THE GATE IS CRASHED. I like Chris Hayes's argument that much of the revolutionary rule changes suggested in the netroots manifesto Crashing the Gates are rapidly emerging as conventional wisdom -- moreover, I think it's correct. Despite widespread beliefs that the base is locked in mortal combat with some sort of coherent Democratic establishment, I've never really noticed that to be the case. This is ground largely covered by Prospect alum Nick Confessore's The Myth of the Democratic Establishment, but it's worth going over again.
The Democratic Party's power-sources are discrete, and largely in tension. The official party carries no recognizable center of power, just a procession of competing camps tied together by amorphous, continually-mutating webs of alliance. Nancy Pelosi is close to Jack Murtha but tacitly undermined by her deputy, Steny Hoyer. Howard Dean theoretically controls the official party apparatus but is routinely smacked down by individual senators and luminaries. Unions have powerful funding authority but little actual solidarity, especially in the aftermath of SEIU's break from the AFL-CIO. GLBT, ethnic, and environmental groups have influence with important constituencies but limited actual leverage so long as Democrats remain in opposition. And so on, and so forth.
The fact of it is it's fairly easy to become part of the party's "establishment." And the netroots have made it. Harry Reid speaks at blogger conferences, Barack Obama pens missives to DailyKos, candidates shuffle forward with their begging cups out...bloggers are behind the curtain, and it turns out there's not much there. But that's why I like Markos and Jerome's new book. As Hayes notes, for a gatecrasher's manifesto, it's surprisingly intent on rather small procedural changes and more efficient approaches -- they're like management consultants for the campaign class.
But maybe that's what's needed. After all, with the netroots firmly ensconced behind the curtain and now receiving supplicants, it's time for them to demand something a bit more tangible than rhetorical fealty to techno-futurism. And having a powerful portion of the Democratic establishment force the adoption of best practices may make them the most interesting interest group of all.
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