Netroots Rising: Telling the Stories We Know

Two years ago I met Lowell Feld.

I was working with Jerome Armstrong at Mark Warner's Forward Together PAC, testing the national waters for a very successful Virginia Governor. Part of my job was reaching out to bloggers in key states like Iowa and New Hampshire. Naturally we needed to have the strong support of bloggers from Warner's home state of Virginia.

It didn't take long to figure out that getting Lowell Feld of RaisingKaine on board the Warner train was crucial.

Lowell had other things on his mind though. He was busy helping Jim Webb win a contentious U.S. Senate primary and didn't really want to discuss the 2008 Presidential campaign. As much as he liked Mark Warner, he had other things on his plate.

Over the remainder of 2006, as Mark Warner focused on helping elect Democrats, I stayed in close touch with Lowell. He had joined Webb as a full-time staffer, leaving behind a secure government job for the stormy seas of the campaign trail. When the poll numbers weren't what he wanted to see, he vented to me and I tried to use my decade's experience on the campaign trail to give him perspective.

When "Macaca" hit, we IM'd back and forth trying to figure out how to turn George Allen's blunder into a perfect storm for the Webb campaign.

After the nail-biter of an election we celebrated the victory and began talking about what was next for the two of us. In particular, we discussed possible ways in which we might be able to keep contributing to the netroots movement which had helped revitalize the Democratic Party -- and, more broadly, our democracy -- over the past few years.

We looked back with awe at the amazing campaign cycle we'd just been through, one which saw Democrats win majorities in both houses of Congress against long odds, and one which saw not at least half a dozen scrappy, underfunded candidates -- including Jim Webb -- beat BOTH the Democratic establishment in the primaries and the GOP in the general.

We knew something amazing had happened. And, because we had been behind the scenes working the internet for Democrats, we had a nuts-and-bolts perspective on what really made the big wins of 2006 possible. We were both pretty sure it wasn't Rahm Emmanuel's "move to the center." We were also both sure that wouldn't have happened without the explosion of citizen activism called the "netroots".

Somehow, the idea of writing a book to tell the story of the grassroots movement that made the difference for Democrats in 2006 came up. We'd both been involved since the beginning (2003) -- me as a Howard Dean activist in Texas, Lowell as a part of Wes Clark's netroots campaign and as founder of the Virginia political blog Raising Kaine (in January 2005).

Lowell hooked us up with a book deal and the next six months were a flurry of research, interviews, digging up old notes and emails and writing. We couldn't tell all the important stories -- honestly we couldn't even tell a small fraction of the important stories -- but we tried to tell the stories we knew the best and one or two others where we had access to great sources.

The book we wrote, Netroots Rising, is officially released tomorrow. As a supplement to the book, we'll be posting some of the many excellent interviews we did during our research for the book. We also plan to conduct new interviews and to write about some of the great stories that we didn't have room for in the book that will be posted on the Netroots Rising site.

SusanG at DailyKos was kind enough to give us a very good review on Daily Kos today. She neatly summarized a key part of the book, something that we worked very hard to pull off:

...Feld and Wilcox are able to objectively examine what goes right and what goes wrong when professional staff, grassroots volunteers and netroots enthusiasts come together. It's a new frontier, one fraught with possibilities for failure, jealousy and misunderstanding, but these two netroots veterans manage to keep a level-headed balance between realistic expectations and inspirational goals. While they consistently take pride in the success of their wired part of the movement, they recognize that in order to fulfill its full potential, an integration between institutionalized politics and people-powered movements must occur, and that blogs--in all their gradations of variety, activism and different shades of serving as media--are still in an exciting phase of evolution.

This project is just beginning. We've made huge leaps since 2002 -- when there was effectively no way for non-wealthy individuals with no inside connections to impact the political system -- to now, when many of us have found ways to come together online and off to make many small impacts that cumulatively can be very large. There is an enormous amount of work remaining, but we wanted to tell some of the stories of 2002-2006 while the memories were fresh.  

There's more...

Sick of the Netroots

No doubt this is a Democratic year, but that doesn't prevent Democrats from trying to find a way to lose. The current methodology is by attacking their candidate. Everyone knows The Right is unhappy with McCain, but the reason they win and Democrats lose is that they will choose party over candidate. Not the Democrats, who have a certain knack for screwing up sure things.

It is very simple really. The media is like a two-year old child. They will repeat what they are told by some outside source. If the Democrats profess happiness with Obama, all stories will reflect this and will shift the focus onto McCain's problems. But when there is dissatisfaction in the ranks...MYDD, Daily Kos, Huffington, TPM, Open Left, etc.,...all the sudden Obama has liabilities which leads the dumb media to exploring all of this other liabilities(Islamic name, black, Rev. Wright, no experience, etc.).

All liberal bloggers who have put this dumb FISA issue and Obama's move to the center up as a rallying cry on their sites, which he must do to win, morons, as not enough people agree with you and your leftist views, should be dragged out back and beaten....to quote Bill McNeal.

By the by, Keith Olbermann's special comment is on this very subject, how the FISA bill none of you have read but love to criticize Obama for selling you out over, is actually so poorly written that it doesn't prevent any of the Telecommunications companies from being CRIMINALLY prosecuted. It just prevents civil cases...i.e...all of Daily Kos joining up in a class action civil lawsuit because, most assuredly, the government is having the Telecoms monitor every single movement of yours.

Stop shooting yourself, Democrats, and the causes of the left by being petulent whiny bastards. The Right doesn't do this and The Right wins. The left does this and the left loses. It really isn't that hard.....don't shit where you eat.

These Netroots take themselves oo seriously. The media is now feeding of their childish tantrums. I'm sick of them making Democrats lose.

Obama as nominee has to appeal to ALL Americans not just Democrats. If Obama loses, then this party is OVER. No party that loses 3 times in a row will be viewed seriously.

There's more...

Sick of the Netroots

No doubt this is a Democratic year, but that doesn't prevent Democrats from trying to find a way to lose. The current methodology is by attacking their candidate. Everyone knows The Right is unhappy with McCain, but the reason they win and Democrats lose is that they will choose party over candidate. Not the Democrats, who have a certain knack for screwing up sure things.

It is very simple really. The media is like a two-year old child. They will repeat what they are told by some outside source. If the Democrats profess happiness with Obama, all stories will reflect this and will shift the focus onto McCain's problems. But when there is dissatisfaction in the ranks...MYDD, Daily Kos, Huffington, TPM, Open Left, etc.,...all the sudden Obama has liabilities which leads the dumb media to exploring all of this other liabilities(Islamic name, black, Rev. Wright, no experience, etc.).

All liberal bloggers who have put this dumb FISA issue and Obama's move to the center up as a rallying cry on their sites, which he must do to win, morons, as not enough people agree with you and your leftist views, should be dragged out back and beaten....to quote Bill McNeal.

By the by, Keith Olbermann's special comment is on this very subject, how the FISA bill none of you have read but love to criticize Obama for selling you out over, is actually so poorly written that it doesn't prevent any of the Telecommunications companies from being CRIMINALLY prosecuted. It just prevents civil cases...i.e...all of Daily Kos joining up in a class action civil lawsuit because, most assuredly, the government is having the Telecoms monitor every single movement of yours.

Stop shooting yourself, Democrats, and the causes of the left by being petulent whiny bastards. The Right doesn't do this and The Right wins. The left does this and the left loses. It really isn't that hard.....don't shit where you eat.

These Netroots take themselves oo seriously. The media is now feeding of their childish tantrums. I'm sick of them making Democrats lose.

There's more...

Protecting Our Asses: Rewarding Good Behavior from Congresspeople

I've already written in one comment that I'm very disenchanted right now.  Somehow, we're still in Iraq, don't have universal healthcare, don't have stem cell funding.  We're seeing pushes for offshore drilling.  And this week, our party assumed the position when it comes to FISA.

What was even more infuriating is to see candidates that many candidates heavily supported the grassroots and the Netroots (both in the more limited sense that includes the page DailyKos, Swing State Project, etc collaborate on. and the broader sense to include all of the liberal websites such as Democracy for America and MoveON).  It's both heartbreaking and infuriating to see people like Patrick Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand, Nancy Boyda, Jim Webb, and Jerry McNerney, people we thought would be the vanguard of the coming progressive era, vote they way they do, with the likes of Murphy and Gillibrand joining the Blue Dogs!

There's more...

Net roots revolt over FISA and Obama

Only weeks into the general election campaign and already a notable tension is beginning to materialize within the Democratic Party. At question is Sen. Barack Obama's relationship with the progressive netroots, the online community that helped aid the Senator's rise to the presidential nomination, but has since seemingly played second fiddle in terms of courted constituencies.

Obama's decision to embrace a compromise on FISA legislation -- a virtual slap in the face to some progressive bloggers demanding no legal immunity for telecommunications companies -- was the catalyst of the recent chatter. Other concerns arose days prior when Obama cut an advertisement on behalf of a conservative southern Democrat whose primary challenger was favored by the liberal blogosphere.

But for some progressive activists, the issue is not simply one of policy, but a concern that Obama's willingness to snub their political wishes is far more endemic.

"You can see it with FISA. He really doesn't feel that much kinship with the priorities of the netroots and I don't think he has made any secret of that," said Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake. "I have to say he is very consistent. He has gone outside the netroots for his strategy... People who feel betrayed right now, I'm not sure why, because it is extremely consistent with what they should have expected."

Indeed, there is ample evidence to suggest that Obama's standing with the netroots has not always been peachy. Prior to his victory in Iowa, he consistently trailed former Sen. John Edwards (and, on occasion, Chris Dodd) in the Daily Kos primary poll. Even before then, his (now-chilled) relationship with Sen. Joseph Lieberman as well as an essay he posted (again on Daily Kos) concerning Supreme Court nominations earned him some plaudits but also skepticism among some prominent online voices.

As a former aide to Sen. Hillary Clinton told The Huffington Post, had the New York Democrat not had her own problems with the crowd, her campaign would have been a far more natural home for the progressive netroots.

"I don't understand why a group like MoveOn backs Obama," said the aide. "Hillary is the one who will build up the Democratic infrastructure. She's the one promising to fight the ideological battles. He's the one who is talking about moving beyond partisanship. And they love him for it."

and then This : Huffingtonpost confirms that Obama will try to remove immunity , but WILL SIGN THE COMPROMISE! . My question is, how can you  be for a compromise- a compromise ;that was on the immunity part and yet say you will SIGN it.

What if the final package is passed w/ the immunity? This is obfuscation at its best!"I'm against it before I vote for it"?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced this evening that he will vote against the compromise FISA legislation and work with likeminded colleagues to strip immunity for telecom firms from that bill.

It is a position that puts the Democratic Senate leader at odds with his own party's presumptive presidential nominee, Barack Obama, who also has pledged to fight for the removal of immunity but will vote yes on the final package.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/06/24 /reid-wont-support-fisa-co_n_109036.html

There's more...

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