Byron York Applauds the Foresight of Byron York

|

My preview of YearlyKos focused on the internal churnings of the community, how it's become rather mundane. Byron York's take is about how the blog and the "conspiracy" around it grew so fast, and it's spot-on.

In the book, I wrote that the 2004 election might turn out to be a turning point for Democrats, the moment when activists began rebuilding the liberal movement. That has turned out to be true, and they are moving more quickly than the conservatives who are their model, in part because they don't have as far to come. When Republicans hit bottom after the 1964 presidential election, their candidate, Barry Goldwater, had lost by more than 22-percentage points; in 2004, John Kerry lost by three. That's not much so much distance to make up. "Some factors suggest that the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy might have better luck in 2008 than in the last election," I concluded. "By that time, the country might simply be tired of Republicans and ready to change leadership."

And now voters have changed the leadership of the legislative branch, and Democrats stand a good chance of capturing the White House next year. If they do, it will be because they were ready; the whole point of building the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy was to create a structure that would be in place to exploit the errors of the other side when they occurred. And Republicans have supplied the errors: Does anyone think that the Kossacks would have anywhere near the influence they wield today if the war in Iraq had gone well?

All true, although the fundamental disagreements between liberal bloggers and their party establishments are minor compared to the cleavage between the old liberal Republican elite and the Taftites/Goldwaterites/Reaganites. Liberal bloggers want their party to be "tougher"—beating up the mainstream media, impeaching Republicans, fighting back against Republican war hawks. But on economics they don't quibble much with the Democratic establishment. On foreign policy they're not even entirely anti-war: there's a lot of support for intervention in Darfur.

Side note: Three former Democratic presidential candidates are on the YKos steering committee. They are Gary Hart, Walter Mondale and George McGovern. Maybe Jimmy Carter would have signed on if they asked.

Advertisement

NEXT: Covering All The Bases in the Middle East

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Maybe Jimmy Carter would have signed on if they asked.

    Maybe the fact that they didn’t ask him tells us something.

  2. the cleavage between the old liberal Republican elite

    Ewww gross! Old-man cleavage!

  3. I think it’s great how Republicans laughed at Hillary’s “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” and now use it’s liberal equivalent completely unironically.

  4. I’m not sure how much I buy the vast Left Wing Conspiracy stuff. I think there are certainly institutions which are rife with leftism, such as academe, certain professions (lawyers, social workers, etc) and media (of course there are institutions rife with right wingism too, like the military). And these have a great deal of influence. But they don’t seem to be very organized in any real way nor are they outright pawns of the Democratic party. On the other hand I think there is a very conscious right wing movement that is remarkable in its ability to focus and stay on script and is certainly obsessed with electing and defending GOPers. I’m thinking of the network of magazines (NRO, Weekly Standard), talk/tv shows (Limbaugh, Hannity) and think tanks (Heritage, AEI [I would not include Cato, they seem more like a real think tank and less like apologists for the GOP]). A lot of the guys who were behind or were running these groups were former Trotskites and they have all the fanatical organization and propagandazing ferver that is associated with those reds…
    I actually think one reason the Right Wing Noise Machine is so organized and self-conscious is that for many years the establishment media and opinion makers gave them no place at the table. Ironically this gave movement conservatives the impetus to start a very ideological set of counter institutions…

  5. And Republicans have supplied the errors: Does anyone think that the Kossacks would have anywhere near the influence they wield today if the war in Iraq had gone well?

    This seems like a horrible reading of history to me. The Kossaks wield whatever influence they have because of the number of members/readers they reach and the influence the front pagers have over their readers. And many of those readers are people who are engaged and who can be counted on to go out and actually vote. It’s a very good pool of “likely voters”.

    The reason DailyKos has such influence and so many eyeballs and readers is because in the run-up to war, anti-war voices were basically shut out of the mainstream media. So people who were against the war and didn’t believe the lies that were used as a justification to go into Iraq didn’t have anyone speaking for them.

    Enter DailyKos. The site gave a platform to anti-war voices and gave the ability of John Q public to add their voice to the debate.

    The success of DailyKos isn’t attributed to the fact that Iraq war went poorly, but rather to the fact that anti-war voices were frozen out of the discussion which meant that there wasn’t a real discussion about whether going to war was a good/just option.

    In essence, the traditional media have themseleves to blame for the rise of DailyKos and the Kossacks. If they wouldn’t have treated anyone who was against the war as un-serious and unworthy of a platform, there would have been no gaping void for DailyKos to fill.

  6. On the other hand I think there is a very conscious right wing movement that is remarkable in its ability to focus and stay on script and is certainly obsessed with electing and defending GOPers. I’m thinking of the network of magazines (NRO, Weekly Standard), talk/tv shows (Limbaugh, Hannity) and think tanks (Heritage, AEI [I would not include Cato, they seem more like a real think tank and less like apologists for the GOP]). A lot of the guys who were behind or were running these groups were former Trotskites and they have all the fanatical organization and propagandazing ferver that is associated with those reds…

    I think MNG is absolutely correct on this point. I would also like to add that the right-wing financiers (the Richard Mellon Scaifes and the Murdochs) have no qualms about continuing to fund media outlets that bleed money and never turn a profit merely to have a platform and to influence mainstream news and public opinion. They also have a nice little right wing welfare program where they employ writers who aren’t good at journalism and facts but instead are really good at polemics and red meat.

    The right-wing media outlets also are much better than the left as far as fostering and promoting the next generation. Many college age kids get paid summer gigs at these think tanks and media outlets and it gets them networked and connected while at the same time giving them some much needed scratch.

    The Left doesn’t have anywhere near this type of organization or financial backing. In the world of getting propaganda out there, the left can’t even begin to compete. It’s further complicated by the fact that the left-wing outfits seem to frown upon things like paid internships and the like instead expecting these people to work for free or to be compensated by the mere joy of working for a cause you believe in. They believe the next generation should be donating their time and talents without realizing that life costs money and if you want to attract the best talent you need to shell out some cash and make it worth the talents while.

  7. “When Republicans hit bottom after the 1964 presidential election, their candidate, Barry Goldwater, had lost by more than 22-percentage points; in 2004, John Kerry lost by three. That’s not much so much distance to make up.”

    Nitpick: Actually, Kerry lost not by three but by 2.4 points. So there’s even less distance to make up.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election%2C_2004

  8. DailyKos, MoveOn, etc. . . are by far the easiest way to get foreign money involved in US politics. Most of their donations come from overseas.

  9. DailyKos, MoveOn, etc. . . are by far the easiest way to get foreign money involved in US politics. Most of their donations come from overseas.

    What exactly do they do that is different than any other online method of collecting donations?

    In all cases you have to give your personal information and certify that you are a US resident. What makes the lefty sites any easier than the candidates sites directly?

  10. Anon, made my day. No clue.

    We fund the sites from Vega and Tau Ceti and all of Earth will soon be our willing slaves.

    Kneel before your alien lesbian masters puny Earthmen.

  11. I for one welcome our alien lesbian masters and look forward to serving them… and licking their glossy thigh hig boots

  12. I still don’t think that the netroots folks have had much of an impact. Their overall goal seems to be to push the Dems to the left, but the 2006 results were mostly a result of electoral wins by Blue Dog Democrats.

    Perhaps they are attempting to step into a political void that is being created by the decline of the traditional industrial unions. The difference is that the netroots haven’t yet demonstrated even the remotest ability to turn out actual voters the way that the old unions did. It’s still basically a small group of people talking to each other.

  13. There is less of a policy and ideological cleavage between Kossacks and the Washington, D.C. establishment than between the Goldwaterites and the Old Republicans, but there is much more a cultural gap.

    Barry Goldwater was a highly respected United States Senator. The Movement Conservative movement was just a shift from one type of DC-centered politics to another (not in policy, but in the organization and orientation of the activists. I’m talking culture here). Kos, on the other hand, is some guy with a blog.

    Frankly, given the insularity of DC elite culture, overcoming a cultural gap like that is probably the harder task.

  14. Chris O,

    You mean “blue dog Democrats” like John Tester, Sherrod Brown, and Jim Webb?

    DailyKos had approsimately 1.7 billion posts last year about these two candidates alone.

    I think you misunderstand the cultural vs. policy distinction. DailyKos certainly does want to make the Democrats more confrontational and less beholden to beltway conventional wisdom, but as their strong support of those candidates demonstrate, they’re not actually working to push the Democrats in an ideological direction, the way that the Club for Growth tries to push the Repubicans to the economic right.

  15. As my might have guessed, my numbers may be a little off.

  16. I wasn’t speaking strictly about Kos. I’ll grant you that Kos is all for Team Blue, almost regardless of what Team Blue stands for. Really just the mirror image of NRO in its partisan hackery. I guess I’m thinking more about DU, the HuffPost etc.

    Oh, and Jim Webb and John Tester would certainly qualify as blue dogs, from what I know of them. Sherrod Brown, not so much.

  17. Yeah, that daily Kos, always sucking up to Democrats regardless of their ideology. What a bunch of partisan hacks!

    Remember when they backed Joe Lieberman, just because he was a Democrat and they wanted to keep the seat? Oh, wait…

  18. Remember when they backed Joe Lieberman, just because he was a Democrat and they wanted to keep the seat? Oh, wait…

    I guess the “almost” escaped your notice. In any event, we all know how much Senator Lamont is indebted to the Kos Kids.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.