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Will the netroots become the new political establishment?

There's a great article over at In These Times about the role of blogs in politics. You should definitely read the whole thing, but here's a couple of highlights.

We have no interest in being anti-establishment,” says Matt Stoller, a blogger at the popular Web site MyDD.com. “We’re going to be the establishment.” ... Stoller predicts that as an organizing tool, “blogs are going to play the role that talk radio did in 1994, and that church networks did in 2002.”

Of course, blogs are just a tool. Saying that "blogs" will change politics is a bit like arguing that "television" changed politics. True, true, true - but that doesn't necessarily mean progressive change.

The very institutions that political bloggers often criticize have begun to adopt the platform, with corporate executives, media personalities, porn stars, lawyers and PR strategists all jumping into the fray. That may be why Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the founder and primary voice of Daily Kos, thinks the word “blog” is beginning to outlive its usefulness. “A blog is merely a publishing tool, and like a tool, it can be used in any number of ways,” he says.

On the other hand, there's something about blogging that's inherently democratizing.

To their most ardent advocates, blogs are standard-bearers of a core set of democratic values: participation, egalitarianism and transparency. ... they express the dream of Internet salvation: harnessing an inherently democratic, interactive and communal medium, with the potential to instantaneously tap into the collective intellectual, political and financial resourcesof tens of millions of fellow Americans to create a juggernaut for social change. According to Moulitsas, “The word ‘blog’ still implies a certain level of citizen involvement, of giving power to someone who is not empowered”

But, will blogs just be a new political establishment - without any of the democratizing effects promised?

Yet both the progressive blogosphere and the “revolutionaries” who dominate its ranks look a lot like the establishment they seek to overthrow. The report by the New Politics Institute—which was launched by Rosenberg’s New Democracy Network—notes: “Clearly, blogging is a world with a handful of haves, and a nearly uncountable number of have-nots. There are likely a few hundred thousand blogs in this country that talk about politics, but less than one-tenth of one percent of them account for more than 99 percent of all political blogging traffic.”

True enough. Of course, projects like our LeftyBlogs.com are exactly about pushing traffic out to the smaller, more local blogs.

Stay tuned. The world is changing.