Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kos, the netroots kahuna

A fresh-faced talking head has recently begun to appear on television's political talk shows, and in daily newspapers’ OpEd pages: Markos Moulitsas Zuniga.

Branded as “Kos” to those who’ve followed his rapid ascension in the world of politics -- using a blogging format over the Internet -- he has a keyboard-stroking following today that is busy promoting his agenda.

Whatever that agenda is, Kos and his flock are as passionate as the day is long about promoting it. The mainstream media seem to want to portray the phenomenon of “netroots” politics, as espoused at Daily Kos, as on the extreme left. It’s clearly against the war in Iraq. But at this desk, it seems more of a mixed bag of tricks, more populism than ideology. Still, it's definitely not at all conservative, in the contemporary sense of the term.

Whatever it is, it is snowballing. If the reader thinks young adults today are all sort of nonchalant about politics, this post is meant to open your eyes.

Former Virginia governor Mark Warner is one of Kos’ favorite politicians, for now. Warner’s presidential run is being promoted at Daily Kos in a way that brightly underlines the blur between journalism and blogging. It may also be underlining another blur: Like, what's the difference between being an official part of a candidate's campaign, and in running along beside the official camp -- outside of regulations -- but being paid to do it?

The netroots thing -- with Kos as the face of it -- has some of the feel of a flaky movement that could soon self-destruct; the cracks are already showing. At the same time, it also has the feel of a genuine new groundswell of activism. It could be something that is becoming a serious player in Democratic Party politics, or something that will eventually become a third party movement.

Here’s the link to a Newsweek feature story by Jonathan Darman, “The War's Left Front.”

“...Moulitsas is aggressively talking up the party's challengers in Senate races in Virginia, Montana, Ohio and Nevada. As in 2003, when he rose to prominence filling Howard Dean's Internet piggy bank, he's funneling followers to sites where they can give money to candidates online; only now he has several hundred thousand more readers to hit up and a better network of informants in battleground states. At the same time, he's taken on the task of party-loyalty enforcer, backing candidates who wear their partisanship proudly and assailing those who seem too cozy with the other side on a range of issues.”
Image: from Slate

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