I’ve been blogging for seven and a half years; I was a couple of years ahead of the “fad” curve, for once in my life.
And when it comes to political blogs, I think the various blog cultures reflect their owners. Liberals, being primarily herd creatures, are very hierarchical in their blogging; if you follow a lot of leftyblogs (and I do), you can almost see the memes starting with Kos and Atrios and the Huffpo, and work their way down through the ranks (and I use the term “ranks” intentionally). Conservatives, being basically decentralized (one could almost say “rudderless”, at times in the past half-decade) have approach blogging in a much less organized way – but the underlying current among conservative blogs has been less to serve as a political engine than as a form of “samizdat” alternative media to outflank what conservatives perceive (correctly) to be the bias and in-the-bag nature of the mainstream media. That is, of course, a much more scattered approach.
And for people who make their living at this, it’s a distinction that matters.
Of course, the mainstream media is the last group of people that can really understand that, but when organizations like CNN try to write about the subject:
“While it is obvious the progressive blogosphere is superior, we are being out-organized on Twitter,” said Gina Cooper, a blogger who helped organize Netroots Nation, an annual gathering of online liberal activists that met last week in Pittsburgh. “There is some catching up to do on the progressive side.”
It took me a moment push my skull back into my head when I read that – but once I did, it made sense, in context (where “context” means “with the parameters of the discussion shoved into a nearly meaningless corner”). Liberal bloggins is superior, as a medium for delivering votes to Democrats. Until the likes of the Center for “Independent” Media and other “Progressive” groups started pouring money into leftyblogging, either directly or via providing cushy full-time blogging jobs for leading leftybloggers, the lefty blogosphere was a morass of banal, unfocused, Bush-deranged rage. With money and leadership, the leftysphere became a tightly focused array of banal, Bush-deranged rage aimed at raising money and turning out voters.
Of course, in the leftyphere focuses on opinion and organization, not on serious analysis or reporting. There is no leftyblog analog to, say, Powerline’s shredding of Dan Rather’s hit piece on President Bush’s Air National Guard record.
But viewed purely as organizing? The piece has a point. For conservatives, the blogosphere is largely a replacement for the morning newspaper. Most of us are not fundemantally politcal people – we want government out of our lives, not at the center. So keeping our “organizing” down to 140 characters or less makes perfectly good sense.
Of course, being CNN, there has to be a certain aspect of “they have now idea what they’re talking about” endemic in the piece:
“Twitter is a news funnel,” she said. “Conservatives are very tightly knit and getting their message out very well.”
“Conservatives are tightly knit?” That, of course, is madness. At this juncture in American history, “conservative” is about as meaningful as, say, “caucasian”; just as any descriptor that covers everything from Icelandic people to Berbers, from Slavs to Spaniards is basically so broad as to be meaningless, so “conservative” is today. Any label that covers the fiscal moderate but evangelical pro-life Mike Huckabee and the tax and immigration hawk Tom Tancredo, or the fiscal conservative but socially pragrmatic Tim Pawlenty, lacks a certain degree of focus.
But the piece has a point; whatever conservatives lack these days in terms of ideological congruency, we are (finally) making up, after two slack cycles, in paying attention and waking up and smelling the coffee and getting out and into politics again, not because of but in spite of the leadership we’ve had – or lacked – in the past six years or so.
And – hopefully – realizing that no matter what your key issue, having any conservative in office, even a conservative that is imperfect on your pet issue, is going to be a better bet than having even the “best ” (hypothetical) Democrat.
The conservative twittersphere is more than adequate – as the article notes – in saying “show up” and “send money”. As to the “why?”
Well, for that we still have the long-form blog. And at that, the CNN piece notwithstanding, the conservative blogosphere still excels alone.