The other day I created a new game for my three children.
When we play “soccer” it’s the 6-year-old and I on one team vs. the 9-year-old and the 3-year-old because my middle daughter is very competitive with my oldest, who is very easy going about it. The 3-year-old inevitably wants to be on Daddy’s team so after the first couple of kicks it’s 3-on-1. One goal is the wall of the shed where I store the mowers and bikes. The other goal is along a row of pine trees where I carved out a tree cave for the girls.
Mostly it’s to create an excuse to make them run back and forth in the back yard so that they burn off energy and get exercise. But 3-on-1 isn’t always very much fun for even the most easiest going of daughters. And the youngest feels left out because she tends to spend her time in the middle of the field.
So I threw in an extra soccer ball and armed the three girls with squirt guns and said in the new rules it was everybody against everybody although you could partner up with people to bring down the ball but who ever scored the goal got the point and whoever shot me good with a squirt gun got a point.
It turned out to be a very fastpaced game that’s lots of fun and a good metaphor (or is it simile?) for my experience as a political blogger for a state blog.
Especially in West Virginia.
The other day a right wing blogger, Chris Stirewalt of the State Journal (I’ve dubbed him Bow Tie Boy because…well, if you follow the links you’ll see why) made it clear he could not understand how Clem and I at West Virginia Blue could be so against coal-to-liquid and still be working so hard to elect our Democrats.
He could have picked several issues. You look at our blog and I’m constantly on Senator Jay Rockefeller (multiple posts a week, sometimes multiple posts a day) to investigate torture, I’m constantly posting on pro-choice issues when our representatives are anti-choice; and Clem has totally owned the liquid coal issue. On stem cell research, our lone Republican voted with the majority of Democrats while our two Democratic representatives Rahall and Mollohan voted with the Republicans. And we haven’t been supportive of our Democratic legislature either on the state issue of tabletop gaming.
So to explain to him and to our West Virginia readers in the state and Capitol Hill, I followed up with this On Blogging:
Most definitely what Digby said.
Go listen to her to understand what political blogging means.
I’ve seen some references from people on the right unable to understand us. Of course they can’t understand us. By temperament, the right is authoritarian to the point they’d love nothing more than to live in a dictatorship (and that’s not hyperbole). The RNC faxes and emails the talking points. The GOP side of the aisle in Congress use them in speeches, the hate radio mongers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity repeat them to listeners and so the rightwing message trickles down to even the lowly political editor at The State Journal who so earnestly repeats it. That is how the rightwing echo chamber works.
We’re Democrats. We work differently. We do not belong to an organized political party as becomes apparent to anyone who has ever volunteered for a campaign. We’re more like a big messy family. We disagree — sometimes quite loudly — about different ideas. But the ties that bind us together are much stronger than the issues that separate us. That is why we can criticize our Congressional delegation and still work to elect them. Because while they have been wrong about many issues, they’ve been absolutely right on so many more. Our Democratic caucus in Congress, particularly Senator Robert C. Byrd and Rep. Nick Rahall (WV-03), have been among the finest in standing up to the attempts by the imperial-minded President George W. Bush to assume anti-American, dictatorial powers.
When we disagree with them we do not hesitate to try to steer them in the right direction. We push ideas and take stances that sometimes run counter to the views held by our elected Democrats. That is because the best ideas often grow from the grassroots and are pushed by people like us to our elected officials.
It might be easier for our Democrats in the short-term if we operated like the right, but it’s not good in the long-term. President Bush has shown just how dangerous it can be when our politicians only listen to the people who agree with them.
There has been much made lately by the Sean Hannitys of the world that political blogs are pushing the Democratic Party to the left as if that is a bad thing. What those “pundits” ignore is that bloggers are just people and we are reflecting the views held by the majority of Americans whether it is on ending the occupation that keeps our soldiers pinned down in Iraq’s civil war or providing health care to all Americans. We’re pushing the Democratic Party to the left because that is where the American people are going and that is where the party should be.
There are times I really feel though we’ve been very successful in working as bloggers to push our agenda.
It’s just like 2 ball soccer. Sometimes you partner up with an opponent to get the ball down the field and sometimes you oppose your occasional team mate.
Before the 2006 election, I’d written numerous posts on the old West Virginia Blue blogger site and here on coal mine operator Don Blankenship trying to buy the West Virginia legislature. About two weeks before the election, if I recall correctly, I got an email from a man in Washington, D.C., and I recognized the name from Crashing the Gates as a political consultant. And not one who was written about in a favorable light. He asked me to call and gave me his cellphone and it was late, but I called anyway. He had seen my diaries on Blankenship and we talked for an hour about Blankenship and West Virginia politics and messaging. He wouldn’t tell me who his client was at the time, but it wasn’t hard to figure out. A week later I received in my mailbox as did just about every other West Virginian a slick mailer tailored to each district where a Blankenship delegate or senator was running about Blankenship’s efforts. Of the 42 candidates heavily funded to the tune of millions by Blankenship, 40 Democrats run to 2 of his candidates. Did I cost Blankenship his election? Of course not. I could never have funded the mailers or put together the message to reach all of the West Virginians. But I did play a part and was part of a successful Democratic team effort.
Meanwhile, we successfully drafted our WV-02 Democratic candidate John Unger, a state senator I’ve known for more than a decade, who also was courted by the DCCC, who I know for a fact were influenced in part by us lefty bloggers. How often are the grassroots-netroots and the DCCC kicking the ball down the field together to take a shot on goal?
It’s wild and wonderful and at times it’s easy to forget who is scoring the goals because the real goal is something different.