A brief note on why the progressive blog movement failed
In the early 2000s progressive blogging seemed like a big deal. At the first Yearly Kos, as it was called then, big name politicians came and kissed our ass. We were covered by major newspaper and TV outlets. Etc…
Today, we are nothing.
The reason is simple: we could not elect enough of our people. We could not instill sufficient fear. We could not defeat incumbents. We did not produce juice. Clark and Dean didn’t win the 2004 Presidential nomination. Dean was taken out in a particularly nasty fashion (via the manufactured Dean Scream.)
The turning point was when Joe Lieberman, though defeated in a primary, managed to be elected anyway. After the 2006 House capture by Democrats, Pelosi’s democrats betrayed the fundamental principles that the prog blogosphere stood for: they did nothing to stop the war, for example. The Prog blogosphere took it, and worse, most of the blogs that did come out against House Democratic Vichy behaviour, lost audience. (Yes, they did. I tracked this stuff carefully at the time.)
The nail in the coffin was the 2008 primaries. To put it simply, Obama bypassed the blogging gatekeepers. Commenters, whether free or bought (and yes, I believe many were on the payroll) capsized DKos and other major blogs. Obama did not need the gatekeepers, he simply bought out the movement. The bloggers were irrelevant. At least one major blogger acted as a conduit for Obama hits: was fed oppo, and put that oppo out there.
After 2008 everyone knew that they didn’t need prog-bloggers and that they didn’t really need to fear bloggers. (They may be annoyed by “Firebaggers”, they do not fear them.)
Unlike the Tea Party, most left wingers don’t really believe their own ideology. They put partisanship first, or they put the color of a candidate’s skin or the shape of their genitals over the candidate’s policy. Identity is more important to them than how many brown children that politician is killing.
So progressives have no power, because they have no principles: they cannot be expected to actually vote for the most progressive candidate, to successfully primary candidates, to care about policy first and identity second, to not take scraps from the table and sell out other progressive’s interests.
The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary. They are feared. Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion.
That is why the progressive revolution of the early 2000s failed. If you want the next left wing push to succeed, whatever it is called, learn the lessons of the last failure.
(Note: I poured years of my life into the movement. Its failure is my failure, and I take no pleasure in it at all.)