MI-07: Introducing the New Walberg Watch
by Fitzy, Tue Jul 01, 2008 at 08:05:48 PM EDT
In August of 2006, a man named Tim Walberg (R-Tipton) defeated incumbent Congressman Joe Schwarz (R-Battle Creek) in the Republican primary. Those that live in Michigan's 7th District may remember the vicious primary campaign, in which Walberg-- funded by the Club for Growth and other radical right-wing groups-- destroyed the name and good work of a dedicated public servant. Schwarz was conservative, but he was honest and hard-working, and was one of the few "good" Republicans left. And Tim Walberg, a former far-right minister, attacked Schwarz without mercy.
A few days after the primary, I started a blog called Walberg Watch. Originally hosted on Blogspot, I wanted to create an online record of Walberg's extreme positions as the 2006 election approached, facing the terribly underfunded Democratic nominee Sharon Renier. Walberg won that election by just four percent, and I found myself with a new blogging mission: following Tim Walberg's adventure through what will hopefully be his only term in the United States House of Representatives.
Over the last two years, a lot has changed, with much of it building toward the re-launch at the new www.WalbergWatch.com. Below the fold, I'd like to walk you through some of the additions to Walberg Watch. I'm excited by what we can accomplish in the next 126 days as we work to bring about better representation. I hope that by the time you're done reading this, you are too.
In addition to all of the new features, the original Walberg Watch blog is still up and running, with a new, blue look. I'm still writing about Congressman Walberg's voting record and all the issues of the campaign, and all the other contributors are still more than welcome to post to the new site.
That's not the exciting part. The exciting part is that you can post, too. No, we didn't switch over to Scoop or SoapBlox... that's more work than I'm ready for right now, and we are focused on only one congressional district. So, no diaries for us.
Instead, we've got a nifty form for you to submit your own content. It's not WYSIWYG, but it's got everything you need to start blogging.
Why is this a good idea? It's another level of people-powered politics. I can't tell you how many times readers have left comments saying things like, "Fitzy, why aren't you writing about X?" or "I was at Walberg's town hall and he said..." This is the perfect medium for sharing your thoughts and your stories. Let's face it, I'm not always on top of things. I miss votes, I miss stories, and sometimes, I'm just plain busy. If you're not satisfied with my blogging, or you just want to help out, this is hwo you do it! There is a slight delay, because I'll check over each post before it goes online to prevent spam.
This system can work on so many levels, and it's probably the part that I'm the most excited about. Suppose you're just an ordinary reader, but you just got back from a campaign event with Mark Schauer and you're really excited. Tell us about it! Suppose you're a well-respected Michigan blogger who, in addition to running a major Michigan blog, regularly posts items about Congressman Tim Walberg. Disappointed that Walberg Watch hasn't linked to you yet? Do it yourself!
Video - Ours and Theirs
The written word can say so much, but sometimes, hours and hours of blogging could be summed up so much more simply with a few simple images and a little audio. That's why Walberg Watch now features a Media Center, which will be the center of 7th District-related media. We already have included every video created by the Schauer campaign and have added the 2006 campaign ad from Sharon Renier and the independently-produced videos from the 2006 and 2008 cycles. As more are created, they'll be added. As Congressman Walberg begins to advertise, I'll be working to include all of that as well.
But it's not just going to be copying other people's work. I'm entering the exciting (and slightly frightening) world of video myself, with weekly Walberg Watch videos. Here are the first two:
<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/trcmqo0Ov5Q& ;hl=en"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></pa ram><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/trcmqo0Ov5Q& ;hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash " wmode="transparent" width="425" height="344"></embed> </object> <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/0K_Ba2WdRVI&quo t;></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></pa ram><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/0K_Ba2WdRVI&quo t; type="application/x-shockwave-flash " wmode="transparent" width="425" height="344"></embed> </object>
Like the blogging above, I'm more than open to adding more content produced by readers as well. Think you can make better videos than I can? Well, I agree, and I'd love to see them!
There's no better way to judge a person by actually showing up and listening to what he or she has to say. I've seen Tim Walberg up close, and you should to. It'll give you a clear idea of what a smooth talking, career politician with a radical agenda looks like.
And what about Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier? We've got two Democratic candidates and a primary just over a month away. Sure, you could read their positions on the issues (here and here), but why not ask them questions in person, too?
We've got the answer for that in our Calendar page. Upcoming candidate events are conveniently listed, and there's a handy map which shows where candidates are going and where they've been
Go, ask Tim Walberg the tough questions! Get to know Mark Schauer and Sharon Renier. And remember, Walberg Watch is always there for the latest updates.
It's not just enough for people like me to type away at a keyboard all day. There are a lot of voters in the 7th District that don't know much about Walberg, or are dissatisfied but aren't yet sure about his potential replacements. It's going to take a lot of hard work to unseat Congressman Walberg, which is where you have to come in. Luckily for you, I've got some things that could help out.
At our new Action page, we're compiling all sorts of resources that will help you talk with friends and neighbors about their representative. There's Tim Walberg's voting record, and, coming soon, a printable document outlining what a progressive Democrat representing the district would do differently. There's information on how to register to vote (or how to register others), plus important deadlines. We can show you where to go if you want to contribute to or volunteer with a Democratic campaign in the 7th District, and you can sign up for weekly updates and e-mail action items (which start going out next week).
What kind of action items would those be? We'll be sending out suggested topics for letters to the editor and issues for letter-writing campaigns to Tim Walberg. And, of course, we'll be providing resources for making your letters even better, too.
The new and improved Walberg Watch is more than just a new domain (www.walbergwatch.com). Following a reader suggestion, I created a Walberg Watch page on PartyBuilder, the social networking site hosted by the Democratic National Committee.
Why is that a good thing? Through PartyBuilder, you can connect with like-minded voters who are as eager as you are to elect someone new. Coming from Lenawee County (and just a short drive away from Tim Walberg himself), I can tell you that for some of us, it can be kind of lonely being a Democrat. There's nothing that energizes you more than learning that you're not alone!
But "connect" is such a vague term. What does that actually mean? Using PartyBuilder tools, it could mean organizing a letter-writing campaign to voice your opinions to Tim Walberg. It could mean coordinating efforts to write letters to the editor in area newspapers. It could mean organizing independent canvassing in more remote parts of the district.
The best part is, any organizing can be done independently of Walberg Watch itself. That's the power of grassroots energy and people-powered campaigning.
That image, of course, is a little out of date... we now have five members, not just one, and I'm hoping to see many more join as I promote the page over the coming weeks.
What YOU Can Do
Hopefully, by now, you're as excited as I am. If you're a voter in Michigan's 7th Congressional District, and even if you're not, here are five steps you can take today:
- Visit Walberg Watch. I'm eager to show off the new look, and to discover technical bugs. Since I'm not a web designer and did the upgrade myself, the new site is a mix of Blogger, Google Page Creator, customized HTML, and a little bit of PHP I had to pick up. I've been fighting bugs for a week and hopefully have
found most of them, but I could use your help in finding whatever is left.
- Update your blogrolls. The new location dropped us off the map for Google searches, so if you're currently linking to the old Blogspot page, updating that link will help a great deal. (If you're not already linking to us... well, why not?)
- Sign up for e-mail updates. You, too, can get the latest on Tim Walberg and action that can help end his time in Washington.
- Join our PartyBuilder page. Connect with other Democrats and help come up with ideas for advancing progressivism in the heart of southern Michigan.
- Blog!Start writing about why Tim Walberg needs to go, and help make Walberg Watch a better resource for everyone.
Thank you very much for your time. I hope to see all of you over at Walberg Watch sometime soon!