The Seattle Times has a front page article on Darcy Burner and her ties to “liberal bloggers” like me, and while I have no argument with the piece itself, I wish reporter Emily Heffter had managed to get a hold of me. (We played telephone tag last week, but never connected.)
One of the main points I would have emphasized to Hefter is that this popular notion that the netroots represent some sort of radical-left fringe, is nothing more than a Republican meme that has been eagerly embraced by old media stalwarts who understandably fear the very real threat we bloggers pose to the media and political establishment.
Sure, there’s a fringe element to the netroots, but then everything (except perhaps, a black hole) includes a fringe, and as inclusive as we try to be there are often times when pragmatists like me roll our eyes or pull out our hair at the counterproductive and shortsighted antics of our own wacky left. (And yes, personally, I am nothing if not a political pragmatist, a self-described “1970’s centrist” who, while occasionally radical in my methods and my writing style, is far from revolutionary when it comes to policy.) Reichert would point toward Darcy’s mere attendance at Netroots Nation as evidence that she’ll do our “bidding” instead of that of 8th CD voters, but in embracing this classic Rovian divide and conquer strategy, who exactly is Reichert branding as “the other”? As I reported from Austin back in July, we’re not exactly the “dirty fucking hippies” we’ve been made out to be:
I had planned to get to bed relatively early last night, but somehow found myself at 1:30 AM, sitting in an IHOP with Darcy Burner and a bunch of veterans. Vote Vets co-founder and chairman Jon Soltz sat across the table, passionately detailing the Veteran Administration’s many bureaucratic nightmares as he relentlessly made his way through an enormous, whipped cream topped stack of chocolate chip pancakes. On his own unexpected politicization Soltz described heading to Iraq a true believer, only to have reality—political, military and otherwise—rip the veil from his eyes. “It was like learning that your parents are not really your parents,” Soltz explained as he tried to relate the sense of betrayal that accompanied his own disillusionment.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who don’t know squat about the liberal blogosphere might be that while 20-year-old slackers in bathrobes are in short supply here at Netroots Nation, veterans and military personnel are out in full force. At last night’s keynote, Gen. Wes Clark called out various groups one by one to stand up and be acknowledged… teachers, medical professionals, candidates, first responders, social workers, etc…. but by far the largest group in attendance were the veterans, and it was for them that the crowd reserved its loudest and longest round of applause.
It is an inside netroots joke that we sometimes refer to ourselves as “dirty fucking hippies,” the inherent punchline being that this description couldn’t be further from the truth. If we are radicals, we are the radicalized middle, a segment of the population historically loathe to forsake economic security for the sake of a mere cause, yet somehow provoked into producing a populist uprising. That veterans like Soltz and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga provide two of our most outspoken voices should come as no surprise from a broad movement that draws support from nearly every corner of American life.
For those who hope or imagine that Darcy’s close connections with the netroots will ultimately prove to hurt her standing with her district’s suburban voters, well, you should have been at IHOP last night, where Darcy was literally embraced by veterans who trust that she will deliver the kind of leadership, respect and support that they deserve. Yet more evidence that we are in fact a netroots nation.
I’ve watched Darcy hugged by bleary-eyed veterans at 2AM, not because they believe she will do their “bidding,” but because they know that as a congresswoman she will always be there to listen to their concerns, and then do the right thing. If that’s the sort of embrace that’s supposed to alienate Darcy from 8th CD voters, then I guess our critics are right, and “liberal” bloggers like me really don’t know the district.