Wow, is this an amazing coincidence--yesterday I posted about Kucinich, for the first time in awhile, and now look: here's the most well-known member of the "progressive" blogosphere trashing him...and mocking those of us who support him as "the cranky left." What a heart-breaker. (I truly mean that, not being sarcastic.) I must say, what a crazy world we must live in for someone who claims to be a leader at the heart of new progressive movement to use the same kind of dismissive, unthinking language against one of our movement's most prophetic and courageous leaders--and a sitting House member and former chair of the Progressive Caucus, I might add--that the right-wing and the mainstream media regularly use against our movement as a whole.
I have to confess, I have an on-again, off-again relationship with the wildly popular Dailykos website. I've gone through various "down" phases before, but just lately, especially through the '06 campaign season, I was becoming a pretty regular reader. I never could quite bring myself to join, though. And now I'm starting to remember why.
Back in 2004, Dennis Kucinich was hope to me and many others who had grown disgusted with the corporate Democratic Party of the 1990s. Dennis Kucinich spoke out courageously and voted against the war and has been resoundingly (if tragically) proven right by subsequent events. He has stood for and with working people for his entire political career and has been calling for universal health care for years. Dennis Kucinich stands for all the right (or should I say "Left"?) things. He is an authentically spiritual man who articulates ethical values without pandering and in a common language that transcends sectarian labels. He may not be the most conventionally telegenic politician in the world, but he came up from poverty and speaks from the heart. I was already coming back into the Democratic Party in the early 2000s, but it was Dennis Kucinich who inspired me and made me enthusiastic about pursuing progressive change within the Party instead of going outside to a third party. I volunteered for the Kucinich campaign, went door to door on freezing winter nights in my neighborhood to get signatures and even got on the ballot as a Kucinich delegate (didn't win the election, but I felt proud to stand as a candidate for Kucinich to the Democratic Convention). So please don't disdain or ostracize me as the "cranky left" and call one of our greatest American progressive heroes--or our campaign for him and the ideals he stood for--a "joke".
I believe that the greatest danger of the blogosphere as a vehicle for progressive politics is that it does not evenly represent the working people of America (or, of course, even less the world as a whole). Sure, it's great that avid internet users, who skew middle and upper class, are getting together. And there are some sincere efforts on the part of some popular progressive blogs (mydd more than dailykos, for example) to cover labor issues and working-class perspectives, and link to people like David Sirota who are consistently talking about it. But the "netroots" is not equivalent to the "grassroots". As a professional-class, academic person myself, I have lately gotten too comfortable with the on-line community oriented around Dailykos and other such sites and start to believe it is articulating "my politics".
But it's not. And little jolting reminders like this help me remember where my heart should really be. Not wasting all my time reading "progressive" websites that care more about their influence and triangulating to some mythical center than their ideals (although I will probably not be able to completely give up reading commondreams, HuffPo, and other alternative news and views sources, nor should I), but giving my time instead to movements that aren't afraid to articulate their ideals that they truly believe in and fight for them regardless of how much they are ridiculed by talking heads, be they on Fox News or the proprietor of the most popular "progressive" website in the world.