S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What Bloggers can do to help Congress - updated

Blog Power - Some issues in the blogosphere are rather innocuous, such as the flap over whether letters of support for Scooter Libby should be made public: The New York Times story headlined, "Libby’s Supporters Who Wrote to Judge Learn That Letters Take on New Life on the Web," revealed a tempest in a teapot. The judge, wisely, kept his own counsel and released the letters. Legislators are more easily moved.

Congress responds to what they hear. Our U.S. legislators listen from many directions, three in particular. In addition to voting with their consciences, they respond to pressure. It is not clear why the Senate was unable to come up with immigration legislation. U.S. News' analysis is that there was too much to dislike about the bill. Quoting from the piece,
How the public feels about that is difficult to discern. Surveys have generally shown respondents in both parties supporting a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and even suggest that the loaded word "amnesty" isn't a deal breaker. But recent surveys also show the difficulty in crafting a popular bill. Though favoring the compromise's major provisions, respondents were opposed to the bill itself.
More political, perhaps - Our Senators and Representatives feel pressure from the mainstream media, from the blogosphere - the "Netroots," and from the direct phone, letter and e-mail communications of their constituents. Slate Magazine's Justin Peters speculates about the immigration bill in a slightly different vein in "Kill Bill," from which I quote,
Unable to agree on the number of proposed amendments to debate, Senate leaders threw up their hands and tabled the bill after two futile attempts to vote for cloture. This renders the bill effectively dead, although Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., held open the possibility of returning to it later this year. Don't hold your breath: The LAT astutely notes that the Democrats won't want to give Bush a legislative accomplishment he can point to in the 2008 election cycle.

Mainstream media - It is an understatement to say that bloggers stay very upset with the mainstream media, to whom we look for most of our original news. The media has not done what the public has a right to expect in terms of investigative journalism and helping to responsibly help shape opinion, particularly regarding the build-up to the invasion of Iraq. Now there is a big mess to clean up.
Bloggers can help Democrats in Congress to unite regarding the war in Iraq. Following are a number of links to use for contacting your Senators and Representative. In addition to letting them know your position, do not forget to also give them an occasional pat on the back. First: Write your legislator via U.S. News & World Report reports on popular user-generated sites in "Democracy on the Web."

Netroots view - "Big Tent Democrat," posting at TalkLeft asks, "What is the Netroots?" by quoting his earlier post at DailyKos:
(credits Ruy Texeira & John Halpin). . . the key component that has been the glue of the Netroots - the very real rejection of the Establishment Media and Democratic Party by the Netroots.
The five postulates for the politics of definition -- the guideposts, questions, and "lines in the sand," so to speak, that need to be drawn out in order to craft better politics -- are as follows:
(1) The starting point for all political organizing and campaigns should be: "What are my core beliefs and principles and how do I best explain them to supporters and skeptics alike?"
(2) Every political battle, both proactive and defensive, should represent a basic statement of progressive character and present a clear, concise contrast with conservatives. Do not blur lines.
(3) All issue campaigns and agenda items are not equal. Progressives should focus their efforts on issues that can simultaneously strengthen the base and appeal to centrist voters. Progressives must be willing to make sacrifices and tradeoffs -- in terms of coalition building and budgetary concerns -- to achieve their most important agenda items.
(4) Escalate battles that expose the extremism of the right or splinter their coalition. [Follow-up: When confronted with the right's social, cultural, or national security agenda, the absolute worst response is to fail to combat these caricatures or to explain one's position directly to voters, regardless of the popularity of the position.]
(5) Every political action should highlight three essential progressive attributes: a clear stand on the side of those who lack power, wealth or influence; a deep commitment to the common good; and a strong belief in fairness and opportunity for all.
If we can follow these guidelines in 2008 I am confident we can win another smashing victory in 2008. To me, that is the "ideology" of the Netroots.

Bloggers truly make a difference. Members of congress get a great deal of information, support and criticism, and courage to take unpopular positions from bloggers. Bloggers can even be mobilized to make direct contact with legislators.
Here are the main direct government portals:

Save the - on "net neutrality."

My previous posts on citizen involvement:
Finding information on the Web
Virtual Community
About Factfinders
Living Green
About Impeachment
On domestic spying
On religion and the state

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