The liberal blogosphere has been an incredible group in its rise to power in Democratic and progressive politics. It has empowered hundreds of thousands of people to voice their opinions on political and social issues great and small, and should be commended for it.
But in this 2008 cycle, blogs that used to be open forums for honest discussion of politics and politicians have become increasingly partisan. Some, like MyDD, have by the choice of the owner: Jerome Armstrong is an unabashed fan of Hillary Clinton, and does not take kindly to those bashing her, her campaign, or his advocacy of her run for the White House. A good friend of mine was banned from Armstrong’s site for calling out one of the white elephants on his blog: that he’s very likely angling for a paid staff position in a Clinton administration. The ban was swift and direct.
The other approach is a bit more hands-off, yet with the overall trend being toward advocacy for a particular candidate. The “blogfather,” Markos Moulitsas, has been a bit of an equal-opportunity basher of candidates on his Daily Kos site (though he’s open about voting for Obama in the California primary), yet the discussion led by the others in the “front page posters” (those anointed to moderator status by Markos) tends to advocate Obama (and before that, Edwards) at the expense and ridicule of Clinton supporters. The arguments get heated, alternating between juvenile playground threats to more vile, disturbing over and undertones. It’s a mess.
And it’s noisy.
And it turns me off.
As most or my friends and family will attest, I’m a political creature. I tend to thrive on political dialog and argument. Yet I’m not one to tolerate inane and pointless arguments about non-substantive issues.
Such arguments are ruling both Daily Kos and MyDD, and I’m not taking the bait. Sure, I’ll glance every so often to see if anything new and truly productive is being discussed. But I think I’ll mostly just move on with my political life, picking my own path, fighting the battles that are worth my time and effort.
And this carries through to other political endeavors in my life. I’ve already made a split from a PAC I helped create back in 2004. And I do not plan to seek re-election to the DC Democratic State Committee once my time is up, as I feel there are better ways to explore my political interests (more on this at a future date).
Political battles that serve no clear purpose other than character assassination are truly stupid. I see them on various skiing forums, where differing schools of ski pedagogy are treated with the same reverence – and resulting fanatic devotion and defensiveness – as major religions. And as is the case with religion: the end is usually the same, though the means to that end may be radically different (or only semantically or syntactically different).
The same goes for the ongoing skirmishes within my cycling club (the faster crowd versus the slower touring set): people take their sides and dig in for trench warfare. And while I tend to ride with the fast crowd, I also see the need to cater to the touring set, who make up the majority of the active membership.
Can’t we all just get along? If not, just leave me out of it for now.