Crossposted at Howard-Empowered People
In their New Year’s posts on Blog for America, both Tara and Luigi thanked everyone for their patience in waiting for the rollout of the new blog software. For me, the issue is not so much how long it takes to get the software, but the efforts (or lack thereof) to keep us comfortable while “there will be a slight delay“. Anyway, in the spirit of all the New Year’s posts that are looking back and looking ahead, I thought it was a good time to do that with Howard-Empowered People. To really do that properly, I think I need to review the past two years.
New Year’s Eve 2003 Blog for America was my first “blog home” and I came to consider the regular commenters there my “blog family“. That particular New Year’s Eve it was especially nice to have an online community to connect with and ring in the New Year, because Demetrius was busy most of the evening with a redecorating project. I remember that being a fun night on the blog, with the Dean campaign staff members doing a series of posts about their friendly fundraising competition. At one point Flat Howard made an appearance as a peacemaker between the battling staff members, and it was always a kick to see something that had been created on my husband’s computer make an appearance on the big blog.
Anyone who was around the Dean blog at the end of 2003 knows that those were heady, amazing times. The future was indeed looking bright, and we felt like we were a real part of a campaign that was going to change life in the U.S. for the better. But for me, another layer is that I was amazed to have found a campaign that we could actually be part of. We’d decided that we were not cut out to be canvassers or phone-bankers, and our schedule often kept us from attending Meet-ups on a regular basis. But through our connection with Blog for America, we somehow created our own niche where we could do something that was useful and appreciated, and could work virtually alongside different people from all over the globe who shared our patriotic desire to take this country back from the Bush cabal.
New Year’s Eve 2004 Very different from the previous one, obviously. Instead of the optimism we had heading into the primaries the year before, we were dealing with Bush about to start a second term. Didn’t some of you think that, once the election was over, one way or another things were going to calm down a bit? Instead, as we entered the new year, there were all sorts of questions about how the election was conducted in Ohio. I’d been watching things progress well before November 2, and knew that Ken Blackwell was bad news. He was every bit as honest and fair as we would expect a Secretary of State who was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign to be. He was also planning to run for governor of Ohio in 2006. Just take it as read that he is a Very Bad Man–if I actually start trying to list all the ways, I’m never going to finish this diary. The point is, it was important to me to have the 2004 election thoroughly investigated–not because I expected the results to be overturned, but because I wanted that man and his partisan shenanigans exposed.
So, whenever I saw an article with a new piece of information, I was really motivated to get it “out there”. It became increasingly obvious that Blog for America was not the best place to do that. I couldn’t believe that the blog inspired by Dean’s presidential campaign (now the Democracy for America blog) was so averse to posting anything about the revelations that were coming out about voter suppression, election irregularities, etc. Even when the stories were showing up somewhere as mainstream as Yahoo News, they couldn’t even seem to make it into a news roundup at BFA. It was about this time that I started posting diaries at Daily Kos. The advantage there was that, even if none of the front-pagers deemed a story worthy of attention, an issue of interest to enough people could make the recommended list and be seen by a wider audience that way. (Making it a whole lot more “democratic” than the Democracy for America blog.) Around the same time, I also started posting on other blogs, like the DNC blog and the Majority Report blog, that had the familiar single thread at a time format like BFA. I was glad to start getting to know people from different parts of the liberal blogosphere, but somehow nothing ever felt like “home” the way BFA had. But it was also becoming increasingly clear that BFA was never going to feel like “home” in that way again either.
New Year’s Eve 2005 Holy crap, am I still doing this politics thing?! Okay, so it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. But this sure isn’t what I thought I signed up for. I have life to deal with, you know? The kinds of sacrifices that seem reasonable in the short term when there is a visible finish line in sight, well, not so much when you need to integrate political involvement with your day-to-day life on an ongoing basis. So, how does one find balance?
Well, for myself, it just doesn’t seem reasonable to subject myself to consistent put-downs while I am using my almost nonexistent free time trying to make the world a better place. That was going on at BFA all through the previous year I just described, and the same person was still doing it all through 2005. His excuse is that “politics is tough, get used to it”, or some such nonsense. But in the past couple years, I’ve come to brace myself for a put-down when I post anything over there in a way I don’t need to on any other blog. (And I joined some new ones in 2005, like My Left Wing and Booman Tribune). It made me second-guess posting anything there, which might be hard for some people to understand, but I guess I just don’t have the same tolerance level some other people do. I’m the same way with smoky rooms. The smoke in the air just bothers me more than it might bother some other people, and no matter how appealing I might find the people or activities in that room. Does that mean I don’t have anything of value to offer in the political arena? I don’t think it does. But I do need to find a way to stay involved that fits well with the rest of my life on a long term basis.
In my usual “Ready–Fire–Aim” style of doing things, I put a “Shadow” Blog for America online before I really knew what it was going to be about. At the time, all I wanted was to provide a place where those of us who wanted to could have pretty much the same discussions, without enduring the rhetorical equivalent of the face-slappy things in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. But over time, and with the addition of some great front page posters, a purpose did come more into focus, such that the blog really did need its own separate identity, and it became Howard-Empowered People. We’re still a young blog, as blogs go, and in terms of readership, I suppose we’re a smallish blog, but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and work alongside the rest of the left-leaning blogosphere at the ongoing challenge of taking this country back from the theocratic jerks who are giving the U.S. a bad name (but we aim to have fun, and occasionally be completely silly and off topic while we’re doing that.) We’re going to keep posting transcripts of Howard Dean interviews (because we still think he rocks!), so if you know of an upcoming tv or radio appearance, you can help us out by passing that along. And we’ve got a spiffy new section front and center for “action item” type diaries, to make it easier to collaborate with people on other blogs on the issues of the day. Again, you can help us help you by passing along such diaries when you see them.
Oh, and, ahem, a few more blogs linking to us would be a Very Good Thing.
Here’s to continued progress on this “taking our country back” project in 2006, and to having fun together while we’re doing that!