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Why we (my readers and I) now matter to the Democrats

Daily Kos says that the passage of the McCain-Feingold bill forced the Democrats to pay attention to the rank and file -- and particularly to opinion leaders like bloggers:

I hope you all realize the significance of all of this. Having lost the million dollar checks that previously funded the party, they suddenly look to people like us for answers. For the first time in decades, we matter more than the party's special interest groups. And the party and candidates (see the Blogads on this site) are now trying to figure out how to earn our support.

I firmly believe that Dean is getting too much credit for this. The blogosphere existed, and was healthy, before Dean came along. And it's healthy and still existing post Dean. What Trippi did was simply recognize the value of the blogosphere and harnessed it for his campaign. He didn't create it. In exchange for $20 million raised online the Dean campaign gave the blogosphere political legitimacy.

But the circle wasn't complete until Chandler [Ben Chandler, the successful Democratic candidate in the special congressional election this week] came around. Pre-Chandler, the most common question I would get was, "Can all of this 'netroots' stuff work for candidates other than Dean?" Chandler put that question to rest.