In that time they vaulted Howard Dean to within a scream of the presidency, helped Democrats take both houses of Congress and several statehouses across the country, and gave the party what many in the movement believed to be some much-needed spine.
But with another critical election two weeks away, politicians, political operatives, and even the bloggers themselves say the Netroots are a whisper of what they were only four years ago, a dial-up modem in a high-speed world, and that the brigade of laptop-wielding revolutionaries who stormed the convention castle four years ago have all but disappeared as a force within the Democratic Party…
The beginning of the end, many of the current and former bloggers say, came during the great Democratic primary Civil War of 2007–08. Until then, the Netroots had been remarkably cohesive, lining up behind promising congressional and Senate candidates en masse to raise money and boost name recognition. Since Democrats had been rendered to minor-party status, disagreements were papered over.
But then came the wave election of 2006, and suddenly the presidency was in sight. But the Netroots, like most Democrats, were divided among Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. During that campaign, the political blogosphere on the left became less known for sparking offline activism and more known for epic fights among those with divided loyalties.