As I note in the disclaimer/description I recently added to my Blogroll Amnesty Day blog, I never was linked by blogs that took part in “Blogroll Amnesty Day.” I never asked to be. I do remember reading what Markos had on his “so you want me to link to you” page, and it was stuff about what your blog needs in order to have “the right stuff” so that it was worthy of linkage. I found that offputting, so I never asked. I don’t know if that was the first thing that rubbed me the wrong way about Markos, but it’s something that stands out. I’m not really inclined to stroke someone’s ego, especially when that person already has way more people willing to do that job than I think is merited.
But while I was not willing to suck up and ask to be blogrolled, there were a lot of other people at that site that I enjoyed reading, and the sheer volume of the place allowed for a wide audience if you wanted to draw attention to a particular issue. So, in the wake of the 2004 election where there were plenty of “irregularities,” and knowing that the man responsible for many of those irregularities would be running for governor of my state in 2006, damn right I wanted those irregularities fully investigated. I wanted Ken Blackwell himself fully investigated. Imprisoned? In an ideal world, sure. But I’d have been happy with a full investigation.
And there were a lot of people at Daily Kos who shared that interest, so I was able to get diaries on the recommended list on a fairly regular basis. It felt good to be able to actually do something, even if it was just ensuring that a wider audience knew about what was going on — knew the extent of our then Secretary of State’s treachery. It was a real effort trying to keep on top of that, since I was also teaching a few classes at the time. I’d often write a quick diary in between classes if I had found an article that no one had posted about yet. But the effort was worthwhile for the sake of a larger cause.
And speaking of effort, at the time of the 2004 election, I was working a temp job during the day and teaching a class in the evening, so I really did have to make a concerted effort to get to the polls on a Tuesday. I point out these facts about my life for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have some insight into why it can be so difficult for ordinary people to take an interest in politics–even tune in to what is going on, let alone get involved. But the great thing about the internet was that, as an ordinary person, I could make my voice heard.
Anyway, at some point he had his little front page pissy fit about those he called the “fraudsters.” Some time after that it was the “pie wars.” There were other things too, but I always managed to tell myself that I didn’t have to like the man or agree with his politics to post diaries on that community blog. And there were plenty of other people there who made the blog worth visiting and posting on.
But the blogroll purge which, as I have already stated, does not affect me personally, has been the catalyst that prompted me to revisit some of these issues. Also an overarching issue that I have noticed over time: the man really tries to have it both ways. On the one hand, he’s been quoted as saying that he is “not a leader” or that he’s “just a guy with a blog.” But on the other hand, he has often behaved like a very autocratic guy who just “happens” to have one of the most widely read blogs on the Democratic side of the aisle. And he has a great degree of power over what issues can see the light of day in front page posts.
This was starting to remind me of the situation with the mainstream media. They were controlled by interests other than “we the people,” and they were too willing to play along with Bush during the buildup to the war in Iraq. They were also silent for far too long about the election integrity issues that many of us saw a mile away.
So, thank goodness for the internet! Here, the “unwashed masses” could speak the truth and have our voices heard. Of course, over time I realized that some voices had an easier time being heard than others. And much has been written over the past week or so about the fact that some blog voices have a much greater chance of being heard than others.
For one measure of the reach of the various blogs, you can check out this page which lists the blogs that participate in the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, how much ads on each of those blogs costs, per week, and the number of “estimated ad impressions.” It costs $9000 a week to advertise on the premium spot on Daily Kos.
Back to my comment about “having it both ways”, yesterday I saw the ad at www.crashingthegate.com for the first time. It is very short, so I can convey the main gist of it in a few screen captures.
Markos is strolling along,
apparently listening to some tunes
(young, hip guy that he is)
and sees all these people pulling
as hard as they can on a rope.
At the other end of the rope,
there is a stubborn donkey,
refusing to move.
From the look on our hero’s face,
we can see that he has a plan.
He walks up to the animal, and
gives it a swift kick in the, er, “donkey”.
Then there’s some line about
buying the book, and learning how to
“get the Democratic party moving again.”
Riiight. He’s “not a leader,” but he appears in an ad depicting himself as the only one who knows what to do, while all these other pathetic people are pulling on the rope with all their might, accomplishing nothing. Excuse me while I gag. And there’s also the impression the ad give of him being “just this guy” bopping along, until he sees some obvious thing that needs to be done, and immediately, effortlessly, just does it.
Here’s where I want to remind you that the “Mr. Everyman” you see above has ad space that can be bought for $9000 a week. I, obviously, don’t. I don’t make money from my political blogging.
So, to recap. We have this guy who runs a blog and co-wrote a book, who in the process has aquired some celebrity. He uses phrases like “people powered” and “crashing the gate” as his branding. In the meantime, whether he has indeed “crashed a gate,” or merely procured, for himself, a seat at the table, he’s made it clear that he is not so interested in helping anyone else get in.
But even beyond that, he’s in our f***ing way! He’s become yet another moneyed arbiter of what news is “fit to print,” as it were, and which voices will have a harder time being heard. And I don’t make a living by blogging, but somehow squeeze it in around work and family, in what I ironically refer to as my “spare time”–because it’s that important to me to make a positive difference.
And given the time and energy I, along with countless others, have invested in the project of taking our country back, I simply can’t stand idly by while the tools of the revolution are co-opted by would-be kings.
I don’t have a plan, I don’t have a big soapbox, or an army ready to charge into battle with me. But I heard somewhere that it’s possible for a “small group of thoughtful people” to change the world. And I’m counting on that.