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Thread: New democrats and new media

  1. #1
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    Default New democrats and new media

    I didn't really know what thread to put this in, but I watched this documentary the other night, about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other of the 'new Democrat' candidates who challenged the Democratic establishment in the midterms of 2018:

    https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/81080637

    I've switched off a bit wrt US politics recently, so part of the story was new to me, and incredibly inspiring (the swing for AOC was monumental - 30 points down only weeks before the vote [surely I haven't recalled this correctly?], and then winning by 15) - especially the fact that this was all so well planned on a structural level, by Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress - creating a grassroots left-wing movement to challenge incumbent Democrats, finding candidates who would never really have thought of going into politics, but who in many cases have all the attributes of natural politicians/inspiring speakers etc. And with very clear, simple messaging about not taking corporate dollars, etc

    Two questions really:

    (i) Is this the model for the Left to use to eventually win? Obviously small scale at the moment, but it seems such an effective strategy - and critically all coming from veterans of the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign, which seems a tale of how to actually apply lessons from defeat, which the Left seems so incapable of doing so much of the time.
    (ii) This documentary is on Netflix. Netflix knows there is money to be made from mass interest in progressive issues (see also the docu on Cambridge Analytica). Its motive is profit of course, but that's almost immaterial if they support a progressive message getting 'out there'. See also Nike and support for Kapernick (obviously in so many ways Nike is morally problematic). So can the chasing of the left wing dollar by such companies become a genuinely if cynically progressive force in terms of opening up information to more and more people?
    [Obvs this is a vast simplification, but I'm sure there's an interesting conversation to be had]
    Last edited by baboon2004; 18-08-2019 at 11:49 AM.

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    interesting thread topic, thanks baboon. a few thoughts:

    AOC and "the squad" get all the media coverage and twitter love because they are new, and a better story. but in looking at the seats won by democrats in the midterms that allowed them to take control of the house of representative, they were overwhelmingly in moderate districts across the country and won by moderate democratic candidates. more extreme positions on the left or right might work in certain confined districts, but that doesn't mean they reflect the beliefs of the broader electorate.

    that being said...in the way that sanders is a good presidential candidate for bringing attention to progressive ideas (even if he doesn't win the nomination and presidency), so too this wave of young progressives serves a useful role in bringing discussion of progressive issues to the debate floor in congress (even if few of their measure get voted in).

    this is also reminiscent of an early, small-scale version of the tea party: the first tea partiers opposed democrats and liberal thought, obviously, but their targets were members of their own party in primaries who in their mind weren't conservative enough. as the movement grew, it got co-opted to some degree -- rebellious upstarts sometimes become just like the people they replaced once they get a taste for power and become the establishment themselves -- but the tea party had a lasting effect on the republican party and played a role in paving the way for trump, the ultimate anti-establishment outsider.

    maybe, over time, this new progressive wing will do the same.
    Last edited by Leo; 18-08-2019 at 06:01 PM.

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    this whole discussion is also interesting in light of our "conspiracy theory" thread, where we're all so cynical that we don't believe anything happens innocently or on any sort of valid grassroots level, where everything is pre-determined and controlled by a handful of powerful elites. in retrospect, we know lots of the "grassroots" of the tea party was actually koch brothers-fueled "astroturf".

    is there a secret cabal behind the sudden rise of AOC?

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    I assume there is and that she has been carefully groomed etc but who knows I guess. You just know how the game works from watching the music industry though. Put a face on a huge machine.

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    OK, that's interesting re the moderate districts. And I guess I would never expect most of the US to be particularly open to the left.

    But as you say, the sheer amount of media coverage itself has helped to shift the conversation. And that is really the starting point of any change that may one day be looked back at and considered radical.

    As to whether this cohort lapse into the same tired old politics, we'll have to see. I don't think it need be the case, with strong enough convictions. There are MPs in the UK, albeit very few, who have resisted that dynamic for decades (not really thinking of Corbyn here, as it's so difficult to evaluate him).

    I think it is definitely the moment for that type of radical reorientation to happen with the Democrats. The current group of contenders are by and large so passionless and uninspiring (and just media-unfriendly, which is unforgivable if facing the realities of the modern world - Sanders to me is an exception, but maybe he missed his chance) that it seems possible that Trump will walk it in 2020. As in Europe not so long ago, the centre left is under serious existential threat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo View Post
    interesting thread topic, thanks baboon. a few thoughts:

    AOC and "the squad" get all the media coverage and twitter love because they are new, and a better story. but in looking at the seats won by democrats in the midterms that allowed them to take control of the house of representative, they were overwhelmingly in moderate districts across the country and won by moderate democratic candidates. more extreme positions on the left or right might work in certain confined districts, but that doesn't mean they reflect the beliefs of the broader electorate.

    that being said...in the way that sanders is a good presidential candidate for bringing attention to progressive ideas (even if he doesn't win the nomination and presidency), so too this wave of young progressives serves a useful role in bringing discussion of progressive issues to the debate floor in congress (even if few of their measure get voted in).

    this is also reminiscent of an early, small-scale version of the tea party: the first tea partiers opposed democrats and liberal thought, obviously, but their targets were members of their own party in primaries who in their mind weren't conservative enough. as the movement grew, it got co-opted to some degree -- rebellious upstarts sometimes become just like the people they replaced once they get a taste for power and become the establishment themselves -- but the tea party had a lasting effect on the republican party and played a role in paving the way for trump, the ultimate anti-establishment outsider.

    maybe, over time, this new progressive wing will do the same.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 18-08-2019 at 08:02 PM.

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    I think cynicism ultimately becomes a little bit like committing oneself to a party that has no chance of winning an election - setting the bar so high that nothing will ever pass the test, and so change never happens, thus playing into the hands of power. At a certain point one has to believe (albeit not blindly), and take the risk that one will be proved wrong.

    And the useful thing about that film is it demonstrates clearly why a campaign with few resources can beat one with many resources - common sense, passion and organisation (including crucially drawing upon reserves of knowledge accumulated over time) vs inertia, arrogance and sloppiness.

    I did use the word 'grassroots', which is a problematic one. I think in this case these candidates have indeed been selected by people from the last Sanders campaign, so maybe it's best described as the organised left of the Democratic Party. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was groomed to the extent that she got media training etc, but that's very standard. I see nothing very suspicious about this whole thing - it just seems like a good-to-great strategy, which at the moment is very far from changing the world, but has already changed the conversation. Bernie Sanders takes loads of criticism from the (actual) far left, some of it merited, but the far left isn't ever going to win an election, so...
    Last edited by baboon2004; 18-08-2019 at 08:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baboon2004 View Post
    I think cynicism ultimately becomes a little bit like committing oneself to a party that has no chance of winning an election - setting the bar so high that nothing will ever pass the test, and so change never happens, thus playing into the hands of power...
    This is so true, a common occurrence among Democratic candidates here and I imagine other minority parties elsewhere (greens, lib dems, etc.). losing the opportunity to do good in pursuit of the perfect, the crippling litmus test. it's a big decision: how much to compromise in order to gain enough support to get some (but not all) of your ideas enacted? Obama wanted the Affordable Care Act to go much further than it did, but he had to compromise in order to get SOME of what he wanted. When does compromise transition into sellout?

    Again reminds me of the saying "Democrats fall in love, Republican fall in line." Repubs are better at putting their differences aside and rallying around a common message, while Democrats have the big tent with lots of divergent interests, few of whom want to budge on their pet cause.

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    Baboon do you have to use the word 'problematic' 20 times a day! It's a weasel word if ever I heard one.

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    Don't agree, suffice to say! I think it's very useful.

    Good to see being 40 hasn't changed you though. Not such a big deal, really (or at least it seemed that way to me)

    "Sometimes drinking is bad. For example my last trip to Wales I think was problematic drinking, competitive, punishing drinking. Me Craner and Fat Jim. I regret that. It was excessive. Usually the third day of a serious booze bender you start to hate one another and most of all hate yourself."
    Ahem.
    Last edited by baboon2004; 19-08-2019 at 02:04 PM.

  13. #10
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    That's in a completely different context!

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    A weasel context!

    Interestingly, it seems from a quick search that I've only used it three times in recent history on this forum (I admit I use it quite a bit elsewhere), all in the past week. Must be the times...or maybe something to do with Wales
    Last edited by baboon2004; 19-08-2019 at 02:11 PM.

  15. #12
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    You've moved to Wales? Meet Craner in the Barry Wetherspoons. It's one of the loveliest pubs I've ever been to.

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    Ha - no, not yet, just thinking about my own Welsh ancestry a lot. I like Barry, but not yet had the pleasure of the Wetherspoons. Or indeed of meeting Craner.

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