Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Reason for optimism

Confession time: I'm a politics junkie. This is something that most people know about me right off, but since I've been meeting a number of fellow bloggers who aren't "political" -- mostly via BlogExplosion -- I figure that it's something to get out there.

What do I mean when I say I'm a political junkie? Well, I spend anywhere from 40-80 hours a week, every week: Thinking about politics, reading about politics, writing about politics, aggregating and editing political news and commentary, working on political campaigns, etc.

I used to run for office, but gave that up after four campaigns in five years (right now, I'm a federal political appointee); now, in election years, I am usually working for someone who is running for office, either as a volunteer or paid staffer. In 2004, I managed three campaigns for office (one of them successful, which is pretty damn good considering that all were Libertarian campaigns), served as communications director for an unsuccessful presidential nomination campaign, and as media coordinator for the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee (Michael Badnarik).

I've been doing politics for a living for five years now, and if I wasn't doing it for a living, I'd go back to doing it in every spare moment as a "hobby," or, more accurately, an addiction.

Which, when I think about it, is ironic -- since I happen to be an anarchist.

But, be that as it may, I really started this post to make a point. I've had several very nice commments from those non-political bloggers I mentioned, such as this one from Angie D of Ficken Chingers: "I hate politics but I always like to read your take on things, Tom."

Glad you like the blog, Angie, but it's the fact that there are so many non-political bloggers out there which makes me optimistic.

Political bloggers like myself tend to have very little "peripheral vision." For us, the blogosphere is a big pile of political blogs, going at the candidates, the parties, the policies ... and each other. But it's not really that way.

The other day, I happened across a post on Gimikera's blog which clued me into an interesting tool: BlogPulse. It's a "trend discovery system" -- a way of monitoring what's being said in the blogosphere.

The first thought that occurred to me was to use their "trend tool" to track mentions of political party affiliations. So, I punched in three terms: Republican, Democrat and Libertarian.

The result was striking -- not because of the relationship between the occurences of the terms in the blogosphere, but because of the fact that, over the last two months, the highest incidence of any of those terms (it happened to be "Republican") was ... less than one half of one percent of all blog posts monitored by Intelliseek. On that day, mention of any political party constituted less than one percent of bloggage.

Think about it: The sheer stress and effort we political types put into this stuff, and on a big political day, a whopping one out of 100 bloggers gives enough of a rat's ass about politics to write anything about it. The other 99 are living -- and blogging about -- real, normal lives!

That those of us who are into politics constitute such an insignificant fraction of the public discourse gives me hope for the future of humanity. That 99% of bloggers (and presumably of humans) are more like Angie D. than like me -- that they're more interested in writing about a movie they saw, or an evening they spent with friends, or an outing with their families -- is a good thing.

Of course, I'm going to keep feeding my addiction -- I am, after all, a professional political junkie. But it's nice to know that there's another, better world out there: A world where most people consider politics to be at best irrelevant and at worst a big pain in the ass. And I'll keep working to stop the politicians from destroying that world.

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