Monday, April 17, 2006

"Reinventing the party" (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Geov responded to this post and corrects my misunderstanding of his point of view:
No, my answer isn't "doubtful" -- all I said was that Kos & Jerome didn't really address the question, either in their book or their public talks and interviews with me. But other folks in the blogosphere, as you know, are talking incessantly about this issue, and I expect some good ideas will come out of those endless discussions. Will the DNC etc. latch on to any of them? I don't know, but I think the power base in the Dem. Party is shifting toward, rather than away from, the activist base (of which the blogosphere is a huge part), so if I had to bet I'd say that's where the effort will come from. Whether it'll stick with the public at large is, of course, still another question, but the best we can do is try.

Geov Parrish asks, "Can Kos, liberal blogosphere reshape Democrats' image?"
Based on his latest on WorkingForChange, I'd summarize his answer as "doubtful."
After having communicated with Geov via the internet over the last year, we finally met up in person last week at the Labor Temple, where he spent some time talking with Jerome and Markos. Here's a taste of his thinking:

Zuniga has managed to do something the Democratic National Committee has almost always failed to do: tap the energy, enthusiasm, ideas, and anger toward the Bush administration of the Democratic Party's activist base.

And so when Markos and co-author Jerome Armstrong (founder of one of the earliest national liberal blogs, MyDD, and architect of Howard Dean's pioneering 2004 use of the Internet) write a book suggesting how the Democratic Party might get its shit together, people are going to notice. And they have; Crashing the Gate has garnered widespread attention, glowing reviews, and brisk sales. Recently I talked with them, before a Seattle appearance and again with Markos as they wandered around downtown Olympia the next afternoon.

The Democrats, nationally, need to start producing and spotlighting strong new leaders; they then need to convince Americans that these folks are strong and effective leaders. Armstrong and Zuniga recognize this, but are almost silent as to how it might happen. Internal structural changes are useless if the leaders they produce wind up sounding and acting just like the last crew (c.f. Barack Obama).

Oddly, with traffic for national political blogs starting to plateau, the pair doesn't have much to say about the future of technology in politics, either. Markos notes that Rupert Murdoch just bought MySpace, and that Republicans will use the purchase not only to mine data, but to learn how to market more effectively to young adults just forming political identities. The Democrats aren't thinking ten years out in this fashion. But the authors are curiously clueless -- at least publicly -- about how coming technologies might further revolutionize politics, and how.

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