The blogosphere has never existed in a time of divided government. In this on-line worldÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s short history, the Republicans have always controlled Congress and the Presidency. Now things will be different. And how will the blogosphere react?
IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢m sure partisanship will be just as strident as ever, but some attitudes will naturally change. LetÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s start on the left. The impotent anger so often seen in many blogs now has an outlet. Their party has real power and the bloggers can no longer just criticize. They will have to defend important decisions Democrats make. They will have to explain why certain objectives cannot be reached and why some goals are not important enough for the Democrats to even try to achieve. The answer can no longer be that itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s all the RepublicanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s fault. Their side will have responsibility for failure too.
Some left bloggers will no doubt take to the changed landscape well. I actually expect Daily Kos to surprise us and become a more sophisticated site. The site leaders learned a lot about politics this last election cycle and they are heavily invested in the Democrats, so I can see the site shifting away from the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBush lied!ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? mode of communication and becoming more politically and culturally mainstream.
Other sites will likely be unable to adjust or will simply ignore the DemocratsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ success, choosing to continue blaming Bush for every ill. Others I expect will show their true colors, revealing themselves to be not just anti-Republican sites but true radicals who will not be appeased by the Democratic agenda.
All said, I expect the left blogosphere to divide between Democrat partisan sites, true far-left sites and sites where people want to do little more than scream.
On the right, this election should end much of the dripping superiority so often evident in conservative blogs. The Democrats proved they arenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t irrelevant and the right can no longer pretend it has possession of all true and good American ideals. Well, they can still pretend and I imagine a few will, acting like this Democratic Congress is just a bizarre little hiccup in the inevitable 1000-year reign of the right.
However, many other sites will splinter apart as each tries to push the Republican party in their preferred directionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬?whether that be neocon, theocon, pro-business, anti-immigration or what have you. For the most part, the rightwing blogs have been unified in their defense of the Republican Party. Now, while I still expect partisanship, I also expect more independence. Six years of Republican dominance has suppressed a lot of dissent within the party. Much more of that dissent will now be heard.
As for the center? Well, there arenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t many of us and most of us are small fish. Divided government should suit us well. As long as we donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t start thinking the center is more important or powerful than it really is, we should be fine and, hopefully, more relevant.
I really donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t expect sweeping change in the blogosphere. Nor do I expect immediate change. But I do think this on-line world of ours will be a more diverse and sophisticated place ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ at least until the 2008 election sends everyone scurrying back to their tribe.