Aaron Shaw at Fringe Thoughts responds to some things Patrick Ruffini and I have written recently.
A few recent posts at The Next Right have confirmed that John Henke and Patrick Ruffini are the only conservative bloggers I know of seriously considering how to build a netroots movement on the right. [...] The irony here is that Henke’s (and Ruffini’s) analysis mirrors the claims made by Markos Moulitsas over the past five years on Daily Kos as well as in his books Taking On the System and Crashing the Gate.
Actually, I don't think it's ironic at all that the analysis of problems on the Right is similar to the arguments made by the Netroots Left. For one thing, the "claims made by Markos Moulitsas" are in many ways intentional recycling of the movement on the Right.
The underlying systemic inputs are very similar. The political/electoral culture and incentives, and the emergence of the internet as an important social and technological phenomenon impacted both the Left and Right at approximately the same time.
The difference in uptake and evolution is predominantly due to the political cycle. Democrats went through the wilderness from 1995 to 2003; they found their way from 2003 to 2008. Republicans entered their wilderness in 2007, though I would argue that the Right has been in the wilderness for longer. How long the Right wanders in the wilderness depends, in large part, on how seriously they take the lessons they can learn from the Left.
The question I have for Ruffini and Henke is whether a netroots of the right would (or even could) look like the netroots of the left? There’s a great case to be made (and some of us here at The Berkman Center are planning to publish some research in the near future that provides empirical support for this case) that technology usage patterns on the left and right of the blogosphere are significantly different.
Will the Right's netroots movement look like that of the Left? To the extent that the tools, and the social/political dynamics, are similar, I'd say the Right's netroots movement will look a great deal like that of the Left. The question is not what tools are available, but how they are relevant to the surrounding environment. The components will not be identica, but the basic concepts they represent should be very much the same. Or rather, they will be when the Right regains its footing.
However, the surrounding political environment does have to change in very important ways before that happens. What Shaw notes here is absolutely correct...
There’s a great case to be made (and some of us here at The Berkman Center are planning to publish some research in the near future that provides empirical support for this case) that technology usage patterns on the left and right of the blogosphere are significantly different.
To some extent, this is a chicken/egg problem. Does the Rightosphere not organize as well because of the nature of the online Republicans? Or do the online Republicans not organize as well because of problems with the Republican Party? I think it's mostly the latter - something that can be fixed - but it will not be changed until a number of other changes happen within the Right and the Republican Party.
Unfortunately, there are powerful, entrenched interests maintaining the Republican status quo.