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On Kos, Blogs, and Influencing Elections

Let me begin by making an admission: I am a blogger. I write for, a conservative web log which focuses on national politics, international affairs, news, and culture, and I also contribute to, a blog covering Georgia politics. I have been a contributor to’s web log, as well as the UGA College Republicans blog.

Blogging is an extremely efficient way to rapidly disseminate information; in my view, the blogosphere is to other media what 24-hour news was to the old, twice-a-day network version—faster, more accessible, and more efficient.

The growing prominence of blogs, both in general and in the political process, has led to some interesting questions being raised regarding not only the format and practice, but also the staying power of blogs, and their ability to influence the outcome of elections.

Naturally, any such conversation largely focuses on the liberal blog DailyKos, which is one of the most-viewed sites on the web. DailyKos was founded by Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, a far-left activist and consultant who has been extremely vocal about his desire not only to reshape the Democrat Party, but to revolutionize media as a whole—and to gain influence on par with the sway he perceives conservative media outlets as having on Republican politics.

As Byron York, a writer for conservative magazine National Review, wrote, “Even if it seems that we have very little influence on things we rant about on proactive war on terrorism, about small government or about border issues, they still envy us our perceived influence over policy and integration with the Republican Party.”

The result is that Markos and his followers, called the “Kos Kids” or “Kossacks,” have set out to make his dream a reality by raising money and volunteering for candidates—as well as holding the first annual Yearly Kos convention, which took place in Las Vegas in June and commanded the attendance of Democrats such as Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Joseph Wilson, Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.), and DNC Chairman Howard Dean, who told attendees that he has “set up a special “Internet department” at the DNC, whose job is to read left-of-center blogs all day long.

In my opinion, blogs in general, and specifically the DailyKos/RedState model, which includes regular front-page content and user-written “diaries,” are not just a flash in the pan, but will be an enduring medium for the transmission of news and exchange of ideas. DailyKos has been widely-viewed, with roughly half a million readers a day, for several years now, and his exposure appears to be growing, rather than receding, as Democrats continue to lose national elections.

However, on the flip side of the coin, DailyKos’s head start in paving the way for political bloggers has spawned a large volume of quality conservative offspring, and right-of-center writers have jumped on the opportunities offered by this medium.

With the exception of DailyKos, nearly all of the top blogs in the nation—Red State, Hot Air, Instapundit, Ace of Spades, Club for Growth, and others—are conservative. More and more Republicans in Congress are being convinced of the merits of the blogosphere, as well—the result of a Capitol Hill blogging revolution currently being engineered by new-media enthusiasts like David All, Communications Director for Representative Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Blogs offer an extremely quick and efficient way to get information out to large numbers of people, and will become more and more utilized in the future, not less—a fact evidenced by the increasing number of members of Congress with blogs, a list which includes Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.)

With regard to day-to-day influence, DailyKos and his followers, perhaps unfortunately, have little over the day-to-day activities of the Democrat Party. They stand firmly against any principles which do not adhere to their fringe Left views; thus, they cannot support candidates who could have a chance of winning important elections.

Just how far left are Kos and his followers? His comments about his "indifference" to contractors being killed in Iraq, and other fringe statements, offer great insight, as does this simple example from the YearlyKos convention, which took place the weekend of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi’s demise at the hands of US Special Operations forces in Iraq.

Governor Mark Warner (D-Va.), in his address at the convention, earned enthusiastic applause, with hoots and hollers included, with a call for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to be fired. Seconds later, though, he followed up by acknowledging that “we are all glad to see the end of” terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. That line was followed by silence.

Kos has managed to worm his way into almost-mainstream politics, appearing in TV spots for Ned Lamont, Senator Joseph Lieberman’s primary and general-election opponent, and in helping spur Howard Dean to his short-lived lead in the Democratic presidential primary of 2004. Candidates like John Kerry have had to approach Markos while conducting the requisite pandering to the far left in hopes of gaining nomination to national office, as well.

However, virtually none of Kos's anti-American, anti-Capitalist, and pro-Communist ideals can ever be put into practice here, regardless of how long and how loudly he rails against the status quo.

Even his threats last year of "Blowing up the DNC and starting over"—in response to its’ “selling out” on subjects like the Iraq war, and which he shelved "temporarily" in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina—didn't cause much consternation among those whom he was claiming to target.

The bottom line is, as long as there are resources and outlets like DailyKos, MyDD (for “My Direct Democracy”), FireDogLake, and Democratic Underground available to the far left, there will be followers—and Democrat politicians will always be forced to pander to them to some degree during primary elections.

However, when compared to the number of supporters necessary to win a national election, the entire following of Kos and his ilk is almost insignificant in number, and smart Democrat politicians will immediately not walk, but RUN toward the center of the political spectrum after securing a nomination. Two faced? Yes. Politics as usual? Absolutely.

However, should Kos and other far-left bloggers ever begin to increase their influence in the Democrat party, it can only be good for conservatives—as the 250,000,000 Americans who are not fringe-left liberals will desert these politicians and their party, leaving the Right in a position of even more leadership, solidarity, and strength.

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