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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, February 23, 2004


the netroots recede

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, February 23, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
The power of the netroots. How much is there, really?

Consider the o-blog. It's a standard Moveable Type install, with linear non-threaded comments. Unlike the Clark campaign, or Daily Kos, there was never a Scoop install that would allow for threaded discussions and collective moderation of user posts and diaries to full-fledged front-page entries. I have inside information from the campaign that a Scoop upgrade was considered and strongly advocated by one camp, but was summarily overruled. The o-blog became little more than a web-based email list and an echo chamber, as a result.

Now that the campaign has suspended, even the limited influence we might have had is gone. The o-blog is still vaue on what the next steps are and likely there won't be any official action for some time, since the DFA campaign is still closing shop. They have a lot of logistical issues to solve before they can deal with a bunch of bloggers.

Joe Trippi's Change for America site and blog seems promising, but then again there isn't any next-generation community there, just the same stale format of MT. There are guest bloggers, all of whom were from the campaign payroll, including bloggers such as Dean Nation alum Karl - meaning that there isn't any truly independent representation of the netroots. I get a sense that CFA is essentially the pre-Neel DFA crowd, regrouping (and Howard Dean is notable in his absence from that effort). There was a CFA retreat at Trippi's farm this weekend but we still have no real sense of what was discussed or is being planned, though I remain optimistic that Trippi will reveal his broader vision sometime this week.

The bottom line is that it seems that the independent voice of the netroots is not currently, will not be, and possibly never was a driving influence on policy in this race. I hate to conclude this, but the evidence seems to abound. Remember our Dean Nation Interview?

What do you think? did we ever have any real influence?

The more I reflect on the state of affairs, I am convinced that this campaign was not so much about influencing leadership, but simply exerting our collective will. The money still talks. And we will VOTE DEAN in the primary en masse, because that is our only avenue of real expression. Perhaps the real influence that we as anindependent voice had was to prove our own existence.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.