Sunday, September 17, 2006

What Good Are You, What Can You Do?

Posted by olvlzl

Having read Put Me In The Zoo to children literally hundreds of times the entire thing can run like a loop of mental Muzak in the back of my head for hours some days. If you know what I mean, I’m sorry to have brought it up. But it could be worse, it could be early 80s torch song trash. At least Robert Lopshire’s poetry is fun.

But it’s a good question. What good is what we’re doing?

Being on record as a skeptic that there is any such thing as a ‘blogosphere’, or that if there is such a thing that it is the equivalent of paper, I’d prefer to argue it from a different angle. But the word is there and the argument will be made in existing terms today. Paper is useful for entirely different and opposite purposes, from xeroxing buttocks to send a childish insult to signing National Healthcare into law someday. Maybe leftist blogs are useful for different things too.

I don’t think that talking about a ‘leftist blogosphere’ as if it was any one thing is enlightening. The range of blogs written by self-defined liberals and leftists go from the accurate brilliance of digby’s Hullaballoo to the puerile venting of others we all have experienced and may have indulged in. At worst, the latter can be about as productive as reading celebrity fiction in the tabloids. Or so I’ve heard. Not that I’ve got any experience of that, myself!

We spend a lot of time here, reading blogs. Why? What does it accomplish?

A lot of blogs consist of writers telling their readers what they expect and want to hear and then those people respond in kind, attacking with various levels of wit any Republican trolls that the RNC, or whoever, have assigned to distract us. Apparently someone is taking that kind of blogging seriously and some of it is very serious. Some of them are based in the news and they inform as they reinforce. Some is useless, not adding information or new angles of light to the argument. It can be fun for the participants but what does it change? Shouldn’t spending that many hours at something produce some beneficial change?

I’ve enjoyed those kinds of blogs, they can teach a lot about making and defending arguments against instant criticism, some of it at the highest level of validity. They can teach you to be quick on your feet and to have fun mocking trolls. I decided a long time ago that with so many conservatives to mock that I wouldn’t target my fellow leftists without them giving me the best of reasons to do so.

But after several years I began to think that blogs could do a lot more than reinforce what was already there. In another example from Barbara Jordan, her Keynote address to the Democratic Convention in 1992 “Change”. She was talking about Democrats changing the words they used to describe their programs, not changing the ultimate goals of the programs themselves and winning to reach those goals. Changing the old words that had come to mean what we didn’t intend through manipulation by our enemies, changing the clumsy words and phrases we had come up with ourselves.

So that is what I’m trying to do, look for ways to make change. To make positive change in the law, to make positive change in the world. Fun is good and the most political fun I’ve ever had was witnessing the signing of gay rights legislation in my own state and other legislation that made change real elsewhere, hearing that a better candidate had defeated an awful one. Hearing that Georgia had gone for Clinton in 1992, hearing that Lamont had won the nomination this summer. Hearing those too long ago court rulings in Civil Rights being announced. Now that’s fun. I hope and pray that you who haven’t had enough opportunities to have that kind of fun get a lot more than I have so far. I fully intend to get me some more of it myself.