I found this paragraph in an Eleanor Clift column crushingly depressing:
A pro-choice Republican who spoke with NEWSWEEK but didn’t want her name used said she is more worried about Alito after hearing him testify, and wishes the Democrats would spend their time finding a candidate to beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries “or we’re going to get four more years of judges like this.” She thinks that to win the White House the Democrats need a more centrist candidate than Clinton. “The math is against her.” (That debate is raging within Democratic circles, but no candidate has yet surfaced who could plausibly overtake Clinton, given her rock-star hold on party activists and the esteem in which she and her husband are held by African-American voters, a core Democratic constituency.)
Go ahead and read the whole column — it’s interesting — but let’s look at these “party activists.” There are activists, and there are other activists.
Compare/contrast Clift’s paragraph with this MyDD post by Chris Bowers — “Why The Blogosphere and the Netroots Do Not Like Hillary Clinton.”
… Hillary Clinton is, um, not exactly the most popular Democrat within the blogosphere and the netroots. I can offer loads of anecdotal information to support this, but perhaps the most striking evidence is that despite her large lead in national telephone surveys, she polls around fifth or sixth in our presidential preference polls. The real question we face is to figure out why she is not very popular among this large segment of the progressive activist class.
People will offer lots of reasons for this. In the past, I have done so myself. However, when one understands who actually makes up the blogosphere, a rarely, if ever, discussed reason comes to the fore. Within the progressive activist class, there is also a very real class stratification. While the blogosphere and the netroots may not be “the people” within America or the Democratic party as a whole, within the world of progressive activists, they are definitely “the people,” “the masses,” “the rank and file,” and any other populist term you want to throw out there. I believe the main mark against Hillary Clinton within the blogs and the netroots is the degree to which she is perceived as the uber-representative of the upper, aristocratic classes of the progressive activist world.
Hillary Clinton as a disaster for progressives and ultimately for the Democratic Party.
You want hard reasons? Let me list why I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever support Hillary Clinton, because she cannot ever, ever, ever, ever be trusted not to stab progressives in the back on key issues. She isn’t with us, except long enough to get the checks.
Let me start by way of explanation, when Bill Clinton first ran in 1992, I liked Hillary more than Bill, and even joked that we might be voting for the wrong Clinton. I felt she was smarter and sharper than Bill. She is, but, tin plated candidate that she is, she has no heart.
And she doesn’t like liberals or progressives. That’s a statement reported from several sources. She looks at us the same way that DeLay’s team looks at religious right voters – as stupid cash cows.
Stirling goes on to list concrete reasons why Hillary Clinton is unacceptable to the netroots; the first is “Hillary still supports the war.” He concludes,
Hillary is not politically reliable: she is busy selling progressives out now for her presidential bid. Which means that when she doesn’t need us at all, say the moment she has taken the oath of office and need only get re-elected with no primaries the second time around, we will be worse off than against a Republican, because we will have to sit through at least one Republican president before getting a progressive in the White House. If you don’t want to see a progressive President in your life time, then, by all means, support pro-war, soft on choice, anti-progressive, old top down media politics Hillary Clinton.
I think both Stirling and Chris are right, in different ways. Bottom line, Hillary Clinton is not one of us. She doesn’t represent us. She doesn’t know what we think and has lost the capacity to learn. She’s worked so hard at marketing herself to a mythical “center” that whoever she used to be has been consumed by her packaging. She’s an empty pants suit. As an active netcitizen of the Left, I believe I speak for an enormous majority of us when I say we are just as enthusiastic about a Hillary candidacy as we are about turnips.
Yet here is Eleanor Clift, who’s not a bad sort, writing about Hillary’s “rock-star hold on party activists.” Maybe Clift needs to stop shrieking at Tony Blankley on the McLaughlin Group and get out more.
Chris Bowers continues,
Within the world of progressive activists, from the viewpoint of the working and middle class progressive activists, Hillary Clinton is seen as hopelessly aligned with the establishment activists, with the insider activists, with the wealthy activists, with the well-connected activists, and with every possible progressive activist “elite” you can possibly imagine. Is it thus in any way surprising that the activist base, which is largely on the outside looking in, generally does not harbor much positive feeling toward her? The progressive activist base considers the progressive activist elite to be the main culprit in progressives losing power around the country. We keep losing, and we blame them. Thus, why should it be a surprise to anyone that we dislike the person who is viewed as their primary representative? We literally hold her, and what she represents within the world of progressive activism, to be responsible for the massive progressive backslide that has taken place over the past twelve years.
My cruder evaluation is that the Clintons represent a strategy that won some elections in the 1980s and 1990s but which has exacted a terrible cost on the Democratic Party. Their strategy was to toss enough progressive policy overboard to stay afloat in the Republican-controlled media sea. Bill Clinton made it work for him partly through force of personality — the man can charm the scales off a snake — and partly through co-opting Brand Republican positions; for example, on welfare and the death penalty. In the wake of the Reagan Era, perhaps that was a smart strategy.
But the Clintons, and the Democrats through the 1980s and 1990s, mounted no serious challenge to the GOP’s control of the sea — the VRWC and the Republican Noise Machine. Today the top of the Democratic Party and their “expert” consultants stick to the Clinton strategy, but now the VRWC has learned how to nullify it. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has tossed away so much of itself it’s hard to know what it stands for any more. They don’t call ’em “Republican Lite” for nothing.
Yet time and time again we see that the Republicans have moved far to the right of the American public on many critical issues. The attempt to “reform” Social Security, the Terri Schiavo episode, and, increasingly, Iraq reveal the Republicans to be way out of touch with mainstream Americans (which makes the notion that the Dems need to find a “centrist” candidate rather amusing). I truly believe many not-politcally-active people are growing heartily sick of right-wing extremism. But when they turn on the television or the radio, they don’t see or hear much in the way of an alternative. And so the Republicans win elections, for reasons that have little to do with their accomplishments (which are … ?) or their policy positions.
Chris Bowers argues that the blogosphere is not “the people,” in the sense that bloggers and their readers tend to be more affluent and educated than the population as a whole. But we represent the heart and soul of progressive activism far more faithfully than does the Democratic Party. And I think we represent the Party’s only viable future. The path they are on now leads to irrelevancy — some will argue they’ve already arrived — and to dissolution.