There's been a lot of angst, meta and finger pointing today about the current "tone" of DKos. I gather some people think that there has been too much criticism here of Obama and the Democrats, who we have elected to serve us. I have actually noticed this too, and not just in user diaries: the FP articles are quite a bit more punchy and progressive in orientation. Frankly, I think it's a breath of fresh air and about damn time for this site to re-orient back towards being a source of progressive pressure, and away from the Democratic Party cheerleading squad we saw leading up to the election.
The funny thing about all of this is that it was completely predictable. In the year leading up to an election, this site always adopts a cheerleading role. If one goal of this site is to elect more Democrats, then it may be appropriate to adopt a "pitch in" attitude at the time that it really counts. Markos has even posted about this in various diaries. The result: a predominance of Rah Rah diaries and FP articles that predictably only criticized Republicans with over the top vitriol (vitriol which FTR I enjoyed), and soft-pedaling Democratic intransigence.
In the meantime, us DFH lefty "critics", for the most part, understood all of this. I have seen diaries and comments over the last year to the effect that we need to "hold our fire" for now, on account of the election. I certainly felt that way and acted accordingly in commenting.
So, until recently Daily Kos had been relatively friendly to problematic Democratic politicians who are far to the right of most of this site's writers and readers. I think that some folks around here have gotten the notion that this was the "new normal".
Thank secular goodness, or whichever God you prefer that that is all over now, I hope.
The election is OVER, and everything's different in Washington. At this stage in the game, Democratic politicians are deep inside the Beltway Bubble. They are concentrating on gamesmanship and maneuvering, meeting the needs of lobbyists and big-money donors, and getting things done for the sake of getting things done by horse trading and grand bargains. This is the time in the Great Cycle when a politician will normally only pay attention to external "problems" that threaten their strategy, goals, and even their jobs. This is true for ALL of them: Obama, Merkley, Sanders, Warren, etc - it's just the nature of the Washington beast.
If they will only respond to Real Problems, then now is the time to make some Real Problems for our elected Democrats. Now is the time for dissent, not cheerleading. BTW, politicians and the political establishment really hate it when people make Problems. They complain and say that it isn't helpful. That's OK - the important thing to remember is that they aren't really our buddies, and they don't have to like it if it makes them do the right thing.
Here are some things that are NOT Real Problems: Sternly worded petitions, or petitions of any kind. Pretty please pleadings to hold the line on entitlement cuts. Certainly not hopeful expressions of "having their back" and faith that our politicians will "do the right thing". Expressions of support are heartwarming but will not sway any politician. Blog posts by liberals expressing disappointment and concern, with helpful advice will not affect a politician. If nobody in Washington is listening to Paul Krugman, then they certainly won't be paying attention to the wonderful snarky diaries by Markos or anyone on this site.
Another non-Problem, which does not in any way impress politicians: pie fights and division among progressives over whether we should be supportive or not, and how to proceed to make change.
Conversely, unified opposition is a Real Problem. Here are some Real Problems that politicians might pay attention to:
A mob of pissed off elders and near-elders who write letters to their politician that all Hell will break loose if there are ANY entitlement cuts.
A well organized and significantly large coalition of minority groups, labor unions, and progressive orgs that pledge to withhold votes, money and help from politicians who do not work for the needs of the 99%. Note that this must be backed by actual action when politicians fail.
Announcements by progressive leaders that they will challenge elected politicians in primaries if they betray the public.
A concerted and organized effort by progressive bloggers, celebrities, and progressive politicians to break into the MSM's Reality Distortion Field and change the narrative to be more responsive to the 99%.
A resurgence of Occupy, with more effective media messaging.
I sure hope that this site seems to be done with cheerleading for now. It was good strategy during the election, but now is the time to get organized and voice our displeasure with the status quo as loudly as possible and in unison. It would be nice to see the writers here at Daily Kos get involved in promoting any and all kinds of Real Problems for our elected congressmen and President Obama that help them do the right thing, rather than do the most politically expedient thing. In the next few weeks, we may be witness to irreparable damage to the safety net programs, cuts to vital government services, austerity concessions that force the economy into another recession, and serious damage to the Democratic Party brand for the way it has handled itself.
When 2014 rolls around we can have another 2010-style bloodbath because none of those low-information occasional voters bother to vote. Or, we can see progressive electoral gains because Democrats were prodded to do the right thing and protect our government and the economy from being laid waste by the Republican Visagoths.