Friends Don't Let Friends Drink and Post
While some of you may have heard that the Blogosphere is controlled by the uberfascist sushi eating rabid Lambmaster Kos, here at Corrente, our first loyalty will be to His Majesty of the Grey Turtleneck, may he rule forever, amen. Who has proven once again why we'll never be anything more than a bunch of kids in pajamas typing fever induced swampiness from parental basements in flyover land. How will we every get Rahm to take us seriously? Clearly, Atrios, you're killing the party.
I love the blogosphere, I've been a junkie for going on six years now, and while that doesn't put me in the same category as the truly Royal Netizens who can stroke long beards while spinning yarns about the Glory Years at the The Well, I'm familiar enough with various communities today to feel at home talking about what can and cannot be done in many net environments.
Mark makes the powerful, simple point we should all remember in this election year:
Itâ€™s as simple as this: Interest groups think like interest groups, netroots want to think like a party.
Party on dude! I'm not being quaintly stupid here, but I want to underscore his point by adding that the lefty blogosphere really should be thought of like a party, in the drinking, dancing and sex-in-the-bathroom sense, as much as the more traditional political application of the word. It's crazy out here, filled with silly, irrelevant, foaming at the mouth, unstable, marginalized, lonely, angry people. Which is a good thing.
Let me back up a second here, and offer this comment from the second link in this post:
One side believes in running generally conservative self funding candidates as much as possible and in giving up base voters in safe seats to try and score a few swing voters in swing states. They believe in the air game (ie. television ads) and in only trying to compete in districts where they feel the party has a chance this election cycle. The other side believes in the ground game, in the netroots and in organizing in all states and running everywhere. They believe that Republicans win not because they have more money for TV ads (though they do) but because they have spent over 40 years building an institutional advantage - they have more people working, all the time, to not only elect Republicans but to sell Republican ideas. This side believes that Democrats must come across as strong, and as believing what they say. They are happy to run Progressive candidates, or Conservative candidates as long as those candidates appear to be willing to stand up for what they believe and while they want to see some self funding ability, they aren't as wedded to the candidate with the most money, if the other candidate seems to have stronger community roots and a bigger volunteer base.
I agree with this analysis of the "two sides" of the Democratic party membership and activist base 1000%. But I want to add something my friend Arshad reminded me of at Kosvegas: people won't work for you if it's not fun for them to do so. Seriously, when was the last time you took time out of your schedule to "do something" for a group or the party, knowing that what you were going to do would be boring, with a group of really depressed and downtrodden people, or required you to be ultraserious all the time? And even if you did, you probably didn't rush right back to do it again.
If we can't have fun, we're dead.
One of the Democrats' biggest strengths is that we're the party of, in no particular order: good sex, kinky sex, sex outside of the onerous bonds of marriage, pot, booty shakin funk, hard drinking, good food from France, puppets, baby animals, religious rituals that happen at night with your shoes off, gay sex, and perhaps most importantly, the belief that people shouldn't have to work 75 hours a week for no pay in an environment with all the benefits of slavery. We also like to have sex.
I think one of the reasons why there's such a push on the Right, in the media, and from the DLC types to denigrate and belittle the blogosphere is because they are afraid that once more people realize how much fun we're having out here...well, let's just say I know without experience that Joe is a very, very boring person and I'm not missing anything by not going to any of his fundraisers. Lamont, on the other hand...well, did you see how he took his mom to that well known public event of iniquity and booty shakin, the the Puerto Rican Parade??? They have, like, brown people and foreign flag waving there. Scar-y!
I'm a really boring person most of the time. All I do is babble in a pretentious and overly serious mode about the Impending Doom That Will Consume Us All if we don't stop the Republicans yesterday. I know this about myself, and it's one of the reasons why I probably shouldn't be making critical decisions about various matters political. But I throw really, really good parties. Ask anyone. (Of course, credit for that one has to go to my ultra hip blogmates, who did all the work and let me drink most of the wine. You rock, kids!) So I feel compelled to point out that the key to throwing good parties is several-fold:
1. Invite a few crazy people. A party filled with people who are bland, agree on everything all the time, and who stand up straight is Booor-ing. Throw parties like that and pretty soon you'll find yourself with exactly no cool friends, and less money for your cause, if it's a political goal you have in mind.
2. Make sure you have things like really good food and music, and of course plenty to drink (and smoke, if you can get away with it). Don't be stingy. Throw a couple of well-stocked parties and pretty soon people will be bringing their own stock to add to yours. Professional reputations are built upon social ones, just ask Warner. (For the record, I ate no sushi. I was too busy talking to the interesting people there.)
3. Be Fabulous. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't take a lot of money. Yes, it helps if you can shop at places which will guarantee you look fabulous (assuming you can fit into their stuff) but I've gotten away with shopping at used clothing stores for years, and few are the wiser. And being Fabulous isn't just about looking good- it's about being outgoing, filled with easy laughter, being able to bring sarcasm, wit and humor as well as serious analysis to the conversation, and picking on the strong while defending the weak with open love. People who don't think they are fabulous and don't know how to be just need to go down to the closest busy gay bar and make friends with the most glittering Tranny. She'll teach you all you need to know, and is probably a very "boring" person in "real" life who walks past you during the day without catching your eye. The transformation into Fabulousness is easy once you learn to embrace whatever part of you is the most outrageous.
Now, you're probably thinking, "What the hell is she babbling about now? This has nothing to do with the elections this year? Why is she wasting my time talking about transexual pot smokers?"
But returning to Boring Serious mode: It has everything to do with winning this fall. Democrats are at almost every disadvantage- the media is against us, we have less money, we're squabbling and fighting with the Establishment within the party, Republican incumbents have a 40+ year old machine working for them...it's a depressing list if you dwell upon it too much. But it's also the case, IMHO, that the American people are tired of being scared, tired and lectured all the time. I know I am. I'm too young for serious navel gazing, but I'm starting to truly yearn for the Golden Age that was the 90s. I want to be happy like I was so often back then, and able to think about positive things and a bright future. All Terror All the Time is a soul-blackening environment in which to have to function. It's time we reminded more people of that, and that we can still be against true terrorist threats even as we're against American Pseudofascism.
Republicans have made great strides for their causes by doing two things: stealing control of the apparatus of power (the media, vote shenanigans, corporate corruption and collusion) and by kicking our asses in terms of on the ground organizing. Unlike us, they have accomplished the latter in really boring, monochromatic environments like churches and PTA groups.
But a quick review of popular culture shows that the number of people who want to get 'fired up' at hate fests and clinic bombing planning sessions is not a majority. Even moderate Republicans are listening to hip-hop, downloading porn, and having dinner with their gay next door neighbors. Obviously, those of us with more Democratic inclinations are all about those aspects of life that are the opposite of dour, fearful, isolationist, etc. And as Liz points out, more and more of us are getting up off our asses and doing something to make the world a little better. So the potential is there; it's up to us to convince more people that now is the time, and also the time to have fun.
Going back to the TPMCafe post:
Netroots, on the other hand, doesnâ€™t need to worry about bipartisan deals because it doesnâ€™t have a cause. Instead, it is a vision of what the Democratic Party ought to be: Liberal, sure - up to a point. (Ideology barely begins to explain why some politicians - Brian Schweitzer, Harry Reid - are netroots favs). Fights back. Responsive. Broadly critical of corporate power. It is not a faction looking for influence in the Democratic Party, as Scheiber puts it, but the vanguard of a strong and cohesive party.
While Garance is right to point out that the netroots canâ€™t substitute for the voter mobilization that labor produces (and doesnâ€™t even try - this is not a voter turnout operation), there are also shortcomings to the traditional advocacy-group model of voter turnout. Only a party can do the kind of serious targeting that the Republicans do, not finding voters through membership lists but locating people who fit the economic and demographic profile of Republican voters.
What is our profile, and how can we locate more people to become a part of the Movement? I think our profile should include, in addition to being people who "fight back" and are "critical," people who like being happy and who have fun. We do that really, really well on the blogosphere. So much that my nonblogging friends are starting to worry that I've become some kind of shut in. But as I keep telling them, I come here again and again not just to stay informed, but because the blogosphere is chock full of people who make me laugh.
I had a really good time at Kosvegas, I met so many interesting people and I'm sorry I won't be able to make it for DemocracyFest, but I know it will be a good time and you should go if you can. And you should bring a less politically active friend. In person and online, the netroots movement is about so many things, but one of our greatest strengths is that we're wild and crazy, and we have embraced why that makes us both powerful, and wonderfully, happily fun.
The short version of this post: you'll make more friends with honey than vinegar. Sure, you'll catch some flies too, but hopefully they will all be the Republican kind. Instead of bitching about how the netroots movement isn't serious enough, let's embrace its wacky, freewheeling nature completely. We can walk and chew gum at the same time- weâ€™re Democrats after all.
Thinking asymmetrically, I think we have to admit that we won't win this war by taking on the fascists with their own weapons. I believe that one of the most effective means of bringing them down is to get people to see that the Chimperor has no clothes, and to mock him in all his absurdities. Sure, that means a couple of us puppetwalkers will get thrown in jail now and again. But it's still the case that when people are down, they turn to the ones offering succor with warmth, feeling and laughter more than they turn to those promising only guilt and shame.
This fall, let's remind everyone that The Village Idiot needs to go, and that we can all have a good time making that happen. The future doesnâ€™t have to seem bleak, and if we convince enough people of that this year, we can bring back Happy America, and say goodbye to Puritan America once and for all.
...oh, I forgot to say â€œfuck.â€ Weâ€™re known for that here, and I wouldnâ€™t want to disappoint the Serious People. Fuck Bush!