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July 31, 2005

Something Happening Here

The impact of the liberal blogosphere is becoming clearer each month.  The national progressive blogs led by DailyKos, mydd, Talking Points Memo, Atrios and now TPMCafe, the Huffington Post and many, many more have driven the national conversation on the John Bolton nomination and the Rove-Plame affair.   Bloggers and community members dug up old memos and connected the dots and kept the stories alive until they got picked up by the mainstream media which gave the Democratic leaders enough cover to stand up for their principles.     

We are just this month seeing the power of the Internet to elevate a special election for an open seat in Ohio to national prominence.  Democrat Paul Hackett is within striking distance of Republican Jean Schmidt in OH-02 in Southwestern Ohio, a district that went heavily for Bush and has had Republican congressfolk for decades.   It happened because the netroots provided a pretty good sum of money, $150,000 a week ago and much more since then, to Hackett and has called out folks to make the trek to campaign for him.  If Hackett wins or even gets close it will be a big upset.

Chris Bowers at mydd.com describes the impact of the progressive blogs and how much more effective they’ve been on Hackett’s behalf than the conservative blogs have been on Schmidt’s behalf. 

Since the primary election, there have been 63 conservative blog posts about Paul Hackett, while there have been as many as 683 progressive blog posts about Paul Hackett. Progressives blogs have written roughly ten times as much about this election as conservative blogs. What's more, since Blogopshere Day, the advantage in liberal blog posts has been around 20-1.

Those action-oriented conservative bloggers have completely ignored this race, while us divisive liberals have engaged in an all-out blogswarm that has gone a long way toward making this campaign close. . . Conservative bloggers are straight up ineffective when it comes to actually influencing electoral politics. How many elections have gone by now where conservative bloggers offered almost nothing in the way of resource support to conservative candidates? If they had jumped into the OH-02 race (or SD-AL and KY-06 special elections for that matter) with the same force as the progressive blogosphere, Hackett would probably still be way, way behind.

They haven't however, and Paul Hackett is now close.

The year before the November election, MoveOn.org and the Dean candidacy both used the Internet to organize activists and raise money and made it clear that there was tremendous potential for both.  However, outside of Clark’s brief campaign, most Democrats running for office, including most obviously Kerry, did not get the central message that they needed to create community rather than just ask for money. 

As I watched the opportunities slip through the fingers of the Democrats, it seemed as if they were unwilling to give up control.  Because of that need for control, Democrats missed the power of the Internet to enable people to self-organize and contribute their ideas and to dialogue with each other and, in the process, create a very satisfying sense of community of like-minded people. 

There is something happening in the blogosphere that Democratic leaders need to learn to take advantage of.  There is a tremendous opportunity for collaboration.  A few Democrats are starting to take advantage of this but more need to do so and quickly.

P.S.  You can still contribute to Paul Hackett’s campaign.  It’s mightily important – both to get him into Congress and keep her out.  He is a Marine who just came back from Iraq and understands the horror of this war; she is the director of a national Right to Life organization based in Cincinnati. It is also a good example of what this new political form, the progressive blogosphere, can accomplish. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 31, 2005 at 10:27 AM in Media | Permalink

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