I'm trying as hard as I can to run this blog into the ground, but you people keep coming back.
Because I was late with turning in my review of Crashing the Gate, I don't know if it will run in the Trib. So, I'll just run it here. This is what I turned in to be edited, so you can imagine that it is, in actuality, very crappy. Enjoy.
Kos I can
By Nate Nance
I lead a double life.
My day job is as a mild-mannered newspaper clerk. My only editorial decision is whether to put the Maverick's boxscore above the Spurs. By night, though, I'm a political blogger. I reach thousands of people a week with my very liberal voice and, on a good day, I influence Democratic politics in the state of Texas.
Picture me times a thousand and you get Markos Moulitsas Zuniga and Jerome Armstrong, the authors of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the rise of People-Powered Politics. Markos founded DailyKos, the largest left-leaning political blog in the world, regularly reaching a million readers a day. Armstrong's MyDD.com is one of the first blogger communities, with traffic in the hundreds of thousands daily.
Crashing is their critical look at the Democratic Party and its shortcomings; the failure in leadership and the uncanny ability in this century to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at the polls. It is also a look at the future of a political party that has lost touch with the people it represents because of fealty to single-issue interest groups and big money donors. A hopeful look because things are changing.
I got a chance to sit down with both of them while they were visiting Texas on their book promotion tour to talk about the netroots and the influence bloggers have had on recent elections. There has been a lot of press focus on the failure of the large national blogs to win some of those. Paul Hackett's congressional race last year and the primary race between Rep. Henry Cuellar and Ciro Rodriguez in Texas this month. In the last six weeks of that campaign, those high-traffic blogs funneled nearly half a million dollars into Rodriguez's campaign which led to a surge in turnout for him. It was ultimately a losing campaign, however.
It shows what power we polibloggers have and is a case study in what we're trying to accomplish on the Democratic side of the aisle. Not an ideological cleaning, but one in which regular citizens are trying to take back their party from people more worried about PAC money and pleasing the Republican majority than meeting their constituents' needs. Blogs can turn national media attention to a struggling campaign and raise large sums of money for long-shot candidates. People informing and energizing other people to make much-needed changes.
And for every loss like the Rodriguez campaign, there are success stories like the Democratic primary in the 19th Senate District of Texas. Challenger Carlos Uresti upset incumbent Sen. Frank Madla by a wide margin after state and local blogs, like San Antonio-based The Agonist and Just Another Blog and Austin-based Pink Dome, posted on a radio interview Madla gave where he said "When I get to the State Capitol, I lock the Democratic Party in my trunk." Downloadable clips of the soundbite were available on these blogs and others around the state. Later stories about his extravagant spending in one of Texas' poorest districts sealed the deal. Money and support flowed to the Uresti campaign, so much so that he acknowledged the help bloggers gave him during his victory speech on election night.
One thing Markos and Jerome make very clear is that blogging isn't the end all be all of this sea change within one party. It is the need for the average person to speak out. As they preface in the book, blogging is simply a tool; it is the medium through which that person's voice is amplified so that it has a palpable impact. The size and scope, are simply unprecedented. Technorati.com is perhaps the best place to track the latest in the blog world. According to the Web site, there are over 30 million blogs worldwide, with an estimated 75,000 new blogs created every day.
With that kind of scale, blogs are sure to have even more impact in the 2006 elections and beyond. If I have anything to say about it, especially in Texas.