Preaching to the choir?

I’m packing up stuff now, ready for a full day’s travel (home) tomorrow, so this  will be my last post for 24-32 hours.  I have a question for you, though.  Do bloggers like me matter?

I think that the big bloggers, whether Right (Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs, Power Line, American Thinker, etc.) or Left (Daily Kos, et al.) matter a great deal and have the heft to affect the political process.  I’m wondering, though, about politically oriented  blogs like mine, and like many of those in my blogroll.  We’re blogs that probably get between 200 and 2000 hits per days, depending just how popular we are, but we’re definitely not  in the big league.  Instead, we’re often preaching to a core group of the choir, which is a delightful feeling, but I wonder if it matters when the rubber hits the road.

In other words, do you think that all of these little political forums affect the political process?  I’d very much like your opinion on this.

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  • Buzz

    Book,
    Absolutely, the ‘local’, if you will, blogs are a means to broaden the scope of ideas placed on the internet. Diversity, a word that has lots of baggage, is required. If it were not for diversity of thoughts/ideas, I would probably ended up like my two brothers who still live on the left coast. Because of my position, I get the major blogs parroted at me often, but I like the different orientation of the less popular, ‘minor league’ blogs. Sites like Debbie Schlussel (yes she is angry and acrimonious, but interesting at times), Stop the ACLU, Tongue Tied 3, Noindoctrination.org, Melanie Phillips and Family Security Matters, give me a broad cross section of what is going on in the world, mostly political, but from different perspectives. I also occasionally go to the anti-global warming sites such as Junk Science, which has a couple good video clips crushing the global warming arguments.
    OK, nuff said, yes, your blog means something.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com expreacherman

    Book,

    Yes, Conservative blogs are important, if for no more than encouragement to those of like mind. What a miserable time we would have if we were relegated to our own small enclave having no contact with nationwide (or worldwide) Conservative friends.

    Granted, your gigantic audience outstrips mine by miles… but I believe every little grain of sand builds the castle.

    I dare say I don’t recall my Blog ever persuading a liberal to change to Conservatism. It may take another 9/11 to do that. However, I have witnessed some readers inquire positively when I present my faith in Christ.

    Thanks for your brilliant contributions and encouragement.. It is good to see some of the younger generation embrace a Conservative philosophy. Now for Mr. Book …….

    ExP(Jack)

  • http://oceanguy.com oceanguy

    affect the political process?

    As individuals, I don’t think so. But the real power is the distributed intelligence of the blogs. Whether it’s specific local knowledge, personal knowledge of people who make the news, or specific technical or professional knowledge… the network of bloggers has a huge ability to affect the process… both good and bad.

    I’ve never looked at blogs and blogging as an alternative media… as the new journalists. I look at the community of people and the never ending conversation. Reading blogs is like going from coffee house to coffee house, bar to bar, dinner party to dinner party, and participating and or eavesdropping on the countless conversations taking place. Why do we read a dozen or more different posts on the same news event?

    We’re not reading it like we listen to a favorite musical recording… we’re reading and looking for that different angle, or unique idea or some other twist that resonates with us and stimulates our own critical thinking muscles.

    Blogging matters because it demonstrates to folks like Robert Novak that their words aren’t and never were taken as absolute truth… they are being challenged in a way that wasn’t possible 10 years ago. Everyone can publish their own “letter to the editor” without the fear it will fall on deaf ears.

    So, yes… Blogs do affect the process.

  • greg

    My opinion of Bookworm’s wormish views is well known. Yet, I read this blog daily.

    The small blog serves an identical — irreplaceable — function as the small magazine: A place where the day’s large themes find idiosyncratic expression and elaboration. For example, Kos (or wherever) might identify the authoritarian-conservative synonymization of American and Israeli interests — But to understand what that means, you have to read a blog like this one.

    But, that’s me speaking as an outsider to this community. That the smaller blog, such as this one, nurtures kindred spirits represents the engine that caused the developers of Internet2 to include collaboration, commenting, et al. as an architectural feature of the evolved internet. It is indicative of the authoritarian-conservative’s ignorance that Bookworm would be perplexed by the value of “preaching to the choir.”

  • Patrick O’Hannigan

    Yes, Bookworm, bloggers like you (and me) matter. One needn’t be a “higher being” in NZ Bear’s blog ecosystem to influence a little cadre of daily readers. Having done that, metaphors about pebbles in ponds suggest themselves. Moreover, long-tail bloggers, like the well-known practioners of the form, blog not only for blog readers, but also for other bloggers.

  • Mike Devx

    Bookworm, your blog is an island of sanity in an ocean of shallow, rude commentary. Even when someone disagrees, we get phrases here such as “authoritarian-conservative synonymization of American and Israeli interests” which, while snarky, cause me to pause and reflect what he means, where are his hidden biases, and then to reflect on my own hidden biases.

    I am especially gratified when I see new voices pop up in the comments section: people with names I haven’t seen before, who invariably have something thoughtful and interesting to say.

    The cumulative effect of small blogs is as important as the cumulative effect of small entrepreneurs. The big boys exist and get to throw their weight around, but a loyal following has its benefits, too.

    Besides, you’ll continue to grow! One day we may all look back with nostalgia at this quiet, reasoned oasis.

  • Chris

    I really can’t add anything that hasn’t already been said. I use political blogs to refine my own ideas about issues. I can get the liberal version any time I want, from a number of sources (print media, television, etc), but for the contrasting viewpoint I need the internet.

    I’ve said this before (although not here) that I can get better analysis of current events from non-journalists on the web than I can from the major media. The example I use is Steven Den Beste, who provided cogent, well-reasoned, and exhaustive arguments supporting views I generally agreed with. Whether he was wrong or not is not the issue, he provided a service that was noticeably lacking from the MSM, even from their own viewpoint.

    Even greg managed to provide something useful, along with his usual insults, that the internet allows collaboration and synergy on an unfathomable level. I can engage in discourse on any number of subjects with people I may never meet, yet who provide intellectual stimulation that is unavailable to me in person. This is a service that I cannot quantify, or even express the proper gratitude for.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Individuals have always mattered. The society we are building, after all, is not just for the leaders at the top or the successful, but for all of us and the entire continuity of future generations.

    Some individuals will always matter more or less than others, but that is simply how the Celestial Hierarchy functions in this universe and world.

    In other words, do you think that all of these little political forums affect the political process?

    In so far as you educate individuals in the Greater Mysteries, yes it does have an effect on the political process. After all, politics is driven by men and women; with human limitations on knowledge as well as wisdom.

    There is some truth to the statement that a person’s individual vote decreases in value as more people around him votes, but this misses the point. Humanity will always need leadership simply because we function under a hierarchy. Some kind of hierarchy. Given what this is, it makes it so that individuals can persuade and affect many other people besides themselves. A person can always grow more powerful as he/she lives on. That social mobility matters far more than what individual votes matter in the transient now. LGF and such blogs began as newly created mortals at the bottom of the chain, once. Such is life and the power of life. It was never designed to be stable or in stasis, as utopia would force it to become.

    The beautiful and serene butterfly always comes from a smallish worm, for change is the only constant to energy; whether that of life or something else equally exotic.

    What was worth doing at the bottom of the chain is worth doing once you ascend to the top of the chain. If a person decides that blogging matters, then that choice cannot be changed by the opinion of others.

    As a social experiment, Book, blogs can be compared to Gutenberg and Thomas Paine. It is a technologically aided social engineering construct, in which produces great benefits to humanity. Ignorance has always held back humanity; far more than deception ever did for deception always relied upon ignorance as a fertile swamp and breeding ground. When a person does not know the truth, then he can be convinced to believe in the “truth” of the Masters. It is far harder to deceive those that have the requisite knowledge already, however.

    The technology was not enough, however. It required people willing to use the technology to spread the light of human progress across the world. For we all know that if no good men or women step up to speak, then the Voice of utter corruptness will easily accept the position to educate humanity for us.

    Meaning is different for each person, in a way. You allow me access to places you’ve visited and experienced, in California and elsewhere, that I lack. Wisdom imparted second hand is still wisdom. This is connected to the reason why I said ignorance held human progress back. For if a person can only access his or her own thoughts and experiences, then how far along the road to Enlightement and cosmopolitanism can that person truly go before stopped by the obstacle of mortality? Human beings now a days live many lives, and not just because of time saving devices such as flying and microwaves. Technology allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past, the mistakes of our compatriots, and the mistakes of our enemies. It allows us to benefit from the joys and sorrows experienced by the many many billions of other human beings on this planet, Book, whereas before all we would have had to rely upon would have been our own eyes and ears. Alone, separated from any greater community or knowledge, forced to rely upon the strength that we could tap from our muscles and heart. The United States is great and powerful because it harnesses the wisdom, knowledge, experience, and power of 300+ million individuals, cemented and focused into one concentrated institution. The United States Constitution. The rest of the world’s 5.7 billion people are fragmented and dealing with their own problems, economic, spiritual, etc. The internet technology allows knowledge to be transfered across the world to those that need it. It allows the experience of wealthy nations to be transfered to poor ones, in order to elevate them above what they could achieve alone and abandoned.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    As a simple conclusion; humanity grows upon the labors of those that have gone before. A person makes a beginning by setting the foundation, such as Newton or Einstein, while future generations build upon the foundation into higher and higher levels of knowledge, wisdom, and powerful. There is always a beginning to the most powerful of constructs.

    Those that seek to deny humanity’s destiny by crippling the ability of individuals to change and grow, often talk about Revolution and fighting against authority. The motivation is simple. Without discipline and a central authority from which to focus the powers of more than one individual, humanity is limited to what each individual can create on his own. This allows the status quo to be maintained, and thus those in the status quo that are already living well will continue to live well without fear of any changes from below. This is well demonstrated in the last Church of Climate post.

  • Eli

    I enjoy your blog and read it regularly. It is so refreshing for me, a conservative living in a blue state with so many here who won’t discuss politics, to be able to read and interact on some of these issues through your thoughtful blog.

    These smaller blogs allow interaction that the bigger ones simply cannot. And I think link us all together more. It allows those considering similar thoughts from different parts of the country a place to come together to read and discuss ideas.

    And Oceanguy said it best: “we’re reading and looking for that different angle, or unique idea or some other twist that resonates with us and stimulates our own critical thinking muscles.” Although I do think they do have an impact on the political process when the discussion is thoughtful, respectful and intelligent.

  • Joe

    The larger blogs provide no venue for dialog. There are comments on LGF, but there is no discussion.

    The political process needs large faceless rallies, but it also needs “dinner table conversations” where people can flesh out there ideas.

    One thing that would help this blog is if there were a few more (polite) dissenters. I often find the views of those on the left unfathomable. I would love to hear some cogent rebuttals.

    “The best kind of friend is like iron sharpening iron” and all that.

  • highlander

    Like Eli, I live in a blue town in a blue state and so like him, I’m hungry for rational discussion of political issues. Your blog is my homepage so I can start my day with a good dose of common sense.

    I see your blog and others like it, not as separate distinct entities, but more like nodes in a very large network — individual neurons, so to speak, in a large “cyber-brain”. Information flowing among the nodes is the process by which national consensus is achieved, or in some cases, by which battle lines are drawn, which also is good.

    Like Joe, I too would welcome some more — courteous — comments from the liberal side. None of us possesses perfect knowledge of all things, so we can always benefit from the opinions those who disagree with us. Someone said that if two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.

    Keep up the good work, BW. You and your colleagues are providing a valuable service, one which the major blogs cannot accomplish.

  • zhombre

    Yeah, I agree with comments above. There’s a cumulative effect. Springs feed small streams and many small streams flow into a river.

  • http://thomaschronicles.com Thomas

    Hello Bookworm,

    Now, this is an interesting question, one I’ve tried to grapple with for a long time now. Do blogs matter? Or do they just preach to the choir?

    To give a very “Yes, Prime Minister”-ish answer: Well… yes and no.

    It matters in the sense that it helps folks focus their thinking on certain subjects. It allows people to view many ideas as though they’re sitting on a buffet table. From what I observe in myself and in others, blogs help to clarify a man’s political beliefs. Unlike the MSM or the print media, blogs allow for extensive, prolonged tracts of reasoning.

    You just don’t get this in 15 second sound bites and Marxist-laced newspapers, where manipulation is ubiquitous.

    If someone really takes the time to sit down and review a man’s (or woman’s) reasoning on a particular subject, yes, blogs would really matter. If this said person has the wherewithal to double check facts and cross reference for veracity, his actions would, in time, lead to a more solid understanding of his world and lead to a more profound conviction of his beliefs.

    So, in this sense, yes, blogs matter.

    However, I doubt very much if blogs can change anyone’s mind on anything whatever. Generally speaking, PEOPLE DO NOT LISTEN. No where is such a close-minded disposition more prevalent than in the world of politics. Add to this the anonymity of the internet-based blogosphere and you have a recipe for constant, fantastic verbal duels that don’t really amount to a hill of beans when all is said and done.

    People who regularly read the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post don’t generally read Michelle Malkin and the Pajamas Media, and vis a versa.

    In a very real way, blogs reinforce preconceived ideological beliefs but they don’t change minds much. I leave open the possibility that they occasionally do, but it doesn’t seem pervasive.

    So, in this sense, no, blogs don’t matter much where the rubber meets the road.

    Smaller blogs, like yours Mrs. Bookworm and others, do much of the same thing. As far as the political process goes, I think you help to clarify ideas.

    Now, does this translate into something with a wider political impact? Does the cumulation of hundreds blogs affection the national consensus? I don’t know. I don’t know how anyone can quantify the impact of a single blog on the national political consensus…

  • Deana

    Bookworm –

    Certain small political fora (including yours) DO make a difference. Here is why:

    1. As others mentioned, the “smallness” provides a space for discussion that the larger blogs don’t. When I log onto your site, I get the feeling that I’m sitting at someone’s dining room table listening to what others have to say about something. As much as I like some of the larger blogs, I don’t have that feeling there.

    2. Regardless of whether readers agree or disagree with your writings, they make us better informed and better thinkers. Often I find myself looking at an issue and knowing immediately how I feel about it. While I certainly know why I feel the way I do, it often isn’t until after I’ve had a chance to see what others are thinking that I am able to better organize and consolidate my own thoughts about the issue.

    3. Discussions on this website inspire writers on other websites. Really, Bookworm, you and DQ have no way of knowing what impact you have on the political process.

    As others have said, I also would love it if people who are of the more liberal persuasion would contribute IF they would be willing to structure their thoughts/postings in a coherent fashion AND provide hard evidence to support their claims. It would add to the quality of the discussion and impact opinions.

    Deana

    because I truly beliedo believe that

  • rockdalian

    All blogs great and small matter. The large blogs cannot cover all aspects of the issues that this country and its people face. I always get the same feeling that I had when I “discovered” Rush. There are other people in the world that think as I do. Not the same about every subject, but in principal. Reading other peoples thoughts, ideas, and opinions help to flesh out otherwise immature thinking. You are like a gatekeeper guiding me to other subjects that I would not normally encounter. And for that I am appreciative.

  • pacificus

    Come now, Book,

    Put that liberal arts education to work here. It is understandable that you are wondering about your impact–“does what I do here really matter?”, especially when compared to the really high traffic sites–the big leagues. But that measure is only one, and for blogs such as yours to be only considered by that one commercial metric, would be to restrict ourselves to one dimension, that of the instrumental or utilitarian.

    Thought and the conversation it generates are things we can value for their own sakes–not necessarily for what they can bring us. What is the use value of an art piece, or a wedding, a bar mitzvah, or a dinner party? Arent these things enjoyed as ends in themselves, for their own sakes?
    I value the BookwormRoom as a locus of intelligence, surely another thing valued for its own sake, irrespective of what we may do with it. The analogy made above with small circulation magazines is exactly right.

    But in addition, as others have stated and alluded to, the thoughts expressed here and the opportunity this forum provides for shared expression IS very useful to me, in forming my own thoughts; considering challenges to opinions I already hold; and introducing ideas I have not wrestled with before. Besides, you offer an interesting, not to say idiosyncratic, news digest. You are in a similar position as many teachers and parents occasionally find themselves in–worrying about whether they really had any impact over the years. You should hear this and take this to heart:

    No good act is ever wasted.

    The BookwormRoom is a place of sanity and civility in an otherwise brutish and coarse world; your humanity and liberal (liberal in the good, non-political sense) impulses make it so.

  • swampacreage

    It is hilarious(we need more humour like this blog) watching a minor league double AA er I mean single A blog trying to get into the bigs
    What impresses me the most is the humbleness an the abscence of paranoia among the founder and contributers of this blog.It is nice to see such fair,balanced and neutral attitudes at work ! Keep it up tootle lou !

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    You matter to me…..

    Hey, the one thing that keeps me going at my little place is that I know that there are at least two major items that I had a big part in – and a few I was one of those that pushed things higher.

    Don’t feel bad about going away for 2-3 days. I think after Friday, I won’t have access to useful internet for two weeks!

  • Chris

    All the way up, swampacreage, with a red-hot poker.

  • zhombre

    Chris, don’t even bother. Swampy’s harmless. Swamp gas, you know, dissipates quickly.

  • http://www.cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot.com Laer

    Check your stat-counter and see the word searches that brought people to your blog, and the number of first-time visitors, and you’ll see that even we fairly popular bloggers have considerable influence. If you’re reaching even only 300 or 400 people a day, you’re reaching more than nearly all pastors or rabbis or college professors.

    I particularly am gratified by the #$%&!$ comments I get from time to time — they tell me someone who doesn’t normally get exposure to our beliefs just did.

  • Ruth H

    You are not just a voice in the wilderness. Your opinions are read by me, my daughter and my niece. We have been known to discuss them. True, we agree with you most of the time, but it gives voice to us, through you. I appreciate that. I think this is true of many others who read your blog regularly.

  • greag

    “[Your blog] gives voice to us, through you. I appreciate that.”

    Any writer would die for such an endorsement.

  • Chris

    I just wanted to deploy my favorite Robby Benson quote.

  • Don Carlson

    When I was ten I first saw how children could be rallied to heap abuse on another child because she was different and better than them. In later years I saw the tendency of fearful people to band together for greater power and then use that power to extort conformity from others. In every instance of this collective behavior some individual was damaged and made impotent by those who were afraid to be individuals themselves and resented the one who clearly was an individual. Because of this I’ve tended to believe individual freedom is of paramount importance.
    However, my dismay at human shortcomings often dragged from me that collectivist wail “There ought to be a law…” And I have sometimes succumbed to the compassionate argument that people should never have to suffer–that authority can and should change our lives to create a fairer, more just world. Still, my belief in the freedom and ultimate responsibility of the individual, that the individual citizen is more important than the perfection of society, has never left me.
    My friends have been mostly dedicated “liberals” guided by compassionate sentiments and their resentment of the inequalities of wealth created by free enterprise. They are not very reflective people–they conceive political argument to be when they have drinks and trade anti-Republican zingers, anecdotes of imagined conservative perfidy, instances of monied conspiracy against Democratic values, lamentations about the inhumane actions of Israel, and sorrowful comments on America’s ill-influence in the world. They regard any doubt about their underlying assumptions to be patently insane. But once, one of them thought to buy me a book by Robert Conquest. My friend hadn’t read the book, but it looked to him to be the sort of thing I might like. He was more right than he would ever know. That book lead me to a denizen of the Hoover Institute, Thomas Sowell. Sowell lead me to Milton Friedman, Friedman to Friedrich Hayek, and these three led me to a whole world of people who revealed that there are many who actually understand how the world works, who have faith in our ability as individuals (if we have the courage) to finally muddle through, and who uderstand the evil inherent in grandiose collective schemes and in the oppressive authority that comes with them. To be reassured that one is not alone facing the mob gives one strength and hope. And so does your blog, dear Bookworm.

  • pacificus

    Don Carlson,
    quite an oddyssey my friend. Welcome home.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Thanks to all of you for your kind words. I love blogging, but it adds extra to know that, for my intelligent and engaged readers, my blog offers a forum where ideas can be exchanged, challenged, defended and supported in a spirit of polite inquiry.