↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Accidental Empire: The Rise of the Liberal Blogosphere

Two images, courtesy of Philadelphia blogger Chris Bowers, have stayed with me over the last two years as I wrote and researched my new, rise-of-the-netroots book, Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press. To me, the impressions perfectly capture the phenomena of the liberal blogosphere, which has come to define this decade in terms of politics and the press. The images capture how an unlikely band of (underpaid) liberals changed both landscapes and helped elect a new Democratic Congress and a new Democratic president.
Bowers is the young, former Temple University English professor who, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, found himself both hunched over his laptop between classes reading the nascent liberal blogs, and in search of a new calling. He found his new path online, quickly abandoned the classroom, and threw himself into politics, but at a cost -- he was mostly broke.


The list of early blog pioneeers is a long one and I'd be a fool to try to name them for fear of leaving anybody out. But what an unlikely cast of eclectic characters! (Students, housewives, attorneys, professors, musicians, etc.) Most brought with them no experience in politics or journalism. Their career paths were never going to take them to the U.S. Capitol or inside big city newsrooms. And none of them ever dreamt their online essays -- posted in an effort just to keep themselves sane -- would ever represent career options, or that White House candidates would come courting.

Basically, bloggers served as a conduit to the grassroots. Bloggers talked to people who talked to people, and collectively they amassed political power by raising hell together. And in truth, the liberal blogosphere -- the crucial communication arm of the progressive movement that grew into the type of influential outreach platform that the Democratic Party hadn't been able to build despite decades of trying -- was formed on a largely ad-hoc basis and for years was sustained by adrenaline and caffeine.

It really was an accidental empire.


Post a Comment

<< Home