It's interesting to look at them as more of a psychological or personal empowerment movement for folks who have socially progressive instincts but find themselves comfortable and active in the business class and its general worldview.
In the early 80's Reagan's movement made it safe and fun to be a businessman, an entrepeneur.
Many who had never tried it before suddenly did, and purely at the level of a life adventure, it became a new way to have experience, to have a life.
So these movements rose up as a way of capturing what it would mean to continue to be somehow progressive, for someone now living in that new suit of clothes.
Not entirely unlike asking now what it means to be a Dem or progressive, when one has 'come of age' online and super-empowered as a netizen.
Maybe the netroots should re-christen itself 'the fourth wave'.
The problem is that even though there are more and more green businesses, social entrepeneurs and other things, and various think tanks have been set up, the progressive business class, so to speak, has not become a dominant institution.
All the main media organs of the business world seem suited up with talking points, platitudes and attitudes crafted during various phases of right-wing ascendancy.
It's cool to be successful and green, but this hasn't translated into it being cool for the newspapers and magazines and talk shows of business being self-consciously, unabashedly progressive.
If the third way could really take over that space or a chunk of it, then they would be viewed by progressives in general as great pioneers.
But they seem a bit ambivalent about their place in history.
They like having successfully found a place in the business world, and like coming up with, yes, spectrum-splitting political ideas, but they don't seem passionate about dominating the consciousness of the business world, setting the talking points of that world.
They seem more interested in talking in a business frame to the resistant progressives, than in talking in a progressive frame to the resistant right-oriented business class.
Seems like this is psychological, they want to be businessmen who do progressive things, rather than being progressives who do business.
What the right has set out to do and done very effectively is defining and dominating the discourse of the business world.
The voice of the left in the business world still sounds like an excuse or explanation or after thought in that space, while the voice of the right sounds like a proclamation or declaration of the givens of that world.
Progressive activities in the business world have thus remained a sideshow, and while awesome they are going on and growing, still have nowhere near the vibrance that would be needed to wield real power and thus no match politically for determined hard-right folks.
The third way still has its future cut out for it, still defining their place in history.
One way to look at it is you have an infrastructure and the question is who gets to use that infrastructure.
The 'infrastructure' must then be defined.
Just as when you build a highway, that build-out could potentially support uses other than auto traffic, like advertising, electric lines, rail traffic, money-making rest/service areas.
At some point the use of a given infrastructure for alternate purposes starts to cut into the capacity to support the originally intended purpose.
Internet infrastructure should be defined on the basis of capacity: How much throughput can it support (total bytes per second, etc) or How many customers at a given service level (so many thousand people using such and such speed of DSL)
If the government is essentially paying or even permitting an internet infrastructure, then the govt could mandate that out of the total carrying capacity of that system, X% must remain available to internet as we know it with net neutrality, with excess capacity allowed for other uses.
It could be specified as a percent of total bandwidth or as a fixed amount of bandwidth.
If the govt invests some amount of dollars, it should be clear exactly what sort of net-neutral internet bandwidth is being achieved for that price or permit.
If a brand new fiber system is put in place, specifically for internet, then maybe 100% of capacity would be internet.
But when an existing phone or cable system is modified to also support internet, then someone should define the internet capacity of that infrastructure.
Since upgrades and expansions of phone and cable systems often involve govt funding, approval and oversight, that would be the point to determine what the deal is.
Obviously infrastructure can be used for many purposes, without harming any, and is being so-used already, but what we want to avoid is a shuffle game where rich-content internet quality of service is degraded unless you use pay for a parallel, non-net-neutral pipe.
Saying the internet portion is net neutral is good, but without knowing what part of the infrastructure is dedicated to that purpose, we have no idea if these users will indeed get decent internet, youtube, etc or not.
We want to see a day when millions of people and institutions around the world can launch not only their own blogs, but also internet tv and radio stations, multimedia stations, interactive/rich-content two-way channels, so that a really great culture can happen, to support great education and life-long learning, political engagement, cultural exchange and startup business opportunities.
We don't want to be locked into a situation where 'internet' comes to mean text and low-bandwidth 'old technology' uses, and all the cool stuff can only be done on non-net-neutral private pipes.
Since technology is constantly leaping forward, we can't even imagine or be asked to spell out now all the uses of internet.
Instead we should look at the basic many-to-many, peer-to-peer, people-centric, neutral, open, creative nature of it and make sure the bandwidth will be there and the basic technology (ip packets for now) always supports the vision.
I think it may be better to look at the 60's phenomena as a consciousness awakening and social transformation movement
All aspects of society were opened up and permanently transformed by it
That includes politics, which for the first time began to include voices never before heard in DC
It's taken decades for all these changes to penetrate and create the possibility of actual power
And even now that is tenuous
That's because of two things:
One, the existing establishment ran the world, the good old boys. They were not part of what we now call the conservative movement, but they were the main political and social infrastructure in opposition to the changes being sought at the time.
Two, the rise of movement conservatism as a force centered around politics, getting people elected and framing debates so that they could get elected
Movement conservatism has never been a really viable long-term competitor to the 60's phenomena, it's much more narrow, it's a reactive and reactionary movement seeking to slow down and control an inevitable, evolutionary process in history
In the end it will be seen as a contributing voice, but not able to prevent the debate already in motion
To say the 60's should have been primarily organized around creating a viable political force is an interesting idea, but it was just a very different beast from that
It sought to change the world, not to elect a president
It did try to elect a president, McGovern, but the main point there was that it transformed political campaigns for good, it changed the Democratic party for good
On most fronts, you don't see the 60's having created huge centralized institutions; rather you see broad and deep transformation, which was its agenda
Now there is enough of a common ground that truly new, young, fresh political forces like the netroots can rise up and actually have an effect, rather easily and quickly if you think about it
The 60's was about creating that ground, and that process continues even today
The 'heros' today may seem disappointing, but if you read their life stories they fought important battles, often doing things for the first time ever
They are sort of accidental political creations, not at all the product of a movement training camp
So, that's why the netroots and 'the new politics' or whatever it will be called, is needed, because there are big missing pieces, and the opposition has mostly focused on those pieces for many years
But if you suggest you'd swap out the kind of change the 60's brought, for having a lean political movement, I think it misunderstands the nature of the change
Most of the world we know and accept and expect now is built off of hard-fought transformations that happened grassroots-up over all these years
That's actually the problem Repubs have, they have a decent top-down system, but it's ahistorical because these massive forces of societal evolution are too far along, too real to mask over even with the best message-machine
But agreed there was a missed opportunity to notice, at some point in time, what they were building and create something that could have a decent chance against it the last few years
The politics being defined now could well become the stable political shape of these forces that have been in play, chaotically, yet gathering in strength and depth, over all these years
And in a way, perhaps to succeed, that shape will necessarily also incorporate the best of the objections and insights and traditional cultural themes that the right has served up during the conversation
You should work this up a bit more and make it into a speech you can give at political gatherings, colleges, etc
Would need to perhaps lead into a section describing in a concise way the current orienting goals, themes, stories of the netroots, so it becomes, as a speech, a way to shine a light forward for this next phase
Maybe you could do some comparison with the various phases the 60's movements themselves went through, as they moved past 2 or 3 main turning points and then eventually were assimilated into the larger political context after Watergate or in the later 70's
In a strange way, this actually links up 'people of the future' with 'centrists' although they are 2 different birds
Centrists are those who though not young per se, are simply not inclined to fight history
Yet when history opens up, the tides turn and a wave of change emerges, they may go to the front lines and be part of a big leap transformation; they'll actually enjoy it and cite it later on their resume
Many centrists actually look completely comfortable when something progressive has happened, they like the new reality, just not the tumultuous, uncertain, hostile time leading up to it, which often doesn't succeed anyway
Until the point of inevitable movement to change arrives, they won't say that much, and won't invest in the often frustrating process of creating a wave or challenging what is in place or opposing reactionaries in a focused way
Maybe it's just a question of allocation of energy; and where you feel at home as far as process or time in history, rather than always a question of differences in vision or in enjoyment of positive change
He truly represents leadership in the next generation
And we are not in the age of the next generation yet
So, he simply takes for granted many ideas we might be arguing about now as progressive
But, he does not feel at home investing himself in the heat of battle with today's lingering holders of old-school views; it feels out of place to him.
Kind of like when you were young and didn't even want to deal with arguing with 50 year olds, didn't feel like a good or natural use of your energy
Because when he truly leads some day, such views will simply be the foundation for the era, the assumptions of an era
To treat them as if they were not already clearly seen as true, is too much of a mind-twist for him
(I can see him in a leadership role today, but not that this would be his real heyday yet)
So instead, he steps back and mostly focuses on damping down the hostility, and just taking it easy with the process, giving it time, and talking in a more off-hand visionary language, talking about that future to come and encouraging those who find their home there to focus on that
He could have a long career in politics ahead of him, after all
In a sense, the netroots today is arguing with the fact of how stuck people are now, and even enjoys that
So, that could be a difference
When the futurists of today, like netroots, meet up with the people of the future, like Obama, in some eventual tomorrow, it should be a happy relationship
There are people in the Repub party now, who represent a more or less good analogy to who Reagan was for Repubs in '80
They have roughly the same values and the same willingness to use bold rhetoric and over the top photo ops to make an identity/ideology point.
You have the same angry constituencies now as then, who still feel powerless ('Bush wasn't a conservative,' etc); and these leaders would like to make changes as bigger or bigger than any Reagan envisioned
Yet, clearly there is no Reagan among them
I think the truth is Reagan was the icon of a moment in history; he had his talents, but he came to represent something much larger than himself
Point being that simply having that style, will not bring you the loyalty of the masses, or the sense of being the voice of the moment
You have to be the voice of the historical moment
Carter was that when he came in, because of Watergate, but the dynamics in the country rapidly shifted
Clinton was when he came in, but again a rapid shift
Kennedy was, but again soon had resistance
Reagan benefited from a large transition in the national mood and a sustained '80's paradigm' that of course he egged on, but many people wanted to go there in a sustained way
When you ride the tide, then you can appear to kick down the naysayers and ride even higher
But it's not the kicking alone that does it, you have to find the tide and really be riding it
There is an anti-Bush and anti-Repub-incompetence and anti-Iraq and anti-stagnation-on-many-fronts tide, and probably will be in 08
But the winner must somehow grasp the more sustained forces of the next 5-10 years and be that, become the tide that is happening anyway, co-create it and kick down obstructionists as needed
Maybe another way to say it is make sure as a bar-fighter that you narrowly target, and perhaps necessarily caricature your designated opponent, in order to get the good photo op
We need a progressive leader who is effective at iconizing and embodying in their spirit the concept of progressive/populist change
That's slightly different or more than someone who is simply vociferous about it, or fights about it, or is a passionate expert about it
Something more about capturing the spirit of the tide and portraying that in all kinds of little and big ways
If you just fight in general, or even just fight what are legitimately good fights to those who really pay attention, you don't necessarily get the points from the people
There's a place you can be in politics which is squarely in the sights of your opponents frame, facing the full onslaught of the rage and hate he has lined up for you behind that frame.
It's not a fun place to be, or to make your argument from.
Most politicians seek to avoid this positioning, all kinds of ways of breaking out of the opponent's frame.
I think Obama's style is primarily about this, and it seems very effective in that narrow goal.
Lots of republicans and conservative swings like him a lot, very few say horrible things about him personally, many are willing to listen and see where he goes.
What's not clear at this point is if they would support him if he becomes someone who promotes daringly progressive or populist ideas; but it is clear that it would enable him to function well in an executive capacity.
Clinton was severely undermined in the ability to govern simply by the volume of hate going on, regardless of what actual policy Clinton proposed, even neutral ones.
So, there's something to be said to being skillful with your style.
If you look at black leaders of the last couple of decades (post-King), many have been deeply vilified, yet Obama is welcomed.
So, again, it seems to make sense, to be effective towards simply being heard, respected and liked as a person.
Perhaps he himself doesn't yet know how he will approach issues that are inevitably not-yet-consensus.
Perhaps he and others who are somewhat young, are sensing their will be a psychological shift in the nation which will allow progress in many areas, and they are biding their time while the storm settles.
Kind of like a 'let Bush pull himself down' tactic.
It's probably too early too tell, but in the primary season there will clearly be debates and points scored by those willing to take leadership stands and commit to real shifts in policy.
Style will win many votes, but it's not enough as the entirety of a campaign strategy.
Still, if you want to get as far as you can in support with a broad and friendly approach first, then extend it further with specifics later, who's to say that's not a valid approach, competitive with others?
It might not convince those who want specifics to sign up early, but it could convince style-voters to do so, building mass that way.
Any voter, whether style, issue, ideology, identity, movement or vision based, has a right to say 'I'm not convinced yet' and ask to be convinced; yet we can respect any rollout strategy a candidate wants to try as potentially viable until proven otherwise.
In case not clear above, meaning this suggests (strongly) what sort of a campaign would be waged against an Obama candidacy, not to mention Hillary
Whoever the Dem is must be prepared to deal with a craven situation
Is this move to pre-empt Obama?
McCain is a likeable guy, but I guess after finding himself screwed one too many times by wackos, he's adopted a lot of their playbook
This is what it takes to stay afloat in the Repub party at this point
Hopefully Americans won't be buying it anymore
Really well written piece
It's actually just such a little change in tone and wording being asked of Obama
He could make exactly the same core points he wants to make about bipartisanship as a virtue; including religious speech and values in discourse; being pragmatic and 'centrist' in that sense; going beyond red vs blue, etc, etc
All without using Repub talking points and trashing straw men
It's understandable that he is searching for his style, since he's so new in power
You experiment, fine
But he should be willing to listen to the feedback and improve on the experiments when he has nothing to lose in doing so and a lot to gain
Leave it to others to be the excessive triangulators, stake out a position as a leader; you'll exceed their success
People follow a leader because of leadership, not because of cheap shots at straw men
The Bush/Rove era is ending, Faux news too will fade, this is the time to stake out the leadership style that comes next, to represent the future, let go of the cheap shots of the past