why Howie Klein is a netroots hero
by kid oakland, Tue Aug 15, 2006 at 05:04:49 PM EDT
One thing that folks who took a close look at the links in a challenge to the netroots may have noticed is that one blog popped up with informative articles about vulnerable GOP Congressional incumbents time after time. That result is no accident.
Now, that blog is Down with Tyranny. Down with Tyranny is a blogspot group blog based in Southern California led by a blogger who goes by the handle Down with Tyranny (his co-blogger is keninny). In real life, Down with Tyranny's name is Howie Klein and, as many of you well know, he's been running an excellent series about progressive candidates on firedoglake that goes under the header Blue America and features a powerful ACTBlue page.
This essay will explain not simply why Howie is a netroots hero, but also what we in the netroots might learn from how he blogs...
When Howie writes about a race, he gets involved, and in doing so, he gets us involved.
Take this August 11th entry on Democratic candidate John Hall's efforts to unseat GOP Congresswoman Sue Kelly in New York's 19th Congressional district (NY-19). Howie brings us into the race by introducing us to a local blogger...Helen...who recently attended a candidate meeting in the district. He's got a picture of Helen with John Hall right there. (As you can guess from me...local blogger = good.) Typical of Howie, the piece is chock full of links:
That's a lot of useful links. Those links, whether we use them or not, significantly strengthen Howie's case. Further, Howie's blog post also explicity mentions concrete reasons to support John Hall and oppose Sue Kelly:
If you needed reasons to get excited and informed about the race in NY-19, where we have a legitimate shot of picking up a seat, Howie and Helen gave them to you. If you had questions about specifics, you got them. If you wanted more links...specifically links that showed you how to get involved or give money...those links were there. Typical for Howie, this blog post answers the who, what, where, when and why so thoroughly...and so effortlessly...that, in my view, Howie Klein is a role model for what it means to be an effective blogger.
Howie gets local. Howie gets specific. And in the process, he makes sure that politics is not a chore. Even the use of that picture gets us involved. When you read one of Howie's blog posts, he's given you the tools and motivation to do something: and that something is usually kicking out a vulnerable GOP incumbent.
Now, let me step back from that encomium and apply it for a second. I mean Howie's well-known. He's on firedoglake. He's a former record producer who uses music to support his cause. He's tireless. How does his example relate to the vast majority of us in the netroots? (Well those of us who aren't writing on the front pages of blogs like MyDD, SwingstateProject or Dailykos where getting people excited about local races is part and parcel of the job year round.)
Well, if you ask me, Howie's example is relevant to us in the netroots.
Please allow me to offer some constructive criticism for one second. We in the netroots are often just way too generic. We talk about DC Dems. We talk about the mainstream media. We gripe about the GOP Congress. (Yes, that's me...guilty as charged and vague as hell.) We rail on the press...hell, we rail about each other sometimes. When we do get specific, it tends to be about the latest outrage and not about what we can DO to take out country's political system back.
Too often, we bloggers don't answer the questions of who, what, why, when and where in ways that could empower folks to get inolved. We don't provide the critical information and links. I guess I'd put it this way: oftentimes, we are so focused on complaining about the effects of the GOP stranglehold on Congress, the Presidency, our Courts and our Statehouses that we don't write strategically about the specific elections and races where we can win them back.
When we talk about Congressional races, however, we need to mention specifics so that any reader can take our pieces and run with it. It's not enough to say, "let's support Patricia Madrid"...though that, of course, is to the well and good. We need to say let's support Democrat Patricia Madrid in NM-01 in her fight to defeat Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson. (We need to mention the id and location of her race, link to her campaign, and link to a local blog that is covering it, especially an opposition piece about her opponent.)
I'm not saying that we need to write like robots, far from it. But, let me be clear, there are some guidelines that can make our writing about local races more effective in the home stretch. Many of the following are old hat to readers here, but I've created this list because it never hurts to reiterate the obvious:
Now, I've come out strong for locally-focused blogging. For many of the savvy readers and bloggers here on MyDD, I know this is old news. However, I am going out on a limb and re-stating the obvious because it pays to reiterate, as crunch time approaches, that there's a difference between blogging that's foggy and generic, and blogging that is specific, focused and empowering.
Resource list of vulnerable Republicans and worthy Democrats
For those of you interested in picking a local race and writing about it from now till election day here is, once again, a list of races where your input can make a difference broken down by region. The name links are to google blog searches of the names of the candidate or incumbent. Google blog search is a potent tool that can link you what others in the netroots have been writing about a race. The TAG links are to MyDD articles on those races. (ie. You can use this list to track the hot Congressional races here on MyDD.) It's my hope that you use these links to gather more information and to hook up with local blogs that are taking the fight to the GOP.