Numerosos de bloggers liberales se han reunido en una convención de tres días en Las Vegas (del 8 al 11 de junio), en una nueva demostración del poder de estos singulares escritores de Internet y su influencia en la escena política.
A la convención acuden políticos y senadores demócratas, entre ellos Howard Dean, la cabeza del Partido Demócrata y uno de los primeros líderes que supo utilizar Internet como instrumento de recaudación y publicidad.
El encuentro, en el Riviera Hotel, se ha convertido también en una plataforma para la exhibición de potenciales candidatos a las presidenciales de 2008, entre ellos el hispano Gobernador de New Mexico Bill Richardson, quien, abiertamente, ha dicho a los bloogers: "Yo os veo como agentes impulsores, y por eso estoy aquí". "Los bloggers son una de las principales voces en la política de América", añadió.
Hillary Clinton, muy impopular, decide no acudir
YearlyKos 2006 Convention, organizada por la comunidad política online más grande de blogs DailyKos.com, se ha asociado por la emisora liberal Air America Radio para proporcionar una cobertura en directo del evento a quien compre online un pase de $10.
Quien no ha acudido ha sido la senadora Hillary Clinton, considerada como la principal candidato a la presidencia pero muy impopular entre los bloggers, dado su apoyo a la guerra de Irak.
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For many, they are the nerds of US politics: laptop warriors, with brains full of statistics, no social life and devoting too much time to arcane policy details
Paul Harris. Sunday June 11, 2006
But last week the political blogger - someone who runs an online journal - emerged into the mainstream and shed the stereotype in the glare and glitz of a Las Vegas casino. At their helm was former soldier Markos Moulitsas. At the age of 34, Moulitsas has progressed from private policy nerd to one of the best- known public voices in Democratic politics, described last week on Time.com as 'the left's own Kurt Cobain and Che Guevara rolled into one'.
Thousands of bloggers gathered last week in the Riviera to exchange ideas, debate and plot their steady takeover of journalism and political debate from newspapers, magazines and television.
Anyone who thinks blogging is over-rated should have looked at the guest list of power players who followed the blogging herd to Las Vegas to woo and be wooed by these latest additions to the political scene. Reporters and columnists from all the main newspapers showed up, as did Democratic strategists. Even potential Democrat candidates for the 2008 presidential election pitched up to network and sell their political wares to the online community. Although the event was meant to appeal to all parties, its guest list was overwhelmingly liberal.
Mark Warner, a former Democratic governor of Virginia, was there. So was Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader. Former Democrat presidential candidate General Wesley Clark was there, too, as was Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico.
Richardson is a hot tip for the 2008 race, because he governs in a traditionally Republican part of America and has a Hispanic background, which could see him scoop up the votes of one of America's most powerful ethnic minorities. 'I see you guys as agents of advocacy,' Richardson told the bloggers.
Reid also heaped praise on the blogging community, saying it had played a vital role in some Democratic political victories in the past year. 'They [bloggers] have the ability to spread the truth like no entities I've dealt with in recent years. We could never have won the battle to stop privatisation of social security without them,' he told the New York Times
No one better illustrates the rise of the blogger than Moulitsas, founder of the hugely influential left-wing blog The Daily Kos and the person whom the Yearly Kos 2006 Vegas convention was named after. He started his blog several years ago as a personal project, but his fan base has turned him into one of the most influential voices of the left.
The Daily Kos rose to prominence during the doomed nomination campaign of Howard Dean in 2004. Dean's campaign was the first to recognise the growing importance of the internet for raising money and debating ideas and the Daily Kos became an important forum for his supporters. Though Dean lost to John Kerry in the nomination battle, the impact of the bloggers remained important.
Moulitsas has even written a best-selling book offering advice to Democrat bloggers on how to win back America after two terms of Republican rule. He arrived at the conference with his own media advisers in tow and was greeted in a manner more befitting a rock star than a political analyst. He was mobbed for his autograph and people crowded around to have their photos taken with him.
Moulitsas now has more readers than many large American newspapers. His website gets about 20 million unique visits each month, a figure that dwarfs many global media organisations. This has made him a genuine power in politics. His views are sought out by political journalists and he has appeared as a pundit on television.
However, despite the triumphant arrival of the bloggers in the heart of the American political system and plans for the convention to be a regular stop for politicians, the bloggers had not entirely left behind their humble roots. Maureen Dowd, writing in the New York Times, described the scene: 'They blogged, BlackBerried, texted and cell-phoned - sometimes contacting someone only a few feet away. They were paler and more earnest than your typical Vegas visitors, but the mood was like a masquerade.'
But it was a modest masquerade: the Riviera was chosen not for its glamour, but because rooms cost only $99 a night.