Matt Stoller, Chris Bowers and Mike Lux have formed a new blog, called “The Open Left”. Matt’s got up a good post on what it means to be part of the “open left”; a post which also discusses the other major blocks on the left, when they were formed, and how they operate. Here’s a little on what the open left is:
Politics today works much differently than it did only ten years ago. In 1997, the politics of siloed special interests reigned supremeMoveon, the first Open Left group, does not have the same relationship with its members that Common Cause does, or that the United Autoworkers does. The UAW is central to the economic welfare of its members, and Common Cause has a Federated mass membership structure dependent on regular direct mail fundraising. Moveon’s credibility, by contrast, comes from the willingness of 3 million people to open and read their email, and to sometimes take actions based on the recommendation of Moveon’s leadership. This makes Moveon much more responsive to their members, much lower cost and much more flexible, but also less of a clear and direct presence in their members’ lives.
This isn’t just true of Moveon, of course. Blogs, Drinking Liberally, Step it Up, Freepress – in fact all mass political organizations built in the last ten years share these characteristics. Political power is more and more situated in far-flung networks that can be activated and deactivated quickly, and the new millennial generation that will be the political backbone for the new progressive America likes it this way.
At OpenLeft.com, we are going to explore these new dynamics. We don’t believe the internet changes everything, or that older institutions are irrelevant. Far from it. We think that any institution can succeed in building the new America we see unfolding in sketches on the internet. We see the internet and the Open Left as a sort of operating system for a new political system, where groups can plug in and form coalitions more easily and effective on the left, and we see a strong set of dynamics pulling us into this new coalition-focused direction. We hope to host many of these groups, serving as a forum for strategic discussion of goals and tactics.
Matt was one of the first people I ever blogged with, over at the late Blogging of the President. I’ve watched his evolution as a thinker – as he’s carefully learned the linaments of political power and has traced how the various power centers on both the right and left came to power; in what ways they succeeded and in what ways they’ve failed. He’s one of the smartest people around when it comes to undertanding what power is and how to use it – and unlike many people who think a lot on power, he’s also spent a lot of time thinking about when and how it’s moral to use power. It’s been a fascinating journey to follow and it’s one I intend to keep watching closely. Agonist readers could do a lot worse than to do the same.
Chris Bowers, of course, is the numbers guy. If you want electoral politics done wonk-style, he’s your man. And Mike’s an insider who also understand the blogs. I haven’t read much of his stuff, but I’d be surprised if I don’t learn a lot from him.