Archive - Jul 19, 2007
Over on MyLeftNutmeg, there is a post about an upcoming gathering of Young Democrats in Stamford. The attendees include several notable political figures from the area and my good friend Sal observed that it looked like a lot of insiders there.
This spawned a lengthy discussion about how easy it is to become an insider in blogs and in Democratic politics in Connecticut. It was noted that Sal is the State Coordinator for a Presidential campaign and is in many ways very much of an insider himself.
To me, it felt that some of the people who had crashed the gate and become insiders were defensive about their role on the inside and dismissive of those who remained outsiders. There was talk about the insider/outsider dichotomy as being divisive. This is unfortunate. There is nothing wrong with being an insider or an outsider and ideally we should embrace the insider and outsider aspects that we all have.
I am very much an insider. I am helping with the technology for Jim Himes’ campaign. I was Ned Lamont’s technology coordinator. I was John DeStefano’s blogmaster. I was campaign manager for my wife’s campaign when she was one of the first Dean Dozen candidates in the country. I was a very active volunteer with the Dean campaign and have been ask to write chapters for various books about the Dean campaign. I was credentialed to cover the Libby Trial in Washington this year, the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, and numerous other events. Yeah, I’m very much the insider these days. I’m proud of what I’ve done and hope to continue doing it.
At the same time, I feel a tad uncomfortable. You see, I’ve always been an outsider, the outcast, pariah. I wasn’t one of the popular kids in high school or college. I never intended, nor particularly wanted to be an insider. It happened by accident. At the same time, even today there are special gatherings of bloggers that I am not invited to. There are ‘true insiders’ that I feel uncomfortable around and would say that I’m not a ‘real insider’. They dismiss whatever I say as self-aggrandizing.
I guess it is a good thing. I think it helps me keep my edge, my perspective. You see, I believe the most significant political moments have occurred when the outsiders and the insiders meet. What matters is the moment of crashing the gate and the mixing of ideas and energy that happens in the moment. Political groups often talk about their insider/outside strategies, and I think we need recognize the importance of these strategies.
Yes, it is very easy to become an insider here in Connecticut and within blogging. We need to keep it that way. We need to be aware of barriers we put up, intentionally or unintentionally which keep out people who feel like outsiders.
This is some of the reason I like to focus on non-political blogs. I like to visit, get into discussions and get ideas from people who are much further outside the political process then some of the self-professed outsiders in political blogs.
The Internet has broken down many barriers to communication, but many more barriers exist within each one of us and our interactions with those around us. Let’s take our gate crashing seriously, not to get inside, but to make it easier for everyone to get inside.
People have asked why I link to conservative blogs here. On a mailing list I’m on there is a big discussion about whether or not they should link to conservative blogs. I find these comments in profound contrast to a discussion I was part of Monday night about the book Extreme Democracy. In that discussion, there was talk about including more people in a deliberative process. In other discussions, people have talked about how compromise, which was once a key part of the legislative process, is now considered bad. Politics, itself, is also considered bad and an extended debate is derogatorily called ‘political theatre’.
President Johnson often used the phrase, “Come, let us reason together”. It was a call to deliberation and compromise. If he were alive today, it would be a call to cross-linking. It is a call that we desperately need to heed. Some of you will raise the objection about not compromising with those who are unwilling to yield on their side. That is true. That would not be compromise, it would be appeasement or capitulation. Instead, we should seek those on all sides of the political spectrum that are willing to engage in meaningful dialog.
The phrase that President Johnson used came from the first chapter of Isaiah where the prophet speaks out against a nation that has rebelled against God. The second half of the verse goes on to say, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Reasoning together, meaningful dialog and, yes, cross-linking to conservatives are part of the reconciliation process that we need here in America. It is part of a process that we need to model to the people of Iraq if we want to see Iraq avoid further violence.
So, I will link to conservatives. I will even link to people that say things that I consider inappropriate and hateful if by doing so, I can help bring about a dialog to heal our country and our world. More importantly, I will go out into the marketplace. I will link to mommy bloggers, pet bloggers, sports bloggers, even SEO bloggers to the extent that I can get new people to join into the dialog about how to address the issues we face. I wish more of my progressive political bloggers would join me in this.
Come, let us reason together.