Saturday, February 23, 2008

Netroots and the 2004 and 2008 campaigns

Just before the Super-Tuesday primary, National Journal's Blogometer had an interesting round-up of leading lefty bloggers and what they had to say about Obama. The whole section titled, 'OBAMA: Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not' is interesting but Chris Bowers' comments from OpenLeft particularly caught my eye.

Chris Bowers, who has harshly criticized Obama in the past, considers Obama a "people-powered" candidate in spite of the fact that his rhetoric differs from that of the netroots: "Let's see here: a campaign that uses extensive internet organizing, huge campaign rallies, heavy youth and creative class support, a record breaking number of small donors, a fulfilled promise of record turnout, and combination of [Howard] Dean and [Wesley] Clark voters to force the best possible candidate the Democratic establishment could offer down to the wire? Correct me if I am wrong, but in terms of structure, that seems to be exactly what the emergence of the progressive blogosphere suggested could happen in a Democratic Presidential primary in 2004. Just because the campaign in question was not, seemingly, single-handedly plucked from relative obscurity by a few prominent bloggers does not mean the Obama campaign is not using the exact same energy and exact same new, political trajectory that the blogosphere was riding back in 2003-2004."

Bowers concludes: "The political zeitgeist that the progressive blogosphere first seized upon five or six years ago was released into the population at large and came back, unexpectedly, as the Barack Obama campaign. That energy certainly didn't turn out with the same rhetorical approach it started with, but otherwise it is nearly structurally identical. In other words, the whole people-powered thing turned out exactly the way we planned it would, only that it sounds a little different."

The only part on which I will quibble with him is that he did not credit the Kerry-Edwards blog and what it did to energize people in the 2004 general election run-up. The Kerry supporter groups that formed during that period are still active today and have transferred much of their energy to the Obama campaign.


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