An insight about blogging


By Joe Campbell
August 4th, 2008

I recently came to a new understanding about blogging.

About a week ago, I spoke with a friend of mine – who I consider to a somewhat successful businesswoman –1 who explained to me that she was not sure who she was going to vote for because her top concern was the economy and she was not convinced about either candidate’s competence on this matter.

This came up as, walking by her office, she told me, motioning to the newspaper in front of her, “Obama’s economic ideas are getting torn apart here.”  She was reading the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal – so, of course, they were beginning to warm to the man they had despised for these many years, as he sought to “coddle terrorists” because he was now the lapdog of the economic far right and the imperialist far right.

Of course, I mean John McCain, who tragically has sought to dispel his identity as a maverick who would stand up to the far right by groveling to the twin pillars of the elite wing of the Republican party.  (McCain has been unable, or unwilling, to effectively seek the backing of the less elite, social right wing of the Republican party.)  McCain, unable to give a position governing vision of his own – aside from a League of Democracies which would allow the United States to begin a new cold war with the tyrannies of the world including the two most powerful upcoming great powers, Russia and China – has sought to win the support of the three pillars of the Reagan-Bush coalition by selling visions of the social, economic, and foreign policy apocalypse that would occur should Barack Obama win the presidency.

That’s what McCain is now about – what his career has come to – demonizing Barack Obama.  And I don’t think this is just some unfortunate political step McCain feels he needs to take – like endorsing the Confederate flag while campaigning in South Carolina.  After he did that, McCain apologized afterwards and said he was wrong and pandering.  While McCain knows many of the shots he is taking now are cheap – his early and strident attacks on Obama demonstrate a kind of urgency.  McCain truly seems to have convinced himself that he deserves to be president, and Barack Obama is arrogant for challenging him.

My friend could see this – and probably agreed with most of this.  But what she cared about was economics.

I discussed some issues with her, acknowledging that economics was not my strong point.  But what I encountered while speaking with her was an agreement about the type of problem that we faced – a genuine structural problem within our capitalist system that had been worsening for some time – but a lack of understanding about the next steps.  I believed – and tried to portray – that McCain, as a doctrinairre Republican on economics since 2006, would attempt to benefit the richest, fewest individuals while enabling the worst excesses while Barack Obama would take moderate, pragmatic steps to correct some of the underlying issues.

After speaking with her, I wanted to write one complete piece that would effectively make this case.

And for days, I wrote little else as I struggled to put together these pieces.

And that is when I realized something about blogging.  The strength of a blog is not in any individual piece, but in working through the ideas in real time, responding to each day’s news events in some small way, putting a spin, adding a bit of understanding.  Even as I would do that, I would still attempt to write “the piece” that would make a difference, that would change minds.

Blogging is about writing dozens of pieces – which together form a kind of journal, allowing insights into thought processes that are not available in single articles which should be consistent and coherent.  Instead, blogs at their best provide a messy view of the thought process that would go behind an article, behind an idea.  As people respond and attack and support a blogger’s arguments, they evolve.  And that it what makes blogs a strong medium – even if it also demonstrates why they can never replace more definitive works.

Which is why I’ll now be adding another area to ruminate on – the economy.

  1. I only include the qualifier ‘somewhat’ because it is obvious that she has greater ambitions. []

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