Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Optimism

Publius is depressed. Not because of Hunter Thompson's death – like many people he hadn't really gotten into Gonzo – but he misses the victory that Thompson and other 60's warriors got to (briefly) experience.

I agree that the 90's weren't a time of great social victories. Clinton's political genius was to move slowly and inexorably toward the least bad, fully aware that the truly good would be insufficiently popular. And that was progressivism.

I was raised by 60's activists. Not hippies, activists. My mom helped organize the Chicago women's movement, including such projects as Jane. My dad and a friend helped expose weather warfare in Vietnam. I was raised to believe in change and action.

So I was proud that, last year, my parents got involved with a local congressional candidate for the first time since (maybe) the 70's. I don't take all the credit, but the activism of my generation inspired them to get back into the game.

Blogs haven't won anything. We didn't get anyone meaningful fired, we didn't beat Bush. But the torture story, the Plame memos, those would be gone if not for blogs. Blogs, wikis, and the decentralized and deeply democratic tradition of the internet is something that our generation can take credit for. It's a spirit that will change and is changing politics.

It was naive to think that we'd be able to turn this trainwreck around on a dime. By God we tried, and by God we nearly succeeded. And we'll do better next time.

Political communities like DailyKos and Dean for America were my introduction to practical politics. Because of them, I'm a believer in shouting strategy from the rooftops. That's new and scary to a lot of people. But it's a revolution that's swept into the heart of the DNC. That's a victory.

Whatever beef I had with Joe Trippi once upon a time, I think he deserves a lot of credit, along with Chairman Dean, for recognizing this transformation and jumping onto it with both feet. The revolution isn't over, but it's underway. In 2008, methods we all pioneered in 2004 will not be revolutionary, they'll be obligatory. Every serious race will have at least one blog tossing mud on each side. Internet strategy will be coequal with canvassing, if not TV advertising, in every race.

When that change ripples through the system, the effect will be revolutionary.

So cheer up, Publius. When you're riding the waves, sometimes you get swamped. But this wave hasn't crested yet, and as long as you feel like the waves are crashing around you, it means you're in the heart of the action.