Monday, June 26, 2006

a FOX-induced stupor

georgia10, in full:
"For years, the press has focused with laser-like precision on the Republican base. After the 2004 election, the media's focus on the Republican base reached a nauseating fever pitch as we were subjected to fawning coverage of the "political" power of Evangelical Christians; we saw networks hire "faith and values" correspondents," and we saw them hire commentators straight out of the conservative movement. Liberal voters? They were barely mentioned, let alone mentioned as a cohesive and influential body within the party itself.

But something has happened lately. For various reasons, the media have ceased lovingly gazing into the navel of the Republican Party. They have lifted up their heads, tilted them slightly to the left, only to see a massive sea of people that previously existed only in their blind spot.

Yes, the Democratic Party does have a base.

And boy, judging from the reaction from some quarters of the press, it was like they stumbled upon a New World filled with an undiscovered indigenous people. Who are these members of the "netroots"? How do they interact? What are their goals? Who is their leader? Do they light bonfires and eat their young?

We saw it as the media descended upon YearlyKos, armed with cameras and notepads ready to "observe" this strange phenomenon, this corporeal gathering of the newly discovered Democratic base, as if they were filming a Discovery Channel documentary. For quite a while, their coverage of us focused not so much on us as much as on our reaction to things--such as our reaction to Colbert's speech.

We have always been here, of course. The only difference is that the internet has allowed us to meet in a 21st century public square of sorts. And yeah, like people do when they get together for change, we (gasp!) organize and we (holy shit!) debate strategy. We argue. We support each other. We raise money. We spend money. We make miracles happen, and we make mistakes. And, unlike the Republican base, we do this all publicly. Our debate is online, naked and raw. Millions attend our town hall meetings, and each participant speaks out in her own unique (and yeah, usually anonymous) voice.

I suppose it's only natural that when presented with something so unconventional, the media have tried to understand it in conventional terms. The fundamental flaw in the media's discovery of the Democratic base though is that they presume that the same traits they have observed in the Republican base apply equally to us as well. Thus, we have seen the effort to shove our movement into the jello-mold form of the Republican grassroots movement that has dominated politics thus far.

The Republican grassroots, of course, are characterized by a lemming-like herd which is purely reactionary. There exists a hierarchy on the right, characterized at the bottom by a scared shitless base huddled together in a FOX-induced stupor, awaiting the clarion call of one hate-mongerer after the other, whether it be blubbering idiocies of one Jerry Falwell, or the logically-impaired tirades of one Rush Limbaugh, or the shrill and maniacal rants of one Ann Coulter. What should we fear today? The gays or the Hispanics? The Muslims or the abortion doctors? Ted Kennedy or Jane Fonda? The New York Times or The New York Times? Theirs is a world filled with proud "Dittoheads" who take the word of those with the loudest and most obnoxious voices as Gospel.

That formula, as the media will eventually come to realize as it familiarizes itself with the new Democratic base, simply doesn't work on this side of the aisle. Square peg, meet round hole.

Let the media search for a leader. Heck, if they find one, can they let me know? Because I along with 90,000 or so of my friends have been thirsty for some real leadership. But a leader of this people-powered movement?

Try as they might, they won't be able to find much of a hierarchy on our side of the aisle.

It is, after all, a "people-powered movement," and the press has yet to fully comprehend the implications of that phrase. Where the Republican grassroots are pulled toward a goal by specific (and at times, self-appointed) "leaders," the netroots push toward their goals by their own volition and passion for change.

The form of our movement isn't a spear, with a single trajectory and a single tip inflicting a political blow. It is a tidal wave, stretching both left and right as far as the eye can see. It is composed of millions of drops of individuality riding currents of change, building stronger and stronger in the storm, dead-set on crashing against the shore.

Those who don't understand the nature of our movement will realize our force soon enough. Those who do understand us and our potential are those who are most vocally trying to still the political waters. It's futile, really.

Let some gaze upon us, mesmerized with curiosity. Let others cast their verbal pebbles at the roaring waters of our movement. It's all irrelevant. We existed before they took notice of us, and we'll exist long after their comments about us are forgotten.

In the meantime, we push forward. All of us--a whole movement greater than the sum of its parts, powered by ordinary people who are pursing an extraordinary concept of change."

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