatively won a reasoned 'debate' -- it's that he better enabled people to persuade themselves that he embodied what they believed.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


Nothing succeeds like success (0.00 / 0)
And nothing persuades like persuasion. When did "reasoned debate" enter into the picture?

Me | My Work | Future Majority

[ Parent ]
That sounds like top-notch winning a debate to me (4.00 / 3)
In short, it's not that Obama was more persuasive -- i.e. affirmatively won a reasoned 'debate' -- it's that he better enabled people to persuade themselves that he embodied what they believed.

Frankly, the latter seems like a helluva lot better way to win a debate--and to be persuasive--than the former.


[ Parent ]
Yes, and that may be, may be the way to exert more power. (4.00 / 1)
Obama embodies "the sane we are just doing the sensible thing" block that wants good government, and not much more.

Our job then is find soemone to "embody" "we arent fixing things enough, I'm pretty pissed off."

So the message gets through 'bodily'

Lots of elections are "who answers the question of the election" and Obama was the answer in 2008. The question was more, apperently, who is sane enough to run this mess of a country, and not "who will be my fists and hammer."

Withoiut falling prey to the false idea of trying to replace Obama, we need an Embodiment of Constructive Rejection that contests the half measures.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Howard Dean (0.00 / 0)
To me, Howard Dean is the most principled and progressive public voice we have, fighting on our behalf.  The guy is always pushing to make things better, agitating, etc; and he has built a following among us.    

[ Parent ]
He wont run as a Rep I am sure, and I think they need to be elected. (0.00 / 0)
I dont preclude anyone, and would wish for anyone to step up.
It would be a very risky thing to do.

"Senator" Weiner could be perfect. But he wont be Senator, and I think Sanders isn't well known to America yet.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
If that's true... (4.00 / 3)
If Howard Dean is the "most principled and progressive public voice we have", then we're in real trouble.

[ Parent ]
Now you notice. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
As A Democrat Who Held Different Jobs (0.00 / 0)
in Vermont and as head of the DNC, Dean since his election bid has been a very strong voice for progressives across the country.

His accomplishments and his stances are too long to list.  Try to go to DC Chammy, and make change.

He did.  And continues to do so with Democracy for America.  


[ Parent ]
I like a lot of what Governor Dean does and says. (4.00 / 1)
I am a big supporter. But thats partly because the field left of him is so scant. Unfortunately, American left goes from Dean immedicately into denialists and agro lovers. There is no wide left.

For example, in Canada, Dean would not be a member of the left at all. he would be a not very progressive member of the Liberal Party.

I mean his stated positions of course. he might be further left if he were in a country where left political ideas are welcomed.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Agreed (4.00 / 1)
That said, I am happy that he uses the insider he still has--to whatever degree--to agitate from the left via DFA, his out-reach to Progressive Netroots, to his public appearances.

He is more effective, right now, being on the outside.


[ Parent ]
I would support him continuing. (0.00 / 0)
It isnt rewarding unless it works, and he'll be vilified by  old friends either way. But I support someone doing some constructive criticism against half assed measures.

As the Huff asked the other day, who is going to tell him.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Yup (0.00 / 0)
Frankly, the latter seems like a helluva lot better way to win a debate--and to be persuasive--than the former.

People invest themselves in the decision because they're for what they themselves believe. It's how you get centrists and progressives to see Obama as "their" candidate, as somebody who embodies their values. Objectively, rationally, both cannot be true.

Hope and Change, mixed with traditional, optimistic Americana, is a pretty big canvas upon which people can project their own beliefs.

Self-refuting Christine O'Donnell is proof monkeys are still evolving into humans


[ Parent ]
that's not winning a debate - that's winning power (4.00 / 1)
if you win a debate, you convince someone your argument is strong.  if you win power, you convince them - honestly or dishonestly - to let you rule (to oversimplify it).

[ Parent ]
That's the key to selling ideas, no? (4.00 / 2)
Weaving a narrative into which others can insert their own projections and become swept up in the sense that all of their dreams and aspirations will be fulfilled if they'd just ..... send $14.95 + s/h to this number within the next 10 seconds, or click here to let Senator Such and So know how independently you cast your vote, or to vote for change you can (want to?) believe in.

I find it interesting that so many who support Obama, now and during the primaries and campaign, don't want to accept his main public skill - speaking. The guy is good, like early Reagan. It sets the tone for the national mood. Obama should be encouraged to speak more often and more philosophically.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Obama sucks (4.00 / 2)
Hows that for a "start to formulation what new, workable strategies there are for left-wing messaging and organizing in the future?"

paltry and tried (0.00 / 0)
But not far off.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
"Bush sucks" was the original (4.00 / 2)
"start to formulation what new, workable strategies there are for left-wing messaging and organizing in the future?"

And it was very quickly coopted to serve Obama's needs.

"Obama sucks" will probably be coopted in the same way, this time by a Republican.


[ Parent ]
And so does Michelle (2.00 / 2)
Imagine Princeton and Harvard Law just so she can get a dog, plant a stupid kind of garden and become a sort of spokesperson for Weight Watchers. Is that the result of Affirmative Action we all fought for?

They are bourgeois to the bone. Do not expect progressive values from them. Nada.


[ Parent ]
Holy crap this is dumb. (0.00 / 0)
I said another comment was silly, but this is embarrassingly dumb. I think this deserves TR'ing.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
That's sarcasm right? (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
They are supporting party. Not substance (4.00 / 6)
your argument akin to saying that someone who votes are identity are supporting policy issues. Thats like telling me that the AAs I met who give him the benefit of the doubt are doing so because of policy rather than because hes the first AA president. I just don't buy it.  When I ask them about policy,t hey have no idea what his policy positions are. I test them on it to see.

That's a narrow view of message (4.00 / 1)
Being African-American was, and is, unavoidably part of Obama's message.

Unless you somehow didn't notice Obama was African-American, then you were well aware of the cultural implications of having an African-American run for President.

Race has played, and continues to play, a huge role in American life.  As such, someone's race is invariably going to be part of the larger set of signifiers to which they send the world. While people will interpret those signifiers in different ways, there is no way to remove them from the campaign.

Obama being AA played a huge role in the campaign. And yeah, it was a part of his message.


[ Parent ]
I was giving you an example of how identity trumps substance (4.00 / 4)
It was only one several.

Another being party loyalty of being a Democrat. I think that  party loyalty probably accounts for 60 or 70 percent of that 90 percent you cite.

Racial identity, personality driven politics, branding as ideologically "progressive" when not "substantively progressive" are others that may also explain it.

The point is that the thresh hold for convincing a Democrat to support a Democrat is surprising not going to be all that high, and no that impressive in terms of tribal instinct.

What I would love to do is a kind of taster's choice with the public.

Give them an idea, ask them does the president support and is  fighting it, and see what they say.  These sorts of blind tests tell us a lot.

For example, the poll in 2004 asking if Bush supported importation of drugs abroad. A substantial number of his supporters said that he did despite the fact he didn't and said so repeatedly.

Democratic voters, in that sense, are no better than Republican voters. They support the home team.



[ Parent ]
Just whining that American politics isn't based on substance (4.00 / 1)
Ain't every gonna win an election.

[ Parent ]
Well, that sums you up in a nutshell. You can't respond, so you attack (4.00 / 3)
the messenger.

Am I suppose to now say "I am not whining" or some other defensive posturing?

You can't win the discussion on the substance of the argument you made.  


[ Parent ]
I'm unlcear on what part of my comment was an attack (4.00 / 6)
But to just say that people don't necessarily have a strong grasp of the various policies put forth by Presidential candidates isn't exactly a deep insight.

Yeah, people vote based on things other than policy. Get used to it, because that ain't gonna change.  You gotta figure out a way to win anyway, based upon the way people do make decisions.


[ Parent ]
Is your description of what motivates progressive accurate in your article? (4.00 / 4)
I am not going for a deep insight or being the smartest in the debate. I leave that to you.

BTD argues that progressives are supporting the president on strategies and policies that they did not support them in the past- namely he mentions triangulation. You can not dispute this right? I mean many progressive bloggers didn't previously support triangulation from Clinton.

Additionally, let me add that progressives are also endorsing ideologically questionable ideas such as corporatism that they were against under Bush. Someone mentioned Medicare changes under Bush as corporatim versus what the Democrats just passed.

Your reasons for this occurring is that the president is winning. My response is to this is progressives are not capitulating on these ideas due to the president winning. They are doing so because of identity politics. Yes, this is obvious. But not from your article. Nor, does it tell us how to win against the president. Unless you are saying the only choice is to just give into the president because he's winning.  


[ Parent ]
The point bruhrabbit is making is pretty simple, actually (4.00 / 4)
Chris, you said that Obama "won the argument" and had the "better message".

bruhrabbit said that Obama didn't really have a "message", unless you count identity (i.e. "vote for me because I'm a young black Democrat that gives a kick ass speech", which was most of what he ran on) as a "message".  I largely agree with him.  Obama's being a young black Democrat who says nice things was what carried him through fall 2008, at which point he was running about even with an old Republican fart until, fortunately for him, the economy blew up.  So while his "messaging" was enough to win him the election, let's not pretend like it's some kick-ass enlightened argument that rationally convinced thoughtful people, let alone comparable to what we liberal bloggers are saying.

So yes, people vote on lots of things besides policy, but those non-policy "things", combined with anti-Bush sentiment, the terrible economy and John McCain's terrible response to it, were pretty much all Obama ran on.  So let's not pretend like he has some profound substantive message and policy cupboard that we have to concede defeat to.  Quite the opposite, actually.


[ Parent ]
You would be wrong though. (4.00 / 1)
Silly wrong. Obama's ability to communicate is what won. Period. His being is part of his communication. But only part. His words and manner, what he communicates with tone and demeanor, what he communicates with things unside, the tempo and speed. All communicate.

Nixon's sweat and inability to keep shaven communicated as well.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
THe funny part is that if you read his campaign managers (0.00 / 0)
book. WHat I write is far more in tune with what happened in the primaries. Basically, he point blank says that the president, then candidate, was substantively the same as clinton. What they had was speeches that would make people identity through branding with the candidate. They relied on people's identity- young voters, people of color, etc, to pull people in. It was not about messaging because the messaging was mostly vague platitudes that acted as Rorshach tests for what people projected on to him.  

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's what I said (0.00 / 0)
(i.e. "vote for me because I'm a young black Democrat that gives a kick ass speech", which was most of what he ran on)

People were so mesmerised by the way he talked that they didn't get a damn what he was actually saying - vague, meaningless platitudes.  An outside observer would conclude that any decent-looking guy who could spout rainbows and butterflies beautifully from his mouth could win the Presidency.  And they might be right.

I don't see how this contradicts my main point - that the President didn't "win" any "arguments", but commands people's loyalty for reasons beyond rational argumentation.  He does this through a variety of things: race, age, speaking ability/charisma, "coolness" - pretty much everything except actually being right.


[ Parent ]
That's basically my point in that Chris is trying to draw some "lessons" from this (4.00 / 2)
about what that means with regard to why progressives are doing what they are doing. There were progressives supporting the president before he did anything. It was about basic tribal instincts. I am not trying to say I am saying something brilliant here. I am just trying to keep it real. It ain't all that deep what's happened. PEople like being in part on a winning team. They like to be a part of a group identity. Whatever that identity is. He's taken some of the concepts that Oprah does to market her show, and applied it to politics.

The point is that the argument is irrelevant. So when Chris says he won the argument, he is missing the point. The argument does not matter. What matters is the packaging. Take the forum with the GOP over health care. How else could that turn out other than the president looking good when comparing him to the insanity of the GOP? That's like placing Bo Bo the clown next to the president, and expecting a different result. However, it was great tribalism. Democrats got to feel like Democrats. Rah-rah. Our team wins. Yeah!

The thing they used to accuse the Bush supporter of-t he lizzard brain- is at play with progressives. So, they sign on willfully to things they don't agree not because of persuasive arguments. But because in the short term (we don't know the long term) they are on a winning team.The argument have nothing to do with it.


[ Parent ]
useful, though, right? (0.00 / 0)
How else could that turn out other than the president looking good when comparing him to the insanity of the GOP? That's like placing Bo Bo the clown next to the president, and expecting a different result. However, it was great tribalism. Democrats got to feel like Democrats. Rah-rah. Our team wins. Yeah!

That public display of insanity and intransigence on the part of the GooPers was a good thing, no?

No everyone is as bright as you are, or manage to pay as much attention to politics as you do. Some of us need to see things with our own eyes, even if they end up lying to us in the end. No matter how fake and orchestrated the toppling of Saddam's statue, its a useful image to use when we want to remind everyone of that time.

That such an image reinforces the vapid rationale given for the invasion at the time is just a happy accident [!].

Look at it this way: Obama choreographed a public event at which Republicans lined up to make campaign ads for creative staffers in the campaign offices of candidates that will soon be elected from the left wing of the Democratic Party. Then Pelosi and Reid followed suit. You don't have to support Obama to make use of his actions.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Okay, but what does that have to do with us? (0.00 / 0)
Because we don't look stupid and irrational next to the President.  In fact, if anything it's the other way around.

[ Parent ]
Not even one? (0.00 / 0)
Damn it was my best hope.

It wins elections in other countries, 'that American politics isn't based on substance' I mean.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Whose job is it to introject the substance? (0.00 / 0)
Clearly the politicians are loathe to do so.

I think that places like OpenLeft do it for them. You do it every day. That's why I stick around even when I don't agree or fully understand the discussion.

This diary and thread are the very thing that answers the questions posed within it. Even the words in the thread, "Won by winning". My Buddahist friends like to talk about "the Thing that is Itself" as an analogy for the totality of existence and completeness of being. Jung might call it an individuated Self. Whatever the thing that is itself actually IS has been attained by this diary and the attached comments.

Keep introjecting substance. Please. That goes for you too, HoP.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Yes I will try. (4.00 / 1)
The argument seems to be a conflation of the left understanding of liberal democracy not being able to completely change society and so elections dont matter, and the scrambling drive to make a difference despite, or because we have elected a Democrat.

Elections matter. Elections matter not just to alter the relationship between government power and union organizing for example, or for forcing insurance companies to save the life of a newborn, but also to create a society, and just warring camps. Elections matter because typing in BOLD, GRRRR! is more than a little preferable to M16's and Howitzers.

I am a democrat. I like the constitution, I would offer my  life to defend it.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
the constitution and especially the way we treat it is anti-democratic (0.00 / 0)
just sayin' - pick one or the other :D

[ Parent ]
I am spending my life defending it too. (0.00 / 0)
I am a democrat. I like the constitution, I would offer my  life to defend it.

The civil rights act was the largest defense of the constitution in recent years. The end of the filibuster, the protections of civil rights on a thousand fronts we have to work, but every day we have to defend.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
the constitution is not what you think it is (0.00 / 0)
a) it's outmoded and deals with political issues like sectionalism that are from the nineteenth century
b) it's grossly undemocratic in several aspects (e.g. the senate, the lifetime appointments of 9 people who can strike down any legislation and can only be overturned by 2/3 of each house of congress, the president and 3/4 of the states)
c) a literal reading of it impedes progress - e.g. the right to bear arms (yes, i know people parse it differently)
d) is always subject ot interpretation and increasingly, over recent years, the most conservative and literalist interpretation is the gold standard for what's okay
e) has some really f"£ked up values embedded in it wrt to property, race, and other areas.
f) is sort of a half-breed bewteen the original constitution adn the constitution as redone after the civil war with the 13,14,15 amendments (and which improved it) - which still leaves it less up to date than most other countries.  very basic reasonable ideas like reserving half the seat in the senate and the house for women are not even considerable in the united states.

i could go on.

So, you don't have to hate it, but don't hold it up as the idol of progress because it's not.


[ Parent ]
I'm glad you think he's AA because I don't (2.00 / 2)
He's whiter than most of us.

[ Parent ]
That's a fantastically racist assumption, that there are a set of criteria (4.00 / 3)
that determine whether one is African American, beyond merely the color of their skin. If you are in fact getting death threats on the basis of the color of your skin, maybe your comment could be in the ballpark of appropriate, although of course it'd still be racist. As it most likely is, yours is a grotesque line of thought, born of vast heapings of privilege.  

[ Parent ]
This is among the most mistaken silly things written on OL (4.00 / 1)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery [!] (4.00 / 1)
and the cruelest of mirrors.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Obscure form of "no you are" ? (0.00 / 0)
Grasshopper, being obscure isnt the same as having people find you obscure.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Obscurity is in the eye of the Beholder (0.00 / 0)
Whether you behold the same clarity as I, is another question.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
One beholds "with clarity" one does not see clear, ones sees clearly. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
No Americans understand policy (4.00 / 1)
A very low percentage of Americans follow policy debates. That's a fact.

Singling out african americans for scorn seems somewhat arbitrary. They have their reasons for voting for Obama, and they have their reasons for voting for Democrats. Do you think they would have supported a conservative black nominee for the Presidency?


[ Parent ]
I am not singling them out for "scorn". That's your baggage (4.00 / 4)
I am pointing out the importance of identity politics with a group that I understand since I am black. That I have had enough conversations with that group and listened to enough black media to see that dynamic play out.  Again, this was meant as an example. The idea that you are going to see that as scorn is odd to me since I don't think the issue of identity politics is unique to AAs. I could have as easily said Christians.  

[ Parent ]
In fact the did support a neoliberal (4.00 / 2)
center-right candidate for president, probably because like the rest of us, they interpreted his rhetoric as being what he really believed.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Nationalizing the student loans program is how many Billions? (0.00 / 0)
And where on the scale of left to right is that?

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
more centrist actually (4.00 / 4)
since the progressive position would be to eliminate loans in favor of grants or the free system California once had.

My blog  

[ Parent ]
nationalizing hundreds of billions of dollars of the economy is centrist? (0.00 / 0)
The loans are, but the action isnt.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
reducing the cost of education rather than making it affordable thru loans (4.00 / 6)
what you describe is what education used to be. in ny state for example- one could get an almost free college educaation. the hyper inflationary increases in education are yet another cost leading to the decline of the middle class. many degrees are no worth their cost or increasingly not worth it.

[ Parent ]
This isnt a discussion about what best to do for higher education (0.00 / 0)
But thanks for the social policy recommendations.

I would prefer free education.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
You made an argument out of ignorance of the history of education (0.00 / 0)
I corrected that ignorance. It is amazing to me how some of you post such know nothingism, and then double down to pretend as if you said nothing wrong. I am not merely discussing what is "best policy." I am pointing out that you apparently don't even know that education was once viewed more liberally in the US.  You are the evidence of how the country keep lurching blindly right without even knowing it.

[ Parent ]
No I didnt. (4.00 / 1)
In fact the did support a neoliberal   (4.00 / 2)
center-right candidate for president, probably because like the rest of us, they interpreted his rhetoric as being what he really believed.
by: Dameocrat @ Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 22:27
[ Parent | Reply | ]
by: you @ soon

To post this comment click here:

Otherwise click cancel.
# You must enter a subject for your comment
Nationalizing the student loans program is how many Billions? (0.00 / 0)
And where on the scale of left to right is that?

I suggested with the question about the scale right to left, the description of Obama being a rightwing neoliberal is at best simplistic, and so not as useful.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Your suggestion is bullshit based on ignorance (0.00 / 0)
The determination of the scale is based on history or else you are just making shit up as you go. I could come out to say Reaganism is liberal, and FDR is a far right wing with about as much meaningful value as what you are doing.

[ Parent ]
It 's a question my inquisitive friend. (0.00 / 0)
Please get at least that accurate. And if you must disagree with a question, then being half Canadian like so many comedians, I must insist you do it in the form of an answer.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Then why settle for loans? (0.00 / 0)
I would prefer free education.  

Was there even a debate about the issue, or was the decision to national loans made behind closed doors, or the Wizard's curtain?

What makes you think your preference was heard?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Sorry, did you read the thread or just pick a few comments and hop in? (0.00 / 0)
In the middle of a debate about how best to shove a shovable government left, in the middle of a description of Obama as a neoliberal right winger, I suggested using the nationalization of the student loan program as an example, that such a thing is not in line with that description.

I was not saying, obviously, that a student loan program is what i would do if I was debating what eduction should be  in a modern democracy.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Have you ANY idea what is in the reform package? (0.00 / 0)
http://www.insidehighered.com/...

Go read a review, on a higher ed site.


   * $36 billion for Pell Grants
   * $2.55 billion for historically black and other minority serving colleges
   * $2 billion for a grant program for community colleges and career training programs
   * $1.5 billion to expand income-based repayment options for student loan borrowers
   * $750 million for College Access Challenge Grants
   * $50 million to help colleges make transition to direct loan program



--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
This is the "brand progressive" versus "substantively progressive" element (4.00 / 3)
of identity politics. I brand myself or use the language of "progressive" or use  is versus substantively is this a progressive position based on the actual ideological basis of my arguments?

[ Parent ]
that's not a problem with Americans - it's a problem with what we consider 'policy' (0.00 / 0)
if you talk to people, they understand their concerns quite well - far better than you or i or anyone else could, with rare exceptions.  if the policy debate doesn't reflect - deeply - the cumulative concerns presented and instead is disconnected from them, that's a problem.

If the people in the policy debate are not obligated in any way to actually have to communicate with the people whose concerns are supposed to be addressed - that's a problem.  that's the disconnect between elite politics and mass politics (or apathy) that we're allegedly trying to address.


[ Parent ]
That's A Different Experience Than The AA People (0.00 / 0)
that I speak to regularly.  They were critical of Obama doubling down on Afghanistan, even though he campaigned on it.
And, they were very angry at the way he handled the financial crisis.

[ Parent ]
I live in a working class black neighborhood (4.00 / 1)
of different ethnic backgrounds. Yes, there are some who say what you just said, but the great majority are still saying "we need to give him a chance because he has a hard job." It sounds like the Christianists circa 2003 supporting Bush because he's a good man.

[ Parent ]
I don't think it was any more progressive (4.00 / 1)
it merely seemed that way because Democrats were united against a common enemy: Bush. And all differences were muted and subordinated to the common cause of opposing him.

He served as a focus for the collective enmity of the Democratic party. When that focus was removed that unity was disrupted and it turned out that there were many different factions with very different ideas of where the party should go.

Obama sought to paper over these divisions with rhetoric of "hope" and "change" and a more refined version of the Clinton-Blair "Third Way" politics. It helped that, despite their policy differences, all factions of the party were very desperate for a win and agreed that "something" was better than "nothing."

Ultimately that's what got this health care bill passed. I don't know, however, if that will suffice for Obama to get anything more passed.


You are missing something (4.00 / 3)
Namely, that Obama did not simply start his campaign has the Democratic nominee.

He had already built a huge organization--larger than MoveOn--even before he was the nominee. People were supporting him as the Democratic nominee before the party was uniting behind him to win the election.


[ Parent ]
People have wondered why Kucinich caved at the end (2.40 / 5)
Was it because Obama patiently explained the merits of leaving out the public option, and throwing abortion rights under the bus?  I doubt it.

Was it because Kucinich was personally threatened?  I don't think so.  He's stood up to threats before, and if that were the reason, he'd have caved long before.

I have a theory.  Remember Nazi-occupied France?  The Germans would round up the villagers, and warn that if the Resistance killed a single German soldier, they'd massacre everyone.

You might say that was a good argument.

I think Obama basically threatened the people of Cleveland.  If Kucinich didn't bend the knee, they'd have services and funding cut off, which in these times can mean death for the poor.  With the so-called progressive blogosphere leaving Kucinich out to dry, it was a tough call.

I still think he should have held tough, but on a human level, I can't really blame him.

Full Court Press!  http://www.openleft.com/showDi...


"Obama basically threatened the people of Cleveland" (4.00 / 3)
That's a great theory. Obama is an evil miser who threatened the people of Cleveland. He threatened to kill the poor by cutting funding to that city. Ok. Great theory.

And people wonder why the pro-Obama progressives have won the argument?


[ Parent ]
You are a conpsiracy nut (4.00 / 7)
I think Obama basically threatened the people of Cleveland.  If Kucinich didn't bend the knee, they'd have services and funding cut off, which in these times can mean death for the poor.  With the so-called progressive blogosphere leaving Kucinich out to dry, it was a tough call.

This is based on absolutely nothing. You invented this whole cloth.

This is pure conspiracy theory. Deep thinking there.


[ Parent ]
He was just saying what he thought might have happened (4.00 / 3)
What you think happened is nothing but speculation too?  Does it make you a nut?

I don't think either Kucinich or Obummer ever seriously supported public option.  I think the modern democrats just string along liberals, and they are waste of my time!

My blog  


[ Parent ]
jeffroby just got banned (0.00 / 0)
When sarcasm fails ...

[ Parent ]
sez Jeff Roby, not Rose (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
Such a waste of your time (0.00 / 0)
That you log onto hard to find websites and complain about them.

That comment by jeffroby was a clear example of bad faith. And yeah, it got him banned.  Its just making shit up.


[ Parent ]
Is this opendems? (0.00 / 0)
?  I didn't know I said anything about the site?  

My blog  

[ Parent ]
Making stuff up is ban-worthy? Really? (4.00 / 7)
I thought harassment and TR abuse were what got you banned.  Not saying something that was baseless but otherwise harmless.

[ Parent ]
"making stuff up"--well... (4.00 / 2)
It was obviously speculation as to what might have happened, clearly labeled as a "theory." It wasn't an assertion of what did happen-it was a proposed explanation for what did happen. It's as "made up" as any proposed explanation is.  

[ Parent ]
I Wouldn't Have Banned Him, But (4.00 / 1)
it was very close to the "patriot" mentality that speculates about detention camps.  I don't see that sort of speculation as "harmless".  I see it as very corrosive, and in that sense it certainly was banworthy, making it a judgment call.

Rather than banning, I would take the time to draw that out and explain why.  But, then, that sort of analysis is much more thing than Chris's.  

"You know what they say -- those of us who fail history... doomed to repeat it in summer school." -- Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 3


[ Parent ]
I remember when the republicans threatened Berkley (0.00 / 0)
because the city of Berkley gave parking places to code pink to protest the military recruitment office.

I don't see how that is anywhere close to a patriot mentality.

My blog  


[ Parent ]
I agree (4.00 / 1)
That comment was speculation, labeled as a "theory," about the Obama administration playing hardball with Kucinich based on a perceived tendency of Kucinich generally not to buckle under. (Chris's interpretation of Obama as "an evil miser" is his inference alone; the theory could depend on the administration's calculation of the value of Kucinich's support and the danger of a HCR loss.) The paranoid delusions by "patriots" of detention camps-which are hardly explanatory of anything-seem in no way comparable to me.

[ Parent ]
a waste of time (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
a waste of time (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
this isnt crazy its stupid (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
And Afghanistan and Iraq needed to be won the same way (0.00 / 1)
I have a theory.  Remember Nazi-occupied France?  The Germans would round up the villagers, and warn that if the Resistance killed a single German soldier, they'd massacre everyone.

You want to win then you have to do what's necessary if you are in the shit you got yourself into. That's how Saddam controlled them. They would have understood it perfectly and far fewer people would now be dead. This is what Patton did in War II.


[ Parent ]
TR for bloodlust. (4.00 / 3)
We don't belong in those wars to begin with, let alone wantonly killing innocent people.

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I said once you are in the shit you have to do what you have to do (0.00 / 0)
I didn't say we should be there because of course we shouldn't be. But given we are there then killing and displacing millions of civilians is not an acceptable response.

[ Parent ]
I didn't go with the flow during the clinton years (4.00 / 4)
and won't now.

For the record kossacks are ooolder than many of the more progressive blogs.  Also richer,  whiter, and more male!

http://www.docudharma.com/diar...


My blog  


Obama is a liberal, but not an ideologue (4.00 / 4)
Some of us continue to believe that. Bowers points out a few issues where Obama is a Centrist. There are countless others where he's pretty liberal.

The problem with the internet is this: bloggers latch on to the "Outrage of the Day" (the issue where the President hasn't towed the party line 100%) and they don't focus on all of the positive things. That's human nature, but it has a distorting effect on people's views of Presidents' ideologies...

The GOP base did the same thing to Bush. Many of them (now) believe that he was a Big Government president, when he was no such thing. They point to a couple of instances of spending and claim that this means that Bush was a big spender...but 99% of the time, Bush was a Reaganite supply-sider. He slashed funding for social programs time after time.

Obama is fine. There are individual issues where progressives should push him to the left. But these blanket statements about his supposed Centrism are just a bit too dramatic.


He is a neoliberal (4.00 / 5)
social liberal but deeply economically conservative.  As I am a lower middle class person that thrives better under social dems, being social liberal only is a deal breaker for me.

My class are under threat from the finance capitalist!

My blog  


[ Parent ]
Which is why he just pushed for new regulations on a basic industry (4.00 / 1)
Deeply economic conservatives always push for new regulation. Or something.

[ Parent ]
But (0.00 / 0)
they don't enforce the regulations that are on the books. It's easy for Obama to call for new regulations. He can even call the press and they'll take pictures of him signing some new "tough" regulation. However, they never enforce the regulations. That's the dirty little secret.
How many criminals in industry have gone to jail since Obama was elected?  

[ Parent ]
i don't think it's age (4.00 / 8)
We have to start to formulate what new, workable strategies there are for left-wing messaging and organizing in the future.

it's that the vast majority of the blogs i used to read and am now weaning myself off of have taken on the messaging of the dem party (or a faction thereof) and instead of getting anything like an independent analysis, let alone left wing analysis (ha!), i'm getting propaganda and "messaging." blech.

there's a reason i don't watch tv news, and i suspect there will soon be a reason i ignore the old progressive political blogs i've read for years. at least before the single payer advocates, etc were banned or bullied off site, there was some interesting dissent.

wish you all would change course so i don't have to.


We need single payer healthcare in America. (4.00 / 5)
I will work everyday, still and again, to make it happen. So should we all. Making George Bush President, or Palin or beck, is not a path I am willing to take there though.

It hasnt been necessary in other countries and it too high a price here too.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Always someone else's fault (4.00 / 3)
Your cause failed not because of anything you did wrong, or any failure of your message, but because everyone else was just so stupid and mean.

With a message like that, no wonder your cause has taken off.


[ Parent ]
Speaking of failure... (4.00 / 4)
15 months of public option, Medicare Buy-in...yadayadayda..and you came away with Dole/Romney health care legislation.

Great Job gang. Tell us what we should do about Financial Reform. Can't wait for those marching orders.


[ Parent ]
the interesting part is all the amusing whip counts they did (4.00 / 3)
now to tell us oh well we knew the president was a winner and thats why we did what we did is funny.

[ Parent ]
Your efforts amuse yourself, only. (4.00 / 1)
A few tune to see if you hurl feces, not a one cares whats in the hurled lump. So long as someone is attacked. Lets have another set of "I was right"

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
worse than romneycare (0.00 / 0)
i WISH the country had gotten romneycare. (and i'm an MA resident)

[ Parent ]