Friday, September 29, 2006

Kos came to Ann Arbor, other updates

UPDATE (6:00 PM): Matt has audio and a partial transcript on Michlib. Go check it out.

Also, here is my comment in response to another (thoughtful) post in the diary about the Kos visit:

Very gutsy comment to make here! I'm glad to see some controversy about this.

To an extent, I understand and agree with what you're saying. Kos clearly favors challengers that are "sexy" enough to tell a good story and keep his readers engaged. I think that another factor in his decision-making process is that Michigan is considered to be a "swing state," and they feel that swing states get enough attention as it is (to the detriment of the rest of the party). Kos hasn't really covered Michigan proportionately and probably doesn't have the interest in it anyway. When he does cover it, its pretty superficial and doesn't convey an understanding of what's really going on in Michigan. I also agree that MI-Gov will have a significant impact on the future of our party at the national level, and merits the full attention of national organizations.

However, I would argue that it is the role of the DNC, Democratic Governors Association, and the MDP to deal with this race accordingly, not kos. Kos doesn't work under the Democratic Party and doesn't owe anyone anything, including us. He generated his readership through his own unique approach and philosophy, and (although I don't want to speak for him) I would assume that's where his loyalties lie. That's why people like me flock to him.

Ultimately, its not kos' job to win Michigan -- its ours. Kos has a limited amount of "real estate" on his blog and can only really focus on a few races. What kos does is show us the way to affect the change we want through our own activism. I think that's part of what the "netroots" philosophy is about, and why local and state-level blogging is so important.

In that sense, I think we actually have something a lot more powerful than what kos could ever offer us -- our own organized network of progressives talking about the things we care about. A front page article on Daily Kos may give us some short-term gains, but after that its gone. On the other hand, what we do here on Michigan Liberal has substantial long-term benefits.

We methodically chip away at the MI GOP's attacks and misinformation, while supporting our own candidates and values. We have our own group of local bloggers that understand the issues that matter to Michigan and are more well-suited to talk about Michigan than what kos could ever conceivably do for us. We've networked ourselves and will sustain this infrastructure even after the election is over, which provides long-term benefits to our party and our causes. Unlike the national websites, we can maintain a constant narrative that opinion makers (like newspapers) in Michigan tap into on a daily basis for elections to come. For example, the organization that Paul Hackett and Mark Warner's supporters developed in Ohio and Virgina have continued to make gains in those areas long after the national attention from the blogs faded and these candidates personally left the scene. That's part of what kos was trying to explain to us, and I think we can help accomplish the same kind of thing here.

Personally, I don't think that having kos' attention would help us in terms of what we need to do. Especially given that the Governor's race deals with state issues, we're much more suited to understand and influence the ongoing debate. However, if we really want to nationalize our races, we need to get onto kos and start creating a buzz to make it an attractive race to talk about and get behind. The "system" is organic: we don't get attention by whining, begging, or posturing, but by conveying our excitement and enthusiasm about the race while working to support our candidate. Ironically, part of why I don't think we have that kind of presence on Daily Kos is because Michlib (and the rest of our network here) is such a fantastic venue to talk about "our" issues -- none of us have any incentive to go to dkos because our system is much more well suited for our own needs.

Maybe I was blinded because I was star-struck, but I truly believe that kos was interested in us and trying to help us. He really does value the local bloggers, and conversed with us in a way to get a better sense of what's really happening on the ground here. Yes he did talk about "his" races, but that was all in the context of what he was trying to teach us. He showed us what made those races "work," and brainstormed with us based on what we told him to try and develop our own strategy. In the end I think he gave us some very instructive advice.

So basically: Its not that kos doesn't care, but he just doesn't have the time/space to focus on MI-Gov and we didn't generate the kind of excitement to justify nationalizing our race. He doesn't work for us and doesn't owe us anything, but does take his cues from bloggers on the ground who do the work to make nationalizing an issue possible. We don't need dkos coverage because we are shaping the media coverage and working at this on a daily basis (thank you matt, wizardkitten). Despite the fact that its not his job to win Michigan for us, kos was interested in us and used his experiences to give suggestions to us about how to refine what we're doing here.

Ultimately, we have the power to lift ourselves up, and that's what the "netroots" is all about.

Hey all,

Firstly, I just wanted to apologize for the state of this blog recently. You might have noticed that I have barely posted any substantive content over the past couple weeks. I've gotten pretty busy with school and haven't been able to post like I used to -- I'm not sure if I'll be "on point" again until after the semester (and election) is over, unfortunately.

Secondly, Kos came to Ann Arbor, and it was sweet. If nothing else, it was great to chill with all the MI bloggers again. Hy Dudgeon, Cordelia Lear, John and Clint from the Granholm campaign, lpackard, matt (thanks for the beer), djtyg, David Boyle, and later emptywheel were all in the house. It was good to see others there that I knew from working at the Granholm campaign, UM Dems, and so on at Drinking Liberally. Drinking Liberally is a great concept, and I might swing by in the future.

Kos talked a lot about the stuff that's been on the front page of dkos recently -- including the Virginia, Montana, and CT races. He also touched on a lot of the same themes from Crashing the Gate (if you haven't, you have to read it). I wasn't going in aiming to beg kos to pay more attention to Michigan (that's not how it should work), but he had some great insight into how we can become more effective as bloggers.

What was more new from him was his talk about how in a race, both candidates have a chance to define themselves and their opponent, creating a narrative for the campaign. What makes an effective narrative/story is how that relates to peoples' values. I'm not explaining this very well, I don't think. A lot of what he said on the subject of winning elections was very similar to what Lynn Rivers said in a class I took on campaigns, as well as a couple books I've read (an election strategy book by Ronald A. Faucheux and a book on how to win a local election by Lawrence Grey).

Finally, kos was really down to earth. He talked to the MI bloggers for 20 mins or so before the Shaman Drum event, and was very chill at the Drinking Liberally event. I don't know how to describe it, but he just seemed so... normal. He was also very interested in what we had to say and getting a sense of how things are locally for us. It was pretty surreal -- I couldn't believe I was crammed in the same little car as kos!

Anyway, that's enough rambling for the moment. I'll try to bang something out this weekend. After I go read CTG again.

CORRECTION: Laura informs me that her car isn't "little." She is correct -- my apologies.


At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to meet Kos.

Here's that blog on the mid-east I mentioned yesterday:

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Nirmal said...

thanks! i wouldn't have remembered it otherwise :-P


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