I enjoy the blogosphere, and I enjoy blogging. However, we should admit that for the most part we all blog for ourselves. It gives us an outlet for our feelings and frustrations. Some blogs do, of course, provide the occasional tidbit of useful information, and there is even the occasional revelation that might have an impact, however small, on the political culture. But most of the blogs are just us ranting a bit and talking among ourselves. And most of the blogs are fairly respectful, though there is an inordinate degree of down-right hate-speech on the Conservative Bloggers, but then most of them don't believe that the category of hate-speech should exist anyway so it probably doesn't matter to many of them.
The problem is, of course, that there is very little in the way of real political debate in this country so it is natural that blogging would be reduced to a series of partisan rants. I don't know if the reduction of political debate is simply a temporary swing of the pendulum or an unfortunate and permanent effect of the ability of modern politicians to obfuscate the truth and spin their partisan hype in a milieu of unprecedented technological speed. Perhaps it is a combination of both. I think that the most unfortunate political development in the past couple of decades (at least in Canada) is the gradual, and almost universally unacknowledged, deterioration of democracy. As many of the gains made in the West during the long post-war boom are slowly slipping away and the gaps between rich and poor begins to widen dramatically, democracy is suffering badly. Not only are fewer and fewer people informed about and involved in their most basic democratic institutions, but money plays a bigger and bigger part in elections and legislative agendas.
And many of us do blog about these issues and the impacts that they have on us as individuals and on society in general. However, when the majority of the population refuses to even acknowledge most of our basic democratic deficits, or has simply given up caring because they think that the problem is unsolvable, staying motivated is difficult. Here in Canada we have a government that has radically undermined the democratic institutions of the country but many are so ignorant of how our institutions really work (or are meant to work) that they just don't understand what is going on. Others are so blinded by partisanship that their leaders could do almost anything and they would continue to support them. One of the saddest and most blatant examples of partisanship in recent years has to be the tendency of Conservatives to face any and all charges of corruption and lack of accountability with the universal, school-yard jibe that "the Liberals did the same thing!" Really!? Is this what debate has been reduced to? Meanwhile the media and the people go crazy if some single mother is caught cheating 50 bucks from welfare but the governments can handout literally billions in corporate grants and subsidies and executives can make seven figure salaries and barely anyone bats an eyelid.
But we keep blogging. However, as I said, it is mostly in an effort to achieve cathartic satisfaction rather than an effort to save Western Capitalist democracy from its own rather dramatic failure. The sad truth is that if new technologies began to make a real political difference, the internet would be shut down so quickly it would make your head spin.