The Judiciary Committee hearings on Alito were a real eye opener for me and I think for many others as well. Not so much because the members of the committee were in such disarray — that’s been going on for a long time — but because as we sat here together and watched them collectively I got a sense in reading the comments that some seismic shift was happening, that people finally realized that enough was enough. Something had to be done, someone had to start agitating for change and it wasn’t going to come from within the Democratic establishment.
I want to take a moment to thank each and every person who took the time to participate in the comments section on this and other blogs to voice your frustration and your willingness to do something. It really took me by surprise, I have to say, to hear people so engaged and ready to mobilize. This amazing move to fight this battle came from the ground up. DC pundits are feeling threatened, and many have tried to dismiss this as John Kerry’s cynical attempts to manipulate the grass roots, but that’s a mistake. It was a groundswell that swept me and other bloggers up and called out for direction, and somehow John Kerry heard that and he stepped into a leadership position and he gave it to us. He gave our frustrations a focus, he offered us a chance to stand up and fight regardless of the likelihood of success, and that was all we asked. He validated our efforts and he let people know that their voices were being heard in spite of the timidity gripping many of his peers.
I frankly think the passion of the netroots community surprised him. For those who want to criticize him for not acting earlier or better, I do not think he had any reason to believe that this kind of support was extant or that we would have his back. He put his neck on the line over at Kos and the Huffington Post, not knowing what was going to come back. The outpouring of gratitude that came back to him for his efforts was extremely moving.
Next time he’ll know. And so will we.
We shook things up. People like Joe Biden and Barak Obama were extremely irked about being put on the spot. Diane Feinstein changed her vote, and it’s entirely possible others did likewise and we just didn’t hear it. We forced those who voted for cloture into publicly opposing us, and now we know where things stand. And everyone across the political spectrum knows we’re here now. They are starting to get a glimmer of the kind of muscle we can put behind something we believe it. It was a great moment, a grand and noble fight and I am so proud of each and every one of you for taking part in it.
The next big battle on the horizon are the NSA wiretap hearings coming up next week. On February 6 the Judiciary Committee will begin questioning Alberto Gonzales. I hope everyone will stop by Glenn Greenwald’s blog and take time to look over his post on the points he believes will be the most important to cover during this process and to contribute your ideas. Glenn has a lot of people’s ears right now after his work on the topic made headlines so it’s a great way to prepare for and contribute to something that’s going to be very critical for all of us.
I don’t think anyone can look at the Alito battle on the part of the netroots community and say it was anything other than a huge success. We proved we could show up and we knew how to fight for what we believe in, no matter the odds, just because it’s the right thing to do. Your courage, your conviction and your fearlessness are inspirational.
If anyone’s been looking for the heart of the Democratic party, it’s right here.
Update: I’d also like to take this opportunity to invite the "lurkers" to join in the comments, people who stop by but haven’t felt that the time was right to participate in the conversation. Please feel free to introduce yourself. The natives are friendly and the water is warm.