Insider/Outsider Politics in Connecticut

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.