Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

December 31, 2003

by J

Fear the Power of the Blog

David Broder, in a contradictory column, implicitly articulates the fear the punditocracy has of the empowered, Internet-enabled-and-informed, people of the United States of America:
Influence that was supposed to move from political insiders to the broad public has been captured by activists, pollsters, pundits and fundraisers -- not exactly the people the reformers had in mind. The new system removes the useful peer-group screening that once operated but fails in its promise to give power to the people.
"Useful peer-group screening"? Say what? And since when has "activist" become a bad word? Neither V nor I are pollsters, pundits, or fundraisers -- and neither of us have ever participated in a protest march, so are we part of the "broad public" or the much-maligned "activist" class that Broder is so worried about? (See this post for more on my frustration with the wish on the part of some for people to just stay home and be quiet. Citizen engagement is somehow now being equated with the now dirty word "activism." It's appalling.) Broder continues:
Many Democratic consultants -- including some lukewarm toward Dean -- argue that the party "cannot afford" to deny Dean the nomination because the former Vermont governor has staked such a strong claim to the prize.
Correct. Now, you might consider, Mr. Broder, exactly how Dean accomplished that. Here's the contradictory part:
When candidates are forced to do most of their campaigning for the nomination in the pre-presidential year, they quickly find that the only attentive audience members are activists, donors, pollsters and the political reporters. Those four groups -- none of them remotely representative of the grass roots -- have acquired the power to say who is "expected" to win -- and who usually does win.
Now, all of a sudden, "donors" are muddled in with "activists" and both are conflated with "pollsters" and "political reporters." Why would one do this? To me, it just shows that Broder, like so many others, completely misses the point of what Dean's campaign is trying to accomplish. We want to move past the idea that the only people who "donate" and are "active" in politics are the punditolitical elite. It's happening, but too many people don't see it and are just trapped in an old model of the world.
What Bush did four years ago with his name and family connections, his wealth of fundraising friends and early support from his fellow governors, Dean has done with his Internet prowess and his mobilization of a highly educated elite fervently opposed to Bush and the Iraq War.
Still not getting it. First, since when did we as a country start sneering at education? (I know, I know... ) And second, people have been misjudging the breadth of Dean's support since last summer. Read these bios and tell me again that all Dean's got is an Internet-crazed, hyper-educated, "elite."
Posted by J at December 31, 2003 08:06 PM

But you see, anyone who's participating in the process this early is by definition 'not normal'. If we were normal Americans, we wouldn't be participating.

Tautological punditry: nice work if you can get it.

Posted by: V at January 1, 2004 03:36 PM

This column shows the unhappiness - and the muddled nature - of a great deal of the thinking out there. It's a shame, normally Broder is a clear thinker - but he doesn't answer who, exactly, "we the people" are.

And I found the "peer review" statement to be both offensive - because too often black voters were peering in from the outside - and disingenuous - as if some clubby group of cronyistic insiders know better.

The insiders don't know more about governance than outsiders, what they know more about is smearing, infighting, and schmoozing.

Which is the worst way to run a country.

Posted by: Stirling Newberry at January 3, 2004 08:50 AM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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