December 07, 2003

Protest Politics A little while

Protest Politics

A little while back we were blogging about the routinization of political protest. Now comes along this NYT magazine article on some of those swept up in the Howard Dean movement.

"The campaign sees political involvement in the way ''Bowling Alone'' does, as related to participation in civic organizations -- to people getting together socially. People at all levels of the Dean campaign will tell you that its purpose is not just to elect Howard Dean president. Just as significant, they say, the point is to give people something to believe in, and to connect those people to one another. The point is to get them out of their houses and bring them together at barbecues, rallies and voting booths."

Dean's candidacy is clearly the most interesting Democract one in large part because of the passion he's aroused among his supporters. And I'm all for Robert Putnam-like increased participation in civic organizations. But I am bit uncomfortable when I read stuff like this:

"Dean supporters do not drive 200 miles through 10 inches of snow -- as John Crabtree, 39, and Craig Fleming, 41, did to attend the November Dean meet-up in Fargo, N.D. -- to see a political candidate or a representative of his staff. They drive that far to see each other....After the meeting ended, everyone lingered in the library to talk. Greg DeMarco, a computer salesman, told me, ''My wife and I have met more people in Hooksett through the campaign than we have living here.'' [my emphasis]

Again, what really motivates these people? How much have they really focused on Bush's policies, especially those in the national security sphere, and coherently/judiciously decided they are failed ones? Or is this more about the festive atmosphere surrounding an electrifying 'protest' candidate--an antidote to "Bowling Alone," anomie, boredom, and the like?

I'll revisit this theme later. There's more to mine in all this.

NB: Note too the import of blogging, detailed in the magazine article, vis-a-vis Dean's candidacy.

Posted by Gregory at December 7, 2003 11:24 AM
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