Saturday, July 19, 2008

The sheep have been herded

Ronnie Cummins has a column at CounterPunch that characterizes the so-called Netroots Nation (formerly Yearly Kos): Netroots Nation or Nation of Sheep? Here's part of his description of this morning's proceedings:
Saturday morning, July 19. Sitting here at the Netroots Nation conference in Austin, Texas with several thousand other online activists. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party Speaker of the House, the third most powerful politician in the United States, is up on the podium, doing her best to damp down the mounting criticism of the Democratic Party's shameful collaboration in funding the war and aiding and abetting the Bush administration's shredding of the Constitution.

Before Pelosi speaks, an announcement is made from the podium that disruptions will not be tolerated--if any of us express our frustrations too passionately with Pelosi and the sell-out Democratic Party leadership we will be arrested. The first question the Netroots moderator poses to Pelosi is about impeachment. This generates considerable applause and cheers from the crowd. Pelosi, notorious for proclaiming that "impeachment is off the table," artfully dodges the question and evasively talks about censuring the Bush administration and getting tough on Karl Rove. This generates polite clapping from the front of the room, where all the tables have apparently been "reserved" for Pelosi fans. In contrast I can see groans, grimaces, and shaking of heads from many of us, the netroots rabble, sitting at the back of the hall.

I resist a strong urge to get up and leave. How long will the centrist bureaucrats of Netroots Nation and groups like MoveOn roll-over for lowest common denominator Democrats and Barack Obama? After an hour of rather boring rhetoric by Pelosi, Al Gore makes a surprise appearance on the stage, letting Nancy off the hook.
And yet many of those groaning, grimacing, and shaking their heads will continue to carry water for Pelosi and her ilk. In other words, they'll be good little sheep, just following the herd. Well, if you follow sheep, you'll step in a lot of sheep manure.

I noticed Cummings is plugging something called The Grassroots Netroots Alliance. I'll be curious to see if it amounts to something useful. One potential warning signal for me that it may end being less than promised is this statement:
GNA sees itself as complementary, yet also an alternative, to MoveOn.org and other pre-existing progressive, radical, and libertarian online networks.
Not sure being complementary to MoveOn and these other alleged "progressive" organizations is such a great idea. Better to focus on being an actual alternative altogether as Cummins is right that the doomsday clock is ticking.

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