In Defense of Unapologetic Politics on Non-Political Blogs

In spite of what recent political posts would have you believe, this is still an asthma/children’s health/environmental/air quality/parenting blog. Here’s the thing about non-political blogs, though:

I sort of want to beat my head against the wall when some of my favorite “regular” bloggers write this: I don’t normally post about politics, but. . . .

Or this: I know this isn’t a political blog, but. . . .

Or even: I’m no pundit, but. . . ..

Okay, so I know I’m guilty of that last one, too. I throw it out there all the time to cover my ass since, let’s face it, some of the finer points of politics or finance are going to escape me.

I wish “regular” bloggers would stop these half-hearted apologies for political posts, though. Because A) with an election that’s poised to change the direction of this entire country just one month away, of course you’re going to have opinions on the candidates. You should have them. If you choose to post about them, why qualify your remarks?

And B) what are individual blogs, anyway, if not opinionated? I recognize bloggers don’t want to alienate their regular readers who may hold different political views, but give your readers credit. If they were looking for objective news and information, they wouldn’t be reading a personal blog.

Plus C) there’s a lot at stake for Democrats and Republicans with such a large number of independent voters out there. There’s no way I’ll ever influence any conservative voters to switch to my guy, and I’m trying–but failing, utterly–to imagine any argument that would sway my vote to McCain, but those independent voters who haven’t made a decision read blogs, too.

Finally: D) The advantage of regular folks’ blogging about politics or the economy is that they are not pundits or experts. They don’t have to answer to national television networks or viewers, and they (usually) don’t have to answer to advertisers, either. They’re not desperately spinning information to fill the slow minutes of a 24-hour news cycle, and the fact that they’re (usually) not as highly paid as network anchors or political consultants means they match my demographic better. They view politics, this election, and the economic crisis through the same lens of family, household budgets, and work/life balance that I do.

Case in point: One of my favorite bloggers, who has no idea I read his stuff since I never comment (Sorry, Beej! I have no good reason, or really–any reason) is over at Neuteronomy. Beej is a single dad who writes about single parenthood, his kid, his dating life, sports, books, and other random musings. Except sometimes he posts about politics, too. And he wrote a couple of excellent posts about the bailout here and here. And those posts amped his traffic way up because, in his words:

I think the main reason that people are looking for information is that the media in general do not do a great job of telling you why things matter. They do an ok job of reporting what is happening, and maybe some causality of a problem – but it’s much more difficult to get any context to a particular issue or a real sense of the impact of any given topic.

Yes, exactly.

Asthma Mom isn’t a political blog, as you well know. It’s a Blog of Inferior Breathing. But because my older kid works harder to breathe–and always has, throughout her entire 9 1/2 years of life–abstract concepts like air quality and climate change turn into realities in this house. Spending the first half of my pregnancy with her sans health insurance makes me understand, firsthand, just how broken the system is. My inability to sell the House of Pain and conclude this indefinite move to Denver, despite the house’s overly reasonable price, is a concrete result of this tanked economy.

My point? Hearing about dirty air and global warming, the health care crisis, the financial crisis, and all those other election issues doesn’t mean much without the personal stories. It’s easy to dismiss broad problems if you don’t see or live the details of them yet (our current president excels in this, I think). Maybe you’re concerned about the bailout, too, but the credit crisis hasn’t actually affected you yet. Bloggers fill that niche. They color in the pages and flesh out the landscape since housing and health care problems are shaping their lives–shaping my life–this very minute.

This is deliciously ironic, isn’t it? A post outlining the reasons bloggers don’t need to provide–um, reasons–for writing about politics? I’ll say no more to contradict myself and end here.

I may update Asthma Mom again later today with the actual post I had in mind this morning, before I got distracted. Right now, I need to go complete some actual, paying work and run the recorder AG forgot this morning up to her school office before she goes to music class. (Have I mentioned, ever, how much the pitch of that thing also makes me want to bang my head against the wall? Because it really, really does. Dear God, I can’t listen to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” anymore.)

7 responses to “In Defense of Unapologetic Politics on Non-Political Blogs”

  1. Noelle says:

    Good point! I tend to caveat my political posts when they happen. But it’s because I know I have exactly 2 conservative readers. Maybe next time I won’t give them the heads up….

  2. freadom says:

    I agree with you 100%. Excellent post. It was Ben Franklin who said that no two people agree on any one issue, so it would be foolish not to at least consider the opinions of others. Sure a medical blog is a medical blog, but — as you say — one cannot help but to add a personal touch.

    Even if one doesn’t agree with your political views, you still provide a heck of a lot of good information about asthma to avoid you for that reason alone. The same is true of MOST of the medical blogs I travel to on a weekly basis. Again, excellent post..

  3. Andie says:

    Great post – and doesn’t it bring home that politics do affect us in so many ways? I have friends who don’t bother to vote (drives me crazy & makes me sad at the same time) – they just feel that it’s “out there” and doesn’t really affect them anyway. Generally speaking they don’t follow the news to any extent and basically insulate themselves. They are intelligent people grappling with many different issues that actually ARE related to politics – job quality, job availability, debt load, cost of living, quality of life, medical insurance, etc. Politics touches so much in our lives, I don’t find it surprising that it would be mentioned in blogs.

  4. Amy says:

    Hi Noelle, and thanks for reading. I wrote this partly as a reminder to myself, actually–b/c I sure am fond of those qualifying remarks, too.

    Rick,
    Yeah, that’s how I feel about medical/health blogs, too. I respect quite a few bloggers on the opposite side of the political fence, and that’s okay since I’m reading their posts for other information, anyway. Mostly, I love the way voters seem so much more engaged in this election cycle than any other (or maybe I’m just getting older and notice it more?), and I like when bloggers just put it out there, even though they’re not pundits–b/c the pundits aren’t always right.

  5. beej says:

    Howdy!

    First of all, thanks for the plug! You’re exactly right – there should be no apology. Thanks for making me think.

  6. Political Analyst says:

    The interesting, and sometimes frustrating, things about blogs is that they give everyone a voice. Many times, people mistake a forum as a authority. Just because you have a voice doesn’t necessarily mean you know what you are talking about.

  7. GeorgeandWheezie says:

    The interesting and sometimes frustrating thing about blog comments is that self-righteous people who don’t know the difference between a differing viewpoint and ignorance get a forum. Many times, these self-righteous people think THEIR personal opinion is AN authority – even if their grammar and ability to communicate in their own language is lacking.

    I completely agree ‘Political Analyst.’ Sometimes people who may have a forum or some self-anointed title don’t have any idea what they are talking about.