A Group Blog Explodes Posted by: Dale Franks
on Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The issue of illegal immigration has, apparently, destroyed group blogging at Polipundit. And in an amusingly nasty public fashion.
So far, I’ve allowed the guest bloggers here to write pretty much what they pleased about all issues, including illegal immigration.
But on the illegal immigration issue, I now find myself having to contend with at least three out of four guest bloggers who will reflexively try to poke holes in any argument I make.
Suppose three out of four columnists at the Old York Times were pro-Republican. You can bet publisher “Pinch” Sulzberger would do something about that right quick.
Suppose a Bush administration official came out openly against amnesty. The Bushies would show him the door.
Similarly, the writers at PoliPundit.com need to respect the editorial position of PoliPundit.com on the most important issue to this blog, as the “publisher” sees it - illegal immigration.
Actually, it's sad to see. But I have to say that, if you want to run a group blog, then it's pretty pointless to demand that all the bloggers hew to a specific ideological line. It's probably pretty obvious that, while Jon, McQ, and I are generally in agreement on most things, we have our points of contention. Indeed, there's been some pretty vicious sniping at each other in the past on certain subjects.
But, if you're gonna run a group blog, then it seems to me that you have to allow for these disagreements at the margin. It is unreasonable to expect any group of three or more people to maintain perfect ideological lockstep. Moreover, it adds, I think, to the spice of a group blog. Overall, I think it's a good thing that members of a group blog can find and explore areas of disagreement.
For instance, Jon and I disagree on Net Neutrality. And that gives our readers a chance to read both sides and decide whose arguments they find most compelling: Mine, which come from a long-term professional immersion in the world of computer technology, or Jon, who lacks the technical background to speak knowledgably about the issue. And, while I can't think of an example off the top of my head, I'm sure that McQ and I disagree about some issue on which McQ is regretfully uninformed.
But, no matter how ill-informed my co-bloggers are about the issues with which they disagree with me, I think we all accept that such disagreements add as much to the blog as our agreements do.
The point is that these disagreements are part and parcel of running a group blog. If you want a blog where everyone parrots your own opinions, then you should probably stick with a solo blog. If you are going to run a group blog, then you need to get over yourself, and expect that your fellow bloggers will savage you ruthlessly when they disagree.
Aah... But a possible problem arises when one of the group is more prolific. Case in point - Obsidian Wings used to be a very good group blog - it’s still around, but as a shadow of its former bi-partisan self.
On the other side is John Cole’s Balloon Juice - a blog that has been not just ambivalent of partisan distain for positions previously held, but actively hostile thereto.
And not that there is anything wrong with either... it just irrevocably changes its core readership.
Mine, which come from a long-term professional immersion in the world of computer technology, or Jon, who lacks the technical background to speak knowledgably about the issue.
Similarly, I’m glad our readers get the chance to witness, firsthand, the "captured" effect, wherein years of technological employment has caused you to "go native" and adopt the self-serving position of those who like the status quo. Meanwhile, I am, of course, able to retain a dispassionate objectivity on the whole thing.
I have to wonder, did the section of Lefties who reflexively attack everything Bush did create a subclass of supposed Conservatives that reflexively defend everything Bush does?
Most of the time Democrats are dead wrong, which would put me on the opposing side. Hate to sound like I’m motivated by being a negative, but what in the past would seem like my alignment to Repubicans is really a rejection of what I considered negative policies of the Democrats. I also rejected ridiculous conspiracy theory like attacks as well.
Anyway, when you are defending against positions that are usually wrong you can seem like a blind Bush/Republican supporter. I have never had much love for Bush. I only voted for him in ’04 when a win for Kerry may have reinforced our image as a "Paper Tiger". Something which would have come back to haunt us for decades. And by the way, something Kerry could have made statements to avoid and made the whole Iraq War a non-’04 issue (& he probably would have won).
When you have a segment that is consistently just wrong, its easy to look like a blind loyalist for the other side.
We have a large portion of Democrats/Left of the internet world reflexively attacking Bush no matter what. I mean he’ll endorse a very pro-illegal immigration position and he’ll still get protested by illegal immigrants (of course organized by groups with other agendas).
But I’ve sensed a class of folks that are complete loyalists that emerged over the past 6 months give or take. I don’t know why. Perhaps its fear of the loss of Congress to Democrats in the next election. Perhaps its the natural reaction to AntiBush-bots.
The Republicans running the Whitehouse and Congress are disconnected from their traditional supporters. [Democrats like to define their ’base’ and then demonize them. I don’t subscribe to what Democrats consider as the Republicans’ base as their true base]. Regardless, this ’support the party no matter what’ contingent has the potential to turn was should be relatively peaceful pressure for the Republicans to change into a raging internal conflict. Considering they support the entrenched leadership, they have the high ground in this fight. Bascially the current Republican leadership will feel secure with its own little Praetorian Guard of defenders. They will not have that sinking feeling they should have had a long time ago. So they won’t change.
The true Bush-bots will prevent the Republicans from recognizing the need for change and this will hurt the Republicans in two ways. Short term their support will erode much more quickly at the polls. Long term, the Party could end up being defunct as more and more blind supporters concentrate and change that needs to happen becomes increasingly unlikely.
It’s probably pretty obvious that, while Jon, McQ, and I are generally in agreement on most things, we have our points of contention. Indeed, there’s been some pretty vicious sniping at each other in the past on certain subjects.
It is one thing that keeps me comming back. You don’t always agree with each other, and neither do any of us.
That, and a willingness to explore the issues, and even reach a consensus position.
Shouldn’t that be what politics is about.
For instance, I could live with a "civil union" law, and government defining marraige as between 1 man and 1 woman. I could also live with a state of affairs where the government didn’t define marraige and made civil unions the standard for defining special benefits or recognition in the law (such as inheritance.)
The problem at Polipundit is that it is not seen as a group blog by its founder. By referring to the others as "guest bloggers", and himself as the publisher, he makes this very clear. I would think that any group blog would need to set down guidelines of equal respect before writing. Surely was done here at QandO.
I’ve read Polipundit a long time. My intuition was always that Poli was kind of hybrid conservative/libertarian, and the rest varied from there out to simply partisan Republican (Jayson). What drove me to stop reading them daily, and drop back to once a week, was the constant GOP shilling from Jayson. (And the increasingly nasty rejoinders to anyone who didn’t agree with it. "Eh, Chomsky-Sullivan?")
But there was a niche for that on the rightside of the blogosphere, and for a while Polipundit seemed to fill it. Poli posted, it seemed to me, less than the others, and so the tone of the blog drifted more towards partisan GOP cheerleading, and drifted away from any more serious analysis.
But I give them points - they’ve kept their commenters from descending into the vats of monocultural vitriol that are common on leftist blogs, and even seen in places like Hit and Run.
I hope this action does a bit of rebalancing of the blog, because I like in particular to read Poli himself, and would like to see some vibrant discussion centered around his viewpoint. And some admission that Bush puts on his pants one leg at a time.