There has been a conference going on at Harvard Law School this week about Rebuilding the Democratic Party and the Left. Certainly a fine theme for a conference, and I am sorry I was not able to attend. But fortunately fellow blogger .08 Acres (And a Donkey) was able to go on the first day, and hear a distinguished panel “on the role of the Internet in democracy, the Democratic party, and infrastructure building.”  The panel included noted political bloggers Jerome Armstrong of MyDD and Matt Stoller of bopnews, Amanda Michel of the Berkman Center at Harvard, and former Howard Dean campaign manger, Joe Trippi.

But judging from his must-read report, it sounds to me like they would have done well to have had him on the panel:    
“At one point, Trippi described the Democratic party as “brain dead” and constantly operating thirty or forty years behind the Republicans. His implication was that we could not count on the party and if we wanted to change how campaigns are run, we’d have to accomplish it in spite of the Democrats, rather than with their support. Of course, the obvious question was asked: “What should we be doing?” How do we go about taking matters into our own hands if the party is going to resist innovation and change? There were no easy answers presented. Start your own blog, someone said, build an online community, etc. But how do you start something from scratch and turn it into something that wields influence?”

“I think, though, that while Trippi’s pessimism is certainly warranted, he has a very narrow view of Democratic politics. His experience is working on Presidential campaigns, and when he talks about the party, he’s speaking of the national party. But that’s not the whole story. The power of an individual is at its most dilute at the national level.”

Indeed. The key to restoring democracy to the people — civic engagement as the buzz goes these days — is for us reclaim our citizenship. We need to increase our knowledge of electoral politics as well as our skills. And we need to do it over the long haul with like-minded folks in our own communtities. That’s one reason why I am involved with Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts. We are citizens doing it for ourselves.

[Crossposted from]

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