Monday, July 23, 2007

democracy -- it has a foothold

A tenuous one.

Blog posts have been slow, mostly because I've been spending my alloted blog time doing a lot of reading. There are a whole lot of people out there with very good things to say, and they are saying them, daily, all the time. Mostly I only read the ones that tend to agree with me on ideas that are important to me -- but even doing so, there is a real mix of viewpoints -- plenty of contrarians commenting and links to articles containing opposing views. It is almost impossible not to be informed about all sides of a given issue, assuming you are a fair and objective-minded reader.

So there are a lot of people that read and comment on these blogs and news (or newsy) sites. Most of the comments on the sites I visit are highly astute, and beyond well-informed. Comments that are factually incorrect or contain a mistake in logic are almost instantly corrected (in the case of facts, with links for verification).

And so given the audience, their level of knowledge, their ability to represent their views and in a cogent and compelling way, and their obviously being among the most participatory section of the electorate, wouldn't these sites be a good place for one of our elected leaders to solicit from these people feedback on their policies and the conduct of our government?

Yes, it is true that maybe our elected leaders (more likely their staffs) may sometimes visit to see how a particular idea is received there. But due to the wonderment that is the internet (a series of tubes), this can be done much more directly.

Witness this, for example. Apparently for the second time, Senator Russ Feingold (D - Wisconsin) has done a blog post at DailyKos. He was touting the fact that he is going to introduce two censure bills in the Senate against Bush and The Cheney.

The commenters? A bit unkind, to say the least. The commenters, see, are very angry at the The Regime. And they do not believe that some half-ass censure from an impotent Congress is going to do one damn bit of good. And these people aren't much on holding back on account of politeness. Civility? Yes, for the most part. But certainly it is not there considered a breach of civility to harshly question and rail against an idea you disagree with.

There was very little support of these censure measures, at all. Those that didn't harshly criticize mostly said "well at least they're doing something." The only support Feingold got was for actually taking the trouble to put his idea out there and solicit comments from people who (typically) share his larger views on the substantive issues. He took it in the teeth -- and surely expected to based on what I was able to glean about his previous foray into blog posting there -- but he did something essentially democratic, and, given the current climate of our leaders and their politically safety conscious habit of only appearing for soundbytes on major television networks, with few if any questions asked by actual reporters, to do something like this takes a fair amount of guts.

Certainly, you won't see any Regime officials doing this. In fact, with The Regime, you find the utmost contempt for any input (of any kind whatsoever) from "outsiders", a term which in their view has always encompassed the public (the electorate, source of all government power), and now encompasses the courts, the congress, and the media.


TXsharon said...

Just FYI, Russ Feingold has posted on Daily Kos MANY times and people there are largely supportive of him but there have been other times when he "took it in the teeth" so the fact that he continues the dialogue with us increases my respect for him. You can see his previous posts here.

Other elected officials who post there include: John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi (man does she ever catch hell), John Conyers, Jimmy Carter, John Edwards, Al Gore, and many others.

HHL said...

thanks for the knowledge! I saw a Kerry post on there a while back, but I haven't been visiting for long, so I had no idea it was a (relatively) common practice among dem heavyweights. congrats to them for interacting with the electorate -- i can't think of any more "democratic"