I’m not always convinced of the inherently democratic function of digital communication, but I think that the case of Michelle Bachmann in MN demonstrates some of the contours of how the internet and blogging influences democracy. Today the Congressperson fought back by saying that ‘the media’ (ie the blogs that latched on to her televised idiocy) don’t represent ‘the people’ – and she’s right. The ‘blog-o-shere-a-rama’ doesn’t in fact represent people.
What it does represent are members of movements, who can work for or against a candidate/proposition and act as force multipliers for candidates, leveraging money, time and intellectual energy to support a cause. Bachmann’s seat became contested because members of a national blogosphere caught on to her comments and made her a cause, pre-empting her media pushback by contextualizing her comments within a broader failing of the GOP message, as well as an old-school McCarthy red scare. They bested her by forming the message ahead of time, and forced the media into covering it. Even if they don’t represent her district in a representative democracy sense, they do have the power to control how members of her district view her – and that means something.