I have some strong reactions to the latest David Brooks column, which is entitled "Democrats standing firm with centrist attitudes".
Though I agree with some of what Mr. Brooks sets forth in his article, I also see evidence of how the mainstream media, particularly the New York Times, feels threatened by those of us in the netroots. Clearly, the MSM feels the need to justify its existence as it continues to sell increasingly fewer and fewer papers while losing more and more ground to the internet. Thus, such behavior isn't surprising. How better to attack citizen journalists than to reduce them to mere pretenders to the throne?
I take particular offense to Brooks' concluding paragraph, which states: "Both liberals and Republicans have an interest in exaggerating the netroots' influence, but in reality that influence is surprisingly marginal, even among candidates from who you'd think it would be strong."
On one hand, I concede that the blogsphere is not nearly as powerful as some assert. I take a daily dose of humility when I post my daily reflections, knowing grandiose ambitions such as having some actual sway over politics is probably a pipe dream. Still, we bloggers do have some degree of influence, particularly when we inspire others to blog. This effectively adds more voices to the cacophony. Granted, it's not as sexy as something wide, sweeping, and glaringly obvious to all. I doubt we could ever have that sort of power. The system is far too large. Still, we can mobilize others and make an impact to some degree.
Nonetheless, if Mr. Brooks is correct, then count me as another frustrated liberal. I take it as a challenge to impress the role of the blogger upon modern society. I believe we serve a purpose. What concerns me a little is that thus far, blogging has been the domain of the educated elite. Part of me wishes we could extend blogging far beyond those rigid parameters, but again, I don't want to see blogging reduced to mere pseudo-intellectual exercise and fashion. It's one of the the paradoxes of Democracy--how do you maintain the purity of an intellectual exercise from being corrupted by ignorance? The fact is that the very people we need to win an election are those who likely do not share our concerns and don't particularly care to blog, either.
It is admittedly nice to see someone mirror my own views regarding Barack Obama. Brooks notes that Obama attracts educated, affluent liberals. I've noticed this same phenomenon with my own two eyes and have pointed out until I'm blue in the face the crucial fact that securing the votes of the academic elite is not enough to carry the Democratic primary, much less the Presidential election. Hillary Clinton's centrist position has won her a commanding lead. As much as we often don't like to admit it, intellectuals and activists make up only a small fraction of the electorate. Though I see Mrs. Clinton's stance as deplorably deceptive and little more than politics as usual, my hope is that she will prove herself to be more liberal if elected President.
Many of us in the liberal base believed we had finally become a force to be reckoned with in the 2006 elections. The truth is that many of us seem to have overestimated our own power. I make a point to take Daily Kos with several grains of salt--it is an entity nowhere near as powerful as it thinks it is. Most people in America are moderates and I would challenge those of us in the liberal base to not seem out of touch with their concerns. Position statements like the impeachment of President Bush and/or Dick Cheney may be morally correct but they are not shared by the majority of presumptive Democratic voters.
Brooks points out, "[The Netroots] want bold colors and slashing attacks." This much is true. We also want to see our politicians taking strong stances. We ask only for the sort of stubborn resolve to which our latest Presidential failure has held fast. Another Clinton presidency will likely be an exercise in the skillful ability of talking out of both sides of one's mouth. This is why I have been hesitant to embrace her candidacy, though I will probably vote for her if she secures the nomination.