Thursday, August 18, 2005

Blogsphere vs. Beltway

I've always considered myself a pretty typical Democrat. I don't consider myself tied to one ideology or political doctrine. Although my blog is named "Damn Liberals" it gets the name more from an inside joke founded in the teasing from my in-laws than from my actual political ideology. To them, anyone who is not a Republican is a damn liberal. Like most Democrats however, I'm liberal on some issues, moderate on others, and conservative on a few.

But what's always struck me is how attacked I sometimes get by "moderate" or "conservative" democrats who assume, wrongly in my mind, that I'm some flaming liberal because I am a proponent of the Blogosphere and the new progressive model of politics that it supports. Express any support of changing the model used by the Beltway and I'm automatically accused of being one of those "fringe" elements on the "far left" out of the mainstream of the party. Maybe I'm blind to my own faults, but I sincerely don't think that's the case.

Chris Bowers at MyDD tonight posted on the rise in Sen. Feingold's straw poll numbers, noting that his numbers have jumped dramatically since he announce that their should be a time table for withdraw from Iraq:
Don't believe me? Look at three candidates from the first two Dailykos community straw polls, Clinton, Feingold, and Edwards, who have been battling it out for a distant second behind Clark. You can find the June poll here and the July poll here.

June July
Clinton 36.8% 37.0%
Feingold 35.6% 35.5%
Edwards 27.6% 27.5%

Note: Percentages reflect the percentages of votes each candidate received from the combined total of Clinton, Feingold and Edwards votes)

Clinton, Feingold and Edwards had nearly identical, and static, support among the netroots in these two polls. Now, look at the numbers in the August straw poll, one day after Feingold declared that he supported a timeline with fixed dates and a real plan for withdrawal:

August
Feingold 53.0%
Clinton 25.0%
Edwards 22.0%

Now that is what I call moving numbers. One single policy proposal completely altered the way the netroots saw these three candidates in relative terms. And that is in one day, with one policy. There is, quite simply, nothing else a candidate could do to move support in the netroots as quickly as this, period.

Here's where I'm going with this: there is a void out there waiting to be filled by Democrats, regardless of ideology. Being "anti-war" is suppose to be a "liberal" position. Yet when you look at poll numbers that Chris put up, 52% of self described "liberals" want the troops home now while 64% of "all Democrats" want the same. This isn't a liberal vs. moderate issue here. Most of the division between the progressive Blogosphere and the Democratic base is not really a division of ideology.

As Chris notes, the ideological difference is there. But the overwhelming desire that in my opinion trumps ideology for most is the desire by the Blogosphere to address the four issues Chris notes: Improved Intellectual Infrastructure, Improved Progressive Media, Electoral Strategy, and Party Reform. The basis of each of these issues being generally non-idelogical in nature but instead grounded in strategy, message and tactics.

In the end, those of us in the Blogosphere want what those in the mainstream base of the party want: to beat the GOP. Where we differ significantly is not on liberal vs. moderate ideology, but on how to achieve this goal. Once both the Blogosphere and the Beltway realize this and stop picking nits over which ideology is better in our presidential candidates we can both start focusing completely on the common goal of beating the Republicans