Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Double Edge Sword

If you've read any of my posts, you know one of my catch phrases is "I just don't get it." Sure I'm just a rank and file Democrat who's become an active member of my party only a couple of years ago. Sure I don't have a degree in Political Science and have not held a position as a paid staffer for a campaign. I'm not a wonk, and expert in foreign policy, or even a journalist. No, I'm just a guy with a blog in the suburbs who now watches C-Span instead of his beloved Chicago Bears.

I'm watching C-Span now because a vast sea change in political activism has taken place due, in my opinion, to the explosion of the political Blogosphere. It was the Blogosphere that facilitated my entry, as well as millions of others, into party politics. It was the Blogosphere that finally put the Democratic Party on par financially with the GOP. It was the Blogosphere that actively involved me in a campaign rather than as just a donation source for a campaign. It was the Blogosphere that gave local people like me the tools to keep my neighbors informed about what is going on in Washington.

And it seems to me the Blogosphere that the Democratic status quo fears, loathes, mocks, and by all visible posturing would like to keep from ever having a seat at the Party table.

So once again, I just don't get it.

Here we are, a vast source of motivated, politically active, technologically savvy, message aware, committed Democrats, ready and willing to back the Party to the hilt. We can facilitate message delivery, offer a public relations role, mobilize the base, neutralize the opposition's message, and financially support a wide range of candidates. All we ask for in return is a seat at the table and a voice in of the process. That's all any of us has ever asked for, only now we have a medium thanks to blogs from which to organize and project our requests from.

But such benefits come with costs. Case in point, Rep. Tim Roemer's treatment lately. By the reaction of his staff, he was none too pleased that leading blogs like MyDD or dKos would post about where his affiliations lie, detailing his involvement with the Mercatus Center. Heaven forbid we actually know that Rep. Roemer - a candidate for the leading position in our party - is affiliated with the Mercatus Center. Or that the Center's donor base consists of the largest donors to conservative think tanks. Or that the retreat he is promoting sponsored by Mercatus has prominent seminars with Right-wing titles like "Social Security Reform I: The Coming Fiscal Crisis." Or that he's encouraging Democratic Chiefs of Staff to attend this retreat. Heavens to Betsy, why should we need to know about that?

Because knowledge is power. And that's the sea change my friends. The once mindless ATM now has a brain. We have thousands of bloggers out there now who will dig into the facts. Opposition research is now 24/7/365 in real time. And, it's not just for the opposition anymore. If you are on our side and want a leadership position, the same old same old is not going to cut it anymore. If you run ads that tout "I broke with my party..." everyone in the Blogosphere is going to know about your willingness to break ranks to stand with the President.

And many of us are not going to be pleased.

But that's what the cost is going to be to have access to a pool of volunteers, a message network, 24/7 fact checking, and an ATM the likes the party has never seen before. So here's the deal. The Blogosphere is indeed a double edged sword for those of you in Party leadership roles. If you want the considerable support of the Blogosphere behind you, then give us a seat at the table and a voice in the process. Continue to shut us out and undermine something many people find one of the most promising aspects of political activism in a long time and we will turn off the ATM and motivate your base in ways you may not like. And last time I checked, the Blogosphere represented a good percentage of that base.

And as more people read political blogs, that percentage is growing.