Before beginning this post in detail, I have to confess that I have a poor impression of Mr. Lott that stems from an issue between his office and an organization I worked for several years ago. I want the reader to be aware of this as it adds a bias to my post.
Much has been made of the remarks made by Senator Trent Lott regarding talk radio and blogs. With the advent of the so-called "new media", politics has become even more focused on communication. As recently as 28 years ago, the television was only beginning to realize its potential as a political tool. Of course, I'm referring to the election of 1980 that brought the Great Communicator into office. President Reagan's ability to bring his case to the American people can be tied to his abilities to communicate effectively and with grace on television.
In the past five years or so, the advent of blogs, podcasts, video podcasts and other digital media has brought a sharpening of issues with attention to detail not seen in Presidential elections before. The use of blogs in defeating the "Shamnesty Bill" brought to bear the power of the grassroots as never before. Attention to obscure votes made by a Senator, reference to far removed bills signed by a former Governor, and the immediate communication of adverse action by our Governing bodies are all attributable to the use and perfection of digital "new" media.
I have went through this tirade to come the following point. Mr. Lott is seeing the results of a grassroots effort that has come a long way from the one that put Ronald Reagan in the White House. Mr. Lott is resenting the fact that he himself was a victim of the immediacy of reporting regarding his remarks about the late Strom Thurmond. Mr. Lott should bear in mind that the 21st century grassroots is as likely to be computer fluent as they are to be politically astute. Mr. Lott is entitled to his opinion, as every American citizen is. I would point out that opinions are more widely disseminated now than ever before. A wise local GOP activist once told me that "You better watch what you're saying at all times." This holds true in life AND politics. Mr. Lott (in my view) has been hostile to genuine conservatives after being swept into majority in 1994.
Will blogs ever totally influence elections? No. Unless you're a behemoth like Glenn Reynolds or Michelle Malkin or Ed Morrisey (sic). Will blogs ever replace the old fashioned art of the stump speech? In my opinion, no. People still love to be fired up, informed and given their marching orders. Blogs (and the Internet as a whole) will, however, enable the grassroots to be more effective in holding our elected officials to fire in their votes.