I think the most remarkable and distinctive thing about the new generation of activists, whether described as readers of liberal websites or strong supporters of, say, Ned Lamont, is that they have a strong sense of the Democratic Party -- what it is, and what it should mean. That�s a very big deal. Perhaps it�s part of the generational discussion that�s been going on recently, but those of us who are, as Matt Stoller generously puts it, "in [our] thirties and above" do remember a time when left ideology was about spitting on the institutional Democratic Party, ignoring it, treating it as a corporate tool, and at best, trying to pressure �the political class� from outside. Those days are gone. Now there is a recognition that only a meaningful, coherent political party -- not a faction or an issue campaign -- can stand up to the ideologically coherent party on the other side.
And part of that actually involves a greater tolerance of non-liberal positions on core interest-group issues where it�s necessary to win: Casey on choice, Schweitzer and others on gun control. So even if the netroots are liberals, the fact that they are channeling their liberalism into a vision of what they think the Democratic Party should be is a significant development since the 1990s.
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