Thursday, June 15, 2006

Does "Yearly Kos" Really Matter?

Last week, a convention of liberal bloggers named "Yearly Kos" was held in Las Vegas. In this New York Times article, the convention was described as "the mainstream debut of 'Internet-powered politics', and it made a convincing case that the Internet will quickly surpass television as the primary medium for communicating political ideas".

Certainly, the blogosphere holds tremendous potential for political influence. The question is to what degree? To what extent will blogs affect political debates, and even electoral outcomes?

This NY Times article considers how liberal blogs may affect the 2006 and 2008 elections. For starters, there were many indications at the Yearly Kos convention that efforts are being made to move the liberal blogging activists into the real-space political process - contributing campaign money, performing grassroots organizing, collecting signatures, and performing get-out-the-vote drives. The same efforts I'm sure are being made by conservatives.

These activities seem to miss the point. The power of the blogosphere is not in simply being a recruitment station for real-space activists. Its power lies in its open dialogue and diversity of ideas that bloggers toss out there. In other words, blogging's political potential lies in cyberspace, not real-space.

This is a double-edged sword for traditional political parties. Yes, the blogosphere might make mobilization of activists easier, however because of the decentralized (and anarchic) dialogue that takes place in the blogosphere, political parties will no longer have control of the message they want to put forth.

If you are the chairman of the Democratic or Republican national parties, that is a monster problem. It undermines your authority and control. However, if you believe that generating new ideas for politics and public policy is more valuable than hierarchical control, then the real promise of the blogosphere lies in its ability to foster democratic dialogue.

In a constitutional system designed to decentralize power, isn't that more in line with democracy's ultimate goal?


At 9:13 PM, Blogger Fitz said...

Exactly! Decentralize. Next, all we have to do is guarantee widespread, broadband access to every single person in the U.S. Then, and only then, will the framers original "we the people" intent be realized. Read my thoughts on KOS here.



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