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December 24, 2003
A Warning We Also Should Heed

Jonathan Chait, in his TNR blog, wrote on Monday regarding the Dean bubble. Chait, who is no fan of the governor, diagnoses why the Dean campaign will remain parochial and detached from all but the true believers:

One of the most disturbing things about Dean and his hard-core supporters is that they give the impression that they know nothing at all of why President Bush is successful, and therefore what it takes to beat him. Read the pro-Dean blogs, and the you come away with the view that Bush is strong because he's ruthless and has lots of money, and therefore if the Democrats are also ruthless and raise lots of money, they can beat him. This ignorance is compounded by the fact that many Deanies seem to exist in a isolated cultural milieu in which everybody is secular, socially liberal, and antiwar. They can't fathom why those things might hurt Dean in a general election because they don't ever talk to or read anybody who thinks differently. Dean's Internet networking--which has had lots of positive effects on American politics--has probably intensified this cloistering, by creating intellectual ghettos on the web where true believers can interact, undisturbed by those who don't share their faith.

Chait then goes on to use Atrios as a particular example of the cloistering of Deaniacs. Atrios wrote a rebuttal to a TNR story on how Dean's relentless secularism, and that of his supporters, will drive a wedge between his true believers and the swing voters, especially in the Midwest. Atrios' response amounted to a "So what?", arguing that Democrats can't do anything about that anyway and should just stop "playing defense" on the religious issue. At his most tone-deaf, Atrios proclaims that

the moment when I was most embarrassed to actually bother supporting the Democrats was when they all gathered on the steps of the Capitol and belted out the 1954 Knights of Columbus version of the Pledge of Allegiance, screeching "UNDER GOD" at the top of their lungs like they were cheering at a hockey game.

Chait retorts with this comparison to Republican strategists, while subtly -- and I would say unconsciously -- acknowledging the Republican tradition of cleaning one's own house:

You can hear an echo of this sort of thinking in Dean's admonition that his party cease its efforts at damage control and its emphasis on swing voters. This is fantasy masquerading as strategy. Do Republicans say, "Look, we're going to be tarred as racists whatever we do, so we might as well put Trent Lott on the ticket?" No, of course not.

Chait's column created some buzz on the right side of the blogosphere, notably from Blogs for Bush and Matthew Stinson, and the tone has been one of triumphalism:

This is the Liberal Mirage. Sure, you'll get those emotional gay and lesbians who thirst for a candidate to free them of their marriage-less lives, but when the primaries are over, you'll have walk out of that liberal tent and into the moderate world, where everyone will look at you as if you just walked out of the XXX section at the local video rental store.

Harry's Place, on the other hand, gets closer to the point:

Well, yes, which is one reason to avoid those cyber-ghettos. And it's one reason I appreciate the wide range of opinions reflected in the posts and comments at Harry's Place.

Chait warns leftists that they have created their own ghettos, and blogs on the right high-five as if this critique could not possibly apply to us as well, and apparently only Harry sees the issue clearly. I challenge all of us on the right -- myself included -- to look at our own blogroll and through our history files to see where we regularly surf. Are we getting outside of our own box in order to challenge our own assumptions? We see bloggers like Unfogged tracking back to posts on Blogs for Bush, but how many of us go there to find out what Unfogged writes on issues?

Many of you will say, "We read the newspapers, so we know what the leftist meme du jour is," but Atrios and Kos and others also read Fox News, OpinionJournal, et al. It's not about reading, it's about interaction. If we are to win an intellectual battle, we must be prepared to go out, read through other blogs, write comments, and go back and check the responses and comment again if we are not clear. This is not a call for trolling -- this is a call to politely speak out amongst the uncoverted ... and a call to listen as well. Be humble; we are not the font of all wisdom, and we still have to work with others to run our nation and our communities as effectively as we can. If we choose instead to live in Chait's bloghettos, we do ourselves and our country a grave disservice.

So while we're pointing fingers at the Deaniacs, let's take this moment to remove the beam from our own eye, almost literally, and start interacting with our ideological opponents a bit more. If we want to ensure that our candidates win the day, we have to start by opening some minds to their message, and that's a mission I know my fellow bloggers can accomplish.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 24, 2003 8:29 AM

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