Sunday, August 06, 2006

Just Who Are Bloggers?

I just had a thought, reading Digby. It came from this little blurb:

Jane has an interesting post up today about the odd choice of the Lieberman campaign to run against the "crazies" and the blogs instead of Ned Lamont. It ended up creating a thoroughly incomprehensible caricature of him as a wealthy, country club, angry hippie, which I don't think makes much sense to the voters of Connecticut.
Just why did Lieberman decide to run against the blogs? Though I can't speak for him, I would guess it's because of the supposed conventional wisdom that bloggers are a bunch of lefty wing-bat crazies. Or, at the very least, 19 year old emo punks.

It's not the first time I've written about just who bloggers are, but again I find myself thinking about it. Months ago, I could have told readers that BMG is run by lawyers, as is Americablog, Dailykos and lots of other blogs. Firedoglake is run by a former Hollywood producer and her former State Prosecutor sidekick. Huffpost was started by Arriana Huffington, one of the nation's more prominent newspaper columnists and a big-time author. Blog after blog is written and started by concerned professionals, not just teenagers and stupid, angry people.

However, over the past month or so, I've begun to become friendlier with bloggers from around the state and have begun to meet them in person. Even at the local level - amongst people who merely read the blogs, as opposed to write them - bloggers and their readers aren't young wing-bats and certainly aren't any more crazy than the rest of us. In fact, I'm the only political blogger that I know who is under 25.

Yet, just in Massachusetts alone (and just among people who mainly read the blogs as opposed to operate them) I've met people with advanced PhDs, law degrees and people that connected to all levels of the government. I've met energy experts, religious ministers and retired folk. Bloggers represent a wide variety of free-thinking, intelligent people.

As I've met these people, I can understand Lieberman's confusion. Computers are for young people, so whoever's writing and reading these posts are probably mainly young. Except Lieberman's completely wrong because everyone has computers nowadays, even middle aged and older folks. Certainly some bloggers who have caught on are probably twenty somethings - such as Matt Stoller over at MyDD, but even they tend to be on the wrong side of 25.

What Lieberman fails to realize is that there has been a disenfranchised, fairly progressive, anti-Iraq War contingent in the party for decades which has largely been silenced, especially during the Clinton years when Republican-lite was cool and "electable." Many bloggers and readers are the very same people who went to Birmingham in the 50s, stood at Berkley in the 60s and subsequently were told to shut up about the Persian Gulf and especially today's Iraq War by Democrats in office. We couldn't be chickens, even if Republicans were chicken-hawks.

Without "blogging" and the internet, most people probably thought they were in the extreme minority and bought the idea that America was shifting to the right. We were told that the Bill Clintons and Joe Liebermans of the world were the only ones who could win and, if we wanted to keep any of our past gains, we should just be happy and deal with it.

In reality, America hasn't been shifted to the right, it's just that the left has been silenced. "Whacko lefties" like Michael Moore tried to tell us that - America still supported left-wing issues such as the environment, public education, healthcare and minimum wage by wide margins - but they were the whackos and even I believed it to some extent. We all bought that we had to vastly compromise our views in all cases or risk electoral disaster. In fact, a lot of people were tuned out of politics completely. We either bought into right-wing talking points or gave up.

But, slowly, we've been rekindled and are making a resurgence. Insider Democrats who told the leftwing to shut up were wrong. Either by blogs or a new wave of politicians like Howard Dean, Deval Patrick, Ned Lamont and now dozens of others, people are being brought back into America's democracy. Movements are springing up all over the country, as the Democratic party is seeing resurgences in solidly red states like Montana and even Kansas. People are pissed off about a lot of issues, be it Iraq or lobbyists controlling government. In fact, the "angry left" is just about the only stereotype right-wing pundits have gotten right so far. Damn right, we're angry. But we're rational and we're getting the momentum in taking back America and putting it into the peoples' hands.

Some readers may be skeptical: Didn't Howard Dean lose? While he did, the very fact he was the front-runner for a short time proved that the beginning of the resurgence was started. In fact, I'd say it reached a tipping point just after Howard Dean lost. A big part of why Dean lost was the fact that the Democratic Party considered him a threat and did everything it could to attack him. Despite the fact that his record in Vermont wasn't very liberal at all, Dean was labelled the wing-bat by Democrats even more so than Republicans. Republicans just took the cue from the entrenched Democrats since the spin worked.

Now, Ned Lamont is looking like he's going to defeat the former standard of an "electable" Democrat: a chicken-hawk in blue clothing. Lieberman sides with Republicans on some of the most important issues and the Democrats in Connecticut have passed that tipping point and are saying a loud NO to politics-as-usual. They aren't necessarily the leftwing of the party, but they are the people who have been silenced and told to just go along with whatever seems electable. They've realized that it isn't just issues that makes one electable, but the people behind those issues. Just look at Montana and the Democratic Nominee for Senate there: Jon Tester. He's moderate, but has appealed to all the silenced and is currently looking strong in what has been a very red state.

So, what does this all have to do with Connecticut? It isn't just that Lieberman was way off in his critique about the conventional wisdom of bloggers. If that was merely it, I wouldn't be writing this. No, it goes a lot further than that. Lieberman's biggest critique against Lamont, if anything, has been the crazy bloggers following him. Lieberman's biggest attack has been against bloggers, not Lamont. Why? Lieberman thought they were easy targets because of what he thought was conventional wisdom.

However, in reality, the people of Connecticut know better. Why? I truly don't think "conventional wisdom" is that bloggers are angry teen-emo punks, who are crazy fringe lefties. At this point, it's mainly the media and talking-head pundits who keep echoing that point. Society is way past them and knows the real conventional wisdom: that the bloggers are the people. Tens of thousands in Connecticut's Democratic Party felt silenced, but have collectively said "hold on a second" and aren't just letting Lieberman feel as though he's entitled to his seat.

No comments:

About Ryan's Take