Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We Are Community, My Thanks To Raising Kaine

As happens so often, yesterday, at the tail end of a very busy day that didn’t end until 9 pm, I found out about the United Auto Workers Strike at General Motors. It’s a nationwide strike, which affects the GM plant in Fredericksburg. I wanted to do a quick post about it with the hope of filling in more details later. And I wanted the announcement to go out to the wider progressive community in Virginia beyond the people who read AIAW. I thought this was important information to share and to get out as quickly as possible even if my grasp of the details was still sketchy. So, I posted what I knew, both here and at Raising Kaine with the hopes of following up today.

It turns out, I don’t have to. Another Raising Kaine diarist, Dianne, posted a comment where she fleshed out the details, complete with a link to local coverage in today’s Free Lance Star. She reminded Raising Kaine readers, in her title, “Labor supports Democrats, Now let’s support Labor.” She even linked to map information, telling readers, “figure out what you can do to show your support for the UAW.”

I am profoundly grateful to Dianne for picking up the ball for me when I was busy. And I’m also thankful to Lowell for providing the graphic to go with the diary – he always finds just the right graphic for me even while chiding me to pay attention to that stuff myself.

This incident made me think more about the value of the Raising Kaine community.

When they began Raising Kaine, Lowell Feld and Josh Chernila, envisioned something fairly new to the blogosphere, which itself is still a new and evolving medium. They wanted more than a blog. They wanted to revive the whole idea of a public square with active and engaged citizens joining in a dialogue. They wanted Raising Kaine to be an organizing tool and something more than that, a place where progressives could go to try out new ideas, encourage one another and even inspire each other.

They created a site where diarists would put up posts, others would comment, and the community could argue or affirm the opinions, positions and tactics under discussion. And above all, they wanted Raising Kaine to be the place where we could share information about campaigns including ideas, message content, and the nuts and bolts details, such as where the phone banking was taking place and what day and time people would be walking the precincts, knocking on doors and doing lit drops. They wanted to get out the practical information such as where to meet and who was having a fundraiser.

So, Raising Kaine became a true community, sharing ideas, information, and even venting anger. I am privileged to be one of the front pagers there, though I don’t post as often as I’d like.

I keep my own blog, this one, too. But when I have an opinion for which I want wider readership, I’ll go over there because not only will more people see it, but it will also generate more discussion. If I want to throw something out for a broader debate, that’s the place I’ll post it. And finally, if there’s news that is important for me to share with a larger audience than AIAW gets, I’ll put it up as a diary on Raising Kaine, as I did last night with that announcement of the UAW strike.

And if I falter in some way, others there will pick up the ball as Dianne and Lowell did last night and early this morning before I had the chance to. We argue with each other and we support each other, exactly as a community is supposed to.

And that’s why it’s important that Raising Kaine find a way to deal with those who would exploit its unique character by running a poorly sourced and misleading attack ad on a candidate that Raising Kaine actually supports, as Tim Hugo did.

Raising Kaine is a community composed of individual diarists. If Hugo found something written there that he feels helps his campaign at the expense of Rex Simmons, he can use it, but he should give it the proper attribution by naming the specific diarist who posted it. He should not leave his audience with the misleading impression that it was the opinion of Raising Kaine.

And Hugo’s deceptive campaign practices should not force Raising Kaine into changing the way it does business. Being a community has great value. Republicans can see that and want to divide us. Hugo’s ad was not just an attack ad aimed at Rex Simmons. It was an attack on Raising Kaine and its vision of a progressive community.

We can’t let that drive a wedge between us. We can and should differ among ourselves on issues, candidates, any number of things. But when a Republican tries to exploit our uniqueness and turn our greatest strength against us for his own political gain, we need to pull together and show what our community is made of.

The best way to do that is to continue doing exactly what we have been doing. We should close ranks behind those we support who have been unfairly attacked and also call out those who have been deceptive and sought to mislead the public about our real positions. And above all, we should insist on staying a community that lifts each member up so that we can further progressive causes.

Thank you Raising Kaine!


KathyinBlacksburg said...

Right back at ya, Karen. You and your site are a class act. Thanks for all you do.

Paradox13VA said...

I echo Kathy, thanks for saying what so many of us feel, but don't often voice.