[The following is cross-posted at Ryan's Take.]
The rise of the progressive blogosphere in Massachusetts has had a number of impacts. Perhaps the best impact is in building a larger community of people who care. Through the internet, people are able to organize new communities and share resources with other communities. People who prefer to work via email and postings can get involved without having to knock on doors or make phone calls. And that’s okay; some people just aren’t comfortable with certain ways putting themselves out there. Others, who are willing, are able to capitalize on the diversity of mediums available to get their message out.
A lot of people would probably say the best thing about the blogosphere was our ability to organize and influence the previous election – I have no doubts that without the presence of the netroots (which extends far beyond blogs), Deval Patrick probably wouldn’t have been able to catch on and at least win with the dominance he displayed. The blogosphere certainly helped feed the word-of-mouth press Deval needed to get through the primary. We also contributed to what the mainstream media reported on (as evidenced by the fact that people at the Boston Globe tend to read my little site daily). Tens of thousands of people visit sites like Bluemassgroup every week – so of course the netroots have made an impact.
The question is – what do we do now? The influence of the netroots will undoubtedly expand as the years come through a natural movement, but we’ve already reached a point in which we need to start creating new methods of building ideas, organizing those ideas and getting those ideas out there. We need to fuse and expand on our abilities to create a noise machine and form new ideas, almost like a think tank. How do we go about doing that?
One of the best things about the netroots is that the people who comprise it are regular people, who are rarely part of the establishment. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that all of these “normal” people also happen to be exceptionally bright in their own fields – they have great ideas that aren’t making it to Beacon Hill. I look at people like David at BMG, who’s a lawyer and is now on one of Deval’s transition committees. I look at people like RevDeb, of the Mass Netroots, who’s a Unitarian Universalist minister who has done some great, largely behind the scenes, work on glbt and habeas corpus issues – working with both Senator Kerry and Kennedy’s office.
We need to expand on all of these great people who consider themselves a part of the “netroots” and create an organization that can turn our individual expertise into universal progress. In doing that, I’ve come up with a few ideas. Here are my suggestions, all drawing from the best that the progressive netroots has to offer: