This past weekend, I thought quite a bit about how to blog the Barack Obama presidency. There were several ideas -- a news blog with snarky commentary about everything he does; a satire blog dedicated to "Our Messiah," etc. But to tell you the truth, right now I don't feel very adversarial. I know too many good people who voted for the guy. And the last thing that I want to see is a repeat of the last 8 years of vulgar, unhinged hatred like that which has been given to President Bush. I don't want to suffer from Obama Derangement Syndrome, comparing him to Hitler or Stalin on a daily basis, accusing him of murder and bloodlust, threatening impeachment at the drop of a hat, and denouncing half of the country as vile, terminally stupid cretins. I have a life to live, and that level of hating takes way too much effort.
On the other hand, our nation is desperately in deed of guardians, people who are willing to look at Obama's ideas with a critical eye and offer opinions about them, rather than blindly accepting everything and filling the airwaves and cyberspace with propaganda. Sadly, the mainstream news media in this country is no longer capable of fulfilling that role.
The mainstream media's bold uncuriosity about Obama's past (save for the carefully-crafted narratives supplied by Obama's handlers and Obama himself -- and remember how awful it was for George W. Bush to be "uncurious"?) was both frustrating and at times comical. They could dig up John McCain's torturer in Vietnam, and they had no problem attempting to solicit dirt on Cindy McCain from teenage friends of the McCain children via Facebook messages, and they could rush a gaggle of investigative reporters onto the next flight to Anchorage to dredge up everyone and everything ever associated with Sarah Heath Palin.
But they could never be bothered to assemble major investigative pieces that included interviews with the "Marxist professors" Obama claims he hung out with in college, or the occupants of the neighborhoods that he represented (with the exception of one newspaper, The Boston Globe), or interviews with high school or college buddies with whom he admitted attending "socialist conferences," or his high school or college drug dealers; or extensive front-page profiles of Chicago cronies like Anthony Rezko or his long-time mentor and adviser William Ayres. They begrudgingly reported on Obama's impoverished extended family only after being scooped by the foreign press and (again) one newspaper, The Boston Globe. Most major pieces on Obama were published 9 months ago or longer -- much longer -- and the mainstream media had no desire to keep the information in those articles above the page fold in the weeks leading up to the election.
Truth is, with few exceptions, we've completely lost the skeptical inquirers who once populated the ranks of the American mainstream news media. They no longer see a need to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," perhaps because they believe that with Barack Obama in charge, the Federal Government will do that job for them. They've admitted their biases. They are in the tank for the Obama Administration, and they are committed to the success of his administration, objectivity be damned.
So what can I do as a blogger? What can you do as an average citizen?
For starters, stay positive. Stay hopeful. No one, except for a few fringe kooks, really wants to see our nation suffer. We simply have different ideas about what a prosperous future for America should look like. Conservatives want a community of free individuals. Liberals want a collective managed by a benevolent government. It's okay to oppose ideas that you believe are harmful. It's okay to oppose ideas that chip away at the core values of America. Columnist Cliff May notes:
Give Obama his due: It is an exceptional politician who can win the support of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Kenneth Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Reagan; of William Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist and Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, founder of modern conservatism; of Rashid Khalidi, an Israel-hater, and Edgar Bronfman, former head of the World Jewish Congress. Here's a not-very-bold prediction: A year from now, someone is going to be sorely disappointed. (emphasis added)
We can clearly define the concepts of voluntary community and individual freedom. There will be passionate arguments about birthrights, about heritage, about privilege, about what we are owed by our government and about how those debts are to be paid. We can explain that in America, the state does not -- and should not -- define the individual. We can argue that the individual should never be forced to turn over whatever he has to the state, even for seemingly benevolent purposes. We can champion individual charity, which is conspicuously absent among socialist European nations that heavily tax and regulate their citizens. I could go on, but you get the idea.
It's also okay to be funny - apparently Comedy Central isn't interested in the presidency any more, so the market for White House humor is now wide-open. Maybe they spent all their creative energy on Li'l Bush and That's My Bush. Or maybe they're still struggling to come up with a good double entendre for "Obama." At any rate, nothing should stop us from having some good clean fun with the Presidency and Congress.
What ever we do, the ultimate goal should be dialog. During this campaign, the press deliberately chose to end dialog and replace it with directive, based on their narrative of how a better America should be achieved. Many conservatives recognized this, and out of frustration they hit back with extremely partisan commentary that further eroded the ability to reasonably discuss the election and the ideas of the candidates.
For my part, I am planning to launch a series of dialogs on my blog. I'll suggest a topic (something like "how do we define centrist?") and then invite bloggers and commenters to contribute their thoughts. Hopefully such dialogs will help to build a loyal readership base (something I have yet to really successfully accomplish) and at the same time, contribute something positive to the national conversations about current problems and how government should (or should not) involve itself in their solutions.
It seems to me that now, blogs really are "alternative media," and if you are looking for informative discussion instead of instructional propaganda, you will be looking for those discussions online. Join me, won't you?