How is the Netroots movement changing the Democratic party?
Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1994. Bai began his reporting career at the Boston Globe's metro desk; he spent five years as a national correspondent for Newsweek before coming to the Times in 2002. Bai has covered all sorts of national news: everything from the Columbine shootings to John Glenn's last space voyage to Mike Bloomberg's mayoral campaign. In recent years, Bai has focused primarily on intra-Democratic Party politics. He is the author of The Argument: Billionaires, Bloggers, and the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics, an analysis of the progressive movement. Bai's work has also appeared in both the 2005 and 2006 editions of The Best American Political Writing. Matt covered the 2008 presidential race for the New York Times Magazine.
Matt Bai: Well the whole . . . I mean it’s . . . the Net Roots . . . The influence of the Net Roots is pretty profound. I mean right now, congressmen and senators who used to get their press clips news in the morning, they’re getting . . . they’re getting blog clippings in the morning and they’re reading through them all. Which is a little frightening when you think about it because it’s like 12 people posting on these blogs and, you know . . . and half of them don’t know a thing about politics, but you know they’re listening. And that’s a good thing, by the way. They should be listening. It should be more of a conversation. It should not be about politicians always telling people the way things ought to be. But so it’s . . . You know but it does have a great change on the culture of Democratic politics. When you put it together – when you take the bloggers, and the Move On crowd online, and some of the money guys who are getting involved – when you put all these groups together, what you see is a really changed conversation in Democratic politics. I mean just look at the top people in the Democratic field right now. Where John Edwards was in 2004 versus where he is today, having gone from sort of a centrist, cautious Democrat to an anti-corporate crusader in the William Jennings Bryan mold. And you know look at Hillary Clinton and where she was on the war and on trade. And look at how she . . . what she’s talked about in this campaign; how she’s tried to position herself as standing up to Republican autocracy and whatever else. And then you know you look at a guy like Obama who was nowhere a few years ago and didn’t even exist in the public mind in 2004, and that he could be, you know, such a viable candidate now. And you look at the way he’s tried to navigate between what he really believes I think, which is that both parties have failed America and that there needs to be a generational shift. And how he’s tried to navigate that in an environment where people don’t want to hear that both parties are a mess. People just wanna hear that one party is a mess. And it’s really kind of put him in a box. So I think if you look at the dynamic of this presidential race to this point, you’d have to conclude that the progressive forces inside the Democratic party have had a very strong influence on the conversation.
Recorded on: 12/13/07
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