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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/4/11

Flop as Progressive Force, the Internet Devolves to Entertainment

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Do you share my puzzlement that, despite so many spirited leftwing blogs, our real-world power varies between paltry and invisible?  We claim one independent senator, with another handful of part-timers, and a smattering of progressive House members. No visible leftwing adviser has the president's ear so even when sounding irritated, Obama channels a safe, party line, thus irritating the left.   Will he ever declare the obvious, more strategic truth: Republicans are exterminators of government, the middle-class, job growth, and national competitiveness?   


If the left were in business, such dismal productivity and market share would marginalize us.  So, next question: if we don't impact the landscape, what's the payoff for hundreds of smart folks spending hours huffing and puffing online?  And, push comes to shove, what if the left has lost the implicit "Internet wars," dissipating its political clout outside of Washington, too?   You'd think by now the game-changing Internet would have spawned a reform movement that put more genuine leftwing voices in office. 


As my father said, "failure teaches more than success because failure presses you to change."  Taking the big picture, I see one decade of the Great Recession following three decades of our Great Political Regression, kicked off by Reagan but undeterred since the mid-90's when the Worldwide Web went global. To rephrase Dorothy Parker, leftwing triumphs riding the Internet surge run the gamut from A to B.


What if for every progressive site three strident anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-government, arms-crazed Tea Party platforms blast off?  Speed, access, and information transfer have not so far served the literate, historically-minded left.  Worse still, knowledge is manifestly not power, especially when instantaneous.  Across the board, covert, fat cat financing has propelled the fringe right, pumping out its deceptive soundbites to evangelical churches, extremist factions and separatist groups.  Who assumes better times soon, as Obama and Senate Democrats squander the power bequeathed them after '08?


Liberals Out of Steam - and Search Engines


Our half-century liberal march forward is kaput.  Since 1995, when has the left controlled major legislative, Constitutional or regulatory policies, let alone restrained one imperial invasion?  By any traditional liberal standard, Obama has not reversed the Bush ship of state, despite stylistic shifts.  Even were he to show more good faith, Obama's incompetence at politics and governance -- epitomized by passively letting the radical rout take the House -- signals a president adrift, much less pro-active leader than defensive re-actor, the artful dodger of big, missed moments. 


To tabulate actual results since the Internet exploded, we have achieved: a very conservative judiciary owned by the plutocracy, extremist House majority, a war-loving, conservative Senate, and a crusading military, like Sen. McCain, who never met a war it didn't like.  Sure, the Pentagon is rescinding discrimination against gays, but this gain honors libertarians as much as liberals, plus fewer skilled warriors for unpopular wars.


Why, in short, has the breakthrough Internet Era facilitated no systemic breakthroughs -- not in the Senate (more obstructionist than ever), nor how the House or courts work, nor big business domination?   Information platforms revolutionized the data flow but not the status quo. How many progressives imagine that left-leaning web reports and rants, or in-between, change the world?  Momentarily, we buzz-bomb leaders, but not even the most articulate, well-informed outrage (from Glenn Greenwald, David Swanson, David Sirota, Robert Reich, Naomi Klein, etc.) stops one war-mongering president from blasting the next hapless, sitting duck in the empire's shooting gallery. 

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For a decade, Robert S. Becker's rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, messaging and frameworks, now featured author at OpEdNews, Nation of Change and RSN. He appears regularly at Dissident Voice, with credits (more...)

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