Blogging has been kind of back-and-forth for me (my personal and business lives are kinda hectic and take priority), and I’ve been trying to settle into what I want from this next phase of my blogging; I wanted to discover a voice in the first phase, got caught up in the debate over Iraq in the second, and now want to step back and think about what I want from this next one.
I’m more ‘establishment’ now – a get published in a newspaper and invited to political conference calls and to faraway conferences (more on that when it solidifies). But I’m not terribly interested in a career as a pundit (maybe if my day job paid a lot less…) or likely to get invited to make one as a research fellow. So I don’t see a career track in this for me.
A big part of what I’ve gotten from it is a sense of ‘place’ – that Winds has become kind of my neighborhood bar where I can go in on the way home from work, order a drink or two, and talk with a consistent stream of folks who I’m interested in hearing from and who are interested in hearing from me. I like that (my wife and a few of my clients who have Googled me may wonder if I like it a little too much – I’m aware of Hesiod’s warning never to spend too much time gossiping at the smithy), and in many ways it’s the biggest benefit I get from blogging.So let me talk a little bit about what I like about this place and what keeps me sticking around.
It’s not agreement, because that’s typically boring. I try and have a fairly wide range of people here, and have offered (and will continue to offer) guest posts to people who disagree with me and make interesting arguments in doing so.
There is an element of tone; I’ve hammered some of my co-bloggers in the past about it – we’re all pretty smart people and I presume that we all have something interesting to say – and that none of us have (or would disclose) secret insight into the plans or thinking of the US political leadership – or that of Al Quieda. We’re armchair gentleman-adventurers, and that’s a fine thing because I’m more convinced than ever that the battle that matters is the battle for the hearts and minds of the folks living in the West – of our neighbors. If we can – collectively – come to a position that makes sense, I think matters will go far better for us.
I’ve had heated debates with Tom Holsinger and Joe over Iran, and over whether there would be a wider war in the Middle East by the end of 2006 (there hasn’t been but may still be). But they made their case, and stuck around to defend it. We had some great discussions – with a lot of viewpoints, a lot of heat but very little smoke and a large portion of what was called ‘graciousness’ – a mutual acceptance of each other’s rights to our views and ownership of the positions we all take.
And in thinking about it, that quality of discussion – often critical, sometimes pointed, but both with some clear underpinning of respect and with a strong commitment to make an argument, not just to make pat statements – is what Winds and blogging are all about to me. I’m no angel, and certainly won’t claim to be perfect in doing that. But I hope you’ll agree that I always try, and that when others show it, I honor them for it.
That’s what I want Winds to be. I have no interest in being a party organ – for either party – but I do believe that the skills I learn and that others learn here and in places like this will help change politics. I do believe that the relationship sand networks that grow out of places like this have a better chance to make change happen than the overtly partisan blogs – which I think are really jockeying at the table of the existing system looking for a place closer to the meat platter.
So while I chew on my personal goals in doing this, let me add one that I’m certain of – of being a part of a place where those things can and do happen. Snide bitchslapping is satisfying – in a kind of empty way – but it tears down the kind of discussion we need to have, and I’ll commit here both to engage in less of it in the future, and to publicly poke at others who do.