My Boston Globe op-ed on net-politics

I've got an op-ed in today's Boston Globe about the relationship between the Internet and poltiics:

When Trent Lott's revealing faux pas about Strom Thurmond was lightly touched upon by the press, the Internet's howling masses seized on the story, reviving it with a fresh angle — Lott backhandedly endorses segregation! — and kept the news cycle going long beyond its expected lifespan, until Lott crashed and burned and lost his post as Senate majority leader.

Huzzah. Of course, Lott is still a senator. In fact, every scandal exposed by or through the net — INS witchhunts, stubbornly illusory WMDs, awarding of war-pork to Halliburton — has yielded a decidedly hollow victory.

Information is power, but it's not enough. Modern emperors have learned the knack of spinning revelations of wrongdoing and bouncing back. Thus far, the Internet has lacked the follow-through necessary to make a lasting difference. That's changing. As the Internet matures as a place for political action, services like the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Action Center (punch in your ZIP and e-mail your lawmaker), MeetUp's coordinated nationwide kaffeeklatsches for every Democratic candidate (but especially Howard Dean) and MoveOn's thronged mailing list millions (who can conjure the budget for a major media-buy on 24 hours' notice) are providing the bodies, budget and means for advancing proposals and seeing them through to their ends