It’s almost cliche by now to talk about how the Internet has empowered regular people by giving them the tools to reach a broader audience than was possible in ye olde tymes, particularly in the realm of politics. I am still surprised, however, that so few popular bloggers bother to express their political thoughts online.
I write about politics here fairly often, for two reasons.
The first reason is self-centered: Writing about politics is personally clarifying and cathartic. It allows me to take my jumbled thoughts and emotions regarding what I read in the news and form them into a concrete opinion, which in turn gives me a sense of clarity about my views, forcing me to attempt to answer the not-so-obvious questions. It also simply lets me rant and get things off my chest (something that can probably be said about almost every blog post ever written by anyone, political or not).
The second reason is outwardly-focused, and perhaps a little idealistic: I want to use my voice to actually effect change in the world, to have some impact on the thoughts and opinions of other people by inspiring them to say and do things knowing that there are other people who think the same way. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t imagine that my little blog posts will reach the desks of important politicians and inspire them to change their positions on issues I care about. Nor do I think that my scintillating political writing will inspire millions of people and sway elections. I’m not delusional.
But I do think I can have a more modest kind of impact among the hundreds of people who read graphpaper.com regularly: By publicly articulating my opinions, I hope to (a) give some degree of moral support and maybe even a little boost of courage to others who share that opinion, and (b) provide the rhetoric and logical arguments to help them clarify their ideas and even to share them with other citizens via discussion or even debate.
You see, I believe that one of the main reasons politics is so messed up in America today is because most of us are afraid to discuss politics in public. We’re afraid of talking about it with our friends, coworkers, and families. And because we don’t discuss it, we don’t think about it and we don’t take action. And because of this lack of debate, bad stuff happens.
For example, the reason why the Iraq War happened in the first place, and the reason why it was allowed to be managed so incompetantly for so long, was in some part because the taboo against talking about politics prevented people from saying out loud, or even articulating internally to themselves, what they suspected in their hearts: that Bush’s vision for success in Iraq was (at best) a shot-in-the-dark fantasy. Those who might have opposed the war in the first place looked out among their friends and across America for voices of opposition and heard almost nothing, primarily because not enough people were taking the simplest of all political actions, talking.
I think it’s every American’s duty to make their political opinions known to their friends and peers, and to engage in political discussions, whether in the form of civil debate or plain old righteous argument, with their closest associates. I think this responsibility extends particularly to those of us with above average voices, that is, to those of us who blog.