The emerging progressive landscape

There have been some notable recent organizational additions to the parts of the blogosphere’s California neighborhood. This is exciting stuff for a lot of reasons, but two are that it’s finally starting to feel like a movement, and that these sites are of outrageously high quality. Here’s a quick wrap up of three of them:

  • Caliitics is a community weblog site built using the same website software (called scoop) as dailykos. Getting this software up and keeping it running is a nontrivial technical task, and they just got a seriously hot redesign.
  • PLAN For decades, the right has used a shadowy corporate funded organization called ALEC to move a conservative, market fundamentalist agenda at a statewide level. ALEC is one of those quietly poweful organizations with enormous influence that has run ciricles around progressives by getting corporations to write “model” legislation and then moving it through conservative state assemblymembers and senators. PLAN, the Progressive Legislative Action Network, is our answer to that. They have a terrific site and a great blog for keeping up with what’s going on at the statewide level across the country.
  • California Progess Report A news site for progressives, this is our side’s an answer to the conservative, CA focused flashreport. Outstanding design (much nicer than flashreport’s overly busy site, that seems to rudely open a new window with every click) and site editor Frank Russo has a terrific editorial voice. He’s a clear writer and is coming at his practice from a “what are we going to do about this?” approach, as he ended a recent story.

These are all in addition to the two statewide multi-issue progressive groups, us here at Speak Out California and the team at Courage Campaign, and the hundreds of smaller individual and small group sites on the various blogrolls. All of the sudden it seems like there is a whole lot of democracy going on.
The way we’re going to win is by first matching the infrastructure the conservatives have already built or obtained, and then using our natural strengths to out-innovate them. Weblogs with comments are a perfect example of this; there was a recent story about how one of the conservative websites had to take down their comments section because someone called social security private accounts, well, exactly that, rather than the Karl Rove approved “personal accounts” or whatever flimflam language they’re supposed to use.
Progressives don’t have that problem. Our ideas are better and have been tested in reality, so we don’t have the need for the relentless spinning and tightly bolting down the language control. Even on the internet, or maybe especially on the internet, the truth just sounds different.
Even so, we all have a lot of work to do in building out this concept of progressive identity. Think about how well formed the idea of being a conservative is in the minds of voters – what that means to people, what the expect a politician to say and do if they’re conservative. We’re still only having that debate in a few pockets and we have a long way to go in broadly establishing progressive identity. These recent additions to the neighborhood will surely help. Mountains of thanks to all of you who are participating in these excellent projects. You are about to rock, and we salute you!