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What's more, the Netroots are, paradoxically, attempting to maximize their effectiveness by going off-line. MoveOn is organizing its members to make a combined 5 million phone calls before Election Day, asking people to vote for Democrats. Markos Moulitsas, who runs Daily Kos, is talking about building real, bricks-and-mortar gathering halls where progressives can meet and organize political activities in person. Jane Hamsher, who runs the piquant online hangout Firedoglake, and other bloggers have started the "roots project," in which they employ nonweb political tactics like writing letters to the editors of their local newspapers. "We can hammer the New York Times and the Washington Post forever," Hamsher said, but "candidates are more influenced by what we're doing in their own backyards."
Even with these changes, the Netroots won't be kingmakers. The fact is, day-to-day campaigning in 2006 is not very different from how it was in 1996: candidates call a few very rich people to ask them to give money so the campaign can run ads on television and hope soccer moms catch them between cooking dinner and driving to practice. If the Democrats win in the fall elections, the roots of that victory will not be on the Net.