Elevating the debate

Elevating the debate

: Catching up with Virginia Postrel’s on-target response to Glenn Reynolds’ post — she calls it “a bit defensive” — about whether blogs elevate the political debate… or not.

It’s true that many bloggers, including Glenn, do a lot of media criticism. Media criticism is relatively easy, and Web links are ideally suited to it. But it’s hardly true that “the political blogosphere isto a large degree about media criticism.” Many of the best policy blogs have almost no media criticism, nor do they go looking for political scalps. They don’t even constantly write about the superiority of blogs. That’s why you almost never read about them. Reporters and media critics are bored, bored, bored by the very sort of discourse they claim to support (a lesson I learned the hard way in 10 long years as the editor of Reason). They, and presumably their readers, want conflict, scandal, name-calling, and some sex and religion to heighten the combustible mix. Plus journalists, like other people, love to read about themselves and people they know.

Hence, newspapers don’t writes stories about how blogs like Volokh Conspiracy elevate the debate over legal issues or how blogs like Marginal Revolution improve the public’s understanding of economic scholarship. You won’t read any articles about comparing the military policy discussions on Intel Dump and Belmont Club. Education blogs, science blogs, and foreign-policy blogs all engage in excellent issue discussions, but you’ll never, ever hear them held up as examples of the blogosphere at work. Even Glenn forgets they exist.

And more….

lwv.jpg: I may be accused of being a member of the League of Women Voters (do you like my new hairdo?) but I’ll carry that card proudly. The Issues2004 posts demonstrate that given half a chance, you all will read and comment on and blog and link to posts about issues just as you do to the sexier topics of mud-slinging. If I didn’t have faith in that — in the citizens — then I wouldn’t be a believer in democracy. But I am.

I’m no expert on any of the issues I have posted on or will post on. And so I again encourage you to post links to the kinds of blogs Virginia writes about. The experts are among us. I want to learn from them.

That’s what I call elevating.