Cross posted at Blackprof.com, where I am a guest poster for the next two weeks.
First, I want to thank Blackprof.com for inviting me to guest post for the next two weeks. I know many of the names associated with this blog, either personally or by reputation. I have also perused a number of the postings here, which are really top notch. I am honored to be a part of this blog.
Next, let me answer a question which many may have about my participation on this blog, my own blog (conyersblog.us) and many other progressive sites: why does a Congressman blog?
For me, the journey into blogging started with the Howard Dean for President campaign. That campaign's groundbreaking use of the internet made many of us stand up and take notice of a new generation of progressive activists, dissatisfied by the corporate mainstream media (or the "MSM" as they call it. These activists also shared with me a dissatisfaction with the passive politics as usual that has -- at times -- become a modus operandi for the Democratic party.
After the Dean campaign, I began to talk with many of the architects of this internet strategy, most often with Joe Trippi, about whether the Dean model could be used to benefit congressional Democrats. Trippi was emphatic that it could.
Universally speaking, the experts -- the people who had used the internet so successfully in the Dean campaign -- had one word of caution. So many politicians who were intrigued by the Dean campaign saw the internet as a cash machine and little else. Not only is such a view shortsighted, it is ineffective, as many politicians have seen the internet activists tune them out after the third fund-raising appeal in one week. I decided to follow a different model and became the first Member of Congress to start his own blog with reader comments.
For me, the internet and blogging serve other purposes that have nothing to do with raising money. For the past five years, I have been frequently approached by voters who wonder why Democrats in Washington don't stand up to the Republican agenda. While this is often a fair criticism, it just as frequently is not. The MSM simply will not report on the actions of a party that lacks the White House or majority control of either house of Congress. Indeed, the same reporters who write that Democrats lack an agenda refuse to write about our legislative proposals no matter the number of press conferences, calls and press releases. Blogging lets me bypass that filter and take my message directly to many voters.
It is not without its limitations, however. We must never forget that a digital divide exists in our country and, as a result, many either lack access to the internet or the computer literacy skills to read blogs. Many others in a stagnant economy simply lack the time the watch the news, or read a paper, much less surf for blogs on the internet. Obviously, the readership of blogs is skewed racially and by class.
Nonetheless, internet activists have been a tremendous resource for me over the past year. They were at the forefront of my effort to find out what went wrong in the 2004 Ohio Presidential election. They have generated ideas about issues I should pursue, such as my ongoing investigation of the Downing Street Minutes. They have provided research and feedback at every step of the way.
We are in an era where some of the most troubling blows to our democracy take place in the shadows, cloaked in government secrecy and unreported by the press. The internet allows us to shine some light on those dark places.
I hope to shine some light over the next two weeks I spend with you. I will provide commentary on legal issues, the day's news and I will probably break some news of my own. I also, when time permits, repond to reader comments.
Washington is abuzz with week with possible indictments in the Fitzgerald grand jury, the outcome of the Iraqi elections, and the day to day injustices of a Republican congress. More on those things to come....