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Netroots Cover Story Draws Heat

Today it's all about Jonathan Chait's just posted New Republic article, "The Left's New Machine: How the Netroots Became the Most Important Mass Movement in U.S. Politics," which will probably become one of the most frequently-cited resources on the political internet. Many of the political blogs have something to say about it, including these samples:

I guess most of all, and this is why I can't call Chait's piece particularly insightful, we don't gloss over substance or fake civility. More than any other forum with the exception of town halls, the internet allows us to learn what our politicians are going to do. Where else are you going to find arguments about a cap and trade versus a carbon tax? Where else are you going to be able to read about net neutrality resolutions in California, or offshore drilling in Virginia? The local blogs are incredibly substantive in their states, and I like to think that we go into depth into subject areas on MyDD and the rest of the blogs as well.(Matt Stoller, MyDD)

Not the most amazingly insightful piece written, but interesting anyhow. The most important part, and the cons and msm will never get this, is the lack of idealogical rigidity. There's a coalition of conservative, moderate, and very liberal people who just want to see the Democratic party stop acting like a whipping boy for the press and the right...I still hate the word "netroots" but it is what it is. (Oliver Willis)

If progressives want to win, Chait concludes, they need to learn to fight on the Right’s turf..From a purely pragmatic point of view, Chait has a point. It doesn’t matter how deeply you understand the issues; if you can’t win the political war, you will never be able to implement those ideas. But do you really believe that we have to make an either/or choice between being “chiefly interested” in winning or ideas? (Maggie Mahar at TPM Cafe)

The word propaganda is a loaded term in modern American parlance and he must know that. I don't actually think that advocacy journalism (or activist blogging) is dishonest, which is what Chait is suggesting, however vaguely...Liberal bloggers advocate for their political causes, people, party, ideas, etc and they make the best argument they can. The people who read us, the politicians, the electorate (to the extent that any of these arguments flow out of the sphere into the mainstream) are the judges. That is not propaganda as we understand it in 2007. I would say it's not even PR or advertising, both of which suggest some sort of message coordination of which I have also seen little evidence... (Digby's Hullabalo)

It's not a bad piece, though Chait obviously struggles to come to a firm conclusion about what the netroots is really all about. This is a predicament I can sympathize with, since I've been blogging for five years myself and I still have a hard time putting my finger on it. Is it about ideology? Sort of, but not really. Party loyalty? Yes, though not for everyone. Iron-fisted organizational discipline? Sure, except when it's not. In some way, the netroots is all about defining what it means to be a "good Democrat," but beyond that it's a helluva slippery phenomenon, one of those "I know it when I see it" kind of things.(Kevin Drum's Political Animal)

Chait has clearly struck a nerve, and there will surely be more responses to his controversial piece posted on the blogs over the next couple of days. Don't forget to sample the comment strings.