A writer's strike at DailyKos is the latest symptom of a fast-moving infection in the progressive blogosphere - the all-too-real political fissure driven by online bullying that shows no signs of healing by August. Does this virtual walk-out presage the real thing in Denver? Too early to tell, but the real anger among Democratic bloggers who do not ardently support Barack Obama swats down the dismissive conventional wisdom of "they'll come back in the end" - at least for now.
DKos blogger Alegre led the walk-out with a passionate diary that expressed the deep disappointment many Democrats who dare to support Clinton over Obama feel during this long and tumultuous cycle:
I’ve put up with the abuse and anger because I’ve always believed in what our on-line community has tried to accomplish in this world. No more. DailyKos is not the site it once was thanks to the abusive nature of certain members of our community.
I’ve decided to go on "strike" and will refrain from posting here as long as the administrators allow the more disruptive members of our community to trash Hillary Clinton and distort her record without any fear of consequence or retribution. I will not be posting at DailyKos effective immediately. I will not help drive up traffic or page-hits as long as my candidate – a good and fine DEMOCRAT - is attacked in such a horrid and sexist manner not only by other diarists, but by several of those posting to the front page.
The resentment among non-Obama backers is growing rapidly - you can see it in the comments here, and I can see it in my emails. There's a real split among party activists, and it's getting wider. Some of it is motivated by the media's love affair with one candidate - and hatred for the other; Keith Olbermann's embarassment drove many over the edge. But much of it comes from boorish, Stalinist behavior online - the kind of "you're either with us or against us" attitude we saw so much of when the Bush crowd was flying high. It's disturbing, particularly because so many of the targets are women. This is not the Democratic Party many of us have worked for; this is not the progressive blogosphere we've supported. Without blaming the worthy candidacy of Senator Obama in any way, this is not a progressive movement - it's a harsh, echo-filled politburo bathed in faux post-racial hosannas and the gauzy camera lens of "hope."
This is also the time to note the lack of leadership in the party. Howard Dean's no-so-subtle lean toward Obama is troubling; the empty coffers of the DNC are alarming. Chairman Dean's inability to lead real primaries in Florida (which now appears lost to McCain) and Michigan (which took matters into its own hands) shows a true dearth of leadership. Even with the incredible excitement over our candidates, he has failed the party's greater ambitions.
Sadly, the very comments on Alegre's strike post over at dKos - where leader Markos Moulitsas has become increasingly harsh in his attacks on Senator Clinton - prove her case for the walk-out. And thus far, 68 Kos writers have joined the strike (something of euphemism, since they don't get a share of the BlogAds take a the site).