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Netroots: Making Founding Fathers Proud

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Message Kim Grant

Lively debate on issues. Rash people making rash statements. Thoughtful bloggers posing intriguing questions. Rebuttals, refutations, and replies fly across the net at blinding speed.

This is exactly what John Stuart Mill, a key political essayist and philosopher, had in mind at the dawn of a new Nation called the United States of America. Despite the one-party state that Karl Rove and the Republicans have sought to foster, the Netroots movement has revived the centuries-old American tradition of arguement, essay-writing, and lively political debate.

Participants in the Netroots movement involve nearly everyone on the internet who's ever read a politics page, a blog, posted a comment in reaction to a blog. YearlyKos 2007 was very much akin to the salons of the late 1700s where essayists, politicians, philosophers, and newswriters would gather to launch debates about the founding of a new fledgling nation. Pamphleteers of the late 1700s have since given way to the bloggeratti, yet the message they spread remains the same; open and public debate fosters ideas that will ultimately serve to build a prosperous nation for the people, by the people.

The Right has been quick to dismiss the netroots, even questioning the sincerity of words written. King George was supported by those who did not care about the welfare or political concerns of the people and his leadership  was summarily rejected by the people. Our present King George faces the same fate for his failures.

2007 will be one of the last years Americans will see politics as usual. 2007 has seen America's first debates between a user-generated content website and candidates for President. This is the first Presidential campaign cycle that features something previously unimagined: 360 degree, 24 hours-per-day, non-stop, instantaneous online coverage of political candidates and their teams. As we realized more fully, and much more painfully, over the past 7 years, Americans are being asked to vote not only for a President, but also for the team with whom that candidate brings to office. Bloggers have taken note, and we've had an unprecedented opportunity to check out key members of candidate's campaign teams -- people who will, likely, find positions in government with the newly elected President in 2008. This is a major change from the days where citizens voted in relative ignorance of who worked behind the scenes of major campaigns.

Candidate forums across the nation allow voters to kick the tires of their potential new President with nearly unheard-of access. Websites such as Eventful host contests online to determine where and when a willing candidate will visit their town to see how they live. Democratic candidates have taken up the challenge to take a walk in the shoes of the most common jobs of Americans and to give their thoughts, openly and transparently.

Netroots candidates are increasingly beginning to properly fear citizens who legitimate the government, rather than the other way around. Though some candidates and fundraising organizations may see this as something undesireable, it is, in fact, a sign that there is tangible power within the netroots movement. It is perfectly legitimate that a single blogger who donated $5 to an elected Netroots candidate can email and complain about that candidate's performance or vote on a given issue. Though we all dislike criticism, it is of fundamental importance that Netroots candidates rightfully act out of duty to our Constitution, service to their constituency and fear of citizen reaction to their missteps.

The Netroots Movement is a welcome return to our political beginnings as a nation that would make each of America's founders proud.

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Kim Grant is the founder of www.NetrootsNetwork.com

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