Peter Dauo of The Dauo Report has been discussing the media lately, focusing on why Dem leadership seems so clueless, and wondering what can be done.
Why do Democrats keep losing elections? It’s this: the traditional media, the trusted media, the “neutral” media, have become the chief delivery mechanism of potent anti-Democratic and pro-Bush storylines. And the Democratic establishment appears to be either ignorant of this political quandary or unwilling to fight it.
He thinks it’s because the Right is better at framing the issues, creating memes, and focusing on a single storyline.
What’s so dumbfounding to progressive netroots activists, who clearly see the role of the traditional media in perpetuating these storylines is that Democratic politicians, strategists, and surrogates have internalized these narratives and play into them, publicly wringing their hands over how to fix their “muddled” message, how to deal with Bush’s “strength” on national security, how to talk about “values.”
In other words, Beltway Dems let the Republicans set the agenda. Why is this?
It’s become a self-fulfilling cycle, with Democrats reinforcing anti-Dem myths because they can’t imagine any other explanation for the apparent lack of resonance of their message. Out of desperation, they resort to hackneyed, focus-grouped slogans in a vain attempt to break through the filter.
Yes, there’s a filter, yes the media may be biased against the Left, but Daou has already answered his question without knowing it. If, like he says, the Democratic establishment is unwilling to fight and since they virtually always let Republicans set the agenda, then clearly they are opposition in name only. These same Democrats wholeheartedly backed the Iraq war (and still do), they backed the Afghanistan invasion, have not uttered a word against Bush’s bellicose threats against Syria, Iran, and/or North Korea, generally approve of the torture policy, have said little against the domestic spying, and are silent on the spending of billions for war but little for the citizens or on tax cuts for the wealthy.
The plain truth is, Democratic leadership plays into Republicans hands because there’s little genuine difference between them (except for a few social issues.) The Democratic rank and file is quite different, they are steadily moving leftward as the ruling elite steadily moves to the right. That’s the issue Democrats need to confront. The problem is not so much the media as it is their own elite.
Dauo genuinely wants change. But it won’t and can’t come from media reform or the Net or bloggers. The blogosphere, while it certainly can and has broken major stories, often is an echo chamber. Very few bloggers are activists and organizers. The Net is a wonderful tool for spreading news and information but it is no substitute for building real life organizations. That’s how you change things. Then you use the Net and the media as tools to do it. Not the other way around.