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Web Politics Need Face to Face Public Square

This essay, opinion piece in The New York Times by Matt Bai, which is also a good backgrounder on the upcoming YearlyKos Convention in Las Vegas, contends that:

…politics, like dating, is as much about the experience as it is about the winning or losing. Whether we’re talking about the reformers of the progressive era or the immigrant ward leaders of the urban heyday, 1960’s antiwar protesters or 1980’s religious conservatives, new political movements have always evolved, ultimately, into thriving social networks. We have seen the beginnings of this online with the “meet-ups” for Howard Dean and the house parties organized by MoveOn.org. As these social circles congeal, their members will inevitably want to share hugs and handshakes with their political leaders, too, rather than merely threads and diaries. The advent of television didn’t change this visceral aspect of choosing our icons, and neither will broadband. As Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune’s architecture critic, noted in a recent article about pro-immigration protests, the Web doesn’t replace the public square; it drives people to it.

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