Secondly, let me thank the speakers, electeds and candidates who came to the conference: LG Bill Bolling, AG Bob McDonnell, Senator Creigh Deeds, House Democratic Caucus Chair Delegate Brian Moran, Delegate Kris Amundson, Delegate Bob Brink, Delegate John Cosgrove, candidate John Miller (Senate 1st), candidate Craig Hudgins (Senate 8th), DPVA Communications director Danae Jones, RPV Communications director Shaun Kenney, The Virginian-Pilot’s Don Luzzatto, the Daily Press’ Hugh Lessig, BNN editor Dave Mastio, attorney Kevin Grierson, and from the office of the Secretary of Defense, New Media Operations chief Jack Holt. In case you haven’t seen them, the Daily Press writeup is here and the Virginian-Pilot is here.
Finally, kudos to the participants themselves. I’m not even going to try to list them all. It was good to meet some for the first time, see others again, and chat with folks who are not even bloggers but who are interested in this new horizontal media. I have to admit that I missed parts of the various scheduled workshops and presentations because I was outside talking to folks, which was my primary reason for going to the conference in the first place 😉 The interaction was, shall we say, interesting.
Some of the rancor leading up to the conference carried over and made for some uncomfortable moments. On the whole, though, the gathered group did a decent job of being on “good behavior.” Planning for next year’s conference is already underway. Dates and locations were tossed around along with the appointing of a committee to move forward on getting Blogs United set up as a nonprofit organization.
I have to say, though, that I think this year’s conference will be the last one that will be bipartisan. And that is unfortunate.
Senator Deeds’ remarks last night speak to part of the reason, the whole “us-versus-them, left-versus-right mentality where voices of moderation from the center are drowned out by voices of extremism from the margins.” Add the egos of the bloggers into the mix and you have a combustible combination. The truth is, though, that the blogs are not the only culprits here. The electeds have to share in the blame. They are willing participants in this charade, pandering to bloggers who demonstrate the very behavior that they disdain, never holding them accountable — in essence, rewarding their “bad boy” behavior.
The electeds are complicit in their failure to “elevate those voices that speak with mutual respect and sincerity and marginalize those that only seek to poison the debate.” Yes, there are exceptions. On the whole, though, the electeds speak privately about these things but never publicly. But if they want to raise the level of discourse, they have to do so by modeling the very behavior they wish us to demonstrate.
Until and unless each of us recognizes our own role in adding to the pile of manure, the aroma emanating from the blogosphere will continue to be one that smells. And the public will continue to be turned off by politics and politicians. I don’t think that’s what anyone wants.
The internet presents us with a unique opportunity, a new way for candidates and voters to communicate and interact. It’s a chance to build a new community, one where we can discuss and debate the issues of the day, not only between those with whom we agree, but also those with whom we disagree. Because at the end of the day, we all are Americans, we all are Virginians, and we all want what’s best for us.