Monday, July 18, 2005

Watching The Blogosphere

I tend to reserve this space for ranting about whatever's going on in the politics of our nation and the world around us. As we head into the summer quiet period, I thought I would share a few observations I have made from travelling around other political blogs that are out there. (Primarily Canadian blogs, BTW)

All three of the major parties have significant lists of bloggers who are writing as "supporters" of their respective causes. (I imagine that the Bloc does as well, but my Quebecois is sufficiently rusty that I doubt I could do more than a pidgin parsing of them these days)

Observation #1:

"Left-leaning" blogs (those written by Liberal or NDP supporters) tend to invite conversation in their comments. I've seen some good exchanges take place with a reasonable repartee on both sides of the discussion.

Observation #2:

"Right-leaning" blogs do not invite, nor seem to appreciate counterpoint comments. It's amazing the number of times I've seen a "yabbut" comment to a post get shouted down with a combination of sneering, ad-hominem attacks and just about anything else.

Observation #3:

The most rigid "right-wing" blogs seem to originate out of Alberta, and to a lesser degree, parts of British Columbia. I suppose this is reflective of the western roots of the Reform/Alliance/Conservative party. Conservative blogs originating in Central Canada are far less polar about things, and seem to be a little more interested in conversation.

Observation #4:

As it has done in the United States, a particularly "militant" form of Christianity is creeping into this nation's political dialogue. For those of us who do not subscribe to such forms of Christianity, this is a very disturbing shift. The "militant" Christianity does not speak the language of compassion, but rather speaks the language of judgement and condemnation for all that stand at odds with their world view.

Observation #5:

There are an amazing number of people who have confused the "right-wing" end of the political spectrum with being "correct". They somehow assume that their position is automatically correct. Their first approach to any dispute is to tell the other party that they are wrong - essentially a verbal "bully-boy" tactic that puts the other party in the position of justifying themselves.

Observation #6:

Although the left wing is far from being any kind of ideological monolith, the right wing (especially the current Conservatives) are deeply fractured along ideological lines. Even within "conservative" blogs, the divisions between social and fiscal conservatism are pronounced and often degrade into some particularly nasty conversations.

On the Federal scene, I think this is good news - it means that the "united" Conservative party remains seriously weakened by its own internal conflicts, and the perception of it as a "western protest party" in the rest of Canada means that they are unlikely to attain power any time soon.

Observation #7:

Among Alberta bloggers, there appears to be a growing appetite to replace Ralph's Team with something new. Even "died-in-the-wool" PCs in Alberta are starting to make a fairly loud rumbling that all is not well in "Ralph's Country".

Observation #8:

At one time, I had serious reservations about Proportional Representation. I just couldn't quite wrap my mind around how it would be structured so that I would know "who" my representative might be in the legislature. However, the unscientific poll of looking at where various bloggers are writing from - and their respective philosophical alignment - leads me to believe that in Alberta a PR system would in fact be a very positive change in the legislative assembly. Although "Conservative" bloggers from Alberta outnumber Liberal and NDP bloggers, it's not by anywhere near as wide a margin as I would have expected. The result would be - I believe - a much more balanced legislature that would be less prone to the monolithic "super-majority" landslides that Albertans have suffered with through most of this province's history.

Observation #9:

Western alienation is a myth propogated by disgruntled Conservatives who are sour about losing the last election. (and are even less happy about the fact that the Liberals out-maneuvered Stephen Harper & Co. throughout the last sitting of the House of Commons)

With the exception of a few that perceive the opportunity to make a little bit of political capital out of the notion, most Western bloggers - no matter their stripe - are actually quite proud Canadians. That they are vocal in their opinions of how the country should be run says that they believe there is something worth working for in this country.

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