I can still remember starting out in progressive politics. It was back in the early part of the last decade, and there was very little tolerance back then for anything even remotely resembling a progressive counterforce to the corporatist conservatism embedding itself within the Democratic Party. That's not to say that there wasn't a counterforce - it is only to say that there wasn't much tolerance for one, and there wasn't a lot of public space for any kind of progressive discourse. There wasn't, in other words, much of a genuinely open left.
This (not surprisingly) deeply troubled me - and my disgust got me into more than a little trouble in career. As just one example, I recall being raked over the coals by some of my co-workers at the Center for American Progress when I simply pointed out how much credit card industry cash the Democrats who voted for the bankruptcy bill had taken.
That was then, though - and this is now. And thanks, in part, to this site, it's fair to say that there is a much more open left than there even was a few years ago.
So while I am sad to see the end of OpenLeft.com, I also think all of us in the OpenLeft community - from the front-page posters to the diarists to the commenters - can declare Mission Accomplished. No, we haven't realized the progressive agenda we all continue to fight for and believe in - sadly, not even close. However, I do think that we have played a significant role in opening up the left to the kind of vigorous principled debates that have been lacking for far too long. I don't think that's self-aggrandizement - I think that's just a statement of fact, one that we should all feel proud of. It's not often that you get to contribute to an endeavor that genuinely changes the scope and parameters of our national political discourse.
On a personal note, I just want to offer a huge thank-you to everyone at OpenLeft. Scratching and clawing together a career in independent media is no easy task - and having a venue to write professionally without fear of editorial backlash is extremely rare. OpenLeft provided that for me, and I couldn't have survived on this career path without both the creators of this site, and the tremendously constructive community here.
In the coming week, I'm going to be re-launching my personal website at www.davidsirota.com, and soon after that I will probably be blogging at In These Times magazine (nothing is set in stone on that score, but that's the basic plan right now). Also, I'll be launching my latest book, Back to Our Future, which I hope you will pre-order here. And, of course, I will still be doing my weekly syndicated newspaper column and daily morning radio show.
For me, all those projects I am working on - from a radio show with a fast-growing audience, to book writing, to a syndicated column - are a dream come true. Really, I feel so lucky to have cobbled together a career in this line of work - and now, I've got almost more work than I can handle (no doubt, a good problem to have in this tough economy). But none of it would have been possible without this community here at OpenLeft. I am eternally grateful for the chance, and in closing will just reiterate what I said to start: As much as I wish that OpenLeft.com could continue, I'm confident that we have helped truly open the left. That, more than anything, is what this project has always been about - and for good reason. Only with an open and vigorous left will we have a chance at achieving the change our country and world so desperately needed.