Underestimate us at your peril…
Here’s what too many people still don’t understand — there’s nothing loony about the netroots. This isn’t fertile territory for the McKinneys and Kuciniches of our party. This is fertile territory for the Howard Deans of our party — sensible, pragmatic progressives who aren’t afraid to be Democrats. Why? Because we’re the nation. We’re not clustered in DC and NYC, we’re spread out over all 50 states, and we know better than anyone what it takes to win in our own backyards.
We didn’t rally around Webb, Tester, Schweitzer, Trauner, Brown, Massa, Burner and so many other moderate Democrats because they were little Kucinich clones, but because they were perfectly suited for the states and districts they seek to represent. It’s that simple. Howard Dean wasn’t an anomaly. He was our ideal.
Of course, there are fringe elements to every movement, but there is nothing loony about the netroots, which is merely a revitalized, grassroots progressive movement, distinguished by its highly effective use of new technologies to achieve greater efficiencies in organizing, messaging and fundraising. And while our style and tactics may sometimes come across as unconventional, our political agenda is not.
No, what our critics miss is that the netroots are above all an exercise in political pragmatism, as embodied in our unofficial rally cry: “More and better Democrats.” Our emphasis on more Democrats is a simple recognition of reality: a two party system in which the electoral success of the Democratic Party currently provides the clearest path toward a more progressive political agenda. And our emphasis on better Democrats is a recognition that in terms of ideology, competence and ethics, our party is far from perfect.
But our motto also represents a pragmatic compromise… an effort to strike a balance between the need to improve the Democratic majority, and the need to expand it. And that compromise is reflected in the candidates we embrace, on a district by district basis.
How well we’ve managed to strike this balance, we’ll learn in another week.