All politics is local, all politics is RSS
As he says: "That's when it hits me: every Democratic candidate I'll vote for in November has an RSS feed." And then he links to them: Kerry, Obama, Gloria Andersen (with an LJ!! gloria_andersen - too bad she doesn't seem to spell/grammar check before submitting, but oh well, it's still cool), Rob Freedman, Mike Kisler, Hiram Wulf, and Christine Cegelis.
It's pretty cool. I think we're on the verge of a really seismic change in the way things work. It's true, weblogs (and their rss feeds) don't necessarily give us a more honest or accurate view of politicians (or companies, or whatever), but it does give us a more direct view, and a more intimate view. And of course, with all of the sites like Meetup.com, and the various bulletin boards and discussion groups and mailing lists, people suddenly have a way of getting, communicating, transmitting, sharing, discussing and debating information that they never did before. Multiple ways, at that. People have a way of getting exposed to information and viewpoints they never would have been able to find just a few years ago. That's exciting. The information revolution is starting to really arrive - it's been here in some ways, but it's rising to the next level.
I dunno, maybe I'm overly optimistic about what this means, but what can I say? I work at a community-building site, and for the first time I'm seeing these near-spontaneous outbreaks of real community - first at LJ, which I joined several years ago, and at the place I work, and on the various weblogs I read, and now in the actual real-life meetings and action being facilitated by these virtual goings-on. I think that's fantastic. I think it's necessary, and I'm exciting that it's finally happening.
Call me crazy, but I think this is the best thing to happen to politics (at least in the US) for a long time. Things had been getting pretty depressing and hopeless (from my point of view) until recently, and I finally find myself inspired to really do something - and to feel like my actions will actually have some sort of impact. Good stuff.
In other related news, I've been reading Kerry's weblog and it's exciting to see his campaign in action. I think the whole idea of riding the rails through the country is a great one, even if a bit hokey, and it's exciting to see the photos of the turnout he's been inspiring. Is there a certain amount of contrivance to it? Sure. Are things quite as great out there as they show on the official blog? Probably not so much. But I get to see a part of his campaign that doesn't really get any press or any visibility and that I'd never see if I just stuck to watching the news on the tv or from a newspaper. And I like the idea of him riding around and meeting people and getting a chance to connect with them. There's something a bit old-fashioned and comforting about the thought of him in a train rather than on a plane or whatever. It's a deliberate choice to commit himself to being out there and having some contact with people, which is a nice thing to see. Will it be better or worse than taking on a higher profile role right now? I dunno. But I approve.
I watched Meet the Press earlier, and they had Condi Rice and Denny Hastert on. Christ. Hastert struck me as a smug sonofabitch, but that's ok, since a lot of politicians come across that way and I've more or less come to expect it. But Rice? Damn. She struck me as simply pathetic up there, and I found myself wanting to strike her. It amazed me how blithely she could defend various policies and acts at times, and then by the same token how she got so nervous trying to discuss other issues that her voice cracked. She was well spoken, but not in a particularly useful way - she spewed the administration's lines in an eloquent but empty fashion.
I'm amazed again and again by the constant attitude from the Republicans that everything George W. Bush and his administration do can just be shrugged off nonchalantly, even while they support the most dirty attacks against Kerry and the Democrats. They attack his war record while our standing President never saw a day of combat - and was probably off drunk the entire time Kerry was actively defending our country. (You may not like him, but it's sort of hard to argue that someone who served in the Texas Air National Guard - or rather, was AWOL for much of his time in the Guard - could be more heroic than someone who won multiple awards in live combat in Vietnam. I'm not saying that makes GW a bad president or it'd make Kerry a good one, but Christ, people, find something else to attack. Is the problem that you can't think of any valid issues to attack Kerry on? Because claiming his service to the country wasn't good enough is just insulting. Hey, even McCain, a Republican and (amazingly) supporter of Bush, said it was "dishonest and dishonorable".) Our President is a former coke head and an alcoholic, who when put on the spot stared frightfully around like a deer caught in the headlights (hey, it's becoming a cliche, but that doesn't mean it's any less true), and they're attacking Kerry's time in Vietnam? It baffles the mind.
And I love the way they defend his 7 minute stupor in the classroom. It's what he should have done! they say, where "they" == the Republican spokespeople. Should have done? I dunno, call me crazy, but I thought leaders were supposed to lead. When the President of the US is told the country is under attack, don't give me any bullshit about how he shouldn't rush into action. I'm not asking him to. I'm asking him to find out what the HELL is going on and get the opinions of his most trusted aides, and then to make a rational, thought-out decision. You can't make an educated decision if you don't know the facts, and I'm 99% sure that the text of that childrens' story did not contain any revelatory data on the attacks on 9/11. Should he have jumped up and panicked everyone? No, but everyone has had to excuse themselves from events before, and no one would freak out. Hell, he could have said he was going to the bathroom or that he needed to talk to someone briefly or any of a hundred other excuses that would've gotten him out of the classroom quickly and without arousing any suspicions or concerns. I'd also like to point out that the average 3rd grader wouldn't really recognize the significance of the President having to excuse himself, they're just too young and inexperienced to grasp the implications. So, look, I'm not saying it's a make-or-break issue and that he should be fired because he sat around for 7 minutes with a scared look on his face. I'm saying it's just one example of how he's not the leader we need running our country.
Now, on the other side, you've got people like Rudy Guliani, who I never particularly liked until that day. I still don't like his stance on many issues, but he really earned my respect that day. He didn't hide out, he didn't panic, he reacted quickly but not in a knee-jerk way, he got out in public and reassured and inspired the people of the city, and he made an example of it, getting right down to "ground zero" and showing he wasn't afraid to be out there and that he was willing to expose himself to the same risks we were all facing at that moment. It really was inspiring, but he's becoming a bit of a one-note wonder about it, and I don't know if that one bright moment in his life is enough to undo the rest of his career.
Anyways. I'm thoroughly disgusted with the Republican administration at the moment. Go write a caption for my caption contest already, I'm going to bed.