The End of the First Age
It will be some time before we can truly determine the political, social and geopolitical implications of Obama’s victory. In the meantime, I’ll be parochial and observe that this really is the end of an era (in fact the first era) of political blogging.
Although there were blogs (and even a handful of political blogs) before Bush’s election in 2000, the emerging political blogosphere was defined by attitudes to the Bush Administration and its responses to the 9/11 attacks. In the wake of 9/11, those attitudes were overwhelmingly positive and marked by strong support for military action in Afghanistan. That unity evaporated as Bush switched attention to the buildup for war against Iraq, but for a long while the dominant voice was that of pro-war quasi-libertarians like Glenn Reynolds, orchestrating derision against opponents of Bush and the war. Over time, though, this group of ‘warbloggers’ ossified and contract while those opposed to Bush and the war found new ways to organise around the web, centred on the ‘netroots’.
Now the tables are turned, and the blogosphere will change radically as a result. Not surprisingly, the change is likely to be hardest for those going into opposition. As we’ve seen in Australia, the derisive, talking-point style that worked reasonably well for supporters of the Howard government (Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen for example) putting down the opponents of that government, just looks silly and carping in opposition (Bolt sounds more like Bruce Ruxton every day).
But there are also plenty of difficulties for those on the winning side. Once the initial euphoria dissipates, and the inevitable mistakes, failures and compromises/sellouts begin to emerge, it’s necessary to strike a balance between criticising what’s being done wrong and reminding yourself how much worse the other side was and would be again. The attitude of constructive critical support is a hard one to maintain, especially given the habits built up over years in opposition.
Update Albrechtsen proves my point with this typically classy contribution.