How To Win An Argument With Another Progressive

Are you too busy to respond to every comment on your blog? Do you have a difficult time coming up with quick retorts during debates in local activist meetings? Is your pet position being ignored by your progressive friends and colleagues? Are there still progressives who have the gall to not follow every last bit of your advice on politics? If you face these or any similar problems, then you need my guide on how to win an argument with a fellow progressive. It is quick. It is easy. Also, if my experience in receiving literally dozens of criticisms of my own writing on a daily basis is any indicator, it would appear that literally anyone can follow this guide and still feel absolutely self-righteous.

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Heading Left, Blog Talk Radio and SetADeadline.com

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... These sound like some great projects for the Netroots to get behind

I wanted to give a quick update on a couple of projects I've been fortunate enough to have been invited to contribute to: James Boyce's new site HeadingLeft.com and the accompanying BlogTalkRadio show and Senator John Kerry's SetADeadline.com.

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Self-Promotion And Looking To the Future

There are two blogging awards currently with open nominations: The Koufax Awards over at Wampum, and the Golden Dot awards at the 2007 Politics Online conference. I know there are other blogger awards, but these are the only two--one given by political professionals and one given by progressive bloggers--that matter to me. I bring them up now because I honestly believe that MyDD deserves a serious consideration for 2006 "Blog of the Year" in both awards. I am asking you to give us that consideration by nominating us either for a Koufax or for a Golden Dot.

High profile blogging is already enough of an ego-boosting activity that asking others to nominate MyDD for awards makes even someone as self-absorbed as I am feel awkward. Still, look back on what we accomplished during 2006:
  1. Top notch beat coverage of major events. We provided live coverage of the Samuel Alito hearings, from within actual Senate offices, first rate, beat coverage of the LA-02 special election, and excellent on the ground beat coverage of the Connecticut Senate primary and general election. We also provided live coverage of several other smaller events, including on the ground reports as dozens of campaigns, strikes, conventions, and Democratic Party meetings.
  2. Innovative electoral activism. When it became crunch time during the elections, we stepped up with GoogleBomb 2006 and Use It Or Lose It 2006.
  3. Building the Party. We were active, first hand participants in the silent revolution to get grassroots and netroots activists elected to Democratic party office. To help the fifty-state strategy, we kept constant tabs on any and all House districts where no Democrat had yet filed to run. Further, the MyDD / Dailykos / Swing State Project Act Blue page also gave more money to Democratic candidates in 2006 than all but twelve PACs in the entire country.
  4. Professional grade election forecasting. Our election forecasts in the House, Senate and Governors were among the very best you could find anywhere, and we gave them away for free.
  5. Groundbreaking Polling. We conducted three original polls: the MyDD polling Project, the Netroots Survey (see part one and part two), and CA-50 special election follow-up polling (see Iraq-specific questions, and general questions).
  6. Campaign strategy and accountability. Our polling, which always broke new ground in terms of the content it covered, eventually led to the 2006 MyDD Candidate Memo, which was definitely a first for any blog. In turn, the candidate memo led to the Adwatch campaign, where we clipped Democratic ads from candidate websites and criticized them using the criteria from the candidate memo.
  7. Movement and Machine Theory. MyDD has long been a leader when it comes to writing and research on the blogosphere, the netroots, the progressive movement, and other meta discussions. On that front, 2006 was no exception, but this year we began to compliment it with detailed investigations of both urban and corporate Democratic machines, as well as a historical perspective on progressivism since the 1960's.
  8. Crashing the Gate. MyDD's founder, Jerome Armstrong, saw his first, highly influential book come out, which he co-wrote with Markos of Dailykos.
  9. Interview Series. We held numerous conversations with Democratic candidates for Senate, House and Governorships all around the country.
  10. Protecting the Internet. Though many were involved in the fight, within the progressive blogosphere, we took the lead in preserving our medium through our net neutrality coverage and activism.
Not bad, if you ask me. However, the progressive blogosphere is becoming such a highly developed institution that several other blogs arguably equaled or surpassed what we accomplished in 2006. Considering our focus on campaigns and political infrastructure, we are limited in the topics we cover, the size of our community, the type of activism we engage in, the amount of investigative reporting we do, and the amount of high profile leaders we can attract as writers. Still, I believe we covered our area of focus about as well as we could have, especially given our resources. As such, I would like it if was MyDD involved in the conversation for best blog. I would certainly appreciate it if you helped put us in that conversation by nominating us either for a Koufax or for a Golden Dot.

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Now, with all of that self-promotion out of the way, I'd like to know from our readers what you think we can do better in 2007, and new projects you would like to see us undertake. What do you like about us? What don't you like? What can we do to make things better? Don't be bashful--lay it on us.

When Blogospheres Collide

Remember this pic?

This is a picture of the linking patterns among highly trafficked progressive and conservative blogs during the final months of the 2004 election. It was the first, and to date best, academic study on linking patterns within the political blogosphere. It also led a commenter at Political Animal to make a famous insight about the bifurcated nature of the left-wing blogosphere at the time:If you remove Atrios, the left blogosphere is neatly divided into two mutually-linking spheres: the moderate/intellectual(academicky) types - Drum, DeLong, Yglesias, TPM, Tapped, Crocoked Timber - and the left activist types - Kos, MyDD, Digby, Left Coaster, Pandagon (only this one surprised me a bit). Even at the modest 5-link level, none of these blogs link to anyone on other side. They'd be completely unlinked communities if not for Atrios who has links to TPM and Tapped, but also Kos and Digby. I suppose no surprise since Atrios is an academic leftist activist type. Now, the blogosphere has changed a lot since then, and I would love to see a new paper on more up to date linking patterns within the left-wing blogosphere. I am sure that we would find at least two new "hubs" on the scene, Crooks and Liars and The Huffington Post. In fact, Crooks and Liars, the Huffington Post, and Fire Dog Lake might form the core of a new, third left-wing blogosphere that is distinct because it is based largely in Los Angeles, heavily focused on multi-media, and features several prominent women leaders / founders. In terms of intellectual vs. activist divide, I guess it comes down much more on the activist side. I would also expect ample evidence of several other, though perhaps smaller, hubs around Raw Story, Glenn Greenwald / Digby, Americablog and Think Progress. Of course, this is just conjecture, and I imagine that rather than forming discrete constructs, these many different hubs would interact with one another in fascinating ways.

Anyway, the reason I bring up this old study is because of the extensive discussion Matt's TPM Café guest post on the netroots as a new left wing movement has caused over at the heart of the "academic" blogosphere, TPM Café. Looking over the responses to Matt's piece from Josh Marshall, Max Sawicky, Nathan Newman, Ed Kilgore, Jo Ann-Mort, Todd Gitlin, Mark Schmidt, and M. J. Rosenberg, I could hardly imagine a more perfect demonstration of the original activist vs. intellectual blogospheres thesis. This vast discussion spawned by Matt's original thesis has decidedly been a case of two different blogospheres colliding.

Look, for example, at Josh Marshall's response from earlier today:A movement is a vague and often ephemeral thing. What do we even mean when we use the word? I think the acid test, the real question is this: what are the institutions that this new political movement has spawned? Dailykos.com seems to clearly fit as one answer. So do the various sites and mechanisms that pool small contributions for various candidates. What else? What is particularly striking about Marshall's query is that he does not include the TPM universe of blogs in his list of netroots institutions. Personally, as someone who would probably be considered one of the "leaders" of the "activist" progressive blogosphere, I think the entire progressive, political blog universe, including the TPM centric, "intellectual" blogosphere, can accurately be considered a single, sprawling, new media institution that is the ultimate, successful spawn by the new movement Matt describes (although MoveOn.org would also vie for that title). Taken together, the varied subsets of the progressive, political blogosphere, which I briefly described above, have a combined audience of at least four million people a day, and eight million people a week. Further, it is quite a desirable audience: extremely political engaged, relatively wealthy, intensely devoted to news consumption and, yes, highly educated (no matter what Max Sawicky may imply otherwise--I've taught college courses on several of the thinkers he argues we don't but should read, and I know my education is pretty average among my readership). This institution has accomplished all of this while covering a wide variety of political topics with a highly varying degree of activism, depth, tone, and ideological focus. While I find that to be a remarkable institutional achievement surpassing any other institution founded by the left in decades, Marshall himself does not consider his blogosphere to be part of that institution. That statement is perhaps more indicative of the cultural gap between the varied progressive blogosphere than any academic study on the blogosphere could ever identify.

To be fair, Matt's post has also been received by some of the writers at TPM Café with agreement. Still, it is quite telling that when that one of the leading figures within the "activist,""movementarian" blogosphere, Matt Stoller, enters the leading realm for discussion within the "intellectual,""academic" blogosphere, TPM Café, and argues that there is a new progressive movement taking place online, a large debate erupts within the "intellectual,""academic" blogosphere over whether or not that movement exists, and whether or not they themselves are a part of that movement. Perhaps it means that the old differences described two years ago have become even greater, damaging the idea that the progressive, political blogosphere can be considered a single institution. Perhaps that there is even a debate over whether there is a progressive netroots movement within one of the major subsets of the progressive, political blogosphere demonstrates there is not, in fact, any such self-aware movement. Then again, maybe it is just a long-needed step where two needlessly separate blogospheres that could learn a lot from each other are finally exchanging ideas. We, "the activists," probably could use more regular intellectual depth and historical context in our writing, while I think the "intellectuals" could use a lot more focus on the sort of action and meta self-awareness that you regularly see at places like MyDD and Dailykos. It can only be a good thing that we are starting to talk with each other more. Considering his history in the ultimate netroots "connector," it was also probably inevitable that Stoller would be the person to start that discussion. I say, well done to Matt, and let's keep this going.

Update: Marshall has posted an interesting response. I'll have further commentary on this tomorrow.

January 2007 Straw Poll

It is a new year, and so I am going to start these up again. Vote in the MyDD straw poll.

I think the changing field of candidates should significantly reduce ballot stuffing, considering our past difficulties with Bayh supporters. Still, there has been recorded stuffing on behalf of Edwards and Clark in the past, but hopefully conducting this late at night will help reduce that problem. Also, here is my standard plea to potential poll stuffers: It isn't that I think stuffing is wrong. On a moral level, there is nothing wrong with it at all. It is just that I would love to see what regular readers of MyDD actually think about the 2008 Democratic primaries. Please, I urge you, do not taint this poll by sending your blog readers, you email list, your MySpace group, your Facebook group, or your Yahoo group to alter the results. Think about this for a moment--wouldn't it be better to know where your candidate stands among MyDD readers, than it would to overtly skew the results of a poll to make it seem as though MyDD readers are behind your candidate when, in fact, they are not? Don't you want to know where you candidate actually stands among MyDD readers? If I were behind one candidate, I would want to know where my candidate stood. Skewing the results tells you nothing except that you are able to skew the results.

Anyway, you can't skew the results without my knowing. I have access to every vote made in polls like this, including a history of votes in chronological order, and as such I know when stuffing is taking place. Whether that stuffing is for Clark, Edwards, Feingold, Richardson, Bayh, Gore or whoever (I have seen stuffing on behalf of every candidate I named), is it really more useful to you to have me broadcast on the front page of MyDD that you stuffed the poll than it is to know where your candidate stands among the potential contenders? Please tell me it is not. Rise above Freeperdom. Don't stuff the poll.

Now, with that said, please vote in the January MyDD straw poll. I have included the ten candidates making the most serious moves toward running. If you don't like the choices, or think I should have included someone else, then just select "Not Sure" in the poll.

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