Thursday, November 02, 2006

After the Election: a Future Politics

I was heartened to read the news this morning that the Democrats were still looking good going into next week’s election. I have expressed my doubts that Democratic Party control of Congress will right what ails us, but will delight in Democratic Party victories. What should happen after the election?

Larval Subjects is on the right track with his ideas for a future politics. He analyzes how the Christian right created and seized control of channels of communication. This has allowed them to go beyond framing messages to substantive acceptance of their once marginal beliefs. His prescription sounds good:

I think this sort of organized movement and slow conquest of the channels of communication is what is lacking on the left. Again and again I hear stories about people who volunteer with the DNC to make calls and cavas neighborhoods, only to never be called. Moreover, the left offers nothing comparable to the social services of the churches, giving people a sanctuary from the alienations of contemporary life under capital. If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, it doesn't matter much whether or not it makes a sound. If a political group has a platform and it is never communicated beyond the confines of the inside members of that political group, then it might as well not exist. The blogosphere has already gone a long way towards overcoming this problem with blogs such as Americablog, Dailykos, MyDD, and so on. They've been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for political candidates, thus forcing politicians to take their interests seriously. Moreover, they've been able to organize massive letter writing campaigns to news organizations, forcing these organizations to report on stories that would not otherwise be reported, thereby disseminating this political platform further throughout the population. Even if these campaigns have not always been victories, the very act of getting certain stories and issues reported is itself a victory as it forces the opposition to take these stories and issues into account and respond to them.

There appeared to be a massive lack of skepticism about Bush Administration claims before invading Iraq. However, there were solid analyses before the invasion doubting Hussein possessed WMD, predicting the low probability for a stable Iraq post-invasion, and predicting the high cost in lives and money. No one communicated these analyses through enough appropriate channels to catch the public’s ear. I often hear people claim they would decide differently about the Iraq invasion if they knew what we know now about Iraq. The irony is there was plenty of spot on analyses that forced sober reflection rather than the rush to invasion.

It would be great stop the train every now and then before it runs off the tracks.


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