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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Netroots Precis

-- RedDan

There have been a number of recent articles and blog posts over the last several months detailing a wide variety of opinions about the progression of events over the last decade, and how that progression has resulted in the current state of affairs. Specifically, these various recountings have tried to explain how the blogosphere and the political Liberal/Progressive/Left have coalesced into what appears to be the beginnings of a strong, loud and effective force for political change.

Jonathan Chait, in his article in The New Republic Chait, TNR, spends a lot of time discussing “The Netroots,” the blogs, DailyKos and the rise of a vocal “progressive” movement. Chait suggests that these developments are rooted in the election of 2000 and puts forward the opinion that the motivating force that drove so many to online organizing and commenting was the feeling among many across the centrist/liberal/progressive/leftist spectrum that the election was stolen, that the Democratic leadership was lacking in spine, and refused to fight back.

Prior to Chait’s article, there was an extended and wide-ranging series of debates that took place across the blogosphere over the use, meaning, utility and impact of “The Netroots.” The arguments were long, passionate, and well researched and written, on all sides, and I strongly urge readers to take a few hours and read the various exchanges (again). The comments attached to these arguments were equally informative and interesting, and are worth a read as well.

Here are the links to the main components of the argument:

Moving Away from the 1960’s Left - Matt Stoller

My Left Fanny - Max Sawicky

The Good Old Days, My Ass - Steve Gilliard

A Note For Steve Gilliard - Max Sawicky

Iraq and the Netroots - Hunter, DailyKos

The One Way Flow of Progressive Movement Money - Chris Bowers

Is our Bloggers Learning? - Max Sawicky

I think that there is some truth in what Chait suggests (even though the bulk of his article is, in my opinion, very much off the mark, and indicative of the same tin ear demonstrated by so many in the supposed liberal pundit class). However, like much of what is written in The New Republic and other opinion/discussion outlets on the “liberal” side of the political spectrum, the analysis is shallow, the history is vague, and the connections between events are poorly made. He’s really reaching for the most convenient…and most easily dismissed…explanation for the changing political landscape. I cannot help but think that the reason why Chait, and so many others like him, so often make such a reach is for the purposes of dismissal: If the explanation is easy and the motivations shallow, then the “movement” can be dismissed (as it so often is) as childish, immature, and not worthy of serious attention other than to figure out how to shut it down.

There are many arguments to be had about and lessons learned from the history of the Old and New Left, from the conflicts and synergies between progressive movements and populist movements, from the centuries-old conflict between the Reformists and the Revolutionaries (to put my own spin on this topic), and about the rise of the blogs and their utility and impact on modern politics. These topics deserve far more weighty consideration than the myopic, dishonest, and (apparently intentionally) shallow arguments put forward by Chait. Perhaps the best place to have that conversation is on the blogs themselves, and perhaps Chait should have read through those conversations before he wrote his piece.

By RedDan