Sometimes the distance across the Atlantic Ocean seems much further than it is in the digital age. To read the thoughts of many europeans, you sometimes wonder what planet they live on, not which continent. Iain Duncan Smith, writing in the Guardian, understands the blogger dynamic in America like he was right in the middle of it.
[after the obligotory expaination of what a blog is…]
Easongate, as it has inevitably become known, is an echo of last autumn’s Rathergate scandal. Dan Rather, the anchor of CBS’s evening news, was as big as TV stars come. Rather had fronted an attack on George Bush’s Vietnam-era military service record – based on forged documents. The forgery was exposed when bloggers focused on a superscripted “th” after a date in one of the documents. Experts confirmed that typewriters of the period could not have produced such lettering. Rather apologised and CBS is now desperately searching for someone else in whom viewers might put their trust.
This is just one of the ways in which the internet has strengthened the American right. Last year’s Bush-Cheney campaign used information technology to build the largest ever volunteer political army. Visitors to GeorgeWBush.com were invited to join email lists that offered regular information on everything from gun ownership to school prayer. The Bush campaign collected 7.5 million email addresses and amassed 1.4 million volunteers.
You would also expect this electronic revolution to be good for the Democrats, but the American left’s relationship with the internet has been disastrous. The internet has sunk a knife into Bill Clinton’s moderate Democratic party. Mainstream business people were Clinton’s principal funders, simultaneously approving and driving his centrism. But the Democrats’ new paymasters are the 600,000 computer users who, in 2004, supported Howard Dean’s bid for his party’s presidential nomination. Dean energised an unrepresentative group of voters with a stridently anti-war message. Electronic money powered Dean’s campaign, and all of the other contenders for the Democratic crown soon pandered to his base.
The Democrats’ problem has only worsened since. The dailykos.com site of a Democratic consultant gets 500,000 hits a day. That site’s memorial to four American contractors murdered in Iraq was “screw them”. Hatefulness also pours out of the popular websites of Michael Moore and MoveOn.org. The conservative blogosphere has dubbed the Democrats’ IT base its MooreOn tendency.
That sums it up. He goes on to predict that a similar blogging revolution will happen in Britain soon, with the right getting the bulk of the benefit. (it’s an interesting read) I don’t know enough about British politics to say if he’s right or wrong, but considering his understanding of American politics, I don’t doubt him.