The "Kos" Strike: Unity is a wonderful thing Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, March 16, 2008
How divisive has the Democratic primary been among the Netroots?
Well, the roots are apparently splitting over the Democratic race with some writers at the popular DailyKos striking because of the anti-Clinton slant of the place. In an open letter to the "progressive blogosphere", Kos diarist Alegre, who has been posting at Kos for 4 years, has declared a strike.
I’ve decided to go on "strike" and will refrain from posting here as long as the administrators allow the more disruptive members of our community to trash Hillary Clinton and distort her record without any fear of consequence or retribution. I will not be posting at DailyKos effective immediately. I will not help drive up traffic or page-hits as long as my candidate – a good and fine DEMOCRAT - is attacked in such a horrid and sexist manner not only by other diarists, but by several of those posting to the front page.
Instead, I will put my energy into posting at sites where my efforts aren’t routinely trashed, spammed and ridiculed by a handful of angry, petty and spiteful folks who clearly have too much time on their hands.
Whoa ... is he talking about blogging in never-never land or something? Interestingly (s)he (I'm sorry, I'm just not up on Kos diarist enough to know if Alegre is a he or a she) posted the letter on Taylor Marsh's site, which is an unapologetic Clinton site.
And, as one might expect, there's been a bit of an exodus of Clinton supporters to other sites. Probably the most amusing thing about Alegre's letter was its final few paragraphs where a progressive panacea is announced to those left wandering in the progressive wilderness:
So I hereby announce the formation of a new labor union...
The American Federation of Concerned Bloggers (AFCB).
This is a writer’s strike - who’ll join me on the picket line?
“First, these people should read up on the definition of ’strike.’ What they’re doing is a ‘boycott.’ But whatever they call it, I think it’s great. It’s a big Internet, so I hope they find what they’re looking for.”
Smooooth. That ought to take care of any ruffled feathers and feelings of not being wanted. Mr. "All we want are Democratic wins" now apparently only wants some Democrats to win - which, btw, is fine with me.
The "strike" has spawned a few new blogs hoping to attract the Kossacks in exile. One of those is The Confluence which begins their group blog effort with this:
If you haven’t read ronkseattle’s summary of the DailyKos writer’s strike so far, please do. At the heart of this strike is the idea that free speech really should be free. It should not be held hostage to the proprietors of large web sites. As dissenting voices are chased from the marketplace, so are the ideas that go with them. We do not know what the future holds for the political blogosphere but there are hundreds of voices that go unrecognized because their sites do not reach the threshhold level of size. Stay with us as we brainstorm on how to change this model.
Again, the laugh level is fairly high. What use of the word "free" is being used here? Obviously it isn't a "free speech" issue at all, since the owner of the site has every right to decide what is and isn't acceptable as speech. So maybe she means it should "free" in another sense, in that proprietors of large sites with with huge traffic have no right to stop those who want to post there from doing so and saying anything they want. And they shouldn't be criticized if they do. It's just not fair, darn it!
We then get a nod toward the "marketplace of ideas", and it should be noted that progressives are normally only interested in invoking the marketplace of ideas when they've been squeezed out of it. Until then, they're perfectly happy to scream, yell, insult, condemn and ban dissenting voices from the opposite political point of view without batting an eye.
But here we are, with former Kossacks wandering the ether without a real home. The lesson? Well, if there is one it is the political blogosphere is usually a bit ahead of the rest of the culture since it is composed mostly of activists. What it portends is a nasty, nasty split among Democrats as this primary continues to go forward. I think it is indicative of precisely what most on the right has hoped would happen if this primary went to the bitter end. And they have to like what they're seeing.
For those disenfranchised Kos Kids, time heals all wounds, but my guess is this one will extend beyond November. But take heart, in the meantime, you can pony up and join the AFCB. With apologies to the Ladies Garmet Worker's Union song:
The Democratic civil war, which started as a group of leaders wanting to make sure the Clintons would not control the party, has now spread to the rank and file as the campaign gets nasty. The question is whether or not it can be contained within the activists (which are a tiny percentage of the vote — political junkies always magnify such things because they don’t realize how little most people pay attention), or if it will continue to grow and hurt the Democrats in November.
This is a very interesting election year. McCain rises from the dead, shows the relative impotence of talk radio, and surprises everyone, while the Democrats stack primaries early to assure a clear winner and instead end up in a fight. Fun to watch!
Whachutalkinboutwillis? Talk radio may be many things, but impotent is not one of them...
Impotent describes it completely, it has no impact on public opinion. When all the talk radio folk tried to attack McCain, it made no difference. They went all out, they devoted shows to try to stop him. But they focus on a small set of emotional issues, and their listeners who take them seriously — emotion-driven and easily swayed — are a tiny fraction of even the GOP voting bloc. Talk radio speaks only to the converted, and creates a belief among listeners that their view point is far more widespread than it is. Blogs, left and right, tend to have the same kind of impact.
Talk radio really didn’t get behind anyone soon enough to make a difference. They certainly pointed out the weaknesses of the Republican candidates, but they really didn’t endorse anyone. So, they could have had more influence, they just didn’t. And obviously, that influence is primarily with listeners, but also secondarily, with listeners family, friends, and co-workers.
I can imagine things getting uglier at the Democrats National convention if things aren’t decisive by then.
I can actually imagine the Obama faithful sitting the national election out, or even voting for McCain/3rd Party, to spite Clinton if she wins the nomination in what they deem an "unfair" manner.