With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility
Henry Farrell tells Danny Glover that Max Sawicky and I had an influence on last year's Social Security debate. Let me be more skeptical. The Bush administration did the heavy lifting, through failing to come up with a Social Security plan that anybody liked. You can get Congressmen to vote for tax cuts for the rich because the rich like tax cuts--and give campaign contributions. But who liked Bush's never-spelled-out Social Security plan? There is something to the idea that weblogs are contributing to the creation of a public sphere of debate and discussion at a more elevated level than the somewhat stylized, hieratic, and chronically-underbriefed-on-matters-of-policy-substance traditional media and opinionate. But there is not very much.
Still, since to be perceived to have power is to have power, I'll take what I can get:
Beltway Blogroll: The Rise Of Blogs : With such active readers, it made sense for bloggers to turn their attention to Washington -- and for more people inside the Beltway to awaken both to the influence of bloggers and the potential of blogging technology. That is exactly what happened after the 2004 election.Issues such as Social Security reform drove the interest in blogging and demonstrated the technology's power. George Washington University's Farrell said that blogs were very effective at "creating outrage and creating a groundswell" against Bush's plans for Social Security. Experts -- such as economics professor Brad DeLong of the University of California (Berkeley) and Max Sawicky, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute -- used their blogs to create a "testing bed for interesting arguments," Farrell said.
"We began to see those arguments being taken up by op-ed people ... and change the conventional wisdom in the media" about the Bush plan, Farrell said. Although the blogosphere alone did not push Social Security off the short-term agenda, it was a factor, he contended...