In A brief note on why the progressive blog movement failed, Welsh points out that progressive blogs did not have the money or backing to succeed, the ultimate problem of any group trying to enact policies hated by the rich.
The nail in the coffin was the 2008 primaries. To put it simply, Obama bypassed the blogging gatekeepers. Commenters, whether free or bought (and yes, I believe many were on the payroll) capsized DKos and other major blogs. Obama did not need the gatekeepers, he simply bought out the movement. The bloggers were irrelevant. At least one major blogger acted as a conduit for Obama hits: was fed oppo, and put that oppo out there.
Unlimited money in politics means that movements are bought and sold like baseball cards. The Tea Party was a few wingnuts and Ron Paul supporters until the Koches bought themselves their very own political machine, bypassing the right's politicians. In 10 months Ted Cruz made the leadership look weak and powerless. He used his bought-and-paid-for power to advance himself in his party at the expense of the leadership's power. He acted, for how would he know how much power he had unless he flexed it? And Boehner was afraid to use his power against Cruz until the economic elite made it very clear that the Tea Party was going too far and the money people were worried that the suffering they wished to impose on others might actually affect them as well. So Boehner lost power.
The Tea Party, say what you will about them, gets a great deal of obeisance from Republicans for one simple reason: they will primary you if they don’t like how you’ve been voting, and they’ll probably win that primary. They are feared. Progressives are not feared, because they do not believe enough in their ostensible principles to act on them in an effective fashion.
That is why the progressive revolution of the early 2000s failed. If you want the next left wing push to succeed, whatever it is called, learn the lessons of the last failure.
(Note: I poured years of my life into the movement. Its failure is my failure, and I take no pleasure in it at all.)If progressives want to actually enact progressive policies, instead of policies that simply are not as bad as the Republicans' policies, they must bypass the power elite. "Everyone" says this will not work because the left does not have enough power, but the left will never have enough power because they will not take that power from those who have it. This will be a dangerous and ugly fight, but the progressives will win because people who refuse to use their power always lose.