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In some sense, I suppose, DailyKos wasn’t built for the likes of me. I’ve pretty much always had a voice—I was editor of the Crimson when I was at Harvard, and went straight from there to the New Yorker, where I wrote much of the Talk of the Town column for five years. (Most weeks I alternated writing the political piece up front, Notes & Comment, with the great Jonathan Schell). When I quit and moved to the Adirondack wilds, my first book—The End of Nature—came out in 24 languages. Name a magazine or a newspaper and I’ve written for it; here’s my piece from this morning’s LA Times oped page.

And yet, maybe because of all of that, I’ve come to really treasure DailyKos. There are two reasons.

One, precisely because it amplifies the voices of people who didn’t make writing their career, who don’t have all those other opportunities to get their voices out. One of the great revelations of the rise of the web was how many talented writers and thinkers there are out there in the world—the quality of a good piece on the Recommended list  is higher than the average pundit’s column, usually because it’s about something more than the distillation of the conventional wisdom. I don’t work in a retail store; I’m glad to read the experiences of those who do. Ditto for the great range of age, experience, race, creed, and so on.

Two, even more important, this site serves mostly people who want to do something. Sort of by accident, I seem to have become as much an activist as a writer. When I helped organize the civil disobedience outside the White House this summer that sparked the Keystone protests, one of the reasons it turned into the largest action of its kind in three decades is because we had a way of getting the word out. Not on tv, which wasn’t paying any attention; not in the newspapers, whose correspondents were all on the Vineyard with the president; but through the web, and particularly through the daily updates that PDNC organized here. We got helpful ideas, but mostly we got involvement.

So I think it’s a damned good investment to ‘subscribe,’ just as I subscribe to my local public radio station. (Not because I’m such a huge fan any more of NPR itself, I confess, but because we need strong local coverage). I’m convinced Kos will use the money to make this place stronger, and that he’ll do it without imposing his will any more than civility requires. (I’ve been very impressed that, even though I know from his books he doesn’t really like 60s-style protest, the site became the center for reporting not only about the Keystone demonstrations but also OWS).

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t days when this place annoys me. I don’t much like the faux realism/cynicism that informs some comments, nor the sometimes binary views of politics (Obama good/Obama bad). And I could live without the endless sneering at religion. But I imagine there are people who could live without me. I've spent much of my intellectual life in recent years writing about the need for strong local communities, and what goes for them goes for the virtual kind too: The definition of a working community is one where you pay attention to what interests others too; it’s the opposite of the solipsistic consumer world we’re encouraged to inhabit.

So—with deep thanks to all who do the hard work of keeping this community alive and functioning, time to pull out the credit card. We've got a ton of work to do in the year to come; I'm going to be concentrating on fighting corporate power, made brutally manifest in the fossil fuel industry. I know we're going to need lots of help. And I know where I'm going to turn for it.

Originally posted to DK GreenRoots on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 12:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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