Just about every lefty blogger I know came to online activism because of their core belief in a traditionally liberal governing philosophy. It's best summed up by Matt Stoller in response to Jonathon Chait's thoughtful look at the blogs in TNR from a few months ago.Basically, we're a group of people who feel very betrayed by the leadership of our country, our media, and our party. We care about ideas because bad ideas implemented tend to kill lots of innocent people, and we don't like that. We are liberal because we believe in liberal ideas, and by and large, we've been proven correct. The Iraq war was a terrible idea. Bush has been a horrible President. Running on Iraq in 2006 was a good idea. Stopping Social Security privatization was possible and necessary. A 50 state strategy made sense because a wave election was foreseeable. Don't trust the telecom companies with the internet. Let's figure out this global warming thing.. . .More
. . . That's our starting point. It's not articulated in every post, but it's the foundation of every post, the foundation of why we are doing what we are doing. It informs every action we take, every word we write. That goes for the entire left blogosphere. Which brings me to what Matt's perspective on the blogs is missing: there are a multiplicity of sites, many of which are doing some pretty heavy lifting on the ideas side of the debate. His singular focus on Markos and Jerome, admitted tacticians who consider themselves firmly in the activist camp, leaves out some of the seminal work done in the wonkosphere--work that informs our activism.
That foundation is, essentially, the common good. From an articulation of the common good expressed by Rep. Jim McDermott in an interview at Daily Kos with Armando over two years ago, to Michael Tomasky's key article, much thought has been paid in the online world to precisely how the concept of the common good, grounded in progressive politics of old, can be shaped into a governing philosophy for Democrats in the 21st century. From Tomasky's essay on this "civic republicanism" as he called it, sprung the excellent, four-part work by Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin on what they call "The Politics of Definition," summed up neatly in their thesis:Progressives need to fight for what they believe in -- and put the common good at the center of a new progressive vision -- as an essential strategy for political growth and majority building. This is no longer a wishful sentiment by out-of-power activists, but a political and electoral imperative for all concerned progressives.. . . The other critical element I believe Matt misses in his treatment of all of us on the left is the basis for the disdain he so obviously and frequently feels in his travels as a member of the traditional media. The subject is vast enough for an entire online enterprise, and certainly enough to fill an entire 300 page book. The abdication of responsibility by the traditional media in political discourse during and since the 2000 election is slightly tangential to Matt's larger point, but hugely critical to the rise of the blogosphere and to the current state of Democratic politics and what we're trying to accomplish. Matt's perspective on it would have been fascinating to see. . . .
Read the whole thing. It is excellent.