Daily Kos: Markos Moulitsas's website changed politics

Netroots Nation comes to Minneapolis

In the wake of the book release, Moulitsas deputized another class of featured diarists to take over regular posting duties on Daily Kos, including Susan Gardner.

YearlyKos also arrived for the first time that year after two years of planning. It was in large part thanks to the efforts of Gina Cooper, a Tennessee high school science teacher who'd joined Daily Kos under the simple name "gina." A casual suggestion that the diarists get together for beers had exploded into the notion of a full-blown conference, and the so-called Kossacks came out in force. Cooper became the de facto spokesperson.

"I'm really kind of a shy person. I had managed my entire life to never be on a video camera," says Cooper. "I just thought, 'Okay, well, this is the job I'm doing. So the job I'm doing requires I be on CSPAN.'"

Markos Moulitsas, founder of Dailykos.com
courtesy of Kos Media
Markos Moulitsas, founder of Dailykos.com
Howard Dean was the darling of Daily Kos before his ill-advised scream
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Howard Dean was the darling of Daily Kos before his ill-advised scream

Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner threw an infamously lush party at a rooftop lounge overlooking the strip, where Elvis and Blues Brothers impersonators mingled with guests sipping "Kos-mopolitans." Warner was toying with a presidential run, but his effort to please the netroots had seemingly gone too far. The bloggers who initially piled into the skyward elevators in giddy anticipation recoiled at the vodka-chilling sculptures and chocolate fondue fountain.

"We were all looking at each other, like, 'What exactly is going on? Are they trying to co-opt us?'" remembers David Dayen, a FireDogLake reporter who once blogged under "dday." "Now you have these politicians just treating you like you're an interest group."

But when Moulitsas took the stage for his keynote, the tone was decidedly triumphant.

"The political elite—from both parties—failed us," Moulitsas told the packed ballroom. "Republicans because they can't govern, and Democrats because they can't get elected.

"So now it's our turn."

  

BEFORE ELECTION NIGHT IN 2008, Moulitsas went out and bought several bottles of expensive Dom Pérignon.

"I don't like champagne and I thought maybe it was because I always drink the crappy stuff," Moulitsas explains sheepishly.

He put the bottles on ice, set up several monitors throughout his home, and poured himself a glass of bubbly as friends and family began arriving to watch the returns.

"It was a big celebration," Moulitsas says.

The next day, as the liberal blogosphere awakened with a throbbing hangover, something else was happening that they hadn't anticipated. Their in-boxes, after the initial congratulatory emails and thank-yous from the Obama campaign, went dark. There was an eerie sense of silence.

By this time, Daily Kos had received its one-billionth page view and Moulitsas had a paid staff running the site. He was also writing columns for Newsweek and the Hill, and making semi-regular appearances on network news as a political commentator. Several other prominent site members had spun off their own blogs from Daily Kos, or been hired by mainstream news sites. The power of the blog had become accepted wisdom, and the Obama campaign had used the relationship fruitfully, raising money and organizing young people all over the country on Facebook and Twitter. Obama had finished, many observers said, what Dean had started.

But in their frenzied support for Obama, the rest of the netroots' goals had atrophied. Once their presidential candidate was in office, the community was left with idle hands.

"I got a few emails about buying a Barack Obama hat or scarf," Cooper says of the election aftermath. "We had a chance to come together, and people wanted to come together. That was a missed opportunity."

They were on their own again as they faced a daunting new task: to switch gears from electing to legislating—an infinitely murkier process.

One of Moulitsas's personal goals was to push through health care reform—particularly the public option and a lowering of the Medicare admittance age. But as the Obama administration set to work, the concessions to the right piled up. The Democratic majority caved to threats of filibustering. Chunks of the reform fell by the wayside—first the public option, then the Medicare age. Moulitsas entered a deep funk.

"It was like, 'Fuck it. Why the hell did we waste all this time and money fighting for these assholes?'" Moulitsas recalls. "Psychologically, I was beaten."

As the 2010 elections arrived, the Tea Party managed to do what the netroots had always strived to do: elect harder line politicians and cast out the centrists. The netroots have been reeling ever since.

"The biggest change was, of course, coming out of the opposition," says Joan McCarter, Daily Kos's senior policy editor. "We are working for more progressive Democrats. I think that's still evolving. It probably always will be."

McCarter frets that at some point she'll have to move to D.C.—she currently lives in Idaho to be close to family. It would be the ultimate step inside the Beltway.

"I would rather not necessarily be socializing with all these people that I'm writing about," she muses. "I think being an outsider is really valuable."

  

THE WIND WHIPS AROUND Moulitsas as he stands outside of the first official offices of Daily Kos in Berkeley and mulls what he sees as the final defeat of Joe Lieberman, five years in the making. Though Liberman had managed to defeat Lamont in the '06 race, the netroots had made the victory hard-fought and very expensive.

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4 comments
stupiddy
stupiddy

Markos Moulitsas is connected to the CIA having trained with them during the time he was writing his blog. This is factual information found on the internet and there is a recording of Moulitsas talking about his involvement with the CIA.

He is NOT a "progressive".

Jeffrey Kline
Jeffrey Kline

Those of us who do not believe in liberal socialism are watching this carefully because some of the followers have been known to be rather radical. One of the beauties of a truly free society is the ability to express one's mind and thoughts. Even if they are contrary politically to the standard norm. There always is the rule of thought that if you do not like this way of life, and would rather live under a socialist, Marxist, communist or totalitarian government system, you are free to move elsewhere. We in America plan on keeping things as they are despite the wishes of a few strange liberals and the Islamic fundamentalists who want to bring Sharia law here.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

Please please don't be shy Jeffrey. You cite the absolute 100% seriousness of the danger of Sharia law but you don't cite any examples. Please give one example of Sharia law and how it has affected you. I know in Minnesota Gov. Pawlenty passed several Sharia laws but I can't think of one. Can you please for the love of God just cite one that has passed in the past 10 years? I'm sure it will be easy since its such a clear and present danger to the United States. Please just one example to prove the clear thinking of Tea Party people.

Guy
Guy

So...let me see if I have this right.

We are free to have and express whatever political opinions we want. And if our political opinions are contrary to (what you consider) the norm, we should leave.

A well-functioning political system should invite thoughts and opinions from across the spectrum--liberal socialist to right-wing conservative and everywhere in between. How can you call yourself an American and not see this fundamental backbone of our political landscape? When you start excluding people based on what you deem "radical," where do you stop drawing the line?

 
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