A long, long time ago, BC (Before Clinton was President) I was a college student. During that time a well-respected member of the faculty was removed for reasons that were, at best, suspect. In reaction to this removal, I and several other students from the department took it upon ourselves to talk to the Dean of Student Affairs, to express our dissatisfaction with the removal, and seek some plausible explanation to help stop the swirling rumors. None was forthcoming, which merely compounded the anger and dismay.
Despite our good faith efforts to peacefully and politely express our opinion, pressure was put on the faculty of the department to shut us up. This, along with statements I and other students made in the school paper made many members of the faculty angry…at us. In the midst of the emotion and drama that almost always follows issues that one feels passionate about, one faculty member asked me, “We know what you’re against, but what do you stand for?”
Well, that shut me up for a while, but it didn’t, ultimately, solve the problem. To this day, I do not really know what happened or why. From time to time I think about this event, now some 16 years later, and wonder both how we as concerned students could have acted more effectively and how the administration could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by proactively communicating to us at least some of the issues of concern so we could better understand and inform ourselves.
Once again, this question, “We know what you’re against, but what do you stand for?””, has come up to the blogging community. The question gets asked a lot by people who end up on the wrong side of bloggers, the intent often being more about “getting the hell off my lawn” than anything truly constructive. It takes on certain significance, particularly in the wake of the fairly recent criticism of the TNDP and losses that spawned that criticism. So maybe, just maybe it’s time to clarify some things.
First, there are some things you should know about me. I don’t do this because I’m paid to do it. In fact, I don’t even have advertising of any kind on my blog. Truth is, most TN bloggers don’t make a dime off their blogs. This is due to laziness on my part, and that I want to keep my “loves” separate from a “job”. I tried to “monetize” my love of performing music throughout the early 90’s and burned myself out. Making this a job is not something I’m interested in at this point.
Secondly, I truly want what is best for the people of our nation, state, counties and cities. My worldview may be further to the left than most in the state, but that doesn’t change the reality that when I write something about policy, I’m thinking about the political ramifications and the personal ramifications that will touch all the citizens of those respective jurisdictions.
Third, and most importantly, I work with the best information I have available, but sometimes that information doesn’t reach the standard that I would like. As newspapers pull back coverage and lay off reporters, and broadcast media becomes more like Extra!, focusing on the more sensational aspects of politics than the steady and staid Evening News with Walter Cronkite, getting good and accurate information about what is going on anywhere other than national politics is getting harder. This is a bad thing for Tennessee and every other state outside of the top 20 media markets.
Finally, I am not a journalist. I’ve never claimed to be. I’m a guy with enough time to bang out 3-4 posts on a good week with a lot of passion and a great deal of interest in politics. Saying this is my passion understates the reality. I read upwards of 500 posts and news articles a day. For me, this is an obsession.
Now, I can’t really speak for anyone else, because they would probably snatch my head off my neck and use it to bowl a 37, but speaking for myself, I can say with no reservations that much of my criticism of Democratic politicians and institutions is rooted in the frustration that comes from said politicians and institutions doing generally dumb or lazy things, such as; voting against long-held Democratic ideals, using Right-Wing talking points under the guise of conventional wisdom, calling our Presidential Candidate a terrorist, (as some elected Democratic officials and their surrogates chose to do earlier this year). Let it be known, that people who call themselves Democrats and do these kinds of stupid things will incur my wrath, and the wrath of others…you don’t get rewarded for stupid.
At the same time, I’m not looking for a fight with Democrats, I want to affirm Democrats and Democratic principles and discredit Republicans, which isn’t that hard because they damn near do it for me. I want to react to the “Press Release Pornography” (I’ve never seen someone exploit a press release quite like him) that Bill Hobbs engages in. But when Mr. Hobbs lets loose one of his ridiculous screeds and I hear nothing from the Democratic establishment, I wonder if anyone is listening, and that’s frustrating.
Further, when I don’t hear anything from anyone in the Democratic establishment for months on end, even though there’s a lot going on (like an election), questions of competence invariably come up, leading to a general belief that members of the establishment are coasting and all the other things that make people frustrated when they are feeling ill served by people who are supposed to be representing their views, even if that’s in the broadest sense of the word.
The key thing to take away from this is that old quote by Benjamin Franklin, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The prevention is basic communication. I don’t want to be catered to, I want to know that I’m not living in a vacuum. I want to know that elected officials and party organizations are paying attention and proactively working to defend against Republican attacks on our values, and move the ball down the field with our values.
So, there you have it. It’s really quite simple. There are times when we (me or the “lefty blogosphere” and members of the Democratic Party Establishment) will agree, and there are times we won’t, but that’s not a reason to not communicate. If anything it’s more of a reason TO communicate. Communication will help get us past some of the miscues and misunderstandings. Communication will ensure that the message reaches more people. Communication, not just with bloggers and activist, but with regular constituents, is how we win in 2010.
Thanks, and Happy New Year.