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The Politics of Change

Advocacy, analysis or activism — Can politics actually be changed by regular political blogging, analysis, advocacy or activism? Is there a difference? Which is more accurate to describe the acts of Americans who work for change? The ACLU used the term “advocate” to describe people who work on behalf of civil liberties causes at their national convention this week. Advocacy is pleading the cause of another. I use the label “activism” for these Wednesday posts. Activism emphasizes direct vigorous action in support of or opposition to a controversial issue. Today’s post analyzes elements of the various methods used by those writers whom I consistently read.

Advocacy style — One kind of advocacy is recommending writers the rest of us might also like. For instance my friend, “betmo” urged me to read this piece on “The Politics of Change,” written by one of her favorites at the free slave (6/3/08). She said, “i read him whenever he posts- he is so very passionate and makes his points so clearly and it’s well written.” “Betmo” does a lot of different forms of advocacy, I think. Her great post of last week “far removed,” takes the blogosphere to task in an incisive and passionate way for its inadequacies. To quote,

i continue to be amazed and disgusted at the left’s capacity to embrace the tactics of the right. i never advocate rolling over and taking crap that other people dish out. if you can’t stand the heat, stay the fuck out of the kitchen. bloggers need a thick skin to withstand the sheer volume of ignorance and outright stupidity that’s out there. but you don’t have to resort to right wing tactics to succeed. to do so is classless, tasteless and just plain lazy.

. . . and yet, we, the people,- we, the democratic party,- bought right in. yep. we let clinton and her ilk manipulate us. we let obama and his ‘changeineers’ woo us with rhetoric. we have ignored the secret prisons and the multistate roundups and the continued erosion of our civil liberties because we bought into the distractions. and we committed the same infractions on our blogs. we discriminated and we censored and we bullied.

and we should be ashamed. deeply ashamed. because we were supposed to be better than this. we are supposed to be the party for the ‘little people’- and we are no better than the people who would rule us. and we won’t see that. and we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Activist style — My other blog friends, “Kitchen Window Woman, ” at The Dishpan Chronicles, and “Spadoman” at Round Circle, do not post on a daily basis. In fact they sometimes find it difficult to write anything at all. But over time both of them reported regular activism efforts that include short or very long marches, protests, yard signs, etc. Both of them are admirable peace activists of the first order. They put themselves far out there to try to make things change. I have never mustered the courage to be an activist like them. My admiration for their commitment is boundless.

Analytical style — One of my old favorites, The Washington Note, Steve Clemons’ blog, had this post about the 2008 election titled, “Obama’s Happy Campaign.” It is neither advocacy nor activism. Clemons work is more of an even-handed analysis because he has not endorsed either candidate. It can be a good recipe for some writers; I sometimes prefer analysis to laying out a position. At times analysis is easier for me than taking a stance. Clemons said this,

. . . for now, I’m trying to keep an open mind and need to begin thinking about how to offer commentary about both McCain and Obama that remains fresh over the next half year and which will remain distinctive and honest about both of them. When the ecosystem of commentary both in mainstream media and the blogosphere is essentially dominated by people who have already made their minds up as to who should win the White House — it is difficult to enthusiastically charge into the turbulent currents each day challenging the perspectives and comments of the candidates and their acolytes.

I’m going to keep at it — but for regular readers, do not expect predictable commentary from me on either Obama or McCain.

Analysis with a definite point of view — Premier blogger, Steve Benen writes The Carpetbagger Report — several great posts a day usually. He calls it commentary and analysis, but his stances are always progressive dynamite writing. Today’s is an example that nails the real deal in a tight and persuasive manner:”GOP game-plan: When in doubt, go after the candidate’s spouse.” To quote:

In 1992, Republican attack dogs went after Bill Clinton by denigrating Hillary Clinton as often as humanly possible. In 2004, the GOP took great pleasure in taking on Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Now, the attack machine has decided to take rhetorical aim at Michelle Obama.

Advocacy, analysis or activism — What style a blogger uses to bring about change is not terribly important. We know that the course of politics can actually be changed by any of the three blogging styles, analysis, advocacy or activism. Which is more accurate to describe the acts of Americans who work for change? For some people a good logical and rational analysis is most persuasive. Adversaries are sometimes moved only by activism. And for others, passionate advocacy that reaches the heart works best. The content might be very similar; it is the form that is so very different. A very skillful change agent will use the best method based on the cause, combined with the one that most suits his or her personal style.

View my current slide show about the Bush years — “Millennium” — at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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2 thoughts on “The Politics of Change

  1. “Can politics actually be changed by regular political blogging, analysis, advocacy or activism?”
    It used to be possible. But after stolen elections, lies to start wars, loss of our civil liberties, it will take nothing less than guns in the streets and kill until we get answers!

  2. Future, I deeply believe that PEACEFUL change is still possible. I agree that elections, at least the 2000 one were stole, and that civil liberties have been shredded. However the ACLU membership has grown hugely, as evidenced by their recent national convention.
    We are too close to the forest to see the trees, but change is happening already. Polls show that voters are ready for change. Obama’s message of change did not fall on deaf ears. McCain’s message of keep everything the same of go backwards will fall on deaf ears. I’d bet money on it, my friend. Peace.

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