You have a very positive attitude insofar as you a) recognize the relative effectiveness of the Tea Party’ers in altering Republican electoral dyanamics and b) you are trying to understand what you can take away from that, in terms of what would be effective for progressives to do the same to the Democratic Pary
To me, there are 3 keys to the Tea Baggers success that you can take away:
3) eagerness to draw electoral blood. I.e., throw Republican incumbents under the bus. (Obviously, you’re not going to get Fox News to help, and you probably wouldn’t get MSNBC, either. That’s also been a huge factor in their success.)
2) and 3) are keys that, e.g., you can see missing from an otherwise fine progressive organization, the PDA.
I don’t know, but I will speculate that readership has dropped off at OpenLeft, dailykos, etc., because the sort of people who followed blogs closely know that those blogs, in the main, don’t amplify voices that have any guts. They won’t throw Democrats under the bus, with rare exceptions.
Chris Hedges wrote a great (but flawed) piece called "Liberals are useless". Now, Hedges criteria for uselessness was that the liberals didn’t have the guts to walk out of the Democratic Party when it turned sharply against them.
However, I think that’s a bit silly, especially in a ‘first past the post’ voting system. It’s smarter, and still takes guts to be outspoken, and stay within the party.
And when I say "outspoken", I mean "outspoken". Obama stabbed us in the back with his healthcare perfidy, but the veal penned lefty organizations are generally mum about that. That’s one of your clues, right there, about why there will be no change if current players continue in their present trajectories.
Like a former roomate of mine used to say (he was Air Force ROTC) "No guts, no glory".
I would challenge you to think more deeply about the problem you pose, and then ask yourself if "slandering" the President is something that you should be concerned about. From my perspective, he is being handled with kid gloves by the Left, and is taking advantage, accordingly.
re "outspoken". To get the flavor of what I mean by "outspoken", you can listen to some of Gary Null’s political commentaries. Actually, even for me he can be over the top, if you’re talking about how an elected official should behave. Plus, some of his opinions are too sweeping and simplistic. However, he gets an A+ for passion, and for not holding back.
Perhaps the best exemplar of outspokeness, amongst elected officials, that I’m aware of is George Galloway. Unfortunately, he’s not an American…
I might add another key: 4) Branding
What do you think of, visually, when you think of the Tea Party? I think of some dude dressed in 1770’s garb, tri-corner hat, and all.
IMO, progressives should go for the Teddy Roosevelt mascot (even though he was a Republican). TR was extremely progressive on domestic issues, no?