Over the past two years, I have commented at great length about the need for more sustainable funding of the progressive, political blogosphere. Despite its great importance to both the Democratic and progressive causes, which I have previously summarized in The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere
(with Matt), The Role of The Netroots in Democratic Victories
, and On Preaching To The Choir
, it operates on a shoestring budget and volunteer labor. If it continues to do so, eventually it will collapse. That would be a huge tragedy, and a great win for conservatives. The Democratic and progressive establishment should fund the progressive, political blogosphere and netroots. They need us, and we need them. Neither of us can win without the other.
Perhaps the most striking example of this problem came in the Illinois 6th congressional district in 2006. Despite having virtually the entire weight of the local and national Democratic establishment behind her, Tammy Duckworth still only edged under-funded, ne'er organizationally endorsed, people-powered Christine Cegalis in the Democratic primary by all of 3%. Then, in the general election, Duckworth received over $3M in DCCC support, making her one of the ten best nationally funded Democratic House candidates in the entire country. However, she still ended up losing an open seat in a Democratic wave year in Rahm Emanuel's backyard. (Gee--Emanuel's backyard? I wonder why she got so much funding, especially considering that Cegalis got virtually none when she was the nominee in 2004). I don't know how much local progressive movement activists worked for Duckworth in the general, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did little outside of voting for her. I mean, I'd have been pissed off at the way the machine crushed Cegalis's grassroots campaign, too, and not exactly eager to go bang on doors or drum up small donors as a result. In fact, in more than one conversation I had with friends after the election, there was a general sentiment that Duckworth's defeat was payback for the Democratic establishment's often clandestine--and often not so clandestine--support for Joe Lieberman in the general election against Democratic nominee Ned Lamont. "They took out one of ours, so I'm glad they lost one of theirs," was the mood in many movement circles. Of course, the tit for tat resulted in the Democratic nominee losing both races.
We were quite fortune that the splits we saw in IL-06 and CT-Sen did not happen on a wider scale. If they had, Republicans would still control Congress. Gong back further, such a split would also have resulted in the privatization and destruction of Social Security. In the fights that we did win in 2005-2006, victory only happened because the establishment and the movement were on the same page. Neither side can win without each other, as virtually every election made perfectly clear from 1994-2004. The Democratic Party was in the wilderness until the progressive movement rose to challenge the conservative movement. It was only when the progressive movement reached maturity that Democrats took over Congress. They needed us to close the fundraising gap, convince them to run on Iraq, stretch the electoral playing field, keep the base excited, challenge pro-Republican media coverage, and generate new campaign ideas. At the same time, movement challenges to neoliberals and DLC-nexus control over the party have never succeeded unless we have formed a coalition with dissenting establishment elements. Howard Dean getting crushed by a wide array of backroom alliances late in the 2004 primary campaign, but requiring the backing of state party chairs to win the DNC, is a good example of this. We can't win without each other.
So how can the Democratic and progressive establishment support the progressive blogosphere? I constantly hear about ways we can help them, but they are often perplexed when it comes to finding a way to help us. One of the problems in achieving sustainable funding from Democratic and progressive sources for the progressive political blogosphere is that we are chaotic. In this sense, "chaotic" means difficult to control, and viewed as a potential liability within the established media and donor community. What happens if they give us money, and we say something they don't like? Or, perhaps even worse, what happens if they give us money, and we start only saying things they like, thus creating a quid pro quo, and destroying the vibrant independence of thought and energy that makes us so vital? It isn't an easy problem to solve, especially when one considers that there are hundreds of different bloggers, who operate under a variety of different legal mechanisms, to potentially support. Yet more chaos.
However, there is one simply solution for even the most risk averse Democratic campaign and progressive organization: buy Blogads
. For many bloggers, blogads is their primary source of revenue. Further, there are many networks in Blogads that makes reaching your target audience easy. For national campaigns, there is The Liberal Blog Advertising Network
which reaches virtually every large, national progressive blog. For environmental groups, there is the Environment and Sustainability
Blogad network. Women's groups can use the Feminist Bloggers
network, and GLBT groups can consider the Gay Blogads
network. And the list goes on and on. Any group or campaign, no matter your issue and no matter if you are national or local, can find a group of potentially supportive blogs and advertise ont hose blogs.
This will get money to your friends in the blogosphere. It will get you noticed in the blogosphere. It will also get you a very good CPM, one that is often 3-4 better than any other advertising source. It won't make you liable for anything a blogger might say. It will allow the blogger to maintain her or his independence. If you use one of the big networks, it will reach a wide swatch of people at once. Basically, it is a simple, low-risk way to help the progressive blogosphere. While not solving all of our problems, is a good start. And Feedburner works for a lot of blogs too.
So, if you are running a large campaign or advocacy group, and you want to help the progressive blogosphere, go to Blogads
, go to Feedburner
, make some accounts, and start buying some ads. We need this really badly. Blog advertising always struggles, except in the few months leading up to an election. Right now is no exception
, as most blogs on the liberal blogad network are running two ads or fewer. On MyDD, we only have one ad running right now. Help us out, because we can't help you out if we have to close our doors due to lack of funds.