Blogs and the 2006 Election
Jon Henke, brought aboard a sinking ship as George Allen’s New Media Coordinator, argues that the Left Blogosphere and Democratic candidates did a far better job of working together than their Right/Republican counterparts in the decisive Allen-Webb race in particular and the election in general. Given the number of very close races, Henke proclaims, “Were Democrats not as engaged, they would not have the Senate today; were Republicans more engaged, they would still have the Senate.”
That’s not falsifiable, of course, but it’s at least plausible. While Kos and company have been derided here and elsewhere for their poor showings in the last two election cycles, having an 0-and-whatever record with candidates they supported, they undeniably laid the groundwork for a get-out-the-meme network that is unparalleled on the right.
Kos, MyDD and others pioneered blogs as a communitarian enterprise rather than outlets for individual punditry. John Amato invented video blogging before there was such a thing as YouTube. They have done a tremendous job of capitalizing on the popularity, especially among college students and 20-somethings, of Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and (more recently) Keith Olbermann and quickly spreading their more effective bits and rants. Red State, Hot Air, and others have arisen in reaction but have not achieved anything like the critical mass of their predecessors.
Whether these differences are cultural reflections of what makes some people “conservatives” and others “liberals” or a natural outcome of the Left having come just short of winning a series of close elections (which many of them believe were stolen from them) or some other factor, I don’t know. Henke is right, though, that the Right will have to figure out how to use the power of the New Media (or Personal Media, or whatever name ultimately attaches to it) more effectively.
The problem, though, is that I don’t want the Right Blogosphere to turn into a mirror image of the Left Blogosphere. While I’d love to have the traffic and influence of DailyKos, I’m not interested in emulating its style. It remains to be seen whether there’s a way to maximize the influence of the blogosphere while being civil and thoughtful.