Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, known to webbies and the folks here in Chicago simply as Kos, doesn’t have a direct connection to YearlyKos. Though the event bears his name, it was started by followers of his website, DailyKos.
Because of his high-profile spats with Bill O’Reilly and others, Kos is often the center of attention on the blogosphere, but he’s remained mostly out of sight here at the McCormick Center. In a press conference today — one of his few ventures into the spotlight; a speech tonight will be another — Kos specifically pointed out that the focus is the 1,500 folks in attendance, the “super-engaged activists” that are rapidly changing politics and campaigns.
“This really is democracy in action. This is regular Americans using technology to get engaged in politics,” said Kos. Never one for understatement, he continued, “And anybody who attacks that, I think, hates democracy. I think it’s that simple.”
While fiery rhetoric like that won’t keep Kos out of the spotlight for long, what’s far more important is opening up the system, he says. “For those who want to engage, [the blogosphere] is the ideal medium. Before, if you wanted to be engaged in politics, you were limited to writing a check, or watching a 30 second political spot, or voting on election. Maybe you got to lick envelopes. Now people are realizing that they have a say in politics.” And it’s probably most important for those that live in deep red or deep blue states. “[The political establishment] would only pay attention to you is if you were in a battleground district. You had activists nationwide who wanted to engaged, but were shut out of the process.” Now, through Politics 2.0, the people are a part of that process.
And the people want change. Asked what he wants to hear from the presidential candidates appearing later today, Kos downplayed the importance of his opinion and his priorities. But he did say, “I want to make sure they understand that there is a hunger for change. And that is not necessarily about working together and bipartisanship. This is about changing the country, taking it in a new direction.”
And that’s not so radical. “At this moment in time, we are in the mainstream of America on iraq, on health care, on education, go down the list,” said Kos. The polls indicate he’s right — the country wants out of Iraq, it wants expanded health care, it wants stem cell research and reproductive choice. Maybe the mainstream doesn’t want to be associated with Kos and his claims that his opponents hate democracy, but they are far closer to him and the Kossaks than they realize. With the trails being blazed here in Chicago, they can let the power-holders know.