The Right Wing’s Attempt To Swiftboat Bloggers Fails
Ever since Senator Russ Feingold made his definitive decision not to run for President in ’08, I’ve been uninspired to join the debate over who should be the Democratic nominee. Hillary Clinton leaves me cold, Barack Obama, while new and exciting, so far seems a little too much like the same old Clinton era, free trade, big business Democrat for a lefty like me. Senator “MBNA” Biden is a non-starter, Bill Richardson is still holding on to the DLC way and Al Gore refuses to enter the race. That leaves John Edwards, who talks a good game AND has just backed it up with some action.
My best friend called me yesterday, all upset and angry about the whole brouhaha surrounding the possible firing of Amanda Marcotte (of Pandagon) and Melissa McEwan (of Shakespeare’s Sister) from the Edwards campaign. My friend is a loyal reader of Pandagon and was incensed at reports that Edwards had caved to right-wing pressure (over nothing) and fired these two bloggers. If Edwards will cave to the right-wing smear machine over nothing, why should we trust that he’d stand firm when it comes to the big issues?
But John Edwards didn’t cave! He did the right thing and kept the bloggers on, proving that he truly respects free speech, understands that swiftboat attacks cannot be allowed to work and that taking the short view is not enough to gather the support necessary to win an election. Those of us that write and read blogs are not interested in the short view, we are looking to make fundamental changes in the way voters interact with our government, elected officials, campaigns and with candidates. We want our voices heard and we want to steer the debate and possibly even affect policy, and yes, sometimes we’re quite passionate about the issues and we often use strong language to express our views. Does that make us unqualified to participate in campaigns?
Blogs provide unfiltered opinion from the bottom rather than polished opinion from the top, and that is exactly why blog readership is up, while newspaper readership is down. I couldn’t be happier that John Edwards recognizes and respects the value in people powered politics, but even though he made the right choice there is still something to learn here and John Edwards should ask himself why it became so important to right-wing bloggers that Marcotte and McEwan be fired.
Sure, it could be old-fashioned jealousy, but my bet is on fear. Bush “won” two elections because voters were attracted to his “authenticity” however manufactured it was. John Kerry lost (as would Hillary Clinton I fear) because of his lack of authenticity. The American people are tired of the slick politician, they want someone real, someone that will speak their mind, show some spine, and stick to their principles, even when they’re not popular. John Edwards must be authentic and he must act in a manner consistent with his views if he is to have a shot at the Presidency. Without the fundraising ability of Clinton or the star quality of Obama, Edwards will need a groundswell of support from ordinary people, and blogs are a great place to start in building that swell.
If John Edwards had wanted squeaky clean political consultants (as if there is such a thing), he would have hired some, but he didn't. He wanted to reach the people through blogging, and he hired two of the best to help get his message out. By standing with them when they were swiftboated by the Right, he's shown us that he is authentic and he's shown the Right-wingers that swiftboat attacks won't work on John Edwards. Nice job Senator.