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Bloggers Are 'Canaries' in Political Coal Mines
On the role of blogs in the recent Senate primary victory
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2006-08-14 14:39 (KST)   
Many of the press accounts of the recent Democratic Party primary election in Connecticut attribute the victory of the newcomer to the work of the bloggers who campaigned for him. Ned Lamont was unknown in political circles, yet he was able to defeat Joseph Lieberman, a senator who had represented the State of Connecticut in the U.S. Congress for 18 years by winning three consecutive elections.

One press account described the view of the election as marking, "the blogosphere's emergence as a new political power base." (1)

Bloggers involved with the campaign disagree. They prefer to describe the role they are playing as one that reflects the sentiment of the public. This role is captured in the analogy comparing bloggers to canaries who are used in coal mines to warn of dangerous conditions. The blogs are "the first to pick up on and respond to emerging issues and trends ... The blogosphere serves mostly as an 'early-warning system' of what is to come." (2)

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Connecticut Voters Turn Anti-War


What are the dangers the early-warning system of the blogs is pointing to? Most of the accounts in the mainstream media in the U.S. attribute the election upset to the deep and increasing public discontent with the Iraq war. When reading actual online discussion about the campaign, it becomes evident that there is indeed widespread frustration with the U.S. government policy of continuing its occupation of Iraq. Such discontent, however, is but the tip of a deeper and more profound dissatisfaction with politics in America.

Blogs and other online discussion related to the election present a picture of a political landscape where the legitimate government functions have been hijacked for partisan purposes.

The broader grievance is that the politicians do not listen to the citizens. Instead of pursuing a public policy that serves the majority of the people in the U.S., the politicians pursue a policy dictated by corporate and other powerful political interests.

The politicians see the citizen as the problem, rather than as someone to be served. It is as if the politicians wish that the constitution would give them a way to replace the voters, rather than the other way round. Referring to this attitude on the part of politicians, one blogger sarcastically suggested:

"If they don't like the voters why don't they elect a new people? :)" (3)

Online discussion about the Connecticut primary election campaign and its significance appeared on a number of different online sites. For example, the Chicago Tribune opened its Web site to readers who posted their views about the political environment in the U.S. (4)

Some readers explain that they hope Lamont's victory would alert U.S. politicians to the trouble they are in with the citizens. For example, one post warns, "Those in power in this country better sit up straight and listen good -- we're tired of your arrogant posturing, your high-minded pedantic rhetoric and your total disconnect from reality. We want better lives ... Either listen to what we want and represent us ... or become a pathetic has-been like Lieberman." (5)

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the blog the Daily Kos, explains that the blogs do not create discontent, but they can help to amplify such public sentiment.

Online discussion around the Connecticut primary election also demonstrates that there is an understanding of the dangerous nature of entrenched power in the U.S. As one blogger wrote, the "DC Establishment are terrified ..." Another blogger responded that, "They are terrified, but let's remember the more terrified they are, the nastier, sneakier, malicious, and dirty-handed they are. We need to watch them. Turn on your evil sensors and don't turn them off, even in the shower." (6)

A difficult fight lies ahead for those trying to bring about progressive change in American politics.

While much of the mainstream media in the U.S. greeted Lamont's victory over Lieberman with varying degrees of shock or surprise, the discussion on blogs has for months recognized the general dissatisfaction with politics as it is in the U.S. among the American public. Hence, the defeat of Lieberman in the Connecticut primary is a significant event. It symbolizes the effort by citizens in the U.S. to bring the interests of the public back into the political system.

What would it take for the bloggers and others online to mount an effective challenge to the deep seated political corruption in the U.S. during the 2006 Congressional elections? Solving this problem presents a serious challenge to netizens in the U.S. The defeat of Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic primary is an opening salvo which proclaims that the fight is on.

Bloggers Sound Off

"I'm still not sure that the mainstream Dems really get the issues that are going to get people to the polls this year. There seems to be some blind spot where the war is concerned. It's not just thewar.

The war represents all that is being stripped from our lives. Our loved ones. Our rights. The return on the taxes we pay. Our environment. Our very voices...."

InquisitiveRaven on Sat. Jul 29, 2006 at 11:07:17 AM
posted on the Daily Kos.


---
"I've been unconsciously considering the WH as, essentially, the ultimate big stick to beat the other party with. It seems almost alien at this point to think of the (office of the) President as a function of goverment."

b2witte on Wed Aug 09, 2006 at 2:57:25 posted on the Daily Kos

---
"The Republicans in particular and the DC Establishment in general are terrified right now. There are signs that the peasantry is starting to wake up, and so they are trying to quash the uprising before it gets out of control.

Polls show 60% of Americans think Iraq was a mistake and even more want us to strart bringing the troops home. Bush's approval ratings are mired in the 30s and it's even worse for the GOP Congress. The so-called "extreme Left" thus constitutes about two-thirds ofthe population. As it..."

lofistew on Wed Aug 02 at 3:21:54 PM, posted on the Daily Kos.

---
"Has there ever been an administration that so blatantly defines everything as partisan? An administration that performs only in the interests of partisan politics? They do not care about the people, the nation, the world, only bout how to spin the politics to frame the message. We can rest assured at night knowing that the defense of political power is their guiding light...not the defense of the constitution, not the defense of America."

mojavefog on Wed Aug 09, 2006 at 02:59:31 PM, posted on the Daily Kos

---
"You are correct that your above quotes will be used extensively by RNC.

BUT, do not discount THE AMERICAN PEOPLE who are very, very tired of politicians following their own agenda in Washington; or even worse, doing what they are told to do by insider pundits. It seems once a politician sets his feet on the soil of D.C. the thoughts, wishes and never to think, the desires, of the people who sent them there are totally forgotten.

Even Liberman said on morning news today, he was in Washington to set "national policy" not extremist agenda". Well, the extremist have shown him most of American is now "extreme" and have had enough.

I do hope the other "in the loop" politicians there get the message.

Thank you.

Posted by: Ruth Green | Aug 9, 2006 8:15:37 AM on the Chicago Tribune blog
(1) Michael M. Grynbaum,"Liberal bloggers come to the fore," The Boston Globe, August 8, 2006.

(2) ActivistGuy on Sat. Jul 29, 2006 at 11:00:58 AM posted on the DailyKos.

(3) rolandznebub on Wed Aug 09, 2006 at 03:53:03 PM posted on the DailyKos.

(4) See sidebar for some sample comments on the Chicago Tribune Blog.

(5) Posted on the Chicago Tribune blog by: Croaker | Aug 9, 2006 8:17:01 AM

(6) DollyLlama on Wed Aug 09 2006 at 3:26:15 PM PDT, posted on the DailyKos.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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