Within Henry Farrell’s review of two new books about the netroots, there is some excellent analysis:
The netroots are neither genteel nor interested in nuance. They want to aggressively confront a right that they see as dangerous and an establishment that they see as at best semi-corrupt. Their combativeness can be a problem. The fights over Hillary Clinton’s candidacy were so bitter because members of the netroots used debating tactics against each other that they had previously reserved for external enemies. But they also potentially provide a model for a politics that can actually engage citizens. As political scientists such as Theda Skocpol and Nancy Rosenblum have argued, vigorous political contention mobilizes people and gets them involved in civil society.
The netroots may help to create a more participatory American politics. If they do succeed, however, it will be the result of their long-term effects in building political movements, not their short-term effects in an election like that of 2008, when they were not especially consequential.
The important overall point I think he makes is there is no absolute answer to whether or not the netroots “matter” in politics. It’s not a “good” or “bad” thing, and it’s likely still too early to really tell how significant the last few years of the active blogosphere have been. Political change is a very slow thing…
The whole piece is well worth reading.