Saturday, February 26, 2005

Calling Howard Dean

Many of you have commented on the threads I've started concerning the nature of Left Blogistan and what its "use-value" is and can develop to in the next years. I chose this quotation by Prairie Weather to start a thread today, because it crystalizes some forward-thinking we all need to participate in. Prairie Weather also Blogged about the Howard Dean ascendency to the DNC Chair on Thursday, and that might be a resource we can all use, given that part of the problem we are worrying is how Mr. Dean apprehends the challenges of working with Left Blogistan. PW worked from an article in the Nation that covered the Dean ascendency, so don't miss that either. The problem with that article, though, is that it treated fitting Dean into the "politics-as-usual" Party hierarchy, and our task is much different.

How does Howard Dean ally himself with Left Blogistan to fully employ "politics-as-unusual" into the fray that will surely be shaped and framed, for most Americans, as the same old, same old?

This is a great conversation which is not so much about Dean as it is about us!

Can't tell you how discouraged I got, as a Deanie, trying to participate in the Dean blogs and feeling that everyone was scared to death of (and frequently very tetchy about)any opinions which exhibited diversity, which varied from a kind of party line.

Brad DeLong, in his way, is urging bloggers to vet their links now and then, make sure we aren't locked into group-think (though his context is different). I agree, but I also believe that, just as Dean is going to have to deal with diversity among his followers. That's something he's actually very good at, which is why so many "rednecks" in my area fell in love with him.

The most difficult thing for him will be to detach himself from the establishment -- to keep his cherry --or learn to use them rather than get used by them. If he doesn't, he's a goner (and so are we).

Maybe bloggers should issue invites to Dean, blog by blog, to be an occasional guest-blogger. Just as long as he (or his sidekicks) don't use the privilege to spout the D.C.'s favorite political cliches. No more of that, puh-lease!

It seems that PW's comment is about diversity and how to nurture it in the confines of a rigid DNC machine. And I'd agree with PW that we in Left Blogistan, unlike those on the Wing Ding side, fear falling into lockstep. Still, PW is right to note that there are exclusionary tendencies in any group, as detected in the Dean Blog.

I like also PW's reference to updating blogrolls, for these may be the backbone of any disciplining Left Blogistan has got. Even then, those included on any one blogroll are picked using criteria relatively unique to that Blog. Some are heavy on the news blogs like Kos, Atrios, etc. Others concentrate on special interest blogs, while still others may feature regional blogs, as we do here on ASZ. PW's referencing of Brad DeLong's call for vetting links is interesting in this context. I've noticed some of that out there, but was that merely in response to the Koufax Awards letting folks know about Blogs such as ours?

I'm most interested at this point in a couple things, one of which PW addresses. First, though, I am very cognizant of the need to continue the conversation concerning what Blogs are, how does their organizational and social structure work, what is the extent of cooperation and competition, and how is the formation of ideas enhanced or limited in Left Blogistan.

I am just as intrigued about getting this conversation, and then the strategic conversations, going with the Dean and DNC camps. Let us not kid ourselves: the Dean camp is being lauded over how they worked with Blogs and innovative communications, as referenced in the Nation article (my bolding for emphasis):

Dean's plan to spend at least $11 million annually to beef up state parties will be his most expensive early initiative. But he has a lot of big ideas. "The tools that were pioneered in my [presidential] campaign--like blogs and Meetups and streaming video--are just a start," he says. "We must use all of the power and potential of technology as part of an aggressive outreach to meet and include voters, to work with the state parties, and to influence media coverage."

One of the most intriguing measures of the difference between Dean and his DNC predecessors is the excitement his election has generated among people with big ideas about strategy and policy. Internet innovators like Zach Exley and Zephyr Teachout have already made smart proposals for how to push the technological envelope [see Katrina vanden Heuvel's February 13 "Editor's Cut" weblog at]. But where Dean could cause the greatest stir is in championing bold new approaches that will again make the Democrats a party of ideas.

Yes, Dean is already talking about some of the issues we've talked about here and over at But, hell, I'm not even sure of how to get hold of the Dean camp so that they actually will read my email, much less respond. Any suggestions?

As to strategy and idea building in concert with the DNC, I think small-group regional meetings seem good, and the structure of Liberally Drinking might work to support such a move. I would want it similarly casual and non-hierarchical, surely. And then maybe reported on by all bloggers in attendance.

I volunteer. Any other takers?