Over at the Associated Press, reporters Holly Ramer and Mike Glover have just produced an article which beautifully exhibits the unreflective worship of political insiders that dominates the mainstream news approach to covering presidential campaigns. They write about how very important it is for Democratic presidential candidates to court Democratic Party
But who do they bring up as their prime example? Jim Demers, a Democratic insider in New Hampshire. The support of Mr. Demers is described as critical to the success of a Democratic presidential candidate in the New Hampshire primary. If a candidate doesn’t have the help of Demers, Ramer and Glover say, that candidate is in trouble. Insiders like Demers rule the political system, after all, and voters’ political preferences are secondary to their influence, right?
Well, maybe not. Consider who Jim Demers supported in the 2004 presidential primary in New Hampshire: Dick Gephardt. Think back now, and you’ll remember that Dick Gephardt ran so poorly in the New Hampshire primary that he was not a major contender even in Iowa, where Gephardt was supposed to be king… again, because of his contacts with political insiders. If political insider power was so important, how come Jim Demers couldn’t get a victory for the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives?
I suggest that Holly Ramer and Mike Glover look at the evidence again sitting in front of them again. Insider politics just doesn’t have the extraordinary power that reporters like Ramer and Glover say it does. It’s just easier for reporters to cover the relatively small number of self-important political insiders than to try to report on what voters themselves are up to, and what genuine grassroots organizers are doing independently.