So there's a blog credentialing screw-up at the DNC, and state parties clearly had a hand in some excellent blogs being denied credentials while non-partisan outlets received the credentials initially designated for blogs submitting not just their technorati ranking but examples of posts that "stand out as an effective online organizing tool and/or agent of change."
Why does it matter if The Albany Project ultimately gets a credential that allows them to attend the convention, but the non-partisan Room 8 gets the one that seats them on the floor with the New York delegation?
Because this is an opportunity not just for bloggers but for the Democratic party as a whole.
Convention delegates will be among the most committed Democratic activists in their states. They'll include party leaders and campaign volunteers ordinary in every way except their dedication to a candidate. Sitting on the convention floor with them won't just give credentialed blogs like Blue Indiana or Badlands Blue good stories to write that may pull in extra traffic. It will give bloggers and delegates a chance to get to know each other and develop trust, to learn about each other's work and figure out how they can work together in the future.
Again, that's not just an opportunity for bloggers. It's an opportunity for the party.
We often talk about the importance of, as bloggers, not just preaching to the choir but getting off our couches and talking to voters. We do have a lot to learn from the party's long-time, dedicated activists. What's less often said is that they have a lot to learn from us, too.
Last Saturday I attended New Hampshire's Democratic state convention. There, I sat with Blue Hampshire co-founder Mike Caulfield while Parag Mehta, the DNC's training director, spoke on the presidential election and the DNC's new Neighborhood Leader program (which I can't wait to see in action). It was a great presentation. Mehta is witty and charismatic and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He got a spontaneous standing ovation in the middle of his talk. He clearly and concisely laid out the important ways of framing McCain for November, and gave a much-needed pep talk about Democrats coming together around our nominee.
But...the crowd loved the stuff on McCain a little too much -- because too much of it seemed to be new to them. These are dedicated activists. They became delegates to the convention. They paid to be there. Many of them drove for hours to sit in a school gymnasium all day. So what was with all the surprised chuckles Mike and I heard at the "McSame" slide? The sounds of dawning inspiration at the notion that McCain is running for Bush's third term?
None of this (except for the details on how the Neighborhood Leader program will work) was new to me or Mike. As he said later, the majority of Daily Kos readers could have given much of the presentation off the top of their head. But it was new to many New Hampshire Democratic activists.
Bloggers may lag in knocking on doors for candidates or attending town Democratic committee meetings. (Though much less than the stereotype suggests.) But on messaging, we're way ahead of people who get their news from the traditional media.
This is why the Denver credentials are important. Putting bloggers and delegates together, not just for an interview but for sustained periods of time, is an opportunity to build connections between these parts of the party. That's something that goes beyond a traffic spike for Square State or My Left Nutmeg. Bloggers could learn how better to support their local Democratic organizations (or how to take them over -- which may be what some state parties were worried about during the credentialing process). Convention delegates could learn how to let more people know about their upcoming events, and how to share with people in other towns and counties what had worked for them and what hadn't. Bloggers could learn more about organizing a canvass or recruiting a candidate. Convention delegates could learn more about that third Bush term and McCain's record of turning his back on his own legislation when it became politically inconvenient.
Those are connections that all Democrats -- from the DNC to the state parties to bloggers -- should be working hard to build and sustain. Ideally, they already exist. Ideally, we're all working to strengthen them every day. But they could be developed in Denver, carried home, and used to strengthen local activism for years to come. That's just another of the many reasons it's been so disappointing to see the credentialing process for Denver so messed up.