- Founder of the left-wing blog, Daily Kos
- Democratic consultant
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga was born to a Salvadoran mother and a Greek father in Chicago, Illinois on September 11, 1971. He and his family lived in El Salvador from 1976 until 1980, when escalating threats from local communist guerrillas forced them to relocate back to Chicago.
Moulitsas served in the U.S. Army from 1989-92 and was stationed in Germany throughout the first Gulf War. “I went into the Army as a Republican,” he recalls, “I came out as a Democrat … [W]hen you live side by side with … your fellow soldiers and you realize that they’re not a number, that they’re actually human beings and they have families, it’s a lot harder, I think, to talk about sending them to die for things that aren’t really that important.” On another occasion, Moulitsas said his political conversion was sparked by “that Clinton trooper story. ‘Troopergate).’ I thought it was so nasty, and the fact that there were so many real problems in the country and they were trying to make that stick.”
In 1996 Moulitsas earned two bachelor’s degrees at Northern Illinois University, where he majored in philosophy, journalism, and political science. Three years later he received a JD from Boston University School of Law but never pursued a career as an attorney.
After law school, Moulitsas worked as a project manager at a San Francisco Bay Area web-development shop. Then, on May 26, 2002, he launched the weblog Daily Kos, which he continues to maintain from his home in Berkeley, California. Moulitsas says he was inspired to begin blogging by the “stifling environment for liberal voices” during the George W. Bush administration. “If you criticized the president on any issue, domestic or foreign,” he asserts, “you were accused of being un-American and unpatriotic.” At first, Moulitsas published his blogs anonymously, mostly to prevent his employer from finding out how he was spending many of his work hours.
In 2003 Moulitsas supported Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark. After Clark dropped out of the primaries, Moulitsas and his friend Jerome Amstrong (founder of the blog MyDD.com) were hired as political consultants for Howard Dean, whose presidential campaign paid each of them $3,000 per month for their services.
Beyond his work for Dean, Moulitsas for years has consulted on a regular basis with number of powerful Democratic legislators including Harry Reid. In 2004 Moulitsas was invited by Senate Democrats to teach them how to better use the Internet as a fundraising tool, and in 2006 he worked with Democrat operatives to devise a strategy for the midterm elections. In 2007 The New Republic reported: “Last year, numerous top Democrats trekked to Las Vegas to attend YearlyKos, the liberal blog convention, where they sucked up to the attendees as relentlessly as if they were software executives.” “Now I can shape the political debate,” Moulitsas boasted in 2006. “The only way I could exert more influence would be if I were President.”
Moulitsas was strongly opposed to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. When four American civilian contractors were murdered in Fallujah in April 2004, Moulitsas wrote that he felt “nothing over the deaths of mercenaries” who were in Iraq only “to wage war for profit.” In closing, he added: “Screw them.” Dismissing claims that the slain contractors were innocent “civilians,” Moulitsas said: “Well, if your definition of civilian is anything non-military, okay. But then al Qaeda operatives are civilians, too.” Moulitsas’s remarks prompted several advertisers to withdraw their ads from the Daily Kos, but he refused to apologize.
In 2005 the New Policy Institute (NPI) hired Moulitsas to help it disseminate its pro-open-borders message to the broadest possible audience. Moulitsas announced that his efforts with NPI would be directed toward “building a Democratic Party that is focused on winning.”
Moulitsas abhorred Democratic legislators who supported the Iraq War, most notably U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman. As the Los Angeles Times noted in July 2006, Moulitsas “has made Lieberman’s defeat a personal crusade.” When antiwar challenger Ned Lamont defeated Lieberman for the Democratic nomination the following month, Moulitsas claimed partial credit, declaring that Lamont’s victory demonstrated that “even the most powerful, entrenched forces can be dislodged by people-power.”
That same theme featured prominently in Crashing the Gate, which Moulitsas co-authored in 2006 with Jerome Armstrong. Written as a blueprint for burying “conservative ideology six feet under,” the book advanced the argument that the Democratic Party needed only to adopt a “simple tactical shift” in order to succeed dramatically at the polls. In particular, the authors exhorted the party’s constituent groups—such as environmental activists, union representatives, and abortion-rights groups—to put party unity above their respective causes. They suggested, for instance, that “emphasizing the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies as well as defending the right to choose would bring many into the fold who view abortion with some distaste but want to keep abortion safe and legal.” Moulitsas and Armstrong also attacked the Democratic “establishment” in Washington for allegedly neglecting “Netroots” activists and party supporters at the state and local levels.
Describing himself as “not necessarily a policy person,” Moulitsas in 2006 said his main concern was to help elect more Democratic candidates. “We support every Democrat that runs for office,” he declared. That same year, Moulitsas stated: “My long-term view is about building a movement with an ability to affect media coverage and the media narrative. The long-term goal is a progressive governing majority.”
In addition to his work with Daily Kos, Moulitsas is a fellow with the New Politics Institute. In 2008 he became a contributing columnist to Newsweek magazine, where he continues to write occasionally. And since January 2008 he has been a regular columnist for The Hill.
In October 2011 Moulitsas explained that the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street movement had developed broad appeal because it spoke to the concerns of people who were “angry” at: (a) “a government willing to bail out rich investors on Wall Street while ignoring the plight of regular Americans”; (b) “Republicans on Capitol Hill demanding that the nation’s meager social [safety] net get torn to shreds, while protecting their wealthiest friends from feeling any of the ‘shared sacrifice’ the rest of us are supposed to endure”; and (c) “an economic system that has seen average annual household income flat-line for the last 20 years while the income of the top 1 percent has quadrupled.”
In a May 2014 tweet, Moulitsas suggested that “conservatives, naturally, are opposed” to Obamacare and to proposals for universal healthcare coverage because they “want more death.”
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