Reader Katy Whelan pointed out this excellent article by Iain Duncan Smith in today’s Guardian, titled “Bloggers Will Rescue the Right.” Smith begins with a good summary of the blogosphere’s impact on American politics, noting how much benefit America’s conservative movement has reaped from the blogs. He continues:
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.
A similar phenomenon will soon impact British politics:
[T]he blogosphere will become a force in Britain, and it could ignite many new forces of conservatism. The internet’s automatic level playing field gives conservatives opportunities that mainstream media have often denied them.
An online community of bloggers performs the same function as yesteryear’s town meetings. Through the tradition of town hall meetings, officials were held to account by local people. Blogger communities are going to be much more powerful. They will draw together not only local people but patients who have waited and waited for NHS care. They will organise parents of disabled children who oppose Labour’s closure of special-needs schools and evangelical Christians who see their beliefs caricatured by ignorant commentators.
All this should put the fear of God into the metropolitan elites. For years there have been widening gaps between the governing class and the governed and between the publicly funded broadcasters and the broadcasted to.
Until now voters, viewers and service users have not had easy mechanisms by which to expose officialdom’s errors and inefficiencies. But, because of the internet, the masses beyond the metropolitan fringe will soon be on the move. They will expose the lazy journalists who reduce every important public policy issue to how it affects opinion-poll ratings.
Tired of being spoon-fed their politics, British voters will soon be calling virtual town hall meetings, and they will take a serious look at the messenger as well as the message. It’s going to be very rough.
Well, let’s hope so.