If one paid attention only to the most sensational postings and most acerbic bloggers, it would be easy to stereotype blogs as unleashing, from the pits of Mordor, an army of frothing, torch-wielding hobgoblins who will propel America toward a Balkan tragedy. But many blogs are political educators of the best kind: teaching a new generation of people concerned about and involved in democracy and activated to serve their country and their community.
One such example is Watchblog, which describes itself as “a multiple-editor weblog broken up into three major political affiliations, each with its own blog: the Democrats, the Republicans and the Third Party (covering everything outside the two major parties.” The creators of the blog explain, “Let’s face it, politics is confusing. Sometimes it’s difficult to know who to believe, who to listen to and who to support. We’re here to help. Posting on a regular basis are editors representing each major party. Stay informed.”
Each of the two major parties and the “other” is given its own section within the blog. Watchblog is a wonderful teaching tool that I use because of its compare-and-contrast format. Want to know what right blogs and left blogs and other blogs said on Cindy Sheehan or Hurricane Katrina or Dick Durbin’s Guantanamo remarks? Here are some of them compiled for us to assess. In addition, we can also judge the stances of the different political parties on topics and issues of the day from taxes to the war in Iraq, although some of these can be as vague and obtuse as any regular political discourse.
In the future, there will be more blogs that serve as political educators and more big media coverage of that function.
As stated in an earlier post, it is not clear whether blog readers use blog content to seek out “feedback that fits” or to compare goods in the marketplace of ideas. My opinion is that blogging helps democracy best when we use blogs not to confirm our beliefs, but to explore them.
Originally posted January 11, 2006 at PolicyByBlog