Gerard Kennedy looks certain to run for the Liberal leadership. I wonder if his campaign may represent the first time the Canadian blogosphere has made a practical impact on the political landscape. We have seen high profile bloggers call for email campaigns to court Kennedy. A litany of posts that laud Kennedy's credentials and potential. In general, a buzz is created as the mainstream media picks up on the blogs, writes articles, which in turn inspire more posts. When we hear Kennedy speak of the "groundswell" of support that is driving him to run, is this not an acknowledgment that the online community has impacted his decision.
I think it fair to say, had it not been for the blogosphere, Kennedy would probably not be running. I hesitate in overstating the importance of blogs on the "real" world, because in many cases the influence is overstated. The perfect example of this phenomenon is the American DailyKos. It was sad to watch frontpage posters fall into depression because John Roberts was approved by the Senate. People actually believed that their posts would derail his nomination, in effect there was this delusion of self-importance that went beyond reality. This is not to say that DailyKos is not influencial, only that its reach is not as extensive as the hype would suggest. However, in the case of Gerard Kennedy, I would argue that the blogs have made their mark and that influence may well drive Kennedy to success at the convention.
The one worry about Kennedy is that he is a relative unknown outside of Ontario, partially within it for that matter. However, again the internet has the capacity to usurp the traditional constraints of name recognition because the networking allows the word to spread. I firmly believe that Gerard Kennedy is the Howard Dean of Canadian politics, that bloggers can shape the landscape. Would Kennedy have run anyways? I guess we will never know, but my instincts tell me that he represents a watershed moment for the online's relevance.