Friday, February 01, 2008

A Survey of the Liberal Blogosphere

Every day, I make a conscious effort to read somewhere in the neighborhood of THIRTY different blogs. Each blog is artfully crafted, passionate, thoughtful, and equally valid in its own unique point of view. The themes I have noted, particularly regarding support and opinion towards Democratic presidential candidate fall into one of several categories.

  1. Obama! I was with him from the beginning. He's the right person for the job. Hillary Clinton is beholden to corporate interests, voted for the war, and has recently run a largely negative campaign attacking Obama in ways that are below the belt. He may not have as much experience on Day One, but maybe part of the problem in politics is the taint of corruption and power that Washington politics fosters. He has the best chance of winning a tight election in November against McCain. We cannot afford to have another Republican in the White House and Hillary is such a polarizing figure. Can she really win?

  2. Obama! I really wanted Kucinich, but for whatever reason or another, he didn't get a broad enough base of support to make it to this point. I have my doubts about Obama. My fear is that he's just as much of a corporate lapdog as Clinton and I'm concerned that he won't take a harder stand on the issues like gay marriage and universal health care. Furthermore, he's taken a decided shift to the right in recent days where he referred to Ronald Reagan in a positive light and has openly incorporated Christian morality into his platform. Still, at least he's not Clinton and I surely would never vote for McCain or another other Republican.

  3. Edwards is out! This sucks! Who am I going to vote for now? Edwards represented a sort of purity of ideals, spoke for the common man, and criticized the evils and excesses of corporate domination. Well, you can be certain I won't vote for McCain or any other Republican, that's for sure. I SUPPOSE I'll support the Democratic nominee in November, holding my nose all the while. Isn't it awful how I always have to vote the lesser of two evils? I certainly wish we had a viable third party to support. The traditional two-party system has some serious flaws and neither party best represents my needs. I suppose I'll have to vote for Obama, I guess.

  4. Politics is fundamentally flawed and rotten to the core. I hear Ralph Nader is thinking about running again. But would that throw the election to McCain? That's what created the mess of the last seven years we've been going through. Maybe I'll vote third party as protest, but not necessarily for Nader. Or not. I haven't made my mind up yet.

Certainly, I see other points of view other than these four and maybe I'm over-simplifying matters. There is certainly substantial overlap between them.

What sticks out to me most is this. WHERE are the Hillary Clinton supporters? Do they not blog? Though I do live in Birmingham, Alabama, I have seen approximately ONE bumper sticker proclaiming allegiance for Hillary Clinton. Neither have I seen more than a handful of bumper stickers supporting any GOP candidate, either.

Bloggers make up, conservatively, 5-10% of the electorate. Our numbers are growing, to be sure, and there are more of us around now then ever before but do we represent an objective picture of all of those who vote? Who exactly blogs? Those of us who blog on matters of faith, politics, economic matters, and hard news are vastly outnumbered by blogs which focus on what Britney Spears is doing, or how much my life sucks, or look at my badly written poetry. Blogs should be for all, so forgive me for seeming critical. Those of us who do blog about serious matters represent a group of people who are very different than the mainstream. It is only through small, core groups of committed citizens like us that change has taken place. Indeed, the men we collectively refer to as The Founding Fathers were much like we are. I'm sure if Jefferson, Hamilton, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were alive today, they'd be blogging too.

But the big question is whether we have some moral obligation to extend this forum and these ideals beyond we, the bloggers. The same old questions arise. Could most people be capable of correctly interpreting what we argue and can they act in their own best interest? Does Republicanism and direct democracy exist on a purely egalitarian basis? We may be created equal in that we have the same basis rights, but we are NOT equal when it comes down to intellectual prowess, resourcefulness, level of education, economic well-being, and the leisure time to contemplate these ideas. I believe that our role is to be the schemers and proposers and our ideas will inevitably trickle down. Believe it or not, that is a CHRISTIAN ideal. The idea that through individual actions and by positive conduct, our good intentions will, pardon the phrase, trickle-down to everyone and foster beneficial change for society at large.

That is the ideal, at least. That is one philosophy.


Freida Bee said...

Funny, I have written all of the post, but the John Edwards one, just today the Nader one.

I get torn on occision in blogging, because while I like to think I am politically-minded, really talking about the presidential race bores me and I am really only interested in it on the level that it intersects the personal, which is more my focus. I really do not think that I ,as a blogger am going to be very informative beyond that. I'm not sure that elevates anyone, but I find it cathartic on occasion.

Dragon said...

Hillary=Old Skool

That's why nobody's blogging about her.

Blogging=New Skool

And that's why I'm not surprised that Obama has a Flickr photostream and is beloved of bloggers. Some of us are ready for the future.

Cee Jay said...

You have summed it up well, Kevin.

"Those of us who do blog about serious matters represent a group of people who are very different than the mainstream. It is only through small, core groups of committed citizens like us that change has taken place."

There is ample evidence in history that the mainstream can fight a good battle when the leadership is there. The labor movement, civil rights movement , women's rights, etc. The free press has a lot to do with making such changes possible. Name the human rights movement and you will find it linked to a populist press from Thomas Paine's The "Crisis" to Martin Luther King's "Letter from the Birmingham Jail". The web has given people a platform for expression when the corporate mass media monopolies block access.

Now all we have to do is keep it open and block monopolies that could restrict our access.

I think that Obama has energized the masses with his speeches. He has the ability to touch the emotions of people, and emotion fuels human rights warriors, not intellectual arguments.

Batocchio said...

Your run-down's pretty accurate.

Hillary has some enthusiastic supporters, but not as many among bloggers, who are more reform-oriented. Many of us started blogging in reaction to the war and the other power-grabs of the Bush administration. Hillary was always the most conservative and hawkish of the major Dem candidates, so not as much blogger luv ain't that surprising. I have a friend that was torn between the big Dem three, and now the big two, for the CA primary on Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton, like Kerry, doesn't inspire as much passion as Bush induces revulsion. Her negatives are very high, and that concerns me. But to be fair, I do think she has some very devoted Dems, mostly older, in her corner.

As to bloggers — well, this brings up the old issues of elitism, politeness media control and corruption. In a good classroom or conversation or larger society, everyone gets their say in some form. But not all ideas are created equal. Rationally-inclined folks can be persuaded by a good argument, and that system can work, and ideally, the best ideas and arguments win out. Perhaps most importantly, we can learn from each other — setting out to "preach" ain't as effective as a real discussion. And there are different world views. For instance, many rank-and-file conservatives don't realize how they're getting screwed over economically and otherwise, but some do know but still put social issues first.

The bigger problem in our political system is that most of our pundits are atrocious. Furthermore, they and supposedly 'straight' reporters always try to play kingmaker, and their collective judgment is unfailingly horrible (Bush, not once, but twice>?!?). Bloggers can certainly advocate, and the beauty of blogging is that anyone can do it. The problem is getting heard, not so much in the blogosphere, but in the MSM. That's changing, but there's plenty of condescension and dismissal still around. The sharpest bloggers are much more insightful than most MSM pundits, and they also happen to reflect the views of the country as a whole much more closely. It really would be nice to see more actual liberals on the air, wouldn't it? In the meantime, it's probably best to keep plugging...

chris said...

for the most part I agree with you with one exception - I've seen a surprising, even alarming, number of Ron Paul bumper stickers and yard signs. they are, in fact, the only GOP signs I have seen. the yard signs are quite large! of course, I live north of B'ham in the land of large signs. people put billboard size signs in their yards (I guess we don't have a lot of restrictions). several I see along well traveled roads deal with getting out of the U.N., getting rid of NAFTA, and my personal favorite which says in gigantic letters "VOTE FOR JESUS" - they get *my* vote for best billboard because they understand that you can't write an essay on a sign people see as they're driving past - keep it simple, whatever it means. but the U.N. house, the NAFTA house and many more are also sporting Ron Paul billboards these days (what a surprise!). I'll be interested to see how he actually does on tuesday - I can't figure out if his supporters are legion or just loud.