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July 05, 2003

What's Wrong with Dean's Internet "Grassroots"

This article analyzes a bit more indepth the complaints I've had with the valorization of Dean's "grassroots" support. I put the quotes not because there is no energy there, but it's a very narrow kind of grassroots by the nature of those who use the Internet. And with due regard to Kos, as the article notes, there has been a singular failure by Dean to use the Internet to get beyond his generally upscale white core constituency.

There is a tendency of nicely privileged professionals to denigrate "special interests" as inauthentic, but the clumsy, ungainly organizations like the black churches, unions, and other groups at the core of the progressive movement are a far more real grassroots than ephemeral Meetup.com get togethers.

When the Dean brigade goes home, it will be the unions and churches slogging away at local government meetings and Congress to pass progressive legislation and fight in the next round of elections.

We've seen these professional upsurges of activism before-- Gary Hart, Paul Tsongas, et al.-- and at the end of the day, when the candidate fades, so does the movement.

Which is why organizations built around something more than an individual candidate are so much more important. So hail Dean for energizing his troops, but at the end of the day, give me the ham-handed unions and other "special interests" that build the New Deal, Great Society and continued to fight Reagan and the two Bushes.

$7.5 million is impressive bucks for Dean-- it's also less than the funds raised by AFL-CIO unions every day to organize on behalf of working people. And those funds are far more reflective of the voices of the poorest workers in our society.

Posted by Nathan at July 5, 2003 05:03 PM