KEYNOTE ADDRESS as prepared
by Markos Moulitsas
Hi, my name is Markos Moulitsas. I run a site called Daily Kos.
It's one thing to talk about people-powered politics. It's another to see it in action.
And these have been heady days for the people-powered movement.
We're only four years old, from the early days when bloggers like Atrios and Jerome Armstrong at MyDD inspired bloggers like me and countless others to stop railing at Fox News and our so-called-"liberal" pundits, and start publishing those rants on the web.
And we've come a long way since then.
We were born in 2002, and sort of gingerly set out into this brave new world. None of us expected to be more than a lonely voice shouting into the wilderness. But liberal blogs grew rapidly, proving there was a desperate need for strong progressive voices in this country. That was 2002.
2003 was the year of Howard Dean, where an unknown governor from a small, remote, and usually forgotten state was propelled to front-runner status on the strength of netroots activism.
2004 ... well, let's forget 2004.
In 2005, we helped Dean become DNC chairman, and we helped Paul Hackett prove that a strong, unapologetic, progressive voice could compete in the deepest red districts.
And now it's 2006, and it looks like we've arrived.
Look at this conference! It's the epitome of people-power. It was organized by volunteers, without impetus from a traditional "leader". We now have the ability to support leaders wherever they may be. Leaders that would never have a chance in the traditional world of establishment politics or media. Like Gina Cooper, who was a one-woman force of nature in making this conference happen.
Who was Gina Cooper? A former teacher from Tennessee? And how did that make her qualified to plan something of this magnitude?
Of course it didn't. No more so than I was "qualified" to write about politics.
No more so than an organic farmer named Jon Tester from nowhere Montana is "qualified" to be a United States Senator.
But people-power is a wonderful thing. Everyone can be a leader. Everyone can be a strong voice. Everyone can make a difference. There has been far too much talent, far too much passion, far too much intelligence in this country marginalized by the establishment currently stinking up Washington D.C.
And now, that talent has an outlet. It can no longer be marginalized.
And so we have YearlyKos thanks to the efforts of Gina and her incredible army of volunteers. Gina where are you? And all the YearlyKos volunteers, please stand up and be recognized.
And look at each other. Look left and right. There have been so many efforts to marginalize us by the media and political elite because we had the temerity to feel passionate about politics. How dare us riff raff demand a voice in our democracy?
So they marginalize us. They say we're extremists. We're politically naïve. We're young.
It's great that so much of the DC political press is here, since now they have to make sense of all the gray hairs in the audience. The average age of a Daily Kos reader is 45. We're not that young. Young at heart, perhaps, but we've lived. Some of us are newer to politics than others, but we have a shared body of experience that is mind-boggling.
Unlike the out-of-touch establishment in D.C., we actually know what it's like to live day-to-day in George Bush's America. Chris Matthews may say that only the kooks don't like George W. Bush, but we, like the rest of the country, know better.
We come from every corner of this nation. We are blue collar and white collar. We are liberal, moderate, and conservative Democrats.
The blogosphere may be the only place where people from all corners of the party's ideological spectrum can get together and fight over the details, before we come together on Election Day to fight for our Big Tent Party.
Popular movements are rarely as practical as ours.
There's no doubt we're turning the political world upside down. Jon Tester won his Montana Senate primary against a well-heeled, well-connected, well-known DLC rising star John Morrison.
Despite having half the money Morrison did, the race wasn't even close.
And Jon Tester will beat Conrad Burns this November.
Just today we get news of a new poll out of Connecticut. A month ago, a Quinnipiac University had the Senate Democratic race at 65 percent Joe Lieberman, 19 percent Ned Lamont.
Today's poll? Lieberman's lead has shrunk to 55-40 amongst likely Democratic primary voters.
Lieberman is going to lose.
And the media. Let's not forget the media.
We can now choose amongst ourselves what information to consume. The old media are no longer the gate keepers.
How many of you remember Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents dinner?
How many of you actually saw it live?
While some may call you "losers", I call you "visionaries". You were there! You were there to see Colbert say, live,
"The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!"
The White House press corps didn't think that was funny. The same people who a year ago couldn't stop laughing at Bush's jokes about missing weapons of mass destructions scrubbed all references to Colbert in their writeups of that evening's events.
In the past, Colbert's viciously ironic remarks would've been scrubbed from the record. But this is the age of people-powered media.
The event was immediately posted all over the web. On the following Sunday and Monday, there were 3 million downloads from YouTube. 300,000 downloads from Crooks and Liars. The C-SPAN site was down Sunday morning as I tried to access the video. And when it was posted on iTunes, it quickly became the #1 album on the site.
The DC media elite were outraged.
Richard Cohen wrote a pathetic column in the Washington Post, and I wish I was making this up or exaggerating, literally telling us that his elementary school teacher used to say he was funny, so he knew funny, and thus Stephen Colbert wasn't funny.
And in that alternative reality in DC, Colbert probably wasn't funny. It's like opposite day in Washington. There is no global warming! Tax cuts shrink the deficit! Republicans are for smaller government! Hillary and Bill's sex life is relevant to the fate of the nation!
Telling the truth, if the truth hurts, is a "gaffe". So you can't say the obvious - things like 'capturing Saddam will not make us safer' - because reality and Washington D.C. do not mix.
And that's why we're crashing the gate. That's why people-power is taking the nation by storm.
Because the media elite failed us. The political elite - from both parties - failed us. Republicans because they can't govern, and Democrats because they can't get elected. Our leaders failed us. Our issue groups failed us.
So now it's our turn.
It's our turn to inject some good ol' fashioned common sense into Washington D.C. It's our responsibility to demand accountability and reform from the Democratic Party and allied organizations that claim to represent us.
And if they refuse to reform, if they refuse to be more accountable, if they refuse to join this people-powered movement as it seeks to move our country forward ... well then, they'll be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Technology allows each and every one of us to be a leader, and allows us to support our new leaders wherever they may emerge.
This is our moment. We have to take hold of it and ride it to victory.
And we will.
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