Blogosphere & Direct Democracy
© by Stephen Neitzke, 2006Digby's experience this past weekend in LA, attending his tribal gathering to watch Laughing Liberally, is helping me get right with the blogosphere. It's giving my blogosphere views some better resolution, some sharper focus.
It's clear now that there are huge, essential accomplishments happening around the snarled-in-place netroots. It's clear now that the bloggers' dancing faster and faster with the minutia of current political intrigue -- with little or no big-picture time or remedies -- is serving some good purposes.
Gathering a local liberal tribe for face time is a huge and essential part of doing democracy. It was one of the factors that wagon-camp families noticed in the late 1870s, as they gathered on southern and western plains to organize the National Farmers Alliance to fight "crop-lien" racketeering with co-op economics. (Lawrence Goodwyn is the guru of those times.) Those wagon camps helped organize about a million early populists into the beginnings of the Reform Era's corruption fighting.
The Reform Era's cap, the urban Progressive movement, made the Reform Era the greatest democracy movement of recorded history. With the direct support of many tens of millions, citizens in 26 states forced direct democracy -- beyond the mere election of representatives -- into their elitist state constitutions. They then turned and fought money-power in state and federal courts, winning judgments that the mix of direct democracy and representative govt is a little-r republican form of govt intrinsic to the Constitution.
Constitutionally-defined direct democracy is one of history's great legacies to a later civil society, sitting there in many state constitutions, just waiting for us to clean it up and use it to fight today's mega-corruption. Money-power is so worried about that constitutionally-defined legacy that they have spent a lot of money and scheming to plant anti-DD propaganda bombs everywhere possible, ever since.
The great DD legacy would not have happened without the face time of prarie wagon camps, building into the organized efforts whose agonizing losses of freedom to money-power's racketeering triggered urban empathy and the Progressives.
In Digby's Sunday piece, "Laughin' With Yo Homies", he remarks, "We're starting to take ownership of the Party, I think. Good for us."
Agreed, that taking ownership of the Democrtic party is good for the liberal movement. Having possession of a major party is better than trying to run reform from a third party -- a third party that the two corruption monsters can gang up on.
Fact remains, the Democratic Party is one of the gigantic corruption monsters. Do I need to make the case? Nah.
I'm very skeptical about this nascent progressive movement out of the netroots getting any more ownership than what the corruption monster wants them to think they have. I'm deeply convinced that ownership is now -- and will be, well past Election 2006 -- more illusion than fact.
Still, it's leverage that can be put to good use.
The trick is putting it to use for objectives beyond a warm and fuzzy-wuzzy trusting of candidates based on their bald reform promises. Campaign reform promises are among the most hackneyed of bad political jokes on the American people. Newly elected incumbents have a wide range of ways to reneg on, shift the meaning of, and/or collapse the need for whatever campaign reform promises they made. And when they do such things, the people who voted for them are left with empty sky. What to do, oh, what to do?
However, when newly elected incumbents pull the standard operating bullshit of tossing away campaign reform promises, and the people are holding a signed promisory note -- a "tough-love pledge" -- that commits the incumbent to work for his/her promises or be on the receiving end of the constituency's wrath at the next election, then the people have a sky filled with vengence.
I'm convinced that every candidate supported by netroots votes should sign a tough-love pledge before Election 2006. If they waffle, they were never a genuine candidate to begin with.
This is where we come back to my original turf -- the direct democracy turf roundly scorned by lottsa netroots members. One even parrotted Clinton's famous predator-cliché at me -- "There's nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what's right with America".
Don't change a thing, Turncoat Clinton trumpeted. Money-power's corruption engine has everything set so that it works best for everybody. The superrich get obscenely excessive riches and the poor get nothing. They'll thank us later for being so wise.
Sure, we know that the end of corruption is just one or two elections away, don't we? We know that the corporate financial sleaze ripping hundreds of billions of dollars out of the society with tricks out of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Modernization Act of 1999 will immediately stop after we win an election or two, don't we? We know that the outsourcing industry will suddenly give us back our premium jobs after we win an election or two, don't we? We know that the corporate pharmaceutical sleaze will suddenly stop windfall profit-taking at the expense of millions of lives after we win an election or two, don't we?
You know that I can run out this question set for the rest of the day, don't you?
Have you completely lost your minds? Corruption inside the box of pure rep govt is owned by money-power. They have the money and the power. We have no power that can stop them -- inside the box.
Electoral power is gone with the wind of the Diebold hack-o-matic vote-counting software. Even if we manage to win that back, and win Elections 2006 and 2008, we are still putting up some few incumbents who, history proves over and over, can be coerced, bribed, or murdered for the greater glory of the corruption engine.
Get onto the direct democracy turf -- outside the pure rep govt box -- and, suddenly, the game changes. Out here on this turf, there's not enough coercion, bribery money, or murderers to handle the assignment. A carefully protected 2nd NCC (national constitution convention) is possible. Changing the political dynamic from the pure rep govt owned by the corruption engine to a mix of pure rep govt and direct democracy's eight, fully independent, horizontal, non-hierarchical, governance components means righting the wrongs and fixing outside the box what can't be fixed inside the box.
Out here on the DD turf, we have the power to end the Bush-Cheney despotism in all its three-branch glory. We have the power to prevent money-power from ever again perpetrating such a thing against us. And, if they should come up with new tricks to stick it to us, we will have the power to quickly finish whatever they start.
Right now, we've none of that.
But there's the blogosphere, struggling into political reality. It's not all good, but it's a start.
Even if the blogosphere progressives don't get it this time around -- even if they don't anticipate the corruption engine moves during and following Election 2006 and wind up losing the war again -- it's very likely that the blogosphere progressives will still be standing when Election 2006 is over. They'll likely have a still-growing organization and a growing sense of the importance of their tribal gatherings. They'll likely still have a sense that they can get Democratic Party ownership, if they just move their tactics to outside the box and onto direct democracy's turf.
Maybe then, in just one more loss to the corruption engine, they'll be ready to stop squandering the Reform Era's great DD legacy.