A great man once said, "Politics is inherently stupid." That great man was me.

Monday, July 31, 2006

On Radwanski

Adam Radwanksi had an article on political blogging in today's National Post titled "Divided They Blog." If you haven't read it yourself, you've probably heard about it from some of my colleagues at the Blogging Tories (Here and Here).

Radwanksi makes three points that I feel are worthy of discussion. The first is that the blogosphere is "lousy for political debate." Radwanski argues that the blogosphere has an 'amplification effect' (my words) whereby bloggers and blog readers expose themselves only to blogs that echo their own opinions. Gradually, he argues, even moderates become stalwart political hardliners.

I certainly think this is possible. There's no doubt Blogging Tories has opened new avenues of conservative thought for many of its members (myself included). On the other hand, this argument makes the assumption that we're all automatons, incapable of accepting or rejecting ideas on their own merits. I certainly don't accept everything I read on BT member blogs as gospel, and I know that other BT bloggers have also disagreed with me from time to time as well. It's for that reason that I don't agree with comments made by the conservative blogger mentioned by Radwanski in his article, even though I respect her right to post whatever she wants on her blog (heck, I doubt you can find a political blogger who hasn't crossed the line at one time or another). In any event, wise bloggers will think for themselves. We aren't just a collective of bobble heads nodding agreement at everything we see out here.

The second point put forth by Radwanski was that no debate actually takes place on political blogs, and that the political blogosphere is simply "two sides endlessly rallying the troops." I think Radwanski misses the point of blogging. I didn't start Uncommon Truths to debate Liberals over ideology and policy - I started it as a place to broadcast my thoughts, views and feelings about the state of Canadian politics - and yes, to rant every now and then. Nonetheless, heated debates can take place in the comments thread between liberals and conservatives alike. Likewise, the Blogging Tories was not started as an attempt to debate liberals on politics. Rather, it was created in an attempt to congregate the opinions of like-minded individuals - not as a "support group" as Radwanski claims, but as a gathering place to discuss ideals, news, and opinions. And if you've ever been to Rempelia Prime, to laugh your ass off.

Radwanski's final point was that groups like the Blogging Tories are leading us down a path of 'American-style' ugly political debate (and aren't you tired of that phrase?). I think Adam has a point here - certainly the blogosphere has given extremist elements on the political fringe a soapbox with which to broadcast to like-minded radicals. But this is hardly indicative of the entire blogosphere, and as anyone who visits Yahoo! message boards can attest, we're a cut above the rest when it comes to civility.

As it stands, I tend to believe that 'extremist comments' on BT member sites are few and far between. Maybe it's because conservatives, by nature, are prone to logic and reason. Maybe that's just my conservative viewpoint getting in the way. I do believe that sites like Daily Kos are far worse in their polemics and invective than most conservative blogs - so perhaps Radwanski's article should have featured a dual example of extremisim from Daily Kos and the conservative site he mentioned as well, for the sake of balance.

In any event, Radwanski certainly draws different conclusions than I do on the state of the political blogosphere. Far from "a nation of Right Girls and sycophants," (Radwanski's words, not mine - no offense is meant) it is a meeting place where ideas and opinions are aired for the benefit of all. Like any other media format it has its pros and cons. I just think Radwanski would have done well to focus less on the latter and more on the former.
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