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Blogger Talk

     Political bloggers remind you of the folk legend about the bumble bee and the MIT engineers.  On precise measurement of such things as wing-span, body weight and overall shape, the aerodynamical experts concluded with certainty that the little bug could never fly.  Fortunately the bumble bees never got the news.

     Neither did the bloggers, who buzz around this Democratic convention as if the Dean campaign had never crashed.  As if, at least, the Internet transformation proceeds apace.  As if the television era is indeed over.  As if the tools and rules of winning politics are in their hands already.  As if identity politics and interest-group power are already being pushed aside by the logic and the technology of networking.  As if John Kerry is a dinosaur–in a good way.  That is, they accept Kerry as the last electable dinosaur but the end of a line of candidates that could be imposed on the party.  “It’s appropriate that this convention is in Boston,” says the Music for America activist Franz Hartl, “because it might be an Irish wake for this whole political establishment.”

     Hear it now.  At the Google party at the Meza restaurant late last night, I wandered with my minidisc recorder, engaging enyone who could be heard over the TV and the DJ.  “What happened to the promise of an Internet democracy?” was my question.  “It never went away,” said Sterling Newberry, who needs no introduction.  “The Internet isn’t a candidate.  The Internet isn’t a political group.  The Internet isn’t a specific campaign.  The Internet is a place where people gather and converse, and the conversation has gone on uninterrupted, and it’s the conversation that’s important.  In Dave Weinberger’s line: ‘we’re more interesting than you are.’  The conversation is more important than the candidate.  The conversation is more important than even the party, because the conversation is what binds everyone together.”

     The Democratic Party is doomed if it doesn’t get the message, said Joe Trippi, the change agent with Howard Dean and now the author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  “If the two parties don’t get back to the people on the ground, it’s inevitable that 2 or 3 million Americans will create a $200-million candidacy of a third way.”  In the Internet “they have a way to pool their resources and create that change.”

     Jason Shellen took a bow for Blogger.Com, which proclaimed on T-shirts a couple of years ago that the revolution “will be bloggerized.”  But they never imagined that their software, in the hands of The Baghdad Blogger, would have one of the front row seats in a war.

     Zack Rosen, the 21-year-old tool maker behind the Dean campaign’s digital networks, is inventing again for Civic Space.  The trick is to build simple tool sets that connect the granular cells of issue-oriented politics into a larger movement.  The Kerry campaign is “duct tape–nothing lasting,”  said the boy-wonder of Joe Trippi’s Burlington headequarters.  But meantime a complete rewiring of progressive movement politics is underway. 

     “The interactive moment is just beginning,” said the Texas populist Glenn Smith, hawking his new book about the Bush years, The Politics of Deceit.  Barack Obama’s speech caught the wave brilliantly, Smith said: the new themes of a rebuilding Democratic Party will be mutual responsibility, freedom and conversation.  Listen here.

{ 47 } Comments

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