The Netroots and the Majority

I’m pretty sure I’ve said before, my biggest concern about Kos, FireDogLake, and other netrooty endeavors is how they’ll react to majority status, and whether or not they’ll devolve into the left’s answer to talk radio listeners. And events have only made me increasingly concerned about that. For example, you’ve now got Kos banning people for bringing up the John Edwards story, and Glen Greenwald leading the charge to wage jihad against the Blue Dog Democrats.

The former is rather minor on the scale of things, even if it does worry me that the Kossacks will inevitably enclose themselves in an echo chamber the same way Fox News viewers do, but the latter is just truly stupid on levels I can’t begin to describe. I’m not exactly a Blue Dog fan, and I agree with Ezra that the so-called centrist stands their supposedly “forced” into don’t make sense on the face of it, but that’s a far cry from being willing to expend an ounce of energy fighting Democrats.

The reason is simple; majorities matter. Anyone who thinks a majority is worthless if it hangs on Blue Dogs doesn’t pay a lot of attention to how Congress functions. And while the specifics of the argument may be dubious, there is truth to the idea that these people represent conservative districts that would never touch an across the board progressive, so anyone who thinks that it’s not a choice between tolerating a conservative Democrat on some issues or replacing him with a Republican are living in a fantasy world every bit as much as the right wind nutjob who thinks Tom Tancredo identifies with the views of 75% of America.

The trick is finessing this reality, and it’s something that Democratic leadership is very bad at. If, for example, a Blue Dog tries to say that the realities of his district won’t allow him to vote for universal healthcare, Democratic leadership should counter by noting that, if that is in fact the case, then his district isn’t really worth devoting DNC or DCCC resources to, and/or that said Congressman isn’t exactly in a good position to chair committees or important subcommittees. If he legitimately does have to vote against something like an assault weapons ban, then that should be understood and dealt with as reality,  but when the excuse is bullshit, then it should be called out for just that. But that’s a far cry from pretending like these districts aren’t really as conservative as they are on cultural issues.