Saturday, March 3, 2007

Who knew blogging would be so much work?

(Warning: obscure Simpsons references inside)

Not me, obviously.

My online activity of late has been confined to the comment threads over at the E-Group. That's primarily because as a participant in this funky little medium called the blogosphere I've found it infinitely easier to react than to initiate. Plus I'm wanting to have some semblance of consistent moral and intellectual foundation behind what I write, and it's not always there to the extent I want it.

This of course was the point. I'm doing this blogging first and foremost to allow myself a forum to formulate my thoughts and political identity in writing, something that used to seem to come naturally but maybe not.

Christ, I'm navel gazing on the Internet. Everybody watch!!

Seriously, what I've found most interesting - and infuriating - in the discussions over there is how quickly we fall into what Paul Wells so aptly described as a game of "so's your mother" regarding the record of the Chr├ętien/Martin Liberals. And whenever I watch Question Period - gotta love the CPAC online feed - and see Jack Layton wasting half of his opening question making sure he gets in a dig at the party that's been out of office for over 13 months now, or listen to another Tory minister's refrain of "13 years of Liberal mismanagement" in lieu of actually answering legitmate questions, I'm inclined to pack my bags for Cuba or China, where at least they don't bother to pretend they have a democracy.

What attracted me to blogging in the first place was how they had the potential to allow for a discourse that didn't ape CNN's Crossfire (R.I.P). And yet there I was getting dragged into it, and wondering why I was so hot under the collar. And it's nice to think this is all healthy debate and gamesmanship, but often that's just spin or willful blindness to the lack of debate that is instructive and productive.

I'm reminded of a testy email exchange I got into with a classmate many years ago over the utility of conflict (yes, I know, the ironing is incredible). She thought inciting argument was a great tool for moving things forward between people. I felt that most arguments tend to be manufactured and as a result an incredibly inefficient means of resolving disagreements. I believe the gist of my counter-argument went something like: Your ability to initiate and score points in a debate can show you to be an effective asshole but proves nothing about your skills as a problem solver. And the only reason she liked argument because she was good at it. Glove slap! She don't take crap!

Needless to say, she didn't have much after that. So I guess I won my argument against argument. More ironing.

This is where politics and I go our separate ways. Democratic discourse is all about argument, debate, a ruthless marketplace of ideas where the best arguments invariably rise to the top. I happen to be a pretty good debater - and I can be a stubborn prick when I want to be. What I can't stand is the predetermined nature of our discourse, and for the life of me I don't know why we all don't give all our major political parties the finger, shut 'em down and start from scratch.

Because really, none of them have anything to be proud of.

Now, try to imagine how this post would read if I'd written it while drunk.


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