January 25, 2007
-- by Dave Johnson
I want to get out a thought I have been working on.
For a long time America's politicians have needed to posture and pretend and play a game of saying things that every informed person understands are not true, but are mouthed in order to to "position" themselves aligned with their idea of the thinking of the broad uninformed masses.
The conservatives built up a power structure by building (and funding) advocacy organizations like Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute - buying a movement - and progressives and their funders had not done that. So the conservatives have had this persuasion machine in place and progressives have not. The conservatives were able to use their machine to build up the "conventional wisdom" along the lines of their own strategic narrative. And so for a long time the public was, probably correctly, perceived to have been largely persuaded by conservative rhetoric, and the politicians had to speak to that.
So maybe for a politician it was a correct perception that you have to move right and "triangulate" and spout right-wing crap to get elected. You get this enormous demand built up by the right's unanswered propaganda, and at the same time you get this enormous conservative-engineered institutional pressure built up to vote a certain way on legislation. What else were politicians supposed to do?
Meanwhile progressives were not working to persuade the public, so there has until recently been little popular demand or respect for progressive policies and candidates. Sure, we want leaders to do the right thing, but we haven't been building up the mechanisms or creating the public demand that makes leaders do the right thing -- or that protect them, "watch their backs" and give them cover to do the right thing.
I think the blogs are starting to make a tremendous difference in our politics. They are holding politicians and the media accountable, and I think we're all starting to see the effects. They can't seem to get away with ANYTHING anymore because of these darn bloggers, and a lot of them don't like that one bit. But progressive politicians are learning that now there finally is someone out there - the blogs - working to persuade the public, and watching their backs, and applying pressure, and rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior. A power structure for progressive is being built.
So I think that one of these effects from the blogs is that doing the RIGHT thing rather than ridiculous posturing and perception games is starting to become the way to win elections. Or maybe I should say that the posturing and perception game to win elections and doing the right thing are converging - into the same thing.
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Dream on, Dave.
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