Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Blogging partisans and partisan blogs, take two

This morning, Jason Cherniak wrote a post indirectly admonishing some of the Liberal bloggers who have been critical of the party. "Is your blog helping the cause or hurting it?" he asks. In response, a couple of the Liberal bloggers who felt addressed by that admonishment fought back. Steve V from Far and Wide sees what Jason's doing as yielding all other considerations to appearances, and Scott Tribe from Scott's DiaTribes is crying self-censorship.

Personally, I think they're all kind of talking past each other.

For me, it all comes down to the difference between blogging partisans and partisan blogs. Jason Cherniak clearly has a partisan blog--he's said himself that the reason he blogs in the first place is for "partisan service." When you read his blog, you know that what you're going to get is the party line. Some of the Liberals who feel criticized, on the other hand, are bloggers who just happen to be partisan Liberals. They're blogging for any number of reasons: because they enjoy writing, because they want to put their opinions out there and toss them around with other political geeks, &etc.--but not for partisan service.

When Jason asks whether other Liberals' blogs are "helping the cause or hurting it," then, he's making the false assumption that all bloggers have the same "cause" he has. This clearly isn't the case. On the other hand, when Liberal bloggers who don't have "partisan blogs" decry Jason's actions as "elitist" and criticize him for not being willing to voice his own opinion, they're missing the point on what he is trying to do with his blog. Personally, I don't much care for "partisan blogs" (there's only one on my entire blogroll), but there's nothing wrong with having partisan service as the goal of one's blogging, right? Bloggers like Jason Cherniak aren't failing to properly inform others of their individual personal opinions, just as
bloggers like Far and Wide aren't failing to adhere to the rules of "Communications 101." The two groups are actually trying to do entirely different things.

From where I sit, the real issue is that we all have to read at least a few different posts by any given blogger to figure out which side of the "blogging partisan vs. partisan blog" line they stand on. Both kinds of blogs are in the same communities and aggregators, after all. And because of that, we all tend to forget that not everybody is in this for the same reasons we are.

10 comments:

Kim Feraday said...

I don't think I agree with where you've gone with this argument. To me, the power of social software is that it brings people together into communities and allows them to exchange ideas -- it foments debate it doesn't repress it. If, as Cherniak, is stating Liberal bloggers should avoid doing this by simply spouting the party line then it is missing the point of the medium. Similarly those who as you state are partisan bloggers censor or prevent comment on their positions are also missing the point of the medium. They're also missing an opportunity to engage their constituentsa and move their cause forward. After all if you can't convince people of the soundness of your strategy and vision then you haven't got much.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Kim,

The thing is, there isn't only one single "point of the medium," here. You're using your blog to exchange ideas and opinions. Jason's using his blog essentially as an extension of the Liberal Party message. They're entirely different goals. We can all have opinions on which of the two types of blogs we personally prefer to read (I certainly do!), but the fact is, both kinds of blogs do get read. And it's hard for those of us who prefer nuanced arguments viewed from a distance to imagine that blindly partisan rhetoric could ever change minds, but if it didn't, the political parties themselves wouldn't be using it.

Jason does seem to be saying that all Liberal bloggers should just spout the party line and refrain from being critical when it might damage the party. He's wrong--he's not taking into account the fact that people like you might have different goals in blogging. But you shouldn't make the same mistake he's making, in reverse, and assume that his goals have to be the same as yours.

Steve V said...

IP

In this argument, I've never suggested that Jason should adhere to my definition of blogging, the two versions you articulate. Jason can do whatever he wants, but the only relevant point here, others shouldn't be admonished as "bad" Liberals for speaking their minds.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Steve,

I actually think Jason didn't admonish you as a bad Liberal--he admonished you as a bad political communicator. (He's wrong, of course.)

Jason Cherniak said...

A very fair comment. I want to note, though, that I don't "tow the party line". I merely try to avoid directly criticizing when, isntead, I can talk about a topic I agree with or put my disagreement in an unquotable manner.

In a more general way, I think many bloggers focus too much on expressing themselves and not enough on acheiving the results they desire.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Jason,

You're missing my point. For a lot of bloggers, "expressing themselves" is the result they desire. They simply don't have the same goals you have. And I really do think that's got to be okay with you.

Steve V said...

"I think many bloggers focus too much on expressing themselves and not enough on acheiving the results they desire."

And, how in the fuck would you now that??? Seriously, where do you get off with your ignorant blanket statements, concerning people you've never met, no nothing about, what they've done. Just because people aren't consumed with personal ambition, doesn't mean they don't contribute. How rich, that you are reduced to slagging bloggers to make your point, the people that do pay attention, the people that obviously care about the issues, the people that are engaged.

Erik said...

I want to note, though, that I don't "tow the party line". I merely try to avoid directly criticizing [...]

How progressive, Jason!

dirk buchholz said...

Steve said..."How rich, that you are reduced to slagging bloggers to make your point, the people that do pay attention, the people that obviously care about the issues, the people that are engaged"....

here,here....
Partisan blogs and bloggers are all so boring.
Like really whats the point,we get that day in and day out (in most part}from the msm etc.
Its this reality that causes many people to blog in the first place.

dirk buchholz said...

I have to respond after re-reading this gem from Cherniak,it's just to funny
..."I want to note, though, that I don't "tow the party line". I merely try to avoid directly criticizing".....


Now I think I am beginning to
understand why so many lawyers become politicians.