Blog Power: Politics and Blogging in Nevada

When nearly a thousand bloggers descended on Las Vegas for the 3-day YearlyKos 2006 Convention, the rising influence of the blog was highlighted in ways that surprised many of the Internet reporters themselves. The convention, named after Markos Moulitsas, the founder of the Daily Kos, featured workshops, panels, and speeches about politics, the power of the Internet, and the shortcomings of Washington media.

Right behind the blogging elite came a parade of Democratic presidential candidates and party leaders offering up some praise for the bloggers. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada was one of the most often-quoted with his words that, “One of the reasons I so admire them [bloggers] is they have the ability to spread the truth like no entities I’ve dealt with in recent years. We could never have won the battle to stop privitization of Social Security without them.”

Agents of Advocacy

Fed up with the belief that the press in general is dishonest in its reportings and standing firm that, one way or another, their voices will be heard, bloggers utilize the power of the Internet to spread their word. Hoping to educate the public, these people speak out on political issues through their blogs and talk radio.

Some political parties have begun to recognize the voices of bloggers as being an integral part of the political process. Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a prospective 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidate, said that bloggers “are a major voice in American politics” and went on to describe bloggers as agents of advocacy, the very reason he flew in to attend the convention.

Touting bloggers as a driving force of politics, Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, shared the news that, “We have a whole new department at the D.N.C. – the Internet department. What they do is read you all day long so they know what’s going on.”

While the Democrats (there were few to no Republicans in attendance) offered praise for the power of the blog, bloggers weren’t so kind. Markos Moulitsas boldly stated that, “Both parties have failed us. Republicans have failed us because they can’t govern. Democrats have failed because they can’t get elected. So now it’s our turn.”

Tools for the Masses

While it’s hard to pinpoint just how much power the blogging community wields, since there were very few (if any) Republicans in the crowd, the energy of blogs has become for Democratic supporters what talk radio is for Republicans: a highly effective tool for communicating with the masses.

The convention has possibly armed bloggers with even more tools to communicate, including a training session with Jennifer Palmieri, a deputy White House press secretary under President Clinton, which featured “what to wear, how to sit, and what to say” during television interviews.

And while the fact remains that blogging is an emerging power of some sort, the way that the sides view their relationship (bloggers and politicians) is obviously not in perfect harmony. The more than 1000 bloggers at the convention share the mission of changing the way politics are done, while many of the political leaders seemed to take the convention as a convenient box to check on their campaign route.

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