Who’s Responsible?

Reading Peter Daou’s post at his new project, Consider This News, on the bipartisan repudiation of the left wing of American politics, I caught this line:

I challenge anyone to envision a President Barack Obama without the unrelenting defiance of the netroots during the Bush years.

While I personally agree 100% with Daou’s sentiment that the defiance of proud progressives in the netroots, especially in the period of 2004-2008, lead to the conditions that allowed Obama to win, I think there are many people – especially here in DC – that would disagree with it.  For example, I can imagine any number of campaign operatives I’ve worked with in professional politics who could recast that sentence as such:

I challenge anyone to envision a President Barack Obama without the unrelenting efforts to defeat Republican incumbents with centrist candidates by Chuck Schumer of the DSCC and Rahm Emanuel of the DCCC.

Do I agree with this statement? Certainly not as much as I agree with Daou’s postulation on the importance of the netroots, but it sort of makes clear that looking at politics in absolutes as if in a vacuum is very difficult.

More importantly, while Daou may well be able to issue his challenge, the fact that there would so readily be a cement block of Conventional Wisdom standing in the way of it being accepted proves his point that both Republicans and Democrats have worked efficiently to marginalize voices from the Democratic left in accepted political discourse. Were we in an environment where the massive contributions the online progressive community has made to electing Democrats — often regardless of where they fit on the Democratic political spectrum —  I would expect to see a far greater appreciation of the concerns and critiques of activists online. That appreciation simply doesn’t exist now and as a result the netroots is treated by Democratic politicians at best like a demanding ATM machine and at worst like a group of whack-jobs who should be marginalized to show your friends in DC how Serious you are.

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