January 29, 2004
Lydon: "After New Hampshire"

Stop whatever you’re doing and go read Chris Lydon’s latest piece, “After New Hampshire”. It’s that good.

Lydon puts together the lessons of Dean’s humbling in Iowa and New Hampshire, what it means for netroots, and the broader implications for American democracy, in a way that nobody else has yet managed to do:

Here’s what I’m learning: For those of us who like the sound of “Internet democracy,” who yearn for political and cultural renewal and “transformation,” the entrenched obstacle is not the old politics. It’s the old media…

First, the politics: the Dean campaign has recharged our limping democracy for a generation, with vivid fresh examples of what citizenship can mean: all that self-starting civic energy, the MeetUp mobilizations, the decentralized consensus, the articulate idealism, the viral activism. Bill Bradley called it the best thing he’d seen in politics for 20 years or more. Is there any question that the model of mayor’s races and Congressional campaigns in the future will be found in the citizen spirit that the Deaniacs put to work? This is the point that I believe old pros like Al Gore and Tom Harkin were endorsing. They’ve seen the future of progressive organizing, and they know it works…

No, the results so far are not about politics. They’re about an assault by commercial media on the very idea of a self-willed, self-defining citizenry. Howard Dean scares the institutional media out of their wits—not because of who he is or what he might do as president, but because of what he and “Internet democracy” say about them.

Go read the whole thing already! [Seen on Scripting News]

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at January 29, 2004

Thanks, Jason. Scott Reents (from e-thepeople.org) and I were just talking about this. What Dean has accomplished, and proven, is not about to evaporate just because the "Dean Bubble" seems to be bursting. Just because the power the Dean campaign unleashed may not be enough to nominate a major-party candidate -- today -- doesn't mean the forces at work are any less potent.

It's a little like the Prometheus legend. Dean and Trippi gave humans fire, and now Dean's getting chained to the mountain by the media. And Lydon's definitely right - the media has a high stake in maintaining the top-down status quo.

Posted by: Jed on January 29, 2004 6:33 PM
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