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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Broder vs. Blogger

We here at The Democratic Strategist are obviously thrilled to have earned coverage from David Broder in today’s Washington Post. He is right to note that in our premiere issue, the contributions are not always based primarily on empirical evidence and data, but for our premiere we were more interested in providing the broad outlines of the various debates at the heart of intra-party disputes. Future issues will make much more prominent use of data and historical evidence, though as Broder notes, this issue was by no means devoid of such empiricism.
(Somehow, in the course of nearly 800 words, Broder neglected to mention the magazine’s witty, irreverant, and data-heavy managing editor and his blog….)
At any rate, we are more concerned here with the contrast Broder wants to make between us and the netroots community, which he portrays as unproductive and irrelevant to intra-party debates over new ideas and strategy. Actually, I can’t imagine Broder really believes that the blogosphere hasn’t contributed significantly to strategic debates among Democrats. From their prominence in and around the Dean campaign’s unorthodox surge to the front of the 2004 primary horserace to their virtual invention of online fundraising and grassroots activation, it is clear that the blogging community has powerfully shaped Democratic strategy. Regardless of whether one agrees with them or not, one can’t visit any of the prominent blogs without immediately noticing their obsession with strategy. That’s why we invited Jerome Armstrong (and actually a couple of other bloggers) to contribute to the premiere issue.
And even in the realm of ideas, bloggers such as Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias are at least as sophisticated in analyzing ideas as they are in evaluating strategy, and even Kos has laid out his own public philosophy.
It is fair to say that the Strategist intends to make empirical evidence a more central element than most blogs, and we reject advocacy of strategies that are weakly supported by evidence (if at all). But you know what? The netroots may very well be right on any number of questions where their answer differs from the Beltway conventional wisdom. And the latter, let’s admit, isn’t so evidence-based either. If it were, surely it would have learned from the past mistakes that have led to presidential losses in 7 of the last 10 elections. Too many times, Party insiders uncritically accept bad advice from “professionals”, and it’s not clear that the advice from those crashing the gates would be any worse. Bloggers, like professionals, come in both insightful and hack-y flavors.
The point is that all sides in these strategic debates make important points and have important roles to play. As for the Strategist, our role is to not take sides and to subject the claims being thrown around to rigorous examination. If we succeed, netroots and Beltway insiders alike will cohere around a set of strategies backed up by evidence, and we’ll all be controlling the levers of government.

4 comments on “Broder vs. Blogger

  1. George Hall on

    It seems that you are trying to set up a site for pooling strategies that could possibly help the Democratic Party which would be great!Our party is such disconnect it`s unbelieveable.There needs to be a foundaton for our party that reaches out to the people that our political representatives have for core beliefs.How can this happen when you have the DNC opposed by another group(DLLC)?To the outside it translates into these people don`t know what they stand for.Senators&congressman say one thing,DNC says another,and the DLLC has their own agenda.This to me looks like people fighting each other who are suppose to be on the same team!I certainly hope that this is a catalyst for a shift within the party!

  2. chicago dyke on

    oh, and i’ll correct myself: i looked it up again last night, and the number of nonvoting members of the electorate is actually closer to 25%, via GWU info.
    self correction! another feature of the blogosphere i’d like to see catch on.

  3. chicago dyke on

    But you know what? The netroots may very well be right on any number of questions where their answer differs from the Beltway conventional wisdom.
    Wow! This is irony, right? Or perhaps I misunderstand “Beltway conventional wisdom.” That’s the same ‘wisdom’ that brought us continued and unflagging Democratic centrist support for a costly, failing war and its Republican architechts, the leader of which has failed to rise above 40% in the polls for the last seven months; the Patriot Act passed unread by 99% of the members of Congress quickly followed by thousands of utterly unconstitutional breaches in civil liberties with nary a peep of protest or effective opposition; “I voted for it before I voted against it;” and such truly important legislative efforts like the anti-Rave, anti-gay rights and anti-video games bills.
    I’m glad this site exists. But if you want to be truly reality-based, remember that some of us actually live in it, and find this type of speech…less than useful, to put it kindly. There is a truly Democratic majority out there, in the form of the ~50% of the electorate that doesn’t bother to vote. When the Beltway Democrats learn to speak in a language that resonates with them, they will win, every election, every time.

  4. Cranky on

    Putting Broder aside, where he belongs, your last paragraph tells me you have bit off quite a lot.

    If we succeed, netroots and Beltway insiders alike will cohere around a set of strategies backed up by evidence, and we’ll all be controlling the levers of government.

    That’s a tall order but I wish you luck. Putting the power back in the hands of the people is going to take quite a lot after this Admin.
    Now back to Broder. If we have such a lack of power, why is everyone even talking about us ? We have over 2 yrs to pick and elect the next Democratic President, and if you look at the amount of buzz and bucks the blog world has gained in just the last couple yrs, by then we will have grown even more. Just the recent national exposure has pushed up membership is some of the blogs. Even today the Blogs are beginning to make a difference in what TV and Newspapers decide is news.
    Scott, just think, if this site succeeds Lou, or Leslie may be calling you.


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