The netroots and the Democratic candidates
The problem for the netroots - and Progressives in general - is that, despite both being very satisfactory in important ways, both Clinton and Obama reject the Progressive and netroots movement in some important way.I actually don't think Hillary Clinton is so great at fighting Republicans. She's shown great tenacity in her own campaign. But as far as I know in her Senate career she hasn't been known for really laying into Republicans. But Clinton's highly unlikely to be the nominee, so let's talk about Obama.
Fundamentally, what the netroots want is a Fighting Progressive. They want an unabashed liberal who will go toe to toe with the Republicans and punch them in the nose.
But what they have is a choice between a Fighting Pragmatist (Hillary Clinton) and a Kumbaya Progressive (Barack Obama).
No matter who wins, their victory represents a rejection of some core element of the Progressive and netroots movement. They will, of course, fall into line with the eventual nominee, but the disconnect with their candidate, and possible President, will be an ongoing vexation for them. In particular, it will create for the netroots a strategic problem. How will the netroots remain relevant and maintain the perception of Party leadership if the leader of their Party is repeatedly and conspicuously rejecting their core demand to either toe the Progressive policy line, or to be a hardened partisan brawler?
I do think Obama's inclusive rhetoric rubs the progressive netroots the wrong way. I've commented on this myself before:
However, it is not legitimate to say that those who criticize the president's foreign policy are traitors, or that people with the wrong race or religion are un-American, or that the President is above the law and can imprison and torture anyone anywhere, or that it is more important for a job candidate to have correct political stances than to be able to do the job in question (see Imperial Life in the Emerald City). These are not positions that should be compromised with. They should be discredited. And the Republican party is currently dominated by people who advocate or implement such positions. I don't see how Obama can seriously think he can compromise with people who do not believe in the rule of law.That's why I was leaning towards Edwards while he was still in the race. I am a kumbaya person up to a point. I think Obama can probably get 55%-70% of the country to "unite", at least enough to get some important things done. But there are some folks who are just very hard to reach, e.g. the 28% who still think Bush is doing a good job. And they are going to scream like banshees through every media outlet they can get their hands on. Maybe Obama can build a big enough coalition that this group can be ignored. But they won't let go of power quietly.