How Not to Stem Criticism From Obama’s Left Flank

Memo to Deputy Transition Director Steve Hildebrand: poking a beehive with a sharp STFU stick isn’t gonna stop the buzzing. It’s just gonna get your dumb ass stung.

David Sirota patiently explains why muzzling progressives isn’t the answer:

The reason the Republican Party and conservative movement were so successful [up until recently] was because they developed a symbiotic relationship. Specifically, the party apparatus knew that sustained conservative movement pressure on the party was good for the party in keeping it disciplined and on message. By contrast, the culture of the Democratic Party since the McGovern debacle in 1972 has been to bash the progressive movement – to triangulate against it as proof of “independence” and “centrism.” We saw where that got the Democratic Party for the last 30 years – but by the looks at the public post-election attacks on “the left” from Democrats, it seems like the party higher-ups still haven’t learned the simple lesson that pressure from a strong movement strengthens the party as a whole.

In other words, internal criticism from individuals and organizations who share your goals serves as a self-correcting ideological quality control mechanism.  Such good-faith criticism is a benefit, not an impediment.  Stifle it and you risk weakening your mandate.

Look, like Sirota, I’m not ready to give up on Obama just yet.  Every new administration will stumble at times, and I’ve been vocal (if perhaps a bit too impolitic) when I believe the criticism has been impatient and unfair.  But pat-patting progressive critics on the heads with smug condescension and smarmy dismissiveness , as Hildebrand did, is just plain idiotic.

As Bob Cesca put it:

The better approach here would’ve been to underscore President-elect Obama’s progressive appointments and to remind us that even though the Republicans are on the run, we still have a lot of work to do together. “Together” is the appropriate word here. If the goal is to be all-inclusive, and then to write a piece that doesn’t reach out to the netroots, what are we supposed to take away from the message?

Couple this boneheaded online PR maneuver with Jon Favreau’s recent Facebook follies, and one can’t help wonder if the Obama team should perhaps rethink its wicked awesome new media strategy.

One Response to “How Not to Stem Criticism From Obama’s Left Flank”

  1. Bandit says:

    You’d think they’d let him get innaugurated first – I have lots of ideological differences with obama but maybe we should wait for the game to start before throwing in the towel.

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