The Failure of ‘Internet Democrats’ and the Mad Biologist’s Pentultimate Political Theorem

Which for those of you who don’t know is “People have to like this crap.” Matt Stoller lists several reasons why the progressive internet-based groups like MoveOn have failed so miserably in getting candidates elected (boldface mine):

Two, the internet Democrats need to understand the basis of George Washington Plunkett politics, which is that votes come from getting voters turkeys at Christmas. Voters want stuff, information on how to live their lives, increased incomes, a better world, tax cuts, the trash picked up regularly, whatever – and if you can’t credibly get it to them, your message is unpersuasive. It’s not that your arguments don’t work, it’s that you aren’t a trusted messenger, and you can’t win in a low-trust fight because low trust channels are dominated by oligarchs. This is why the failure of the internet progressive space to focus on wages or foreclosures from 2006-2010 was so catastrophic. It’s why the fact that health care doesn’t kick in until 2014 carried significant political costs. There simply is no progressive advantage on economic arguments anymore. Sheyman laid out standard left-but-not-too-left policy prescriptions – reimplementing Glass-Steagall, lifting the Social Security cap on earnings, Medicare-for-All, gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan – and they didn’t work. Why would one really junior member of Congress without any substantive record of accomplishment really matter? Why would anyone trust the progressive brand on economics?

One thing I’ve noticed is that people who have graduated from elite institutions–and who disproportionately make up the ‘internet progressive space’–often don’t seem to get the concept that, sometimes, you get one chance, and if you fuck it up (whether it’s ‘your’ fault or not), that’s it. There’s no way to ‘unfuck’ it. There’s no one to call, no way to fix it or do it again. Democrats and their progressive enablers did not realize that, in 2009, they had a very limited window of opportunity to make people’s lives better. And they had to deliver: As Charles Pierce puts it, “Fk the deficit. People got no jobs. Got no money.” This was not a matter of want, but one of desperate need.

I hope I’m being too pessimistic, but we had a once-in-a-decade chance (if that), and the Democrats along with their allied ‘progressive’ organizations conducted business as usual, and pissed away that chance.

Sucks for them, but it’s worse for the rest of us.

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