Netroots: Online Progressives and the Transformation of American Politics

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“There is a big cohort of passionate, smart, politically savvy activists—people who know how to organize, raise money, communicate and effectively utilize technology and new media—who have come into politics within the last decade who feel like their strategies have been effective but their voices are not being heard. If these voices are ignored by the Democratic establishment, we could lose not only all the resources they bring to the Democratic Party, but could well lose the opening we have for a long-term Democratic majority.”
-Mike Lux, Open Left, September 14, 2007, quoted in Chapter 1

The progressive “netroots,” fueled by bloggers writing on websites like the Daily Kos and working through online organizations like MoveOn, are on the verge of spearheading a revolution that may well define the coming political era. Still, their purpose, goals, and track record remain largely misunderstood. This book provides an understanding of the loosely affiliated groups that collectively call themselves the progressive netroots: who they are, what they hope to accomplish, what they’ve done so far and how likely it is they will succeed in a plan so audacious it would result, if realized, in the transformation of America from a television-focused, center-right nation to an Internet-focused, center-left nation. Netroots weaves together a range of evidence and arguments to shatter conventional myths about this online movement. It explains why the left is better positioned than the right to take advantage of the decentralized nature of the Internet. As progressive candidates make uneven progress toward winning elections, the progressive netroots are working to drive media narratives and building real and virtual communities of activists that will contribute strongly to electoral success. Netroots documents the achievements of this emerging political force through an engaging analysis told with an eye toward history and in the bloggers’ own words.

Read Matthew Kerbel's Commentary seen in Political Communication Newsletter: Commentary

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“We have a new generation of progressive activists on the rise, and this book brings us many of its newest, brightest stars, unafraid to take on existing orthodoxies as they seek to build an effective movement for the twenty-first century.”
—Markos Moulitsas
“We have a new generation of progressive activists on the rise, and this book brings us many of its newest, brightest stars, unafraid to take on existing orthodoxies as they seek to build an effective movement for the twenty-first century.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594514951
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Series: Media and Power
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew R. Kerbel is professor of Political Science at Villanova University and author or editor of six books on politics, the mass media, and the presidency, including If It Bleeds, It Leads: An Anatomy of Television News and Get This Party Started: How Progressives Can Fight Back and Win. He worked as a radio and television news writer for outlets including the Public Broadcasting Service in New York City, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

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Table of Contents

List of Boxes and Tables
Preface and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: The Emerging Era of Internet Politics

Chapter 2: Technology and Political Change: Slow March to Sudden Burst
Printing Technology and the Jacksonian Revolution
The Telegraph and Lincoln's Republican Politics
FDR, Radio, and Manufactured Intimacy
Nixon and Television's Deceptions
The Internet and Small-D Democracy

Chapter 3: The Two Blogospheres: How Left and Right Are Structured
In the Beginning, There Was Dean
From a Distance, Similarities Between Right and Left
Up Close: The Activist Heart of Progressive Blogs
A "Bourgeois Elite"

Chapter 4: The Progressive Blogosphere and Political Effectiveness
Metrics of Netroots Success
Contested House Seats
Donor Base and Contribution Size
Hybrid Campaigning
Candidate Convergence
Nonfederal Candidates

Chapter 5: The Progressive Blogosphere and Media Narratives
New Narratives, Framing, and Power
Framing Policy
Framing Politics
Opposing False Balance
Opposing Lazy Journalists

Chapter 6: The Progressive Blogosphere and the Creation of Community
Cynicism Versus Social Capital
Blogs as Communities
Real-World Communities

Chapter 7: Open Source Politics in the Obama Era
Transforming Process: Hybrid Campaigning
Transforming Narratives: Blogging as Journalism
Transforming Politics: The Self and the Community

About the Author

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