[T]he left side of the blogosphere sees it as its role not to debate conservative bloggers and pundits, but to destroy us and preclude us from being heard. Nobody on our side of the aisle should be under any illusion about the depths of personal enmity harbored towards us by the left blogs, nor the fact that they will spare no effort to go after us personally. . .I concur with McLaughlin's observation of the death of debate on the blogosphere, but not necessarily the reasoning. To some extent, his piece comes off as sour grapes--no one bought me. We conservatives believe in markets, and if progressives have excelled at harnessing the Internet, kudos to them.
Partly it was the Left’s increasing bitterness after their thumping in the 2002 elections exposed the fiction of their view that Bush’s victory in 2000 was an illegitimate aberration. Partly it was the increasing partisan temperature that came with the Iraq War. Partly it was the nature of the Online Left as people: dissatisfied with the existing order of society, often childless and thus with more time on their hands and fewer checks on perpetual immaturity, apt to treat the personal as political and the political as personal, and frequently irreligious and tending to put politics in the place where others put religion. . .
But most likely the largest cause of all was money and the lust for power. With its party leadership discredited and its official organs subject to campaign finance laws that don’t regulate blogs, the Left began pouring serious money and man-hours into the blogosphere after the 2002 elections. Billionaire George Soros (also a chief funder of think tanks like John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, founded in 2003) was the most prominent of these donors/investors, but hardly the only one; Arianna Huffington was another. Left-wing interest groups like SEIU and other unions mustered advertising dollars for major left-blogs, effectively putting them on retainer. That gave the blogs the tools to do activism, polling, fundraising, investigative muckracking, and simply to generate a lot of ways to go after people and waste their time. . .
The professionalization of the Online Left created a sense of entitlement -- left-bloggers tended not only to crusade for their policy goals, but to work for a personal seat at the table for themselves and their colleagues, becoming an interest group of their own and thus even more personally invested in the accretion of power to their own side. . .
What disappeared along the way was any semblance of a sense that left-wingers should debate the Right, or even accept as legitimate the existence of conservative bloggers and pundits as participants in public debate.
That doesn't mean we should match the left's incivility. But it does mean that we must move past our apparently naive notion that bloggers would deliver the dialog. And even if they could, little would change: as William F. Buckley said, "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." Regardless of how right-of-center ideas are conveyed.
We should communicate with the electorate, not commenters on DailyKos. That means more campaign volunteering, op-eds, maybe even running for office. Because, contrary to McLaughlin's implication, there's no shame in seeking a seat at the table.
This isn't necessarily a signal for shutting this or any blog. But it is an admission that if posting becomes less personally rewarding, retirement won't be far behind.