Being the "Base" for a Poltical Party

10/11/2006 08:09 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Much has been made of the cynical manipulation of the evangelical movement; perhaps most succinctly by Tucker Carlson on the Chris Mathews show, who talks of the contempt that conservative republicans have for the religious right, and how the "base" is beginning to figure this out. This reminds me of 2000, when many on the left begin to figure out that the Democratic Party had largely abandoned them in favor of corporate interests, and millions voted for Nader.

Being part of the base often means you feel as though you have nowhere to go, except to not participate, or to vote for protest candidates.

But politics can be more than a simple manipulation of die-hard voting blocks. There can be a genuine reshaping of political forces and alliances. This can most easily take place if groups that have been organized and defined by political operatives (that have zero concern about their core interests) are willing to re-organize and redefine themselves, and also their relationship with other groups -- including their putative political enemies. This is pretty hard to do, which is why most of us live within comfortable stereotypes. But it is not impossible.

The Internet has created an amazing place for conversations, debates and organizing. It is now at least possible to discuss ideas that have never occurred to George Will, David Broder or a handful of establishment pundits and political leaders. We have to figure out how to make the most of it.

Using the Internet only to carry out partisan warfare on behalf of republican or democratic political operatives is a limited and depressing notion of the future of politics. More interesting is to focus attention on how people can route around destructive, selfish, inept and corrupt leaders (of which there are many), and to break down some of the prejudices and hatred that keeps decent people apart.