I’m David Wescott, the political hack/PR flack who blogs about blogging at It’s Not a Lecture, and I’m so grateful to PunditMom for letting me borrow her soapbox today.
One of the things I do is track the issues-based discussions of various segments of the blogosphere, and I was struck by PunditMom’s recent post about the candidates snubbing BlogHer. I was shocked as everyone that so many candidates (though not all) didn’t find this conference important enough to attend, because we all know women who write and read blogs are more likely to be leaders in their own online and offline communities. Instead, the candidates – and particularly the Democrats – are paying quite a bit of attention to “political blogs.”
If you look at those blogs (and many PunditMom readers do) you tend to notice that, with few exceptions, political blog posts are typically just variations on a single, simple theme – the latest outrage from the other side. Think about it – one of the most popular bloggers on the left offers a “wanker of the day.” On the right, we have posts literally entitled, “outrage.” (I try not to link to specific political bloggers here because this is PunditMom’s space and I don’t want to clutter it.)
If you look at the discussions moms (and more generally, women) are having, they’re constructive discussions about the most important issues – healthcare, education, the environment, balancing work and family, and even the war. It just takes on a more personal perspective.
So why are the campaigns focusing on the blogs that just scream at the base, while ignoring the blogs that discuss the issues like adults?
MONEY. The “mother’s milk of American politics.” Political blogs raise hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars for candidates. Bloggers are de facto contribution bundlers, giving them an amazing amount of access to the candidates and power within their respective parties. And oddly enough, much if not most of this money will be spent on advertising in the mainstream media.
Moms, for the most part, are too busy making ends meet to worry about raising money for candidates online. Sure, moms contribute too – but many see their blogs as a means of personal expression and a way to belong to a community, not as a way to shill for candidates.
So if you want to start getting some of the attention you deserve from our candidates, what do you do?
One option is, frankly, to start raising money. For many moms, this really isn’t an option because it’s inconsistent with the purpose of your blog and most don’t like asking others for money anyway.
Another option is to start leveraging your blogs, facebook groups, and other stuff as Get Out The Vote tools. Social media technology is so advanced now that we can broadcast text messages from twitter or blogs or any number of tools that help identify supporters and remind them to vote on election day. GOTV is second only to money in terms of what candidates want most from the outside.
The easiest and best option, however, is to do what PunditMom does – write with passion and clarity about the political issues that matter most to you, and do it without calling other people nasty names. Great writing motivates people to action better than a crappy television commercial – it just takes a little longer. It’s the difference between broad support and deep support. People who engage in the conversations PunditMom leads are more invested in the issues and more likely to vote on election day. The candidates that politely and constructively enter those discussions are more likely to earn the support of those who care most and work hardest.
Eventually the candidates are going to realize that while money will always be important, the discussions and ideas raised in them matter most. Then, when they finally knock on your virtual doors, you can ask them what took them so long.