The libertarian Democrat, revisited

So there’s no confusion, my personal politics are independent in nature. I find politics in general to be a cut-throat mass manipulation for power which undeservedly rewards those with power and also undeservedly punishes those out of power. Ultimately, neither situation is good for our nation. My interest is in doing the things that are good for our nation. And that is why I find this next article intriguing.

by Dante Atkins via Daily Kos: State of the Nation

The year 2006 was shaping up to be a good one for Democrats. The toxic combination of George W. Bush and the corruption and cronyism of the Republican Congress was brewing a perfect storm that seemed to be pointing to Democratic victories in areas where they might not otherwise be expected. And nowhere was that more true than in the Mountain West.

In this land of big sky, rugged earth, and independent spirits, Democratic candidates were not only on the verge of winning big in the competitive areas such as Colorado and Montana, but they were also fighting hard in the deepest of red areas: strongly conservative states such as Wyoming and Idaho. The prevailing wisdom was that these areas preferred Republicans because voters demanded less government interference in their lives and thus tended to side with the small-government conservatives against big-government “tax-and-spend” liberals.

It was in this context that on October 2 of that year, Markos Moulitsas e-penned an editorial in an unlikely place: the electronic version of the libertarian publication CATO, appropriately dubbed CATO Unbound. In his essay, “The Case for the Libertarian Democrat,” Moulitsas quoted a then-pseudonymous Daily Kos diarist to explain the common cause then forming between those with libertarian ideals and those with a progressive vision:

As hekebolos further noted, defense contractors now have greater say in what weapons systems get built (via their lobbyists, blackmailing elected officials by claiming that jobs will be lost in their states and districts if weapons system X gets axed). The energy industry dominates the executive branch and has reaped record windfall profits. Our public debt is now held increasingly by private hedge funds. Corporations foul our air and water. They plunder our treasury.

This list, I’m sure, could be added to. Oil and oil services companies can even dictate when and how the most powerful nation on earth decides to go to war. A cabal of major corporate industry is, in fact, more powerful than the government of the most powerful nation on earth–and government is the only thing that can stop them from recklessly exploiting the people and destroying their freedom.

That, in essence, is why I am a Democrat, and why my original blog post on libertarian Democrats struck a chord with so many. We cherish freedom, and will embrace any who would protect it. But that necessarily includes, in this day and age, the government.

(Click for the rest of the story) It’s worth your time, IMO.

Doing journalism in 2010 is an act of community organizing

Meaning that as a digital journalist you have to build your own community, continuously.

by Robert Niles via OJR

Nothing frustrates me more than watching journalists who’ve lost their newsroom jobs entering the blogosphere… with no clue as to what they should be doing online. Too few emerging online journalists understand that the function of news publishing has changed in the Internet era. Simply reporting the news, however you might define that, is no longer enough, not when you are publishing in such a competitive environment. The journalists who succeed online are the ones who understand that they are no longer simply reporters… they’ve become community organizers.
Before the holidays, I had lunch with a local journalist who is making the transition from a print staff job to online entrepreneur. He wanted to pick my brain for ideas on how to make the switch, and I was happy to talk. But whatever he asked, my answer kept resolving to the same point: you have to have a community that supports you, if you want to make a living online.

Despite what years of local monopoly may have taught many veteran journalists, readers don’t automatically show up for whatever you publish. I’ve seen too many journalists react in shock when they put up their first blog post, only to end up with fewer readers than they have clean socks in their dresser drawer.

“But thousands of people read me in the paper,” they stammer.

Well, the paper might have sold thousands of copies each day, but as any newspaper-dot-com staffers who’s looked at the traffic data can tell you, few subscribers actually read any given writer’s work. And those who did usually did so out of habit – they’d grown up reading the paper and fell into the custom of reading specific sections, pages or features.

That habit does not extend to reading those writers online, just to whoever happens to be in that slot in print. Perhaps a few might accept an invitation to connect with a familiar writer on the Web, but you have to extend that invitation before it can be accepted.

So, your past earns you nothing online. Whatever audience you will have there, you must build yourself.

Now you’re a community organizer.

(Click for the rest of the story)