I’m a blogger-pundit, a role for which I am eminently qualified since, exactly like pundits on television and in newspapers, I have opinions, I write them down, and a lot of people read them. Yes, that’s all there is to it. Sorry, Mr. Broder.My first experience with politics and the Internets was the long defunct New York Times ABUZZ. I could shoot off my mouth and people would listen/read my often incoherent brain farts. When ABUZZ ended several of my Internet friends and I formed a group at Yahoo groups and continued the discussion for a couple of years. It was during this time I discovered blogs. I went to The Left Coaster for excellent analysis from Steve Soto and the rest of the crew and Pacific Views was a frequent stop. Josh Marshall and Juan Cole were also daily stops. But there were two places I went for real insight - the philosophy of what was going on, Bilmon, who seems to have really left the room this time, and Digby's Hullabalo. Both Digby and Bilmon remained anonymous but Digby has come out of her bunker to accept an award at at the Take Back America 2007 conference. Thanks to Blast Off we have a transcript of Digby's wonderful speech last night. I suggest you head over there in read it or you can watch it here.
Who we are
I'm going to pick out one thing that I think describes who we progressive bloggers are, both the big fish and the bottom feeders like us here at MEJ - the online pamphleteers.
As there has been a lot said recently about the netroots and our influence on the Democratic Party, this is especially rewarding. Let’s just say we’ve ruffled some feathers. We’ve been called everything from “some guy named Vinnie in a bathrobe in an efficiency apartment” to “blogofascists.” Some critics dismiss us as useless elites, the “Metropolitan Opera crowd,” or a noisy Upper West Side cocktail party for the college graduate class. Still others take us to task for our vitriolic, unhinged tone.Like the early pamphleteers that were a necessary part of making this country the grand experiment that it is we progressive bloggers are simply filling the void that was left when the media became the "corporate media". We are here because the main stream media has failed the American people and the American Democracy. And it's not just us hippies; savvy businessmen in the US are more likely to read the Financial Times of London than the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times and The Washington Post are directly responsible for the debacle in the Middle East. They were wrong and we were right - it's no wonder they are so defensive.
The other day, Tim Russert agreed absolutely with his gracious host, the concerned centrist Sean Hannity, that the Democratic Party was being unduly influenced by bloggers, who were dragging the Party kicking and screaming to the Left. Then there is the criticism that we are fascists or Stalinists, demanding that everyone march in lockstep to the edicts of our leadership – generally assumed to be Markos, of Daily Kos, who apparently directs us with secret signals deeply embedded in the code of the Daily Kos website, while we carry on an elaborate ruse of spirited political debate and disagreement in public. We are, in short, something of an enigma. I like to call this phenomenon “Irrational Fear of Hippies.” And this has, in my view, become irrational fear of political passion.
Of all the criticisms I just mentioned, that is one that we are all willing to accept. We are passionate about politics, and in this era of Republican corruption, excess, and failure, that passion sometimes manifests itself as anger. But how can you not be angry? So many institutions have failed us in the last decade that being vitriolic seems the only sane response.