Thursday, June 22, 2006

Two New Democratic Publications Launch

I read with interest today David Broder's column about the launching of two new publications on the (little "l") left side of the political spectrum. One, The Democratic Strategist, is an online journal, which, according to its also-new companion daily blog, The Daily Strategist, written by the zine's editor, Scott Winship, is slated for monthly production. The second, Democracy Journal will appear quarterly in print, on a subscription basis ($24/year), which I assume would allow online access to at least some of the journal's material.

The Democratic Strategist's editorial philosphy:
The Democratic Strategist will be clearly focused on developing political strategies for promoting Democratic candidates and issues. It will be proudly andavowedly partisan, aimed at achieving an enduring Democratic majority.

The Democratic Strategist will be firmly and insistently based on facts and data. It will seek strategies rooted in empirical research from the fields of public opinion research, political demography and other social sciences and will avoid empty rhetoric and abstract theorizing.

The Democratic Strategist will be emphatically open to all sectors and currents of opinion within the Democratic Party. It will actively seek to be a meeting ground for both centrists and populists, readers of The Nation and The New Republic, professional political consultants, grassroots activists and every significant candidate and perspective within the Democratic Party. The Democratic Strategist will strongly encourage discussion and dialog and will not limit itself to any specific current of thought or point of view within the Democratic community.

And an excerpt from Democracy Journal's mission page:
The mission of Democracy is to build a vibrant and vital progressivism for the twenty-first century that builds on the movement’s proud history, is true to its central values, and is relevant to present times. [Emphasis original.]
We do not seek to publish policy papers; we’ll leave the important details on budget line items and dollar figures to others. Rather, we seek breakthrough thinking on the concepts and approaches that respond to the central transformations of our time: the breakdown of the ladder of upward mobility; the promise and problems of an information-based, globalized economy; new national security threats which cross old boundaries and defy old assumptions from jihadist terrorism and nuclear proliferation to climate change, pandemics, and poverty; and a society where people work and live in new and different ways.

Progressives have been at their best when we are both rigorous in looking at the world as it is and vigorous in introducing creative approaches to remake the world as we believe it should be. Democracy is not interested in either reiterating the conventional wisdom or maintaining unity around outdated orthodoxies. We see our role as upsetting tired assumptions, moving past outdated and obsolete divisions, and stretching the envelope of what is accepted by and of progressives. ...

As Broder notes (read his column for his full critique), both publications have people of impressive credentials and experience at the helm, and it will interesting to see how well they do within their admittedly partisan realm and beyond. Note that I do not use the word "partisan" in a pejorative, or dismissive, but rather a descriptive sense. In fact, I think it's perfectly appropriate and even helpful to have a broad-range of self-identified, POV-oriented publications in the marketplace of political and policy ideas, especially in monthly and quarterly form because the greater lead times enable more measured thought and analysis, outside the pressures of daily journalism--much less minute-by-minute blogging, for that matter. That's why I regularly read a fair number of both monthly magazines and quarterly journals, from across the spectrum.

My first impulse this morning was to plunge straight in and read all of The Democratic Strategist and whatever bits of articles are available online at Democracy Journal. But, alas--here's irony for you!--I can't justify that when I have 10 quarterly journal articles in my own queue to edit (my, those deadline cycles come fast!).

We leave in a week for a month-long trip East, so most likely I will be, relatively speaking at least, scarce around here for awhile. (Which is fine, since Cal is the Real Feast here anyway, and he'll be back from vacation in a few days.) But if I find the time to look at these new publications with any thoughtfulness, I'll throw in my two cents, about their first issues, how these journals mirror the tools used by conservatives over the years to build their movement(s), and what they seem to offer (or at least promise to offer) to the fierce debates taking place in Democratic and progressive circles.

Meanwhile, I'd be interested in reactions from DWM readers of various stripes.