Thursday, January 08, 2009

Precarious Progressives

A couple of news items that caught my eye today:

The good: as reported in the Open Left blog
An exciting new piece of progressive infrastructure is emerging to help progressive candidates in federal campaigns: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Rather than focusing on large, independent expenditures, ala the Club for Growth, it seeks to help progressive federal candidates, such as Tom Geoghegan, by providing them with expert staff, advice, strategy and connection to the netroots. The focus will be on open seat primaries, and progressives who face competitive general elections, but primaries against conservative Democrats might also come into play.

The bad: as reported in Personal Democracy Forum
Some of the most popular state, local, and general-interest blogs in the progressive blogosphere were brought low this morning, when the lone developer behind the hosted community-blogging service SoapBlox threw in the towel. Well-regarded sites like Pam's House Blend, Blue Jersey, Michigan Liberal, Swing State Project, and MN Progressive Project found earlier today that they couldn't access either the public-facing front ends of the site or their sites' content-management backend. As of this afternoon, the sites are (mostly) back up, but that hasn't eased fears that a core part of the left's online infrastructure isn't all that sustainable.

SoapBlox became a building block of the progressive blogosphere, especially amongst state-level group blogs, by offering all the same powerful tools that blogging platforms like Scoop offer but at a fraction of the price or effort. Scoop, which powers the blog giant Daily Kos, can be difficult to deploy and maintain, and can cost in the thousands of dollars. A hosted alternative to Scoop, SoapBlox replicates all the weaponry of big-name blogs at a bargain price that runs in the neighborhood of $10 or $15 a month. But that low price and ease of use comes at a cost. SoapBlox has been the part-time project of one man, and he's burnt out. Earlier today, Paul Preston, a.k.a., "pacified," posted a note on calling an end to the service.

There is momentum in creating a Progressive infrastructure. But as the example of Soapblox points out, much of this infrastructure is put together pretty much with duct tape and wire. The operator of Soapblox has since turned back from his retirement of the platform and an effort is underway to save the system from total breakdown but it really is a wake-up call to Progressives and other outsider political movements to see how precarious their positions really are in relation to the Establishment they seek to reform.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Thanks for this information LAD.

I had not heard about the issues with the blogs you listed... especially Pam's House Blend.

It is good that an infrastructure may finally be taking shape... but until there is a serious news and information network... then Progressive voices will continue to be limited. Thank God for NPR, Democracy Now...and a few others (and I do mean a few).

Progressives are under attack right now... both from the Right.... and even from the Democratic establishment. It's frustrating to watch.

This is why there is a need for more Political Parties. Republicans have at least 2 distinctive constituencies... and the Dems have at least 2 or 3. Groups should have the option of creating their own Political Parties to compete with larger, more established entities. It should be about the competition of ideas and ideals.... it shouldn't be based on how much political money you can raise.