The State of the Blogosphere.

One vision has been achieved. We have ousted the most horrific set of thugs, criminals and liars that ever inhabited the White House and prevented their proxy and his doxie from occupying it.

I say we….because between the elections of 2006 and the election of 2008 there is no longer any doubt that the blogs, that the citizens who post on the blogs, were an undeniable influence on both elections. Particularly this one. We have ended one “world,” now it is time to create a new one.

We have power…with power comes responsibility.

Our first responsibility is to use our power wisely. And, effectively. That means (to the extent possible with herds of cats/bloggers) settling on some form of broad agenda. Having some purpose in mind. Agreeing, in the broad strokes necessary to be inclusive and thus effective, on what we want to accomplish and then working together to accomplish it.

In other words, having a shared vision and working to achieve it.

We are, at least to some extent, newly directionless. One mission achieved, one vision achieved…and hundreds of thousands if not millions of bloggers waiting for a new mission, a new vision. A percentage of those (it remains to be seen what percentage) will just fall in behind Obama, which is by no means a bad thing. We can certainly all agree on what he has stated are his three main points of emphasis: Getting out of Iraq, health care, and Climate Crisis. Obviously the economy is now on that list. I would add disinfecting the government, the DOJ for example simply MUST be cleaned out of the politicized vermin that have come to inhabit it, and there simply must be some accountability to do so. Or we will never get anywhere. So to SOME extent, our tasks are clear. How we achieve them however is far from clear. Do we just follow Obama’s lead blindly? Of course not, that would not be responsible. HOW we achieve these things, and as Prop 8 points out, the many other things that we need to achieve is now as much of a question, if not more so, as we currently inhabit a ‘target rich’ environment for things that need changing, as what we want to achieve.

We have shown that we have influence. Can the blogsphere now show leadership?

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Link!

Legions of bloggers wait now, still somewhat stunned from victory, for leadership, for at least a vague direction. You can feel it. The energy is still high, but with 75 days left before Obama takes power, it really has no where to go. This is potentially THE time to come together. To prepare, to forge bonds and coalitions. To either start projects, or to join in the projects of others. Or both! From now until the inauguration Obama will be formulating and setting his policies. If you have an issue that you are passionate about, now is the time to start pushing it and attracting others to help. If you yell loudly enough you could influence those policies as they are being formed.

NLinStPaul wrote a great piece on the leadership of the Obama campaign in community organizing, and on developing new leaders. We have the people, we have the tool, the internet, we have the energy….what do we do with it?

The answer to that question will largely shape the blogosphere from here out.

For me, and others I hope, the main thing I think we can accomplish between now and the inauguration is to use the influence and power we have gained to push HARD for accountability. Putting loud, public pressure on Bush to not pardon his partners in crime is imperative. Even if we fail and he does issue blanket or individual pardons, at least he will be doing so under a spotlight. Or, to use a word that has been sorely missing for eight years, in the sunlight. That is something that Obama can’t do, politically speaking. So it is up to us to do it. To reestablish the concept of accountability for those who wish to lead us, we must to some extent lead them.

There are some things that politicians just can’t do…like holding themselves accountable. Or cutting off their money machine by pushing for public financing and election reform. There has to be pressure to reform from outside. That is where We The People, and now, We The Bloggers come in! And the best place to start is cleaning up the past, so we can move on to the future. From there, the blogosphere needs to formulate and push it’s own solutions and positions, when we disagree with Obama and (sigh) the Democratic Congress. As well as and as part of keeping pressure on our government to not slip into it’s old, bad, destructive habits.

Obama has said repeatedly that he wants out input and our involvement, let’s make sure we give it to him in unmistakable terms. And let’s make sure we let him know, unmistakably, when we think he is moving in the wrong direction.

BUT! Let us also make sure that we do not become just followers! Let’s flex this new found power to LEAD as well. That doesn’t mean just waiting for the established leaders of the blogosphere to tell us what to do either! As much as I admire what they have done, it does NOT mean that they will be suited for the new task that faces the blogsphere, a blogosphere that is now no longer just a ragtag band of basement dwelling rebels opposing the established order, but a blogsphere that can and must establish a new identity as leaders in creating a new world, not just opposing the old one.

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  1. Or should we just abandon it to Pr0n?

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    Or both????

  2. specifically overturning Prop 8 in California (how can you legally take away a right granted by the courts?), and approaching this in a more strategic way, possibly by focusing on states like New York, Hawaii and others that would likely pass this without as much consternation as others…

    …in other words, if we increase the number of states legally guaranteeing gay marriage that may help move the cause forward more effectively than any push to address it on the national level.

    Also, there are certain national issues – like health care – that lend themselves to community advocacy because they are populist ones.

    I think if we targeted these areas it would really help create change.

    • robodd on November 6, 2008 at 8:17 pm
    • Edger on November 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Although the Iraq leadership is doing it’s best to force withdrawal and it is somewhat possible that may happen, Obama has always qualified any statement he makes hinting at getting out of Iraq with the word “responsibly”, leaving it open to interpretation,  but also leaving virtually no daylight between his statements and Bush’s statements about it while he continued voting to fund the occupation.

    I’ll believe it when i see it, in other words. Until I do, it’s just the words and empty promises of a politician.

    No honeymoon on this one issue.

  3. … and this probably fits in with “accountability” — some sort of transparency.

    Whether there are trials or pardons or everything in between, the information alone in this most secretive government in history is the property of the people, not of the politicians.

    I think it won’t be easy even in an Obama administration, to get this information.  Groups like the ACLU and Judicial Watch have done a good job with FOIA requests but that should be stepped up even more.

  4. of the vast and burgeoning blogging community is its very diversity and iconoclastic energy.  This really stems from a lack of overall leadership and gains its strengths from currrents and pockets of heat and cold that generates immediate activity over any subject under the sun.

    I am certainly not looking for any ‘leader’ other than the one we have just gone through an extraordinary excercise to elect. I shall take my ‘activism’ clues from that quarter and save enough energy for my own personal ‘toward a better union’ projects and leap on whatever train come roaring dwon the tracks that requires some extra shovelling.

    The reason cats are cats is because you can’t herd them, neither do they willingly follow.

  5. I’ve been trying to think of ways to get massive numbers into one voice.  Maybe we need to create and organize

    …The Guild of Progressive Bloggers,  or

    …Progressive Bloggers League,  or

    …Herd of Progressive Blogger Cats,  or…

      some such coalition.  

    So that our agreed upon ideas can be conveyed en masse cat herds.

    I agree with the general ideas you have suggested buhdy, NL’s also.  Grannyhelen’s ideas should be incorporated into the larger issue of restoring the constitution (that all men, women, races, and gender preferences are created equal).

    I’m trying to write up a synopsis of Bernie Sanders’ ideas.  His web site is great.  For an advanced peak, go to Bernie Sanders site and check out his home page and his newsletter, “Bernie’s Buzz.”    

  6. chaos, a million distinct voices, 10 million fingers on keyboards, and leading not unilaterally but instead democratically and with enormous diversity.  Put another way, we don’t need an agenda or a leader, we just need to keep on keeping on. Thinking. Writing. Inspiring.  Reacting. Expressing.

    The reason imo we are so important is that teh toobz are fundamentally democratic.  Anybody can put up a blog, write an essay, comment.  You don’t even have to own a computer.  You don’t have to pay any admission.  So what gets said and what gets heard is a matter of free choice.  We don’t want to limit or direct that, we want to open it wider and wider, we want as the Chairman said, a million ideas to contend.

    A quick example.  I’m delighted that Bolivia a couple of days ago threw out the DEA.  It was reported, but in the heat of the election, few people saw it or cared.  Fine.  That’s an important story, that and the airplane crash in Mexico, which may have been a bombing carried out by a drug Cartel.  These are both important war on drugs stories.  I care about this, and I will write about it, but I don’t think people in general care about it as much as I do.  Not yet.  So I write about it.  I promote the idea.  I argue for it. I try to bring some rational, leftist perspective to it. May goal: I want  what I’m saying about the stupidity of the WoDtm is discussed.

    We’re going to have stories like that only if there’s no real focus, only if we let the chaos remain, only if we keep on doing what we’re exactly what we’re doing.  Or as you put it so well, Yell louder!

  7. this point focused on over view. What can we do to help? We have been effective beyond my wildest dreams. How did we move from being considered a bunch of pajama clad nutters to an effective force in American politics and we are. We may feel ignored but this historic election was aided and abetted by the net, we counteracted the vast wasteland of the conventional media. We spawn the likes of KO, Rachael Maddow and Colbert.

    We did the same way Obama did and Howard Dean before him. Community Organizing. for me that’s the ticket. Before the net entered my life for years I kept thinking how come the Democrats can’t form effective coalitions? We did and the bloggers were major in this. Like Paul Revere we spread the word.

    Shahyar, my husband is way more social then I, and his blue print to turn the tide is/was always why can’t we as progressives enter the communities we live in both electronically and physically and place our members on ballots locally? The myth of were all right center has been shattered we can (that feels good) as members of the new coalition use our strength to help move the party we came in with to real democratic. In OR an entrenched so called moderate has been unseated. Let’s take this as our mission to unseat the Democrats who still represent the status quo. Primary, baby, primary.      

     

  8. …what you would like to be true.

    The notion that Obama’s victory is in some way a victory for the “netroots” is one I consider wholly false, as much as the notion that not merely Obama but progressivism has a broad mandate due to the results of the election.  In both cases, the people making the claim are the people who most want it to be true, and in both cases, there is little evidence to suggest it is the case.

    Indeed, what is particularly striking about the Obama victory is that he did so while largely ignoring the blogs and bloggers.  Unlike Edwards and Clinton, he never bothered hiring prominent bloggers to work on his campaign.  He never bothered having significant outreach with us, nor did he ever kowtow to our opinions.  He ran his campaign exactly how he wanted to, and waited for us to come to him – which we did eventually, but entirely on his terms.  And no independent organization of bloggers or anyone else ever had any influence on the volunteer and GOTV efforts; Obama’s campaign controlled all of that themselves.

    Which leads me to two conclusions: first, our influence is significantly smaller than it currently appears to us, and second, that the only thing the political blogs have proven they are able to do with real significance in electoral politics is raise money.  We have gained nothing on policy.  Not one thing.  We haven’t seen a single concession from Obama on a single matter of policy – most significantly on health care, where the majority of the online community supports mandates and single payer, both of which Obama has not supported.  Outside of the election of Obama, the single electoral issue which received the most online attention was California’s Prop 8, where we failed to defeat a ban on gay marriage.  Other major netroots candidates such as Darcy Burner and Al Franken, have underperformed more establishment Democratic challengers and both may lose.

    Ultimately, there are three directions political blogs can go, which can be implemented in unison or separately: we can be an alternative media source (which we do fairly well), we can be an alternative lobbying organization (which we do a mediocre job at) and we can be an alternative to the paid think tank structure which has influence in DC (which we do terribly at).  We need to spend less time congratulating ourselves on victories which aren’t ours as a medium and concern ourselves with understanding why we have so little influence and considering how we can have more.

  9. deja vu, budhy?  Didn’t you have such a thread about a month ago concerning ideas for the way forward? 😉

    I see no harm in creating a list, as concerns Docudhama, as to what we, here, consider the most crucial areas of immediate concern, while leaving room and flexibility for changes, which may be necessitated by new events, or new discoveries, in terms of the current criminals in office.

    I, like pfiore8 and many here, agree on the accountability issue and there are already some actions going on in relation to that, as you will note here.

    I just finished reading two articles, which, I think, we should give immediate attention to concerning the bailout.  The first is written by Naomi Klein, “Can Obama Stop the Bush Administration’s Final Economic Heist?” – Nov. 6, 2008:

    . . . .The question now is whether Obama will have the courage to take the ideas that won him this election and turn them into policy. Or, alternately, whether he will use the financial crisis to rationalize a move to what pundits call “the middle” (if there is one thing this election has proved, it is that the real middle is far to the left of its previously advertised address). Predictably, Obama is already coming under enormous pressure to break his election promises, particularly those relating to raising taxes on the wealthy and imposing real environmental regulations on polluters. All day on the business networks, we hear that, in light of the economic crisis, corporations need lower taxes, and fewer regulations — in other words, more of the same.

    The new president’s only hope of resisting this campaign being waged by the elites is if the remarkable grassroots movement that carried him to victory can somehow stay energized, networked, mobilized — and most of all, critical. Now that the election has been won, this movement’s new missions should be clear: loudly holding Obama to his campaign promises, and letting the Democrats know that there will be consequences for betrayal.

    The first order of business — and one that cannot wait until inauguration — must be halting the robbery-in-progress known as the “economic bailout.” I have spent the past month examining the loopholes and conflicts of interest embedded in the U.S. Treasury Department’s plans. The results of that research can be found in a just published feature article in Rolling Stone, The Bailout Profiteers, as well as my most recent Nation column, Bush’s Final Pillage. . . . . (emphasis mine)

    and next, this article by Jim Hightower, “The Five Most Wanted Rip-off Artists from Wall Street and Washington”Our economy didn’t melt down, it was taken down the unbridled greed of economic elites, enabled by their political courtesans in Washington.

    . . . .With typical antigovernment extremism, Paulson’s plan makes the public passive investors in the banks we’re saving, leaving all the say-so to the banks’ current executives and directors. Our money is being given away by the Bush ideologues with no strings attached–not even a requirement that it go into new loans so credit can quickly flow into the American economy again! Excuse me? Unclogging that credit flow was Paulson’s rationale for giving $125 billion to nine giant banks (Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of New York, and State Street). He now says he “hopes” the banks will use the money to make loans, but he refuses to require them to do so.

    Meanwhile, bankers themselves say they are more likely simply to sit on the money for awhile or–get this–use it to buy up smaller competitors! Yes, that means that our tax dollars will go toward eliminating competition in America’s banking market. Not only will this leave consumers and businesses with fewer choices, but this will also increase the size of poorly managed megabanks that have already been designated by the Bush-Paulson regime as “too big to fail.” . . . .

    As we’ve learned in the past few weeks, there is no “free” market. Indeed, it’s quite pricey when it trips and falls over the inevitable outcroppings of greed. That’s why strong, vigilant, and aggressive public regulation is essential. Don’t be fooled by claims that just throwing money at the hucksters will fix the problem. The only way to make America’s financial system trustworthy is to return to the sound fundamentals of public oversight–starting with the bailout itself.

    After reading the articles, I do think this is an area of immediate paramount concern — so what’s next?

  10. Avaaz.org has “Congratulations Obama” message up to send to Obama read and sign, if you agree.  Here’s a small part of an e-mail sent me:

    PPPS – And here’s a list of 10 of Obama’s campaign promises that concern the world – you can find his full platform here Issues:

    -Reduce the US’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and play a strong positive role in negotiating a binding global treaty to replace the expiring Kyoto Protocol

    -Withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within 16 months and keep no permanent bases in the country

    -Establish a clear goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons across the globe

    -Close the Guantanamo Bay detention center

    -Double US aid to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 and accelerate the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculoses and Malaria

    -Open diplomatic talks with countries like Iran and Syria, to pursue peaceful resolution of tensions

    _De-politicize military intelligence to avoid ever repeating the kind of manipulation that led the US into Iraq

    -Launch a major diplomatic effort to stop the killings in Darfur

    -Only negotiate new trade agreements that contain labor and environmental protections

    _Invest $150 billion over ten years to support renewable energy and get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the road by 2015

    I think this is a very worthwhile effort.  It’s International and should have some impact!

    • banger on November 7, 2008 at 12:51 am

    We got here because none of the political leaders have the guts to tell the people what is right and just.

    The point is people don’t agree on what is right and just. The majority does not want Gay Marriage. That doesn’t mean people abandon the struggle–just that, in my view, there are more critical struggles to engage in and that one will end up alienating potential allies in other struggles. Having said that, if it is an issue that particularly animates you–then you should continue. I certainly don’t think it would be wrong. The ideal is to work with people to encourage their humanity–then as they become human and sensitive they are able to see that gay couples are human too and benefit society. All they have to do is open their eyes–but that takes time and a gradual approach. For example, if more people can see that war is a horror and rather than a glorious enterprise they might settle down enough to see the beauty of all human beings.

  11. to this thread. Its something I’ve been thinking about alot today, but was too busy at work until now.

    I think our diversity is our strength. I imagine that I agree with most people on this blog about the issues. Where we disagree is in the prioritizing.

    There are some things I am more passionate about – and its when we put all of that together with each other that we have a whole. And as buhdy said above, we can each take leadership where our passion drives us.

    Another thought I’ve had today and will likely be writing more about when I have time is that from everything I’ve seen, Obama is an organizer at heart. He will be looking for large coalitions that can either influence him or “have his back” when he tries to take on the power interests. How we can form or be part of coalitions that address the issues we care the most about is the task at hand.

  12. … but if you want to leave a message for the new Administration, Obama’s website is now up – “change.gov.”  There’s a link there to leave comments.

    • kj on November 7, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Put up an Open Call for Ideas blog at some chosen interval.  Daily, Bi-weekly, whatever suits.  

    Allows the ideas to be drilled down into their own blogs, written by whoever wants to write them, whoever feels that call, that passion.

    See if organizing begins.

    Remember:

    Blogs are gardens.  Lots of soil, lot of ‘fertilizer.’  😉  They, and the ideas generated within, need seeds broadcast and then a bit later, some weeding.  See what grows.

    Let the factions form organically. They will either grow or wither and die.  

    • kj on November 7, 2008 at 2:44 am

    365 Tao

    by Deng Ming-Dao

    #17

    Cooperation with others.

    Perception, experience, tenacity.

    Know when to lead and when to follow.

       When we become involved with a fellowship, we must gradually become an integral, organic part of that organization. The relationship will be one of mutual influence : We must carefully influence the collective, and in turn, we will be shaped by the company we keep.

       Influencing others requires perception. We need to know when to act, when to be passive, when others are receptive to us, and when they will not listen. This takes experience, of course, and it is necessary to take part in a great many relationships — from our families to community associations — to cultivate the proper sensitivity. In time, there will be moments of both frustration and success, but in either case, a certain tenacity is crucial. If we are thwarted in our initiatives, then we must persevere by either maintaining our position or changing it if a better one prevails. If we are successful, we must not rely on charisma alone, but we must also work to fully realize what the group has resolved to do.

       True leadership is a combination of initiative and humility. The best leader remains obscure, leading but drawing no personal attention. As long as the collective has direction, the leader is satisfied. Credit is not to be taken, it will be awarded when the people realize that it was the subtle influence of the leader that brought them success.

  13. Didn’t you read my diary about it? 🙂

  14. Accountability Now, the Greenwald/Hamsher/BreakTheMatrix project.

    Not that there shouldn’t be more!

  15. the Downing Street Minutes surfacing, nobody awakes from the nightmare, the Neo-Conmen keep conning and eventually Endgame is played by the fascist usurpers. Destruction of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is/was too close for my comfort.

    Don’t forget these fuckers are still out there trying to undermine the Constitution, so what’s stopping them from trying again and again.

    So,

    #1: Fix and realign the system of checks and balances within the constitution so that this will never occur again.

    #2: Renewable energy economy to power and grow the new economy. Why is the renewable energy economy so important? Because it touches on so many other issues: the economy (duh), global warming, the environment, education (researchers, designers, engineers), and health care (a cleaner environment should reduce disease rates).

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