Many detractors claim that Kos earns his large following through Rasputin like powers of propaganda. David brooks explains that Kos "The Keyboard Kingpin, aka Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, sits at his computer, fires up his Web site, Daily Kos, and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way". Apparently Kos has some kind of mind-control device hidden in his html. But while simple propaganda can explain why a misguided youth would join Jim Jones, it's not really enough to explain why so many intelligent people appreciate "netroots".
Mark Schmitt doesn't blog much, but whenever he types it pays to listen. Here he provides an explination that doesn't rely on magic mind-control powers:
They aren't looking for the party to be more liberal on traditional dimensions. They're looking for it to be more of a party. They want to put issues on the table that don't have an interest group behind them - like Lieberman's support for the bankruptcy bill -- because they are part of a broader vision. And I think that's what blows the mind of the traditional Dems. They can handle a challenge from the left, on predictable, narrow-constituency terms. But where do these other issues come from? These are "elitist insurgents," as Broder puts it - since when do they care about bankruptcy? What if all of a sudden you couldn't count on Democratic women just because you said that right things about choice - what if they started to vote on the whole range of issues that affect women's economic and personal opportunities?This explains what we are seeing in Conetticut far better than brain-wave manipulation: liberals are tired of being represented by single-issue groups which sell out all the small liberal issues for one or two big ones. And it's no wonder that an Iraq-war supporter like Aaron* would be afraid of something like this: in the world of single-issue advocacy groups a project like the Iraq-war (which has strong proponents amongst a small circle of "liberal" pundits) is a reasonably powerful interest group in the Democratic tent. In the world of liberal voter opinion on the other hand, Iraq-war supporters have just enough adherents to comfortably fit around TNR's conference table.
Now, I don't know if the netroots are going to be successful in this goal or how true to their vision they will stay. God know the movement often seems short on brain-cells and high on emotion and some of their views on political strategy really are dumb. On the other hand liberals need to admit that the single-issue organizations of the past are no longer working. A solution has to be found, even if this isn't it.
*To be fair his position is not entirely clear. I think it currently stands at "There was no right answer to the Iraq question". Certainly he's not willing to asert that invading Iraq was a mistake even in retrospect.