During the 2008 election, Obama co-opted huge portions of the Left and its infrastructure so that their allegiance became devoted to him and not to any ideas. Many online political and "news" outlets -- including some liberal political blogs -- discovered that the most reliable way to massively increase traffic was to capitalize on the pro-Obama fervor by turning themselves into pro-Obama cheerleading squads. Grass-roots activist groups watched their dues-paying membership rolls explode the more they tapped into that same sentiment and turned themselves into Obama-supporting appendages. Even labor unions and long-standing Beltway advocacy groups reaped substantial benefits by identifying themselves as loyal foot soldiers in the Obama movement.After years of opposing Bush, and happily being won over and voting For Barack Obama, how do I, as a liberal, progressive blogger and registered Democrat, maintain my progressive principles and apply pressure on the administration from the Left, without alienating the base and losing the public "leverage" needed to affect change?
The major problem now is that these entities -- the ones that ought to be applying pressure on Obama from the Left and opposing him when he moves too far Right -- are now completely boxed in. They've lost -- or, more accurately, voluntarily relinquished -- their independence. They know that criticizing -- let alone opposing -- Obama will mean that all those new readers they won last year will leave; that all those new dues-paying members will go join some other, more Obama-supportive organization; that they will prompt intense backlash and anger among the very people -- their members, supporters and readers -- on whom they have come to rely as the source of their support, strength, and numbers.
Can a loyalist be an effective advocate for change and keep Obama on a progressive course, or are only the apostates listened to? By being hamstrung by this concept do I give up the megaphone and cede the battleground to Republicans?
A good question, and one I'll pondering going forward. Thoughts, anyone?