The Moose urges perspective on the blogosphere.
The author has been blogging on and off for four years with a two year hiatus. It has been a good experience. Where else can someone write unedited in third person as an antlered mammal? This is a tremendous medium to express your thoughts and satisfy your obsessions. The Moose's fixation is the creation of a "third force' in politics that transcends the petty partisan divide. That is why he is enamored with a wide range of leaders who follow in the footsteps of his favorite posthumous pol - T.R.
Most of the blogosphere is predictably polarized - just as is our politics. One is rarely surprised. Generally speaking, the sites on the hard left and right are the ones that receive the most traffic and are the most influential. Good for them.
Fortunately, there is a growing group of bloggers from the vital center - or "immoderate centrists" is the label the Moose prefers. The Moose gives credit to Joe Gandelman over at the Moderate Voice and the folks at Centerfield for promoting centrist voices in the blogosphere.
The blogosphere did not create the polarization - it just often contributes to it. Despite its manifold merits, the blogosphere is beset by a proliferation of crudity, hyperbole and hyper-partisanship. And all of that is often found on the most popular sites on the left and the right. The Moose is often amused over being denounced by some of the larger lefty sites. Actually, it is welcomed and is very good for business.
Moreover, it is a delusion to believe that the blogosphere is representative of anything but the hundreds of thousands of scribblers that join in this marvelous medium and the few millions of good folks who read it. The Moose is always struck by how few people actually read a blog or even are familiar with their existence - even those who are politically active. Of course, it is also true that a diminishing number of people by the day read mainstream newspapers and journals - not necessarily a healthy phenomena for a functionary democracy.
So, alas, it is generally a good thing that the blogosphere provides an opportunity for more and more Americans who want to get engaged and sound off. However, we should keep it in perspective. The blogosphere is generally an ideological hothouse that does not reflect the everyday thoughts of Americans. In that way, it is much like talk radio.
Blogs appear far more influential in the Democratic than the Republican party. With the waning influence of the labor movement - the blogs and the trial lawyers are picking up the slack as influential institutions. However, politicians should not make more of the blogs than what they are - highly ideological and only representative of the very left faction of the base.
The allure of the blogs is inviting because, like Hollywood, it provides a source of campaign dollars. Keep in mind, however, that the Dean presidential campaign that generated the most blog interest and enthusiasm ultimately went nowhere. The internet is fine as a tool, but it is no substitute for organizing and mobilizing the mass of voters. Democrats should spend more time reaching out to the mega-churches than the blogosphere.
Bloggers may not be necessary - but they can be entertaining and sometimes even enlightening! --